Friday, July 31, 2020

The Friday Link for 7/31/20

This week, I hand it over to Sam Jones and his sensational interview show, 'off Camera.'

Sam might be the best interviewer in years, possibly since Carson, but I was always a fan of Oprah, Dick Cavett, and Terry Gross too.  His ability to convert the interview into a conversation is exceptional, and is incredibly natural.  This requires a ton of preparation before sitting down.  

But it's more than that.  His style opens up the guest, creating an ambiance more akin to two friends having a chat.  The star is the focus, but Sam controls the conversation, an ever present guide to get to the end of the story. 

I've quickly become a fan.

First up two cuts from Sam's Bill Hader interview:

Here is a cut from his interview with Daniel Radcliffe.

A great clip of Elijah Wood talking about shooting Lord of The Rings.

And finally Bob Odenkirk talks about the lessons he learned from Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad which he then applied to his show Better Call Saul.

Have a great beginning of August everyone! 

Thank You Journalists

How did we get to the point where a no brainer common sense idea (wearing a face mask during a pandemic) became something debated?  I blame the news media, and the way they've allowed the Conservative Right and big business to push them around since the 1990's.

Journalism used to be far fiercer than it is today.  I remember as a kid the persistence they had.  I was too young to remember the Nixon resignation, but I saw them go after major companies and industries.  They helped break up the Bell Telephone company by exposing the true costs of making calls (something the company had insisted was much higher).  I remember them taking on big tobacco, armed with copious evidence tobacco caused cancer.  The Industry denied it for years but eventually had to admit the truth when whistleblowers started coming out, at the encouragement of journlists.

I do understand the news media has been consolidated down due to costs, and indeed the failure of modern journalism can be directly linked to the shrinking of news room staff, the elimination of investigative journalism and the ever creeping tentacles of the sales department working their way into the editorial process.

I was working in rural Iowa in the mid 90's and we had a massive car accident which shut down two roads.  It was caused by the son of the local auto dealership owner driving drunk.  Obviously this was a major story, but after the 6:30 AM news update, the story was completely dropped from the airwaves.  The car dealership owner called the station and bluntly said they would not spend another dime on the station if the story ran again.  Money trumped the truth.

But even with these restrictions, journalism still had the ability to NOT make a really sucky product.  They instead made the decision to copy the new trend in news media, blatantly pro Republican news.  This how we got to the place we're at today.

Pro Republican news did report some news, but its goal was opinion validation.  They knew there were plenty of people who hated when the truth about the Right came to light, and so it was not a surprise they got good ratings by burying the bad news.  I've talked on the blog in the past about how these news outlets had great ratings (Fox News had 15 million viewers at times) but that it was still a small portion of the population (15 Million is only about 5% of the entire population).  Because those viewer numbers were big (in relation to normal ratings of the time), and with them came big sponsorship deals, right wing media was mimicked within most major news organizations.  A lot of news media was gearing their product to only 20 to 30 Million Americans.

Conservatives started taking advantage of that.  The Big Tobacco story earlier will help you understand the change.  Sure there were tobacco industry doctors and research which insisted smoking was safe, but no legitimate journalist would allow such a lie to effectively become a counterpoint to the anti-smoking science, especially in the 80's and 90's. But when we got to similar debate in climate change, Conservatives started a new tactic.  They demanded oil/coal/natural gas scientists be allowed on the air as counterpoint to the climate change scientists.  If the news media didn't allow industry stooges to scream talking points, they were accused of denying "a fair argument over unproven science" strictly on a political level.  They threatened to label the news outlets 'liberal.'  With money in news media being tied to a conservative leaning, news outlets cowered in fear, forever sacrificing their journalistic integrity.

Not only did this insanity give credence to 'fringe at best' arguments (if as many scientists who believed climate change was real in the 1990's also believed Twinkies staved off cancer, Hostess would've been the biggest company on the planet) but it also was the beginning of screaming psychopaths being given a stage they did not deserve.

From the turn of the century we've watched journalism slide further and further into the abyss:  they didn't investigate 9/11, they sure didn't investigate the justifications of the Iraq War, they didn't investigate Katrina effectively, they didn't catch the clear warning signs the economy was in trouble in 2007, they allowed a grossly unqualified Palin to go unchecked on a major ticket, they encouraged psychopaths screaming about birth certificates, they constantly followed Fox News around as Fox made up scandals on Obama, they turned two Ebola cases in the US into round the clock coverage until they mysteriously stop talking about Ebola completely on election day 2014, they turned a narcissistic, petulant man child into a legit presidential candidate by constantly giving him free air time, and they constantly allowed Trump to get away with impeachable offense after impeachable offense by simply shrugging their shoulders.

At this point, the Conservatives, because the news media does such a horrific job, thinks they can make up science and facts whenever they don't like what's being told to them. This is how we get to a point where face masks are vilified during a pandemic.

So thank you journalists! Your crap work has irreparably damaged this country. It's great to see you start to wake up now that we have a pandemic, economic crisis, humanitarian crisis, and a threat of a totalitarian regime, but I have complete faith you'll fail horribly in doing anything to stop this country crumbling around us, while immediately returning to your "doing what the Conservatives tell us to do" crap work the minute a Democrat is back in charge.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Give Me My Fish Fry!!!

When Corona Virus struck, I was scared, concerned and asking what as going to happen next.  My family knew our lives were going to change dramatically.  Even before the state 'shut down' my family had pulled my kids out of sports and other weekend activities (acting, 4H).  My wife started to work from home and I started to make sure essentials were on hand.

One thing I didn't demand is for the various Catholic churches to continue the Lenten fish fry's during the pandemic.  If you listen to my radio show, you know one of my favorite elements of the Catholic faith is the Friday fish fry's which occur pretty much every Friday during the lead up to Easter.  This year we had gone to two, on February 28th and March 6th.  Then they were gone, shut down with the rest of the state as anxiety and worry kicked up.

I never once even entertained the idea of screaming for the churches to reopen so I could get my fish fry on.  I never once vilified Governor Walz, or any Republican for that matter, blaming them for violating my religion by restricting my access to either fried, baked, or broiled fish.  I never got red faced screaming about how I needed a fish taco.  Nope, I understood my minor inconvenience on this issue was just that, a mild inconvenience and that the betterment of the community took precedent over my small petty desires.

Where we are today as a country is disturbing.  Our selfishness is on full display now the we had to (GASP) wait 6 weeks between haircuts, or (SHOCK) couldn't eat my Arby's Beef N' Cheddar in the Arby's dining room.  People demanding minor sacrifices for the greater good shouldn't have to be made saddens me to the core.  I almost had a mental breakdown towards the end of June as I was overwhelmed by America's selfishness drowning out the common good.  "Sure I love grandma, but I also love beer in a bar too.  Sorry Grandma!"

Masks are a particular flashpoint for the selfish today.  Trump has equivocated wearing a mask to bowing down to Liberal Overlords, so idiot Republicans vow to never wear them.  They insist wearing a mask, and in turn keeping Americans safe from their potential COVID19, is violating their rights to...make people sick?  I really have no idea.  The same people who would sue a hospital if they found out their doctor jeopardized their life by preforming surgery on them without a mask insist the same mask is a token of Democratic oppression.  

Selfishness is not only coming from the Republicans.  There seems to be quite a few Liberals demanding businesses open, not for any other reason but convenience.  "Get the stores open, I want to shop!" "Get the restaurants open, I want to eat and I don't want to make my own food." "I want to get my drink on.  Get those bars open!" " I want to work out in my gym, even though it's incredibly dangerous to do so." " I need everyone to work, and in turn jeopardize their own lives, so my inconveniences are kept to a minimum!"

Doing the responsible thing (not dining in restaurants, not working out in the gym, not getting drunk in a bar) doesn't get you a lot of accolades, but it's the best way to ensure your unnecessary trips don't end up killing people.  Yes it's nice to go out, but just because you want your life to return to normal (by the way, WE ALL DO!) doesn't mean we can ignore the terrifying reality required to fulfill pettiness.

The other day a woman started to complain about not being able to do her back to school shopping for her kids...ON JULY 19TH!  That'd be early during a normal year.  It was mainly being pushed as a way to complain about Walz not having revealed his Back to School plan yet.  It was one of the most selfish things I'd ever heard, and of course she was a Republican.  Now that we've heard a game plan to get the kids back to school in fall, you have SEVEN WEEKS to get all your kid's things!  Stop your complaining!  Veruca Salt cosplay (I WANT IT NOW!) is just stupid.

I just had a Liberal friend get mad.  She stated she doesn't care if it isn't safe to send the kids back, she just wants to send them back to school, particularity her kid.  Her main argument was younger kids (kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade) need specialized teacher interaction which is impossible on a Zoom call and young kids need to have the interaction with other kids their age.  I think both points are valid, but when I mentioned to her this could end up killing teachers and kids, she bluntly said, "I don't care. I want my kid back in school and that's that." 

Why is it so many people need a loved one die for them to take Corona Virus seriously?  I want my Lenten fish dinners, but the cost today is too high.  If there's even a slight chance my selfish desires could end up making a person sick for three months, or worse, I'm fine without it!  The Lenten season is supposed to be about sacrifice, but I sure don't need an elderly parishioner (or anyone) sacrificing themselves for some petty selfish reason, Lenten season or not.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Friday Link for 7/24/20

I feel like beef jerky.  I spent two hours out in this outrageous heat watching my son play baseball and I feel it.  I guess it could be worse.  The boy had to wear full baseball gear.

Short and sweet then.  Sports are back.  Twins baseball kicks off tonight, but Major League Soccer has already been playing for a few weeks.  We'll all have to be reminded of July 1st to July 20th, 2020, the time Soccer ruled the US sports scene.

Speaking of remembering, I had forgotten one of the worst fixed games of all time.  It  involved the World Cup in 1982 and this was such a blatant fix it's hard to comprehend the people behind it thought they could get away with it.  SB Nation has more.  Warning some swearing involved.

Also tonight, PBS' Eons talks history; REALLY old history, but their hosts are delightful and the topics are delivered with a lot of entertainment value.  Tonight they explain the crocodile who had hooves.  Yes, you read that right.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Friday Link for 7/17/20

Howdy all!  I hope you're staying cool.

Someone who never kept his cool was Jebidiah Atkinson.  Who was Jebidiah?  He was a real person.  He was a writer for a paper in Pennsylvania and is immortal for having panned the Gettysburg Address.  Yes, THAT Gettysburg Address.  He apparently was not a fan of President Lincoln's speech, considered one of the greatest speeches of all time.

I have no idea who had the idea of introducing Jebidiah Atkinson as a recurring character on Saturday Night Live, but this was brilliant.  It's no secret I feel Taran Killiam was one of the all time great SNL cast members.  His Jebidiah hates everything.  The whole goal fo the skit was to say something so offensive Jebidiah would taunt the audience as they gasped and booed.  Fantastic!

Here's a compilation video of him at his best.  

Also tonight let me introduce you the YouTube Channel, Today I Found Out.  It's easy to get lost in this channel, as Simon Whistler answers questions about various historical events, either ancient history or modern popular history, or some scientific questions which can be interesting, or general information videos which offer help.  

I really liked the recent episode where he tells the complete history of Trumps grandfather. Very interesting!  He came here illegally, made his money on prostitutes and liquor, and seems relatively ruthless.  Okay then.  Enjoy!  FYI, Simon does a fairly long Square Space commercial at the beginning of this video.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Educate Yourselves

Tuesday, July 14th I was told Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a lovely city of over 700,000 people, hasn't had a single new case of Corona Virus since July 1.  Not a single new case.  That would be less than western Minnesota's Lac qui Parle County, population (est.) of 6,223, for the same time period.

It's been disturbing to watch a country who usually leads the world on health and safety matters digress into a cesspool of bitter arguments.  On one side you have science and reality.  On the other, ignorance.  This is just the latest example of science and reality having to defend itself from ignorance, but never before have the stakes been more serious.

In March, when we started discussing the possibility of shutting Minnesota and the rest of the US down, the response should've been 'Wow!  This must be serious; life or death.  I know it'll be hard, but we need to do what we can.'

Instead, fueled by the modern Republican standard of turning EVERYTHING political, we immediately were inundated with "you're destroying America.  So what if the old people die! That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.  I need a haircut! I want to be able to eat my Beef N' Cheddar inside the Arby's!" Republicans are so addicted to the concept of 'Them vs. Us,' they don't hear people screaming "we're trying to save you!"  They only hear the conspiracy theory which validates their version of reality.

It's stunning how many Republicans have to either lose a loved one or to get extremely sick themselves for them to shake off the lies and distortion. 

Republican politicians try to dance on the edge of the sword.  On one side is their manufactured outrage at any Democratic led restriction designed to keep citizens healthy and safe. "They're lying about the disease. It's nothing more than the seasonal flu.  Face masks are restricting your freedom.  Shutting down businesses is tantamount to extreme Communism."

But the minute part of the economy they demanded be re-opened reopens? "Whoa!  Who told you everything was safe?  Sure it's good that businesses are reopened, but I never suggested you should go to the stores, just that they should be open.  If you go shopping, you are taking your life into your own hands.  I refuse to take any responsibility for the reopening of stores I demanded be reopened!"

On top of this double speak, it's hard to comprehend the extent of intentional ignorance today.

Republicans look at the skyrocketing Corona Virus cases and act as if there is nothing we can do to stop it, ignoring the real world case studies across the globe (Canada, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan) which show us if you lock down a country, make people wear face masks, and impose strict guidelines, a country can get this nightmare under control in two to three months.

Republicans have watched as meat processing facilities across the country, most of them in heavy red districts, have become the epicenters of the pandemic.  Clearly, company owners and management were not looking out for their employees and their communities.  In a law and order world, political leaders would be demanding answers and accountability from the people responsible for the deaths of so many.  Instead Republicans are desperately trying to pass laws giving immunity to the meat processing business owners.

And in one of the new trends of the "pro-life" Republican Party, a disturbing narrative took hold early in this crisis; "if grandma and grandpa die, too bad, but they were old anyway.  Their lives are a reasonable cost to keep the economy open during the pandemic!"  The same people who have been screaming 'cherish life' are now openly encouraging the Greatest Generation to be tribute to ensure people can sit inside a Taco Bell and eat their breakfast burrito.  (side note:  The Right's anti-abortion verbiage has changed from 'pro-life' to a variation of 'let all babies be born.'  They're now only for de-wombing, and nothing else.)

Here we are, mid-July, now looking at the 2020/2021 school year.  Polling shows many parents were frustrated with the remote learning experience they had in Spring, even though that learning model was built on the fly.  Undeniably the hardest part of remote learning is K - 2nd grade students who need to have a more 'hands on' approach, but frankly it's hard to get work done with any aged kids around.  Buoyed by a public sentiment exasperated by the thought of starting the school year online, the Trump Administration and Republicans are now demanding schools open up for 'in person' education.

The United States of America is nowhere near ready for 'in person' classes to start this Fall.  We can't open the schools.  We'd kill thousands with this decision alone.  Most young kids get mild medical symptoms of COVID-19, but some do die.  And kids with pre-existing medical conditions would have to be locked away for their safety.  

The teachers, staff and school administration would be highly susceptible.  How many teachers could a school district lose for two months (especially rural schools) before they'd have to consider shutting down completely?  And many of the on call substitute teachers are retired teachers, many in the Corona Virus target age range.  You expect them to fill in?  How would you handle busing?  How about lunch time?  You have NO CHANCE at being able to pull this off.

We have to be smarter.

It's time we stopped allowing idiots to make the decisions!  We have to move classes online in September.  In fact, we need to shut this country down for three months, far exceeding the half ass measures we've done as a country.  All non-essential workers need to stay at home.  All bars and restaurants need to close.  All shopping centers and entertainment centers need to locked it up.  At least 95% of flights need to be grounded.  Road travel needs to be limited.  And face mask wearing in public to be mandatory.

When someone says otherwise, we need to slap them in the head and scream "STOP BEING AN IDIOT!" Three months of staying inside and waiting this out is the safest option.  It's not economic suicide, as it'd be FAR better in the long run to only suffer three months of pain, instead of the years we currently could be dealing with this.  If Republicans stopped giving tax dollars to the wealthy, instead subsidizing small business and the working class (like many other capitalist countries have) we'd weather this.  We're doing what it takes to save lives.  That should be our priority.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Friday Link for 7/10/20

Of all the parodies of Trump, by far the best is Sarah Cooper.  I even think she's better that the Our Cartoon President's version, and I adore that one.

Many of you are probably familiar with Sarah Cooper as every video she currently makes is shared extensively on social media platforms.  All she does is lip sync Trump, sometimes acting out little nuances from his insane rantings.  Simple and perfect.

It helps Sarah's facial expressions are so freaking on point.  The best is her wide eye expression when she's mocking Trump's tendency of saying something incredibly stupid which he thinks is groundbreaking.  

Frankly she's the hero we need right now.

Here's her latest video, taking Thursday night's cognitive test comments and putting them in correct context.

Here's a compilation of Sarah's videos.  I love her.

And let me also include a great clip from The Daily Show.  They are doing some of the 'Best Of' clips from their correspondents on quarantine.  I'll probably make them the focus of a Friday Link in the future but Desi Lydic has been sensational through this new TV reality.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Northern Minnesota Wildflowers

I love taking pictures of nature.  Here are the best flower pictures I took up in Northern Minnesota, from my vacation in June.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Friday Link for 7/3/20

Happy 4th of July Independence Day everyone! My regular Wednesday radio guest Jeff Stein and my former morning show partner when I was in Ames Iowa at KCCQ Trent Rice always remind me that it is not the 4th of July, but Independence Day, and that you should refer to it as such.  Iowans...but they do make a good point.

To educate yourself on the true history of Independence Day, Crash Course tells us why we probably should be celebrating Independence...on July 2nd.  John Green explains.

This year, let's also go back 28 years ago, to July 4th Independence Day 1992, and the original airing of Mystery Science Theater 3000's take on 'Being from Another Planet.'  It's bad, like the Trump Presidency!

By the way, I would pay BIG bucks for the MST3K guys to follow Trump around and do a running commentary on him.  

Finally, with no fireworks for most of us due to CoronaVirus, let's look at some pretty ones.  This is from Walt Disney World in Orlando in 2018.  They're quite good.

Happy Independence Day weekend everyone!