Saturday, September 30, 2017

Loving Vincent

 BBC, Loving Vincent

Art appreciation is an acquired taste, don’t you agree?

Art was not included in my you’re-going-to-college-oriented high school curriculum. Supposedly, the powers-that-be felt, we, the attention-limited students, didn’t have the time or, perhaps, the brains to take subjects like art or woodshop/metalshop while also taking chemistry, trig, English, etc.

So, my art appreciation remained stunted until I entered my freshman year at the University of Akron. Then the lights came on. I took Western Cultural Traditions, a required class at the University of Akron, taught by Dr. David Riede.

Dr. David Riede taught Western Cultural Traditions for a bazillion years to thousands of students. He was the master at overcoming years of mind-numbing high school history classes and opening eyes to the fascinating worlds of art and architecture.

In fact, right with the first hour of his class he had me hooked. That was no small accomplishment because Western Cult was one of those pre-recorded video class which were delivered to hundreds of students sitting in lecture halls around campus watching TV screens.

One of the ways Dr. Riede made history exciting was his ability to weave the personalities of historical figures into his lectures. So, for me, winter semester 1967 was the “ignition and liftoff” of my never-ending learning quest.

While Dr. Riede passed a few years ago, he lives on today.

My brother, Gary, sent me a link to a BBC video report by Alex Stanger, about Dorota Kbiela, Co-director, of Loving Vincent, the first fully painted film. Kbiela is the artist behind this beautiful film-making technique and through it she breathes new life into one of the world’s most famous Post-Impressionist artists, Mr. Vincent van Gogh.

No doubt Dr. Riede would find Loving Vincent fascinatingly useful for making history come alive and… for planting the seeds that inevitably bloom into a “taste for art” in the hearts and minds of countless college students.

Loving Vincent: The first fully painted film
Over a hundred painters came together from all over the world to make this animated film about Vincent van Gogh. After shooting the scenes as a live action film with Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd and Douglas Booth, each frame was recreated as a painting in the style of van Gogh.
Video journalist: Alex Stanger

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Life-Sustaining Humanitarianism Trumps Political Gaming

While the Trump administration dilly-dallied, wrestling with an early 1900 U.S. colonial-era law which guarantees profits to U.S. shipping companies, 3.5 million American lives were at stake waiting for help to arrive from the U.S.

Fortunately, the cruise industry did not hesitated.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line, began planning relief efforts before the devastating hurricanes struck the Caribbean. Regardless of island nationality, they are helping the people in dire need, bringing life-sustaining water, food, medical supplies, portable shelters, fuel, generators, and much more.

Mr. President-of-all-of-us, YOU wasted unrecoverable weeks of precious time trying to figure out the best angle for yourself. Finally, a few minutes ago, you did the right thing by ordering an emergency waiver of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, just as you did for Texas and Florida. Now, shippers from throughout the world can deliver needed supplies. (Note: Mr. Trump made his waiver order of the Jones Act effective for only 10 days. Needless to say, much more time is required.)

Life-sustaining humanitarianism trumps political gaming, Mr. President-of-all-of-us... that is what will help make America Great Again.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Yes, vaya con Dios, Puerto Rico

USNS Comfort
Our President loves diversion twittering to deflect snooping eyes from his lack of leadership and disdain for the “common folk”. This past few days his manufactured compassion centered on respect for the National Anthem prior to professional football games over U.S. citizens… hurting... bad.

Many of our people speak only Spanish and many speak Spanish and English. But all live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. They are the 3.4 million U.S. citizens hurting because of the devastation brought down on them by Hurricane Maria, which was preceded just two weeks earlier by Hurricane Irma.

Do your job Mr. President of all the people: Commit our abundant resources and help our people.

Cold Comfort: Trump's refusal to send hospital ship tips his plan to abandon Puerto Rico, 
DocDawg,, 26 Sept 2017.

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
- U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Eight hundred and ninety-four feet long, 106 feet wide, and weighing 69,360 tons, USNS Comfort is a complete ocean-going medical facility with 1,000 patient beds including 80 for intensive care patients. Along with 12 operating rooms she boasts a complete dental clinic, optometry lab and pharmacy, X-ray machines, CT scanners, oxygen and fresh water production plants, capacity to store 5,000 units of blood, laundry operations, and a morgue.

She’s the size of a 20th century supertanker. Indeed, she was a supertanker — the SS Rose City — until purchased by the Navy in 1987 and converted to serve her current lifesaving mission. She and her sister ship in the Pacific, USNS Mercy, are among the rare few assets of the obscenely wealth US military devoted exclusively to saving, rather than taking, lives.

But today, as Puerto Rico and its 3.4 million American citizens slowly die with the island’s hospitals without power and in ruins, Comfort remains snugly berthed in her home port of Norfolk, Virginia.

Why? Because, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, it just won’t fit.

Thomas LaCrosse, the Pentagon’s director of defense support to civil authorities, said U.S. officials discussed deploying the USNS Comfort to Puerto Rico over the weekend but decided that it should stay in Norfolk because it could not get close enough to any port to avoid using helicopter support to get patients to and from the ship.

True enough, the behemoth ship’s deep draft of 30+ feet bars it from San Juan harbor’s 32 to 35 foot channels even at the best of times (and these are far from San Juan’s best times). But, unmentioned in the WaPo article quoted above, that’s nothing new for the Comfort, which routinely anchors a mile or two offshore to serve disaster sites, as it did following Haiti’s devastating earthquake or, again, as it fearlessly did in 2007 in the teeth of a “storm of a decade” off Corinto, Nicaragua, where it anchored 1.5 miles offshore to receive patients. It is such a common fact in the life of this ship of mercy that notes as a mere aside that

Comfort has a deep draft and, in many ports, she has to stand offshore at least a mile. To receive wounded, Comfort has a large day-and-night helo pad.

Puerto Ricans, like all other American citizens, should be deeply chilled by the Trump administration’s stubborn refusal to deploy the Comfort, buttressed by such a transparently flimsy excuse. Because if they’re lying about the reason for their decision, then we must ask what the real reason is...and the answer is terrifying.

It can only be this: Trump intends to abandon Puerto Rico at the first opportunity, leaving its 3.4 million American citizens in their current Stone Age hell forever.

--- Or, your holding back a U.S. Navy hospital ship pending your diversionary war with North Korea? - RB

Please go here for the whole story.
Cold Comfort: Trump's refusal to send hospital ship tips his plan to abandon Puerto Rico, DocDawg,, 26 Sept 2017.

--- Late Tuesday, 26 Sept 2017, the U.S. Navy announced that USNS Comfort would be sent to Puerto Rico within five to nine days -  the time required to activate reserve Navy medical staff and provision the ship. - RB

Please see:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Most Important Video of Your Life

If you wish to live your life to the fullest.
If you wish to see your children and grandchildren live their lives to the fullest.
You must understand how our world works.
Please watch this video. Then make your own life-affirming decisions.
Begin to live your life to the fullest.

The Hacking of the American Mind
Robert H. Lustig, M.D., M.S.L.
University of California Television (UCTV)
Published on Sep 6, 2017

The best-selling author and UCSF endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig explores how industry has contributed to a culture of addiction, depression and chronic disease. Always provocative, Lustig reveals the science that drive these states of mind and offers solutions we can use.  [10/2017] [Show ID: 32572]

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov Saved Your Life

Former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. 
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Our time seems to be characterized by go-along politicians, misguided voters and demented, narcissistic leaders.

Heroes, those who serve the best interests of humanity, seem to be superhuman, silver screen characters recast from old 1930s comic books and offered up as icons by Marvel.

But there are real heroes.

They are humans who reason right from wrong and don’t shirk responsibility. They are real people with families.

And, believe it or not, they are not all Americans.

Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was one. He saved your life. He was a hero. He served his nation, and our world, as a Russian officer.

"On September 26, 1983, Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov received a message that five nuclear missiles had been launched by the United States and were heading to Moscow. He didn’t launch a retaliatory strike, believing correctly that it was a false alarm. And with that, he saved the world from nuclear war. But now reports have surfaced that Petrov died this past May. He was 77 years old."

Please go here for the story:
Man Who Saved the World From Nuclear Armageddon in 1983 Dies at 77, Matt Novak,, 18 Sept 2017.

Who Honors The Hero?
"Petrov was never honoured by the Soviet authorities for his role in saving the world from thermonuclear conflict. He was, however, reprimanded by his authorities for failing to describe the incident correctly in the logbook that night."

"His story did not become widely known until 1998, when Gen Yury Votintsev, the retired commander of Soviet missile defence, published his memoirs. In the following years, Petrov achieved worldwide recognition for his actions."

"He was honoured by the Association of World Citizens at the UN headquarters in 2006 as “the man who averted a nuclear war”. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Dresden peace prize."

Please go here for the rest of  the story:
Soviet officer who averted cold war nuclear disaster dies aged 77, Marc Bennetts, The Guardian,
18 Sept 2017.

See BBC interview here.
Stanislav Petrov, who averted possible nuclear war, dies at 77, BBC, 18 Sept 2017.

99 Red Balloons - Nena 1983

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Who Put the “Fake” in Your News Today?

I supposed the Russians will go down in history, or perhaps the Guinness World Records, as the first to manipulate the outcome of an American election through fake news reports and fake social media advertising. Reportedly, it only cost the Russians $100,000 in Facebook advertising to help put Mr. Trump into office.

If so, they join a throng of election fraudsters goin’ way, way back.

In the 1890s, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal were at the top of the list. Back then, sensationalizing the news to drive up circulation, Yellow Journalism as was labeled, was the technique of choice. The fake news stories helped create the climate that led to the Spanish-American War, plus the terrible atrocities committed by the U.S. Army to put down the Cuban Revolution and what became known as the Philippine–American War.

Today, Fox News and, of course, the supermarket tabloids, including the National Enquirer, the Globe and the National Examiner, dependably rank high among publications proffering fakery about nearly every topic imaginable.

Our Mainstream Media are obviously not exempt from their own brand of fake news, either.

If you are not old enough to be among the aging Baby Boomers you may not know of Carl Bernstein’s famous article, The CIA and The Media.

Equal to, if not more important, than his work with Bob Woodward uncovering the Watergate scandal, the article was first published in Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977.

Bernstein was the first to reveal how the CIA used, manipulated and paid American journalists during the 50s and 60s. His work eventually led to the outing of Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s program for manipulating the press to publish fake news about anything the CIA determined was to its advantage.

If I were to bet, I’d put my money on the CIA as still ranking among the leaders putting their version of fake into our "news" today.*

* If there is one organization which maintains journalistic standards and integrity it’s ProPublica.

The CIA and the Media
By Carl Bernstein 

"How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up"

"After leaving The Washington Post in 1977, Carl Bernstein spent six months looking at the relationship of the CIA and the press during the Cold War years. His 25,000-word cover story, published in Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977, is reprinted below."

"In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA."

"Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations."

Please go here for the rest of the article.

Lies - The Knickerbockers - 1965

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Feelin' Blue?

The Science of Depression

I'm depressed. Well, maybe I'm just unhappy for a multitude of reasons... usually having to do with Mr. Trump and his associates.

The truth is, "Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 6.7% (more than 16 million) of American adults each year. Depression causes people to lose pleasure from daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide." And, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year."*

The good news is, we are learning more about feeling sad.
"Scientists are now calling the link between depression and inflammation caused by a faulty immune system definitive. Whether it's causal or not, the connection opens up new avenues for treatment, and new hope for sufferers."

Go here for the whole story: Researchers: Depression May Be a Physical Illness Linked to Inflammation, Karla Lant,, 10 Sept 2017.

Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Feelin' Blue Creedence Clearwater Revival - 1969

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wash Your Hands… Increase Your Risk for Parkinson’s Disease?

Royal Caribbean International's video to remind passengers to wash your hands!

We know washing our hands is the right thing to do to prevent those terrible bugs from getting into us. But, wash with what?

Just using old fashioned soap may be the best answer.

From University of California, Davis researchers...

Common Antiseptic Ingredients De-Energize Cells and Impair Hormone Response, Futurism, 6 Sept 2017.

"A new in-vitro study by University of California, Davis, researchers indicates that quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats,” used as antimicrobial agents in common household products inhibit mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, as well as estrogenic functions in cells. Their findings will appear online Aug. 22 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences."

"Quats are used as antiseptics in toothpastes, mouthwashes, lozenges, nasal sprays, eye drops, shampoos, lotions, intravaginal spermicidal sponges and household cleaners, to name a few."

“Disinfectants that we are putting on and in our bodies, and using in our environment, have been shown to inhibit mitochondrial energy production and the cellular estrogen response,” said biochemist Gino Cortopassi in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “This raises concern because exposure to other mitochondrial-inhibiting drugs, such as rotenone and MPTP, is associated with increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.”

Go here for the rest of the story...

Monday, September 11, 2017

2,974 Cold Case Murders

It's been 16 years since 2,794 people were murdered before our eyes.

Nothing has changed. 

Still, justice awaits the murderers.

There is no statute of limitations for murder.

Similar to the day President Kennedy was murdered, I remember where I was and what I was doing when the World Trade Center Towers the other five WTC buildings were destroyed, 11 Sept 2001, don’t you?

I turned the TV on that morning to see if there was some reason why my Internet connection had suddenly frozen up. Perhaps, I speculated, someone had demolished the Comcast cable somewhere close by.

Instead of a car accident, I learned that the one of the WTC towers was on fire. I didn’t know it then, but our world had changed again, once more in a very bad way.

In shock, I suspect, after seeing several people jump from the WTC, I later accepted our government’s explanation of the collapse of the impossibly huge buildings. After all, I’d seen it all on TV, hadn’t I?

Please go here for the rest of the article.

Sarah McLacklan’s I Will Remember You

Friday, September 8, 2017

Zombie USA

President Trump is many things to many people.

Here, in Michigan, for instance, he commands the respect of more than 36% of the respondents, according to an August NBC poll, while 55% say they disapprove of his performance as their President.

Mr. Trump has proven himself a feckless buffoon, a crafty self-rewarding deal maker, a predictable hissy-fit-thrower, a dangerous idiot, a megalomaniac, a racist, a misogynist, a psychopathic criminal and monumental media manipulator.

He has shown the world all of these “Trumps”.

Still, no matter which Trump presents himself today, it’s really all about results, is it not? Just what has he accomplished?

So, what are Trump’s results?

The Washington Post has done a yeoman’s work following our President’s trail. After reading the list, I can only describe my reaction: I am in shock and awe at this man’s ability to destroy the meager human rights protections we have adopted to protect common people (such as myself) from those who have and will continue to abuse us.

In only a few months, Mr. Trump has managed to unbury the rotting corpse of the American predatory capitalist system.

His legacy, your grandchildren’s legacy, will be a Zombie America.

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers - Monster Mash (1962)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Bloody Price Labor Has Paid... We Will Pay Again

This year, like every year, I put our flag up on Labor Day.

As it waved amid the glorious morning sunshine I thought about the life I have enjoyed.

I came from a family that stayed together during the bad times and the good. Never without food, clothing or a decent home, my brother and I, attended excellent public schools. We never feared gangs, beatings by the police, or drugs.

We were lucky. Our parents loved us. We had a great extended family, loaded with wonderful, supportive souls.

Mom, a nurse, and dad, a postman, worked their entire lives so we could live in a good neighborhood. After college, we did our time in the military and then, blessed with abundant opportunities, we pursued our careers.

Our “Good Life”, like all Americans’ “Good Life”, was built upon the sacrifices of our ancestors. They paid dearly for the good fortune we have today.

They shed blood and tears, not only on battlefields around the world, but, here at home, too. In our factories, farms and cities.

From our nation’s very beginning, they carried on multiple battles with the “powers that be”, trying to overcome terrible working conditions, slave-wages, exploitation, and every abuse imaginable perpetrated by managers and owners of businesses, police, national guard and “elected authorities”.

From 1619, when Jamestown Polish craftsmen went on strike because they were denied the right to vote, to 1971, when National Airlines management used crass sexual exploitation of its female employees in the "Fly Me" promotion, to 1986, when female flight attendants won an 18-year lawsuit against United Airlines, which had fired them for getting married, and on and on, until this very moment, when it is now our turn to pick up the torch and continue, "the pursuit of Happiness, Life and Liberty."

Each step along the way was covered with the blood of our ancestors. 

That is what Labor Day is all about… recognition of the price paid just to live and the certain knowledge that we, too, are destine to continue to pay it again.

Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Check, Wikipedia’s Timeline of labor issues and events 1619-2012