Tuesday, December 07, 2021


Stephen Sondheim, lyricist and composer extraordinaire, created art transcending the limitations of the musical with works like West Side Story and Sweeny Todd, provides a dark look into America's obsession with guns with a musical titled Assassins, a perceptive take on wannabes assassinating presidents due to perceived injustices or thwarted ambitions, explains, in exquisite detail, why guns are so irresistible as the weapon of choice in killing presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.  Luckily, T. Roosevelt and Reagan survived.

Move your little finger and

  You can change the world

  Why should you be blue when

  You've your little finger

  Prove how just a little finger can

  Change the world

Backgrounder ...

One of his lesser-known works, “Assassins,” just started a new run off-Broadway by the Classic Stage Company. Originally produced in 1990, the musical is a collective biography of the historical figures who attempted to assassinate U.S. presidents, four of them successfully. Nine of the 13 assassins or would-be assassins are included, from John Wilkes Booth, who killed Abraham Lincoln, to John Hinckley, Jr., who shot Ronald Reagan in 1984.

These malcontents hardly seem like promising subjects for a musical. But Sondheim brilliantly deployed musical theater to explore America’s curious fascination with firearms and the pivotal role of assassinations in the republic’s history.

To Sondheim, assassins, like everybody else, are in pursuit of the American dream. As they battle delusions, fight against perceived political injustice, long for celebrity or seek community, they turn to guns to accomplish their goals. His score consists of uniquely American musical styles drawn from different periods of U.S. history, including ragtime, patriotic marches and folk ballads.

Sondheim c 1976

Monday, December 06, 2021

The new Inquisition

Slip sliding away ...

Mel D. Cole

Scary shit, you know, the trepidatious kind, the kind invoking chills running up and down your spine has arrived, especially when it comes to Trump, the repugs and their concerted effort to subvert democracy in America. The groundwork's being laid and Agent Orange awaits in the wings while the GOP continues to gerrymander and fine tune the corrupting of the election process for 2022 and 2024 while the dems sulk and do nothing. The Atlantic's incendiary piece, TRUMP’S NEXT COUP HAS ALREADY BEGUN will "warm" the cockles of your heart without question, right?

January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election.

Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.

The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.

“The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, told me in late October. Hasen prides himself on a judicious temperament. Only a year ago he was cautioning me against hyperbole. Now he speaks matter-of-factly about the death of our body politic. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.”

For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

Don't say we haven't been warned. Time to wake up, don't you think?

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Splinterlands awaits ...


America’s Natural Federal Regions

Meander: to follow a winding course applies here as America;'s following a meandering course in the throes of breaking up, something indirectly depicted here in the Natural Federal Regions map as the political and philosophical differences among Americans are too deep to paper over, especially in light of Trump, religion and Covid 19. 

For decades now, the United States has been stagnating, proving incapable of enacting meaningful reforms needed to survive the difficult first half of the 21st Century.

The causes of the USA’s terminal decline run deep, with unresolved contradictions piling up over centuries. Americans are only now perceiving the rot because the out-of-control pandemic has revealed its chronic lack of internal investment — and because the ubiquity of cheap communication has revealed the brutality at the heart of the violent State that has come to dominate the Federal Government.

BRT has talked about fragility with emphasis given to our two-party system as there is no flexibility in trying to iron out inevitable political differences residing outside the boundaries of a system as rigid as this. Nooze has a role in amping up the fracture as well. 

Splinterlands awaits. ...

You can't fix stupid/rev L


Photo by Brandi Alexandra on Unsplash

Yours truly has often said you can't fix stupid as stupidity's built-in, it's genetic and one cannot remove that sad state of affairs in the unfortunate unless ubiquitous genetic engineering goes mainstream. With what's happening around the world and ... in the good "ole" USA, it seems stupidity's gaining the upper hand, a most dangerous trend indeed.

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian. Penning this sentence ten years after the accession of Adolf Hitler to supreme power, these words reflected tough lessons soaked in blood. Bonhoeffer formed part of a small circle of resistance to the dictator in Germany, risking his life for an ideal.

End game ...

For you can fight against evil. Evil gives people a queasy feeling in the stomach. As Bonhoeffer continued, “evil carries with itself the seeds of its own destruction.” To prevent willful malice, you can always erect barriers to stop its spread. Against stupidity you are defenseless.

“Against stupidity we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it. Reasoning is of no use. Facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied. In fact, they can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make them aggressive. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

He's right

Friday, November 26, 2021

Fantastic "beests" :)

It's all about the wind is it not? :)

Strandbeest Evolution 2020 provides an overview of the beach animals of the past thirty years. Over time, an evolution has taken place, which is visible in successive generations. Ultimately, I want to release these animals on the beaches, where they will lead a life of their own.

Every spring I go to the beach with a new animal and during the summer I do all kinds of experiments with the wind, sand and water. By autumn I will be a bit wiser when it comes to surviving on the beach. Then I declare the beast extinct and they go to the boneyard.

I associate looking back in history with black and white movies. Looking back in silence. No music.

But the Strandbeest evolution will certainly continue for the next thirty years. www.strandbeest.com

In essence ...

Every year, the artist lets new and ever-more complex “species” loose to see how they weather the challenges of their surroundings. His aim? For these creatures to be completely self-sufficient, continuing to exist without any human support. “My inspiration comes from the theory of evolution, the beach, nature, and life itself. The fact that we came into being out of nothing is a constant source of wonder to me,” Jansen says.

Change is the only constant - The Tao

Water water everywhere

flooded house in Po Valley

This eerie pix of a house surrounded by water says it all regarding global warming.

Unraveling a thread ...

This wonderful NewYorker pix of a Fisher designed maze conjures up Alice in Wonderland as Alice's travails required her to navigate a maze of a different kind. :)

The oldest hedge maze still in existence is, coincidentally, the one with which I am most familiar. As teen-agers, my brother and I lost at least half a dozen French and German exchange students within the clipped evergreen walls of a small yew maze tucked into an odd triangle at the northern edge of the gardens of Hampton Court Palace. The Tudor palace, which lies southwest of central London on the banks of the Thames, was a favorite residence of Henry VIII, who received it as a gift—albeit one offered under some duress—from Cardinal Wolsey, his chief minister. Today, the palace is perhaps best known for its maze, the lone survivor of three or four labyrinths built there around 1690, as part of a substantial redesign that converted what had previously been an orchard into a fashionable new garden called the Hampton Court Wilderness.

At the time, a hedge maze had been an essential element of European formal gardens for centuries. The first evidence of a labyrinth formed from hedges can be found in a record of the removal of one on a royal estate in Paris in 1431. An anonymous courtly poem written in England in the late fourteen-hundreds describes a group of women “disportying” themselves “in crosse aleys” before enjoying a carefree “walke aboute the mase.” In paintings and engravings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, hedge mazes are populated mostly by couples; according to Saward, the maze historian, the air of privacy created by their shady twists and turns made them an ideal location for romantic dalliances. (As Dillamore and I walked past a champagne cork nestled at the base of the hedge, he told me that the maze is a popular spot for marriage proposals.)

But the notion of mazes goes back further in time with the Labyrinth and the 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy T Day and ... pigs fly

MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, speaks to reporters outside federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 24, 2021. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Every family seems to have a crazy uncle. For the repugs, it's Mike Lindell, the pillow guy stating Agent Orange will be reinstated "soon" as Trump was robbed of a second term according to "reliable" sources like QAnon and the millions of Trumpers holding onto the belief that pigs fly and Trump will again be president in the "very near future".

It’s Thanksgiving, and with respect to any relatives who may have colorful takes about vaccine mandates, critical race theory, and the Rittenhouse verdict, the craziest uncle of 2021 is, without a doubt, Mike Lindell.

The pillow baron has for a year now been claiming vociferously that the 2020 election was rigged, that he can prove it, and that it won’t be long before everyone realizes the truth and Donald Trump is reinstated as president of the United States. Lindell most recently trumpeted Thanksgiving as the date Trump will be back in office. He has promoted a 96-hour holiday weekend livestream in which he will unpack “the historic U.S. Supreme Court complaint on the 2020 election” he says will reinstall Trump in the White House. (The livestream got off to a rocky start.)

The sad part of this scenario is the fact millions believe this take to be true.

The idea that Trump will return to office has been spreading throughout the MAGA movement since January. A Politico/Morning Consult poll published in June found that 29 percent of Republicans believe this is actually going to happen by the end of the year. A YouGov poll conducted in early November found that 28 percent of Republicans believed it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” Trump would be back in office by the end of the year.

In other words, millions and millions and millions of people have, like Lindell, lost touch with reality to a truly terrifying degree. Many of them are determined to stay out in orbit, perpetually setting and resetting dates Trump will definitely, this time, return to power. It can be a little hard to track all of these deadlines, so here’s a guide to one of the year’s most unhinged conspiracy theory rabbit holes, which doesn’t appear to have a bottom.

It's turtles all the way down.