Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rest in, across, and exploring all the heavens, Jerrie Cobb

“Yes, I wish I were on the moon with my fellow pilots, exploring another celestial body,” she wrote in a 1997 autobiography, “Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot.” “How I would love to see our beautiful blue planet Earth floating in the blackness of space. And see the stars and galaxies in their true brilliance, without the filter of our atmosphere. But I’m happy flying here in Amazonas, serving my brethren. Contenta, Señor, contenta. (I am happy, Lord, happy).”

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

... wait for it ...

... because, for my writing friends, this is a REALLY good column about writing.

It's also good for the advice-column that it actually is.

Layers. Mmmmm.


I'd apologize for the headline on this post, but hey - y'all know I am already obsessed with the archaeology of poo, so this one should be no surprise. Just thank me for not linking the headline punning about this discovery almost "whizzing" by ...

Anyway, so at last, at last, poo has met its match, so to speak. Article. Article. Article. Abstract, for the truly dedicated. Wheeeee!

Yeah, no pun intended. ("... or was it ... ?")

Edited to add: but wait, there's more. Not merely the salts indicating where urine was once deposited, but the stuff itself. Yes, I mean the story about the horse.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bewildered, Bewildering

I was five when the impeachment hearings against Richard M. Nixon commenced. By the time I was fifteen, he had gained a foothold in discourse, seemingly revivified, and I did not understand it. We had spent what felt to me like endless years "watching Watergate". I thought it was an unbelievably bad TV show, and longed for Hogan's Heroes or *anything* to take its place, but understood that in fact it was taking everything else's place because it was a really big deal, bigger than Walter Cronkite's half hour, bigger than syndication or prime time or even Masterpiece Theater. Being bigger than Alistair Cooke - that's big stuff, in the Major household of 1973.

So the fact that he was wandering the Earth aeons later, when I was fifteen, was bewildering. He got a library, and I thought "but he had to resign - wasn't that 'in disgrace'?" and began to resist the rehabilitation of public crooks.

I resist it still, in the belief that Ms. Nielsen does not deserve the sinecure some outlet or think tank or company may well give her. This is the monster who presided over the jailing of children.

Which, itself, seems to have mellowed, like Nixon, in the public imagination already. It's been less than a year, but GOP outrage faded instantly, and the rest of us are pissing in the wind, fewer and fewer reminding the world that this was appalling for a week or so last May. From that Fetid Sepulchre in the White House, to McConnell, to her, and all across the board, this atrocity has been papered over with Trump's inevitable distraction stories, and the revulsion felt round the world, ignored, is left curdling in fewer stomachs every night. This is repulsive.

There are days it feels like nothing can dent this administration, never mind derail it.

There are days it seems hopeless, knowing the conversation will always be Tweet-dominated, directed away and away and away from the countless crimes and sins and infractions and moral repugnancies of this administration.

It is possible to take the narrative out of the short-fingered hands, though. It is long past necessary. But here we all still sit, in the thrall of a compromised so-called leader, whose government is ever-less staffed by those actually vetted and confirmed by due process, who leaves the government under-staffed for years at a time now, whose use of threats and tyranny, and reckless, dangerous cries of treason (contravening his Oath of Office, never mind the Constitution itself) really don't even teeter anymore on a "brink" of authoritarianism. We are, THERE, folks. It's already happened. The DoJ, headed by a crony who enthused for 19 pages for impunity for Trump, has been hobbled.

Imagine a world in which Ken Starr's investigation ended with a 4-page memo from Janet Reno, explaining how she was not going to hand over his report.

Imagine, ever, Michelle Obama living in a golden tower in NYC, away from Washington, totting up millions in security costs for American taxpayers, and expecting to get away with it. Or President Obama taking golf trips costing us in excess of $96 MILLION DOLLARS, and expecting to get away with it ... never mind the time such travel takes away from the business and work of government.

Given that "But her emails" survives as a complaint against Hillary Clinton  over two YEARS after her electoral defeat - imagine if she had taken office, but refused to use secured devices. Trump has never acquiesced to using a properly encrypted, protected device. Outrageous. But only for a woman. Only for a dem.

The Trumps, all of them, make security questions surrounding the Clintons look unbelievably puny.

Still he is in office. Using his almost-certainly-compromised-iPhone to control discourse.

I would be willing to die, resisting authoritarianism.

Every day of my life, it comes up at some point: I do not believe that could never come to pass.

Monday, April 1, 2019


WOW, this is a fascinating piece of legal history and a wide-ranging look at civil forfeiture. When journalism goes this deep into stories, I can't tear myself away. And the story is a moment of "bipartisan" cooperation (yes, theoretically the SCOTUS is not supposed to be party-based, but we all know perfectly well that's hogwash). An excellent read because it's great writing, engaging storytelling, relevant and hopeful history.

T-Rex at the American Museum of Natural History. NEATO-SPEDITO! Don't even pretend you don't want to see this.

I grew up with the affectionate use of "am" in my house. White and Southern and old as I am, this wasn't correlated to Black American speech, though we were familiar with the stereotypes. The "am" was just linguistic overlap, though its tone of juvenilization/baby-talk usage has a distinctive paternalism, viewed alongside the hideously racist exaggerations of blackface speech. In our family, it was our intimacy: dad would ask us or our friends, "How am ya?", but it was certainly not a greeting he used with colleagues. I'm fascinated to see the roots that am between us. I'm also reminded of the long-held belief that Appalachian American speech preserved Elizabethan English for centuries - the truth of which is delightfully more complex than "yes, it did" or "no, it didn't." The lineage of Black American English is more complex than its reception has generally allowed. It's hard not to want to protest, "but my dad wasn't racist" ... even as it's impossible not to see the Colonial heritage of a language long-shared only because of slavery.

Once again, Diane's fascination with the archaeology of poo ... oh man - "comes to the fore"? "raises its head"? I'm not sure how to put this that isn't lame scatalogical humor. Anyway: NEATO, it's excremental science again! This time, on the moon. <Resists the Schrödinger's poo joke> Go! Learn the wonders of human contamination in space ... or the secrets of seeding (cue echo-boom voice effect) LIFE ITSELF.