Current Events: Joe Biden, Iraq, & Australia

Starting tomorrow: A whole new decade.

Yes, yes, I know, we’re arguing about when the decade starts. I remember this BS from Y2K, y’all, and I didn’t buy it then. Save your pedantic whinging about the decade actually starting in 2021, no one cared in 2000, no one cares now. It’s 2020, the numbers all changed, we’re counting it from here.

Current Events

  • Former VP and current presidential candidate Joe Biden says he’d 1. Consider a Republican for vice president (because sure, that’s what we want, an 80-year-old Dem president with a Republican VP), and 2. Nominate former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, “if he’d take it.” [NBC News, CNN]
  • The US hit Iraq with air strikes, targeting a militia group, and early this morning, the militia group hit back by breaking into the US embassy in Iraq, smashing things and setting fire to a reception area. The militia group is made up of Iraqi Shiites, and some of those involved may have ties to Iran. No Americans at the embassy were hurt. [AP]
  • In case you missed it, Australia is burning down. Like, the whole country, basically. [BBC News]

Image credit: Joe Biden, by Gage Skidmore. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Books, current events, good articles, & more.

I had a week off for Christmas, and that was awesome. It went by way too fast, though.

Also, I got my refund for the crap laptop I bought off Amazon, and instead bought an Omen 15t directly from HP, which should be here in about 3 weeks. Looking forward to that.

Current Events

Good Reads

Books I Read Recently

We watched Netflix’ The Witcher last weekend, so I spent Christmas week chewing through the whole Witcher series, by Andrzej Sapkowski. These include:

The first two are anthologies of short stories, and the last five are a series of novels. And they’re… okay? They’re decent. Three stars: ⭐⭐⭐.

The anthologies are pretty good – the short stories are entertaining and often funny. The first two and a half books are quite good and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

The last book and a half are kind of a slog. Like, the author got close to finishing and panicked because he hadn’t taken things seriously enough and tried to get all EPIC FANTASY at the end.

These books are about a superhuman dude banging his way across the continent while he kills monsters and accidentally embarrasses himself at various social functions. Occasionally there are politics, which is sometimes interesting and sometimes tedious. About once a book there’s a group of dwarfs and they are hilarious: earthy, vulgar, farty little scrappers who argue murderously over a card game called Barrel which is obviously just Bridge.

So you start out with Conan the Barbarian meets Terry Pratchett, and suddenly, without warning, the books pop the clutch and shift into high fantasy, and it kind of doesn’t work very well. You can’t start out at murder-boners and dwarf farts, then try to tack a Lord of the Rings ending on it.

Overall, like, taken as a whole, I mostly enjoyed the books, because there were a lot of cool characters, the world was super interesting, and it had a lot of potential. It just didn’t stick the landing, is all.

PS: The TV Show…

Speaking of, Netflix’ The Witcher was pretty good.

It’s non-linear and doesn’t go out of its way to explain which parts are happening when, so that’s going to lead to some confusion. The first three or four episodes are a bit meh. There’s a couple of awesome fight scenes to get you through, though, and Jaskier, the bard, is a hoot.

After that the show appears to abruptly realize that not only is it not Game of Thrones, it isn’t ever going to be, so they might as well be having more fun, and then things start picking up speed.

We’re looking forward to season two.

Trump, Climate change, impeachment, laptops, Dresden Files, & other Monday morning bits.

Last week I bought a new computer – an ASUS Tuff Gaming laptop – from Amazon.com. It arrived Friday. I got it set up and over the weekend, I played some Stardew Valley, watched some YouTube and Netflix, read a few things, y’know. Nothing strenuous or unusual. Monday morning I went to plug a thing in to the USB to charge it for a few minutes, and the laptop flat refused to power on. I checked to make sure it was charged, and it was. I checked to make sure it was plugged in, and it was. It hadn’t been bumped, dropped, or had anything spilled on it. It just stopped powering on.

I’ll just pause here and let you imagine the vulgar stream of vitriol I spewed at the situation at asshole o’clock on a Monday morning.

So, yes, of course I’m returning it. I got the return labels and whatnot this morning, and I’ll ship the brick out this afternoon. I still need a new laptop, of course, but I think I’ll be buying the next one direct from HP instead of dicking around with whatever con artists are scamming out their rejects on Amazon this week.

Anyway, a few interesting things to read:

  • The Atlantic: American Jews Are Terrified – “A deadly shooting at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey is the latest manifestation of anti-Semitic violence that doesn’t fit in a neat, ideological box.”
  • Vox: These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse – “Dozens of countries have extraordinary tropical forests, but three stand out: Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries not only have the largest areas of tropical forest within their borders; they also have the highest rates of deforestation.”
  • GQ: What the Medical GoFundMes That Don’t Get Funded Say About America – “For every viral story of fundraising for healthcare, there are thousands of medical campaigns that don’t get funded.”
  • Buzzfeed News: The 100 Memes That Defined The 2010s – “This decade, memes became something not just for a handful of internet nerds who lurked on message boards; memes are now for everyone. The online culture of this decade hasn’t just changed the words we use, it’s changed how we express ourselves.”
  • NPR: What Else Disappears If The ACA Is Overturned? – “Any day now, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could rule that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.”

Also, a few headlines you should probably know about this morning:

And finally, some good news – or at least, good news for fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files:

The House has issued two articles of impeachment against Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee announced two articles of impeachment against Trump this morning: obstruction of Congress, for obstructing the hearings, and abuse of power, for attempting to bribe Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections.

Next the House will vote on the articles of impeachment, and since the Democrats have the majority, the vote will likely pass. After that, the Senate will hold a trial, and since the Republicans have the majority there, Trump will likely be acquitted.

I cannot fathom what would need to occur to have the Senate convict Trump and remove him under the current conditions. After watching the behavior of the House Republicans, I can’t even convince myself that the Senate would vote to remove Trump if he actually did gun someone down on 5th Avenue in broad daylight.

I emailed my senators and representatives this morning to let them know I supported impeaching Trump in the House and convicting him in the Senate. My reps are all Democrats so they were going to vote for that anyways, but I like them to know I support that shit since they’ll also be hearing from right-wing loons on the topic.

We’re about 10 months out from the 2020 elections. Not one single thing has been done to secure those elections, so I have no doubts that Trump and the GOP will cheat them some way or another. I figure it’s about 80/20 that Trump gets re-elected.

I’m more concerned about what happens if he does lose in 2020, or when he hits his term limit in 2024. Because I don’t think this man means to peacefully leave office under any circumstances.

Trump takes a surprise visit to the hospital with WH doctor in tow for perfectly routine & normal reasons.

This past Saturday, about two in the afternoon, Trump abruptly went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with the White House doctor riding along. He was there about two hours before heading back to the White House. His public events for Sunday were suddenly canceled early in the morning, and nothing public was planned for him today.

The Trump administration story is that this was an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed to visit some random military person getting out of surgery, and while he was there for that, Trump just went ahead and got started on “phase one” of his annual physical, including have some lab tests run.

Because that’s a thing people do, sure. Definitely people who are 70+ years old, overweight, mostly sedentary, with a terrible diet, and working one of the most stressful jobs in the world, while being investigated for basically all of the crimes.

It’s worth noting that the White House is pretty well equipped to handle medical stuff. They don’t have a whole hospital, but they can handle a lot, including basic blood work, in-house.

I’ll also go ahead and remind you that you can’t believe a single frickin’ word Trump or his administration says about anything. These folks lie like they breathe. So they have exactly zero credibility. Actually, scratch that. They’ve lied so much, they have negative credibility.

And I get that all this veers pretty quickly into conspiracy theorizing, but obviously something medical happened to Trump.

There are a few theories floating around the Internet today. Some of the nuttier ones involve Trump setting up reasons to resign via the 25th amendment so Pence can pardon him and whatnot, but, for the umpteenth time: Trump and his businesses, organizations, flunkies and kids, are all facing serious state investigations that a hypothetical President Pence cannot pardon him out of. Even if Trump resigns and gets a pardon, he’s still facing charges.

The most plausible-seeming theories involve some kind of heart incident or possibly a panic attack. Mild heart attack? Heart palpitations? I mean, the White House is equipped for a lot. If he had a mild heart attack, I guess maybe Trump could convalesce at the White House? I’m not sure.

Panic attacks mimic heart attacks, like, a lot. I say this as someone who has had panic attacks and been completely convinced I was having a heart attack. I have been to the doctor for that exact reason. And to be sure that’s not what’s happening, you’d need to do like at least an EKG and maybe some blood work. And if the person you’re checking out is a 70+ year old man who probably already has heart problems (because it’s kind of ridiculous to think he doesn’t – Bernie was healthy as hell as far as anyone knows, and he still managed to have a heart attack the other month), that probably complicates the situation.

So, here’s two things to think about in regards to this story:

  1. The President of the United States had a serious enough medical issue to require a hasty trip to the hospital and a few days of rest, and his administration is blatantly lying about it.
  2. Or, alternatively, this actually was a spur-of-the-moment trip (I guess it could happen; Trump is super weird) and the Trump administration has so wildly damaged its own credibility that anything they say beggars belief, which is a different, but equally serious, issue.

Either way, this is nothing good.

(Image credit: Donald Trump, by Gage Skidmore.)