Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Poem About President Trump

Kingdom Come
by Carmine Giordano

Where's Jesus, Antonio,
now that we really need him?
While we've been looking at the sky,
our eyes blinded by the sun
waiting for his returning,
here on fog-bound terra firma
has come a two-bit blonded player
stealing his biblical thunder
shouting to the analphabetic,
for whom his fiction is fact, 
that he will greatly multiply
their meager loaves and fishes,
that he will shake the heavens,
the seas and the dry land,
that he will undo the national firmament,
upend the pillars of the earth.

Who could have imagined 
this vain thing, Antonio?
And how may we abide 
this day of his coming?

Let couriers mount their steeds
and race through the land.
Let heralds blow their trumpets
in high and low places.
The sound must go out.
Affront him on the right,
Oppose him on the left.
Let the able fight where they can.
He is the false prophet,
mountebank, quack, fraud,
shark, swindler,
truth's charlatan, time's danger.
Reveal, reveal this--

till kingdom come!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Political Cartoons of the Week, No. 14

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

On January 20th, 1809, poet, author and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe is born in Boston, Massachusetts. By the time he was three years old, both of Poe’s parents had died, leaving him in the care of his godfather, John Allan, a wealthy tobacco merchant. After attending school in England, Poe entered the University of Virginia (UVA) in 1826. After fighting with Allan over his heavy gambling debts, he was forced to leave UVA after only eight months. Poe then served two years in the U.S. Army and won an appointment to West Point. After another falling-out, Allan cut him off completely and he got himself dismissed from the academy for rules infractions.
Dark, handsome and brooding, Poe had published three works of poetry by that time, none of which had received much attention. In 1836, while working as an editor at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia, Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. 
Virginia Clemm Poe
He also completed his first full-length work of fiction, Arthur Gordon Pym, published in 1838. Poe lost his job at the Messenger due to his heavy drinking, and the couple moved to Philadelphia, where Poe worked as an editor at Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine. He became known for his direct and incisive criticism, as well as for dark horror stories like The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. Also around this time, Poe began writing mystery stories, including The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter, works that would earn him a reputation as the father of the modern detective story.
In 1844, the Poes moved to New York City. He scored a spectacular success the following year with his poem The Raven. While Poe was working to launch The Broadway Journal which soon failed, his wife Virginia fell ill and died of tuberculosis in early 1847. His wife’s death drove Poe even deeper into alcoholism and drug abuse. After becoming involved with several women, Poe returned to Richmond in 1849 and got engaged to an old flame. Before the wedding, however, Poe died suddenly. Though circumstances are somewhat unclear, it appeared he began drinking at a party in Baltimore and disappeared, only to be found incoherent in a gutter three days later. Taken to the hospital, he died on October 7, 1849, at age 40.
Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
·       The City Of Sin

by Edgar Allan Poe

LO! Death hath rear'd himself a throne
In a strange city, all alone,
Far down within the dim west -
Where the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Are - not like any thing of ours -
Oh no! - O no! - ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No holy rays from heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town,
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently —
Up thrones - up long-forgotten bowers
Of scultur'd ivy and stone flowers -
Up domes - up spires - up kingly halls -
Up fanes - up Babylon-like walls -
Up many a melancholy shrine
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mask - the viol - and the vine.

There open temples - open graves
Are on a level with the waves -
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye,
Not the gaily-jewell'd dead
Tempt the waters from their bed:
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass -
No swellings hint that winds may be
Upon a far-off happier sea:
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from the high towers of the town
Death looks gigantically down

But lo! a stir is in the air!
The wave - there is a ripple there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide -
As if the turret-tops had given
A vacuum in the filmy heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow -
The very hours are breathing low -
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down, that town shall settle hence,
All Hades, from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence,
And Death to some more happy clime
Shall give his undivided time.

*                  *                 *

Annabel Lee
by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee; 
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea; 
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee; 
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee; 
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes! - that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea) 
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

*                  *                   *

Quotes by Edgar Allen Poe

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. 

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.

Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence.

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.

To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness.

A strong argument for the religion of Christ is this - that offences against Charity are about the only ones which men on their death-beds can be made - not to understand - but to feel - as crime. 

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty. 

I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.

The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.

A Message For President Trump






Knowledge Quiz, No. 71

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.

*    *    *    *
Knowledge Quiz, No. 71

The answers are at the bottom

1.Who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize?
2.What is the title of Barack Obama's 1995 memoir?
3. Coulrophobia is an extreme fear of what?
4. What novel features a ship called the Pequod?
5. How many U.S. patents did Thomas Edison successfully obtain?
6  Cruciverbalist is a word for people who enjoy which hobby?
7. Where is the Great Sphinx located?
8. Which is the only bird that can fly backward?
9. How much did the Tyrannosaurus Rex weigh?
10. What is the name of the car-sized rover that was launched by NASA to explore Mars?
11. What is the largest muscle in the human body?
12. What was the first message sent in Morse Code?
13. What country was the first in the world to impose a tax on fatty foods?
14. Which  U.S. president's name appears on a plaque that the Apollo 11 crew left on the moon?
15. What country by far has the world's largest prison population?
16. What gas makes up over 75% of the Earth's atmosphere?
17. Who was convicted of assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr.?
18. What women lent her name to the green variety of fruit which she discovered in the 1860s?
19. What musical instrument was invented by Benjamin Franklin?
20.  What U.S. President had to re-take the oath of office because of a mistake?

*            *             *


1.Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win the award in two different fields (physics and chemistry). In 1903, Curie won the prestigious honor along with her husband and Henri Becquerel, for their work on radioactivity. She won her second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in chemistry. She was selected for her discovery of radium and polonium, and became the first scientist to win two Nobel Prizes. While she received the prize alone, she shared the honor jointly with her late husband in her acceptance lecture.

Marie Curie

2. Dreams from My Father is a memoir by Barack Obama, who was elected as U.S. President in 2008. It explores events of his early years up until his entry into law school in 1988. Obama published the memoir in July 1995, when he was starting his political campaign for Illinois Senate. After Obama won the U.S. Senate Democratic primary victory in Illinois in 2004, the book was re-published that year. The audio-book edition earned Obama the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2006. Five days before being sworn in as President in 2009, Obama secured a $500,000 advance for an abridged version of Dreams from My Father for middle-school-aged children.

3. It is estimated that 12 percent of American adults have a phobia of clowns. The fear is so prevalent it even has a scientific name: Coulrophobia. Coulrophobia means a persistent and irrational fear of clowns. Like other fears and phobias, it can cause panic, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea. and overwhelming feelings of fear. Psychologists believe that, like in case of other specific phobias, the fear of clowns could be deeply rooted in childhood.

4.  The Pequod is a fictional 19th-century Nantucket whaling ship that appears in the 1851 novel Moby Dick by American author Herman Melville. The Pequod and her crew, commanded by Captain Ahab, are central to the story, which, after the initial chapters, takes place almost entirely aboard the ship during a three-year whaling expedition in the Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific oceans. Most of the characters in the novel are part of the Pequod's crew, including the  narrator Ishmael.

Moby Dick

5. Thomas Edison successfully filed and obtained 1,093 United States patents. His first patent application was executed while he was 21 years old. Edison's U.S. patents can be grouped into the general categories of electric power and light, phonographs and sound recording, telegraphy and telephony, batteries, mining and ore milling, miscellany, cement and motion pictures. It was not until June 17, 2003 that he was passed by Japanese inventor Shunpei Yamazaki. Yamazaki was subsequently passed by Australian inventor Kia Silverbrook who has been granted 4,665 U.S. utility patents as of March, 2014.
Thomas Edison

6. A cruciverbalists is someone that constructs or enjoys solving crosswords puzzles. Arthur Wynne was a Liverpool, U.K. journalist who invented the first crossword puzzle. It was published in The New York World newspaper on December 21, 1913. His puzzle was first called a “Word-Cross Puzzle” and was designed as a diamond shape. Although Wynne’s invention was initially greeted with skepticism, by the 1920s it had established itself as a popular pastime, entertaining and frustrating generations of cruciverbalists.

7. Great Sphinx of Giza is the oldest and largest known statue in the world built from a single piece of limestone. It stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The statue takes the form of a reclining lion with a human head. The statue facing west to east measures 238 feet long, 66.3 feet high and 62.6 feet wide. The site comprises of the Sphinx, a causeway, Pyramid, Sphinx temple and other temples. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre.

The Sphinx

8. Hummingbirds fly backwards, and they are the only birds capable of doing so. The hummingbird has a unique muscle and wing structure that gives them a level of flight control unlike any other bird. Like a helicopter, the hummingbird can hover, fly right to left, left to right, diagonal, forwards, and even backwards. You may notice that their wings move so quickly that they are just a blur. This blurred effect is a result of their wings flapping between 15 to 100 times per second to maintain the kind of agility to allow them to fly backwards.

A Hummingbird

9. Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs that ever lived. A Tyrannosaurus Rex weighed about nine tons (18,000 pounds), was between 15 and 20 feet tall and measured 40 feet in length. One of the largest dinosaurs that ever lived, Tyrannosaurus Rex was a fierce carnivore. Scientists believe this predator could eat up to 500 pounds of meat in one bite. Tyrannosaurus Rex lived in forested river valleys in North America during the late Cretaceous period. It became extinct about 65 million years ago in the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction.

 Tyrannosaurus Rex

10.  Curiosity is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. Curiosity is about the size of a small SUV. Curiosity's main goal is to assess whether the Red Planet is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life. Another objective is to learn more about the red planet's environment.

The Curiosity Land Rover on Mars

11. There are about 640 muscles in the body. They come in all shapes and sizes and perform many different functions. The largest muscle in the human body is the gluteus maximus, or the buttock muscles, also known as "the glutes." These muscles (there is one on each side) help move the hips and thighs, and keep the trunk of the body upright. Furthermore it supports the stabilization of the hip joint. They are the chief muscles that work against gravity when you're walking up stairs, according to the Library of Congress.

12. Sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, over an experimental line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, the first message ever sent in Morse Code said: "What hath God wrought?" Taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23, and recorded on a paper tape, the phrase had been suggested to Morse by Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of a friend. Each code character's corresponding letter was subsequently handwritten underneath by Morse himself. The success of the experiment would change forever the national communication system.

Samuel F. B. Morse.

13. In October 2011, Denmark introduced a fat tax on butter, milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food if the item contains more than 2.3% saturated fat. The fat tax was the first of its kind in the world. Although the tax resulted in an additional $216 million in revenue, it also led to numerous complaints. In November 2012, the fat tax was abolished because it failed to change Danes' eating habits, had encouraged cross border trading, put Danish jobs at risk and had been a bureaucratic nightmare.

14. Although it was President John F. Kennedy who set the nation on the course to the moon, it was Nixon who was in office during the first manned lunar landing. Stainless steel commemorative plaques were attached to the ladders on the descent stages of the United States Apollo Lunar Modules flown on lunar landing missions to be left permanently on the lunar surface. All of the plaques bear facsimiles of the participating astronauts' signatures. The first (Apollo 11) and last (Apollo 17) plaques bear a facsimile of the signature of Richard Nixon, President of the United States during the landings.

15. With 2.24 million prisoners, the United States has the world’s largest prison population. While the U.S. represents only five percent of the world's population, it houses around 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The incarceration rate of the U.S. is also the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, over 7.2 million people were at that time in prison, on probation, or on parole. That means roughly 1 in every 32 Americans are under some sort of criminal justice system control.

16. The Earth's atmosphere consists of a layer of different gases held in place by gravity. The Earth's atmosphere is primarily made up of nitrogen, oxygen and argon. The most abundant gases in the atmosphere are nitrogen at 78 percent and oxygen at 21 percent, while the trace gases methane, neon and helium make up around one-tenth of 1 percent of the atmosphere. Together, nitrogen and oxygen compose 99 percent of the atmosphere's volume.

17. James Earl Ray shot and killed Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, as the civil rights leader was standing on a balcony outside of his motel room. After shooting King, Ray immediately fled, setting off a manhunt that would last more than two months and cover five countries. At the time, it was said to be the FBI's most expensive and biggest investigation in its history. The FBI caught up with Ray in London and extradited him to the United States. Ray pleaded guilty to the murder, and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998.

James Earl Ray

18. Granny Smith apples are named after a real Granny Smith. Granny Smith apples were discovered in Australia in the 1860’s, as a chance seedling in the compost pile on the orchard of Maria Ann Smith. Smith had numerous children and was a prominent figure in the district, earning the nickname "Granny" Smith in her advanced years. Granny Smith apples were first introduced commercially to the United States in the 1970’s. The fruit has hard, light green skin and a crisp, juicy flesh.

Granny Smith Apples

19.  Of Benjamin Franklin's many achievements, probably the least well-known are his accomplishments in music. In 1761, Franklin designed the glass harmonica - or armonica as its creator liked to call it - the first musical instrument created in America. (Not to be confused with a mouth harmonica.) This was a modification of the old glass bowl organ, with the bowls now set sideways and overlapping, spun using a foot pedal. This new instrument became very popular, and music written expressly for the glass harmonica was composed by such legends as Mozart and Beethoven. The popularity of the instrument faded early in the nineteenth century, but it is still played occasionally today.

The Glass Harmonica

20. In 2009, Barack Obama retook the oath of office a day after becoming President because Chief Justice John Roberts said the word "faithfully" out of sequence while administering the oath during the inauguration ceremony. Obama paused and smiled, seemingly aware of the mistake. He then retook the oath the following day out of an "abundance of caution." The move was aimed at erasing any questions that Obama wasn't officially the President due to the mistake. The second oath ceremony took place on the evening of January 21, 2009, at the White House before a small audience.

Retaking the Oath of Office

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Republican Party Is About To Kill Many People

When the GOP repeals ObamaCare, Americans will die. Lots of them.
But, it is obvious that they do not care.

The Republicans are laying the groundwork to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health reform law, which has delivered health insurance to well over 20 million people. So let's speak plainly: You simply cannot scrap this law without negatively affecting the health of far too many of these 20 million people. It is indisputable that killing ObamaCare will actually kill people. And, do not believe the Republican claims that they will  replace ObamaCare with something terrific. They won't.

None of this is to say that ObamaCare is awesome. It isn't. The insurance provided on the ObamaCare exchanges is pretty lousy for many people. Many of the exchanges have not attracted enough young people, the deductibles and premiums are too high, the subsidies are too stingy, the provider networks are too narrow, and it seems to be getting worse over time. The basic structure of the exchanges - a jerry-rigged device "trying to use markets to distribute something that, at the end of the day, we don’t want distributed according to market forces," as James Kwak writes - is patently rather silly. Yet as Jordan Weissmann argues, neither are the exchanges close to actual collapse. Millions of people are getting relatively decent insurance, and millions more have coverage that's at least better than nothing. More importantly, the majority of the coverage increase under ObamaCare has come from Medicaid expansion. This part of the law is an unqualified success, at least in the states where the expansion took hold.

The bottom line is clear: ObamaCare is imperfect, but it is far better than nothing.

So what happens if Republicans repeal ObamaCare and replace it with nothing? What toll of misery and death shall be collected?

Senator Sanders' number comes from a study of Massachusetts' health-care reform, passed when Mitt Romney was governor. It found a decrease in the death rate of 8.2 per 100,000 adults, and Sanders (cribbing from ThinkProgress) applied that rate to an Urban Institute estimate of 30 million people losing their insurance under a clean ObamaCare repeal. (Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler tut-tuts that Sanders picked a high estimate, improperly generalized from Massachusetts to the rest of the country, didn't cite other somewhat lower estimates, and failed to consider the idea that removing health insurance might not have a mirror-image effect from handing it out. As far as quibbles go, they're weak at best.)

Sanders might actually be undershooting the true number. Indeed, starting with the Massachusetts number could easily create a lowball estimate, as it is a relatively healthy state. And the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis Tuesday of a 2015 Republican repeal plan with a higher estimate of people losing their insurance: 18 million in the first year, and 32 million by 2026.
But let's not quibble over the exact math. The fundamental truths are plain as day. Research has consistently concluded that lack of insurance kills people. Here's a list of six studies spanning two decades, all finding tens of thousands of excess deaths among the uninsured. The most recent, a Harvard study from 2009, found nearly 45,000 people dead yearly due to lack of insurance, and an increased risk of death among the uninsured of 40 percent. Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper provided the bleeding obvious reason why: "We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease -  but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications." What's more, before ObamaCare, the un-insurance rate had been trending up for years, suggesting that the post-repeal rate will be even higher than in 2010.

The exact number of onrushing deaths pales in comparison with the ironclad certainty that it will be in the tens of thousands. And for every death, there will be dozens of people enduring illness they can't afford to treat, or being bankrupted by emergency care they cannot afford.

The GOP has had more than six years to figure out its preferred ObamaCare replacement policy. Days before Donald Trump is set to assume the presidency, they still have nothing. The reason is obvious -  there is no more conservative replacement that can possibly provide comparable coverage, and even if there were, it would interfere with the GOP's goal of huge tax cuts for the rich. Philip Klein, a conservative health policy analyst, suggests the obvious escape hatch: Republicans should just admit that "we don't believe that it is the job of the federal government to guarantee that everybody has health insurance."

That austere libertarian purity has at least the virtue of honesty and consistency with conservative principles. Taken to its logical conclusion, it would mean abolishing not just ObamaCare, but also Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and the Veteran's Administration. It would mean health care allocated by price - the rich get good care, the middle class get decent care (and routinely bankrupted by serious illness), and the poor get nothing.

But one does not need a graduate degree in health policy to understand the root of this issue. ObamaCare, for all its flaws, has dramatically expanded access to health care. When people cannot get care, they occasionally die of treatable illness. An ObamaCare repeal with nothing good to replace it? That would be tantamount to mass murder.

Modern Versions of Famous Art

Modern Version of  Girl With A Pearl Earring 

We all probably know these artistic masterpieces. However,  here are a few examples of classic paintings that have been reproduced creatively by a few very creative art lovers with photo cameras.

It all began when partnered with Adobe to create the Remake Project which invited students from all across the Great Britain to recreate classical paintings with photography. According to the competition’s requirements, none of the images could be created using Photoshop. And, all of  the works happened before the photos were taken rather than afterward.

Not all of the images are from and Adobe’s competition. A few have been floating around online from other sources. However, they all follow the same rules which was to re-create classic art without using digital effects. The most interesting thing is that they all feature various levels of interpretation. Some people went for picture-perfect representations while others opted to focus more on the general themes that the original artwork represents or to present the same idea or scene in a modern light.

There is one exception to these rules. It was the Vincent Van Gogh remake. While it’s an excellent remake, the artist did digitally retouch the image to get the likeness right, so it did not quite fit the 
 Modern Versions of Famous Art