Monday, February 20, 2017

Are Trump and his followers demented?

So here's a medical question I've been pondering for a while now*: Is there some gene or something about some people's brains that makes them unable to discern or recognize lies or separate fact from fiction?

And guess what? There is!

According to a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, an inability to detect lies -- and sarcasm -- may well be the result of damage to (or something affecting) the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It even has a name, frontotemporal dementia, and the condition affects adults at a younger age (typically 40 - 70) than other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's.

Another sign of frontotemporal dementia? Socially inappropriate and/or compulsive behavior.

Sound like anyone orange you know (or any of his supporters)?

Pretty sure dementia would fall under the list of reasons to enact Section 4. of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. And an MRI, which, when I last checked, was nonpartisan, would determine if Trump (or anyone else) suffered from this form of dementia.

Sadly, there is no cure for this disease... until 2020.

UPDATED: A big THANK YOU to my mother for sending me this New Yorker article titled "Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds," which scientifically explains the Trump phenomenon -- and why our species may be doomed.

*But especially since Trump secured the Republican nomination for president.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A valentine to nature

Welcome to another episode of Mutual of J-TWO-O's Wild Kingdom.

As many of you, I love nature -- especially birds and shells (and flowers, but that's another post). So this Valentine's Day, I am sharing my love of nature with some beautiful and awe-inspiring photos of birds and shells I took the last few days*, which will hopefully distract you from all the ugliness in the world, albeit briefly.

To quote Jon Stewart, here is Your Moment of Zen...









































































*On Sanibel Island, Florida

Saturday, January 28, 2017

5 ways to fight Trump and make America great again

I, like many Americans, am sickened and angered by Donald Trump and his administration -- and the willingness of the GOP to kowtow to or silently accept Trump's heinous behavior and actions.

Trump has nominated people totally unqualified and/or unfit to take office. And since becoming president (words that are extremely difficult for me to type), Trump has taken actions that threaten women's/human rights, the environment, healthcare, education, and the economy. (Let me know if I left anything out.) And it is highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled House and Senate will do anything to stop the Trumpocalypse, until, perhaps, it is too late.

So what can we horrified American citizens do to try to limit the damage Trump is inflicting on us? Here are some suggestions, which even my fellow introverts can do.
  • Call your local Representative and Senators, who you can find via https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Whether you want them to know where you stand on an issue or how you'd like them to vote on an appointment or bill, it's important to call them.
  • Follow your Representatives and Senators on Facebook and/or sign up for their email updates, to keep abreast of the issues, find out where they stand, and how you can help. Chris Murphy, one of my senators, constantly reaches out to his constituents to see where we stand on various issues, with polls and surveys, and I'd like to think my participation helps.
  • Support good journalism/investigative reporting. How? By purchasing a subscription to those newspapers and news organizations that are working hard to uncover the truth about Trump and his administration and those policies and actions that are detrimental to America and Americans.

    I personally have become a big fan of The Washington Post this election cycle (and started subscribing last year), and I'm a longtime supporter of NPR. But there are many fine organizations dedicated to providing good, fair, honest, hard-hitting journalism that could use your support, and you can find a list of them on the PEN Center.

  • Last, but far from least, make sure you are registered to vote and vote in the mid-term elections, which will be on November 6, 2018. The only way to stop Trump -- and Pence, who may very well become President before November 6, 2018 -- is for the Democrats to win back the Senate and the House. Also, consider donating money and/or time to helping the good guys get re-elected or supporting candidates who oppose Trump and will fight for education, the environment, and women's and human rights.

    (Sadly, even moderate Republicans, if there are truly any, have proven that they will not defy Trump, no matter how much they may privately disagree with him. So the only way to put a check on his devastating policies is for Democrats to take back the House and Senate.)
Have any other ideas? Let us know via the Comments.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Madness of King Donald the Trump

Many (most?) of us who have observed Trump over the last year have questioned whether he is mentally fit to be president. However, after watching Trump's recent interview with ABC's David Muir, where he (Trump) told one whopper after another, there can be no doubt that Trump is unhinged. Deranged. Nuts. Psycho. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I could go on, but you get my drift. 

As a student of history, Trump's performance brought to mind another deranged ruler of this country, one who likewise lost the goodwill of most of his subjects here -- and caused a political crisis.

Who was this mad man? For those of you who have forgotten your U.S. History, or haven't seen Hamilton, I am, of course, referring to King George III, whose madness was captured in a brilliant 1994 film titled, appropriately, The Madness of King George.*



The similarities between Donald the First (and hopefully the last) and George the Third are striking, from the eccentric, disturbing behavior, to the grabbing of women, to the political tensions caused by his erratic behavior.

The only question is, will Americans rise up against Donald the Trump and kick him out as they did George the Third some two-hundred forty years ago?


*And yes, all you Hamilton lovers, in Hamilton, too. Though I'm pretty sure we won't be back, re-electing Trump... if we survive that long. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You know what they say about guys with small crowds...*

As has been widely reported, the man Graydon Carter once described as a "short-fingered vulgarian" has been very unhappy about the reported size of his crowd.

Despite photos and facts to the contrary, the Toddler in Chief insists that his crowd was the biggest, bigger than Obama's, bigger than anyone's!

So, per aides, who spoke to The Washington Post...
Over the objections of his aides and advisers — who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency — the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response [to claims that his crowd wasn't the biggest or bestest], and he wanted it to come from his press secretary.
Yes folks, the man who rose to national prominence by trying to delegitimize America's first black president, his number one concern upon taking office is the fear that his crowd wasn't as big as Obama's. (Though you know what they say about the size of black men's crowds.)

So, unable to grab some pussy himself, he (Trump) ordered his press secretary to go diddle the press corps -- and the American public -- by claiming that his crowd was the biggest, despite easy to find evidence to the contrary.



This, my fellow Americans, is not the behavior of a president but of a spoiled, narcissistic, irrational toddler (or sociopath). And, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there are any adults in the room who are capable of controlling the Toddler in Chief's temper tantrums.

(I'd say we are well and truly fucked, but considering the size and flaccidity of Trump's, uh, crowd, it may take a while.)

UPDATED: More on Trump's long-standing obsession with ratings and size via The New York Times.


*small hands and small... minds

Monday, January 23, 2017

Propaganda Barbie & Alternative Facts

For those of you who don't own a dictionary or are too lazy to Google it, a fact is "a piece of information presented as having objective reality." That is, something that can be objectively* proven.

An alternative fact, on the other hand, is a falsehood, or lie, something told or written with the express purpose to deceive. Or, as we students of political science and history call it, propaganda, "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view."

During World War II, there were a handful of women (and men) who used the airwaves (radio) as a means to spread Nazi and Axis propaganda. Two of the most famous, or infamous, were Axis Sally (who was born in Maine but moved to Berlin in 1934) and Tokyo Rose (another American, who broadcast from Japan).

Over 70 years later, in 2016, another woman has joined their illustrious ranks, rising to fame on her ability to create or repeat and spread lies and half-truths over the airwaves. Her name, Kellyanne Conway, or, as she was recently dubbed, Propaganda Barbie.



Back in the 1940s, before there was the Internet, determining what was true and what wasn't could take a little time -- and a trip to the library. Today, though, it is easy to separate fact from fiction, thanks to a number of objective fact-checking sites, such as PoliFact, FactCheck.orgSnopes, and Fact Checker.

Yet millions of Americans are too lazy, or biased, to search out the truth, preferring to hear what they want to hear rather than risk cognitive dissonance. Which, to quote our new Propagandist in Chief, is "sad."

Bonus video: Depeche Mode, "Policy of Truth"



*And for those who don't know what objectively means, it means independently or without bias.

UPDATED 2/3/17: Propaganda Barbie (aka Kellyanne Conway) strikes again! There was no "Bowling Green Massacre," folks, nor did the Obama administration ever "ban" refugees.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The GOP vs ISIS: A Comparison

After reading yesterday that the Trump administration planned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which is a bit of an oxymoron), ostensibly as part of an effort to reduce government spending (even though eliminating all three of these programs would barely make a dent in the federal budget), I thought to myself, 'Huh, you know who else hates the arts and wants to destroy them? Radical Islamists (aka ISIS)!'

That led me to wondering what else Conservative Republicans (cutting arts funding was the brainchild of Conservative thank tank Heritage Foundation) and Radical Islamists had in common. So I did some research and created this handy little chart. And gee whiz! The GOP and ISIS have way more in common than we thought!

[Click on the chart to get a better/larger view.]











Also, while poking around the Internets (looking for a map I saw a while back showing the United States as a bunch of -stans*), I came across these two maps of the world.

This first one shows Ronald Reagan's view of the world, back in the 1980s:

















The second map illustrates Donald Trump's view of the world in 2016:
















Pretty interesting, no?

*If any of you find a link to that map, please send it to me.