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    • Here’s some happy news
      The feds wiretapped Paul Manfort before and after the campaign, and may have Trump on some of the wiretaps, according to CNN: Washington (CNN)US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now a […]
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    • Obama’s Just the Enemy And Always Was
      One of the most amusing things about the 07/8 primary season was how often Obama praised Reagan and how few people took him seriously. Obama thought Reagan was great, and said so repeatedly. “He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, […]
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Monday: the blogger on the bus.

That’s where I write my posts these days. 15 minutes is about the length of time I get to regale you with my infinite wisdom.


According to Jim Bakker and the rest of the fundagelicals, the flooding caused by Harvey was the result of Houston’s lesbian action.

Yes, yes, those lesbians have more power than you think. They can even control the weather with their lady parts.

Hear that, Pat and Frannie?? It’s all YOUR fault. Why don’t you solve the national debt problem, didja ever think of that, huh??


Susan Chira at the NYTimes wrote another “Die!, Hillary, DIE!!” piece of the type that has been popping up lately. I’ll have more to say on this later. But for the moment, let’s not forget that Hillary won more votes than any white male candidate in history, more than Obama in 2012 and almost as many as Obama in 2008.

Did she make mistakes? Who alive *hasn’t* made mistakes. But two weeks before the election, we all assumed she was going to win. I had to temper the enthusiasm of my friends so that they wouldn’t forget to vote. Then came Comey’s letter.

No one in the media has the right to criticize her after what we witnessed in 2016. It was unconscionable. It is the Susan Chira’s of the world who gave us Trump. They just won’t take responsibility and frankly, if there is anyone who should get off the stage, it’s Chira and her buddies who gave us snark instead of responsible election coverage and focused with Javert like intensity on emails that have condemned the rest of us to generations of conservative judges and increasing voter disenfranchisement.

Shut the fuck up, Susan.


The Conversation has a post about some unexpected solar activity causing spectacular northern lights and possibly affecting communications here on earth.

I doubt we’ll see the lights down here in Pittsburgh but those of you closer to the Canadian border might.


It’s getting a little “Lord of the Flies” on St. Martin/Sint Maarten in the aftermath of Irma. The French and Dutch are sending more aid but its surprising that both of these countries didn’t make a better effort to help their territories. The island makes a lot of money in tourism for France and the Netherlands and get bloody little back in return from what I could see. It’s time to step up. We’ll be busy enough helping out in Florida.


Sixteen years ago today, I was driving to the lab and listening to WNYC on the radio when the signal suddenly went dead just as I was passing through Princeton. I thought nothing of it and switched to WHYY in Philadelphia, which seemed to be oblivious. Apparently, the sudden loss of signal on the North Tower at the WTC where the local public radio station had its antennas did not cause a disturbance in the force.

Half an hour later, we were all dumbstruck with horror at what we were watching. The internet was impossible to use for work purposes. We all filed into the lecture hall downstairs and watched the tragedy unfold on the big screen.

BiFF was at a site closer to the city and he and his coworkers went to the roof and watched the towers burn. Employees with relatives in the towers tried to contain their anxiety waiting for phone calls.

It was Brooke’s first week in kindergarten. School was canceled for the rest of the week. There were children whose parents worked at the WTC in our sedate suburban community and it was too much to expect for the little ones to keep it together when they didn’t know what was happening to their parents. That was Brooke’s first impressions of school.

My Chinese colleague smirked and said that whoever did this thought the US was a paper tiger. I looked at her with a “you can’t be serious” look on my face. “Whoever did this has no idea what they have unleashed. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to US. Just wait and see, the payback is going to be epic. It will bring out the pathological patriotism in Americans”.

And it did.

She didn’t bring up the subject again.

For years after 9/11, BiFF and I would go to Jersey City at dusk and watch the Tribute in Light. It’s eerie and beautiful and reminds us of all of the souls reaching up to heaven on that day.


Sunday: Weather Zeitgeist

The weather is perfect this weekend in Pittsburgh. It’s been cooler than normal for about the past week. I’m drinking my coffee on the back patio.

The Warhol Museum on Pittsburgh’s North Side was better than I expected. For this museum, start at the 7th floor and work your way down. Before he went Pop, Warhol’s art was very accessible. I think he had a knack for color. Some installations are just fun, like the black room with the floating Mylar “clouds”. Or doing your own screen test. Warhol’s idea about movie stars was that they have the kinds of faces we like to look at. So he filmed faces being themselves for three minutes. You can have your own 3 minute screen test and the museum will email it to you. Most of the iconic Warhol art, like the Campbell’s soup can, are at other museums. But there’s a series of Mick Jagger portraits that is not to be missed, and a two story wall covered in green Mao Tse Dong wallpaper. Good way to spend a few hours.


In Florida, Irma’s eye wall is hitting the Florida Keys right now. To everyone’s surprise, Irma tracked more west than anticipated and is now threatening Naples and Tampa. So, the wrong coast was emptied, leaving residents scrambling to find shelter.

Meanwhile, it looks like it’s ok to talk Trump Mouth on TV during a weather update. Check it out:

Nice. Just what women want to hear more of on a daily basis.

I met someone the other day who said people don’t hold back and check their dark side thoughts anymore. They feel free to say whatever it is they think and feel about the people they regard as their inferiors. Because who’s going to stop them? And our commander in chief has set such a classy example.

Yes, these days it’s perfectly ok to defend Nazi’s or talk about pussies during a weather update.


Franklin Foer writes about how Silicon Valley’s contradictory impulses towards libertarianism and collectivism are resulting in a culture that is less reflective and more reliant of tech monopolies to present pre-digested information that fits the categories we find ourselves in.

The monopolistic nature of the big 4 tech companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook and apple (GAFA) are reducing our choices and funneling us into cattle shoots based on algorithms that analyze our preferences. It’s cool profit making crossed with marketing and it’s difficult to resist. It’s hard to say which company is the worst offender but if I had to make a guess, it’s probably Facebook. I know that’s not what people want to hear because Facebook is convenient for finding out what your friends and family are doing. But it’s also way too easy to squash independent thinking. We all need to exercise more self restraint.

Saturday: Art-ish

I’ve been in Pittsburgh for 4 years and am only now going to the Andy Warhol museum.

It’s going to be a nice day. Go out and play.


I’m moving this up from the comments because it’s just that good. Warning: swallow your coffee before hitting the play arrow:

Yes, Trump fans, this *is* the way the world sees him. And they are not afraid of him. They think he is a pathetic, stupid and ineffective paper tiger.

It doesn’t matter how miserable you think your belligerence is making the rest of the world. France, China, the U.K., Pakistan and India, Russia, they all have nukes. It’s not like we have all the power. We just used to have self restraint and better judgement.

We are an international joke and it’s clear now that there’s no THERE there behind the facade. We’re ignorant, crazy and dangerous and infinitely mockable.


Irma is going to hit the Florida Keys as a Category 5 hurricane.

Friday: Lark Ascending

The colorist put too much beige in my hair.

I forgot my earrings so I can’t swing them when I walk.

There is a group of cyclists in the coffee shop in their tight Lycra bike pants…

I’m chill.


In a piece in the New Yorker, Jelani Cobb argues that Trump’s recent actions on DACA and other immigration issues are an attack on the Nationality Act of 1965:

This is how Trump could find common ground with Joe Arpaio, the disgraced former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Trump gave his much-criticized encouragement of police brutality in Brentwood, Long Island, a community that has struggled with violence associated with the largely immigrant MS-13 gang. To recognize racial profiling as a wrong, one would first need to recognize that large racial or ethnic groups are composed of distinct individuals. Neither Trump nor Arpaio is particularly invested in this kind of nuance. Nor, apparently, are Trumpism’s most committed adherents. Critics protested Arpaio’s deputies’ targeting of people for their ethnic background, but to the hardest core of Trump’s base this is an inscrutable objection—ethnic background is precisely the issue.

In this view, the real target is the world created by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which eliminated the racialist immigration quotas that were set by the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act. Johnson-Reed was born of familiar concerns: a fear that the nation was endangered by a tide of questionable newcomers, many of whom held secret allegiances to hostile foreign forces. Writers such as Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard agitated public fears that whites—a category that was far less inclusive than our current understanding of it—were on the verge of being outnumbered. Those fears, as Linda Gordon, a history professor at New York University, notes in her new book, “The Second Coming of the KKK,” formed the basis for the populist resentments that eventually shaped the politics of the era. Gordon writes of William Simmons, the architect of the Ku Klux Klan’s revival in the nineteen-twenties, that by “engendering and exploiting fear, he would warn that ‘degenerative’ forces were destroying the American way of life. These were not only black people but also Jews, Catholics and immigrants.”

The 1924 act regulated immigration by allowing only a two-per-cent increase of any given ethnic group’s numbers each year. But, rather than using the most recent census, from 1920, to determine the immigration totals, the act referred to the 1890 census—a neat means of avoiding the swell of immigrants, designated as undesirable, from Southern and Eastern Europe, not to mention from Asia, who had arrived in the United States mostly in the intervening years. The policy was so defiantly and arrogantly racist that, as James Q. Whitman, a professor at Yale Law School, writes in “Hitler’s American Model,” it earned praise from Adolf Hitler. “The American Union categorically refuses immigration of unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races,” Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf.” This, he said, made the country a leader in preserving racial purity through immigration policy. The Johnson-Reed Act largely held sway for forty-one years, until, amid the democratizing ethos of the civil-rights era, immigration policy fully shed the racial engineering that had previously defined it. This is the world that Trump seems to be attempting to resurrect.

Soooo, there’s that…


The Economist explains how criminals make money from disasters. Oo! Oo! I know. Wait until a superstorm hits your state in November and hoard all the firewood from people who can’t turn on the heat in their houses, then charge the $50 for a measly bundle that they could have gotten in the grocery store for $4 a couple days before!

They probably interviewed some Bush administration members and anyone Haley Barbour knew for this one.

Also in that issue, how to use machines for facial recognition. The subtitle is “Nowhere to hide”. So reassuring.


Mexico just experienced an 8.1 earthquake.

The Ricter scale shown below gives you an idea of just how big that is:

Tsunami warnings are in effect for New Zealand. Number 1 child lived through one of these when she lived in Maui. Always an adventure to get up in the middle of the night and flee to the mountains, leaving your Xbox behind…

Irma is bearing down on Florida. “95% of St. Martin is destroyed, this is no hyperbole” says the NYTimes. Hope everyone makes it out of Miami on time.

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs…

Stroll: Bad Things.

Just heard from a structural engineer that buildings in Florida built after Andrew in 1992 are only supposed to withstand winds of 141mph.

Irma is already at 185mph. Florida is doooomed.

Wednesday: paint by number dreams

For the nonconformists:

My aim is true.


Pat and Frannie in the Houston area want to give a shout out to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter for their work in rescuing pets from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They were recently featured on Good Morning America.

Our Lady V from Uphold These Rights has also been actively coordinating rescues from the Houston floods.

Stephen Colbert has a page for Harvey relief. Check it out. Then start planning for Irma.

The Late Show (@colbertlateshow)

9/6/17, 12:39 AM

Goodnight, everyone! Please donate to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey if you can. Every little bit helps! #LSSCpic.twitter.com/dB0yM37Ri4


The Conversation describes how DACA affected the mental health of Dreamers.

Like Trump and his droogs are going to care about the misery of the hostages they took.

What did Cersei Lannister say to her brother? “The lion does not concern itself with the opinion of the sheep”?