Category Archives: General

The latest big news…

Yeah, lots of news going on and haven’t been ’round these parts for a while now.

I suppose the two biggest issues of this day are the continued fighting in the Ukraine against Russia. It’s a horrible situation initiated by a lunatic who seemed to think he could just waltz into Ukraine with his mighty army and everyone would simply give up when faced with their overwhelming might.

The reality, if it weren’t for all the lives lost and cities destroyed, would be the stuff of bitter comedy. The Russian forces have been exposed as under-trained, ignorant of what they are doing (not their fault), and brutal (very much their fault). The fact that Ukraine looks to be about to go on the offensive and is only miles from the Russian border is yet another element that almost makes you want to laugh at the ineptness of the Russian forces… but again, only if we were to ignore the rapes, murders, general war crimes, and savagery this war has created.

Oh, and you gotta love how some Russian media is mulling the use of nuclear weapons as a potentially legitimate thing going forward.

Way to make a bad situation all the worse, eh?

Speaking of which, the leak a few days ago about Supreme Court Judge Alito’s Roe v Wade ruling, effectively gutting it, has also sent out shock waves across the country.

I suppose we once again have one of those “if it weren’t so fucking terrible it would be a comedy” type situations. Love this short video, presented on twitter, from The Daily Show

The Daily Show on Twitter: “These judges make lying fun. It’s the Black Robe Comedy Tour!

Serious shit, truthfully, yet also hilarious because it’s so fucking true as well.

Alito and his ilk, as so clearly presented above, lied their way into their Supreme Court “jobs” and now are in hiding because of the furor of this ruling, something they claimed beforehand to “respect”.

I’ve noticed that some of the more right wing elements out there, for instance, the truck drivers who were creating blockades in Washington DC, were perplexed when people shouted at them and gave them the middle finger.

“How can you be against us when we’re trying to free you?” I recall one such demonstrator stated.

It’s a delusion, truly. A feeling that you know what’s right and everyone else is going to go your way, even though you clearly don’t know what’s right and a majority of people are very much against your actions and ideas.

The anti-choice crowd doesn’t get that but let’s see what happens in the upcoming elections. Their hubris might yet be their undoing.

One hopes.

Finally, there’s the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard trial.

For those living in a cave, Johnny Depp’s career has really sunk in recent years, partially because he’s been in a string of absolute stinker films and because, he claims in this lawsuit, of an editorial Amber Heard wrote which talked about -without mentioning Johnny Depp by name- being in an abusive relationship.

I can’t seem to wave a dead cat around the internet without smacking into Johnny Depp fanatics who are livid about Amber Heard and demand “justice” for Johnny and damnation for her.

And… I can’t understand it.

I’m not a Amber Heard “fan”. I’m not a Johnny Depp “fan”. I’ve seen a few of the things presented in trail so far and Johnny Depp, IMHO, strikes me as a deeply vindictive man who is trying his absolute best to destroy another person, that being Amber Heard.

His career, from what I’ve read and seen, was already very much on the rocks BEFORE that 2018 editorial came out which he claims so defamed him so already I’m wondering what this whole lawsuit is about.

There were plenty of stories about him allegedly being out of control on movie sets, of allegedly consuming mass quantities of alcohol and drugs and often supposedly arriving late to work without any idea of his lines or what he was even supposed to do. Interestingly, in the trail at one point he was asked about the movies he was recently in (perhaps to get at this point I just mentioned) and he replied he had no idea of the films he had just done and couldn’t name any recent works.

Weird.

A trail in England brought by him and against a newspaper over reports of him being abusive resulted in a very clear loss for Depp and a finding by the court that he was indeed abusive and therefore the paper he was suing had not defamed him by stating this.

I can’t help but think when all is said here in this trial, we’re going to see much the same result.

Is Amber Heard a “good” person? I truly don’t know. There is some evidence, I have read, for at least one pretty gross thing she is supposed to have done on his bed… but as gross as that is, is it abusive? Depp himself, of the stand, stated that he couldn’t help but “laugh” at that.

So… ok?

Depp claims she cut/slashed his finger, but there are contemporaneous tweets and interviews where Depp himself says he did it to himself. Was he lying then and isn’t now or is he lying now and wasn’t then? What are we supposed to believe in that case?

There are those who say both of them engaged in abusive acts and its certainly possible, but I wasn’t there nor were many of them so its kinda engaging in speculation, no?

One probably should let the trail work itself out and each side present their evidence and what happens will happen, whether Depp be vindicated or not.

Having said that, one thing I already feel works very much against Depp I’ve already mentioned above: The idea that Heard’s 2018 op-ed somehow was solely responsible for his career nosedive and not the many bad movie choices he made from roughly 2012’s Dark Shadows on.

I mean, not counting that film, these are some of the major movies he has been in since 2013:

The Lone Ranger (2013, a pretty big box office flop), Transcendence (2014 another box office flop), Into the Woods (2014 ditto), Mortdecai (2015, does anyone remember this one?), Black Mass (2015), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016… I suppose this one was a success, but was it in the league of the Harry Potter films in terms of box office? Also, if memory serves, he only appeared at the very end of this film in exactly one scene, no?), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017, a definite box office success but also the film where many of the stories of his alleged bad behavior on set and the need to use stand ins to get things done originated. Again, this movie was released a full year before Heard’s editorial), Murder on the Orient Express (2017, I suspect this film did well but it was a very big ensemble cast and Depp’s role was pretty small, though pivotal, as he was the murder victim), and, going into 2018, we had such minor fare as Sherlock Gnomes (a cgi animated film that I doubt many remember now), The Professor (has some decent reviews but does anyone remember this one?), and the more well-known Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (this is his last foray into the J.K. Rowling series as by this point he was indeed being viewed as toxic).

Anyway, a lesser actor may well have fallen far more quickly based on the string of unsuccessful works he was in along with the reputation -whether true or not- he had developed.

Either way, it’s in the news and a source of curiosity, certainly, if nothing much more.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction…

…yet it is something scientists have pondered: Whether it is wise to send signals into outer space so that alien races might find them and therefore find us.

Again: Is that a wise thing to do?

As presented in this article by Ellie Abraham on indy100.com, some scientists feel this is not a wise thing to do…

Broadcasting Earth’s location into space could cause an alien invasion, experts warn

If you’ve followed my writings, you know about my Corrosive Knights series and, well, what its ultimately about (not SPOILERS!).

The idea of an alien race finding out about us, one optimistically hopes, would be a good thing, that we would engage with a more advanced race and together make our way into the stars.

Of course, any race that can make it to Earth would have to be a more advanced race than ours, at least at this point. The furthest we’ve made it to taking humans ”out there” is the Moon, though we have sent automated/robot vessels to other planets within our solar system, including Pluto.

So this theoretical alien race which might get our signal and therefore might come visit us, we hope, is a peaceful one…

…but…

What if it isn’t?

I know, I know… it sounds like science fiction and all, but assuming there is a race out there that hears our signal and has the means to visit us, what’s to say it isn’t a warrior race?

What’s to say it isn’t a race with bad intentions toward any other alien races?

The bottom line is… I feel this is a legitimate concern. We want to find other alien races out there. We like the idea that we’re not alone out there. But we simply have no idea what may happen if/when we do get in touch with them.

It might be a beautiful thing.

But it might be something tragic.

Coronavirus Diaries 25

So today a Federal Judge struck down mask mandates for travelers…

CDC Mask Mandate For Travelers Struck Down By Federal Judge

Not a terribly big shock the Florida Federal judge who issued this ruling was appointed by Donald Trump in 2020.

Here’s the thing, though: The CDC extended the mask mandate to May 3rd, a grand total of two weeks and one day from today.

Did this judge really need to wade into something that, for all we know, may be a moot point in a very short period of time?

From the article:

A Biden administration official familiar with the White House’s decision previously told CNN the goal of the extension was to gather more information and understanding of the BA.2 variant of the coronavirus. Covid-19 cases in the US are on the rise, leading universities and the City of Philadelphia to reimplement indoor mask mandates.

COVID is most dangerous, data would suggest, to those who aren’t vaccinated. Many of those who aren’t vaccinated appear to have bought into the -let me try to be diplomatic here- hot air about lost freedoms and governmental overreach and no doubt will cheer this decision, even though they might become the ones most vulnerable to the ill effects of it.

When I used to live in a very cold climate and in winter, I -and many people around me- wore scarves over their mouths to protect them from the cold.

To my mind, wearing a mask in this time of the pandemic is the same. Only instead of protecting yourself/others from the cold, you’re doing this to protect them/yourself from transmission.

Is that really such a bad thing?

The question, alas, is rhetorical at this point.

Will the Biden administration appeal the decision? I suspect they will.

What if another even worse pandemic should rear its head? Will the CDC be completely powerless to advise travelers to wear some kind of protective masks?

Stay tuned kids…

Coronavirus Diary 24

You know, for a while there I was feeling like maybe we were done with this.

The number of COVID cases and hospitalizations had gone down quite a bit, almost to a near negligible level. Treatments have been developed so even those knuckleheads who still refuse to get vaccinated have a better chance of surviving, provided they get to a Doctor or hospital, than those who contracted it before.

…however…

As good as most recent news is, Dr. Fauci is warning we aren’t completely done with COVID quite yet and he worries there might be a surge in cases in the next few weeks and possibly another surge come fall…

U.S. Likely To See A Surge In COVID-19 In The Fall, Dr. Fauci Says

It really sucks to read something like this because, as I said above, things seemed to be settling/slowing down regarding the virus and I was hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we were finally entering the end stages of this dreadful pandemic.

Of course, Dr. Fauci’s worries are, at the moment, just that and perhaps things won’t play out quite like he worries it might.

On the other hand, he is an incredibly experienced virologist and, despite how hard the right tries to put his opinions down, has proven time and again to have a great grasp of how this pandemic has progressed. Has he always been on target? No. But when he states an opinion he’s very clear it is just that and in this case… well… I feel like one should take his words and prognostications seriously.

Hopefully things don’t pass as he worries it might.

Yet there’s no harm, in my opinion, in being careful a little longer.

Oh those Russians…

If the above phrase is somewhat familiar to you, its the final line of Boney M’s pretty terrific song “Rasputin”.

There is nothing humorous, however, about the invasion of Ukraine, which began in full yesterday.

Waking up this morning, I felt as if I hadn’t gotten enough sleep and, yes, felt the worry about how this invasion -something it seems Russian President Vladimir Putin was considering for a while now- would eventually play out.

Europe takes up a relatively small area and even now there are U.S. troops stationed, as one network noted, some 90 kilometers from the Ukranian border.

President Biden had it right all along, noting his awareness that Putin was planning this invasion. To Biden’s credit, he’s managed to solidify most of the world’s sentiment against Russia/Putin’s aggression and considerable sanctions are being imposed against the regime.

Will they work?

I hope so.

Naturally, the right wing media seems to want to present this situation in some alternate light. Ex-President Trump stated what Putin was doing was “genius”. Other talk show hosts, from Tucker Carlson to Laura Ingram -people who deserve IMHO the utmost contempt- are trying to either justify Putin’s actions or mock the Ukraine leader’s attempts to bring peace.

It’s really… disgusting.

Yeah, BEWARE POLITICS.

But… its also humanity. People are dying and, I would say, needlessly at this point. It seems Putin’s actions are little more than a whim on his part, a need to rattle his sword. I know there are economic advantages to having Ukraine under his belt but, truly, was it necessary to go this far?

Even more frightening is the fact that no one knows where this will all lead in the end.

Oh Canada…

I lived in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, for one year way, waaaaaay back in 1984 and into 1985. It was my first year of College and, coming from the sunny (and warm) state of Florida, it was a hell of a change and was the main reason my stay wound up being so short.

My very early years were spend in Canada, Nova Scotia in particular, and I loved the time and figured I’d love returning to Canada. While my stay wound up being short lived, I had fond memories of Ottawa and its a beautiful and -at that time anyway- a very mellow city to live in.

For the past 10 days or so, though, its been ground zero for anti-vaccine groups which are protesting the vaccine mandates for truckers and… well, its really a right wing anti-government thing in the end, isn’t it?

And its pretty ugly.

Car horns are blasted at all hours, streets are clogged, and at times ambulances have been slowed or stopped from doing their function.

Reading the various reports on this (you can read one of them, by Christian Paas-Lang and presented on CBC.ca here), its clear the regular citizens and the government has had enough. They’ve given them some space but it looks like after all these days, that patience has ended and more aggressive actions will now be taken to end what some feel is nothing more than a “siege”.

Interestingly, there is some evidence right-wing characters within the U.S. have had a stand in this protest and GoFundMe.com had approximately $10 million in donations for the protests which they are now giving back (you can read about that here), which is prompting some, usually right-wing figures, within the U.S. to protest.

One person who reacted negatively to this news is Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (you can read about that here).

I… I wonder about Mr. Musk sometimes.

He’s a hell of a mind. He’s done something that no one else has done regarding changing the whole concept of what a car can -and I would argue should– be. He touts sustainable energy, he is clearly convinced that we need to reduce pollution and that global warming is a very real and dangerous threat to our world.

He moves ahead with scientific research, his SpaceX is doing things with rockets that are -whether you like him or not- amazing. He clearly has a great intellectual curiosity and has managed to do something about it.

He has his detractors and that’s understandable. He often goes on twitter and shoots himself in the foot with stupid statements.

Is this one of them?

I feel like it is.

I will try to give him the benefit of the doubt in the sense that he tweeted a few days back his feelings regarding the GoFundMe issue and his “support” of the truckers who are protesting. Since then, we’ve had reports some of them are incredibly… out there, with confederate flags (or worse) and racist elements. The disruption of the city of Ottawa seems to be devolving too from “protest” to (again, as described by some) a “siege”.

Sometimes it might be better to sit back, assess, then -and only then- make your public statements. For better or worse, whenever Musk tweets, the world does listen and sometimes the stuff he tweets is used to justify many peoples’ criticisms of him, whether justified or not.

Ah well.

What a way to start the year…

Saw this meme way back when 2020 was coming to an end…

Was I a good year | New Year's Day | Know Your Meme

2020 wasn’t much fun but neither was 2021. For the family and I in particular, it was downright awful.

So we said goodbye to 2021 and we aren’t even done with the first month of 2022 and already its been this avalanche of bad news coming through.

I suppose the biggest bits of news are the celebrity deaths. While it happened on the very last day of 2021 (December 31st), you had the beloved Betty White, longtime star of television and movies, passing away just shy of her 100th birthday…

Betty White dead at 99: Best moments and quotes

Yesterday/today came the news of the passing of two celebrities, Meat Loaf, aka Michael Lee Aday, mostly known as a terrific singer but also actor…

And, finally (for now, I suppose), comedian Louie Anderson…

Not My Job: We Quiz Comedian Louie Anderson On The Song 'Louie Louie' : NPR

Betty White had supposedly had a stroke a few days before her passing and it was likely the cause of her death. I read articles which stated Louie Anderson was being treated for cancer and this was the cause of his death.

As for Meat Loaf, the reports indicate he had contracted COVID and this was the cause of his death.

While the information is still very fresh and not entirely sourced, there have been those who have noted the singer had stated in previous interviews he was against vaccine mandates. There was evidence to suggest he had a conservative viewpoint.

Obviously, I can only go by those reports as I didn’t know the man myself.

However…

While it feels unseemly to speculate, I can’t help myself.

I can’t help but wonder if he was one of those people who refused to get vaccinated for COVID.

Understand: There is no joy in this speculation. I don’t have any feelings but sadness at his passing.

But I’d be lying if it doesn’t cause me to contemplate the weird times we’re living in.

We live in a time where the politization of things seems to have gone waaaaaaay too far.

In the past, vaccinations weren’t something I thought about all that much but when I did, I tended to view them positively.

After all, you vaccinate yourself against Polio. Chicken Pox. Measles. Mumps. Shingles. The flu.

I can’t recall anyone stating these vaccines were some liberal plot and/or a threat to one’s freedoms and yet this seems to be exactly what’s happened with too many people when it comes to COVID vaccines.

It hurts to realize this weird thinking has taken over too many people, especially when I have very close family members on my side as well as my wife’s side who have fallen into this bullshit crap as well.

Which begs the question: What is it going to take to convince people reluctant to get vaccinated to do so?

How many more people have to pass away before then?

I just don’t know anymore.

It’s a hell of a way to begin the new year, though.

My thoughts are with the families of those who passed, regardless.

POSTSCRIPT: Just goes to show how much has happened and how many celebrities have passed. I forgot to mention two:

Yvette Mimieux. Perhaps not as well known today, but an absolutely stunning actress, perhaps best known for the original The Time Machine and Where The Boys Are. She was 80.

And, shockingly, Bob Saget, amiable comedian and star of the popular Full House. He was 65.

Coronavirus Diary 23

Over on CNN.com comes this article by Radina Gigova…

Czech anti-coronavirus vaccine folk singer dies after deliberately getting infected with Covid-19, son says

The headline pretty much explains it all, but a few details: Czech folk singer Hana Horká, 57, whose son and husband were sick with COVID but were, unlike her, vaccinated, deliberately got herself infected and, well… she didn’t make it.

This line found in the article and from her son, is particularly poignant:

“My mom wanted to get sick so she gets the Covid pass,” Rek said. “She said to me and even publicly she wants to get infected so she is done with Covid.”

“Done with Covid”.

I suppose one could make a very dark joke about that. Yeah, she’s done with COVID alright.

Grim shit, certainly.

Her son went on to state that his mother was getting incorrect information from her “social circle”, which I suspect means she was one of those people who looked around the internet for the supposed “truth” about vaccines and the virus… most of which is complete and utter bullshit.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: I really, really thought we’d be in much better shape by now. Between the availability of various vaccines and the voluminous testing and knowledge about how to not transmit the virus (wearing masks, cleaning your hands) I genuinely would have thought that by today we’d be mostly past the COVID pandemic.

How wrong I was.

There was no way to predict, I suppose, people’s gullibility or need to find these alternative means -or, to put it bluntly, bullshit- online.

Yeah, I’m feeling real salty here.

It’s because of people like the late Mrs. Horká that we’re still struggling with this damn disease.

Get vaccinated, people.

At the very least if you do get COVID, the odds are it won’t hit you like it did her.

Omicron & Joe Manchin & Chris Noth & Spider-Man… Oh My… sigh…

First: Hope everyone’s having a decent time as we head into the holidays. Sorry for the dearth of posts but, as pretty much expected, things have been extra-busy lately and finding the free time to post -much less do much of anything with the very little free time I’ve had lately- has kept me busy.

Naturally, there’s been a bunch o’ stuff going on, not a lot of it good.

First up is Omicron, the latest COVID 19 Variant which has, unfortunately, become a real issue worldwide. Why? Because it appears this variant is even more highly transmissible than Delta, the last variant, and further appears to be leading to record-breaking infection rates. In New York, for example, has a new one day reported infection record (you can read the full article here):

The previous record, set 11 months ago on Jan. 14, crumbled when Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 21,027 new positive cases statewide Friday.

Locally, we’re getting grim news as well regarding surging infection rates. The only positive, if one is to look at it as such, is that at least so far it appears Omicron might be a weaker infection despite its strong ability to be spread. In other words, those who catch it appear to have more mild symptoms. Doesn’t mean, however, that some people aren’t showing stronger symptoms.

I can’t help but wonder if the lag in people getting vaccinated has allowed this virus the time to mutate and therefore become much more infectious.

Regardless, there still exist those out there who refuse to get vaccines and, sadly, they may find themselves in the bullseye like never before. Which is not to say those of us who have been vaccinated -even those who have gotten a booster- need not take this seriously.

There’s no poetic way to say this: It sucks. It really, really sucks.

Onto the second topic and…

Politics…. Beware…!

So this morning Joe Manchin, senator from West Virginia, decides to go on Fox News (you just know that’s no good) and announces he’s a “no” vote on Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.

He’s always been slow on the legislation, but there seemed to be a deal made where the Infrastructure Deal was allowed to pass with the understanding that the BBB legislation would be passed… in whatever form Manchin finally agreed with.

There were progressives within the House who didn’t want to pass one piece of legislation without the other, and it was only because of the promise that the BBB would be passed that the Infrastructure Bill was finally allowed a vote.

Therefore its not terribly surprising Manchin’s statement today has left many absolutely furious with him.

Frankly, they have every right.

I don’t know where things go from here. I believe this great country needs more of an investment in its infrastructure and services to the citizens. I believe we need to spend more on climate change. Almost all the elements I’ve read which are in the legislation feel like they are good.

But even if Manchin had issues with the bill, even if he didn’t feel the bill worked for him, this move, going on TV and publicly making this announcement… it’s chicken shit stuff.

Dude, what prompted you to do this? One can’t help but wonder now if all those other negotiations, all that other “work” done on the bill to date… was him bullshitting and hoping to get the Infrastructure bill done so he could then pack up his toys and set fire to everything else.

It really casts him in a negative light, IMHO, and I never had a particularly positive or negative impression about him before.

If you’re curious, you can read more about Manchin’s statement and the blowback in this article by Daniella Diaz and presented on CNN:

Manchin says he won’t vote for Build Back Better Act

Next up is actor Chris Noth.

I like Chris Noth. Liked him since first seeing him many, many years ago in Law & Order.

Chris Noth, on the left, with Jerry Orbach on the right

He’s had a long and very successful career, more recently playing the role of “Mr. Big” in Sex and the City.

There was an interesting bit of controversy because in the premiere of the latest Sex and the City featured a stunning element involving Mr. Big’s character and… Peloton?! I don’t want to get into SPOILERS but if you don’t care about Sex and the City, you can Google that stuff yourself.

Anyway, its fascinating the way things blow up in the news and Mr. Noth has certainly become a cause celeb, but for all the wrong reasons. I suppose it was because the actor became newsworthy (he’s been around, as I said, a long time, but he’s never been front page news until the events of the first episode of the new Sex and the City).

The reason Mr. Noth is suddenly in the news? Because there have been actresses that have gone on record to accuse Mr. Noth of sexual assault. You can read about this in the following article by Lisa Respers France and found on CNN.com:

Chris Noth Peloton ad suspended after sexual assault allegations

It’s a sad story to read. Again, I’ve like Mr. Noth’s acting in various shows. Obviously, what he projects on screen and in his acting jobs has little to do with the person and, if the stories are to be believed, this is yet another actor who may well find his career aborted. In that respect, what struck me was the speed in which Peloton reacted to this and cancelled the ads using him.

It feels like maybe they know the accusations have some merit and wanted to rid themselves of Mr. Noth as quickly as possible.

Finally, Spider-Man No Way Home is doing absolute gangbusters at the box-office. The opening box-office weekend is projected to be $253 million dollars, the third highest opening of all time and easily the highest opening since the start of COVID.

I have to say -and I make no claims of being a psychic or anything- I’m not shocked the film is doing gang-busters.

The fact is the Marvel Universe films remain extremely popular and the trailers for this movie, to me, were intriguing. Understand: I’ve tired of the MCU films. Since the dual release of Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy and my subsequent disappointment with both films, I’ve found myself blasé about the whole thing.

I’ve also found the Spider-Man films -the first two- rather unimpressive. I thought the first Tom Holland starring one was ok after a weak opening and found the second (the one that came right before this one) near unwatchable for the first 2/3rd of the movie.

Yet even someone as jaded about the whole MCU thing found the trailers for No Way Home intriguing!

So good for them. I’ll catch the film when I can.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll carve out the time to post again before the New Year. I’ll certainly try.

But if I don’t, my best wishes to everyone out there.

Hope the New Year proves far better than the last two.