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I was really sorry to see Notre Dame burning, omg! I'm glad that the stone and stained glass windows and other parts were saved! These are a few pics I took back in 2007 --

Been enjoying the spring flowers! This also means I've been working on the yard, cutting grass, weeding, etc. Not much camera time lately! Lilacs in the yard --
Rainy Day!

You know...a couple years ago, I read where a conservative Republican laughed and said something like 'They (meaning gay people) would NEVER be president.' I remember shking my head and thinking...I don't think that is correct. But I didn't think there would be a strong candidate so soon!

It's been really nice to see Pete Buttigieg running. Definitely following him on Twitter, and I kicked some coinage his way as a donation.
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I’m starting a book that I’m excited about because of the subject matter. The book is called the "Final Pagan Generation", and the book’s subject is the last generation of people living in the Roman Empire as the Empire changed into a strictly Christian empire -- a generation who could not imagine a world where the pagan religions were not able to practice publically.

The generation he’s talking about is the older one that was still alive just AFTER Constantine (first Christian emperor) had died.

I’m just on the introduction now, but already I find it interesting how he is comparing the younger generation, who recognized the existential threat to paganism represented by Christianity, and the older generation (the ‘final pagan’ one) who could not even imagine the world order changing so much that paganism could be forbidden.

Here are some excerpts from the intro:
The younger pagan and Christian religious warriors were born into a world in which Christianity was clearly ascendant. They anticipated its destructive and transformative power, and as they matured, they came increasingly to understand that the dawning new religious order threatened the very existence of traditional Roman cults…

Older men did not see the world in this way…They reacted instead as if they could not imagine a world in which traditional religious practices did not have a part…

The “final pagan generation” I will speak about is made up of the last group of elite Romans, both pagan and Christian, who were born into a world in which most people believed the pagan public religious order of the past few millennia would continue indefinitely…

They lived through a time of dramatic change that they could neither anticipate nor fully understand as it was unfolding.

What I find interesting is that I might equate the words “pagan religious order” with "US political order" -- my generation's understanding of the rules and mores of how the US Republic works. I wonder that we might be the ‘last generation’ to think that the political order of "how things have always been" might not be how things might always be in the future.
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I'm still ruminating on the news that the VA Governor had a picture on his medical school yearbook page with 2 guys, 1 dressed in blackface and the other in KKK robes. The picture would have been taken in the early '80s.

And first I read that the Governor admits that he was one of the guys in the picture. Then the next day, I read that he denies it. Changing his story, in itself, is a strange occurrence that gives me pause. And yes, I know how ironic it is that I'm concerned about the state governor's story change when we have that crazy dimwit in the White House who makes up fantasy stories every.single.day.


First some of what I'm thinking about Blackface --

I try to think back to the early 80s, and I wonder if I, myself, realized at the time how hurtful blackface had been to black people -- basically, white actors in times past painted their faces with shoe polish and then mocked black people as dumb Sambos or clownish buffoons.

Would I have known about that in the early 80s? Probably not completely. But I am almost positive that I would have known enough not to do that, not even as a 'joke' or a costume.

On balance, I believe that I could 'kind of' move past the black face, and ignore that picture from the 80s.

KKK Robes

But then I see those robes...those robes! The KKK was not a 'joke'...not just mocking, not just words. People died, were beaten, had their houses burned, etc., all by groups of cowards wearing hoods and too afraid to show their face.

I have a real problem moving past those robes -- I don't think I can ignore that image.

What do I think?

My first reaction was that he would not survive this, which led me to looking up how the succession works when the governor resigns. However, now the Governor says he won't resign. Personally, I think he should resign.

The only reservation I have about is that the jackal in the White House is heaping onto the governor. Trump has been the biggest disaster in US presidential history, and anything he does is highly suspect to me. And the news was dug up and released by a conservative political group.

I still think the governor should resign, although I wonder about the conservative involvement in it.
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Shit in their pants,indeed...

If the world should end tonight, I had a crazy classic life...apologies to Janelle Monae...

So glad it's Friday...I needed a break this week! Work was weird. Non work-related discussion today between (in my not so humble opinion crazy-assed conservative and in my not so humble opinion more sensible and realistic people....) Jiminy, when was the last time I had to use the word macaxeira at work???

Glad to have had TANG -- the drink -- yes TANG, lol cocktails with a friend. We also played Shuffleboard, lol!

I had a 'Tang-quila Sunrise' at Tang and Biscuit, lol!

Got my taxes filed.

And got my escrow analysis from the mortgage company -- as expected, payment going up because of local taxes.

And it snowed unexpectedly today.

And it got down to fricken 10F (-12C) this week...wtf!?? And it will be 70F (21C) next week????

And I'm now the project manager on a project at work that I have no skill set for???

And visited the breweries with a friend from out of town the other night...

And tomorrow having coffee with someone I don't know to offer career advice???

Always look at the cards that fall out of the deck!

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...but Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Now I know why I block this jackal on Twitter! I see enough of these Tweets just by reading news articles.

By the way, we used to be shocked that a president would even tweet, and more shocked that he would tweet so indecorously, but you never really hear anything about that anymore. There's a lot of boundaries he has crossed, as he drags us through the mud.
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I'm back from my visit to New Mexico (and Colorado 1 day and Utah 1 day). It was a good vacation! And I am also glad to be back in my own bed! My routine when I travel alone is to grab the hotel breakfast early then get on my way each day so as to avoid the heat of the day. Even in cool October, the sun in New Mexico beats down on you! I was not hot while I was hiking, but even with sunscreen, I still got mild sunburn in the face a couple of days from the sun.

And now I'm thinking I have explored New Mexico as much as I need to, this being my 3rd trip there. Next time I got out west will probably be to explore the eastern part of Utah.

I'm also glad I didn't watch the news much -- seems like same shit, different century. News delivered this headline today: "A Week Of American Hate: Bombs Mailed, Black People Executed, Jews Slaughtered".

This was my tweet while I was driving around NM --


21 Jun 2018 19:24
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This basically expresses part of what I am feeling!
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I wrote a post venting about the demagogue currently in the office of the president of the US...and I decided to not post most of it because this situation didn't just come about by accident.

The existing order in the US has been rotting for a while...
  • As our education and cultural mores have eroded (do students even get the opportunity to read classical literature any more?)
  • As we valued education less.
  • As we let our electronic devices curate our news and make decisions for us.
  • As we let the power-hungry manipulators of the world divide us with targeted ads.
  • As we stay cloistered in our houses, watching entertainment instead of enjoying each other's company.
  • As we let pay structures in our corporations get so out of whack that a do-nothing CEO makes 100 times the person making the widget.
  • As our institutions have failed us. The largest media sources are little more than entertainment outlets now. Our religions seems to value war and suffering more than peace, education and kindness.
  • As we sat fat and happy consuming, consuming, consuming, consuming....

I don't have a good solution. I'm not particularly a Luddite, but I have less interest in 'social media' now, having deleted my Facebook account a year and 1/2 ago. I do still read Twitter, but I try to judge the source of what I'm reading more now.

I suspect the only solution will be to strengthen our social contacts with others (in real life, not virtually!)...and to turn off the electronic devices (à la Timothy Leary's 'Turn on, Tune in, Drop out')...and to live more simply.

I also think that the only way the human race will survive is to get off the planet and establish colonies elsewhere. We are too self destructive, and there are too many of his here now to survive here.

I was reading an article about how the Amish use some technologies, but not others, and that they make the decision based on how each technology will impact their families long term. I think it's a really good idea to judge a technology before using it, as to whether it makes your life better or not. And like food and drink, sometimes you consume too much and have to go on a diet -- I think we should diet from our electronics.
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You know something I hate about Jabba and all those associated with him? They've taken away satire and sarcasm!

You could read a headline before and know immediately that it was satire -- something that the Onion would publish.

Now...NOW...Jabba and his cronies are so fricken CRAZY, and have turned the world on its head, so that I read a headline and I CANNOT tell when it is satire.

It's fuckin' crazy!
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I originally thought we should put the Confederate monuments into a museum setting of some sort -- as teaching lessons about history.

After Charlottesville, I say tear them down.

Most of them were raised in the early 1900s as part of Jim Crow. They have no place in America now.
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1947 Anti-Fascism Video -- starts mostly around 2:16 -- "I thought Nazis were crazy people -- fanatics" --

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So, we are now reading articles about how a 'war' might look?

It only took 7 months with Jabba in office! Granted, the North Korean situation has ben very flammable for a long time...it's just that Jabba has no skill -- is over his head -- is antagonistic and stupid.

I don't have enough expletives to describe what I think of him.

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Sorry for this long, jumbled post. I don't think i have a point here.. just a list of jumbled thoughts and general observations about the precipice we are standing on.

Fear -- Common Thread

1) The Republican party is not about common good -- it is strictly a grasp for more power. Centralized politics always is leads to power grabs, but I have never seen it this naked before. I read a tweet the other day about how it seems that Republicans are voting as if they will never have to run in a free election again - in other words, they are not afraid of losing an election based on their votes in Congress.

2) The people who are supporting Trump seem to be 'white people first' people -- 'Make America Great Again' really is 'Make America White Again'. Being white myself, I don't say that with the intention of insulting. -- it's just my perception that MAGA is really about white people feeling threatened.

3) The people supporting him also tend to be conservative Christians. Same issue -- Christians feel threatened not being in the majority anymore. I read somewhere that 911 caused an upsurge in atheism! I suppose it's because 911 was due to religious extremism -- done in the name of god.

4) The people supporting him are afraid -- maybe afraid of losing their 'place' in the world. And Fox (let's call it the 'state news') is constantly drumming the fear beat.

5) The people supporting Trump seem to mostly be rural...and indeed rural society has broken down. Seriously -- I don't think urban people realize how broken society has become in rural areas. This is a source of fear for rural people.

The common thread is fear. I see the fear, but I don't feel it.
--> If a MAGA person sees a person in a turban...they become afraid, probably thinking 'what will this turbaned person do to me'?
--> When I see a turban on a co-worker, I tell him that I really like the color of the turban! (the man I'm talking about is Sikh and wears red turbans a lot, and I like the color red.)

I'm not acting all 'high and mighty' here -- just seriously, I don't feel the fear -- quite possibly because my life in general is pretty stable right now. Of course, I do have a good deal of concern about the children of immigrants becoming radicalized...and that radicalization is so very violent in nature. It seems to be a situation where the children become distant from both their own culture -AND- the dominant western culture. And radical ideology fills the void.

But to me, closing the doors to immigrants feels less like 'closing the doors to immigrants'...and more like 'closing the gates to pen Americans in' -- I worry that the gates are closing in the way they did for Jews who waited too long as the Nazis came to power, and then could not get out.

Speaking of power grabs

As I read the article about the Federal Commission wanting personal data on every voter since 2006, I saw this quote in the article: “…Kobach 'has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas....'"

And that made me think of this Maya Angelou quote: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.


Existential Dread

This article spoke to me:
"Terror management theorists believe anxiety over death is the driving force behind politics, art, literature, religion, science, and the rest of what we call civilization. In order to manage the terrible yet inescapable knowledge of our own impermanence, we seek out projects that offer us some promise of immortality, either literal or symbolic."

Breakdown of institutions --
Loneliness is a vacuum that yearns to be filled. And when established institutions are unable to meet that need, fringe ideologies come to replace them. Thus Hannah Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism that “totalitarian domination as a form of government … bases itself on loneliness, the experience of not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.”

Basically, the terror management thinking is that all of civilization is a reaction against the existential dread we all have! And the breakdown in the community ties that bind is what has resulted in our political situation.
"Trump seized the White House by utilizing the oldest known recipe for legitimating political power: Cultivate an aura of immortality; remind your subjects of their own mortality by nourishing their fear of an alien Other; promise the extinction of that Other, and an escape from death’s shadow, in return for loyalty."

I can't tell if we are still on the precipice..or falling at this point.

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I don't even have words for Jabba...I see the end game (#Russia)...but it's being executed in such a stupid way...

And these people are completely insane....

It was a fricken typo, and Jabba was careless and let the tweet stay up for hours....but when I listened to the audio -- Spicer seems to be saying it was perfectly fine because a small group of people knew what he meant.

I mean damn -- EVERYONE KNEW WHAT HE MEANT -- from the context. The point is that this yokel typed a completely bad tweet...and didn't check behind himself...and doesn't have aides who would double check for him.

And if Spicer had just said it was a late night typo, it would have been odd...but not completely INSANE sounding! https://t.co/w998vxHd3J

One nice thing about having my language prefs set to Portuguese is that apps present a lot of Brazilian search results, etc. to me. When I clicked to see Tweets tagged with #covfefe, these were in my first page or 2 of results.

These Tweets made me laugh...

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Title is from a sign at the March for Science in DC today. Rainy and cool = kinda miserable...so after making an appropriately long appearance, the friend I was with texted other friends for brunch :)

Science March DC



Washington Monument
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But the third rope was still moving: the child too light was still breathing...
"For God's sake, where is God?"
And from within me, I heard a voice answer.
Where He is? This is where -- hanging here from this gallows..."
That night, the soup tasted of corpses.

I just read a book written by a child who spent time with his father in Birkenau and Auschwith concentration camps.

His descriptions are pretty shocking in places. The author, Elie Wiesel, died last year.

It's hard for me to believe that there are Holocaust deniers -- most of whose "talking points" seem to quibble with the number of people killed -- by the way, the "6 million" was a number that came from a member of the German SS.

Documentation exists for 3 - 4 million people killed, and when you read eye witness accounts like this book, listen to videos of eye witnesses, read excerpts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goebbels_Diaries>Joseph Goebbel's diaries, it becomes patently obvious that a rounding up of people for forced labor, and then death by starvation, illness, shooting, hanging and gas chambers occurred. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/how-to-refute-holocaust-denial

Eisenhower ordered documentation to be created -- https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/General-Eisenhower-Holocaust-Verification

Video of French survivor:

There are very few survivors anymore, which is why Ellie Wiesel's book and other sources are so important.

Will this sort of thing happen again? Almost surely. Hell, purposeful attempts at genocide have happened repeatedly already during wars.

Why do Holocaust deniers exist? Certainly, anti-Jewish bias is a cause. But there's more to it than that. I haven't been able to completely put my finger on it...but if the deniers admitted the Holocaust, they would have to change their opinion of 'the other' -- meaning the deniers would have to change their belief system and recognize other people and other cultures as valuable. It's almost as if the deniers are resentful of the attention that Jews got because of the Holocaust.

I didn't time this post to happen during Passover -- it's just the timing of finishing a book. But it is probably an appropriate post.

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After Republicans in House and Senate voted to allow ISPs to sell your personal browsing history (and I imagine that Jabba will sign the bill), I began to look at how I could surf using a VPN -- to protect my browsing history.

I have no desire to share browsing history with advertisers -- do they really need to know about that personal 'thing' I might have had, lol? And how exactly would advertisers make use of my interest in Old French to sell me something?

It already annoys me when I look at, say, underwear online, only to see that same underwear offered as an ad in a website. Not only is it intrusive, it's the VERY SAME FRICKEN UNDERWEAR that I just looked at! I didn't buy it the first time -- why would I want to see it again???

As I get older, I have less need to buy shit. (I also am cursing more.) And I have no need for advertisers to come find me -- i'll find them when I need something!

Anyways...I digress...

Opera comes with a free built in VPN. I figure 'free' means maybe not as robust as it could be. But free is always good, and it probably serves my purpose. So, I have switched to Opera!

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I knew from day 1 that Jabba was lying and making shit up the entire time he was campaigning. He would say whatever he could to please the crowd (a Hitler trait, I might add). So if I could see Jabba for who is is, why the fuck couldn't someone like this see how dangerous he was/is?

When Helen Beristain told her husband she was voting for Donald Trump last year, he warned her that the Republican nominee planned to “get rid of the Mexicans.”

Defending her vote, Helen quoted Trump directly, noting that the tough-talking Republican said he would only kick the “bad hombres” out of the country, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Months later, Roberto Beristain — a successful businessman, respected member of his Indiana town and father of three American-born children — languishes in a detention facility with hardened criminals as he awaits his deportation back to Mexico, the country he left in 1998 when he entered the United States illegally.

“I wish I didn’t vote at all,” Helen Beristain told the Tribune. “I did it for the economy. We needed a change.”

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I mean, we suspected that there were Russian connections with Jabba...but even though there were the suspicions, you didn't really want to believe it...

What's a poor, gay, Buddhist guy to think? It's pretty amazing, deeply disturbing, and almost admirable that Russia was able to infiltrate the US government so deeply!


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."