Curtain Raiser

Far From Season Finale, Colltalers

Nukes are not the only way to blast us all back to the past; climate change could do it too. And rich Republican white males, going after a woman’s right to choose. Their hide is doomed, though: half of humankind is coming for them for some serious spanking.
But if in the U.S., all (pothole-filled) roads lead to Nov. 2020, in Brazil the opposition to Jair ‘Model T as in Trump’ Bolsonaro has gained a powerful focus: Brazilians are back in the streets, this time for saving something actually real, access to education.
Back to these in a few, but first two interesting developments last week: Austria’s far-right government resigned over charges of corruption – something to do with the Russians -, and San Francisco’s banned facial recognition technology by law enforcement.
It’s a big win for civil and privacy rights, and California’s capital Oakland, along other American cities may follow the Fog City’s lead. As for so-called rise of rightwing politics, the Austrians just proved that it’s neither doing that well, nor it’s above some old- fashion collusion. Nevertheless, populist demagogues are anxious to score big on this week’s European parliamentary elections.
Thursday and Friday vote may indeed consolidate their momentum, or leverage a curb on their grow. Some expect Brexit to be set by it, and for an increasing majority opposing the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, it’s the moment to seize the narrative.
If they do, it’s likely that British nationalists like Nigel Farange will follow P.M. Teresa May on their own way out, and a new referendum, or general elections, will be set. In many ways, though, the Brexit frenzy has ran its course and fulfilled its goals, seemingly, to demolish Britons’ confidence, and boost the U.K.’s irrelevance in the world. Thanks, Boris Johnson & friends.
No thanks to the Trump administration, though, for promoting the most brutal attack on women’s reproductive rights since a 1973 Supreme Court decision made abortion legal. To reverse Roe v Wade has been a common objective by both the GOP and the religious Continue reading

Memberships

Choosing a Special Group
That Won’t Crush Your Soul

‘Accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.’ Groucho Marx had a point, but most of us do long to belong. More so now, when so many feel the world has turned against them. Fear not, anti-heroes of the moot field. There’s hope.
And an affiliation just for you. Not the adventurer type? choose among the Bureaucracy Club, the Cloud Appreciation Society, Dull Men Club or, if still follicle-endowed, the Luxuriant Hair Club, but have your PhD ready. In a wretched mood? the Death Cafe will do you wonders.
Sport aficionados get it. The religiously devout most surely do too. And an assortment of clubs that flourish on Facebook or England, of all places, are equally adept at listing names of people who like this, or don’t like that. Prefer red, or despise unsuspecting hamsters.
Deep down, most would like to qualify for the Explorer’s Club, but if you haven’t stepped on the moon, or climbed the Everest, forget it. In another life, perhaps. Better sign on for the Apostrophe Appreciation Society. It’ll won’t give you vertigo. And you’ll be busy, guaranteed.
And before you disrespect good ol’ Groucho, misquoting him again, we know you’re actually jubilant that Twitter accepted your behind and your trolling galore. You don’t fool us. So go ahead, send out that form for the Mediocre Pun Brigade. They’re running a sale this week.

THE UNCOOL & THE RED-TAPE LOVER
Dull but not boring.’ That’s the main ‘virtue’ required by would-be members of the Dull Men Club. And while ‘optimization of bureaucracies and bureaucrats’ is in the Bureaucracy Club‘s mission statement, both place a premium on a particular personality type: L, as in lukewarm.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nevertheless, members live fulfilling lives, as long as they don’t involve trying spicy food, taking cold showers, or wearing colorful underwear. They gather periodically to debate mild things. But we hear the coffee is extra strong.

DAREDEVILS & THE MANE-ENDOWED
Bald inexperienced need not to apply.’ Nothing is ever safe when The Explorer’s Club and The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Clubs for Scientists break from their accident-provoking agenda, and sit down for a dinner whose menu often includes fried tarantulas and hissing roach snacks.
Living Explorers Buzz Aldrin and Jane Goodall share (more)
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Read Also:
* The Aitch Old File
* Petty Crimes
* Counting Electrical Sockets

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Curtain Raiser

Support Your Local Mona Lisa, Colltalers

It’s scary when war hawks digress on bombing another nation. Even scarier is when their dishonest arguments gain unwarranted currency. The same false pretense that led us to the Iraq invasion is now being used against Iran. What can possibly go wrong?
Also scary is the U.S. spending more in fossil-fuel subsidies than even with its defense budget, according to an I.M.F. report. But the U.K.’s first four days without coal-powered electricity, and the Cloud Peak’s bankruptcy, are both great climate change news.
There’s a constitutional crisis caused by President Trump, who’s all but declared himself and his gang above the law. And there’s a fresh round of saber-rattling and missile-launching by North Korea, aimed at us, but frightening the bejesus out of the world.
Naturally, the Big Tweetor is using his baseless trade war to divert attention from such important issues. And the media is blindly following him accordingly. It also helps that few have a grasp as to what trade war really means. Starting with the man himself.
Just in case, though, Trump spent Saturday tweeting like a deranged toddler, if only toddlers could be so mad. He blasted over 60 attacks on the Russian investigation, Don Jr.’s subpoena, assorted politicians, and Counsel Robert Mueller. Oh, and jobs too.
Trying to manipulate the nation by tweet, however, pales compared to the president’s biggest damage so far inflicted on America: the depletion of our trust on institutions. By counting on the Supreme Court to bail him out – and being probably right about that kind of assumption -, more than the lying, this president is setting the stage for a potential democracy-killing autocratic regime.
As Congress, which has the power to prevent that and has refused to do so, Americans must step up and safeguard the country that the Founding Fathers foresaw. No one else will. Mainly Continue reading

Having Guts

Down the Chute, Where
the Slimming Bacteria Live

The mouth. While some may call it a temple for words and tastes, where great thought are expressed, and divine flavors often pay visits, it has also another, far more reductionist and not so noble, role: it’s only the first of two ends of a very long tube.
Albeit we won’t get it to that other side, not now anyway, our survival as humans still depends on what travels down into our fat lips, crosses the battleground of our guts, and gets out through a drain hole. Not all is turmoil in there, though. So come, let’s meet the locals.
For despite the many realms our thoughts have conquered, and the reasons why we orbit around the universe of the table, and always come back for more, we go out of our way to dissociate such fulfilling parts of life from what they ultimately imply, body-wise.
We made love and food with our months, and often recite with eloquence what they mean to us, and coyly, how we could never ever live without them. However, any mention to what goes on below the belt, and our appetite goes into a receding mode, embarrassed that we’d even thought about it.
And yet, deep down, you know you think about it, all the time. It’s just not something that, thankfully, most people would like to share on Twitter. But from a medical point of view, we really are what we eat, even though no parallel connection has been established yet between thought and personality.
That’s why Gulp, Mary Roach‘s book on the human digestive system in all its warts and, well, more warts, is so illuminating. And also, why there’s reason to some cautiously feel good about research that points to a bacteria that may have been making people fat all along.

FANTASTIC VOYAGES
In the 1966 movie, a loose adaptation of a series written in the 19th century by Jules Verne, former Bond girl Rachel Welch leads a team of miniaturized scientists who are injected into a man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. Of course, if they’d fail, the entire world would end.
It was one of the first cinematic incursions into what was known then about the insides of the body, but mercifully, they stayed clear from digging too deep or going down under. Also, because Isaac Asimov wrote a novelization of the movie’s screenplay, published right (more)
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Read Also:
* We’re Not Alone
* Lies & Weight
* The Long Good Friday

 

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Curtain Raiser

Regulations Went Up in Smoke, Colltalers

As the attempt coup in Venezuela has all but fizzled, its main instigator, the U.S., is scaring the world with disturbing threats of military action if things don’t go its way. Ironic how America went so quickly, from ‘world’s police’ to deranged wounded beast.
A couple of troubling decisions by U.S. agencies will also have a global impact: the approval for Bayer-Monsanto’s herb killer Roundup, banned by the European Union, and Phillip Morris’ iQOS dry tobacco vaporizer, both proven carcinogenic products.
A presidential election in Panama, even with the Venezuelan crisis on the background, is unlikely to move the needle either way; climate change and start of Ramadan usher us into the new week. Plus the return of Halley’s Comet, and we’re off to the races.
Which, in the case of Venezuela, most Latinos hope to be aborted. Despite support to the coup against Maduro, from Brazil, Colombia, even Panama itself, and others, – happy to oblige to war delusions of U.S. V.P. Mike Pence, State Sec. Mike Pompeo, Security Adviser John Bolton, and special envoy Elliott Abrahams – Venezuelan democracy will see the light of another day.
As the foursome have all been accused of xenophobia, corruption, torture, solely or combined, and profess the ‘my-way-or-the-highway,-or-at-least-the-Trump’s-way’ brand of diplomacy, they’ll get some of what they want, or may be oust by their sponsor. Either way, Venezuelans, in particular, Latino Americans em general, or world citizens as a whole may brace for a possible hit.
The biggest news, though, is and will remain being, climate change, or lack of action to counter its catastrophic effects there-of.
Mozambique, which haven’t even recovered from Cyclone Idaí, six weeks ago, was battered again, by an even bigger storm, Kenneth, the most powerful to ever hit the country. It exponentially boost Mozambican misery, while showing us why there’s no coming back from such disasters, no matter where you live, Continue reading

Nasty People

From Theophrastus to Tyrants & 
Killers, Bad Guys Never Thank Us

On Liberation Day, some Italians chose to praise Mussolini, rather than 74 years without Fascism. It was on those heady days that Eva Braun married and commit suicide with his mentor, Hitler. Even serial killer Ted Bundy had a wife who bored him a child. So what gives?
In ‘Characters,’ Aristotle’s disciple Tyrtamus reveals the appeal of toxic, narcissistic personalities. Although none is a murderer, they and their modern versions are still despicable to most of us. Yet, some long to marry them. Or make them president.
Many ways may frame this line of questioning. One is to explain it with allusions to our thirsty for power, and blood. Another is down the hall, at the corner office, where it says,’Psychology.’ Skip ‘love,’ ‘Masochism,’ and ‘bad luck,’ and pick an inconvenient one: us.
See, none of those monsters would’ve existed if they were not needed. Nature use predators for dirty jobs. Bullies may arguably serve to sharpen our defenses. Nasty people sit at the edge of what’s morally acceptable, and challenge the pious to break the mold. Some do.
Now, humans are given this precious little gift, free will, supposedly to help everyone find their bearings in the great bal masqué of life. There’s much colliding on that dance floor, plenty of jockeying for a better share of the pie, or bite on the carrion.
To become a prey, though, is rarely a choice, and history is littered with doomed attempts to escape the fangs of fate, ready to chew up the juicy meek with a final blow. One the other hand, if the music stops, there’s no need to be a nimble dancer and exit left. Quickly.

GARDEN VARIETY BADIES & THE NEXT OF KIN
In the underworld of repulsive news, psychopaths and bottom feeders are always on the move. Take ‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli, who’s a convicted felon, but not for his most disgusting deed, getting rich while overcharging a vital drug. To the law, securities fraud is worst.
Apparently, he was at it again this week, running a scheme from behind bars. He is unlikely to have the company of any member of the Sackler family, who made billions by selling a drug linked to thousands of deaths by overdose. Unless, of course, they defraud some rich dudes.
And yet one can be almost sure these people have ‘loved ones,’ (more)
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Read Also:
* Out to Get You
* Head & Tails
* Forget Me Not

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Curtain Raiser

Turn Back the Right Tide, Colltalers

Unemployment; corruption; politics. These are priorities to most of the estimated 30-million-plus Spaniards who voted yesterday for a new Spanish parliament. But to the media, it’s Catalonia’s aim to split up from Spain, along immigration, what tops that list.
Meanwhile, the brutal assassination of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee, on the 18th, wound up shaking the foundations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Brexit fiasco notwithstanding, however, Protestants and Catholics must resume talks.
The rise of Vox, Spain’s far right party, will strengthen forces contrary to social equality and political autonomy in Europe, but that’s not this week’s most despondent endorsement of Steve Bannon’s international playbook. Italy ran away with the prize: on the 74th anniversary of Liberation Day, last Thursday, it was dictator Benito Mussolini’s name what was invoked with… pride!
Bannon, the most visible global reactionary since his woeful tenure delivering Trump to the White House, – or political hacks who eagerly emulate his tactics – keeps pushing all the red buttons of hate and intolerance, either in Europe or South America.
A lot of Americans got transfixed with two issues, this waning end of April: the massive body count of entertainment franchises The Avengers, and Game of Thrones, and Beyoncé’s latest chart-breaking CD-film combo. Others had something else in mind.
Has the Robert Mueller Report’s failure to paint a clear picture of the U.S. president’s malfeasances got him reelected next year?
As Trump openly challenges Congress’ authority to subpoena him, or key figures of his organization, naturally counting on a biased Supreme Court to back him up if needed, many wonder if he’ll now act, rather than just speak, as if he’s above the law.
He sure seems ready to do just as such. In over two years, he’s destroyed U.S.’s credibility in a vast array of issues the world’s entrusted to America, from leadership against climate change, to defense of civil rights, free press, and fair immigration Continue reading