Braves Chopped

Mohawk Pipe Tomahawk, 1750, New York

The fallout continues from this week’s blowout 1st inning, in the Cardinals-Braves NLDS Game 5. Georgia Republicans are carping that the Braves organization’s decision to not distribute their trademark red foam tomahawks in that game, generated the “karma” that led to the Braves rout. Earlier in this series Saint Louis pitcher, Ryan Helsley, of Cherokee heritage, disparaged Atlanta’s Tomahawk Chop cheer, before Game 2 in Atlanta. “I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His complaint led the Braves to not hand out their foam tomahawks when play returned to Georgia, but it took ten unanswered Redbird runs to silence Atlanta fans and halt their performance of the Tomahawk Chop, at least for a while. Later, while railing against political correctness, Georgia conservatives cried a Trail-of-Tears, big crocodile ones, claiming that they were actually just honoring their state’s Cherokee heritage.

Yeah, right.

Well, at least Atlanta distinguished itself better this time around. Not the least, Atlanta fans did not cause a lengthy game delay by throwing trash onto the field, unlike the last time the Cardinals and Braves met in postseason play. Looking forward, Saint Louis hosts the Washington Nationals tonight. This series is for the National League pennant. I’m hoping for a good series. The Nationals should let Washington take its mind off of politics for a while and give it a chance to shine. Unlike that other crosstown franchise, who shall not be named.

Let’s go, Cardinals!

Big Hearted

Big Hearted

I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, went for a bicycle ride today. Riding by myself, I was able to go 20% faster than otherwise. As I turned towards home, I spied this giant inflatable heart. I don’t know how I could have missed it, when I passed by before. This photo doesn’t really do it justice, because it was Yuge! It was big enough to walk through. Your path models the path of blood flow, in on the right-side and out on the left. All of the heart’s major components were labeled, atriums, ventricles, valves, arteries and veins. The inflatable heart was part of a larger display the dwelt with heart health issues. CPR dummies were setup for practicing on and it looked like there was much else, but since they were still setting everything up, I decided not to pester anyone and soon departed and continued my heart healthy practice of cycling. Bernie Sanders made the news recently, when he suffered a heart attack. He seems to be recovering, but his event is a reminder that all of the leading candidates for president are septuagenarians, even Elizabeth Warren. Bernie’s heart attack is a reminder that at least he has a heart.


One Very Angry Squirrel

CHINA, IF YOU’RE LISTENING… You are? OK, I’ll stop shouting. China, if you’re listening, maybe you could investigate the Bidens too. Just keep Ivanka’s trademarks out of it! We could make this whole nasty little trade war go away. I’d like you to do us a favor, though. But no quid pro quo. You do this favor and everything will then be great! I’m just making an offer that you can’t resist. NO COLLUSION! China, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find some fake news on Joe Biden that my monkey of an attorney Rudy Giuliani was unable to makeup in Ukraine. I’ll give you such a nice deal if you do, but no quid pro quo!

Singing cockles and mussels alive, alive oh, I served mussels for dinner, in the French style (i.e. with lots of fat—olive oil, butter and heavy cream). These were farm raised mussels ($6 for 2 lbs.), from Chile. It was quite a deal and they weren’t even on sale. Living so far inland, I’m always a little leery of on-sale seafood. I first had farm raised mussels in London. Those were Irish and were grown on ropes, which I found amazing. I last had them around Puget Sound this summer, where they were grown in the bay down below the restaurant. Mine weren’t quite as good as those, but as a first attempt they came out pretty good. I’ve frozen the sauce that they were cooked in, because although the mussels were only six bucks, all of the other accoutrements were quite a bit more. Ah, the French. We’ll see how well that works out next time.

The Cardinals are in the playoffs again, for the first time in a three years. I am hopeful that they will still be in the running, when baseball’s Best Fan comes to town. That would be so grand! The Cards took the division, which allowed the Nationals to eliminate those pesky wildcard Brewers for us. We had already pushed the Cubs out of contention. Both those two divisional teams have been major impediments to our playoff chances in the last few years. We’ve already beat Atlanta in the first game, to take the lead in this series. Keep your fingers crossed, because it’s Red October now. [Note to Carl, we do not have cable here. In the unfortunate event that we can’t watch baseball live and in person, your cable login could be used to watch all of those other teams play baseball, otherwise we’ll be hanging out in a lot of sports bars, while you’re in town.] 

Angels in America, Part Deux

Angel of the Bethesda Fountain

We attended the second part of Angels in America, Perestroika. The action picks up where the first half ended. It is the 1985. Gorbachev is attempting to reform the USSR through an economic restructuring or perestroika. The aids epidemic is raging, with only one ray of hope on the horizon, a new miracle drug, AZT. While the first half of the play, basically setup the plot and introduced the characters, the focus of this second half is the death of Roy Cohn.

The play’s one historical character is vilified by all and does everything he can to justify that vilification. Using his political connections, he appeals to Nancy Reagan and acquires his own private stash of AZT, hoarding for himself enough medicine to treat eighty aids patients of this very rare and much sought after drug. It is all to no avail though, because while AZT was effective with some patients, it does not staunch the advancement of Cohn’s “liver cancer”.

Near the end, in combination with the morphine drip that he takes to ease his pain, visitations from the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg become more frequent. Cohn was the Federal prosecutor who secured the convictions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and insured their execution, even going so far as judge tampering. One time he asks her to sing him asleep. While reluctant, she eventually complies and sings a Jewish lullaby. Finishing, she becomes concerned that she sang him more than just to sleep, only to be startled when he gleefully gloats, “I finally made Ethel Rosenberg sing!”

During intermission, I spoke to a man whose father was investigated by Roy Cohn. After the Rosenbergs, Cohn joined Senator Joe McCarthy and his un-American activities subcommittee and became his chief deputy. McCarthy’s witch hunt, to turn a phrase, was ruthless in its search for communists, first in government, but then McCarthy turned his fire on the US Army. This led to a confrontation with Joe Walsh, an attorney hired by the Army. After McCarthy launched a particularly brutal attack on a young soldier, Walsh famously asked, “Have you no sense of decency?” The man who I spoke with, his father had been in the Army. He had been serving at Los Alamos, when called before the un-American activities committee. I asked the man what had happened to his father. “Not much, he was transferred to Fort Leonard Wood,” here in Missouri.

That confrontation with Walsh marked the end of both McCarthy and Cohn’s political careers. Cohn returned to NYC and private practice, where for thirty years he hobnobbed with the rich, while doing their dirty work too. One up and coming lad who Cohn helped out and who was later described as what Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn’s love child would look like, was Donald Trump. It has been an interesting week, what with scandal erupting into impeachment proceedings. In conjunction with this play, I am reminded of the quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The play ends in 1989. The Berlin Wall has fallen and the Soviet Union is no more. With the help of Cohn’s cache of AZT, Prior is still living with AIDS after five years. The play ends at the Bethesda fountain in Central Park, where Prior promises that the great work begun will continue. 


Great Hall of the Library of Congress

To my mind during the past two years and nine months of his presidency, Donald Trump has done plenty to warrant his impeachment. All that has come before though, has been overshadowed in the last week, with what has come to be called the Ukraine scandal. Bribery, extortion and treason have been alleged, but because the administration has refused to release the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress, we are left with only allegations to contend with. Their refusal to inform Congress of this report is part of a much broader pattern where the administration has systematically stonewalled House requests for information on a large number of subjects. Subjects that Congress has the constitutional duty to investigate. This cover-up alone is more than sufficient to open a formal impeachment investigation. Plainly put, it is obstruction, which was more than enough to force Nixon’s removal. If through the course of an investigation additional criminal acts are discovered, like trying to extort Ukraine into make false charges against the leading Democratic presidential candidate, then the articles of impeachment can be amended. No man is above the law and certainly not a public servant.

Great Hall Ceiling, Library of Congress

Big Lift’s Happy River

Big Lift’s Happy River

NPR has been tracking retail prices, to gauge the effects of tariffs on consumer costs. They picked a particular Walmart in Georgia and compiled a shopping list of a 100 items. Items selected to run the gamut of all the many different things that Americans regularly buy. They published an article that compares the prices from a year ago to now. Here is a link to their article. Cod and cabbage lead the list with the largest jump in price, but these price increases have more to do with bad weather than with tariffs. While garlic, with the third largest price jump is a good example of the effects of tariffs. What got me interested in this subject, was the higher price of toilet paper that I had already noticed. Apparently, this price increase is not tariff related either, but is because of higher transportation costs for its raw material, wood pulp. Some things on their shopping list have gone down in price, but unfortunately I had failed for the most part to notice these changes. This is because for the most part I don’t but those items often enough to notice the changes. China’s reverse tariffs have forced down the price on some seafood items like shrimp and lobster. Even though Saint Louis is as landlocked as you can get, I’ll have to have to start shopping for more shellfish. Most of the items on the NPR list did not change in price.

The pictured salty is not likely to carry any of the shopping items on the NPR list. With its larger than normal cranes, it is designed to carry outsized cargos. A popular example of this type of cargo are wind turbine blades. With this ship’s name, Happy River, I leapt to the conclusion that it was of Chinese origin, but now I am not so sure. It was built in the Netherlands and was likely deadheading back down, after dropping off turbine blades that usually come from Germany.

I think that the protectionist trade policy that the current administration has adopted is horribly misguided. Trade wars are not easy to win. Especially, when you try to go mano a mano and all alone against a command economy. The latest round of US tariffs have been delayed until after the rush of this year’s holiday shopping season. That means that the real bite from tariffs won’t be felt until next year, which also happens to be an election year. We’ll see how happy voters are about getting a huge sales tax, just in time for next year’s election.