Tree Tuesday

Trees in the News: According to Vox, the trees at Joshua Tree National Park in California are now one step closer to extinction thanks to the current US government shutdown.

According to National Parks Traveler, visitors are creating illegal roads and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas. They are also chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks. With Joshua Tree being roughly the size of Delaware, the eight on-duty law enforcement rangers had no way to stop all the prohibited activity.

Joshua trees are already facing possible extinction, with scientists claiming that the Joshua Tree habitat will be lost to climate change by 2100. Smith told National Geographic in October, “We’re just in crisis mode right now.” Twenty days into the government shutdown, vandals are accelerating the trees’ demise.

Why? Why must people be so short-sighted and destructive? The article at National Parks Traveler notes that Joshua trees were cut down so that 4 wheelers could go around entrance gates. Once inside the trespassers continued their destruction, tearing up virgin desert, running over plants, camping in off-limits areas, leaving behind heaps of trash and generally behaving like 3 year olds high on sugar and let loose in a toy store with no supervision. It’s one more thing we can add to the list of things that Trump is destroying.

Crimes against mankind: fat women existing

Let’s get it out of the way, right at the start: I’m fat. That is a simple statement of fact. I’m not a bit “on the chubby side” or have “womanly curves”. Actually, I find such statements pretty offensive because they imply that being fat would be a horrible thing (it isn’t), but I’m not (I am). Listen, everybody with eyes to see knows I’m fat. this is not a moral statement. This does not tell you much about who I am or what I do. It has absolutely no relationship to my character.

Yet, when you’re fat, especially when you’re a fat woman, your weight is everybody’s business, usually under the guise of being “concerned” about our health.

So, Nike creating a range of sportswear for fat women should be universally lauded because it will encourage us to finally take up that exercise you’ve been bothering us with for the last few decades, right? Right?

Comments on the picture:

You don’t have to be so PC, Nike, this is trying too hard, fat isn’t pretty nor healthy.

Another guy, Aaron,  feels obliged to explain this to us in detail:

Nike have officially just lost my respect and cracked other the PC brigade of having to keep people happy (sic), next you all will be supporting severe obesity where people can’t walk or get out of bed lol health and facts have literally gone for all you snowflakes. So we want people to be happy with their weight, even if it causes cloths (sic) higher blood pressure, diabetes, sever (sic) difficulty in breathing and lazyness (sic), is this what you loneys (sic) all support because if so then you’re supporting a person’s insecurity to try feel proud of themselves but really hate every inch of there (sic) body and emotionally eat themselves fat, and you still support it, anyone who supports this is the reason, and proof that this world is losing touch with keeping healthy.

I don’t know, but it seems like Aaron is a bit, uhm, emotional about a clothing line for women. Especially given that this is sportswear, so it’s actually designed for people who want to, you know, exercise. But Aaron’s (and other guys’ anger is well justified, because if we make clothing that fits fat women (somehow fat men are of little concern even though statistically, there’s more of them), they may actually feel good about themselves (because nothing can cause grumpiness like an ill-fitting bra) and that cannot be permitted. Because as Aaron and every other dude like him knows, we’re categorically miserable. Really. We may seem to live happy and productive lives, have friends, lovers, lots of fun, but as Aaron knows, we’re actually just faking it (you cannot be productive anyway because fat people are lazy, don’t you know?).  The obvious solution for this is that we just stop being fat. Somehow. While please not existing in public, because that really offends dudes like Aaron. No exercise and sports either, because somehow that supports us in being fat. Sorry if that logic escapes you. It’s because you’re a woman, or fat, or both, or neither. Don’t ask me, I don’t make the rules.

Or maybe we just see Aaron for the sad entitled prick that he his, feigning concern for our health while being very upset about a company selling clothing that makes it easier for fat people to actually exercise and do something for their health*.

And  I’m sorry I have to say it, but Aaron, you should have sat still and paid attention in your English class.

*And no, exercise is not about losing weight. Exercise is good for you. Go find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel alive. Forget about your weight.

When you don’t have enough hands or faces to palm.

American politics have a serious side effect of headaches from shaking them or facepalming constantly over here in continental Europe (made worse by the weeping over the Brits), but sometimes it’s just bizarre.

Have you heard about that big scandal involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Well, hold on fast, because these revelations will break your heart. When she was a teenager, she danced and had friends.

Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is…
…High School video of “Sandy” Ocasio-Cortez @AoDespair

And then there’s Elizabeth Warren. Did you know what she did? She drank beer on Instagram!

I hope I have now thoroughly ruined your new year with these groundbreaking revelations of human women doing normal human things.

 

Macedonia 7 – Coming Down the Mountain

Back in Macedonia, having taken the ropeway to the top of the mountain, I decided to walk down – there’s a paved road, and I was told it only takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour. I suppose that’s 45 minutes if you don’t stop for photos along the way, which I did. A couple of times. It’s a nice walk with several gorgeous views and a lot of hairpin turns before the bottom, very quiet and isolated and, that time of year, with few people to meet along the way, except for the random cyclist coasting at speed. Along the way, which is the story I wanted to tell, I came upon a group of 5 or 6 inebriated young men. Not that there’s much to tell, because I did my best to walk past them without bringing undue attention to myself.

Of course, this was not possible – I don’t speak much Macedonian, but I’m pretty sure the things they yelled after me were not particularly polite. As soon as I’d turned the first bend with them out of sight, I took it upon myself to jog the next few turns, and carried a stack of prickles down my spine the rest of the way (more than half). At least they were going up the mountain.

In any case, I haven’t run through so many escape scenarios in my head for a long, long time. It was hard to go back to just enjoying the scenery and surrounding nature. But because I did enjoy it, you can, too.

 

Yellow flower.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

It was a sign.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Nice paved roads.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

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A Soviet Heritage

So this happened. And yes, snowflake that I am, I find it offensive. Deeply so.

“We are disappointed that the largest retailer in the world and in the U.S., Walmart, does not acknowledge or respect the millions of victims of various nationalities, who suffered under the Soviet regime – those deported, including the elderly, infants and children, political prisoners, dissidents, members of resistance movements and all those who lost their lives, health or family in the Gulag or other repressions of the Soviet totalitarianism,” a letter to Walmart, signed by the chairman of the Estonian Pro Patria party, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Estonia’s minister of justice, Urmas Reinsalu, and the Estonian member of the European Parliament, Tunne Kelam, said.

It’s like some symbols of authoritarian regimes are verboten, while others… are hip and trendy? By virtue of being labelled differently? (And yes, the term ‘communist’ as applied to the Soviet Union bears little resemblance to its application to the underlying philosophy, but this is not that discussion.)

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Wackaloon

Liz Crokin, right wing “journalist” has recently lost the tips of two fingers in a surfing accident and is blaming Hilary Clinton as the cause.

While she realizes that it was probably “just a freak accident,” that didn’t stop her from also asserting that it may have been the result of a curse that had been placed on her by Hillary Clinton or artist Marina Abramović or some other “witch” that is targeting her due to her efforts to expose the secret satanic cannibalistic pedophile cult that supposedly runs the world.

Is it just me, or do other people think that the right wing of America have lost their minds. I can almost get past their belief in their God (almost, but not really), but what is up with the belief in witches and spells and curses. Do they really think we live in Harry Potter World full of magic, and if so why isn’t their all-powerful, all-seeing God doing something about it? It seems to me that it just highlights the impotence of their sky God. It all seems so totally illogical and totally ridiculous. The full story is at Right Wing Watch, if you can stomach it. Just a word of warning, if you click on the links inside the story be prepared for even more ridiculous right wing thinking.

 

10 Plants: Bulldozed To Death.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

That’s right: Confronted with a small-scale illicit marijuana grow on public land, the [Pennsylvania] State Police deployed a helicopter and the on-scene bulldozer and managed to kill their target. But that’s not how the cops tried to spin it.

Brought to you with utter disgust and contempt, contempt for fucking cops, who seem to be good for only one thing: murder. Contempt for the puritanical, colonial bullshit which is a complete blight on Amerikkan society.

You can read all the sordid details here.

American’s Fear of Hearing Foreign Languages Is Nothing New

When I was reading today morning an article on RawStory This is why right-wingers are so threatened by hearing foreign languages in the Trump era, I honestly have thought to myself “Yes? And what else is new?”.

As some of you might recall from my comments in the past, I was in USA, twice, and I worked at Sun Valley resort in Idaho for the summer season as a laundry worker.

First time I and two of my friends have arrived at New York, with J-1 work and travel visa but without any specific plan as to where to go. We traveled by greyhound first to Atlantic City and after failing to find work and lodgings there one us stayed and two of us have split and traveled to Idaho. Again via greyhound.

In the greyhound we actually did not experience anything overtly unpleasant. Whenever we talked in Czech, the most that has happened was someone asking politely “Where are you guys from?” and after polite answer “From Czech Republic.” the matter was resolved and dropped. Nobody was pestering us (apart from two kids who kicked the back of my seat and their parents did not take them to task, aaargh!).

In retrospect, most of those polite people were Latinos and black. In retrospect the two of us stood out, with our pale skin and me with my blonde hair and blue-grey eyes.

It was only after we started to meet white “patriotic” Americans when we encountered some nastiness, some first hand, some second-hand.

There was a bunch of European workers at the resort for that season, a lot of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, a few Croats (and a lot of people from France because the catering manager was French and it wa seen as posh to have actual french waiters). Almost all these people were people with university degrees, at least Bachelor or higher. But a lot of us had rather basic English and with heavy accents – after all learning English was for many of us one of the reason for the travel.

Some of the white people, guests as well as workers, took this rather badly and it was not uncommon to meet the attitude “they are so stupid, they cannot even talk English properly”, sometimes covertly, sometimes overtly expressed. AFAIK always by people of lower education and with zero knowledge of the world outside USA. The people saying this were not hostile, but they were nasty.

One evening when we were drinking beer with one of the actually really friendly (and not only pretending to be so) Americans, the discussion steered towards this and he summed it up in a joke.

“How do you call someone who knows three languages?”

“Trilingual.”

“How do you call someone who knows two languages?”

“Bilingual.”

“How do you call someone who knows only one language?”

“American.”

We all laughed, because it was true and therefore funny. He himself did not know second language, but he tried to learn Spanish and knew therefore that it is not an easy task. I only remember meeting one white American who actually really spoke second language (Spanish) with reasonable fluency.

When the season ended, I and my friend could either go straight home, or use the J-1 visa option and travel for one month to see a bit more of USA. We have decided to use that option and it was during this travel that we encountered actual overtly expressed hostility towards us.

The incident was very short, but it stuck in my mind. It was somewhere in California, and I do not remember whether it was in San Francisco or Santa Monica (probably the latter). We were just walking along the street, casually talking about something inconsequential when a smallish thin black-bearded man passing by shouted at us “You are in America, you should speak English!” with such force and venom in his voice, that we were startled and both paused. He gave us a scathing look and went on. We looked at each other and talked a bit about WTF just happened?

The stories that I am reading now about USA remind me of this incident and make me wonder whether it would turn out differently today. Whether today that man might feel bold enough not only to shout and give scathing looks, but to actually harm us.

Americans hate of foreigners is really nothing new. The “melting pot” was always a myth.

“An illogical yet divinely guided step…”

Sales of Tarot Cards are up! Oh no, witchcraft, satanism, and atheism, oh my! And worst of all, anti-Trump!

Breaking Israel News that warned that “sales of tarot cards have risen sharply in the last year as self-proclaimed witches claim that divination and dark-magic are effective in opposing President Trump.”

In that, um, article, Tarot cards are referred to as an ancient evil. That couldn’t really be further from the truth. Tarot cards are quite old, yes, but they started out as playing cards for specific card games, which are still played in parts of the world. The whole using them as divination tools and such didn’t come into fashion until the late 18th century and 19th century, which is not all that long ago. What I find to be funny is that tarot playing cards all have trump cards. I have no doubt that if lunatic christians and Jews found out about this, they would make a most hysterical hay out of it.

Right Wing Watch has a full article up about all this, I’m just going to quote this particular part of it:

The Breaking Israel News article also quotes Rabbi Pinchas Winston “an end-of-days expert and prolific author.”

“Anytime people act illogically and don’t notice it, it is a sign that Divine hands are setting the stage,” Rabbi Winston said, explaining that this was all part of a “Messianic endgame.”

“According to Jewish sources, the end-of-days will see an enormous polarization of good and evil,” Rabbi Winston said. “This is so that when we stand before God and he asks us ‘why didn’t you choose good?’, no one can say they couldn’t see the difference, that good and evil were not obvious. No one can say that they were kind of good. The end-of days is all or nothing, with the ramifications clearly spelled out.”

Winston explained that this process of clear good versus clear evil was clearly true in how American politics has played out in recent years.

“Obama was the first step of this polarization but he was able to hide most of the polarization and dress it up as social justice,” Winton said. “He could hide the evil he promoted, make it sound like good. So people who supported him could support evil but give the excuse that it was reasonably presented as good. To accomplish that, they need to be masters of disguise, to hide the truth even from themselves. They need to embrace Hollywood. They need for it to be all about appearances and subjective reality because the truth is too painful.”

“Trump is one step further,” Rabbi Winston said. “There is no hiding. You either love him or hate him, and he doesn’t know how to hide the truth in pretty words. Good and evil are laid out for everyone to see.”

Personally, I think good and evil are pretty easy to tell apart, especially these days. I agree with Rabbi Winston that it is most important for people to stand up against evil, which means standing against the Tiny Tyrant and all the destruction he is wreaking all over the damn place. It’s a pity so many believers of Abrahamaic religions are noisily standing on the side of evil, and protecting evil people.

Good people don’t go out of their way to destroy the environment even further when the damage already done is displacing so many people and dire weather events are happening all over the place. Good people don’t encourage Nazis, let alone refer to them as “fine people”. Good people believe in social justice, wanting basic human rights and equality applied to all people; good people don’t characterise social justice as evil. Good people don’t build concentration camps, rip people apart, and place children in fucking cages. And on and on and on the list goes.

If your fucking god hates people because of skin colour or country of origin, and hates social justice, then your god is one evil fucker, and you should be walking away, into the light and the right. Time to question that god of yours, and decide whether or not you can manage to be a truly good and moral person. No gods are needed for that.

RWW has the full story.

Only A Woman Knows That Trumpian Zen…

Sam Nunberg appears on MSNBC (screen grab).

Sam Nunberg appears on MSNBC (screen grab).

Sam Nunberg is pushing Hope Hicks for chief of staff, and his reasons are…interesting.

“She is actually perfect for what the president is looking for,” Nunberg replied. “He is thinking of not having a chief of staff. What he wants is to operate like the 26th floor of Trump Tower where he had a strong-willed, very good woman in Rhona Graff handling the calls, knowing him getting his zen, things like that.”

“He will listen to women more than men, believe it or not, strongly saying, that wouldn’t be a good idea,” he continued. “She would be perfect for this. He had to adapt to the presidency… political gravity will never apply to him.”

Oh my. No chief of staff? I’m sure that would work out wonderfully. It is in line with the Tiny Tyrant’s desire to be a dictator. Christ, just when you keep trying to tell yourself it couldn’t get worse, it always gets worse. I am not looking forward to slamming into the bottom of the barrel at speed.

As for zen, hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh, I can’t think of a worse word to apply to the Tiny Tyrant. I’m fair confident in saying that chances are high that Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word. “Zen and the Art of Being A Dictator“.

Back when Donny was confined to Trump Tower, he didn’t run a damn thing, and that’s how he wants to do things now? Well, it would be better if he stopped trying to run things…

“We’re dealing with a new president here,” he explained. “I would tell you Hope has very good political instincts. They came to her very quickly during the short time I worked with her, and she was essentially his gatekeeper during the election. And she would be great at that position, and she doesn’t take — she knows the way he’s going to work.”

“She’s not going to be insulted like John Kelly that the president is going to do what the president is going to do,” Nunberg concluded.

Yeah, we all know what we’re dealing with, and “political instincts” be damned. What’s required is someone who is actually qualified for the fucking job, but I guess we can’t even have that much in the revolving door regime.

Via RawStory.

The Chains of Intolerance.

Andrew Ellis Johnson, “The ICEman Cometh” (2018, detail), ink, charcoal, wax, graphite.

Andrew Ellis Johnson, “The ICEman Cometh” (2018, detail), ink, charcoal, wax, graphite.

Art and artists most definitely have a place in answering wrongs, great or small, and everything in between. Andrew Ellis Johnson has a searing piece up at Hyperallergic. It’s well worth seeing and reading.

Tea for Trump.

Women adorning fancy hats celebrate President Trump's birthday over tea at an event hosted by Virginia Women For Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on June 24, 2018. (Photo: Jared Holt).

Women adorning fancy hats celebrate President Trump’s birthday over tea at an event hosted by Virginia Women For Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on June 24, 2018. (Photo: Jared Holt).

Tea for Trump. Uh huh. I’m just going to include choice quotes here, because reading the whole article made me feel rather ill.

The Trump International Hotel’s largest ballroom was packed wall-to-wall with Republican women donning ornate hats and fascinators made of mesh, lace, ribbon, and feathers, at the Virginia Women For Trump’s “Tea for Trump” event yesterday, which celebrated the belated birthday of President Donald Trump. Organizers repeatedly insisted that the idea that women do not like Trump was “fake news.”

[…]

Prior event descriptions claimed that a member of the Trump family was expected to attend, although none appeared to be on-site for the tea celebration. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also rumored to be attending in order to receive an award, but did not make an appearance.

Rather, those in the crowd who had traveled from as far as California and paid at least $100 per person had a chance to gaze upon pro-Trump fashion designer Andre Soriano’s 45 gowns meant to commemorate Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States. One dress was dedicated to Trump’s meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore and a young girl wearing one of Soriano’s dresses earned widespread applause.

A model adorns a dress premiered at “Tea for Trump” that designer Andre Soriano fashioned as a tribute to Trump’s meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore. (Screenshot / YouTube).

A model adorns a dress premiered at “Tea for Trump” that designer Andre Soriano fashioned as a tribute to Trump’s meeting with North Korean officials in Singapore. (Screenshot / YouTube).

YouTube duo Diamond & Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson), who testified before Congress earlier this year after Facebook mistakenly flagged their fan page, were perhaps the biggest draw of the event and stepped on stage to a standing ovation. At the podium, the duo showered praise on Trump, at one point asking, “When I look at how our president has built this particular hotel. If he can do this and that, then why can’t he make America great again?”

The Tiny Tyrant did not build the hotel. He scammed a lot of cash to have it built, then turned around and refused to pay a lot of those people who did the actual work. When it comes to this country, he hasn’t changed tactics much.

The Deplorable Choir performs a brief song at Virginia Women For Trump’s “Tea for Trump” event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on June 24, 2018. (Screenshot / YouTube).

The Deplorable Choir performs a brief song at Virginia Women For Trump’s “Tea for Trump” event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on June 24, 2018. (Screenshot / YouTube).

The “Deplorable Choir” vocal trio made a surprise appearance while bearing a guitar that was not strummed once during their brief song. The lyrics were as follows:

Well, we love God and family,

We support our troops through everything,

We got Trump 2020 on the back of our pickup trucks,

We back the blue and the NRA,

We’re for pro-life and American-made,

Raise your hand if you’re proud to be damn deplorable.

Um…well, ladies, I wouldn’t be terribly proud of those songwritin’ skills you’re flaunting about. Perhaps if you learn how to play that guitar…no, wouldn’t help.

You can read the whole nasty mess at Right Wing Watch, although I don’t recommend reading with a full stomach.