Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Truest statement of the week

The Democrats claim to be the opposition party, but they seek out Republicans, hate the left of their own party, and don’t seem to care if they lose the election.

“Biden’s slogan may as well be He’s Not Trump because that is all the Democrats had to say.”

The Democratic Party has ended any debate or dispute about its true nature. It is a party representing neo-liberal interests and international gangsterism, just like their putative opposition, the Republican party.

Even a cursory observation of the recent Democratic National Convention proves that this assessment is correct. There were paeans of love to the late warmonger John McCain and even an appearance from his widow. A special segment was set aside for Republicans like John Kasich whose speech was used in part to beat down progressives and make clear that Joe Biden wants nothing to do with them. Not to be outdone with Kasich and McCain’s ghost, war criminal Colin Powell was dragged out to put the bipartisan imperialist seal of approval on Biden.

The convention was high on production value but skimpy on details. Speaker after speaker repeated that Donald Trump is a very bad, terrible, awful, pandemic denier who cozies up to dictators. They didn’t say how they would undo his evil deeds or make life better for the average person in this country. The awful Biden slogan of Build Back Better is meaningless. That of course is why they use it. The slogan may as well be He’s Not Trump because that is all the Democrats had to say.


-- Margaret Kimberley, "Democrats Are Officially Republicans" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT)>






Truest statement of the week II

 In a recent statement, more than 70 former national security officials and politicians that were involved in Republican administrations dating back to Reagan have announced that they will be voting for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The statement, headlined, “A Statement by Former Republican National Security Officials,” was run as a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal. The ad came amid attempts by the Democratic Party to emphasize support they have among Republicans.

The statement includes 10 points outlining their opposition to Trump largely based on his inability to effectively carry out the interests of US imperialism at home and abroad. Those points claiming Trump “undermined the rule of law” are thoroughly hypocritical coming from a gang of former State Department, CIA, FBI, and NSA agents and directors responsible for war crimes and illegal mass surveillance.

A quick look at the careers of many signatories to the statement shows that the Democratic Party has become a pole of attraction for some of the most right-wing and deplorable elements within American society.

-- Isaac Finn, "Who are the Republican spymasters and war criminals who have endorsed Biden?" (WSWS).




A note to our readers

 Hey -- 

Early Wednesday morning.  At last. 

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with? 






-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.












Editorial: Another activist assassinated

Reham Yacoub is yet another activist who has been assassinated in Iraq.

#ريهام_يعقوب she was a beautiful human she lived great done amazing and died over a terorrist!! what a world!?! she made a point we love u and thank you for everything you've done to the women in your country you were the screaming voice of the silence unfair RIP #RehamYacoub
7:48 AM · Aug 25, 2020

 Did you hear about it?  


It is news that matters:

Prominent Iraqi Women’s Rights Activist Reham Yacoub Gunned Down In Iraq, gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on a car in the southern city of Basra Wednesday, killing women’s rights activist Reham Yacoub & injuring two of her companions. via


 Good for Amy Goodman for covering it -- even if it was just a headline.  That's a great deal more than a lot of outlets in the US have offered.













Media: The hatred of women runs deep -- even at NPR, even in print

 Some days it's rather obvious that a lot of people hate women.  Note, we said "people."  It's not just some men that hate women, it's also some women.  

That is, after all, how sexism continues in 2020.  Continues?  Sometimes it seem to thrive.  

For example, it seems to thrive over at NPR.


Maybe because Terry Gross sets such a poor standard?  And maybe because so few people bother to call her out or hold her accountable?

masculinist terry


With Ann, we did.  See 2011's "Terry Gross' new low (Ann, Ava and C.I.)" which charts the year 2010 for Terry -- where her FRESH AIR offered 399 men and only 74 women -- women made up only 18.5% of her guests.

It's Terry's show so that's a woman holding women back.  And, when we counted NATION bylines for 2007, and noted 491 bylines for men and only 149 bylines for women, we were aware -- even before THE NATION e-mailed us to tell us -- that a woman was in charge at the magazine.  So if you're going to call someone a pig because they're sexist, there are numerous women that term can be hurled at.

NPR doesn't think women can think.  We respond: We don't think NPR can think.

NPR MUSIC.  It's got its own little website and it's just covering music.  Shouldn't be too hard to be fair, right?



World Cafe decides to fill some time with live tracks from various concert albums.  They called it their "imaginary festival" and they served up 46 tracks.  This was July 2020, to be clear, not November 1952.  46 tracks?  23 men and 23 women?  Would've been nice.  But, as Kat pointed out, the total was 43 songs sung by men and 3 songs sung by women.  


NPR's rank sexism never goes away, regardless of which area of NPR you're looking at.


We're looking at music.


Specifically, we're looking at the Friday segment of ALL SONGS CONSIDERED where they go over the week's new music releases. 


We looked at the year thus far, January 10th through August 21st.  (There was no January 3rd segment, for anyone wondering.)  Every Friday, during those weeks, NPR offered critics or 'critics' who discussed the week's new releases. 


They have 17 critics they feature.  You already know this doesn't end well but your first clue of an imbalance would be that there are 11 male critics and only 6 female ones.


The men are: Robin Hilton, Felix Contreras, Stephen Thompson, Sam Sanders, Nate Chinen, Gavin Godfrey, John Morrison, Tom Huizenga, Tarik Moody, Lars Gotrich and Bobby Carter.  The women are: Ann Powers, Sidney Madden, Cyrena Touros, Suraya Mohanen, Marissa Lorusso and Lindsey McKenna.  


For thirty-three weeks so far this year, NPR served up those 17 critics in various combos each week.  


The totals?


Men appeared 97 times during that 33 week period while women were only guests 41 times.  


Meaning? Women made up only 29.7% of the guests.  


How do you not notice that?


In years past, we would have allowed for willful blindness.


At this late date?  




This is the result of overt hostility.  This does not just happen.  Nor should it happen at all.  The corporation that is NBC is striving towards diversity but NPR isn't?

Apparently not.  Apparently, it's okay to take the American people's tax dollars and use them to foster sexism.

So many people foster it. Take Michelle Morgan.

She's an 'author' who wrote a book entitled THE GIRL: MARILYN MONROE, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, AND THE BIRTH OF AN UNLIKELY FEMINIST.  We cringed when we read it.  We thought about being nice.  Then Rebecca's "michelle morgan's 'the girl'" and Marcia's "The Girl by Michelle Morgan" went up.  They both found the book problematic but noted it covered some new ground so they recommend it.


We don't recommend the book.


We give it a thumbs down because Michelle Morgan does cover new ground -- new ground as in ground she's made up.  Or maybe she's just too stupid to write a book on a topic she herself chose. In the midst of discussing 1954, and pondering whether Marilyn might have wanted to direct, Morgan writes:

Should she have gone down that road eventually, Marilyn would likely have been taken eve less seriously than she was already.  All searches for "female director" and "women film director" in film magazines and newspapers come up with only a handful of results and all were printed before 1943.  Dorothy Arzner was the exception in the otherwise male-dominated industry.  She started as a typist at the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (later Paramount), but through hard work and determination had managed to become a director.  By 1932, she was working independently, and in 1936 was said to be the only female director in Hollywood.  In 1937, Arzner told the Los Angeles Times that as a lone female director, she must never raise her voice on set or act in what some might consider an unreasonable way.  According to her, society still expected her to be feminine, and swearing was totally out of the question.  By 1938, the Motion Picture Herald told readers that not one female director was under contract to any of the top fifteen producers, and by 1943, Arzner had directed her last movie.

In Great Britain, the situation was not better.  The British Newspaper Archive shows no results for "female film producer" and only two listings for "female film director.'' Both articles are from the 1940s.  Those women who dared to try their luck in the industry were met with sarcasm of disdain by the British Press.  An article in the Dunee Evening Telegraph in 1940 bore the headline "They're Doing A Man's Job" and announced that Mrs. Culley Forde was the only woman associate producer in the entire British movie industry.  She could not enjoy her success alone, of course.  Instead, the newspaper made sure to mention that she was with wife of director Walter Forde. 

A piece in the Sketch from 1946 is even worse.  Entitled "We Take Our Hat To Miss Jill Craigie," the newspaper celebrated Craigie's stats as the only female film director in England. 



Betty Box.


It's a name Michelle Morgan ignores or never learned of in her 'research.'


From 1945 to 1970, Betty Box produced (associate produced, executive produced, etc) over 50 films -- these films include the popular DOCTOR movie series. the popular 1959 remake of THE 39 STEPS, MIRANDA and the notorious bomb THE IRON PETTICOAT which teamed up Bob Hope with Katharine Hepburn.

Elinor Glyn would be another British female producer (she produced three films).  More to the point, listed or not in the sources or 'sources' Morgan checked, Elinor Glyn directed two films -- 1930's KNOWING MEN and 1930's THE PRICE OF THINGS.


And what's a producer?  Mary Field, for example, was the executive producer for RANK's CHILDREN'S FILM DIVISION from 1944 to 1950.  Or, back in the US, what about Joan Crawford? She didn't wait for films to come to her.  She found Edna Sherry's novel SUDDEN FEAR and took it to Joseph Kaufman, she was executive producer (uncredited but that was her status, check IMDB), she hired Lenore Coffee to write the script, she hired Charles Lang for cinematography and Gloria Grahme for the second female lead and she auditioned many actors (and tried to audition Marlon Brando who turned her down via his agent stating that he wasn't interested in making any mother-and-son pictures). That was 1952.  And Katharine Hepburn?  She also didn't grab the credit but was a producer on the films PHILADELPHIA STORY and WOMAN OF THE YEAR.  Bette Davis produced 1946's A STOLEN LIFE.


But if we're talking the year 1954 and an actress directing, where the hell is Ida Lupino's name?  Ida did that.  Her directing career began in 1949 when the director of NOT WANTED had a heart attack.  She was already a producer on that film and a co-writer and she became the director. NEVER FEAR, also in 1949, was the first film she was credited onscreen for directing -- and she also co-produced and co-wrote.  In 1950, she directed (and co-wrote and co-produced) OUTRAGE. Among her other films would be 1953's film noir classic THE HITCH-HIKER.  In 1953, she directed THE BIGAMIST -- and she co-starred in the film (with Joan Fontaine) -- years before Warren Beatty, Barbra Streisand or Kevin Costner were directing themselves. Ida Lupino's film directing career would end on the career high note of THE TROUBLE WITH ANGLES -- a moneymaking classic that's still aired and streamed today.  She also directed TV shows but Michelle Morgan avoids TV.


This allows her to ignore Paula Weinstein's mother.  Paula produces films today (A DRY WHITE SEASON, ANALYZE THIS, MONSTER-IN-LAW, etc).  Her mother Hannah Weinstein created and produced THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, a TV series that ran from 1955 to 1959.  Before 1960 dawned, she had produced four other TV shows.  


TV was in its golden age and its infancy -- maybe that's why Morgan ignored it.  But why did she ignore the theater?  The book's all about Marilyn's move to New York, her studying at The Actors Studio, her preparing scenes, her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.  Why is the the theater not a place to discuss women behind the scenes?


Cheryl Crawford co-founded The Actors Studio.  In 1951, she directed NIGHT MUSIC on Broadway.  In 1938, she got her first Broadway producer's credit and the plays she produced included PORGY AND BESS, ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, BRIGADOON, THE ROSE TATTOO, PAINT YOUR WAGON, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH . . .  


Or what of Irene Selznick?  In 1954, Marilyn went east, leaving Hollywood.  Irene, the daughter of MGM boss Louis B. Mayer and the wife of film producer David O. Selznick, left that life behind to go east in 1947 where she would become a Broadway producer (credits include A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE as well THE CHALK GARDEN which garnered Irene a Tony nomination).  




Again, we could go on and on.


But we're not writing a book.  Michelle Morgan thought she was writing a book so why did she render all these women -- and many more we don't have the time to list -- invisible?


More to the point, Morgan wants to make the argument that Monroe was a feminist not on Marilyn's many trailblazing accomplishments but on this or that confidence Marilyn shared with a woman.  Why this British actress defended Marilyn and that one did this and . . .


British actress?  It only reminded us that Joan Collins isn't in the book.  She should be.  Why?

That interview appeared on TV, watched by millions.  The video later posted online and has over three million views.  That's not the first time Joan Collins has shared the story of being new in Hollywood, attending a party at Gene Kelly's home and encountering Marilyn Monroe, already a star, who warned her about the men who would harass women and try to destroy their careers.  


You're writing a book arguing that Marilyn Monroe is a feminist and you don't even include that monumental moment?  That's sisterhood.  How do you ignore it?

You don't like women, that's how.  You either know about it but you don't really care and that equals you don't like women.  Or you don't know about it because you don't think women are important enough -- certainly not women who existed before you were born -- to actually do the research required to write the book you described -- described but never actually produced.



 Jim: Roundtable time again. .  Remember our e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Who was impressed with the DNC convention last week? That question was greeted with universal silence. Mike, you wrote "" so why don't we start with you?

Mike: The whole 'more progressive' than FDR was about shutting progressives up before the convention. It was a lie. Like Barack pulled in 2008 when veterans were about to protest him. Lies are all Joe Biden has to offer.

Jim: Anyone disagree with that?

Marcia: Yes, he also has guilt to offer. They're trying to guilt people into voting for him. That's not going to work, in my opinion.

Jim: Because?

Marcia: Because I don't owe Joe a damn thing.

Cedric: Amen to that. And he certainly doesn't want to do any work that would make us owe him anything.

Jim: Cedric, I assume that, as usual, you're drumming up support for Democratic Party nominees in your city. How's that going?

Cedric: Not well at all. There is no enthusiasm for Joe among anyone under 65. He's offered nothing. Time and again, I hear from people in their 20s and 30s that they'd support him if he'd offer Medicare For All. Instead, these people say they probably won't bother to vote. The lack of enthusiasm over Joe is nothing new but I am amazed that he went through the convention offering nothing to motivate people to vote for him.

Rebecca: All he offered was: Trump is worse. He even repeated that in his interview with Robin on GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

Ruth: But is he? Is President Trump worse? Hillary Clinton tried that and lost. And Joe Biden's track record may be even worse than Mr. Trump.

Rebecca: He certainly won't do anything to help the Palestinians. In fact, a Joe Biden presidency would make life much worse for the Palestinians due to his blind support for the government of Israel.

Trina: No improvement overseas at all. Joe Biden is a Hawk. That's not a new development. He's always been one. He will terrorize the planet and his enablers will allow him to do so the same way they did with Obama.

Ty: Agreed.

Jim: Then how do you respond to the argument that if you don't vote for Joe, you're responsible for what Trump unleashes.

Jess: I don't have to respond to that, I'm a member of the Green Party. I vote Green. But I will point out that Democrats went hand-in-hand with Trump when it comes to the US Congress. In some cases, they were even more right-wing that Trump. It's not my job, I'm not in Congress, to vote against measures he wants or to pass bills to hold him check. That's the job of members of Congress. In fact, the Constitution requires the Congress to act as a check on the executive branch. So my reply is: Don't farm your duties out to me -- especially when you spent the last four years shirking your responsibilities and not doing your job.

Jim: If Trump gets re-elected?

Ann: Then he gets re-elected. I'm a Green, like Jess, it's not my job to vote for a corporate Hawk like Joe Biden.

Elaine: And it's not our job to vote for anyone, regardless of which party we do or do not belong to. I hear a phrase over and over these days, "No one owns your vote." I love hearing it. C.I. has pushed it online and on campuses for over 16 years now. It's the truth. And if politicians want vote, they need to be offering something.

Mike: The sneering attitude that so many of them have about citizens is outrageous. Whether it's Joe insisting he has no empathy for young people who are worried about jobs and other issues or it's Barack and Michelle whining on their podcast about how this group didn't turn out or that group didn't. Sorry, it's not my job to vote for you. It's your job to earn my vote. If you didn't earn it, that's a failure on your part.

Rebecca: They seem to forget that.

Mike: They sure as hell do, don't they? Was it always that way?

Ruth: It could seem that way, yes. But, no, it has not always been that way.

Trina: Hillary offered nothing in her run and thought she would win. She didn't. Her husband saw a real sea change in the party back in 1992 as they moved to the right. They don't really offer much of anything these days. They also have no dreams or plans for We The People. Gone are the days where politicians feel the need to run on The Great Society or any program like that.

Isaiah: Well look at homeless issue. This got worse under Reagan and no one wants to try to fix it. If it gets any attention at all, it's veterans who are homeless which really says to America, "We in office believe on spitting on you but we will help you if you're a veteran -- or pretend to help you."

Kat: The refusal to address the homeless issue is appalling. In San Francisco, we really need to address it and it's shameful that we don't. We should be constructing homes and working to provide jobs. We have more than enough that needs doing, for example. I am sorry for anyone who is homeless and it breaks my heart but when I think about the fact that the homeless includes children? That really makes my blood boil. I agree with Isaiah, the US government has had decades to address the homeless issue and they have refused to do so. They don't care. They just don't care.

Dona: It certainly seems that way. And when we see how they've refused to address that issue, why in the world would we ever believe that they'll address climate change? Especially when he's got no plan, Joe Biden has no plan. We can't afford to wait but I guess when you've got one foot in the grave, like Joe, there's no sense of urgency.

Ty: Jane Fonda's book on the environmental crisis comes out September 29th. Maybe Joe could adopt that as his plan? I'm not joking. He needs a plan. If he can't come up with his own, steal Jane's.

Betty: I agree with that but I've got other questions as well.

Jim: Such as?

Betty: Kamala Harris is the second woman to be a v.p. candidate on the Democratic Party's ticket. If this is so amazing, can someone tell me what she's going to do if they are elected? By this point in 2008, we knew Joe would be in charge of Iraq if Barack was elected. Is there a reason -- other than that she's just window dressing? -- that Kamala hasn't been publicly tasked with an issue.

Jim: Define window dressing?

Betty: Window dressing in that by not explaining what her role would be in the administration, Joe makes clear that she was chosen with no real thought or planning beyond what would make him electable.

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: Kamala could lead on a number of issues. Betty's correct that we're not hearing that she's been tasked with anything yet. I would assume that, in addition to climate, she could be a leader on reforms with regards to sentencing.

Jim: You think she did a good job?

C.I.: At the convention? I think she gave the best speech of anyone. This is not an endorsement of her. I'm not a Kamala fan.

Jim: You know her?

C.I.: And have for years. I was rooting for Karen Bass to be the choice for the v.p. slot. But Kamala brings many strengths to the ticket including that she's a very powerful speaker. I don't think she got the credit she deserved for her speech. She would have to be a great speaker with her experience in the courtroom. Again, I'm not voting for Biden-Harris.  I said when Joe announced his run that, if he got honest about Iraq, I could vote for him.

Jim: But he hasn't. And in Friday's snapshot, you outlined what a speech from Joe, where he got honest about Iraq, would look like.

C.I.: If he can't get honest, he hasn't learned from it. I laid down that marker long ago. He failed to get honest. The Iraqi people continue to suffer. I'll be looking at Howie Hawkins -- Green Party, Gloria La Riva -- Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Joseph Kishore -- Socialist Equality Party. If Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh had won the Libertarian Party's nomination, he would have had my vote. Jo Jorgensen is their candidate. I doubt that she could win my vote but if she started speaking out strongly and repeatedly against these forever wars, I would certainly consider her.

Jim: Stan, the DNC did not show up at your site -- even though you cover television.

Stan: It didn't. I read C.I.'s coverage and I read WSWS' coverage. I wasn't into watching it. I think I gave it a chance on the first night and then bailed. Not interested in the nonsense. And it not being live made it a bigger joke than ever. How dare Michelle Obama tape a speech over a week before. That's how canned and old it all was. There was nothing fresh about it.

Wally: I understand what Stan's saying. I know Ava and C.I. feel like it's not worth covering in a TV piece. I assume it's the same with the RNC?

Ava: You know, we've talked about this -- C.I. and I -- and if Rosanne Barr spoke at the RNC, we probably would write about it. Otherwise, probably not. C.I. and I are going to watch at least some of it tonight, the RNC, and if it looks like there's anything worth covering, we'll cover it. If not, we won't.

Jim: That brings up an issue in an e-mail that came in a few hours ago. Mickey Lewis identifies as a Republican and as a Trump voter. He says that we don't recognize him at this site. He says that C.I. is fair at THE COMMON ILLS and will note when there's an issue involving Donald Trump like his meeting with the parents of a soldier who was raped and killed. He said we don't make any effort to do that here. Thoughts?

Jess: We don't really note Joe Biden here in terms of his campaign statements or his campaign videos. The whole point of noting Greens and others is that they don't get the attention from the MSM. That's been our position from the start. The duopoly gets plenty of coverage. We repost videos and press releases from third party campaigns.

Jim: Good points.

Trina: I need to jump in. C.I. doesn't like to speak in these things but I heard something and assume she's weighing whether or not to speak so I'll do it for her. Vanessa Guillen is the name of the soldier whose family Donald Trump met with.

Ava: Trina's correct. I'll add that Aaron David Robinson is thought to be her killer and he fled Fort Hood when pieces of her were found by Leon River. He fled Fort Hood and took his own life. Cecily Anne Aguilar stands accused of being Robinson's accomplice.

Jim: Alright. So we're going to close on that note and this is a rush transcript.  This roundtable took place August 24th.

So you think you know the classics

Forget fourth graders, are you smarter than a liberal arts major?  Test your knowledge this go round and find out.


Yes, you liked it, so it's back.  Below you will find the opening paragraph or paragraphs to five classic books.  Can you identify them?

Can you match them up?


1) All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.

2) Barrabás came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy. She was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities, never suspecting that fifty years later I would use her notebooks to reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own. Barrabás arrived on a Holy Thursday. He was in a despicable cage, caked with his own excrement and urine, and had the lost look of a hapless, utterly defenseless prisoner; but the regal carriage of his head and the size of his frame bespoke the legendary giant he would become. It was a bland, autumnal day that gave no hint of the events that the child would record, which took place during the noon mass in the parish of San Sebastián, with her whole family in attendance. As a sign of mourning, the statues of the saints were shrouded in purple robes that the pious ladies of the congregation unpacked and dusted off once a year from a cupboard of sacristy. Beneath these funereal sheets the celestial retinue resembled nothing so much as a roomful of furniture awaiting movers, an impression that the candles, the incense, and the soft moans of the organ were powerless to counteract. Terrifying dark bundles loomed where the life-size saints had stood, each with its influenza-pale expression, its elaborate wig woven from the hair of someone long dead, its rubies, pearls and emeralds of painted glass, and the rich gown of a Florentine aristocrat. The only one whose appearance was enhanced by mourning was the church's patron saint, Sebastián, for during Holy Week the faithful were spared the sight of that body twisted in the most indecent posture, pierced by arrows, and dripping with blood and tears like a suffering homosexual, whose wounds, kept miraculously fresh by Father Restrepo's brush, made Clara tremble with disgust.

3) One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes.

4) Lilith lyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep to find herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. Creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased strength, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth—but for a price.

5) If you meet a paper tiger, he won't steal your clothes. A tiger in the forest might. That was another song.
Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night.

A) Octavia E. Butler's DAWN



D) F. Scott Fitzgerald's TENDER IS THE NIGHT

E) J.M. Barrie's PETER PAN.

F) Djuana Barnes' NIGHTWOOD

G) Isabel Allende's HOUSE OF SPIRITS 

So how did you do?

Not sure?

Need to check or maybe to cheat?

Fine, the key is below.


1 = E
2 = G
3 = B
4 = A
5 = C


 Previous quizzes:

"So you think you know the classics"
"So you think you know the classics"
"So you think you know the classics"
"So you think you know the classics"
"So You Think You Know The Classics"







The speech Joe Biden should have given

 From Friday's Iraq snapshot:

Joe Biden:  Thank you.  Thank you.  I could talk at length tonight about my experience in the Senate, as Vice President, things like that.  But I want to be worthy of your vote and I want to be worthy of your trust.  So let's get things straight from the start, America.  I have made mistakes in my life.  And I am making real efforts to learn from them.  My vote for the Iraq War was a mistake -- a huge mistake.  In the past, I've sounded like a spoiled child as I tried to pass that vote off as being the fault of someone else.  I voted for it, it was the wrong vote.  That's on me and I want to learn from that moment.  I want to grow from it.  There are so many Americans and, yes, so many Iraqis who lost their lives.  Earning your trust means acknowledging also my mistakes after the war started.  Instead of demanding accountability and a strategy and goals that could be measures, up until February 2008, I repeatedly focused on splitting Iraq up into three parts as though that was an answer.  I finally gave up on that misguided idea not because the Iraqi people had rejected the idea -- they had long rejected it -- but because my fellow senators made it abundantly clear that this idea had no Congressional support.  Still, I did not call for all US troops out of Iraq.  

I'd like to tell you that I had this blistering moment of insight and, from that moment forward, I was on a steady course.  But that wasn't the road I took.  Yes, in April of 2008, I did issue a statement where I declared,  "The President confirmed what I've been saying for some time -- he has no plan to end this war.  His plan is to muddle through and then to hand the problem off to his successor.  So the result of the surge is that we're right back where we started before it began 15 months ago: with 140,000 troops in Iraq, spending $3 billion every week, losing 30 to 40 American lives every month -- and still no end in sight."  Even more important, and more on the money, I chaired a Senate Committee hearing on April 11, 2008.  In that hearing, I made several statements that, even right now, I am proud of.

I talked of the agreement the Bush White House was trying to put together with Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikki and how it raised "many red flags with me and other Americans.  We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat.  We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat?"  Maliki turned out to be an inside threat.  When I was Vice President, we began a drawdown -- not a withdrawal as promised -- and, the day after the drawdown,  Maliki began using tanks to circle the homes of his political opponents in Parliament  He began openly persecuting his political rivals.  Whereas before he had used secret prisons and torture cells on various Iraqi civilians, he was not declaring war on elected officials who did not agree with him.  

Now in that April 2008 hearing, I did have the insight or luck to see what lay on the road ahead.  That is why I noted that Bush's proposed agreement was requiring that we "take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraq government that we know of that will be inplace a year from now -- half the government has walked out."

Let's stop for a moment register that.  In April of 2008, I made some very accurate remarks.

In March of 2010, two years later, when I was Vice President, Iraq held elections.  The big loser?  Maliki.  And he refused to step down.  For eight months he refused to step down.  President Obama had tasked me with Iraq, put me in charge of Iraq.  The Iraqi people, despite threats and despite violence on election day, turned out to vote for their future.  We, the United States, said we were bringing democracy to them, gifting them with democracy, if you will.  And yet we did not stand by the results of that election.  Instead, we went around those results.  We tossed them aside.  I was part of the American group that negotiated a treaty or contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  It gave Maliki a second term -- a second term the voters did not give him.  To get that second term, we drew up this contract among the various political parties.  To get them to sign on, we had promises written into the agreement that they wanted -- the Kurds, for example, wanted the referendum on Kirkuk -- promised in the Iraqi Constitution -- finally implemented.  We swore this was a binding contract.  Maliki got his second term with that contract and then refused to honor the agreement.  What's worse?  We didn't demand that he honor it despite our earlier promise that we would -- a promise that President Obama repeated to Ayad Allawi, the winner of the election,  November 11, 2010, when The Erbil Agreement seemed in jeopardy, President Obama personally called Allawi to assure him that we would stand by that contract which, included for Allawi, becoming the chair of a newly created National Council On Higher Policy..  As Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) reported, "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."  

Throughout 2010, I failed to step in.  I failed to insist that we stop making deals with Maliki.  I failed to insist that we show the Iraqi people the importance of voting and that their vote matters.  Since 2010, the voter turnout in Iraq has gone down and that's a direct result of the US government, of me, tossing out their votes in 2010 because we thought Maliki would better serve the United States.

Not only did that undercut belief in democracy for the Iraqi people, it also set the stage for the rise of ISIS in Iraq.  It was a disaster, Maliki's second term.  As he persecuted Sunnis, ISIS rose in response.  Were it not for his second term, you can argue that ISIS would not have risen in Iraq.

How did I, in 2008, realize what Maliki was?  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while she was a US Senator in 2008, called Maliki a "thug" in an open hearing and she was correct about that.

So what changed?

What changed was that 'we' were in charge now.  Not the Bush administration, us.  President Obama, Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, myself and others.  We were in charge.  Instead of working from what we knew, we worked on hubris.  We were so much smarter that we could do all the things Bush had tried already and that had failed already but because we were doing them, somehow they would magically work out this time.


As I look back on Iraq, my biggest regret is how hubris misled me.  It was and is a hard lesson to learn.  But I'm standing here before you -- goodness knows, this is an open setting -- and I'm explaining what went wrong and what I did wrong.

My belief is that I have learned from these things.  But by sharing this with you, I can make sure that you will hold me accountable.  I can make sure that if I'm president and start talking war on some nation, you the America people will say, 'Hey, Joe, reflect for a moment and make sure this is what your gut is telling you is right and that you're not a victim of your own hubris again.'  Because we are in this together and I want to be your president.  But, more than just wanting to be your president, I want to be the best president you can have.  That requires us working together: You supporting me when I'm right and you questioning me when I'm wrong.  We can only do that by being honest with one another.  


This week, NASA has a live event which will be streaming online:

Aug. 26, Wednesday
3 p.m. - The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Space – Women’s Equality Day Panel Discussion

So let's talk science.

 LIVE SCIENCE's Wendy Weisberger notes:


A global extinction event around 359 million years ago may have been triggered by the death blast of a distant star, a new study suggests.

Toward the end of the Devonian period (416 million to 358 million years ago), there was a mass extinction known as the Hangenberg Event; it wiped out armored fish called placoderms and killed off approximately 70% of Earth's invertebrate species. But scientists have long puzzled over what caused the die-off.

 Recently, preserved plant spores offered clues about this ancient extinction. Fossil spores spanning thousands of years at the boundary of the Devonian and the Carboniferous periods showed signs of damage by ultraviolet (UV) light. This find suggested that a cataclysmic event had caused a long-lasting disruption of Earth's ozone layer, which shields the planet from harmful UV rays. Scientists proposed that a likely candidate for this blast of UV light could be one or more supernovas that exploded within 65 light-years from Earth, according to a new study.



That news might worry you after last week when we were told that an asteroid might hit the earth before election day. Those reports were apparently incorrect. Loren Grush (THE VERGE) reports:


Headlines abound this week about an asteroid heading toward Earth at perhaps the most opportune time during a terrible year: November 2nd, the day before the presidential election. It sounds too good to be true — an asteroid to wipe us all out before what will surely be a very contentious election process — and that’s because it is.

This so-called “dangerous” asteroid, dubbed 2018VP1, has a 0.41 percent chance of crossing paths with Earth on November 2nd and entering our atmosphere — incredibly low odds. And even if it did take a turn and hit us, no one would be in danger. The asteroid is a measly 2 meters, or 6.5 feet, across, making it slightly smaller than a compact Smart car. If it did hit our atmosphere, it would completely disintegrate up above us and pose no threat to anyone below. For reference, much larger satellites and space debris enter our atmosphere from time to time, burning up above us without affecting anyone on the ground.


Much scarier is the news that Carly Cassella serves up at SCIENCE TECH DAILY:


The world's oceans have turned into a veritable sponge for our emissions, and new climate models suggest we've soaked them right through.

Since the 1950s, our planet's vast bodies of water have absorbed roughly 93 percent of the energy entering the climate system, and while most of that heating has been observed near the ocean surface, rising temperatures are now permeating even the deepest parts.


Real-world data on the deep ocean is hard to come by, but a new estimate, based on recent measurements and nearly a dozen climate models, suggests climate change has already impacted up to about half (20 to 55 percent) of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean basins.

What's more, in just six decades, these human-induced changes in temperature and salinity could very well spread to 80 percent of the world's oceans.



We don't have time to play. It's too bad we don't have any duopoly candidate for president who's serious about addressing the crisis to our planet.






FDA needs a warning about their lack of funding

The recalls never end from the FDA. In the last seven days, the Food and Drug Administration has issued multiple recalls. One of the recalls? Ruffles potato chips -- recalled August 21st -- undeclared milk. Also recalled? Peaches -- from Wawona and from Wegmans.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association notes:


FDA has been underfunded for a number of years and the challenges presented by lack of funding make it more difficult for the agency to fulfill its core mission of ensuring the safety of the nation’s food and drug supply and ensuring timely approvals of innovative medical products that benefit consumers.


 It's a real shame Joe Biden's not addressing this issue or even mentioning it.




Tweet of the week

 Waleed Shahid gets the honor for this:

An interesting dynamic in latest CBS poll: Only 5% of Republicans say they’re voting for Joe Biden. Right now that’s lower than the 8% of Republicans who voted for Obama in 2008, 6% of Republicans who voted for Obama in 2012, and 7% of Republicans who voted for Hillary Clinton.
9:35 AM · Aug 25, 2020

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