The Turkey Brief

Five Easy Sides
for Thanksgiving

How come America’s most beloved holiday became such a minefield of discord and intra-family carnage? No idea. But there’re still ways to prevent that carved bird from becoming airborne, thrown across the dinner table by a disaffected relative.
Thanksgiving did become synonym to a hard time to be had by all. It now even includes its own set of preppy tips, so to avoid confrontations and visits to the E.R. They vary but have one topic in common: do not talk about politics. Or religion. Or sex. Or Turkey.
Or something else, for often it’s the way the conversation is conducted, never mind its content, what may lead to the breakup of many a relationship. Of course, foul language and inappropriate use of utensils can also be accountable for spilled blood.
Whether on the account of a heated exchange over a swampy-orange stink bomb set off in DC two years ago, particularly pungent today, or for smearing our culinary and/or dietary whims on everybody’s faces, things have a way to heat up like ovens on Thursdays like these.
Tales of communal pilgrims are no longer the adult option; we’ve already ruined this holiday. But fact is, Thanksgiving‘s the utmost family holiday in the U.S., screams and sugar rushes et al. Taken as such, it’s not that we’re navigating unfamiliar territory here. Have a Roving One.

Read Also:
* No, Thanks
* A Nation of Thanks
* Cold Turkey

Curtain Raiser

The Burning Season Is On, Colltalers

There are some fair assumptions we may now make about the catastrophic wild fires in California: they came to stay; they’ll get worse; they are, indeed, direct result of climate change. Oh, and that we’re behind the curve and still unprepared to control them.
Apart from that, last week’s headlines belonged to two other man-made disasters, whose impact we’re beginning to grasp, even if not that startled by either of them: proof that Facebook is politically biased (shock!); and that Brexit won’t work (double shock!).
Unlike what some accused The Beatles of once pretending to be, Facebook is now more popular than that famous Dec. birthday boy. So the NYTimes exposé about how the mammoth social media concern was, all along, concerned only about maintaining its sheer dominance, never mind Russia’s attacks on the U.S. 2016 elections and democracy, came as a surprise to absolutely no one.
It’s been said, hackers did not have to hack voting machines, even as they may’ve tried, or even bribe too many Trump associates. They simply used the system. But Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated appearances and lies, to congressional committees composed mainly of either Internet-challenged or downright dimwitted politicians, have all but confirmed his total lack of a moral compass.
His unbound greed, and the sophomoric culture of highly specialized spoiled brats he inspired, has been for far too long out of reach of any accountability. He built a corporation more powerful than many nations, and it needs to be regulated just like any other is, or should. Thankfully, the U.S. elections held two weeks ago raised new hopes for change. More about that in a minute.
As for Brexit, and the political imbroglio it represented to the U.K., again, few can say they didn’t see it coming. The whole idea of leaving the European Union was sold on false pretenses, by the same snake oil mentality that took over the White House on a delusion of making the U.S. as big as it never was. As reality sets in, here and there, more are realizing that they’ve been had.
Europe needs what’s left of democracy the U.K. has to offer, as the British depend of staying with the union in order Continue reading


We Who’ve Always 
Hated Him So Much

If we could all charge Trump for the time we waste being disgusted by him, the fake millionaire at the top would be us. Fair warning: as the fatberg who congealed in New York City cannibalizes even feces thrown at him, his flatulent franchise is at top speed.
So a post about him is a kind of betrayal, like free advertising. Anything about it feeds his monster. Always deeply disliked here, it’s no small feat that he’d find plenty of fans to fan off the flies. Even in a pungent city like ours, he cuts a distinguished odor.
But there are simply too many sharp moments, captured by artists local and global, not to have this post writing itself up. The mordacity of satire and an acute sense of duty of these works dispense with speeches or words of order. And they are funny.
The accuracy of their political commentary may be regarded as only echoing the era. But in this day, to argue over the U.S. presidency is not just required from everyone, but it’s standard equipment of any resistance unashamed to speak its name.

NYC serves once again as a backdrop for a story inspired by its past. Some works were placed on Union Square, long ago a bastion (more)
Read Also:
* Call Upon You
* Scary Clowns
* Faulty Towers

of the labor and union rights movements. As usual, the city is happy to oblige reenacting its glory days. For the kids, they say.

What Ilma Gore, Alison Jackson, Phil Gable, Wilson Tseng, Joshua Ginger Monroe, John Post Lee, Jeffrey Beebe, Indecline, and many others are doing is reasserting dissent. All but Baptist churchgoers who melted their jewelry into a golden effigy of him.

Curtain Raiser

No Time to Call it a Day, Colltalers

Gun massacres and wild fires have taken over the headlines, with another batch of dozens of preventable deaths to their account. As these tragedies turn into daily events, they may have already become normalized. Have we lost the will to produce change?
For haven’t we just had a major election? Weren’t these and other issues supposed to have been addressed last Tuesday? Let’s check on the priorities listed here last week, and see whether voters’ choices reflected how concerned we really are about them.
Starting by last Newsletter’s title, we did get an almost great turnout. The best of midterm elections since 1966, with 47% of able to vote electors casting a ballot. Wow, some would say. As for us, though, let’s face it: we’ve got to climb over that 50% hump.
We know, there’s been rampant voter suppression, extreme GOP gerrymandering, hate speech, raw lies, unbound spending and spineless sycophancy, by a party whose members’ top priority is to please the leader. Or be publicly scorned by him, if they lose.
Down the Florida way, it’s 2000 all over again, and Republican bigwigs are landing in droves so recounts of hanging chads may drag long enough for the Supreme Court to be called on and close shop. With few revisions, that old script will be applied again.
Now the issues. We picked climate change, immigration and asylum rights, healthcare, women’s choice, racial and sexual rights, gun control, wage and labor reform, voting rights, plus whatever pet projects you may have, as this nation’s most obvious woes.
Along their enthusiasm, most Democratic and independent new comers have won on commitment to fight climate change and support wind and solar power projects. Pity we still can’t get a majority in such an obvious bad-for-everyone-but-big-oil issue.
The retaking of the House by the Democrats means more than a mere hard-fought comeback, for it’s a game we’re still losing: 1×2. But it was a score all the same and we’ve still got some time. Continue reading

Reaction Wheels

Satellites Die, Visitors Speed Up
& Black Holes Rule the Milky Way

Paraphrasing Lady Michelle Obama, when reality goes low, lift up your eyesight at the universe. (It wasn’t really like that but we’ll stick with her wisdom anytime anyway.) Things are rough on the ground, but out there, they’re still stunning.
Was Uoumuamua, the rare interstellar object that’s just visited us, an alien ship? What about those two satellites that signed off almost simultaneously? Or the black hole at the center of the Milky Way? Will it ever bring back my silk socks?
We allow ourselves to be intrigued by the puzzling and the silly in equal matters. It may become impossible to hold on to our grip on an ever evolving set of circumstances. Life keeps tricking us but we always manage to keeping on coming back for more.
The unpredictable world of lately, what with changing climate conditions and unprepared leaders making stupid decisions, tempts the wisest among us, and it’s OK to seek refuge by just looking at the sky. Never mind most of what we see took place ages ago.
Except when it doesn’t. We count on predictability, even as we complain we’re bored. Thus our light take on the possibility we’ve just met a messenger from another world, the surprising synchronicity of two man-made machines, and, well black holes.

When Dawn (2007) and Kepler (2009) started ‘running on fumes’ last week, within two days but far, far away from each other, it wasn’t a galactic sendoff for love-stricken robots. Their expiration dates had already been stretched by many years; it was time.
They were but exhausted; something to do with reaction wheels, as NASA would have it. Both Dawn, sent to probe the asteroid belt, and Kepler, hunter of exoplanets, ran out of fuel. Too much of it went to fire up thrusters and prevent them from spinning.

They’ve outlived retirement and outdone their missions, though. While Dawn became first to orbit multiple extraterrestrial bodies, Kepler‘s found 2,600 planets, a tiny sliver of them loosely resembling Earth. Now, who do you know that did at least one of those things?
Lying on the wet grass of my backyard, I used to check the stars, track satellites, trace trajectories into the big beyond of our home galaxy. But I’ve never pictured a black hole staring right back at me. They eat everything. That kid wouldn’t be here had he known.
In fact, neither none of us would, if the hole that dares not having a name (Sagitarius A, NASA, really? Why not Black Hole Alley, then?) would exercise the same gluttony towards us as it’s doing to that poor star hanging off its mouth.
A thing about space, or what we think we’re seeing of it, is that its vastness is never bland, and permanent rebirth (more)
Read Also:
* Gatekeeper of Outerspace
* Space Droppings
* Space Out

Continue reading

Curtain Raiser

We Need a Record Turnout, Colltalers

Climate change, immigration and asylum rights, healthcare, women’s choice, racial and sexual rights, gun control, wage and labor reform, voting rights, plus your own picks. By now, most Americans should have this down. Now let’s go voting them on Tuesday.
Before anything, billions around the world believe we’ll do the right thing. Sharing values of solidarity, independence of mind, and compassion, they’ll stand with us when we say no. And the suddenly global-relevant U.S. midterm elections can deliver just that.
The diminished importance implied on the title has nothing on the reality of these massive election, though. All 435 House seats are technically up for grabs, along 35 of the 100 Senate seats, 39 governorships, and an onslaught of measures and initiatives – pot expanding legalization, freedom of religion, and animal rights, among them – to be decided by federal, state or local communities.
Not everyone will agree with the above list of ‘issues for distracted voters,’ but they’re still among the most immediate. And unlike other times, let’s vote on ideas and on individuals, too; words count, but only people can be held accountable for invoking them.
Also, it’s no wonder that a record-breaking election in the U.S., of any kind, could have a global impact. In fact, people are already holding their breath in some places: for the results, and also for the toxic air. They need us to recommit to the Paris Agreement.
The world expects us to re-embrace universal principles of immigration and the inalienable rights for asylum from hardship. Which is largely caused by our own attacking forces, and sent by those who, make no mistake, will vote too on Nov. 6. Not on anything remotely related to our list, though. As in the past, they’ll show up, because they’re minority. And us, the majority, usually don’t.
The universality of these American elections is that it can point to a new direction to improve the world. They may disable the gears leading us to intolerance, and put on focus billions of people. Most of whom will never even have a path to such a change.
The old saying, those who send us to war for profit are not fit to lead, may not even exist. But it’s certainly been quoted in as many tongues as the soldiers killed by serving them. The military mind only invokes History when it has survived it. No aggrandizing combat rhyme, though, has the resonance, heard from time immemorial and always uttered by the majority of, we want peace.
We could go down on that list, finding commonality with each cause pulsating within different cultures and places. Continue reading

The 105th

Feliz Aniversário, Pai
Happy Birthday, Dad

Heitor Coll de Oliveira (1913-1989)