Overwhelming ‘Trump and His Minions’

“Trump has brought us to a state where we will have to do a lot of very basic thinking about how our society goes on from this point.”–Writer Marilynne Robinson (here)

It occurs to me that in order to reverse the direction of the directionless Trump Administration, we don’t need to change the mind of a single Trump voter, a single Republican, a single Christian extremist. Our task is a simple, though difficult one: get those who think like us to act, to vote.

There are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of the Trump stripe and our own assumption that Americans couldn’t possibly be stupid, mean, thoughtless, crazy, evil enough to vote Trump was naive at best, equally stupid, mean, etc., at worst.

Trump was elected by about a quarter of the adults in America. Of the adults who didn’t vote, an overwhelming majority (about 70 percent by a couple of estimates) would have voted Clinton or Third Party had they troubled themselves to get to register and get to the polls.. That’s a lot of votes, enough to overwhelm Trump and his minions.

Getting them to break their patterns, however, is another story.

Finally: A Hike at Explore Park

This is the alive roof of one of the old cabins.

This is Fearless Freddie, the abandoned tire frog.

It is truly odd that until a couple of hours ago, I had never hiked any of the many trails at Explore Park in Roanoke County. I know the history of the park well and even played a part in it. I was there before it opened and on Opening Day (I still have the commemorative mug). I knew some of the Living History employees and watched the old buildings being put into place. But  hike the property? Nope.

This is the old grist mill on the property.

My friend Susan called at 0:dark:30 this morning and put an end to that oversight. We have taken to celebrating holidays that happen on Sunday or are religious in nature by communing with the spiritual side of ourselves in the most pristine church of all: The Church of Perpetual Sunshine and Babbling Brooks. It is a spiritual experience, unencumbered by human frailty.

Today, that church was in Roanoke County at a park that was initially intended to honor explorers Lewis and Clark, then changed its mission to a kind of outdoors Disneyland and now has ambitions to call us all to it as a recreational site where we actually get exercise. Good for the County.

This was a day when we both covered up, despite the 80-degree temperatures and right off the bat, I picked a tick off Susan, even as I was spraying her. Those babies are everywhere and they are serious.

Here is some of what we saw today. Go see it for yourself and it’s a free hike.

Susan’s study of the mill wheel.

This is the mechanism that turns the grist mill wheel.

Susan photographing the mill wheel.

Susan all wrapped up against the ticks.

That’s me at the spiritual alter of my own faith.

Look closely at the sunbursts through the back-lit leaves.

Somebody had a good time. You can tell by the starbursts.


The old mill is glorious in black and white.

Susan found me in the crease of this cabin.

Sometimes it’s about the smallest things, glowing in the light.

Why Donald Trump Is President (A Census Study)

A new analysis of the 2016 presidential election, based on census data, provides a pretty good look at why Donald Trump won and the world turned upside-down.

Sean McElwee writes (here), “… in the 2016 election, 73 percent of whites over 65 voted, compared to 34 percent of Latinos aged 18 to 24. Among those 65 or older with an income of $100,000 or more, 87 percent voted, compared to only 34 percent of those aged 18 to 24 with an income less than $30,000.”

I think we probably all knew that instinctively, but it’s good to see it in black and white. Basically: old white people vote, rich people vote, Latinos don’t vote, young people don’t vote.

McElwee states flatly that “higher class bias in voter turnout leads to higher economic inequality and less spending on benefits for low-income people,” and he’s right. Voter suppression is important in swing states, especially the four upper-Midwest states Trump won (unexpectedly) by a total of 77,000 votes. That was the election in a nutshell. Preventing felons who’ve served their time has made a difference, since they tend to be poor minorities, who tend to vote for Democrats.

And here’s another biggie: “non-voters preferred Clinton 49 percent to 31 percent.” Clinton actually won the popular vote by 3,000 votes and with better turnout, that would likely have been a landslide victory for her.

McElwee concludes: “Higher turnout would help remedy deep disparities in representation.” Indeed. Fact is that the study changes nothing. For now.

(Photo: Huffington Post.)


Harry Potter: A Roanoke Celebration

This was the festival’s spirit and it was fun.

This, I think, was a mom-daughter duo.

I’m going to have to make an embarrassing admission before I go anywhere with this: I’ve never read a word of Harry Potter in particular or J.K. Rowling in general and I’ve only seen one of the movies. I’m not a fan. But I understand the lure and I respect that this has led more people to read than anything else in Western Civilization outside the Bible and maybe Mark Twain.

So, it was with a degree of enthusiasm that I took my Leica to Roanoke City Market today for a pretty good sized spring celebration of the publishing phenomenon and I got all I paid for. The  crowd was heavy on the kid side and–to my delight–contained a wealth of redheads and round glasses.

Here’s some of what I saw without much comment, since I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. You figure it out.


… And Sometimes It Doesn’t Turn Out

I’m generally pretty good in the kitchen because I’m not afraid of it. I take chances, mix ingredients that don’t seem to go together and generally break a lot of rules.

Mom and Dad both cooked well, dad professionally (and he said there was never a day in his life when he could cook as well as Mom). Most of my brothers, sisters and both my  children cook well. They take/took chances.

Well, here’s the chance I took today. It’s a pancake. I didn’t even photograph the second one because it made this one look like it came from Sardi’s. Cook and learn. Sigh.

A Disturbing Look at Where the World Is Going

I just read a rather lengthy piece (here) in the world’s best newspaper–the Guardian of Manchester, England–that basically gives us the details of why our world is falling apart.

It is a complex tale, full of intrigue, hard-to-understand technology, dark billionaires in collusion and a new world order that would/will frighten even the most optimistic of us.

Among those at the center of this international movement are Americans Robert Mercer, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon–all fascists, all extremely wealthy, all working with those dark forces to turn elections in the U.S., Europe and wherever else they want, their way. They are gathering data from places like Facebook (noting your “likes”) and using it to influence your vote.

Read it if you dare. You may well know more than you want to when you finish.

‘Their Finest’ Is a Movie Worth Your Time

Margie and I took yesterday to do a little movie discovery. We landed on a small British gem titled “Their Finest,” playing at the Grandin Theatre. In short, it is–so far–my favorite theatrical movie of 2017.

“Their Finest” tells the story of the movie wing of British propaganda setting out to make a movie about the rescue of the British Army at Dunkirk. It is set in 1940, before America entered the war, when British morale was somewhere south of its highest point. This was the height of the blitz.

The fictional movie’s goal is to improve that morale with a story about ordinary citizens doing their part (rescuing 400,000 soldiers who appeared to be doomed by using small private and commercial boats) and to pull the U.S. into the war on Britain’s side.

The task falls to a small group of overworked writers–one of them a talented rookie and a woman (Gemma Arterton), brought in to write “women’s dialogue.” The story evolves from one of story development and war propaganda, to women’s rights, and almost silently into a sweet love story. All along, it is funny in the midst of one of the darkest periods of English history.

“Their Finest” (the title is the only weak point of this movie) is a smart, touching, informative and thoroughly entertaining film, starring actors mostly unknown to Americans (Ms. Arterton and Sam Claflin, most notably, with Bill Nighy the best known), but pros who are talented.

Tip: You might want to get to this one in a hurry. It is in the screening room at the Grandin Theatre, not a good sign for it remaining here.


The On-Line Glasses are Here and I Like Them

A little more than a week ago, I asked Facebook friends to suggest how I should go about buying glasses on the ‘net and I got some good advice from a number of people who do just that.

I got my prescription from my regular doc, did a quick study at the site Zenni and plunked down $108 for the frames ($29.95) and prescription lens, which is graduated, since I wear tri-focals.

I have been looking for this size and shape of frame for some time and haven’t been able to find it until the Zenni search, and I like the frame and the lenses a lot. I still can’t do all three prescriptions because that requires tilting my head almost constantly, but for distance and reading, these are great. I have a different pair of glasses for the computer. The new glasses, by the way, came with clip-on sun glasses, which cost about $5 and which I can use for driving.

These glasses would have cost upwards of $400 had I bought them at my doc’s office. Satisfied customer? You bet.

Republican Philosophy: The Definition of ‘Sociopath’

Salon magazine’s Chauncey Devega is often on the leading edge of political thinking, but his piece today about the complete lack of empathy among the most conservative voters is both spot-on and deeply disturbing.

He writes (here): “The more interested in politics a conservative is, the lower his (or her) level of empathy. Liberals move in the opposite direction: the more interested in politics they are, the more empathetic.”

In his most telling passage, he lists the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems traits of sociopaths (you only need three to qualify: “Callous unconcern for the feelings of others; Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms and obligations; Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them; Very low tolerance to frustration, a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment; Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalization for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists another two that are familiar: “Deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead.”

Devega notes that “it is no coincidence that the Republican Party’s current leader, Donald Trump, exemplifies many of the traits common to sociopaths.” And he was elected by people who don’t consider those traits to be evidence for deep concern.

Does Trumpcare Apply to Congress? (Hint: Yes)

Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, proposed a bill that would require Trumpcare to apply to members of Congress and it passed on a 429-0 vote. The vote, however, apparently was not out of altruism or a lack of hypocracy. (Story here.)

McSally says she proposed the bill “due to very arcane Senate procedural rules within the budget reconciliation process does not and cannot apply to members of Congress.”

Those “arcane rules” have to do with how many votes it will require the Senate to muster to pass Trumpcare: 51, which is possible, or 60, which is probably not. The Republicans will require 51 votes in the Senate for Trumpcare to pass.