Monday, June 28, 2021

Bugging Out

Here in our neck of Baltimore, the Cicada Apocalypse is winding down. Today I could only hear a couple of random holdouts; a far cry from the din we had a couple weeks ago.

The last time they were here, in 2004, I was an apartment dweller. The only time I was outside was walking the 10 yards from my door to the car, and then going to and from the subway, mostly in downtown Baltimore. So they didn’t make much of an impression on me.

The time before that was 1987, when I lived in the Cleveland suburbs working as a record store manager. I was still in an apartment then too and only went from door to car to store and back. Even though Ohio is still in Brood X turf, I don’t think I even noticed.

Before that, it was 1970, when I would have been eight. I remember cicadas as a kid and was fascinated by the shells they left on the trees. They were scary-looking but once I realized they were harmless, it became great fun to chase my mom around the house with them. The noise they made just felt like summer to me.

This time around, I’m in a house with a backyard. It was kind of cool to see the shells collecting on fences and trees again.

Sitting out on the back porch this spring, I had time to pay closer attention to the noise. There were two distinct variations. One was a “whirring” sound like a cartoon spaceship was taking off. The other was the traditional keening… “Weeeweeeweewee…” It got so that it was weird to be out in the evenings when the din wasn’t there.

I figured I’d try to catch a little of the commotion on video, which produced the 15-second clip below. I might have created a more graceful ending but alas, a cicada flew into my camera hand as I was filming. I’m lucky I didn’t drop it on the concrete.

It’s been funny watching these things awkwardly flying about. It’s like they’re a bunch of drunken moths. They just kind of lurch from place to place. It’s hard to see how they get anything done.

Even knowing they’re harmless, it’s still unnerving when one flies into you. I tried really hard not to dance around like I walked into a spider web.

I learned something new one weekend when I had yard work to do.  Whenever I had the lawnmower going, they’d start buzzing me. Then when I switched to the higher-pitched weed whacker, they were all over me. Must be the buzzing sound... they thought I was a big pink monster cicada. Sweetpea was laughing at me from inside, saying they were all over my back. Again, I know they’re harmless, but inside, I’m feeling more like:

One being who most definitely enjoyed the cicada invasion was our dog, Wallace. From the time they popped out of the ground, he set about Hoovering up every single one he could get his lips on. This is a dog that won’t spend 15 seconds outside after he’s peed, but was now taking a half-hour to patrol the yard and police up the bugs.

Sweetpea told me that on their morning walks, she had to pull him more than walk him because he had to stop and lap up every dead, dying or resting bug on the sidewalk. After all this is over, he’s not going to know what to do with himself. Aside from losing the five pounds he gained on the Cicada Diet.

Hey, where’d they all go? I’m still hungry!

So, like I said, they’re pretty much gone now, back into the ground to lay in wait and ambush us again in 2038. I expect to be seriously geezin’ by that time. I’ll be lucky if I can even hear them. They’ll sound like a jet engine and I’ll be going, “Meh, that ain’t loud. You should have heard them in aught-four.”

Director’s DVD Commentary: Yes, I know I said I didn’t notice them in 2004, but it just sounds better for an old man to use a year with an “aught” in it.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Debunking a Fact-Free Whine-Fest

I just happened to stumble over some blog material I had stashed in my email “Drafts” folder. Apparently sometime after Election Day, I found a conservative list of complaints and squirreled it away for later examination. Why there were no graphics that went with it, I have no idea. I can’t remember where I found this, only that I copied the verbiage and stashed it in “Drafts.”

Anyway, it’s somewhat dated but still infuriating in its delusion, so let’s have a look. The GOP gripes are in red. (As if you won’t be able to tell.)

I just don’t recognize MY country any longer! What has happened to America in the past few decades?

Our Biggest, and Greatest City gets invaded by Muslims, and we elect them to our Congress and they want to Impeach our President!

“MY country?” Listen, pal, “YOUR” country includes everyone. You obviously misspelled, “OUR country.” Right out of the gate, there’s the religious bigotry. Apparently being Muslim is a disqualifier to holding office, because there is no difference to a MAGA between the twenty-some 9/11 hijackers/conspirators and every other Muslim in the world. “White makes right, baby!” Maybe he never noticed but a shitload of non-Muslims wanted him impeached too. Lastly, I wonder if the former guy might have written this himself. It certainly has his compulsion for random capitalization.

Our Children don’t have any Identities anymore, and our Bathrooms are places for predators.

Really? Unidentified children are on the loose? Or is it maybe that some of them choose identities that he doesn’t like? And show me where attacks in bathrooms have been committed by Trans people or crossdressers? It isn’t happening. This is just a scare tactic accepted as fact. He might as well be ranting about the Boogeyman.

Our subways have become a home for Psychos, Mental Patients, and the Homeless to do their Dirty Deeds. They are so filled with Crime that people fear to use them.

LOL… he thinks this is new?  Where has he been for the last 50 years? (Probably in Montana or something, where the only Subways sell sandwiches.) Although I can’t speak for other cities, but I’ve never felt threatened in my 20 years of riding the Baltimore Metro (subway). Sure there are the occasional panhandlers, smelly people, shoplifters selling their plunder, and loud cellphone talkers, but that’s just a microcosm of the city. It’s just funny that he seeks to blame Democrats for a societal problem that covers decades. (Of course they do, everything that’s wrong is always the Democrats’ fault, right down to Republicans storming the Capitol, on command, on film.) Lastly the only “Dirty Deeds” I know about are done dirt cheap by this guy:

We allow Sick people to cross our boarders ILLEGALLY to commit horrible crimes, and bring in drugs and yet we call the Wall that stops them “Immoral”!

More scare tactics assumed to be true. The statistics show that immigrants, legal and illegal, commit far fewer crimes than American natives. As for being sick? Another big assumption and is especially rich considering the pushback on mask-wearing, spacing, and vaccinations currently underway in red states. Plus, we (Republicans included) considered the Berlin Wall immoral for generations. This one would be no different.

We want more Compassion for the illegal Invaders, yet we have no compassion for our Vets!

The obligatory reference to veterans’ problems, which Republicans constantly bemoan but never actually do anything about it. Invaders? Immigrants are “invaders,” but only from the Southern border, right? They’re only “invaders” if they’re not white. Just more racist bullshit.

We impeached the best President that we’ve had in decades, and vote for a Senile, delusional, useless, inept man to destroy it.

“Best President” by what standards? By the “Most impeachments?” Definitely. Most indictments in an Administration? Absolutely. In fact, all the descriptors used in his previous sentence describe the former guy to a tee. I don’t even have to elaborate. You can come with an instance or several for each one.

We put a person into the second-highest office in the land only because of her gender, and the color of her skin.

Yeah, and after only 45 white guys in a row. The white guys were cheated, I tell you! The fact is that Harris’s qualifications are no better or worse than the rest of her predecessors. (Maybe someone can tell me how abundantly qualified Dan Quayle was.) Hell, she was a qualified as Obama was, plus she served more time in state office.

When if ever will we wake up and see what we have done?

As for what you have done, it takes at least four years just to clean up afterward. It happens time and time again… a Democratic administration has to come in and repair the damage that Republican tax cuts, environmental chaos, infrastructure abandonment, and safety net destruction do to the country. A party that has no intention to actually govern sure fights hard against one that does.

Monday, June 14, 2021

What's the Gift for THIS Anniversary?

Reading the local news last week reminded me of one of my favorite philosophical notions, “When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, least of all, yourself.”

A couple weekends ago there were some disturbances in the downtown-adjacent area to Baltimore known as Fells Point.

It’s a party place, kind of touristy, with shops and boutiques, lots of bars and restaurants, many of which have live entertainment. You can join “ghost tours,” which entail visiting the places that are reportedly haunted. It’s right on the Harbor and used to be a working cargo dock and haven for pirates.

Anyway, the good times have been recently interrupted by a bunch of drunken street fights, brawls, and shootings. Definitely not good for business. People are coming out of COVID hibernation and have forgotten how to act around other people.

So the local businesses reached out to City Hall, asking for help. That help arrived in the form of increased police presence, frequent ID checks, parking areas cordoned off, checkpoints coming to and from the area, etc.

Now the Fells Point businesses are pissed about that because they feel they’re keeping their customers away.

For the life of me, I don’t know what the hell they expected the cops to do. How are you going to keep street fights from breaking out if you’re not on-site? Magic incantations? Thoughts and prayers? Barry Manilow music?

And on the other hand, we have other communities charging favoritism, that the police are sent right to the “showplace,” while their neighborhoods (where no one wants to go near without a Kevlar jacket and helmet,) are ignored.

And I guarantee that if a similar police setup happened there, they’d complain about that too. Maybe they’re upset because the police were doing a lot of summons-issuing and just being a general presence. There was a conspicuous lack of surrounding and beating the shit out of people in cuffs. I don’t know if that was due to an overabundance of attention, cameras, or white people.


Are conservatives really this dim, or are they just counting on their audience not knowing any better? I saw this on Facebook recently.

There are a couple of things I’d call out here. First is the stereotype of the teenage burger-flipper. That’s what they always call minimum wage workers. But many child care and elder care workers also work for minimum wage, as do the “essential” grocery store clerks, hairstylists, and many others, including agricultural workers who often work off the books and get far less. Millions of grownups work for minimum wage, not just teenagers looking for beer money.

The other point is that minimum wage and social security have totally different targets and purposes, so it’s disingenuous to compare them head to head.

Social security comes from a dedicated fund, paid into by you and your employers. Some people WILL be getting $2400 per month because they’ve worked long and hard to build up that fund over their entire working life. The object is to provide a safety net so that people who have worked all their lives can retire without having to live in a box under a bridge. The money comes out of a finite fund that workers pay into. That’s the kind of “self-reliance” Republicans are always going on about.

Are Republicans really calling for people who barely work to earn this $2400 per month minimum? Of course not. Their only goal here is to justify keeping the minimum wage low. This argument doesn’t accomplish that.

Minimum wage is another story. The source of the money is as varied as the number of employers in the country. Employers can pay whatever they wish and they wish to pay as little as possible. Many employers have forgotten that people work to provide a living for themselves, not for the joy of performing manual labor for the entitled class. Prices have skyrocketed over the last several decades and the minimum wage has not. If the Republicans in Congress had approved incremental increases over the years, there would be no need for such drastic action. But they didn’t, because they were afraid it would be bad for the bottom line, so now a correction is desperately needed. And they’re still fighting it. Some things never change, and Republican fealty to the next quarterly report is one of them.


I have to wonder about who makes this shit up. Look at this meme:

This one is aimed straight at those who get their information solely from Fox “News” and other propaganda outlets. If they would ever actually listen to the president, they’d be shocked to find a fellow who speaks clearly, directly, and often makes good sense. The way conservative media tells it, the guy is a week away from rolling around in a puddle of his own making.

Considering the nonsense that came from the former guy, they have zero room to poke fun. Even though he’s sometimes informal, President Biden uses a grownup’s vocabulary, as opposed to the 4th-grade, sing-song Dick and Jane bullshit for which the other guy was known.

You think Biden is incoherent? Show me, and it better be good because I can find miles of tape of the former guy talking in circles, making nonsensical and often contradictory points. If I was a Republican, I wouldn’t come anywhere near this line of criticism. But then that’s what they’re known for isn’t it? Calling out others for things they’re doing themselves.


I saw this headline this morning on my Yahoo news feed:

Is it bad that my first thought was to think, “Well, that’s redundant." “Arm up” and “get guns” mean exactly the same thing. She’s already padding her list. I say if you’re going to issue a dime-store call to arms on the southern border and advocate summary executions, at least be clear about it. After all, when you eventually go on trial, get convicted, and die in prison, it will probably be your epitaph.


I got a text message today from my brother-in-law, who reminded me about an important anniversary.

Way back when, while traveling down I-75 to see my sister and aforementioned BIL, we passed by the Solid Rock Church and beheld the sight of their 62-foot statue of Jesus, emerging from a pond. You could only see Him from the chest up, so technically, it was a stature of half-Jesus. Full Jesus would have been about 124 feet, I suppose. I wonder if they had the bottom half underwater.

We now consider statues of Confederate generals are offensive! I wish we had that kind of sensibility back then. Maybe someone would have lashed that thing to some speed boats and tore it down “Porky’s” style.

Anyway, I thought it to be such a garish and unnecessary waste of foam and fiberglass and so it induced me to write a post about this scam mega-church. (The proprietors of this “church” were as crooked as their statue was ugly.)

Not more than a week later, the stats on that post blew up to such an extent I had to investigate why. I then learned that the statue had been hit by a bolt of lightning and burned to the freakin’ ground! Throughout the day, nine different friends sent me the story.

Such great symbolism with this happening! I had to bang out another post just to deal with the glee. Comments were a riot, and that was where we coined the epithet, “Great flaming Jesus!” As in “Great flaming Jesus, that burned up real good!

And that, my friend, was 11 years ago, today.

Good times!

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Road to Ruin

I’ve never felt such dread before when the party I support is “in power.” I should feel much more content but all I see on the horizon is disaster. It’s not because of shortcomings I see in leadership, it’s that our guys seem to be getting outflanked. That’s what happens when you’re suddenly playing a game with no rules.

The biggest source of anxiety is regarding the 2022 elections, which are being slowly and steadily stacked for Republicans to retake the House and Senate. Red state governments (GA, TX, FL, etc) are busy passing draconian voter suppression laws, no doubt to be rubber-stamped by the current SCOTUS, to ensure their reclaiming of power. Minority-rule power at that. (By which I do not mean rule by “minorities” as the term has traditionally meant, but fewer people on one side of an issue as opposed to the other.)

The only brake on this runaway train seemed to be the prospect of passing the For the People Act, (HR1) which would federally codify voter rights and make it easier to vote rather than harder. In short, it would cut off the red states’ attempts to suppress opposition vote under the guise of “election security,” whose only aim is to “secure” the “election” for themselves.

Over the weekend, Sen Joe Manchin (D?WV) publicly came out against the bill, because he thought a partisan bill would send the country into chaos and end democracy as we know it. This makes no sense to me considering how the red state voter suppression bills are doing that right now. How much will the country be torn apart when state legislatures start overturning elections based on unproven accusations and allegations?

This makes the issue of killing the filibuster moot. If we can’t get the 50 Democrats we have on the books to support free elections, there’s no point in trying to end the filibuster. That’s another issue that neither Manchin nor Kyrsten Sinema support. And now it looks like it’s something we’ll need in two years, if the GOP doesn’t kill it themselves first.

So the only brakes we have on this runaway train seem to have the tensile strength of jello. The only strategy left is for the Democrats to call all this out in public, rally the citizenry, and prepare everyone to dig in to exercise their vote no matter the obstacles. Excuse me if I’m not optimistic about this option. Politics is a huge part of life to me, (you too if you’re reading this) but for huge swaths of people, it’s just not a priority. Certainly not something over which they want to lose a half day’s hourly wage. And that’s exactly what the GOP is counting on in rolling out their fascist “election” rules.

This weekend also saw a new rally from the former guy, who among other things:

·        Rejected the notion that several Democratic-leaning states didn't side with his agenda.

·        "I don't believe it," he said. "I can't believe that some of these states are blue."

·        Alleged that elections in some blue states could be "corrupt."

It depresses me that we live in a world where the ravings of this madman still matter to some people. The guy couldn’t be any more full of shit if he replaced his Big Macs with turdburgers. How narcissistic can someone be to disbelieve that there could be people who don’t agree with him? This is what happens when you’re surrounded by yes-men who want nothing more than to keep their parasitic relationship going.

In his mind, the mere fact that his opponent got more votes, by default, means they cheated. And what’s worse, he’s convinced his idiot followers, people he wouldn’t let wash his car, of the same thing.

Until this country learns how to deal with objective reality rather than run with intricate conspiracy theories, we’re all looking at a one-man, one-party autocracy in the near future.

And speaking of conspiracy theories, the worst thing might have happened… one of them might have been close to the truth.

I haven’t been following this story very closely so I’m not sure of the details, but apparently there was something from Dr. Fauci’s released emails that make people think the coronavirus was actually created in a lab rather than springing from wet market animal transmission.

Now, the reason I haven’t been following this story is that it doesn’t make a lick of difference. Whether this was a deliberate Chinese plot, (which also killed thousands of their own people), or an accidental release, it doesn’t change the fact that the former guy ignored and downplayed the seriousness of the virus when he knew for a fact how dangerous and contagious it was.

How would the origin of the virus change what could have been done about it? What if China had come out and said, “Here, take that! Die Yankee pigs!” Would the former guy have addressed the problem any differently? Would that admission have removed the need for spacing, masking, and vaccines?

Of course not. We’d be in the exact same place we are now. The former president kicked the problem to the states, told them to deal with it on their own, and then fought them for supplies. He created a political litmus test out of a common-sense health issue and Americans have been dying over of it ever since.

So now, the wingnut brigade thinks they’re onto something since one of their fevered wet-dreams might have paid off. I attribute it to the famed Blind Squirrel observation, in which one occasionally finds a nut.

But now they’re using it as “proof” that the election was stolen and the former guy is actually the current guy. Unfortunately for them, you can’t create buttercream frosting out of manure. It’s plausible that the Chinese were working on a virus, which then escaped containment, either on purpose or not. It’s within the realm of reality.

However, the idea that somehow thousands of illegally cast votes appeared in precincts across the country without leaving a molecule of evidence, thousands more GOP-cast ballots disappeared, never to be found again, but the down-ballot elections were totally unaffected, all the while both Republican and Democratic election officials swear by the counts … that’s what they’re counting on being publicly revealed?

These people really do have their heads in a bubble. And by bubble, I mean that empty space formed amid one’s lower torso.