Confessions of a bergamot addict

Confessions of a bergamot addict

I love Earl Grey Tea. Lots of people who really love tea emphatically do not like Earl Grey–and that’s perfectly fine. We all have different tastes. There are foods other people love that make me want to gag, and I am happy to let them enjoy those foods. Which is to say, this post is not meant to convince other people to like the same tea I do, nor to disparage anyone who doesn’t.

I know that I do not have sophisticated taste in tea. I grew up in rural communities where Lipton Flo-Thru® teabags were considered fancy. Most of the grocery stores seemed to carry black tea blends from Tetley, Red Rose, and Lipton. Occasionally they had Twinings teas, and they were more expensive than the others, so I had heard of and seen Earl Grey tea long before I ever tasted it.

Once I had tasted it, it became my favorite tea for many, many years.

There are various stories about how Earl Grey tea came about. The one that seems least far-fetched is that oil of bergamot was added to black tea in order to counteract the high level of lime that came out of the well at Howick Hall in Northumberland, where C Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, and his wife entertained guests. In 1830 Robert Jackson & Company claimed to be the first to sell the tea after obtaining the recipe from Lord Grey, though written references to “Grey’s Tea” only date back to the 1850s. And the oldest advertisements using the name “Earl Grey’s Mixture” date from some years later, in the 1880s, and from a different tea company entirely, Charlton & Co (which was founded by a former partner of Robert Jackson).

Jackson’s company was later bought by R. Twinings and Company, Limited, and for decades Twinings maintained they were the only company following the original recipe. Until 2011, when they reformulated it (to much protest).

The bergamot orange comes from a citrus tree that is grown commercially in Italy. Like all commercial citrus fruits, it is a hybrid of wild varieties that are now propagated by grafting–in other words, every bergamot tree in the world is a clone of one particular plant.

As I said, I’m something of a bergamot addict, by which I mean that I like many different blends of Earl Grey. The Numi Tea Company, for instance, sells an Aged Earl Grey, which they make by layering bergamot and the tea leaves to age for several weeks. The aged tea has a subtler almost smoky citrus taste to my tongue than the typical Earl Grey. Stash, on the other hand, sells a Double Bergamot Earl Grey, which despite the name all they say is that it has more bergamot oil than their regular Earl Grey. In any case, the citrus taste of this blend is more prominent.

Then there are lavender Earl Greys teas. My favorite, when I can find it, is Revolution’s Earl Grey Lavender. The lavender taste compliments and mellows the citrus, to my tongue. Stash also has a lavender Earl Grey, though the name they market it under is Breakfast in Paris. For some reason they only mention the lavender in small print on the boxes. Stash’s is good, though not quite as brisk to my tongue as Revolution’s version. Revolution’s tea is a blend of black, oolong, and darjeeling teas, which may also effect the flavor. Stash also includes vanilla extract. Who knows.

Stash also makes and Earl Grey Black & Green tea, which is a blend of green tea and black tea with bergamot oil. I happen to like this tea better than the regular Stash Earl Grey, though not as much as the Double Bergamot.

All of these come in tea bags, and as one former co-worker liked to say, American and European tea bags contain the stuff swept up from the floor of the tea aging house. Loose teas are what true tea connoisseurs swear by. And when I make tea from loose leaves the taste does seem stronger than from bags.

Of course, to make it from loose leaves you need to have an infuser. I have a few that are intended to making a single cup, but the issue then is that I have to clean out the used leaves, wet, clumping leaves after making a cup, and I wind up switching back to tea bags for any cup after the first. Until a few weeks ago, where I gave in an bought a small glass infuser pot, that lets me make about four mugs worth of tea at once. So I don’t have to deal with the used leaves after each cup.

Which is a good thing, because my friend, Mark, bought me this very tasty loose leaf Earl Grey for Christmas before last, and I hadn’t been drinking it very fast. And the leaves start going stale after a while. Since getting the infuser pot I’ve been drinking more tea and less coffee on the weekends, and really going through that tin of tea.

Which gives me an excuse to go shopping for more.

If you happen to have any recommendations for loose leaf teas, particularly Earl Grey blends, let me know!

Then we can (virtually) sit down together for a nice cuppa…

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Weekend Update 8/23/2019: More pictures, more words

I keep saving various images to possibly use to illustrate a Friday Five post or a political commentary, then wind up using only a fraction of them. So, here are a few of those memes and graphics you may find amusing, enlightening, or thought-provoking:

Claim: “Blocking someone means your just afraid of what they are saying.”  Truth: “Just because I put garbage in the dumpster doesn't mean I'm scared of garbage, it means it's rank and I don't want it in my house.”

Claim: “Blocking someone means your just afraid of what they are saying.”
Truth: “Just because I put garbage in the dumpster doesn’t mean I’m scared of garbage, it means it’s rank and I don’t want it in my house.”
Block early and often.
(click to embiggen)

Have meeting in your workplace? Ever been stuck in a conference room with a bunch of other people for a long time, and feel as if you've gone braindead? Turns out science has the answer! Look at the CO2 levels in this chart!

Have meeting in your workplace? Ever been stuck in a conference room with a bunch of other people for a long time, and feel as if you’ve gone braindead? Turns out science has the answer! Look at the CO2 levels in this chart! (click to embiggen)

Click to embiggen,,,

“The shooter's manifest praised Trump as a 'symbo of renewed white identity and common purpose.' Let this sink in. A US President is the inspiration of white terrorists around the world. Let that sink in.”

“The shooter’s manifest praised Trump as a ‘symbo of renewed white identity and common purpose.’ Let this sink in. A US President is the inspiration of white terrorists around the world. Let that sink in.”

“State ownership and control is not necessarily Socialism - if it were, then the Army, the Navy, the Police, the Judges, the Gaolers, the Informers, and the Hangmen, all would all be Socialist functionaries, as they are State officials - but the ownership by the State of all the land and materials for labour, combined with the co-operative control by the workers of such land and materials, would be Socialism.” — James Connolly

“State ownership and control is not necessarily Socialism – if it were, then the Army, the Navy, the Police, the Judges, the Gaolers, the Informers, and the Hangmen, all would all be Socialist functionaries, as they are State officials – but the ownership by the State of all the land and materials for labour, combined with the co-operative control by the workers of such land and materials, would be Socialism.” — James Connolly

Historical photo of a woman at a protest holding up a sign that reads: “The enemy doesn't arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine.”

“The enemy doesn’t arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine.”

“In a society where work is necessary for survival, when you refuse to make the workforce accessible or safe for trans/ non-binary people, what you're saying is you don't care if we die. It's a violent as any physical attack.”

“In a society where work is necessary for survival, when you refuse to make the workforce accessible or safe for trans/ non-binary people, what you’re saying is you don’t care if we die. It’s a violent as any physical attack.”

Friday Five (how did this happen edition)

(click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! We’re already up to the fourth Friday in March!

After the coldest February ever recorded here (and the record-breaking cold lingered for more than a week into March), we then had several days of record-breaking high temperatures! It was like early summer for a while there. At the moment, we’re back to typical temperatures for this time of year, and we may actually see some rain, which would be nice.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories about science, five stories about criminals, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and the thing I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Jimmy Carter gets new title: oldest living former president.

Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system.

Pete Buttigieg first openly gay presidential candidate to qualify for Democratic debates.

An Irish pub born in the Dark Ages.

Methodist Churches Across U.S. Are Publicly Rebelling Against Their Leadership’s Anti-LGBTQ Stance.

This Week in Science:

Massive U.S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade.

New Horizons: Ultima Thule ‘a time machine’ to early Solar System.

Asteroid mission exploring a ‘rubble pile’.

How Fish Evolved Antifreeze From Junk.

‘Bomb cyclone’ triggers flooding on Mississippi, Missouri rivers.

Crimes, Hateful and Worse:

It’s Time to Attack White Nationalism for the Terror Group It Is.

Democratic polling group, says Republicans who watch Fox News are so vastly differently from other voters it’s pointless for Democratic candidates to try and win them over.

Devin Nunes Has a Cow, and Free Speech Is Endangered.

Trump’s supporters have launched three serious terror attacks in the past five months.

New Zealand Shooting Realizes White Supremacy’s True Aim.

In Memoriam:

Barbara Hammer Maintained Her Curious Eye Until the End.

Cartoonist Tom K. Ryan, creator of Tumbleweeds comic strip has passed, age 92.

Rest In Peace Tom K. Ryan.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 3/16/2019: Liars, bigots, and fakes.

St. Patrick’s Day parades used to be political riots….

Celestial fruits on earthly ground, or a queer ex-evangelical looks at christianist thoughts on ‘chosen people’.

Use Your Words, or, let your characters talk to each other!

Videos!

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame – Official Trailer:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Stranger Things 3 | Official Trailer:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Toy Story 4 | Official Trailer:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Intimidation:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Nunes Is Suing Twitter For Being Mean:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Use Your Words, or, let your characters talk to each other!

“writers: how are we gonna top ourselves! we got tones of exciting stuff in store!! at least eleven big bads this season!!!! who's gonna survive who won't????!! 3 love triangles and 2 quadrangles!!!!!  me: I'll Pay You $5 To Let The Characters Just Simply Talk To Each Other For Once  #650000 baffled articles: but WHY is fanfiction a THING tho”

“writers: how are we gonna top ourselves! we got tones of exciting stuff in store!! at least eleven big bads this season!!!! who’s gonna survive who won’t????!! 3 love triangles and 2 quadrangles!!!!!
me: I’ll Pay You $5 To Let The Characters Just Simply Talk To Each Other For Once
#650000 baffled articles: but WHY is fanfiction a THING tho”

We’ve all been there: watch a new episode of a TV series or the like, where the characters do stupid things that serve no purpose other than to prolong a misunderstanding and put off the resolution of a subplot until a later episode. A subplot which could easily be resolved if one character simply told another character a piece of information that we, the viewers, already know. And usually a piece of information that would naturally come up in conversation if the two characters simply sat down and talked.

This particular storytelling problem isn’t just limited to television shows or similar serialized stories—but it is prevalent in such narratives because of a perceived need to use up screen time and prolong the suspense so that the viewer will keep coming back.

I say perceived because that time could be used showing the characters having the conversation, reacting to what they learn, and so forth. The counter argument is that viewers/readers don’t want to watch that sort of thing. Yet, as alluded to in the screencap of the blog post above, tens of thousands of readers and viewers create and read tens of thousands of fanfic stories that do precisely that. One of my favorite fanfics is 45,000 words of two characters processing some shared trauma and learning to trust each other. They aren’t just talking, things happen and other characters are involved, but at its heart the story is about these two getting to know each other and decide whether they are going to be friends or something more.

I totally understand the need to create suspense and keep the reader interested. But you don’t have to do it my creating these contrived circumstances where the characters who normally interact all the time just keep not speaking about something that both of them are very upset about. Because if the issue causes suspense, that means any revelation about it will have consequences. And you know what? Whatever those consequences are, they will also be new things to create suspense about!

Instead of finding ever less believable reasons that the characters don’t talk, let them talk. Then let the chips fall and see what happens next.

Celestial fruits on earthly ground, or a queer ex-evangelical looks at christianist thoughts on ‘chosen people’

“The problem with (some) christians: That they think they are bing that guy (points to Jesus being lashed and tortured) whilst behaving like those guys (points to the roman soldiers beating Jesus).”

“The problem with (some) christians: That they think they are bing that guy (points to Jesus being lashed and tortured) whilst behaving like those guys (points to the roman soldiers beating Jesus).”

Previously I wrote about several aspects of the contradictory attitudes that many evangelical Christians have toward the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Since I try to limit the length of my blog posts to digestible chunks, I didn’t go into every aspect of those attitudes in depth, my focus being primarily about how that particular subset of christianists proclaim their constant support for Israel and its people, while also acting (and sometimes talking) in very anti-Semitic ways. There are other ways these contradictions manifest to influences policies, political debate, and social interactions.

First, let’s handle a few caveats: I was raised Southern Baptist in the U.S., so I am most familiar with that particular subset of the larger evangelical/christianist/dominionist community. I have considered myself both an ex-evangelical and ex-Christian for many years—I didn’t leave the church, the church rather violently drove this queer science-loving person out. Finally, I use the word christianist in these essays to refer specifically to people who claim to follow Christ and his teachings, but who actively engage in words and deeds that are contrary to those teachings.

I have several times found myself in discussion with conservative christianists of various stripes on the topic of religious freedom where a person will insist they believe in religious freedom, but then say that being muslim ought to be illegal or something similar. When you try to point out the contradiction, many of them are genuinely confused. If you question them closely enough, you’ll find that many believe the word “religion” only applies to Christianity and Judaism.

One of the most public examples happened a few years ago when a state legislator in the south freaked out when she found out that the school voucher bill she had fought so hard to pass was being using by muslims in her state to divert tax dollars to their religious schools. She was absolutely livid in her first response, even though allowing parents to use tax dollars to send their kids to religious schools was exactly what the bill had been about. Her staffers and fellow Republicans had to explain to her that “religious schools” meant schools sponsored by any religion, not just Christian and Jewish schools.

A friend has told me the story of how back in school she had once signed up for a Comparative Religions class thinking she would finally get to learn what the differences were between Catholics and Lutherans and Methodists, et al—and how only a few minutes into the first class session as the teacher started talking about Buddhists and Muslims and Taoists and so on she started feeling really embarrassed. She hadn’t told anyone that’s what she was expecting, she was merely metaphorically kicking herself because none of the other religions had even occurred to her when she had read the description of the class.

There are the large number of christianists who insist that buddhism isn’t a religion, “It’s a philosophy!” I’ve been told many times that hinduism isn’t a religions—“It’s like greek mythology, no one believes it any more!” Tell that to the millions of people participating in the Ganesh festivals every year! And so on.

Since about 66% of the U.S. population identifies as christian, while people who subscribe to non-christian religions amount to only about 6% of the U.S. population, it isn’t difficult to understand why many americans would be less well informed on the topic of non-christian faiths. It’s easy to shrug this all off as people being clueless about things outside their own experiences, but it has real world consequences. It influences their decisions in the voting booth, and the policies they are willing to support.

To get back to christianist attitudes toward Jewish people, the fact that many of them believe that the word “religion” only applies to a Christians and Jews isn’t a sign of ecumenical thinking. Because most fundamentalist and evangelical christians view Jews as just junior varsity christians. This takes a couple of different forms. Some of them think that Jews are god’s chosen people who just failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but they are still faithful adherents to the oldest of god’s teachings and still worship the one true god—they just aren’t doing it quite right. Others think Jews used to be god’s chosen people, but because they didn’t recognize Jesus, they no longer are chosen, and in fact no longer worship the true god at all.

The latter group is where I believe most of the more aggressively anti-semitic actions and rhetoric originates. Even the ones who aren’t openly anti-semitic, only tolerate the continued existence of Jewish people because they believe there is a special duty to convince Jews to convert to christianity. It’s like they think god will give them a gold star for every Jew they convert.

They also have that attitude toward other non-christians: our worth, to them, is solely as potential converts. And the less likely they think we are to agree to become born-again, the less value they place on our lives. And that also, has real world consequences.


Note: The title of today’s post comes from “We’re Marching to Zion” by Isaac Watts and Robert Lowry, #308 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal.

St. Patrick’s Day parades used to be political riots…

Anti-irish sentiment was rampant in the U.S. during the 19th Century, with political cartoonist portraying them with ape-like features destroying “true american values.”

Anti-irish sentiment was rampant in the U.S. during the 19th Century, with political cartoonist portraying them with ape-like features destroying “true american values.” (Click to embiggen)

The current wave of White Nationalism and Islamophobia we’re embroiled in was hardly the first time that the U.S. succumbed to anti-immigrant fervor. When the 1845 potato famine sent thousands of Irish people to America, hoping to find work and feed their families, the long-brewing anti-Catholic feelings in the country boiled over. Take this paragraph that describes the cartoon above:

“[Thomas] Nast’s anti-Irish cartoons focus on the Irish as a destructive and lying group, who endangered American society. In the immediate aftermath of the Orange Riot of July 12, 1871 in New York City, in which Irish Catholics clashed with the National Guard protecting an Irish Protestant parade, Nast drew a number of anti-Irish cartoons for Harper’s Weekly. One cartoon illustrated the Draft Riots of July 1863, where Irish Catholics attacked African-Americans throughout New York City. At the top of the drawing Nast wrote that the Irish Catholic is bound to respect “no caste, no sect, no nation, any rights,” highlighting the believed lack of respect the Irish immigrants had for American society. Furthermore, the contrast between the Irish and the Anglo-Saxons in this cartoon clearly shows the Irish in negative light. While the Anglo-Saxons are drawn as regular looking people, the Irish are drawn with ape-like faces illustrating their inferiority as well as the lack of intelligence. Such depictions of Irish were not limited to Nast, with other papers such as Puck and Judge also using caricatures of Irish as primitive and violent.”
—“Thomas Nast Anti-Irish Cartoons”, Catholic Historical Research Center

As I said, anti-Catholic sentiment had been a thing in the U.S. before the famine. There were the Bible Riots in Philadelphia, where anti-Catholic mobs set homes and churches on fire, killing dozens and wounding far more. And I want to emphasize that popular perception was that Catholicism was the religion of invaders. Most of the English colonists had been protestant, and many of the people who participated in the riots and demonstrations were part of so-called “Nativist” organizations, out to protect “real American culture.”

To be perfectly clear, I say so-called because none of them were members of Native America tribes. These were white mutts just like me, whose ancestors had come over mostly from Holland and England just a few generations before and either participated in or profited from the systemic slaughter and displacement of America’s indigenous peoples.

Anyway, the Archbishop of New York had a wall built around St. Patrick’s Cathedral during this time, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (a pro-Irish group) stationed men armed with muskets around many catholic churches in cities where tensions were high. This is the same organization that sponsored (and in some places still sponsors) many of the St. Patrick’s Day parades throughout the U.S. today.

St. Patrick’s Day parades, during the 19th Century and well into that the 20th, were acts of political protest. Police and National Guard units were sometimes sent in beat up and arrest as many of the parade participants as possible. When Harry S. Truman first participated in the New York City parade in 1948, it was a big deal.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades were Irish Pride Parades—people marched to protest inequality, anti-Irish prejudice, anti-Catholic prejudice, and to honor previous generations who endured those riots, police assaults, and so on.

And during those turning point years, after Irish-America cops fought for the right to march in their uniforms, there was a bit of controversy in some parts of the community—people who were old enough to remember when riot police were sent in to stop the parade.

Now, most people think they are just big parties. Green beer! Everyone’ Irish on St Paddy’s Day! Right? Right?

Several politicians boycott Staten Island St Patrick’s Day Parade after LGBT+ group told they can’t participate.

Over the last few years some of the big city St Patrick’s Day Parades have begun to allow gay Irish-American groups to participate in the parades. But not everywhere. And before you try to argue that since St Patrick is a religious figure (though he was never canonized by a Pope, so not officially a saint), remember all that green beer and cheap Irish whiskey shots at bars? All the raucous behavior and public drunkenness at the parades?

It is not a religious event.

The St Patrick’s Day Parades in America have always been political events. They were originally about fighting discrimination. They are supposed to be about pride in being Irish, right?

Guess what? A lot of Irish-Americans are queer. Hell, a lot of Irish people are queer. The current Prime Minister of Ireland is an openly gay man! He brought his husband with him when he met with the Vice President last week, and then our very homophobic Veep had to stand by and smile diplomatically while the Prime Minister gave an anti-discrimination speech. In 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote!

My own heritage is mixed, like a lot of pasty-pale-skinned Americans. A chunk of my dad’s ancestors came to the U.S. from Ireland, but they were descended from Anglo occupiers who invaded Ireland in the 15th Century. Many of my mom’s ancestors came from Ireland and were poor Irish Catholics. There are conflicting stories in the family about exactly how and when each branch converted to evangelical Protestant, but, my great-grandpa was proud of his Irish roots, and told stories of how his great-grandpa struggled to find work after coming to America during the potato famine.

So, I think I have at least a bit of a right to state an opinion on Irish Pride Parades. And this queer fairy descended from more than a few Irish immigrants, thinks that telling queer Irish-Americans they can’t march in a St Patrick’s Day Parade is bigoted, backward thinking best described as pure blarney.

Weekend Update 3/16/2019: Liars, bigots, and fakes

“Christchurch Mosque: White supremacist. Tree Of Life Synagogue: White supremacist. Mother Emanuel AME Church: White supremacist. Oak Creek Sikh Temple: White supremacist. Overland Park Jewish Center: White supremacist. Islamic Center of Quebec City: White supremacist.” Gee, do you see a pattern?

“Christchurch Mosque:
White supremacist.
Tree Of Life Synagogue:
White supremacist.
Mother Emanuel AME Church:
White supremacist.
Oak Creek Sikh Temple:
White supremacist.
Overland Park Jewish Center:
White supremacist.
Islamic Center of Quebec City:
White supremacist.”
Gee, do you see a pattern?

Another in my occasional posts of either news that broke after I finished the Friday Five post for the week, or with more information about news stories which I’ve linked to in the past.

First, the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m trying to avoid linking to sites that name the gunman or his co-conspirators or show their pictures. I am angry at the news sites that have run stories about how he was a blond angel as a child, blah blah blah. Seriously, fuck those guys. Instead, Dead, injured or missing: Victims of Christchurch begin to be identified. It is heartbreaking, particularly when you see the pictures of the two youngest killed: a three-year-old and a four-year-old. I’m reminded of the time on some news show when Geraldo Rivera, of all people, got angry at another panelist for defending “some of the ideas” of the Oklahoma City Bomber. Geraldo mentioned the number of children who were killed in the daycare that was part of the building destroyed and said, “he was a baby-killer!”

Australia Re-Bans Homocon Milo Yiannopoulos Over NZ Comments. So, Milo the white supremacist who keeps trying to claim he can’t be a bigot because he only dates black guys, did a tour of speeches and rallies in Australia and racked up a huge debt by not paying for the police security at the rallies. At least one of the rallies turned violent. He announced another such tour in 2018, but then suddenly canceled (while various reporters had uncovered that his group had failed to pay deposits to venues on time, and news of his deepening debt spread). He was set to do another one this year, when the Department of Home Affairs recommended against granting him a visa, based on the violence, protests, and all those unpaid bills from the 2017 tour. But conservative members of parliament pressures the cabinet minister to grant a visa, anyway, and things were looking like another Milo crapstorm were going to happen… until Milo opened his mouth on social media last night, essentially agreeing with all the points of the Christchurch shooter’s published manifesto.

New Zealand shows willingness to curb guns after one, not 1,981 mass shootings. Imagine! A government taking action after a mass shooting! Why, oh why, has no one done that before?

FOX News Contributor Calls for Prosecution of Homocon MAGA Troll Jacob Wohl for Faking Death Threats Against Himself. Lock him up! This is hardly the first time that Wohl has made false reports and tried to profit from them while stirring up conspiracy theories. And while so far the police department that Wohl made the false report to hasn’t made a statement, the man whose photo was stolen by Wohl to create the fake account to send the death threat to himself, has retained Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, to sue Wohl. I’m not a fan of the grandstanding Avenatti, but if anyone can keep attention on the false death threat issue, it’s him.

Speaking of slimy lying people: Trump Issues First Veto Of Presidency After House And Senate Vote To Block “Emergency” Wall Declaration. At least he actually did it correctly. When he sent out the tweet the night before consisting of the single word VETO in all caps, many of us wondered if he thought that’s how it works.

Meanwhile, MAGABomber To Plead Guilty. The guy who sent pipe bombs to critics of the alleged president has agreed to plead guilty to some of the charges, attempting to avoid a mandatory life sentence. We’ll find out what the deal is later this week.

I could comment more on all these horrible people, but it’s just been a depressing news week. So I think we need to end on a funny note. Stephen Colbert shows why it is so unbelievable at the First Lady would use a body double for public appearances. It’s quite amusing:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Five (another white supremacist edition)

Samantha Bee's takedown of Carlson is in the Videos section below.

Samantha Bee’s takedown of Carlson is in the Videos section below.

It’s Friday! We’re already up to the third Friday in March!?

My husband informs me that he saw rain mixed with snow one morning this week (he leaves for work three hours before my alarm goes off on weekdays), but we’ve had daytime temperatures that have almost reached typical for this time of year. Enough of them that the pollen count has shot up high enough to trigger my first really awful hay fever day of the year. So I had to use some sick time this week. Given how much I was whining about the colder than usual temperatures, I guess I can’t complain.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: a few stories that each need a category all to themself, the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories about science, top five stories of interest to my queer kindred, five stories about resisting the fascist regime, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries).

Sad Story of the Week:

Fantasy’s Widow: The Fight Over The Legacy Of Dungeons & Dragons.

Local Sports Story of the Week:

And Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Some Former Seahawks.

Evil F-ers Who Make Me Question Humanity:

Massacre at the mosques – gunmen kill multiple people, Christchurch under siege.

Stories of the Week:

On web’s 30th birthday, its inventor says we need to stop its ‘downward plunge’.

Metalheads with kazoos drown out Westboro Baptist Church at Capitol.

The findings speak to a bigger problem in the development of automated systems: algorithmic bias.

US Surgeon General visits Washington as measles outbreak spreads.

The College Admissions Scandal Should Remind Grads Of Color We Were Always Good Enough.

Queer stories of the Week:

(click to embiggen)

Nancy Pelosi and David Cicilline: The Equality Act Is Just the Beginning.

Why wasn’t anti-LGBTQ bias mentioned in the Congressional resolution denouncing bigotry?

Beefed-up hate crimes bill passes Utah House and appears headed for final approval after years of frustration and failure.

GERMANY: Compensation Payments Approved For Gay Men Persecuted Under Nazi Law After End Of WWII.

Massachusetts House Votes 147-8 to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors.

This Week in Setbacks for Fascists:

Senate Spectacularly Rebukes Trump’s ‘National Emergency’ as Republicans Join Democrats to Block Wall Funds.

The House Just Voted to Demand DOJ Publicly Release Mueller Report – No Democrat or Republican Voted Against It.

Court allows defamation suit against Trump to proceed.

CONNECTICUT: State Supreme Court Clears Way For Sandy Hook Parents To Sue Gun Maker And Sellers.

George Conway Calls Trump A “Pathological Liar” And Calls For “Serious Inquiry” Into His Mental Condition.

Awful, Deplorable People:

Jacob Wohl Faked Death Threats Against Himself – One came from a phony account the wingnut provocateur created and ran just before he was banned from Twitter.

Proud Boys Cite Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to Attack Antifa.

How the Far Right Perverts Ancient History—And Why It Matters.

Instead of New Press Chief, What If Trump Tries Fewer Crimes.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Elijah Cummings COMING For Election Brian Kemp Stole From Stacey Abrams.

In Memoriam:

Former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh dies at 91.

Jan-Michael Vincent Dead: ‘Airwolf’ Star Dies at 73.

Stanley Donen Dead: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Co-Director Was 94.

How Director Stanley Donen Made Stars Like Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn Shine Their Brightest.

RIP, Superstar Wrecking Crew Session Drummer Hal Blaine, Who Played on 150 Top 10 Songs.

Videos!

Is Tucker Carlson a White Supremacist? | Full Frontal on TBS:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Robocalls: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

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Fake Melania, Tim Apple & Trump’s Six Degrees of Corruption | The Daily Show:

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Meet Stephanie Flowers, VOICE OF A RIGHTEOUS WRATHFUL GOD:

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Gay Church Janitor Stuns ‘American Idol’ Judges with Original Song About Whether Heaven Has a Place for Him:

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Resetting clocks and other foolish things

I could write yet again about the foolishness of Daylight Saving Time, but despite not needing to be anywhere at a specific time, all day Sunday I was feeling confused about the time and had to deal with two nap attacks.

Anyway, my state is not the only one that currently has a bill moving through the legislature to make us stop changing clocks twice a year. Find out if yours is one of the many considering it, and call your state legislators and encourage them to vote for it! There is at least one bill in the U.S. Senate (with, last I checked only two co-sponsors) that would make it easier for states to opt out of the Daylight Saving Madness. So, maybe consider calling your federal representative.

I know that, despite the fact that the time change contributes to an increase in traffic accidents and death, workplace accidents and injury, and exacerbates many health issues, it isn’t as dire as the things I’m usually going on about here, but maybe if we can make some progress on something like this, it will make some of the other issues a little more conquerable?

Maybe?

Anyway, I’m reposting what I posted last year on the topic of Daylight Saving Time, why we do it, and all the myths about it. Enjoy:

100 years of Daylight Saving Time, and most of what you know about it is wrong

“We just sucked one hour of your life away. Tell me... How do you feel?”

At least he was doing it for science… (Click to embiggen)

I was going to write a post about Daylight Saving Time, specifically the many myths that get thrown around by people trying to explain it. I think the fact that almost no one understands why we do it is one of the best arguments for why we shouldn’t do it at all. Let alone the problems the switch causes: Heart problems, road accidents and mood changes are associated with the DST time change. But while I was searching for a good image to attach to such a post, I found this Buzzfeed article and includes a section that hits all the notes I wanted to:

In 1905, a British architect named William Willett invented daylight saving time. Willett was out for his regular early-morning horse ride when it he noticed that 1) it was rather light outside, and 2) he was the only one up. Like Franklin, he thought this was a waste of perfectly good sunlight. And it ~dawned~ on him that instead of getting everyone up earlier by blasting cannons, they could simply shift their clocks forward to take better advantage of that sweet daylight. So, in 1907 Willett published a pamphlet outlining his formal proposal. He suggested that people turn their clocks forward 20 minutes every Sunday in April at 2 a.m. (And then they would set the clocks back by 20 minutes every Sunday in September.) He argued that this would get people outside and exercising, and that it would save on electricity, gas, candles, etc. (He also estimated it would save $200 million in today’s dollars. This was…again, a wild exaggeration.) A member of parliament, Richard Pearce, heard about Willett’s idea and was into it; he introduced Pearce’s Daylight Saving Bill to the House of Commons in February of 1908. The idea of changing the clocks four times in a month didn’t go over well, and the bill was eventually revised so that the clocks would be set forward one hour at 2 a.m. on the third Sunday in April (and then set back in September).

The bill was endorsed by merchants, banks, railroad companies, and the guy who created Sherlock Holmes, but was opposed by most astronomers and scientists. And one newspaper wrote “that if a man were going to a 7:00 dinner, under the new arrangement of daylight he would appear on the streets of London in evening dress at 5:40, which would shake the British Empire to its foundations.”

You know who else opposed the bill? FARMERS. They argued from the start that they couldn’t perform their operations at a different time — for example, they couldn’t harvest grass for hay while it was still wet with dew, and the dew wasn’t going to disappear earlier just because the clock had changed. And there were other activities that they couldn’t do until temperatures dropped after the sun went down. Basically, they hated DST from its inception.

Despite the association with farmers, daylight saving time actually came to the United States thanks to business owners (and war)
If you feel like garbage this week, you can direct your curses toward Marcus A. Marks, a clothing manufacturer; A. Lincoln Filene, a department store owner; and Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh industrialist. These three were very pro-DST, and were able to get labor organizations on board, along with the US Chamber of Commerce, the president of the National League of Baseball Clubs, and other prominent business owners. Even President Woodrow Wilson wrote a letter expressing his support for their efforts.

Less than two weeks after the US entered WWI, a daylight saving bill was introduced in Congress. It was heavily opposed by farmers, and also railroad companies, who were concerned about anything that could mess with the standard time zones (which had only recently become A Thing — a story for another day), and who said that 1,698,818 (!!) clocks and watches along their routes would have to be changed if DST were implemented. Because the fewest trains were running at 2 a.m., that became the proposed hour for the change-over. And because the most coal was consumed in March and October in the States, the bill was expanded to include those two months. On March 19, 1918, daylight saving time was signed into law in the United States, and took effect on March 31 of that year.

—“9 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Daylight Saving Time” by Rachel Wilkerson Miller, for Buzzfeed

The energy consumption savings argument was difficult to back up with numbers in 1918. The energy consumption argument at least had some slight possibility of being correct in 1918, when the vast majority of energy use was in factories, retail businesses, and the like. Residential energy use was limited to cooking, heating, and providing light usually with oil- or gas-burning lamps.

But in 2018 the argument doesn’t hold up. For instance, residential energy use thanks to all our computers, TVs, sound systems, game systems, refrigerators, microwaves, et cetera is a larger fraction of the total national energy consumption. And the amount of that home energy consumed for lighting is much smaller than all those other things. Also, a much larger proportion of businesses run 24 hours a day than did back then. Setting clocks forward or back has negligible impact on how much energy is used per day on a 24-hour business.

What I’m saying is, there isn’t much reason to justify the effort, the impacts on people’s health, and other costs of this twice annual fiddling with the clock.

Besides, I’ve always agreed with the one reaction, usually attributed to an elderly man on a Native American Reservation after first getting an explanation of Daylight Saving Time: “Only a fool would think you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, then sew it to the bottom to get a longer blanket.”

Friday Five (someone’s going to prison edition)

Picture of convicted conspirator, Paul Manafort captioned “Will not do well in prison”

(click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! The second Friday in March!

And it snowed again. Had a bit over an inch in our part of town. Snow turned to rain and washed it away by afternoon, but it snowed. Again. I’ve seen snow in March, yes. Much later than March, in fact. When I was a kid growing up in Colorado! I haven’t lived in Colorada in over 40 years. We’ve already had the snowiest winter ever. Can we please, please have a bit of normal?

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories about science, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and the thing I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

How Much Wealthier Are White School Districts Than Nonwhite Ones? $23 Billion, Report Says.

In wake of protests, JPMorgan Chase breaks up with private prison industry.

A Clinton-era centrist Democrat explains why it’s time to give democratic socialists a chance.

Sex outside of marriage could soon be legal in Utah.

North Korea Is Rebuilding Rocket Site It Dismantled After Nuclear Talks Last Year. Because of course they are…

This Week in Science:

Smithsonian | There is A Scientific Reason That Cold Weather Could Cause Colds. There are actually multiple reasons why cold and flu season happens during the cold part of the year.

Semi-Identical Twins Identified For Only The Second Time Ever .

Galaxy Simulations Offer a New Solution to the Fermi Paradox.

After 14-year search scientists think they have found a new type of killer whale off coast of Chile.

A 2,000-year-old tattoo tool is the oldest in western North Americ

Awful, Deplorable People:

Paul Manafort Sentenced To Only 47 Months.

The Truth in Trump’s Law-Enforcement Hypocrisy — As a public defender, I’m not mad at how well Manafort and Cohen have been treated. I just want that same treatment for my clients..

Mike Pence isn’t ‘decent.’ He’s insidious..

Two Dozen Republicans Refuse to Vote for Resolution Condemning Wide Range of Hate and Bigotry.

Indiana man had 2,000 ancient human bones in his house. Most illegally dug up out of various indigenous burial grounds.

In Memoriam:

Luke Perry Dead: ‘90210,’ ‘Riverdale’ Star Dies at 52.

Luke Perry, in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ Helped Redefine the Male Love Interest —the mediocre 1992 movie eventually led to some great TV — but it also created a first-rate example of a male feminist..

Things I wrote:

Disgraced former Congressman gets an out of jail free pass….

Haste to prepare the way, or an ex-evangelical explains christianist attitudes toward Israel and Israelie.

Videos!

Someone has created an animation of several Police Logs of Port Townsend:

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Good Omens – Official Trailer | Prime Video:

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Brian Justin Crum “CIRCLES”:

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Better — A Horse With A Horn (NSFW):

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HE’S IN LOVE (and we’re all gonna die) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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