A note to a friend who is a Trump fan


I know you are an ardent Trump fan and I applaud your passion. Yet, numerous Republican election officials, even Trump appointees, have said on the record there was no widespread voter fraud. And. Trump has lost about two dozen court cases, winning only one small case that tossed a few votes. Biden won because he got more votes in states where it mattered most. Trump has staged this voter fraud issue for over six months, so what he is doing is predictable, alarming and harmful to our country. I expect you will disagree with me, and that is fine, but I wanted you to know I have major concerns. That is what this old fart thinks. That and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.

City on the Edge of Forever

If you are an original Star Trek fan, you will recognize “City on the Edge of Forever” as arguably the finest episode. This award winning episode was written by Harlan Ellison and co-starred a newcomer actress named Joan Collins, who would become a TV star and appear in several movies.

Per the vision of creator Gene Roddenberry, the original Star Trek was steeped in existential questions posed by some very good scriptwriters. Questions regarding prejudice, hatred, good vs. evil, the Roman, Greek and Egyptian gods who visited earth being aliens, doing no harm when visiting a civilization, etc. The “City on the Edge of Forever” dealt with someone altering a small event in time, that changed the world and future.

I will avoid spoiler alerts, but the gist of this episode is a very drugged Dr. McCoy, played by DeForest Kelly, goes back in time through a previously unknown portal. He winds up on earth in New York City right before World War II where he meets a pacifist advocate played by Collins. For some reason, McCoy alters the course of history and the Enterprise no longer exists., fortunately after Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) have beamed down to the location of the portal.

In essence, they go back in time to when McCoy did, to figure out what happened. While here Kirk meets Collins’ character and they become mutually smitten. Spock discovers the two paths forward, the one that McCoy altered vs. the one which occurred. The story boils down to should something you detest happening, be allowed to happen, so as not to impact millions of lives in not a good way. I will leave it at that.

Setting aside the science fiction aspect, the story is well crafted and well acted. Most of the stories were, although a few were kind of cheesy. The original series was short-lived, but its reruns built a huge audience.

One of the more powerful sidebars comes from Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, the communications officer. She met Martin Luther King at an event. King was a fan of the show, and when he learned Nichols was considering leaving it, he encouraged her to stay. King said seeing a Black woman on the show made a huge statement as to what the future might look like.

So, I feel I stand in good company if MLK liked the show. Check this episode out if you can. For those who have not seen it and plan to do so, you may want to avoid the comments.

What a real hero looks like

I have written before about this hero primarily for her book gifting program for young kids, which is now an international program called “Imagination Library” (see second link below). Her name is Dolly Parton. I heard she could write songs and sing, as well. Yet, Parton just received some new acclaim for helping fight COVID-19.

In an article in The Hill by Judy Kurtz (see first link below) called “Dolly Parton among donors behind Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine,” her efforts are revealed. Here are a few paragraphs from the article.

“Dolly Parton can add another achievement to her résumé: helping to fund research for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The ‘9 to 5’ singer was one of several donors listed Monday as part of the announcement that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate was 94.5 percent effective in an interim analysis. The ‘Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund’ was named as a supporter in the footnotes of a New England Journal of Medicine report.

Parton, 74, announced back in April that she was giving $1 million to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center toward finding a vaccine to fight against COVID-19.

In an April Instagram post announcing her contribution, the Grammy Award winner said she was donating in honor of her longtime friend, Dr. Naji Abumrad, a researcher at Vanderbilt who informed her ‘that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure.'”

Parton will be remembered many years from now for her Imagination Library where 147 million books have been provided to young children. Currently, there are 1.7 million children signed up for the program. Yet, seeing her do things like the vaccine funding adds to her legacy.

Seeing her interviewed on multiple occasions, the depth of her kindness, integrity, and approachability is heart warming. Her ability to laugh at herself (both the stage personality and at home one) reveals a very smart woman that disarms people. She does not need to solicit attention for her good deeds, it just spreads.

Well done, Ms. Parton. You are a credit to the human race. Thank you for your music and big heart.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/dolly-parton-among-donors-behind-moderna-s-coronavirus-vaccine/ar-BB1b6aIj?ocid=msedgdhp

You remember that place next to the restaurant we liked – an updated version

This is an example of “couplespeak.” After years of marriage, it is entirely possible the other member of the couple will know precisely where the speaker is meaning. And, neither may actually remember the name of the place or the restaurant used as the landmark. This kind of conversation can surface in a multitude of ways. Here are a few more examples.

Oh, she is that actress who starred in the action movie with the guy we like.

This one usually requires some stumbling add-ons. Because the responding question will usually be, “Which movie are you talking about?” Nowadays, with Google, it is possible to come up with names and trace the movie to the other star. Yet, it is possible for the spouse to know after some add-on suggestions, who the actress and actor are.

Why don’t you make that casserole you made when we had some folks over?

Between the two, the name of the other couple can be surfaced which will help with the mental Rolodex of recipe names. Otherwise, it will be an ingredient hinting exercise. “I remembered it was a chicken and sausage dish.”

Was it Johnny, Susie or Joey that had the whooping cough or was it the croup?

This is not a fill in the blank question like the others. But, if you are a parent of more than one child, some of the younger child illnesses blend together. Your kids will laugh at you if you don’t remember, but they will cease laughing when it happens to them as parents. Also, the diseases do get mixed up some, which is why you keep a list.

What is the name of that singer that sounds like the woman we heard on the American Idol or The Voice?”

It is the “name that person questions” that come up the most. We know both of us know her, yet neither can recall her name. We do need to find some hint that will jog memory or facilitate the Google search.

Do you think the “Sun” or “Jellyfish” or “Popcorn” is that actress or singer who was in…?”

To get this reference, you have to be a fan of “The Masked Singer,” where artists dress in very creative costumes and sing in competition. Throughout their stints, the competitors offer clues. Yet, given the previous and first example above, it does test our couplespeak. Do you think that is the guy who starred in the sit-com about the young family with two dads?

To others, it will appear we have no sense at all. If you told someone that you could not remember a popular person or place, the other person would think you were crazy. “How can you not know that?” Yet, all couples will eventually migrate to this couplespeak at some point.

Tell me a few of your examples. Which ones did I not capture? When did you first notice this trend?

Four little windows

There is ad nauseum evidence of the corrupt, bullying, unempathetic and deceitful words and actions of the president. Yet, sometimes little windows offer clear insight into the nature of the president.

On the day interim FBI Andrew McCabe was packing up his office to retire, he was fired by the president to deny McCabe his pension. This may be  worse than firing people without telling them, which he has done several times. Who does that?

After informing two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodard in early February he was aware of the coronavirus risk and how it could be transmitted, the president chose not to inform Americans and had several rallies later in the month. He did not tell his ardent base they were being exposed and further downplayed the virus as a hoax. Who does that?

On a day which will be remembered as “sh**hole country” day, the president agreed to a deal in the morning with Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham for money for the infamous border wall (his main campaign theme) in trade for making DACA into law to help about 800,000 children born in America to illegal immigrants. By the time Durbin and Graham got there, the president had been talked out of the deal by hard line Senator Tom Cotton among others. The two Senators were none to happy with the president for reneging on the agreed upon deal. To top it off, Trump offended several countries by referring to immigrants therefrom as coming from “sh**hole countries.”

Finally, with his current pep rallies, setting aside the COVID-19 exposure, he insulted his base in Pennsylvania and Iowa regarding not wanting to come there, telling Iowans he hoped he would never be back. But, he saved his worst for Nebraskans who he made wait in the cold weather and trudge back to their cars afterwards. Again, these are his most ardent fans. Yet, we should not be surprised, as radio host Howard Stern noted after fifteen hours of interviews with Trump over the years, Trump does not give a hoot about those folks.

There are many other examples to draw from – the poorly planned travel ban which was so botched it was pulled after two days, the vindictive firings or transfers of Inspectors General and public servants who testified under oath, or the horrible separation of children from asylum seekers et al. This is the person who represents the United States.

After the failed travel ban, conservative David Brooks said the Trump White House is “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” About a year or so later, Brooks noted “Trump does not have empathy or sense of decency.” Agreed on all counts.

In a land not so far away, in a time not so long ago

January 25, 2020 – from the Oval Office of the White House

My fellow Americans. Today, our country faces a pandemic risk, that only has begun to hit our shores. I have been briefed on multiple occasions by the Directors of Intelligence, Defense and CDC regarding the coronavirus risk to our country. The virus appears to easily spread and can be deadly to some who have other medical issues they are dealing with.

Since, mission #1 in a pandemic is to tell the truth, I want to shoot straight with you. If this hits our shores like anticipated, then we need to be prepared to act. I have been told masks are important, and we may have a shortage.

In fact, Mike Bowen, owner of the largest surgical face mask producer in the US — Prestige Ameritech in Texas — contacted our officials in the Department of Health and Human Services on January 22, the day after the first US coronavirus cases were identified. He asked the US government to provide the funds needed to dust off four dormant manufacturing lines, and his firm would produce 1.7 million N95 masks every week. I have authorized emergency funds to Prestige Ameritech to start these dormant lines effective immediately.

Masks will only get us so far, but are a key part of the plan. So, I am asking the Vice President to head a task force to work with the CDC, both chambers of Congress, governors, major health care systems and facilities, and supply manufacturers to identify concerns, needs and develop a national and state level plans.

I have learned a new term called social distancing, which suggest people to remain six feet or more away from each other. I am told washing hands after some contact would also be wise. So, I would suggest people to start doing more of these things until we know more.

Since the coronavirus appears to have originated in China, I want this task force to advise me by the end of the month on whether travel restrictions to and from China, and other areas of Asia and around the world, are needed. In the interim, I would ask business leaders to reduce the amount of travel in their companies until we determine next steps. Private citizens should do the same. People returning to our country should self-quarantine for at least a week, I am told, but that time may need to be longer.

There is obviously a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus. As we learn more and develop plans and suggestions, we will conduct briefing sessions led by the Vice President and head of the CDC and other important scientific voices. I ask that you be diligent and do what is needed to protect yourself, families and friends.

Let me emphasize. This is not a hoax and it is not something we can just blow past. We need a concerted effort and take this seriously. There may be a time when we need to make more than suggestions requiring certain behaviors. Let’s hope it does not come to that. But, if it does, we will need your help to comply.

Thank you all and may God bless America, as well as our friends around the globe.

The President of the United States

Note: This speech did not occur. However, Prestige Ameritech offered twice to the White House to restart the idled lines in January. Because of the mask shortage, the initial emphasis was on masks for medical practitioners, which increased risk to other citizens. The US president did enact a travel ban to and from China on January 31, but would have been better served with more staging (and less blaming) beforehand about the risk. Democrats (and others) who were critical of the travel ban due to how it was communicated, should have been more supportive. Frustratingly, the president’s references to the virus being a hoax and downplaying the impact occurred throughout February at major pep rallies, placing many folks in attendance at risk. The misinformation continues until this day, which is amazing in its own right.

Reaction to hate speech – two posts from today

Two fellow bloggers have written today about online hate speech they have received. One lives in Australia and the other in America. The latter focuses on some anti-semitic comments she has received. Each post can be linked to below. They are must reads.

Below are my comments offering up a few thoughts from someone who detests hate speech and sees it for what it is – fear of the other.

First comment –  “I was chatting with my sister about how some folks are just looking for a fight online. I love the Aristotle saying – ‘There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

Let me add one that a friend and guidance counselor used to tell her high school students. You are the boss of you. Don’t cede your power to anyone, especially someone trying to provoke a reaction. If you do not take offense, you are not offended.

I just love her words, even more especially since she passed away early. It is my tribute to her to remember them.”

Second comment – “I am sorry you have to go through hateful and spiteful denigration and persecution. It is not right and never has been right. When I see one group of people, pick any, that is taught to ‘fear the other’ and shun them, dehumanize them, punish them, and persecute them, thinking beyond the obvious hate, I am reminded of one thought – how could one group be so arrogant to think they can do without other groups of people?

This point is not focused on enough, so let me. The Jewish people have contributed so much to the world in every community they chose to be in (or were forced to be in). They value family, faith, hard work, education and community. One of my favorite part’s of Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers,’ about successful people, is when he focuses on the children and grandchildren of the ‘piece goods’ workers who migrated from Europe to New York City (piece goods are zippers, button holes, collars, belt loops, etc. that make finished products easier to produce). Looking at these hard working people’s descendants revealed lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, etc. Their forebears valued hard work and education.

My point is simple. If a group practices an exclusionary belief system, then they may be a self-fulfilling prophesy and wither away. Simply, we need each other. If that does not do it for these folks, just think Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants. African-American Vivian Thomas had a heavy part in curing the blue babies syndrome, and the contribution of Jewish folks is an exhaustive list, but picking only two, Jonas Salk gave us the polio vaccine and actress and scientist Hedy Lamarr invented a technology that exists in every cell phone. Just think of where we would be without our diversity.”

Please note, I added a few words to the comments I left. My point is “fear of the other” is not only hateful, it is foolish and self-defeating. I saw a documentary where religious scholars and historians noted Jesus probably spoke four languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin), given his trade as a carpenter, his ministry as a Rabbi and where he grew up. In other words, treat others like you want to be treated were not just words – he learned languages to communicate. Think about that.

https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2020/10/25/how-to-deal-with-internet-criticism/

Early votes are in for this family – please vote

Joe Biden has aired a commercial which encourages people to vote. He only appears at the end and he does not say vote for me, although that is tacitly implied. While Biden is ahead in several swing state polls, the lead is within the margin of error of the sample size and presumes the poll is unbiased and looks like the voter mix. It should be noted that these polls indicate a mean, so one standard deviation encompasses only 1/6 of a likelihood in either direction around the mean.

Biden has rightfully told his campaign team to assume we are losing and go out with vigor. Trump followers like to say the polls were wrong in 2016, but actually they were pretty accurate. Before the late Comey announcement to reopen the investigation, HIllary Clinton had a supportable margin of standard deviation toward a victory. After the Comey announcement, the standard deviation indicated Trump could win.

So, some lukewarm Clinton voters stayed home or made a protest vote for Jill Stein. A few Bernie Sanders supporters were so ticked off at Clinton, they actually voted for Trump. That was an insult to Sanders, but it mattered not. Clinton would have been a better president than she was a candidate, just as she was when she was a Senator. Yet, too many whacks at the Clinton pinata over the years left a negative impression in too many.

While Trump’s faults were obvious in 2016, he was expected to be better than he has been. Now, people have seen the divisiveness, the corruption, the incivility, and the lying that embodies the president. And, he has taken credit for things he had little to do with or not as much as advertised and blamed others for his faults.

So, I encourage every one to vote. Please do not mess around this time. To be frank, Trump needs to not only lose, he needs to lose convincingly. He has been overtly cheating for many months and will do so after the election if the margin is not convincing. He is a cornered animal and he will actually get worse as we near the election.

Please vote. My family has all voted now. My wife, daughter and I voted early yesterday. It was well done, safe and secure. It took us twenty minutes. Please invest that time. It is important.

American Utopia – an excellent musical by David Byrne

For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, the name David Byrne may be familiar. Yet, the name of his group, “Talking Heads” likely will ring a few more bells.

For the past few years, David Byrne’s “American Utopia” has been well received on Broadway. Fortunately, before COVID-19 shut down Broadway, Spike Lee filmed a special performance with Byrne and his multi-national troupe. It is a memorable show that is airing now on HBO. Below is link to a HBO trailer.

Dressed alike in gray suits, sans shoes and ties, Byrne and his eleven performers blend their talents in a choreographed marching band of various drum kits, guitars, a keyboard, and various and sundry instruments.

Only two of the songs appear to be popular Talking Heads’ songs – “Once in a lifetime” and “Burning down the house.” The latter sounds better than the released version with added percussion.

He also adds new music and that of others. Byrne explains the songs beforehand and includes an introduction of the band as they build the next song instrument by instrument.

Another highlight occurs when he says he asked permission from Janelle Monae to do her song as a plea for justice for a list of killed black people. This was filmed prior to the terrible deaths this year, but Lee adds a memorial at the end of the song.

Byrne makes observations throughout about our country. In one telling moment, he encourages people to vote, using the audience lights to indicate how many 20% represents that vote in local elections. He also noted in the 2016 election only 57% of Americans voted. To me, this indicates the voting problem in America – it is not fraud, it is not enough people are voting.

Yet, the highlight is the wonderful music coming from the stage produced by many different nationalities, races and ethnicities. That is what America is all about.

https://www.hbo.com/specials/american-utopia

A seventy-one old toaster (and marriage)

It is just a toaster, a Sunbeam T-20 model, which toasts two pieces at a time. Yet, it was purchased and given as a wedding gift in 1949. And, it still works. Two slices of toast are still needed each morning, because Frank and Gloria Witt are still married after seventy-one years.

Per the article by Nicole Brodeur of The Seattle Times called “After 71 years, marriage – and wedding gift – endures,” the 92 year-old Frank and 93 year-old Gloria, are enduring well. A picture accompanying the article reveals Frank, with his World War II Veteran ball cap, and Gloria, and her large smile, placing her head on his shoulder.

They met when Frank ventured to Tacoma after the war to attend college and went to the dentist. Gloria was the dentist’s niece and was working behind the desk. Frank said he made more appointments to find out who she was. Good dental hygiene can be a matchmaker.

Per Brodeur, “It’s not just about a toaster. It’s about marriage, and anything of value. It’s about taking care of something – or someone.” Their son Christopher adds, “‘if you treat something really well, then it will last.'”

Frank added, “‘we try to take care of everything and keep using it. We came from the Depression days. You used everything you could for as long as you could take care of it.'”

Frank said they had only purchased a refrigerator before they got married. Everything else was provided by others. They planned their purchases as well as when they wanted children, five years hence. They ended up with three Victoria (now 66), Christopher (now 62) and Margaret (now 56), but note the spacing in ages, which also looks to be the product of planning.

A vintage Sunbeam toaster like the one they have is worth about $300 today. This one is worth far more than that as a symbol. Yet, my guess is, if it goes before them, they will be practical and just go buy another one.