Wednesday, February 21, 2018

He probably also believes the earth is flat

“To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket. And given the fact that I’ve got no opposition in the primary, I win that one by default.” — Arthur Jones, Republican candidate for Congress 

TRUMP KICKED the rock over and look what's crawling out. Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, climate change deniers, science deniers. Hell's bells, there are probably flat earthers in this modern Frankenstein monster known as the Republican party.

In Illinois there is a unrepentant, unapologetic, unashamed Holocaust denier and white supremacist who thus far, since he has no challenger in the primary, is guaranteed the Republican nomination for the state's Third Congressional District. This is how low the Republican party has sunk. 

Below is an NBC News article about this anachronism on the ballot, Arthur Jones.

Arthur Jones speaks in support of Donald Trump in Harrisburg, Penn., on Nov. 5, 2016

Holocaust denier running unopposed in Illinois GOP congressional primary

By Dartunorro Clark
February 5, 2018

A Holocaust denier who said he is the former head of the American Nazi Party is running unopposed in the Republican primary for a U.S. congressional seat in Illinois, all but ensuring his presence on the ballot in November.

Arthur Jones, 70, has tried to run for the seat in the state's 3rd Congressional District, which consists of part of Chicago as well as some of its suburbs, several times since the 1990s. This time, lacking a challenger for the March 20 primary, he will easily claim the GOP nomination. The expectation has renewed focus on Jones's background, which includes ties to neo-Nazis and strong anti-Semitic and white supremacist views. 

Click here to read the entire NBC News article.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I hate (American) football

"I wouldn't ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was important — like a league game." — Dick Butkus, former Chicago Bears linebacker

IT'S NOT just me. Paul and I both hate football. And don't even start trying to tell me it's because I 'don't understand it' — a prototypical male condescention. Oh please, I understand it perfectly well.

And what about Paul? Do you imagine he doesn't 'understand it' either? Don't make me laugh. He can think circles around any three people put together.

No, we both despise it for what it is: a brutish, stupid game. 

Our society might as well cut to the chase and practice the 'sport' of taking turns hitting each other with a club like the Yanomami in Brazil. Surely you remember that ethnography you read in college for sociology or anthropology class. Really, what difference is there between what they're doing and boxing or football? We just have uniforms and a few rules. Otherwise it's pretty much the same.

Are we perhaps not sporty types? Wrong. We enjoy track and field, swimming, gymnastics, skating, baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer . . . pretty much any sport not based on knocking one another senseless or killing animals. I refer you to Our Sporty Summer, Lady Vols and Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Thanksgiving weekend I told someone that I hate football. I thought his head was going to spin around until it flew off. He sputtered and sputtered and finally choked out, "Everyone likes football" (um, not so) and added that to not like football was "unAmerican." (
Well he is, after all, a rabid Republican who voted 
lockstep for Trump, so what can you expect.)

Now there's substantial research documenting that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is much, much more common than the NFL wants you to know. In fact, when a neuropathologist examined the brains of 111 NFL players, 110 were found to have CTE.

Below, in order, are a New York Times article, a Chicago Tribune editorial and a bonus round: the October 24, 2017 Got Science podcast from the highly-respected Union of Concerned Scientists.

USC's tagline is Independent Science, Practical Solutions. They say this about themselves: "The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future."

This particular podcast is an interview with former National Football League linebacker Christopher Borland. Chris played college football at the University of Wisconsin before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014. He retired in March 2015, one of the first NFL players to retire early from professional football due to concern about head injuries inherent in the sport.

Clearly Chris has a brain and would like to keep it.

110 N.F.L. Brains

A neuropathologist has examined the brains of 111 N.F.L. players — and 110 were found to have C.T.E., the degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.

By Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester

July 25, 2017

Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped.

Click here to read the entire New York Times article.

Editorial: Diagnosing CTE — and football's future

By Editorial Board

November 24, 2017

Fred McNeill’s story is a familiar one. He played football for 22 years, 12 in the NFL as a linebacker. Years after he retired, CTE symptoms started piling up. Depression. Memory loss. And eventually, deterioration in motor skills and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disorder that has been linked with CTE. He died at 63.

Yet McNeill’s case is different than the many other NFL players linked to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Up until McNeill, every player associated with CTE had the disorder diagnosed only after his death, when the athletes’ brains could be examined for the presence of a buildup of tau, a protein associated with the disease. In McNeill’s case, however, researchers were able to detect presence of the protein in the former linebacker’s brain while he was still alive. He died two years ago, although news of the CTE detection emerged only in November’s publication of the medical journal Neurosurgery.

Click here to read the entire Chicago Tribune article.

A Football Star Stands Up for Science

October 24, 2017

From football to pharmaceuticals, there’s a playbook for sidelining science. Former NFL player Chris Borland joins UCS science and policy analyst Genna Reed to discuss how powerful interests deceive, misinform, and buy influence at the expense of public health and safety.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

From Canadia

“Every country is like a particular type of person. America is like a belligerent, adolescent boy; Canada is like an intelligent, 35-year-old woman.” — Douglas Adams, English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist, best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I WAS having a little online chat with my Scottish friend when she happened to wonder aloud — or I should say, on-keyboard — whether or not Mike Myers is originally from Canada

I knew he was. I was also pretty sure that Dan Aykroyd was Canadian, but I thought I'd double check, and when I did, I was surprised by how many actors and comedians hale from the northern part of North America. And then there are all the singers and musicians. Below is a partial roster.

PS: Paul and I acquired the reference to 'Canadia' when we flew to Montreal about 15 years ago and attended Montreal's famous Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. We loved Montreal and had a grand time (I really need to write a post about it sometime). One of the first comics up opened with, "Hey everyone. It's great to be here in Canadia." It was a dryly sarcastic nod to how ignorant many Americans are about our northern neighbor. We've been calling it Canadia ever since.


Will Arnett
Dan Aykroyd
John Candy (1950 – 1994)
Michael J. Fox

Jim Carrey (above)
Michael Cera
Victor Garber
Ryan Gosling
Bruce Greenwood

Phil Hartman (above) (1948 – 1998)
Eugene Levy
Evangeline Lilly
Howie Mandel
Rachel McAdams
Cory Monteith (1982 – 2013)
Rick Moranis
Mike Myers
Leslie Nielsen

Sandra Oh (above)
Catherine O'Hara
Ellen Page
Anna Paquin
Matthew Perry
Mary Pickford (1992 – 1979)
Christopher Plummer
Keanu Reeves

Ryan Reynolds (above)
Seth Rogen
William Shatner
Martin Short
Donald Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland
Alan Thicke (1947 – 2016)


Bryan Adams
Paul Anka
Justin Bieber

Michael Bublé (above)
Leonard Cohen
Celine Dion
Gil Evans
Maynard Ferguson
Nelly Furtado
Carly Rae Jepsen

Diana Krall (above)
Gordon Lightfoot
Rob McConnell
Sarah McLachlan
Joni Mitchell
Alanis Morissette
Anne Murray
k.d. lang
Avril Lavigne

Oscar Peterson (above)
Bria Skonberg
Shania Twain

Thanks, Canadia!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A post about The Post

“I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost — and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.” — Walter Cronkite, beloved American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years


Remember how I said there were some blazingly superb performances (and some really bad minor-character acting) in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and great acting not withstanding, I didn't think it deserved best-picture nominations? Acting awards: yes; directing and best picture: no.

The Post is sort of the opposite. It deserves best-picture nominations and awards, but while the acting is good, some of it great — Meryl Streep is in top form, Tom Hanks should not have been cast in the movie. 

I know, I know. He's eminently likable, lovable even. I mean seriously, how can you not like Tom Hanks? He's the Jennifer Garner of male actors. But let's face it, Tom Hanks is only really good at being Tom Hanks — or playing Tom Hanks types. 

He's a major distraction in this movie. He has this sporadic, indeterminate, semi-sort-of-Maine-ish accent that comes and goes. You never forget for a moment that you're watching Tom Hanks saying lines.

Even so, the movie is a must-see not just because it's suspenseful, a testament to how very good it is since we all know the ending, but more importantly because of the history lesson it imparts. 

I found the movie heartbreaking. We lost 58,220 American lives in Vietnam, and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese civilians were killed in a war that was known to be unwinnable. Consider how many mothers' and fathers' and spouses' and siblings' and grandparents' hearts were permanently crushed by losing someone precious to them.

Yet we as a country seemingly have learned nothing from the experience. We've now been waging war continuously in the Middle East since 1991. (There were no weapons of mass destruction.)

I said all that to say this: go see The Post. As an addendum I've included excerpts from The New York Times obituary of Robert McNamara

Robert S. McNamara, Architect of a Futile War, Dies at 93

By Tim Weiner

July 6, 2009

Robert S. McNamara, the forceful and cerebral defense secretary who helped lead the nation into the maelstrom of Vietnam and spent the rest of his life wrestling with the war’s moral consequences, died Monday at his home in Washington. He was 93.

Mr. McNamara was the most influential defense secretary of the 20th century. Serving Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, he oversaw hundreds of military missions, thousands of nuclear weapons and billions of dollars in military spending and foreign arms sales. He also enlarged the defense secretary’s role, handling foreign diplomacy and the dispatch of troops to enforce civil rights in the South.

As early as April 1964, Senator Wayne Morse, Democrat of Oregon, called Vietnam “McNamara’s War.” Mr. McNamara did not object. “I am pleased to be identified with it,” he said, “and do whatever I can to win it.”

Half a million American soldiers went to war on his watch. More than 16,000 died; 42,000 more would fall in the seven years to come.

The war became his personal nightmare. Nothing he did, none of the tools at his command — the power of American weapons, the forces of technology and logic, or the strength of American soldiers — could stop the armies of North Vietnam and their South Vietnamese allies, the Vietcong. He concluded well before leaving the Pentagon that the war was futile, but he did not share that insight with the public until late in life.

In 1995, he took a stand against his own conduct of the war, confessing in a memoir that it was “wrong, terribly wrong.” In return, he faced a firestorm of scorn.

“Mr. McNamara must not escape the lasting moral condemnation of his countrymen,” The New York Times said in a widely discussed editorial, written by the page’s editor at the time, Howell Raines. “Surely he must in every quiet and prosperous moment hear the ceaseless whispers of those poor boys in the infantry, dying in the tall grass, platoon by platoon, for no purpose. What he took from them cannot be repaid by prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late.”

Click here to read the entire New York Times article.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Wherein Paul and I lead our precinct caucus

“To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.” — Hubert H. Humphrey, American politician who served as the 38th Vice President of the United States and twice served in the United States Senate representing Minnesota

A WEEK ago tonight was caucus night for Iowa Democrats. As you may recall from my post two years ago, the Iowa caucuses are a strange beast. The idea behind them is that instead of holding a primary, caucusing gives voters the opportunity to connect with one another, build friendships and alliances that strengthen the party, discuss the pros and cons of the various candidates and elect delegates to attend the Democratic county convention.

The state is divided into congressional districts, according to the number of United States representatives Iowa is allotted. These are subdivided into state representative districts, called house districts, which are further divided into precincts based on population.

In a presidential year our precinct will fill a high school auditorium. On an off-year, we've had as few as, literally, just the two of us.

This time around, however, even though it's an off year, because there are so many contested races — for governor and our Third District congressperson as well as state legislators — we had 7.5 times us: we had 15 plus two extremely well-behaved children, which wasn't bad considering that it had been snowing like crazy, and it was still coming down.

If 15% of the attendees vote to do so, caucus participants have the option of dividing into candidate preference groups. In a presidential year, there's no doubt of that happening. In an off year, there's almost never division, but due to the plethora of contested races, 15% wanted to divide into gubernatorial preference groups by declaring who we support. 

The winner in our precinct was . . . wait for it . . . uncommitted. In other words, no candidate preference.

Actually the big winner were the snickerdoodle cookies and hot apple cider Paul and I brought. All of our particular house district caucuses were held in a middle school, so in addition to treats for our precinct, Paul and I brought a gift of markers, colored pencils, stickers and adult coloring books that we left in the media center as a thank you for use of the school. We received an appreciative email in reply.

Chalk up having survived putting on another caucus.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Type "3" diabetes

“Alzheimer’s is like a slow-burning fire that you don’t see when it starts.” — Melissa Schilling, Herzog Family Professor of Management at New York University

A LONGITUDINAL study just published last week found that individuals with high blood sugar have a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar levels. From The Atlantic

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's

A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline.

By Olga Khazan

January 26, 2018   

 In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has occasionally been referred to as “type 3” diabetes, though that moniker doesn’t make much sense. After all, though they share a problem with insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by diet. Instead of another type of diabetes, it’s increasingly looking like Alzheimer’s is another potential side effect of a sugary, Western-style diet.

In some cases, the path from sugar to Alzheimer’s leads through type 2 diabetes, but as a new study and others show, that’s not always the case.

A longitudinal study, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.

“Dementia is one of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions strongly associated with poor quality of later life,” said the lead author, Wuxiang Xie at Imperial College London, via email. “Currently, dementia is not curable, which makes it very important to study risk factors.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


“Virtually every case of voter fraud, that I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.” — Steve Curtis, former Colorado GOP Chairman who was just sentenced for committing voter fraud

THE THREE unpardonables on my personal list of non-capital offenses are greed, hypocrisy and lying. They may not be the worst in your eyes or the rest of the world's, but they're the ones that absolutely smoke my bacon. Mr. Curtis is verifiably guilty of the last two, and I'd lay odds that it's a perfect trifecta.

And so, it is with infinite glee, delight and schadenfreude that I share this news item with you from CBS News. And thanks, Don Myers for hipping me to it.

A jury found 58-year-old Steve Curtis guilty of
voter fraud during the 2016 election.
Former Colorado GOP chairman sentenced for voter fraud

January 27, 2018

GREELEY, Colo. -- The former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party was sentenced to four years of probation and 300 hours of community service for voter fraud. Steve Curtis blamed a "major diabetic episode" for causing him to vote his ex-wife's absentee ballot in October 2016.

Curtis, 57, told District Judge Julie Hoskins Friday it was "a customary thing" for him to fill out his wife's ballot and he didn't know it was illegal, but he said he didn't remember doing it.

In October of 2016, Kelly Curtis called the Weld County Clerk and Recorder's Office to obtain her mail-in ballot. She was told she had already voted, CBS Denver reports. 

The Weld County District Attorney's Office investigated and, using DNA evidence and handwriting analysis, alleged that Steve Curtis forged his wife's name on her ballot and mailed it to the clerk's office. 

Click here to read the entire CBS New article.