Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Happy Hour For Birds?

My neighbor has a tall cherry tree near the fence separating our lots.  I have never seen it bear berries before, but this fall the tall canopy of the tree has been full of giant red shiny globes, delicious even from a distance.  It still is fairly full of those berries, and thereby hangs a tale.

Very early one morning I woke up to a tremendous cacophony of sounds, birds speaking to each other in full voice in a hundred different languages, at different frequencies and levels of loudness.  Beautiful it was not, a nature's symphony it was not.

I looked out from a second floor window and saw birds everywhere.  About forty starlings pecking at the so-called driveway (which is not abnormal), three or four blue jays leaning weirdly on top of the roof, a couple of morning doves playing bomber planes at the ground and at each other, and ten or so robins lying in the grass.  And when I say "lying in the grass," I mean it.  When I made a fearsome noise, a couple of the robins managed to fly away, the others turned glazed eyes at me and that was it.

I opened the window and stuck my head out and got bombarded by a pair of small birds.  They flew so close to my face that I felt the air their wings moved in my hair.

All this was a little troubling.   Suddenly I heard a noise from another second floor window, one which has a narrow screen for ventilation at the bottom.  A blue jay was busily trying to tear that screen into small pieces.  As I approached the window, from inside the house, the jay looked at me, scornfully, and resumed its wrecking work.

After an hour or so the happy time was over and things returned to normal (well, normal for the Snakepit Inc.).  But the same show was repeated at slightly lower attendance rates for about a week.

What's going on here?  Are the berries in the cherry tree fermented, thus offering migrating (and non-migrating) birds a nice alcoholic bar?  A birds' happy hour?

I don't think any birds were harmed in making this spectacle. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Too Obvious, Too Weird, Too Republican

I know I'm preaching (in a sonorous voice) to the choir when I point out that we have that US budget deficit problem because Mitch McConnell and his boyz decided to give the rich a humongous tax cut.  And then, a few minutes after that:

This combination is naturally Republican politics as usual, because the goal is to drown the government in a bathtub (except for the military to protect the money of the rich and the legal system for the same protection).  But it's seldom happening so very quickly.  First Mitch tries to put all the dollars in the wallets of the billionaires, then he takes one breath and follows that with the worry that the budget won't balance so let's put the old and the poor on cat food diets.

All that is obvious.  But it's worth wondering what kind of a society Mitch&Friends want to build.  Somalia?  Something from ancient history?  There are some really good reasons for taxes*:  That's how we pay for a somewhat safer, fairer and more affluent society.


* In the sense that everyone should pay their fair taxes, to cover our common expenses.  This doesn't mean not keeping an eye on government spending and its efficiency.  But there's something a little bit wrong if Echidne pays more federal income tax than Jared Kushner.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Proud Boys' Founder, Gavin McInnes, Visits The Republican Club In New York City, And A Brawl Follows

It's all hilarious*.  If you don't know what the Proud Boys stand for, do read my earlier blog post and then this one and then this one**.  And then note that it was a former Proud Boy who planned the fatal white supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017.

Proud Boys are into violence, Western nationalism,  and, most centrally, misogyny.  Last May Tucker Carlson posed with a few Proud Boys for a picture, though it's unclear if he knew what they stand for (which is a slightly dirtier version of what Tucker himself stands for).

It's unclear what the brawl was all about or who started it.  The New York Times chose to give the story one of those passive headlines (like a woman gets raped):

Fight Breaks Out Near Republican Club After Visit by Gavin McInnes, Police Say
The Daily Beast used a more active voice:

Far-Right 'Proud Boys' Kick, Punch People in New York Following Speech From Leader
To top all this, the Republican club was vandalized the night before Gavin McInnes' speech there, probably to protest the fact that New York City Republicans want to listen to a fascist-cum-racist-cum-misogynist***.  I thought those people were heard in the 1930s and responded to in the 1940s in a rather decisive manner.

But nope.  The Republican club advertised McInnes as follows:

Banned from Twitter - this Godfather of the Hipster Movement has taken on and exposed the Deep State Socialists and stood up for Western Values. Join us for an unforgettable evening with one of Liberty’s Loudest Voices!

One of "Liberty's Loudest Voices?"  If you read my earlier blog posts on McInnes and Proud Boys, you know that the last thing he is about is liberty for women and/or minorities.  And Twitter banned the Proud Boys for being a violent extremist group.

In any case, McInnes' misogynistic views would fit right into the rules of ISIS, so there's nothing Western about them.


*  It's not hilarious in the ordinary sense of the word, of course.  It's dismal and frightening and very wrong that fascism is once again rearing its ugly head.  But the whole mess has a moonless night bitter humor about it.  The Proud Boys preach violence and male-and-white superiority, and the opposition responds with violence.

**  Another juicy quote about feminism from one of Liberty's Loudest Voices:

“I think a lot of us sort of tried it, too. When we were in college we go, ‘Oh, ok— you take the reigns,’” he said, noting that he dabbled in actual feminism (he still insists that he’s a feminist). “And then realizing that not only is it not correct that men suck, but I don’t think that the people saying it really even believe it themselves. I think they want to be dominated. I think that’s why Game of Thrones is so popular, because deep down they love ‘Winter is Coming’ and men with giant swords.” (In 2013, McInnes wrote about his own sexual reeducation: “I learned they want to be downright abused. When I stopped playing nice and began totally defiling the women I slept with, the number of them willing to sleep with me went through the roof.”)
***  It's worth noting that Proud Boys accept — and have — men of color as members but they do not accept women.   I still think they are racists, too.