Monday, June 29, 2020

Taking a Hike

When we entered quarantine, my usual routine was to go to the gym 4 times a week and run on an elliptical machine.  I really can't run on roads or concrete any more but I stayed in shape by running and lifting.  When everything shut down, I was faced with the same problem a lot of parents were.  What do I do for physical activity now that the gym is closed, AND what do I do to make sure my kids don't just sit on the couch starting at glowing rectangles for the next few months.

When Governor Walz clarified his stay at home order, I was happy to see going for hikes around the metro was still allowed, as long as you obeyed social distancing guidelines.  In the first month or so, that was never a problem as even on trails in very populated areas, there were limited people.

I have hiked so freaking much, something many people know from my near daily hike photos I post on the social media sites.  

Here are the best photos I've taken since I started these 3 to 5 times a week sojourns.  I'll label the park where I was at on each. These are in order from when we started until mid-June.

First up is the Heritage Trail in Downtown Minneapolis.  This was on a Thursday and I've never seen St. Anthony Main so empty.

Bde maka Ska

Lake Harriet 


The Bloomington Ferry Trail

Minnehaha Falls

Old Fort Snelling by the airport.

Carver Park Preserve

The Mendota Bridge

French Regional Park

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  The last photo was the one taken of me by the Star Tribune photographer.

Mounds Park

Midtown Greenway

North Mississippi Regional Park

Eagle Lake Regional Park

Anderson Lakes Regional Park

Afton State Park

Theodore Wirth Regional Park

Purgatory Creek Regional Park in Eden Prairie

Excelsior Commons

Minnesota Arboretum

Bryant Lake Regional Park

Rice Marsh Lake Park

Big Willow Park

9 Mile Creek at Central Park in Bloomington, south of 106th.

Pike Island

The George Floyd Memorial at 38th and Chicago, south Minneapolis.

Lakewood Cemetery

The Pilot Knob Preservation Site

This is just a few of the parks I've visited, and the vast majority of parks I've been to are within 5 miles of my house.  You would be shocked at how many parks Minnesota has.  Many of them are stunning, AND FREE!

Get out and take a hike!

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Friday Link for 6/26/20

Howdy all!

You know I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who!  In the late-70's, living in Rhode Island, we were one of the few TV markets which experimented with a syndicated version of the 12th and 13th seasons of the show, the first ones with Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor.  I came home one day and instead of Gilligan's Island or McHale's Navy, I watched episode one of The Sontaran Experiment.  Two days later, I watched episode one of Genesis of the Daleks, considered one of the all time classic stories.  Then came Revenge of the Cybermen, Terror of the Zygons, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom.  Sweet LORD.  I was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, because they were not resonating like the show did in Britain, the local TV station stopped airing them.

Good news was PBS started airing them late on Friday nights, primarily seasons 12 through 15, the absolute best stretch of shows the series ever had.  I watched them all.  Strangely it wasn't until the early 80's I saw the first episode with Tom Baker, Robot.  While my friends were all debating Star Trek verses Star Wars, I was pretending to go through space and time in a TARDIS. 

I was able to rent some of the classic episodes at video rental shops in the 80's and 90's, but nothing came close to the 4th Doctor's run.  I really enjoyed the 8th Doctor's movie in the mid 90's, and since have enjoyed his radio shows which carried the series to the relaunch in the mid 2000's, starting with the 9th Doctor.  David Tennant and Matt Smith were sensational as the 10th and 11th Doctors.  I really liked the new series 2nd season, but the second half of the 4th season, the 6th season, and the 10th season with Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor are the only ones which have come close to the consistency of the first half of Tom Baker's run.

I embrace my inner geek this week.  Here is a good video which gives you the complete history of the Doctor, through all his incarnations so far. 

For all you non-Doctor Who fans, here is ZeFrank with another True Facts.  This time, Cat's Killer Senses!  Warning, Adult themes! 

Have a great weekend everyone.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Seeing the Truth by Turning the Spyglass Around

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is grandstanding about how OUTRAGED he is with the unrest which occurred in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police.  He's doing so for two primary reasons.  First is to hide the fact the Senate Republicans have vowed to never pass any meaningful police reform laws.  The second is he's desperate to find an issue which he can use against he Democrats in this upcoming election cycle.

Of course one thing Paul is not mentioning; as outraged as he is about the looting, arson and vandalism which occurred in Minneapolis, he's stunningly silent that one of the people arrested CAME FROM HIS SENATE DISTRICT.  A second man arrested came from the district right next door to his.  Maybe Gazelka should police his own district before he tries to act 'holier than thou' to anyone else.

The insulting nature of the Senate Republicans failure at Police Reform in light of the out of control police force in the city of Minneapolis is inexcusable.  I said on my radio show 'they'd NEVER tolerate being treated this poorly by the Democrats.'  Then a light bulb came on.  To understand how horrible the Senate Republicans are on Police Reform, and their treatment of the minority Democrats, let me reverse the spyglass and give you a similar scenario, but from a different perspective.

Let's create a hypothetical scenario where the Minnesota Senate is under DFL control, with all leadership positions held by Senators from Minneapolis or St. Paul proper.

One day, the farmers of Pope, Stevens, Swift, Big Stone, Chippewa and Lac qui Parle Counties in western Minnesota notice something very strange.  All of their crops (soybeans, wheat, corn, sugar beets, etc.) are dying.  No one can figure out why.  The University of Minnesota Extension office sends emergency people there to try to figure out what is going on.  Even the family gardens in those counties are all dying.  This for the region is an economic meteor strike; a disaster no one will be left unscathed by.

Republican Senators representing the area rush to St. Paul to talk with DFL leaders.  They are told the Minneapolis/St. Paul DFL'ers don't think this is a big problem, and the DFL abruptly leaves.  Two days later, with every Minnesota Republican screaming for the DFL Senate leadership to help, a senator from Minneapolis comes out and insists "I've talked with a few farmers from the area (but he won't say whom) and they've all told me this is no big deal." The pleas for help from the Republican Senators goes unheeded once again.

Due to a quirk, the Minnesota Senate will have to be called back into special session,  The pressure on the DFL to do something becomes too much to ignore.  For three days leading up to the special session, the Democratic Senate Majority leader insists the DFL Senators want to do something, but they need to take it slow.  "Let's not rush this.  Let's take this issue slowly to make sure we get it right."

Then the day the special session begins, the metro area DFL Senator in charge of Agricultural issues throws five bills at the Senate Republicans, screaming "These are the ONLY bills we will consider for the crop crisis in western Minnesota.  We will not amend them.  We will not consider any other bills.  We will give these five bills a yes or no vote, and then gavel the Senate closed, NEVER to revisit this issue again."

The Senate Republicans fume! Not only was no senator from the affected areas consulted on the five bills, the bills the DFL proposed are going to do nothing to address the problem.  Background checks on grain elevator administration employees?  A law to report when crops have died, but no other requirements or assistance?  Emotional counseling for any seed distributer having a rough time?  Rules about what type of trailer hitches are now legal and illegal?  Nothing being proposed will help the affected counties; legislation doing absolutely nothing to address the problem.

As the Senate Republicans point out how unfairly they are being treated in this situation, the Senator from St. Paul who wrote the bills comes out with a straight face and tells the Republicans "YOU haven't done enough to reach out to US."

That last line is a near direct quote that Republican Senator Warren Limmer said to Senate Democrats when they asked why they weren't consulted in regards to the Republicans police reform bills.  If this above scenario would've happened, Republican Senators themselves would've brought guns to the State Capitol and forced the DFL, at gunpoint, to write the bills they wanted.  

To paraphrase a poignant video running around today, in regards to police reform and Republican actions, it's a good thing that the DFL is looking for justice and equality from the Minnesota Republicans, instead of revenge.

The Senate GOP is terrified of losing the Twin Cities Suburban seats they hold so they're hoping they can convince voters they have done enough on police reform while talking about police reform as little as possible.

The level of disrespect the Minneapolis and St. Paul DFL Senators have received from the mostly rural, white, male Republican Senators with ZERO personal knowledge of the situation in the Twin Cities is disgusting.  

Let's vote all of them out of office in 2020!

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Friday Link for 6/19/20

Happy Friday and happy Juneteenth, the day which celebrates when the last slaves of the Confederacy were informed they'd been freed.  It happened in Galveston, Texas, a city on an island which had no bridges to it at the time, so the delay to get a Union representative to sail to Galveston, in what was at that point a sparsely populated Texas, is understandable.  The truth is some whites in Texas knew the war was over but purposely didn't release their slaves until they were told they had to.  

In the years after the Civil War, many communities outlawed Juneteenth Celebrations on public land, forcing the celebrations into the churches.  Today, the celebration is moved out of Texas and is being celebrated with renewed vigor and volume.  

The other day, I had an acquaintance who is white make the racist comment which drives a lot of bigots' mentality.  He said "they've gotten the SAME EXACT CHANCES as whites, but yet they don't get ahead."

This is a laughable statement.  Having spent a lot of time in the southeastern US, the true story of how the African American's were treated after the war ensured they'd NEVER get the same chances as the white community.  Immediately after the war, whites devalued the land the African Americans had rightfully earned, declaring it worthless.  The white community turned their back on the African Americans, not allowing them to live in many towns or to work good paying jobs.  The mentality was "they have their freedom, but I'll be damned if I'll help them get ahead in any way."  Black farmers were even prevented from selling their products to whites, unless there was no other option for the whites, and then the prices were cut from what white farmers were paid. 

The LONG history of keeping African Americans at a different level than whites is discussed impressively in this video from the creator of the VeggieTales series, Phil Vischer, called Holy Post.  This 17:52 second video gives you an exceptional understanding of how the suppression of African Americans went from slavery to Jim Crow, to the Law and Order movement, to the War on Drugs.  He does not pull any punches.

What also bothers me is how so few Christians are able to talk so bluntly about the racial discrepancies which exist on our society today.  If every Christian leader in this country made this their sermon one weekend, it would go a long way to ending the racist standards white America has allowed to fester for too long.

Happy Juneteenth everyone.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

History Lessons

We as a country are starting to ask the question of what individual actions warrant a community erecting a statue to an individual, or warrants putting a person's name on something, like a street, park, building or lake.   It's a good thing to ask because there's are a lot of people being honored in this country who frankly shouldn't be.  This has created a conflict the political Right is trying to take advantage of by implying what protestors are really doing is somehow erasing history.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We don't learn history that way.

Take for example George Todd Park in south Minneapolis.  Actually most people are referring to it as George Floyd Park today.  Someone placed the name 'Floyd' over the name 'Todd' on the park signs, a way to show tribute to the man Minneapolis police murdered a few weeks ago in South Minneapolis. I have a feeling the name will stick.

But it does bring up the question of who is George Todd? Outside of a handful of people, probably less than 1% of the population, most of us (including myself) had no idea who George Todd was.  FYI - He was the Minneapolis Park Commissioner from 1957 to 1963, and actually had the park named after him while he was still alive, a rare honor as he was dying from cancer at the time. It seems like he was a decent guy, so if we do change the name of the park, we should find something else in the city to name after him.  

For over 50 years, George Todd Park existed and apparently very few people learned exactly who George Todd was.  Why?  Because we don't learn about historical people and events by visiting statues, or reading a place's name.  We learn about them in schools, by reading books, or by visiting museums.  Maybe there was a plaque in the park explain who Todd was, but most people never went to the park, and the ones who did had to find said plaque, and then read it.  That's a stupid way to try to preserve history, but it was never about that.  It was about honoring Todd, and now (possibly) Floyd.

When people realized John C. Calhoun, one of the most racist pro slavery bastards to ever live, probably shouldn't have a major lake in Minneapolis named after him, his defenders started looking up his record, saw 'government official' on his Wikipedia page, and never read any further, to his unfathomable racism.  They falsely place historical importance on the man without ever understanding what Calhoun really represented.  To those who insist naming something after an individual creates an instant knowledge level within the community, most Twin Cities people, after 176 years, had no idea who Calhoun was when the decision was made to change the lake name.  'History lessons' was a pathetic excuse by people who either liked the pro-Slavery Calhoun, or disliked the FAR MORE HISTORIC replacement name, the Native American Bde maka Ska.  Most people when being told who exactly Calhoun was, agreed the name needed to be changed; Minnesota should not be 'honoring' a man like Calhoun.

If a person really thinks statues and place names are important to remembering history, shouldn't they be demanding statues and place names be created to honor ALL history.  If this is how you think history is taught, you should be for honoring every historical figure, from Socrates, to Shakespeare, to Rutherford B. Hayes, to Pee Wee Herman.  Of course they aren't suggesting that, because they're only for certain history being presented to the masses; what they perceive as 'their' history.

A Reagan era judge, Laurance Silberman, recently made comments about how outraged he was with the idea of renaming the US Military bases which (for some odd reason) have Confederate officer names on them.  He was very much against the renaming, comparing it on par with the desecration of Confedreate graves. It was at this point one of the few African American Law clerks in Silberman's Circuit chimed in.  Of the many good things he argued, he reminded Silberman of his own advocacy for removing J. Edgar Hoover's name from the FBI Building when Hoover's true history was revealed after his death.  

For Republicans it's not about ALL history, only certain history being remembered.  If you have a Conservative friend who insists we have to preserve racists monuments and place names so we remember history, then ask them to sign a petition to rename their kid's school after Barack Obama.  Point out you're only trying to preserve history.  My guess is the next words out of their mouth will be "but that's not MY history.  That's YOUR history!" Wrong again.  All history, both good (Obama) and bad (Confederates), is all of our history.  They can't cherry pick it like a Las Vegas buffet.

Which brings up my final point.  Republicans scream how removing Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, or Columbus tributes is erasing history.  Actually, the complete opposite is true.  People don't want these statues to come down because they don't know anything about the honoree.  It's because we DO know who these people are, and their complete history, we want them removed.

When white people put up Columbus, make no mistake; there indeed was a racist element in their agenda, a reminder white people dominated the minorities.  They try to disguise their motivations with either a background story which eliminates most of the historical record, or they outright lie to make the individual seem worthy.  They'll say 'Columbus proved the world wasn't flat (that's a lie), was a brilliant leader (violent despot is more accurate), who opened up the world for everyone (his personal death count for Natives of the Caribbean, as well as Central and North America is in the 3 to 5 million range, his actions lead to the beginning of the slave trade, and he stole Native girls aged 9 and 10, pushing them into the sex trade).  WE NOW KNOW HIS REAL HISTORY AND IT'S TIME FOR ALL DAMN COLUMBUS STATUES TO COME DOWN!!! (

Confederate statues and place names are just as evil.  They were erected not in the days after the Civil War, but mainly from about 1905 to 1930, specifically as a reminder that even though the South lost the Civil War, white domination over the African Americans still existed, even in states who fought against the Confederacy.  These statues and place names were made to intimidate and threaten.  

The Confederacy were traitorous bastards, an insurgency against the United States.  They rebelled because they wanted to keep slavery legal, something the Confederate leaders of the time often confirmed, something many of the states mentioned as the reason they seceded from the union.  The only 'State's Rights' they were fighting for was keeping slaves, and they sure railed against 'State's Rights' as they demanded the Federal Government undo northern state laws which prevented slavery from being legal in the north. These terrorists killed hundreds of thousands of US soldiers and civilians.  THEY SHOULD NOT BE HONORED!!!

Ripping down these statues and renaming streets, lakes, parks and buildings is not about erasing history.  It's about 1) demanding we as a society do not honor those unworthy of such an honor, and 2) holding these people accountable for their TRUE historical record.

I'm amazed at how many Rightos are furious their sacred white power honorees are finally being dragged down.  Considering the thousands of people we could honor in Minnesota who aren't genocidal maniacs or traitors to their country, their continued resistance to doing the right thing shows how small minded bitterness controls them.

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Friday Link for 6/12/20

With the Corona Virus, one of the lesser things I'm missing is baseball.  

I love baseball, and this year was supposed to be a great year for the Twins.  Like all major sports, Major League Baseball decided to halt their season, stopping after the first few weeks of Spring Training, and waited to see if COVID-19 would pass in time to get some type of season in.

Right now, there's a huge argument between the baseball team owners and the players on how the season will be played.  It comes down to whether the owners should have to pay the players the same amount if there's no one in the seats. 

Baseball team owners make A TON of money off of in stadium purchases, from parking to unGodly overpriced beers.  The addition of 'gourmet' food and specialty drinks a few years back meant even more money for the owners.  Without the fans in the stands, the owners make far less money, but the players don't care.  They're willing to pro rate their pay to a per game basis and only get paid for the number of games played in 2020, but the owners are looking at them taking a further cut to soften the losses created by empty stadiums.

In the end, if they don't get this pay situation figured out and a season started by mid-July, there likely won't be any baseball in 2020.  And by the way, that doesn't figure in the complexities of a pandemic which could still cause a lot of havoc.

Even if they opened up baseball to 25% capacity, there's no way I'd go to a game.  I'll wait for the inoculation thank you.

For a baseball fix, here are a few videos from SB Nation.  These focus on the history of specific elements of baseball, and tell it in an entertaining way.  Who was the first home run hitter?  Who was a the first guy to steal a base? Why did someone try to bunt for the first time?  These are legit questions with interesting answers.  Watch and learn! 

Also tonight, Hood Internet has their 1989 remix out.  I featured them a few weeks back and this one is really good.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Cockroaches Scatter

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, there are two interesting societal things happening which show how the paths of progressives and conservatives are changing.  On one side, the Democrats seem to be fulfilling their potential, finally embracing equality as the tentpole it should be in the party platform, but the Republicans are awaking to a stark new reality, one which shows how their embracing of "traditional" and "old fashion" values is killing them.

(Images are of assorted cockroaches.)

Let's start with the left.  Yes it was horrible what happened in Minneapolis and other cities in the days after Floyd's death, but instead of allowing the right wing natrrrative of "look at what these protestors are doing" to take hold, many Democrats were quick to insist the protestors were not the ones vandalizing, looting and burning.  That was outsiders who were using the protests as cover for their crimes.  The fact that distinction became the main stream media narrative was refreshing to say the least.

Side note:  so far a lot of white kids from the suburbs, NOT African Americans from the city, have been charged with the crimes from those days of unrest.  Undeniably some of the crimes and damage were done by minority residents of the city, but the fact remains a lot of non-Minneapolis, white people were behind the chaos.

Since then, the protests have gotten larger; a much louder chorus demanding an end to the systemic racism all too visible to even the stubborn in the wake of Floyd.   Republicans and the Minneapolis Police tried to dismiss protestors as trouble makers, but people had finally had enough with the injustices which have stymied the African Americans and all minorities groups, in Minnesota and around the country.  

In the 12 days since the end of the riots of Minneapolis, some protestors have vandalized, but in a more strategic way.  Disclaimer:  I'm not for vandalism, nor do I want to encourage it, but to see monuments to the worst bigots and racists in history still standing in the face of a changing nation is hard to stomach.  Protestors have ripped Christopher Columbus, Jefferson Davis and others off their pedestals (or in the case of Boston, beheaded).  

Because Republicans have always rallied around these tributes to racism as a way to fire up their base ("they're trying to erase OUR history!") these monuments to the worst of humanity have poisoned our communities for way too long.  Over the years, many Democrats have tried to get these unworthy statues and name plates removed, but they've consistently run up against a predictable problem.  It's a shame Conservative political leaders never showed the courage to stand up for what is right.  

Side note:  Let's remember many Republicans wanted to make sure Bde maka Ska kept its caucasian name, Lake Calhoun, even though it was named for one of the worst, most bigoted human beings to ever walk this country.  Also, the same Republicans were furious when the historical site Fort Snelling incorporated the name Bdote into their site; the traditional native name which resided over the meeting of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers for thousands of years. 

And the pressure from the protestors seems to be having a much larger impact on America.  The Marine Corps and Navy have outright banned the Confederate Flag on their installations.  And even NASCAR has said enough in regards to the Confederate Flag being flown.  On top of that, there's a strong movement to rename the military installations named after unworthy Confederate generals.  About time we treated the Southern insurgency like the enemy they are.

By not being dismissed, not being vilified, and by targeted protests, the Progressives are finally getting real change started.  There's a long way to go, but movement in the right direction is a refreshing change.

Compare that to what is going on with the Republicans.  In the wake of the George Floyd murder Republicans have had their compromised mentally exposed.  First it was "Sure what happened was bad, but you can never question a police officer."  When that didn't work, they tried to fall back to their "all Lives Matter" crap, only to be quickly shouted down.  When they tried to insist the protestors were behind the rioting, they were slapped back again.  They kept trying to change the narrative of George Floyd's death into something they could scare America with, but nothing they conjured scared Americans worse than that officer murdering Floyd.

The Republicans decided to stop trying to change the national narrative, and instead decided to return to fertile soil.  They went back to their mostly white districts and insisted the rioters were coming.  "It's ANTIFA!  They're burn down Bemidji!" As insane as that idea is, the Trump fans took it hook, line and sinker.  There are multiple reports of Republican 'posses' which took up guarding rural roads in the middle of the night waiting for an Antifa bus to come.  When none did, they didn't realize how stupid they are, instead insisting they'd scared off the Antifa hoards!

But the most interesting element of the Rights reaction to the George Floyd murder is how, feeling enabled by Trump's encouragement, they've repeatedly gone full racist in public, getting filmed on cell phones as they say horrible things to minorities and protestors.  Sometimes they themselves are posting their racism on social media for everyone to see!

California, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Arizona, Wisconsin and even here in Minnesota, have all had cases where Trump supporters, feeling there are no consequences for their actions, show off their demented, deranged bigotry, only to get a rude awakening when their identity is easily outed, and they end up losing the jobs, leadership positions, and friends.  There's something truly delicious about watching some racist ass begging for forgiveness as they realize their unacceptable racism has cost them everything.  

And they can't stop themselves!  Today a Republican politician in Ohio got canned from his doctor gig after he said African Americans might be spreading CoronaVirus because they're not washing their hands.  A Republican in Tennessee, defending why they wouldn't remove the bust of the racists bastard Nathan Bedford Forrest, implied slavery might make a comeback! 

They see each other getting caught saying the things they used to only say in private.  They see these people losing everything because of such blatant racism.  But they can't help themselves!

The kitchen light has turned on, and due to Trump enabling, they don't scatter, instead insisting the cockroach has a right to be in the kitchen.  Then they get stomped on.  It's only then they realize they probably should have scattered the minute they were caught out in the open.  

Paraphrasing what a listener to my radio show said to me; what happened in Minneapolis was truly horrible, but if Minneapolis ends up becoming the catalyst for real change in America, then at least some good can come out of it.  I think we are seeing real change in America.  The voices of the oppressed are being heard.  The voices of the oppressors are being condemned.  If this holds up, a better day might be coming for all of us!

Real change would be the Left making definitive strides in the fight to end racial injustice, and real change would be making the disgusting creatures from the extreme Right, who crawled out from under the fridge when Trump beckoned, run back into the shadows.