Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Look! New book recommendations!

Yes, folks, it's time, once again, for another J-TWO-O Book Nook post. (Click the link to see previous book recommendations.)

As per usual, I have listed books alphabetically by author. And I've included a few books I didn't love, because I realize not everyone is as picky as I am (and other people I know really liked these books).

Oh, and if you'd like to tell the class about some great books you've read this year, please share the title and author in a Comment. Thanks!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Fiction. I love a good fairy tale. And this is a good fairy tale. Set in long-ago Russia, in a small village at the edge of a wood, The Bear and the Nightingale is a bewitching coming-of-age story (with some Beauty and the Beast undertones). The story centers on Vasillisa, or Vasya, the youngest child of a Russian nobleman, whose beloved wife dies while giving birth to the girl. Like her mother's mother, who some say was a witch, Vasya seems otherworldly, and, indeed, can see and speak with the spirits that protect their house, animals, and crops. But when her father remarries a religious (and superstitious) woman, and an ambitious young priest comes to preach in the village, the old ways are threatened and crops begin failing and animals begin disappearing, leaving the villagers angry and terrified. And it is up to Vasya to try to save them all.

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. Historical fiction. I'm a big fan of Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness mystery series, set in England in the 1930s. So I expected to equally enjoy her latest novel, In Farleigh Field, a mystery set (mainly) in 1940s England and Paris, during World War II. And I did. If you are a fan of British mysteries set in the first half of the twentieth century on English estates, filled with charming characters and plot twists, you will enjoy In Farleigh Field.

The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret by Catherine Hewitt. Nonfiction. Maybe it's because growing up Gigi was one of my favorite movies, but I loved this book -- which, like Gigi, is about French courtesans (and the men who adored them). Mainly, it is about one particular French courtesan, the "Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne," nee Emilie-Louise Delabigne, who was the toast of late nineteenth-century Paris. A fascinating biography of a fascinating woman, as well as a history lesson, The Mistress of Paris reads like a work of fiction, but it's not.

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman. Nonfiction/Memoir. Loved the idea behind Eight Flavors -- exploring eight different seasonings, or flavors, such as pepper, vanilla, soy sauce, and MSG, that greatly shaped American cuisine (though she purposely leaves out chocolate and coffee); the writing, not so much. (God save me from Millennial food bloggers.) But, if you are not irked by young women (and men) who love to talk about themselves or interject their own personal experience with something, and consider yourself a "foodie," and like books about food, this book is for you. (My college-age daughter loved it. So maybe it's a generational thing. Though I found many parts of the book interesting.)

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett. Fiction. As stated above, I love a good mystery, especially an English mystery -- as well as books about King Arthur and his knights and quests for mystical objects. So The Lost Book of the Grail was kind of the Holy Trinity of books for me. The story centers on introverted book lover and English professor Arthur Prescott, who harbors a secret obsession with the Holy Grail. Arthur, despite being an atheist, is enamored with the ancient cathedral in his (fictional) small English village, and spends most of his free time in the cathedral's library. However, when a pretty American shows up to digitize all the ancient books (to Arthur's horror), his world and life are turned upside down. A charming, fun book.

Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony – France’s Last Best Place by David McAninch. Memoir. The subtitle pretty much says it all. The gustatory adventures of David McAninch, a former editor at Saveur, in Southwestern France, where he and his wife and young child spent eight seemingly very happy, very delicious months a few years back. If you like tales of good food (especially French food), good drink, and consider yourself a Francophile, I recommend Duck Season. (Just make sure to have a good French restaurant nearby when you do.)

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller. Nonfiction. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the manufacture and history of olive oil. However, be warned: After reading Extra Virginity, you will probably never look at olive oil, or extra virgin olive oil, the same way again -- and will probably wonder what it is you've actually been consuming. (I know I did. Indeed, after reading this book, I thought that instead of calling certain olive oil "extra virgin," they should call it "extra slutty," because it seemed like olives really get around.)

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. Historical fiction. The history of electricity. (I just liked typing that.) A great read that examines the question, Who really invented the light bulb? and chronicles the fight over who had the right -- George Westinghouse or Thomas Edison -- to supply electricity to millions of homes and businesses across America. Told from the point of view of a young lawyer named Paul Cravath (the Cravath in what is now Cravath, Swain & Moore), who was hired by Westinghouse to defeat Edison's claims. Highly recommend.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Memoir. I really did not like this book. Or, rather, I really did not like the people in this book. Noah, whom I'd grown to really like on The Daily Show, came off as a punk. And I found myself constantly yelling (in my head) at his mother, a headstrong, self-centered, wrong-headed woman who repeatedly -- and needlessly -- endangered herself and Noah, starting with her decision to needle a white man to impregnate her (the crime of the title). That all said, Noah's recollections of growing up poor and biracial, or "colored," in South Africa, make for a fascinating read. And my niece and many other people I know loved this book.

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman. Nonfiction/Memoir. I'm still reading this book, but I wanted to include it as I think it's a must read. In short, Grocery is the story of how grocery stores, or really supermarkets, evolved and came to dominate the American food landscape, shaped how and what we eat, and are now fighting for survival in today's on-demand world. It's also a loving memoir about Ruhlman's father -- and an in-depth look at a local, family-run grocery chain in Ohio called Heinen's, where the Ruhlman family often shopped. If you ever wondered why there are grocery stores and how and what food comes to be on their shelves, definitely check out Grocery.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Nonfiction. Definitely one of my new favorite books. Even better than the movie, which I also loved (but was pretty much a work of fiction). The amazing story of a group of smart and talented African American women who worked as "computers" at what would become NASA in the 1940s through 1960s. Shetterly does a great job of fleshing out her subjects and making you feel like a fly on the wall. You don't have to be interested in the space race, or math or engineering, or a woman, to enjoy and appreciate this book, but if you are, you will appreciate Hidden Figures even more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden

If you happen to be in New York City between now and October 29th, I highly recommend you go to the New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx) to see the CHIHULY exhibit (as well as the beautiful flowers and plants).

The exhibit includes over 20 stunning glass sculptures, installed throughout the Garden, by renowned glass sculptor/artist Dale Chihuly, whose blown glass creations have been exhibited at museums around the world.

Here are some of the amazing glass works of art featured in the New York Botanical Garden exhibit. (Click on the photo to see a larger view. Then hit the "back" button/arrow to return to the post.)

NB: It is really hard to photograph glass when the sun is shining directly overheard -- and a dozen or so people keep walking into the frame.








Thursday, April 27, 2017

Barbie, keepin' it real

When last we left Barbie, back in December, she was recovering from her failed presidential run.

What has she been up to since then?

Well, as we learned from this just-released new video, Barbie's once again living in New York, commuting to/from work, doing yoga, and getting her Starbucks like the rest of us....



Will Barbie run again for President in 2020?

"I'm just taking things one day at a time," says Barbie. "Right now, I'm focusing on mindfulness, being in the here and now."

FUN ASIDE: Back in the day -- the day being 1959 -- Commuter Barbie went to/from work dressed like this:



















(Wonder where she fit her yoga mat...)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stop referring to Trump as a billionaire

Dear New York Times and every other media outlet,

Please stop referring to Donald J. Trump as a billionaire or "billionaire Donald J. Trump." You, and we, the public, have no idea if Trump is a billionaire. And considering the amount of debt he has, and the hundreds of millions of dollars he has lost over the years, it is highly likely he is not a billionaire. 

Sure, Trump would like us to believe he is a billionaire.

And I would like people to believe I am really 5'6". 

But we have no way of knowing if Trump is a billionaire as he refuses to release his tax returns. 

So please, news organizations, cable channels, and bloggers, stop referring to Trump as a billionaire. Refer to him as just a businessman or a real estate developer (or President, if you must). And if he complains, say you'd be happy to re-apply the descriptor "billionaire" -- as soon as he provides the last 8 years worth of his Federal tax returns. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Remember when this was the most annoying ad on TV?

Come with me as we return to a time before ads for pharmaceuticals dominated (or were even on) the airwaves, when the most annoying, or overplayed, commercial on television began with strains of classical music and an elegant, mustachioed Englishman uttering these memorable words....

"I'm sure you recognize this lovely melody as 'Stranger in Paradise.' But did you know that the original theme is from the 'Polovetsian Dance No. 2' by Borodin? So many of the tunes of our well-known popular songs were actually written by the great masters—like these familiar themes..."



Although the ad stopped airing in 1984 (13 years after it began running, and a year after actor John Williams' death), I bet most (all?) of you remember it. (The spouse and I do -- and were quoting it while listening to classical music over breakfast this morning. Hence this post -- and the accompanying ear worm(s).)

For those of you who don't remember or have a fuzzy memory of the ad, it was for 120 Music Masterpieces, a four-record set of classical music excerpts from Columbia House (later Vista Marketing), which contained these timeless classical melodies, "performed by Europe's finest musicians." (And if you acted quickly, you could also get an additional 30 piano masterpieces!)

As annoying as the ad was, though, I would rather be bombarded with ads for classical music than with ads for Humira, Xerelto and/or Viagra. Unlike all of the pharmaceuticals advertised on TV, the only negative side effects of classical music are mild sleepiness and boredom.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump translator: What Trump really means

Supporters of Donald Trump say people cannot, or should not, take what he says literally. So how can people understand what Trump really means when he speaks?

To assist you, we here at J-TWO-O have carefully analyzed Trump's most frequently spoken words and deciphered, or translated, them for you in this handy chart.

Now when you listen to Trump, or read about something he said or tweeted, you can understand what he really meant.

THE TRUMP TRANSLATOR
When Trump says…
What it really means is…
Amazing
Not so amazing; ordinary; really bad
Bad people
People who call out Trump’s lies
Best
Worst
Big League (often misinterpreted as “Bigly”)
That whatever or whomever Trump is referring to is screwed, big time.
Crooked
That person is smarter than Trump (and less crooked, dishonest). 
Dishonest
Someone said or published the truth about Trump or one of his advisors or businesses and he doesn’t like it. So he’s trying to discredit the person or organization.
Failing
That person or business is succeeding (most likely in debunking something Trump says), or that person or organization said or did something Trump didn’t like, so he’s trying to discredit it.
Fake News
That news organization is printing the (uncomfortable, unflattering) truth about Trump and/or one of his businesses or associates.
Fantastic
Fantastic for Trump and millionaires like him. Bad for everyone else.
Huge
Small, like Trump’s hands
Loser
That person is more popular or smarter than Trump; a winner
Out of control
Out of my, Donald Trump’s, control
Overrated
That person or organization gets (or got) better ratings, won more awards, than Trump; that person or organization said something (probably true) about Trump that Trump didn’t like.
Really smart
Really dumb
Sad
Bad for Trump
Terrible
Terrible for Trump
They
Bad hombres, non-white males, esp. immigrants, and people who either sued Trump or said bad things about him; also news organizations
Tremendous
Small or tiny, soft (like his… hands); bad, poor
We
I, Donald J. Trump
Weak
I can bully that person.
Winning
Losing; a loss for most Americans

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Obama haters vs. Trump haters (chart)

Why do so many people (still) hate President Barack Obama?

Why do so many people hate President Donald Trump?

Instead of droning on about the various reasons, I have created a table, below, titled "Obama Haters vs. Trump Haters."

Obama Haters vs. Trump Haters
Why people hate(d) Obama
Why people hate Trump
He’s black±.
He’s abused (groped) women (against their will) and wants to take away/limit women’s rights.**
He’s a Muslim*.
He’s biased against African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims; wants to limit their rights.**
He’s not really American (wasn’t born here)*.
He wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, except the ones he’s doing business or wants to do business with.**
He thinks he’s so smart (like he’s way smarter than me***).
He wants to deport millions of Hispanics. **
He wants to raise my taxes*.
He’s for dismantling environmental regulations, allowing companies to pollute more, threatening the health of millions of Americans.**
He wants to take away my guns*.
He’s for dismantling healthcare protections, making it more expensive/harder for millions of Americans to receive healthcare.**
He’s anti-family* (supports abortion and gay people marrying).
He’s incited anti-Semitism – and death threats against Jewish community centers and houses of worship.**

He doesn’t support education.**

He and his family are personally costing/will cost taxpayers millions (perhaps billions) of dollars, far more than any previous president.**

He and his family are personally profiting from his presidency.**

He refuses to share his tax returns, which could reveal ties with Russia and other foreign powers (most notably China).**

He is threatening America’s security by proposing to decrease funding for the TSA and the Coast Guard in order to pay for multibillion-dollar border wall with Mexico (which experts say won’t stop illegal immigration or make America safer)**

He and many of his advisors have disturbing ties to Russia – and it’s been proven that Russia influenced the election/favored Trump.**
 ±Though technically he’s 50% white.
*Not true, i.e., false.
**True.
***Probably.
He is irrational, unable to distinguish fact from fiction; constantly lies.**

As you will notice, most of the reasons people cite for hating Obama (e.g., his not being born in America or taking away people's guns) were/are false. Whereas the reasons people dislike or hate Trump are true. Also, many of the things people didn't like about Obama didn't directly affect their well being, as in their health or pocket books, whereas many of the reasons people dislike or hate Trump do or will.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What true freedom looks like

You want to know what true freedom looks like? It looks like this: two American bald eagles, perched atop a cell tower on a beautiful, warm, sunny day in Sanibel, Florida, masters of their domain. Able to come and go as they please. Looking down upon us puny, foolish, earthbound humans.

Majestic, aren't they?

[Click on the photo to get a better look.]























And here's a closeup:























Not sure where their nest is, probably close by. (I'm assuming they are a nesting pair.)

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to gaze upon and photograph these two magnificent creatures -- and have named them Liberty and Freedom.

This concludes another episode of Mutual of J-TWO-O's Wild Kingdom.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Donald Trump's good friend, Gazoo -- I mean "Jim"

What Trump really said at the CPAC conference on Friday.

TRUMP: "I have a friend, Gazoo — I mean Jim. He's a really, really great guy. Actually, he's an alien from the planet Zetox. But he's a great little guy.

"He loves Bedrock, I mean Paris. For years he would go to Bedrock — Paris. It was automatic with him. I hadn't seen him in a while, and I said, "Gazoo -- I mean Jim, how's Bedrock — Paris — doing? And Gazoo— Jim — says to me, 'Bedrock — I mean Paris? I don't go there anymore. Bedrock is no longer Bedrock — Paris — anymore.'

"That was four years — four, five years, hasn't gone there," Trump added. "He wouldn't miss it for anything. Now he doesn't even think in terms of going there. Sad."

And the moral of this story? No, it's not that "Paris" isn't safe anymore. It's that you shouldn't trust a guy with imaginary friends who only he can see and hear. (Though Trump having Gazoo as his "friend" would explain a lot.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy National Brotherhood Week!

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Tom Lehrer, the satirical songwriter and singer (and mathematician) who was active in the 1950s and 1960s. And recently I've been thinking a lot about, and humming, his song titled "National Brotherhood Week*."



And wouldn't you know?! THIS WEEK just happens to be National Brotherhood Week! Or it would be if National Brotherhood Week still existed.

National Brotherhood Week, a celebration of tolerance and respect for all peoples, was created in 1934 by what was then known as the National Council of Christian and Jews (and is now the National Conference for Community and Justice). But it stopped being celebrated in the 1980s, because we had, under Ronald Reagan, totally eradicated bigotry and racism and hate crimes. (That would be sarcasm for all of you suffering from frontotemporal dementia.)

However, as intolerance and racism and hate crimes have been making a big comeback, especially against Jews, it may be time to resurrect National Brotherhood Week.

Now if only someone would resurrect Tom Lehrer's act -- or some younger satirist would take up Lehrer's mantle.


*Here are the lyrics:

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks 
And the black folks hate the white folks 
To hate all but the right folks 
Is an old established rule 

But during National Brotherhood Week 
National Brotherhood Week 
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark 
Are dancing cheek to cheek 

It's fun to eulogize 
The people you despise 
As long as you don't let 'em in your school 

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks 
And the rich folks hate the poor folks 
All of my folks hate all of your folks 
It's American as apple pie 

But during National Brotherhood Week 
National Brotherhood Week 
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 
'Cause it's very chic 

Step up and shake the hand 
Of someone you can't stand 
You can tolerate him if you try 

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics 
And the Catholics hate the Protestants 
And the Hindus hate the Moslems 
And everybody hates the Jews 

But during National Brotherhood Week 
National Brotherhood Week 
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-hood Week 

Be nice to people who 
Are inferior to you 
It's only for a week, so have no fear 
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Are Trump and his followers demented?

So here's a medical question I've been pondering for a while now*: Is there some gene or something about some people's brains that makes them unable to discern or recognize lies or separate fact from fiction?

And guess what? There is!

According to a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, an inability to detect lies -- and sarcasm -- may well be the result of damage to (or something affecting) the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It even has a name, frontotemporal dementia, and the condition affects adults at a younger age (typically 40 - 70) than other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's.

Another sign of frontotemporal dementia? Socially inappropriate and/or compulsive behavior.

Sound like anyone orange you know (or any of his supporters)?

Pretty sure dementia would fall under the list of reasons to enact Section 4. of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. And an MRI, which, when I last checked, was nonpartisan, would determine if Trump (or anyone else) suffered from this form of dementia.

Sadly, there is no cure for this disease... until 2020.

UPDATED: A big THANK YOU to my mother for sending me this New Yorker article titled "Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds," which scientifically explains the Trump phenomenon -- and why our species may be doomed.

*But especially since Trump secured the Republican nomination for president.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A valentine to nature

Welcome to another episode of Mutual of J-TWO-O's Wild Kingdom.

As many of you, I love nature -- especially birds and shells (and flowers, but that's another post). So this Valentine's Day, I am sharing my love of nature with some beautiful and awe-inspiring photos of birds and shells I took the last few days*, which will hopefully distract you from all the ugliness in the world, albeit briefly.

To quote Jon Stewart, here is Your Moment of Zen...









































































*On Sanibel Island, Florida

Saturday, January 28, 2017

5 ways to fight Trump and make America great again

I, like many Americans, am sickened and angered by Donald Trump and his administration -- and the willingness of the GOP to kowtow to or silently accept Trump's heinous behavior and actions.

Trump has nominated people totally unqualified and/or unfit to take office. And since becoming president (words that are extremely difficult for me to type), Trump has taken actions that threaten women's/human rights, the environment, healthcare, education, and the economy. (Let me know if I left anything out.) And it is highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled House and Senate will do anything to stop the Trumpocalypse, until, perhaps, it is too late.

So what can we horrified American citizens do to try to limit the damage Trump is inflicting on us? Here are some suggestions, which even my fellow introverts can do.
  • Call your local Representative and Senators, who you can find via https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Whether you want them to know where you stand on an issue or how you'd like them to vote on an appointment or bill, it's important to call them.
  • Follow your Representatives and Senators on Facebook and/or sign up for their email updates, to keep abreast of the issues, find out where they stand, and how you can help. Chris Murphy, one of my senators, constantly reaches out to his constituents to see where we stand on various issues, with polls and surveys, and I'd like to think my participation helps.
  • Support good journalism/investigative reporting. How? By purchasing a subscription to those newspapers and news organizations that are working hard to uncover the truth about Trump and his administration and those policies and actions that are detrimental to America and Americans.

    I personally have become a big fan of The Washington Post this election cycle (and started subscribing last year), and I'm a longtime supporter of NPR. But there are many fine organizations dedicated to providing good, fair, honest, hard-hitting journalism that could use your support, and you can find a list of them on the PEN Center.

  • Last, but far from least, make sure you are registered to vote and vote in the mid-term elections, which will be on November 6, 2018. The only way to stop Trump -- and Pence, who may very well become President before November 6, 2018 -- is for the Democrats to win back the Senate and the House. Also, consider donating money and/or time to helping the good guys get re-elected or supporting candidates who oppose Trump and will fight for education, the environment, and women's and human rights.

    (Sadly, even moderate Republicans, if there are truly any, have proven that they will not defy Trump, no matter how much they may privately disagree with him. So the only way to put a check on his devastating policies is for Democrats to take back the House and Senate.)
Have any other ideas? Let us know via the Comments.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Madness of King Donald the Trump

Many (most?) of us who have observed Trump over the last year have questioned whether he is mentally fit to be president. However, after watching Trump's recent interview with ABC's David Muir, where he (Trump) told one whopper after another, there can be no doubt that Trump is unhinged. Deranged. Nuts. Psycho. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I could go on, but you get my drift. 

As a student of history, Trump's performance brought to mind another deranged ruler of this country, one who likewise lost the goodwill of most of his subjects here -- and caused a political crisis.

Who was this mad man? For those of you who have forgotten your U.S. History, or haven't seen Hamilton, I am, of course, referring to King George III, whose madness was captured in a brilliant 1994 film titled, appropriately, The Madness of King George.*



The similarities between Donald the First (and hopefully the last) and George the Third are striking, from the eccentric, disturbing behavior, to the grabbing of women, to the political tensions caused by his erratic behavior.

The only question is, will Americans rise up against Donald the Trump and kick him out as they did George the Third some two-hundred forty years ago?


*And yes, all you Hamilton lovers, in Hamilton, too. Though I'm pretty sure we won't be back, re-electing Trump... if we survive that long. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You know what they say about guys with small crowds...*

As has been widely reported, the man Graydon Carter once described as a "short-fingered vulgarian" has been very unhappy about the reported size of his crowd.

Despite photos and facts to the contrary, the Toddler in Chief insists that his crowd was the biggest, bigger than Obama's, bigger than anyone's!

So, per aides, who spoke to The Washington Post...
Over the objections of his aides and advisers — who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency — the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response [to claims that his crowd wasn't the biggest or bestest], and he wanted it to come from his press secretary.
Yes folks, the man who rose to national prominence by trying to delegitimize America's first black president, his number one concern upon taking office is the fear that his crowd wasn't as big as Obama's. (Though you know what they say about the size of black men's crowds.)

So, unable to grab some pussy himself, he (Trump) ordered his press secretary to go diddle the press corps -- and the American public -- by claiming that his crowd was the biggest, despite easy to find evidence to the contrary.



This, my fellow Americans, is not the behavior of a president but of a spoiled, narcissistic, irrational toddler (or sociopath). And, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there are any adults in the room who are capable of controlling the Toddler in Chief's temper tantrums.

(I'd say we are well and truly fucked, but considering the size and flaccidity of Trump's, uh, crowd, it may take a while.)

UPDATED: More on Trump's long-standing obsession with ratings and size via The New York Times.


*small hands and small... minds

Monday, January 23, 2017

Propaganda Barbie & Alternative Facts

For those of you who don't own a dictionary or are too lazy to Google it, a fact is "a piece of information presented as having objective reality." That is, something that can be objectively* proven.

An alternative fact, on the other hand, is a falsehood, or lie, something told or written with the express purpose to deceive. Or, as we students of political science and history call it, propaganda, "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view."

During World War II, there were a handful of women (and men) who used the airwaves (radio) as a means to spread Nazi and Axis propaganda. Two of the most famous, or infamous, were Axis Sally (who was born in Maine but moved to Berlin in 1934) and Tokyo Rose (another American, who broadcast from Japan).

Over 70 years later, in 2016, another woman has joined their illustrious ranks, rising to fame on her ability to create or repeat and spread lies and half-truths over the airwaves. Her name, Kellyanne Conway, or, as she was recently dubbed, Propaganda Barbie.


Back in the 1940s, before there was the Internet, determining what was true and what wasn't could take a little time -- and a trip to the library. Today, though, it is easy to separate fact from fiction, thanks to a number of objective fact-checking sites, such as PoliFact, FactCheck.orgSnopes, and Fact Checker.

Yet millions of Americans are too lazy, or biased, to search out the truth, preferring to hear what they want to hear rather than risk cognitive dissonance. Which, to quote our new Propagandist in Chief, is "sad."

Bonus video: Depeche Mode, "Policy of Truth"



*And for those who don't know what objectively means, it means independently or without bias.

UPDATED 2/3/17: Propaganda Barbie (aka Kellyanne Conway) strikes again! There was no "Bowling Green Massacre," folks, nor did the Obama administration ever "ban" refugees.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The GOP vs ISIS: A Comparison

After reading yesterday that the Trump administration planned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which is a bit of an oxymoron), ostensibly as part of an effort to reduce government spending (even though eliminating all three of these programs would barely make a dent in the federal budget), I thought to myself, 'Huh, you know who else hates the arts and wants to destroy them? Radical Islamists (aka ISIS)!'

That led me to wondering what else Conservative Republicans (cutting arts funding was the brainchild of Conservative thank tank Heritage Foundation) and Radical Islamists had in common. So I did some research and created this handy little chart. And gee whiz! The GOP and ISIS have way more in common than we thought!

Conservative Republicans
Radical Islamists
Want to subjugate women; believe women should be seen (if they are attractive) but not heard
Want to subjugate women; believe women should be neither seen nor heard
Abhor homosexuality
Abhor homosexuality
Resent the educated, dislike/distrust institutions of higher learning
Resent the educated, dislike/distrust institutions of higher learning
Believe Christianity is the one true religion
Believe Islam is the one true religion
Little or no tolerance for unbelievers or other faiths
Little or no tolerance for unbelievers or other faiths
Disdain the arts, want to defund
Disdain the arts, want to destroy
Will use whatever means necessary (gerrymandering, fake news) to secure their goals/leadership

Will use whatever means necessary (propaganda, bombs) to secure their goals/leadership


Also, while poking around the Internets (looking for a map I saw a while back showing the United States as a bunch of -stans*), I came across these two maps of the world.

This first one shows Ronald Reagan's view of the world, back in the 1980s:

















The second map illustrates Donald Trump's view of the world in 2016:
















Pretty interesting, no?

*If any of you find a link to that map, please send it to me.