Ruben Bolling Explains Emoluments

This graphic strip needs no explanation, I dare say.

Tom the Dancing Bug

Tom the Dancing Bug on the Electoral College

electoral-college

No comment needed.

If Dr Seuss Were Alive Today …

Would he have written this? I don’t know, nor do I know the actual author, but it’s pretty good:

In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.
 
This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.
 
He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
 
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.
And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.
 
I’ll speak random platitudes, phrases, and such,
They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,
I will make their America great once again!”
 
The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”
 
And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers they crowned him as king,
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.
 
And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
Until they believed all of those lies were true too.
He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.
 
And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking “He’ll never win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.
 
And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Trump he would take their America back.
 
from the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
all his lies about making America great.
 
Now the Pantsuited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
or the fact that the Trump had not yet done thing one.
 
They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pantsuited One she was slandered no end,
and a lie became truth she could never defend.
 
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.
And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
 
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
 
And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
 
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.
 
But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,
and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
 
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
terrified to learn he had to actually work,
work for every American, not just for a few,
not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.
 
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
and those nasty pantsuited ones were here to stay.
 
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,
He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.
And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already more than quite great,
 
not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,
It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
 
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
 
And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
 
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
over two million more of us—voted for her.

What Lessons Has DC Drawn From PISA?

Basically, the lessons drawn by those in charge of education in Washington, DC, is to do exactly the opposite of everything being done by nations with high test scores. Valerie Jablow at EducationDC explains the details.

A Tweet-Storm from Eric Garland

(I have no idea who Eric Garland is, but this was excellent rant, on Twitter, of all things. I took out all the nasty Twitter lingo to make it more readable. I suspect he is part of the IC, or ‘intelligence community’.- GFB)

From Eric Garland,  Strategic analyst for businesses and government agencies. Linguist. Bassist.

I’m now hearing this meme that says Obama, Clinton, et al. are doing nothing, just gave up.

Guys. It’s time for some game theory.

ACTOR ANALYSIS: The Russians enter the Game with a broad objective, flexible tactics, and several acceptable outcomes.

Russian interests have been, for many years now, the subversion of Western institutions, principally NATO, but any will do.

This subversion can take many forms: driving wedges between US-Commonwealth-Euro intel cooperation, break up NATO, create chaos.

This game has been developing for many years, is asymmetrical, and much cheaper than building a decent aircraft carrier.

Plus, the Russians f**king rule at covert shit. Always have. Ask a cold warrior. Mucho respect for our adversaries. They do clever work!

Post-communism, they’re reduced to Drunk Uncle status in the global balance of power. Mouthy, smart, degraded, much reduced in stature.

Russians as *people* are civilized, artistic, enamored of brilliance and tragedy, and generally proud. And should be. They do not like this.

From this position launches an initiative from an old hand at the KGB, now solidified in influence: Subvert for the throat. Go big. Go hard.

While the West is frivolous and lazy and “Post-History,” the clever take advantage. And here begins our present story.

Let’s skip ahead to “Wikileaks.” BRILLIANT. Ingratiate the Left into this anti-establishment distrust of Western intel.

George W Bush and Dick Cheney being slovenly, reckless idiots, the moral authority of Iraq and US intel is nil. In step “journalists.”

Stealing hard drives from US intel and dumping them to foreign agents? That’s *snicker* “journalism!” FREE SPEECH! ROFLMAO.

Oh, and such grand characters, so well run: Manning, Greenwald. So righteous, yet fragile! And feisty! Try a Twitter war with Glenn!

OH YOU PHILISTINE, YOU JUST HATE JOURNALISM! *sigh* *swigs something strong* And Moscow must have been doubling over.

THEN, OMG, that worked so well that the pièce de résistance was next: SNOWDEN!!! BOOYAH! THE BIG GAME! NSA! PRISM! SPASM!

 (incidentally, the NSA was about the only agency the Russians took seriously) But then this EARNEST young man. He tells THE TROOTH!

DID YOU KNOW YOUR TOASTER IS SPYING ON YOU? THE GUBMINT! IT IS EVERYWHERE! THEY SPY ON (*controls snickering*) ALLIES! ALL BAD!

And still hungover from the rotten venality of the Iraq War and Bush’s perversion of the IC as reliable, Wikileaks journalisms the NSA!

DON’T YOU CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE. HARD DRIVES FROM THE NSA IZ JOURNALISM! Even when you take the files to Brazil! Honest! Ask Glenn!

And then, automagically, our man Ed ends up…what’s this now? In Russia? Well, they are such welcoming folks! How…nice!

Langley and Fort Meade run out of bourbon in about three hours, and every intel guy in Russia is drunk, dancing on the desks, and LAFFING.

AND THE LEFT! HOLY F**KING ADORABLE BATMAN! Honi soit qui mal y pense! How dare you suggest untoward Russian involvement! Journamalisms!!!!

US intel snorts all of the Robotussin in the DC/MD/VA area. Putin calls Snowden “A weird guy.” LOLZ.

Moving on to the current chapter.

MEANWHILE, AT THE FOX NATION FORUMS: The other part of this impressive op is percolating – the buttress of the Alt-Right.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Dan Rather chased Nixon around a room asking him questions VERY HARSHLY and the notion of the Evil Media Elite was born.

See, because Nixon got impeached, that meant the media was in on it! WaPo! NYT! Traitors! We look bad! And the media hate begins.

Never mind that to know something in Topeka, somebody’s gotta send you a newspaper or a radio signal or whatevs: The Media Is Lying.

Now, it’s true, high level journalists and editors don’t always see the world like Johnny Lunchpail in Missouri. True facts. But. Trouble.

Republicans decide to create a whole new layer of think tanks and media outlets in the 1980s dedicated to The Other Side.

The think tanks have a POV, but some are quite good, Cato in particular. Heritage came up with what’s now Obamacare. AEI…ehhh. 2 outta 3.

But then the media play comes in. The cranky insane tent pastors on AM radio get…a makeover. They become Legitimate. Embraced.

Magnates start investing in outlets. Brand new pundits get huge audiences yelling about The Way Things Ought to Be (for White People).

David Fahrenthold ‏@Fahrenthold  Dec 11

@ericgarland damn, man, this is great writing, using a form that doesn’t usually lend itself to greatness.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

We are at present in a place of danger where some of our fellow citizens have forgotten our most cherished values.

We’ve been here before.

America, reluctantly but dutifully, recognizes its internal contradictions and failings.

Slavery. Racism. Internment. Classism.

The genius documents that gave rise to noble American sentiments were themselves authored by those who failed them. (h/t @ Mr. Jefferson)

We spilled the blood of our brothers to resolve the contradictions of slavery and then abandoned the project while killing Indians.

Americans proclaimed the equality of all men while treating women as chattel and all non-whites as lesser. We are indeed hypocrites.

But to be American is to accept that unflinchingly and to soldier forth for future generations, and DO BETTER, GODDAMN IT.

There are those who would mire us in worldly cynicism, to anchor us in a world where our institutions betray forever, where values perish.

And to be American is to face that intellectual, moral, and spiritual assault with the unshakeable devotion to something more lofty.

And when that loftiness fails, as it so often does, to be American is to seize it again and again, knowing that our Creator desire Progress.

Progress can come from Traditionalists or Labor Unionists or mystics or musicians or doctors or Senators or journalists. All are exhorted.

The Progress demanded by our Creator can be achieved by immigrants and natives, skeptics and believers, the elite and the humble alike.

That is America. That is the promise that Americans oft ignore and which more cynical nations would defile for their own gain.

That America will last long after I have died, long after new people have picked the torch.

Long after we betray it again, as we will.

But America will go on, even if by another name, unless all who have heard her name are extinguished.

This is just the locus of promise.

America came from the olive groves of Italy and the shipyard of Plymouth and the islands of the Philippines. Indivisible.

America came from the Torah and Voltaire’s Candide and Adam Smith and zen koans and Greek mathematics and Rumi’s poetry.

America is all these things, and should yet another absolutist demagogue, foreign or domestic seize her, it will be far from the end.

Now is a time for patriots.

It’s also Sunday afternoon. I’m gonna get a beer and watch football.

God Bless America, and all nations.

 

Stealing hard drives from US intel and dumping them to foreign agents? That’s *snicker* “journalism!” FREE SPEECH! ROFLMAO.

Oh, and such grand characters, so well run: Manning, Greenwald. So righteous, yet fragile! And feisty! Try a Twitter war with Glenn!

OH YOU PHILISTINE, YOU JUST HATE JOURNALISM! *sigh* *swigs something strong* And Moscow must have been doubling over.

THEN, OMG, that worked so well that the pièce de résistance was next: SNOWDEN!!! BOOYAH! THE BIG GAME! NSA! PRISM! SPASM!

 (incidentally, the NSA was about the only agency the Russians took seriously) But then this EARNEST young man. He tells THE TROOTH!

DID YOU KNOW YOUR TOASTER IS SPYING ON YOU? THE GUBMINT! IT IS EVERYWHERE! THEY SPY ON (*controls snickering*) ALLIES! ALL BAD!

And still hungover from the rotten venality of the Iraq War and Bush’s perversion of the IC as reliable, Wikileaks journalisms the NSA!

DON’T YOU CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE. HARD DRIVES FROM THE NSA IZ JOURNALISM! Even when you take the files to Brazil! Honest! Ask Glenn!

And then, automagically, our man Ed ends up…what’s this now? In Russia? Well, they are such welcoming folks! How…nice!

Langley and Fort Meade run out of bourbon in about three hours, and every intel guy in Russia is drunk, dancing on the desks, and LAFFING.

AND THE LEFT! HOLY F**KING ADORABLE BATMAN! Honi soit qui mal y pense! How dare you suggest untoward Russian involvement! Journamalisms!!!!

US intel snorts all of the Robotussin in the DC/MD/VA area. Putin calls Snowden “A weird guy.” LOLZ.

Moving on to the current chapter.

MEANWHILE, AT THE FOX NATION FORUMS: The other part of this impressive op is percolating – the buttress of the Alt-Right.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Dan Rather chased Nixon around a room asking him questions VERY HARSHLY and the notion of the Evil Media Elite was born.

See, because Nixon got impeached, that meant the media was in on it! WaPo! NYT! Traitors! We look bad! And the media hate begins.

Never mind that to know something in Topeka, somebody’s gotta send you a newspaper or a radio signal or whatevs: The Media Is Lying.

Now, it’s true, high level journalists and editors don’t always see the world like Johnny Lunchpail in Missouri. True facts. But. Trouble.

Republicans decide to create a whole new layer of think tanks and media outlets in the 1980s dedicated to The Other Side.

The think tanks have a POV, but some are quite good, Cato in particular. Heritage came up with what’s now Obamacare. AEI…ehhh. 2 outta 3.

But then the media play comes in. The cranky insane tent pastors on AM radio get…a makeover. They become Legitimate. Embraced.

Magnates start investing in outlets. Brand new pundits get huge audiences yelling about The Way Things Ought to Be (for White People).

And it’s more successful than free chicken and beer. The money flows, the ratings swell. An Australian starts a TV network in the US.

What develops is an attractive, well-produced alternate universe. You no longer need an alternate take. You have alternate facts.

Al Gore mutters and bores his way out of a presidency in a race against a guy who spoke English like he learned it from Rosetta Stone.

And now, the stage is set for a metastasis of batshit nuttery, jingoism, and irrational autocratic fervor. A party becomes a cult.

September 11, 2001 occurs. A buncha guys are in DC who couldn’t wait to go to Iraq. And the right wing media is shiny and tuned-up.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

But then, The Axis of Evil Speech. And all the analysts in DC I know collectively go, “Oh, fuuuuu…they’re not serious, are they?”

Bill Clinton spent most of his years pounding the living snot out of Hussein. Dude built anything funny lookin’, in came the rockets.

There was one concerning nation-state for most, and – hint – it’s in Asia. The other threat was non-state actors. *ahem* Which played out.

And now – *headdesk* – they’re going to Iraq. With bullshit intel.

Goddamn it. GODDAMN IT. This is going to suck, said smart people.

And there’s the entire right-wing think tank and media machine blaring, careening, gloating. From the gov’t itself, and from every outlet.

HOW DARE YOU BE SKEPTICAL? WE HAVE AGENCIES! INTEL! IT’S SECRET! DO YOU WANT MORE PLANES IN YOUR NOSTRILS, UP YOUR BUTTS? BE PATRIOTIC!

And goddamn, did those media outlets sell a lot of ads for trucks, pain killers, pharmaceuticals and financial services. $$$$$$

Many earnest patriots also pointed out, hey, um, there apparently are no weapons that could have blown up Cleveland, so…

But now, this whole thing has morphed into tribalism. YES THEY DID TOO FIND WEAPONS OF MASS DEPRESSION AND YOU SUCK BUSH ROCKS PUSSY

Ann Coulter comes on TV to talk over B-roll of rusty munitions WE SOLD HUSSEIN and said, well look, there they are. Total. Propaganda.

America looks like shit. Our intel services take a helluva beating. Iraq’s invasion – which was basically unplanned – results in chaos.

Katrina. Bush. Looking out the window. Confused.

Hey, but in intel news, the National Geospatial-Intel Agency helps critically.

  1. The housing Ponzi we used to get out of the DotComBust-9/11-era recession has now gone pear-shaped. Utterly nuclear.

America’s banks, the one thing other than movies and video games we do reliably, all shit the bed simultaneously.

We then elect a cappuccino-colored president whose middle name is Hussein.

The Right goes completely over the f**king cliff into insane.

They start the TEA PARTY! YO REMEMBER BOSTON! PAAAATRIOTS SOMETHING SOMETHING! TEA PARTY! NOTHING MATTERS TAKE IT ALL BACK YAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

This political movement happens when the only thing Obama has really said with conviction is “Fired up! Ready to go!” In late November 2008.

But ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S GRAVE THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR!!! And the entire right-wing media gets its next several years of revenue LOCKED.

Now, we’ve got a really, reaaaally fertile field in which former KGB agents can make a long play.

And Moscow gets to work.

America’s at this weird nihilistic place, which is one thing for France and Russia, but NOT for earnest midwesterners who are agape.

Now the American Left has got some juice back again. But the Right is just apoplectic from pure suffering.

Both are ripe for subversion.

The Left is out of love with American business and military-industrial, the Right foams at the mouth against legitimate government.

And the guys who have been twisting minds from Vladivostok to Havana and back get to work building an “alt” media structure.

We’ve already covered the genius of that who Wikileaks op on the Left. SCORE!

Now for the perversion of the formerly nationalist Right.

JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST THERE’S A BLACK DUDE IN THE WHITE HOUSE! LIVING THERE!

It’s not hard to convince Southerners this is insane.

But put a little elbow grease in on some internet forums, and pretty soon you can have Northern John Adams-type conservatives, too.

A whole generation of disaffect Rush Limbaugh fans (WE LISTENED AND DITTOED SO HARD WHY IS THERE A BLACK DUDE THERE?) is ripe for picking.

In addition to alt-finance sites and “Russia Today” a new TV network, they start infiltrating “social media.”

Disclosure: Because I’m mouthy all the time like this, RT had me on as a guest. They prop up US “subversives.” And they don’t edit you!

Fun fact: Al Jazeera and RT just let me talk. US media almost always wants some hand in your final product before booking you. Ironic, no?

But from about 2009 to the 2016 election, a madness is being brewed and slowly poured down the throats of increasingly hysterical Americans.

When you imbibe from this potion, everything is awful and everyone official is lying to you.

Only other members of the cult are with you!

US media, which is complicit in many of our problems, is portrayed for the extremists as conspiratorial liars. All the time.

Formerly sane members of US society start sounding like my schizophrenic grandfather, who said Government was keeping him from His Mission.

David Fahrenthold ‏@Fahrenthold  Dec 11

@ericgarland damn, man, this is great writing, using a form that doesn’t usually lend itself to greatness.

We go kick a bunch of barbarian ass in Afghanistan, as well we should have. They were beating women and destroying Buddhas. F**k ’em.

There was one concerning nation-state for most, and – hint – it’s in Asia. The other threat was non-state actors. *ahem* Which played out.

And now – *headdesk* – they’re going to Iraq. With bullshit intel.

Goddamn it. GODDAMN IT. This is going to suck, said smart people.

And there’s the entire right-wing think tank and media machine blaring, careening, gloating. From the gov’t itself, and from every outlet.

HOW DARE YOU BE SKEPTICAL? WE HAVE AGENCIES! INTEL! IT’S SECRET! DO YOU WANT MORE PLANES IN YOUR NOSTRILS, UP YOUR BUTTS? BE PATRIOTIC!

And goddamn, did those media outlets sell a lot of ads for trucks, pain killers, pharmaceuticals and financial services. $$$$$$

Many earnest patriots also pointed out, hey, um, there apparently are no weapons that could have blown up Cleveland, so…

But now, this whole thing has morphed into tribalism. YES THEY DID TOO FIND WEAPONS OF MASS DEPRESSION AND YOU SUCK BUSH ROCKS PUSSY

Ann Coulter comes on TV to talk over B-roll of rusty munitions WE SOLD HUSSEIN and said, well look, there they are. Total. Propaganda.

America looks like shit. Our intel services take a helluva beating. Iraq’s invasion – which was basically unplanned – results in chaos.

Katrina. Bush. Looking out the window. Confused.

Hey, but in intel news, the National Geospatial-Intel Agency helps critically.

  1. The housing Ponzi we used to get out of the DotComBust-9/11-era recession has now gone pear-shaped. Utterly nuclear.

America’s banks, the one thing other than movies and video games we do reliably, all shit the bed simultaneously.

We then elect a cappuccino-colored president whose middle name is Hussein.

The Right goes completely over the f**king cliff into insane.

They start the TEA PARTY! YO REMEMBER BOSTON! PAAAATRIOTS SOMETHING SOMETHING! TEA PARTY! NOTHING MATTERS TAKE IT ALL BACK YAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

This political movement happens when the only thing Obama has really said with conviction is “Fired up! Ready to go!” In late November 2008.

But ON GEORGE WASHINGTON’S GRAVE THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR!!! And the entire right-wing media gets its next several years of revenue LOCKED.

Now, we’ve got a really, reaaaally fertile field in which former KGB agents can make a long play.

 

And Moscow gets to work.

America’s at this weird nihilistic place, which is one thing for France and Russia, but NOT for earnest midwesterners who are agape.

Now the American Left has got some juice back again. But the Right is just apoplectic from pure suffering.

Both are ripe for subversion.

The Left is out of love with American business and military-industrial, the Right foams at the mouth against legitimate government.

And the guys who have been twisting minds from Vladivostok to Havana and back get to work building an “alt” media structure.

We’ve already covered the genius of that who Wikileaks op on the Left. SCORE!

Now for the perversion of the formerly nationalist Right.

JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST THERE’S A BLACK DUDE IN THE WHITE HOUSE! LIVING THERE!

It’s not hard to convince Southerners this is insane.

But put a little elbow grease in on some internet forums, and pretty soon you can have Northern John Adams-type conservatives, too.

A whole generation of disaffect Rush Limbaugh fans (WE LISTENED AND DITTOED SO HARD WHY IS THERE A BLACK DUDE THERE?) is ripe for picking.

In addition to alt-finance sites and “Russia Today” a new TV network, they start infiltrating “social media.”

Disclosure: Because I’m mouthy all the time like this, RT had me on as a guest. They prop up US “subversives.” And they don’t edit you!

Fun fact: Al Jazeera and RT just let me talk. US media almost always wants some hand in your final product before booking you. Ironic, no?

But from about 2009 to the 2016 election, a madness is being brewed and slowly poured down the throats of increasingly hysterical Americans.

When you imbibe from this potion, everything is awful and everyone official is lying to you.

Only other members of the cult are with you!

US media, which is complicit in many of our problems, is portrayed for the extremists as conspiratorial liars. All the time.

Formerly sane members of US society start sounding like my schizophrenic grandfather, who said Government was keeping him from His Mission.

Only the Gubmint knew the Archangel Gabriel was sending him to find the next Jesus.

So, cut it out, CIA! Stop it, Giant Conspiracy!

And then people you knew from Functional Daily Life started talking that way. People with car dealerships. Dentists. Regular folk.

They started with CONSPIRACY, especially after 2012, because DAMMIT NO THERE SHOULDN’T BE A BLACK DUDE TWO TERMS NOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO NO

THEY ARE ALL IN ON IT. THE CORPORATIONS. THE MEDIA WHORES. THE GOVERNMENT! (except for my Medicare, don’t touch that) ALL OF THEM!

A CABAL CALLED The Pentaveret: The Queen. The Pope. The Gettys. The Rothschilds. AND COLONEL SANDERS, BEFORE HE WENT TITS UP!

If you haven’t unfollowed by now, 1. You’re nuts and 2. Thank you for indulging my So I Married an Axe Murderer reference.

MOVING ON. The conspiratorial fever at about 108, we begin the 2016 election – AGAINST EVERYTHING HOLY – in 2015.

The Republicans debate over 712 times, discussing topics such as who hated Obamacare more, and who had a large penis.

Jesus, that happened.

The Democrats all debate who’s going to get out of Hillary’s way first, except for VERMONT’S OWN BERNIE SANDERS, who…gets popular?

I’m from Vermont and have known Bernie forever, so I’m very surprised, but everyone kinda likes it.

Hillary wins anyhow.

And now, the target for electoral mischief is enormous. Hillary is the most known quantity in America, with huge backstory.

Creating a conspiracy narrative around the Clintons is like creating a “southern” narrative around NASCAR and grits.

Now – with Trump as the non-conformist, not-like-all-the-other-rotten-conspiratorial-assholes paragon, the Russians go into overdrive.

The Russians didn’t create Trump – only New York City and American gullibility could have done that.

But they’ve got a SWEETHEART outcome.

Trump – a moron – is probably unlikely to take the whole enchilada, but that’s perfect. If he gets close enough, he can cry UNFAIR! forever.

Amazing scenario for Russia – instead of RT, they get an institutional nihilist chowderhead with American credentials. They butter him up.

Hell, to hear many tell of it, the have kompromat on him. But anyhow, they invest in his stuff. He was there in 2013. They have a lever.

IF on the off chance, Trump actually (and who could guess this) wins, then…wow, they’ve got quite an opening.

Either way, on the run-up to Nov 2016, Russian involvement was as subtle as a fart in a spacesuit.

Scroll down my TL for details.

The U.S. IC had its hair on fire. This situation was incredibly dangerous. A paranoid U.S. faction backing a rogue with ties to Russia.

OK, Jesus, at LONG LAST, back to my initial premise. Why didn’t Obama and Clinton “do something?”

JESUS, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You come out and have the CIA enter the goddamn race for Clinton? True or not, we look like some weird cryptofascist state.

Or, you let the Russkis laugh and taunt and infiltrate Facebook with majillions of propaganda tales for idiots? Just let them run around?

Do you come out the day after this totally weird-smelling abomination of an election with all its technical difficulties?

Do you tell America the day after the election that Russia spearfished all of our think tanks in brazen fashion?

Hillary, for her part, gives a brief and all-too-calm speech and goes hiking.

Probably the best move on the board.

Obama WELCOMES! Mr. Trump in an intense, welcoming welcome. To the White House. Mr. Big Winner Guy! Welcome! Fellow American!

Trump looks like he swallowed a goldfish and stares at the floor a bit too long.

As if maybe a joke has gone too far.

In the next month, a small band of propagandists run in a circle and try to look like they’re forming a government.

It’s ungainly.

And now, it’s December 11th. Trump says he don’t need no stinkin’ intel agencies.

Russia (BWA HAHAHAHAAAA) blames Ukraine! LOLOLOLOLZZZ

A lot of Republicans stare into the middle distance, except for McCain and Graham who are NOT HAVING THIS SHIT. (I salute you, gentlemen.)

And here we are. Americans. Hopefully soon united. This isn’t a partisan issue. Obama isn’t late to the party. People are doing their jobs.

If you think any of this is easy, you’re ignorant and delusional.

Tonight, though, I write to you with great hope.

This may be America’s finest hour, as we act together with unshakable resolve to deal with enemies foreign and domestic.

We have done so in the past and come out a stronger, more just, more pluralistic nation.

We will do so now.

And for me? Or die trying.

America is the steward of a genius system entrusted to flawed stewards whose descendants seem to act on the right side of history.

This system is not rotten, not beyond repair, not exiled from the future.

We have been infiltrated by agents who would drive us mad.

This is a nation built on civilization, humanity, and reason, rejecting the febrile superstitions of the past.

It must stand. And will.

We are at present in a place of danger where some of our fellow citizens have forgotten our most cherished values.

We’ve been here before.

America, reluctantly but dutifully, recognizes its internal contradictions and failings.

Slavery. Racism. Internment. Classism.

The genius documents that gave rise to noble American sentiments were themselves authored by those who failed them. (h/t @ Mr. Jefferson)

We spilled the blood of our brothers to resolve the contradictions of slavery and then abandoned the project while killing Indians.

Americans proclaimed the equality of all men while treating women as chattel and all non-whites as lesser. We are indeed hypocrites.

But to be American is to accept that unflinchingly and to soldier forth for future generations, and DO BETTER, GODDAMN IT.

There are those who would mire us in worldly cynicism, to anchor us in a world where our institutions betray forever, where values perish.

And to be American is to face that intellectual, moral, and spiritual assault with the unshakeable devotion to something more lofty.

And when that loftiness fails, as it so often does, to be American is to seize it again and again, knowing that our Creator desire Progress.

Progress can come from Traditionalists or Labor Unionists or mystics or musicians or doctors or Senators or journalists. All are exhorted.

The Progress demanded by our Creator can be achieved by immigrants and natives, skeptics and believers, the elite and the humble alike.

That is America. That is the promise that Americans oft ignore and which more cynical nations would defile for their own gain.

That America will last long after I have died, long after new people have picked the torch.

Long after we betray it again, as we will.

But America will go on, even if by another name, unless all who have heard her name are extinguished.

This is just the locus of promise.

America came from the olive groves of Italy and the shipyard of Plymouth and the islands of the Philippines. Indivisible.

America came from the Torah and Voltaire’s Candide and Adam Smith and zen koans and Greek mathematics and Rumi’s poetry.

America is all these things, and should yet another absolutist demagogue, foreign or domestic seize her, it will be far from the end.

Now is a time for patriots.

It’s also Sunday afternoon. I’m gonna get a beer and watch football.

God Bless America, and all nations.

The Blackest Heart ‏@TheReddestRose  Dec 11

@ericgarland That was amazing. Thank you. I’ve never heard anyone put the kind of patriotism I ascribe to into words. Beautiful.

 

L.A.Times Reporter Might Have Messed up the Math — Will the Ancient Astronomers Come to the Rescue?

WOW!

You won’t believe the revolutionary discoveries that modern astronomers have found, by carefully decoding old astronomical tablets written on tablets, in cuneiform, as long ago as 700 BC in modern-day Iraq!

You might not be surprised that a science reporter and various commentators reporting on the story – including myself – may have got the math wrong.

This is not just clickbait – the historical research was very dedicated and quite clever, and it shows that all the  years I’ve tried to to study and learn Arabic, astronomy, Babylonian, calculus, Chinese, French, geometry, Hebrew, Latin, mathematics, Russian, Spanish and Turkish might actually pay off one day, when I grow up! (*)

What’s the scoop?

In a nutshell: Researchers read and translated a bunch of ancient and more recent records of eclipses of the Sun and Moon, from cultures all over the world, over a period of 27 centuries. They compared those results  with what modern software and computers calculate they should be if you simply went backwards in time at a rate of precisely 24 hours per day. That meant studying lots of obscure records written in Chinese, Babylonian, Arabic, and Latin, as well as in modern languages.

The researchers were quite impressed at how accurate the Arab and Chinese records were, even though their instruments were much cruder than what we have today. (Obviously, no telescopes, no electric clocks, etc, etc…) The records from the Roman empire and early Mediaeval Europe, however, are apparently not nearly as good (200 BC – 600 AD) as the Chinese and Arab ones were.

cuneiform-astronomy

After the invention of the telescope a bit over 400 years ago, records became much richer. For example, observers could record the time, to the second (or even better), when a star would get blocked out by the Moon and then eventually re-appear on the other side.

(David Dunham , though retired, is an expert on this.)

Bottom line, according to the newspaper reporter: If it’s noon right now, and you could somehow go back in time precisely twenty-five centuries ago to exactly where you are standing or sitting, then everybody else back then (about 500 BC) would see the time as the equivalent of 7 PM, because the earth is turning on its axis ever so slightly slower today.

Revolutionary, I told you! Not joking, not exaggerating either!

But wait a second – how much would that be slowing down per year? The article doesn’t spell it out, but 7 hours is 420 minutes, or 60*420 = 25200 seconds,. If we divide that by about 2500 years, you get 10 seconds per year!

Wait a second, that doesn’t sound right at all! These days, if the earth really got slower at a uniform rate of 10 seconds per year, many of our cheap quartz watches and clocks are so accurate that we would actually notice the difference!

Let’s go back. The LATimes reporter, Deborah Netburn, wrote:  “the amount of time it takes for Earth to complete a single rotation on its axis has slowed by 1.8 milliseconds per day over the course of a century” – which is not very clear.

A commenter on LATimes website, named “It is me Here” wrote:

The time discrepancy described as “It may not sound significant, but over the course of 2½ millenniums, that time discrepancy adds up to about 7 hours” is not 7 hours. Over 2500 years it amounts to: 1.8 (milliseconds) x 365 (days per year) x 2,500 (years) = 1,642,500 milliseconds, that equals 1,642 seconds that equals 27.38 minutes, not 7 hours.

 

Did you get that, and do you agree? If not, let’s go back a little further, to the  abstract of the original study report which says:

New compilations of records of ancient and medieval eclipses in the period 720 BC to AD 1600, and of lunar occultations of stars in AD 1600–2015, are analysed to investigate variations in the Earth’s rate of rotation. It is found that the rate of rotation departs from uniformity, such that the change in the length of the mean solar day (lod) increases at an average rate of +1.8 ms per century. This is significantly less than the rate predicted on the basis of tidal friction, which is +2.3 ms per century.

(my emphasis – gfb)

 

So, would we really be 7 hours slow if we went back?

Maybe, maybe not.

Let’s think about it differently:

Since 500 BC, it has been about 25 centuries. According to the study, every century the earth slows down by about 1.8 milliseconds, which isn’t very much. 25 * 18 milliseconds is 450 milliseconds, which is a bit less than half a second. So does that mean we have to add up all of those 1.8 milliseconds by 365 days

That’s not much at all.

(BTW, why does the earth get slower? One source of the slowing down is simply the friction of the ocean tides. If you’ve ever been to the ocean and paid attention, you know that the gravitational pull among the Sun, Earth and Moon raise and lower a WHOLE lot of water all over the world, twice a day. That takes a HUGE amount of energy and a lot of it is dissipated in friction, which slows things down. But there are others.)

But here is a different way of looking at it still, as a trapezoid: the left-hand parallel side is about one-half second shorter than 24 hours – the length of a day in during ancient Babylonian days. The right hand parallel side is exactly 24 hours long. In between, there are 2,500 elapsed years.

Let’s pretend that each of those years contains 365 days (let’s agree to ignore the effect of leap years for right now). If the shape were a rectangle, then that would mean that the earth had not slowed down at all, and if you went backwards in time from now by 2500 years it would be exactly the same date, same time.

slowing-of-length-of-day

Apparently, it’s not. The lost or extra time is the part I show in this next diagram:

slowing-of-length-of-day-2

 

That little pink section is a a long skinny triangle with its right hand end 1/2 second per day long, and the base is 2500 years long, or 912,500 days. The area of a triangle is 1/2 * base * height, and so we use 1/2 * 1/2 * 912,500 and get 228,125 seconds lost (the ‘days’ units cancel out), or about 3802 minutes, or 63 hours, 22 minutes, which is 2 days, 15 hours, and 22 minutes off.

Not sure if I’m right or not, but would appreciate comments.

Here is one of the figures from the paper:

intercalation-revolution-of-earth

(*) Note that I don’t claim to be fluent in all of them. Far from it! Guess in which of the languages ones I can reed perdy guud and which ones I can at least stumble a conversation in?

 

Published in: on December 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm  Comments (4)  

A Cartoon Strip I Like – TeachingTed.Com

I just found out about this cartoonist from Diane Ravitch. He’s a good artist and has something to say about education and the world that teachers inhabit. You might like his work, too. Here are a couple of his strips:

cartoon-on-ed

 

cartoon-on-trump

 

cartoon slippery slope.png

What if Finnish Teachers Taught in the USA?

You have all heard that FInland does the best job in the world at getting high scores on tests like PISA without burdening their students or their teachers with extreme workloads. Finland does not have long hours of homework for elementary kids, and they don’t require the daily filing of rigidly formatted, complex lesson plans for teachers. Finnish teachers are selected from the very best of their university classes, and have enormous amount of control over what they do, which they plan with their peers.

So what if some of these Finnish teachers came and worked here in the US?

Now we know, thanks to an article in The Atlantic.

A couple of quotes, from three such teachers. One said,

“If you asked me now, my answer would be that most likely I would not continue in this career.”

Another:

While teaching in Finnish schools, she had plenty of leeway to plan with colleagues, select curricular materials for the principal to consider purchasing, and influence decisions about schedules and responsibilities.

Today, with 16 years of teaching in U.S. public schools under her belt, this ESL teacher feels that she lacks a career in teaching. She described it as a rote job where she follows a curriculum she didn’t develop herself, keeps a principal-dictated schedule, and sits in meetings where details aren’t debated.

And another:

“I teach six classes a day with a one 45-[minute] ‘planning’ period,” she said. “My classes are at three different proficiency levels, and I have four minutes between classes to prepare for the next class. At the same time, I am expected to stand in the hallways to monitor students as [they] transfer from class to class, and to check my email for last-minute updates and changes because of ongoing testing or other events.”

All of those tasks, and several others, wear her down: “I feel rushed, nothing gets done properly; there is very little joy, and no time for reflection or creative thinking (in order to create meaningful activities for students).”

Muja concluded her response with a quote from one of Pasi Sahlberg’s articles for The Washington Post, “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools?”

Sahlberg, an education scholar and the author of Finnish Lessons 2.0, answers the theoretical question in his article’s title, writing in part: “I argue that if there were any gains in student achievement they would be marginal. Why? Education policies in Indiana and many other states in the United States create a context for teaching that limits (Finnish) teachers to use their skills, wisdom and shared knowledge for the good of their students’ learning.”

More on Rigging Elections

Now, let us suppose that somehow the Hillary campaign actually managed to

(a) make sure that a rigged coin – supplied by them, not taken from somebody’s pocket – was used in each of the six coin toss cases

(b) figure out in advance which caucuses had to get those coins

(c) tell their person which side of the coin to choose in case a toin coss came up,

(d) none of the other folks noticed any of this skullduggery taking place right in front of their eyes — (by the way, you should watch this video of how this worked in practice)

THEN, yes, that weighted coin might help their odds, as you can see in this chart:

rigging-elections

I used the binomial theorem to figure this one out. Let me give a few examples: in the row that’s highlighted in green, the probability of heads and tails is both 50%, and as I indicated int he last post, the probability of getting ‘heads’ five times out of six is about 9.38%. However, if you could somehow figure out how to make a coin that came up ‘heads’ 60% of the time, then your chances of getting 5 heads would improve to 18.66%.

And if you could boost the unfairness of your coin to the point that it would come up heads 80% of the time then your chances of getting 5 ‘heads’ would be 39.37%. Still not a slam-dunk.

I only know of two ways to make a coin biased. One method is to carefully split two coins in half the hard way, and make a two-headed coin (or two-tailed) coin. Such coins are actually sold in magic shops.

The other method is to bend the coin slightly – I am told that the concave side will end up being on top more frequently (like a cup).

So, Hillary’s nasty minions would have had to either distribute a bunch of bent coins or two-headed coins, and nobody else would have had the brains or eyesight to notice, for this to have been rigged.

I don’t think so.

Super Scenario for Tonight’s Debate

Wonderful screenplay for an alternate-reality presidential debate, from Aaron Wiseman, who’s been a friend of my own kids for decades – they’be been to each others’ weddings, etc. I had no idea he could write like this. It’s fantastic, don’t you agree?
 
“Best case scenario for tonight’s debates?
 
10-minutes in, we’re seeing the same bullshit.
 
Suddenly, all the house lights go down. The arena is awash in total darkness. Panic begins to set in when the lights flicker and momentarily reveal a cloaked figure in the rafters.
 
The lights flash again and the figure is gone. Suddenly, a crushing guitar riff fills the entire venue. A spotlight shines down on the arena floor. The figure from the rafters has magically moved with supernatural speed.
 
As the music builds, the cloak falls to the floor. IT’S JOE BIDEN! He’s wearing a crisp blue two button suit complete with arm tassels and full Warrior face paint.
 
As the music hits full crescendo, Joe takes off towards the stage at a full sprint! In one graceful move he slides onto the stage and hits Trump with a forearm to the dome.
 
The Great Pumpkin, takes the blow like it’s nothing. That doesn’t slow ole Joe and he hits the Cheeto Demon with a super kick to the face. B-Side Beelzebub just smiles.
 
Is he even human? How can he take so much punishment? Joe looks to the audience pleadingly.
 
As if to say, “I hit him with my best shot. How?” But then the carroty façade begins to falter and Trump’s knees buckle. His eyes roll into the back of his head and he begins to stagger around the stage.
 
Joe goes in for the finisher and hoists Trump into the air by his belt. As Trump begins to flail, Joe sends the would-be-dictator-tot crashing to the floor. A perfectly executed Gorilla Press.
 
Hillary walks up to Joe, her arms open in gratitude. But instead of matching her embracing, Joe grabs the mic from the former Secretary of State.
This wasn’t for you. Hill. A. Ry. Clin. Ton” Joe growls, “It was for America!”
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