Random Thoughts For A Saturday

I spend a lot of time reading so I come across articles that make me made, or amaze me or those that make me laugh out loud and since I do not have a subject for today I will give some random thoughts…..

Remember the days when you were smoking weed and when it was really exceptional quality you would say…”this is some good shit”!  Sure you do!

That statement may be more literal than you think……

Cannabis resin sold on the streets of Madrid is contaminated with dangerous levels of faecal matter, a study says.

Traces of E.coli bacteria and the Aspergillus fungus were found by analysts who examined 90 samples bought in and around the Spanish capital.

The samples of hashish were wrapped up in plastic “acorns” were the worst offenders, reportedly because of the way they are smuggled into the country.

Some 40% of these also had the aroma of faeces, the study’s lead author said.

Buying, selling and importing cannabis is against the law in Spain, as is using it in public – although it is technically legal to grow it for personal use, provided it is not publicly visible, and to consume it in private.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47811251

We Americans pride ourselves on our successful revolution for independence from England…..we have our “heroes” but we know very little about our revolting days……we know the general George Washington but can you name another?  How about General Pulaski?

Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community, may need a new pronoun — he may have been a she, or even a they.

Researchers who used DNA to identify Pulaski’s bones are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/revolutionary-war-hero-casimir-pulaski-might-have-been-woman-or-n991371

The general was a woman……that ought to get the juices flowing from those misogynists on the Right.

Finally….we have heard about “black holes” for decades but we have not been able to find them….all that changed this week…..

Mankind has now something it has never seen before: an image of “the most mysterious objects in the universe”—the black hole. On Wednesday, six simultaneous press conferences were held around the globe, in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo, reports Reuters. There, researchers shared the first result of the Event Horizon Telescope project, which in 2017 swiveled a network of radio telescopes worldwide to focus on the center of the galaxy Messier 87, or M87. “We now have visual evidence for a black hole,” they announced. Per a tweet from the Event Horizon ‘Scope, “The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun.”

  • More numbers: Per a press release, a black hole’s shadow is created by “the gravitational bending and capture of light by the event horizon,” the region around a black hole from which nothing, including light, can escape. “The shadow of a black hole is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, a completely dark object.” In this case, “the black hole’s boundary—the event horizon from which the EHT takes its name—is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km across.”
  • Wild similes: NPR says trying to view it by looking into the night sky from our planet would be like trying to spot a mustard seed in Washington, DC, from Brussels. The AFP likens it to taking a picture of a pebble on the moon from Earth.
  • The observations: The telescope array known as the Event Horizon Telescope saw radio observatories on six mountains across four continents study M87 over a 10-day period in April 2017. The New York Times reports they captured so much data—5,000 trillion bytes, reports CNN—that it couldn’t be sent over the internet and instead had to be transported on disks. Due to weather, the data from Antarctica couldn’t be flown out until December 2017.
  • More on the challenges: The Washington Post reports those hard drives from the South Pole had to be defrosted upon their arrival at MIT. And then there’s this detail: Astronomers “donned oxygen tanks and climbed three-mile-high mountains to escape the interference of Earth’s atmosphere.”
  • About Einstein: A beautiful explainer from the Times: “The image offered a final, ringing affirmation of an idea so disturbing that even Einstein, from whose equations black holes emerged, was loath to accept it. If too much matter is crammed into one place, the cumulative force of gravity becomes overwhelming, and the place becomes an eternal trap, a black hole. Here, according to Einstein’s theory, matter, space, and time come to an end and vanish like a dream.”

That is my round-up for a Saturday…..more to come……have a day……

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Sushi On The Plate

Let me continue this Sunday with a post about a fad…..a fad that has moved from a delicacy to an everyday fad you can find in supermarkets and stop and rob gas stations……..Sushi.

And while I am bitching about this I shall throw in a bit of history as well….

Years ago there was a Mexican Eatery on every corner…then Starbucks appeared and recently the fad is Japanese and the every popular Sushi

To me it is a plate of bait….I mean I do not eat cooked fish so raw squid is out of the damn question all together.

This trend has become extremely popular and every Japanese eatery has a Sushi Bar as a national pride thing……

The truth is that Sushi is NOT Japanese in origin…..nope it is Vietnamese……….

On the morning of 5 January 2019, gasps of amazement rippled through Tokyo’s cavernous fish market. In the first auction of the new year, Kiyoshi Kimura – the portly owner of a well-known chain of sushi restaurants – had paid a record ¥333.6 million (£2.5 million) for a 278kg bluefin tuna. Even he thought the price was exorbitant. A bluefin tuna that size would have normally cost him around ¥2.7 million (£18,700). At New Year, that could rise to around ¥40 million (£279,000). Back in 2013, he’d paid no less than ¥155.4 million (£1.09 million) for a 222kg specimen: a lot, to be sure. But still a lot less than what he’d just paid. 

It was worth paying over the odds, though. It was, by any standards, a beautiful fish – ‘so tasty and fresh’, as a beaming Mr Kimura told the world’s press. It was also a rarity. Though not as critically endangered as its southern relatives, the Pacific bluefin tuna is classified as a vulnerable species and, over the past six years, efforts have been made to limit the size of catches. Most of all, it was great advertising. By paying such a colossally high price for a tuna, Kimura was telling the world that, at his restaurants, the sushi is made from only the very best fish.

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/historians-cookbook/short-history-sushi

Funny how that worked out……

Learn Stuff!

Enjoy your day.

Women Of The Middle Ages

It is a Sunday and it is Women’s History Month….so the old professor wants to educate and possibly irritate some…..

There were 12 famous women of the Middle Ages….Joan of Arc et al…..

Women in the Middle Ages were frequently characterized as second-class citizens by the Church and the patriarchal aristocracy. Women’s status was somewhat elevated in the High and Late Middle Ages when the cult of the Virgin Mary, combined with the romantic literature of courtly love, altered the cultural perception of women but, even so, women were still considered inferior to men owing to biblical narratives and the teachings of the Church.  

 

There were many famous women throughout these three eras but the following twelve are among the best-known:

https://www.ancient.eu/article/1350/twelve-famous-women-of-the-middle-ages/

Learn Stuff!

Enjoy your day…..the garden awaits for me and MoMo…..

Class Dismissed!

The Worst In History

Closing Thought–14Mar19

Every president is ranked by a group over 200 presidential historians…..and the newest survey is out…..

The result were posted by Sharedblue Media……..

Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes. But on Presidents Day, he finally won something fair and square: the title of worst president ever.

According to the “Presidential Greatness Survey” published Monday by the American Political Science Association, Trump is ranked 44th out of 44 presidents. The survey counts President Grover Cleveland’s non-consecutive administrations as a single presidency, thus sparing Trump from being ranked one spot lower.

The survey also ranked President Obama 8th overall, making him the the greatest living president, one spot ahead of Ronald Reagan.

But even among Republican respondents to the survey, Trump could only manage a ranking of 40th out of 44, edging out James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison — who died in office just one month into his first term — and Andrew Johnson.

By contrast, President Obama’s first appearance in this survey in 2014 placed him at 18th, and a group of 238 presidential historians ranked Obama 15th after his first year in office.

Trump’s first year in office has been marked by historically low approval numbers, an embarrassing trend that was continued by a five-point drop in his weekly approval rating from Gallup.

If there is any consolation for Trump, it’s that he can’t possibly drop any lower in this ranking during whatever time he has left in office.

I am sure that somewhere on the “web” there are people that will disagree and the excuse will be “fake news” or a conspiracy by those “liberal” academics….or some other equally ridiculous belief……so I say to them…”Sorry your bromance sucks as a president”……..

Turn The Page!

Summits: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Our Beloved Supreme Leader just had a horrible and unproductive meeting (some call it a “summit”) with North Korea’s Kim…..but to listen to his rhetoric it was a success with the Dems trying to hang some criminality around his neck……but what of the so-called “summits”…….

Let’s step back to the beginning……

As far as is known, the first professional diplomatic corps appeared in the Byzantine Empire following the collapse of Rome in 476 AD. Byzantium established the world’s first department of foreign affairs, developed strict and complex diplomatic protocols, and actively sought intelligence about friend and enemy alike. Surrounded by enemies, Byzantium needed all the skill in diplomacy it could muster.

The art of diplomacy was carried to the next higher (some might say lower) plane in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Italian city-states of the era engaged in constant intrigues against each other. During this era, diplomacy became identified with behind-the-scenes scheming, duplicity, and double-dealing. Niccolo Machiavelli of Florence, whom many consider the father of “realist” views of the international system, stressed in his book The Prince (1532) that rulers should use whatever means they had at their disposal to stay in power.

https://www.diplomaticourier.com/from-ancient-greek-diplomacy-to-modern-summitry/

Summits and summitry have their uses in a modern foreign policy…a constructive foreign policy (there’s the rub….we, the US, no longer has a constructive foreign policy)…….

It should not be regarded as an instant elixir for the assuagement of crises to dissimulate relief from the realities of inter-governmental ailment (1979, p. 186).

To begin with, this essay will discuss both on some of the possible strengths and flaws of the different types summits. It also argues on how summitry can be infused as a tool of a constructive means of diplomacy and it will also unearth some factors that could help determine the success of summits. The first part of this essay discusses on how summitry could be a tool in the engagement of public diplomacy and followed by with an insight on how timing is crucial in initiating a summit. Meanwhile, the second part of this essay details on how summitry could provide an opportunity for state leaders to administrate and show their capabilities in winning a summit.

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/politics/summitry-analysis-diplomacy-7750.ph

This is where the Trump summits go off the rail…..a summit should NOT be an elixir for a solution to whatever problem it tries to address.

And yet Trump himself billed his “summits” as a solution to North Korea’s rush to nuke weapons…..

So far nothing but a few exchanged “love” between the two leaders and the search for nukes continued…

Summits are a diplomatic tool not necessarily the end of the search of solutions to problems….something someone needs to teach to our president….maybe then he would stop embarrassing the country on the world stage.

Closing Thought–25Feb19

WE have been bombarded with the possibility the our president might have committed some crime or another…..plus so many of his advisers have been convicted and others are awaiting trial….all that got me to thinking…..how does other presidential administrations stack up against the Trump as far as people and crime?

And now for your history lesson…(damn you knew that was going, right?)

DAMN!  Did you know that GOP administrations are 38 times more criminal than that of the Dems?

38 times!

Republican administrations have vastly more corruption than Democratic administrations. We provide new research on the numbers to make the case.

We compared 28 years each of Democratic and Republican administrations, 1961-2016, five Presidents from each party. During that period Republicans scored eighteen times more individuals and entities indicted, thirty-eight times more convictions, and thirty-nine times more individuals who had prison time.

Given the at least 17 active investigations plaguing President Trump, he is on a path to exceed previous administrations, though the effects of White House obstruction, potential pardons, and the as-yet unknown impact of the GOP’s selection of judges may limit investigations, subpoenas, prosecutions, etc. Of course, as we are comparing equal numbers of Presidents and years in office from the Democratic and Republican parties, the current President is not included.

We’re aware some of our numbers differ from other totals, but we explain our criteria below.

https://rantt.com/gop-admins-had-38-times-more-criminal-convictions-than-democrats-1961-2016/

If we look back at our history then the troubles with the Trump administrations should be nothing of a surprise.

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

Say Good-Bye To The Shah

I have to go to the doctor this morning so I leave (for now) with a history lesson (was that an eye roll?)

40 years on and the US is still slobbering to return to the days of the Shah…but the Fall……

the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, we published an articleexplaining what the revolution can teach us about the economic and political problems facing Iran now. Today, I’d like to focus on the geopolitical implications of the revolution that saw the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It was a formidable time for the country, but the existing geopolitics of the region remained largely intact.

Most observers didn’t expect the shah to fall, although many claimed afterward that they had predicted it. The shah, who was essentially installed by the United States and Britain, was used as a bulwark of the American containment strategy. He unseated democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who the U.S. feared was aligned with the Soviets, and helped to block Soviet access to the Persian Gulf. He claimed to be the heir to the Iranian monarchy, but in reality, he sat on the throne because of a coup staged in 1925 by his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, a military officer who himself had no connections to the long line of Persian monarchs.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi enjoyed immense wealth but left his people profoundly unsatisfied, both economically and spiritually. Emulating Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, his father had sought a secular, militarist and authoritarian path to modernization. Iran’s merchant class didn’t care much about the modernization plans and demanded a cut of the country’s wealth. The shah appeared indifferent to their plight.

Khomeini did not. He bound up the grievances of the merchants and the peasants with the tenets of Shiite Islam. While sitting in exile in Paris, he sent copies of his sermons and speeches in which he laid out how the shah had betrayed Islam and stolen the wealth of the nation through his lavish and lascivious lifestyle. Experts dismissed him and the growing dissatisfaction, believing that discontent was a constant reality in Iran and that the shah could contain it.

From the American point of view, the shah was a great comfort. In 1973, OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, had cut off oil shipments to the United States and parts of Europe. At the time, the Saudis were involved in the Arab-Israeli War and sought to outflank Soviet-sponsored Arab movements, especially Palestinian ones. The Soviets had supported coups in Iraq and Syria and backed paramilitary groups from both countries that were formally designed to confront Israel but were actually far more focused on Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia could be destabilized and the flow of oil interrupted, the Soviets thought, the position of the United States and Western Europe would be vastly weakened.

But the Saudis beat the Soviets to the punch by imposing an oil embargo themselves, undercutting Soviet attempts to make it appear that Saudi Arabia was an American puppet. The price of oil soared, creating a global recession. For the United States, the embargo was a mixture of pain and pleasure. On one hand, it caused massive economic disruption. On the other, it was Saudi Arabia, not a Soviet-linked Palestinian group, presiding over an Arab renaissance.

Iran, an enemy of Saudi Arabia, continued to ship oil to the West and made a lot of money in the process, which it largely spent on defense. There was serious talk of Iran becoming a regional hegemon and a nuclear power. The U.S. didn’t vigorously object to any of this. Given the global oil shortage, even after the embargo had ended, the United States had two overriding interests: to contain the Soviet Union and its apparent proxy, Iraq, and to ensure access to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. intelligence worked closely with SAVAK, the shah’s intelligence service. The agency became Washington’s chief source of information on Iran – but SAVAK didn’t transmit any warning about the uprising to the U.S., either because it didn’t want to or because it didn’t anticipate the level of the unrest. Moreover, the United States’ other intelligence sources in Iran were part of the elite – the higher the sources, the greater the knowledge they can share, or so the U.S. believed. The problem, however, was that the elites were profiting from their ties to the regime and so were unlikely to reveal evidence of its demise until it was too late.

More important, it’s not easy to find sources who know when uprisings will occur and how they will turn out. The last people to know the shah was going to fall were those in the powerful classes, on whom the U.S. relied for intelligence. The idea that an extreme Shiite leader, sitting in exile in Paris, could manage an uprising against the man who could have brought the country to regional hegemony ran counter to all notions of power and continuity in Washington. President Jimmy Carter went out of his way to show his support for the shah almost to the end. It was inconceivable that the powerful would not remain powerful, or that a trained army could not defeat a rabble of protesters.

Those outside the government were equally deluded. Human rights groups loathed the shah for torturing and murdering his people. They made the same mistake that similar groups often make: believing that if a vile government is overthrown, what replaces it will be better. To appease his dissenters, Khomeini appointed a moderate, Mehdi Bazargan, as prime minister. But Bazargan’s liberal positions came into conflict with those of the radical Shiites who controlled the revolution, and his government fell.

The U.S. learned two lessons from this experience. First, you can’t rely solely on official intelligence sources to figure out what’s happening on the ground. Sometimes, the most valuable piece of intel is the reality staring you in the face. Second, geopolitics can be shifted but not obliterated. Iran under an Islamic regime was as hostile to Iraq and the Saudis and ambivalent toward the Kurds as it was under a secular one. Some things changed (Iran became hostile toward the United States), but other things stayed the same (its tensions with the Soviets continued). And as hostile as the U.S.-Iran relationship became, the U.S. continued to help supply Iran with weapons (hence the Iran-Contra affair). Geopolitically, regime change doesn’t alter as much as you might expect.

I’m still surprised at the failure of truly intelligent men and women in and out of government to understand that the shah was about to fall. In the 1980s, many of us were equally unable to grasp that the Soviets were hanging on for dear life. What is so obvious in retrospect was shrouded in the moment. But it shouldn’t have been. It was there for all to see, but recognizing it required looking behind the appearance of power and breaking the habit of believing that things always stay the same. The fall of the shah meant many things, but the failure to foresee his demise was ultimately about a lack of imagination and the inability to grasp that what was true yesterday might not be true tomorrow.

Your history lesson is complete…….and now a Neocon assessment of Iran…..

Forr almost two years, before President Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in December 2018, the Trump administration pursued an Iran policy based on the use of all instruments of national power to stop Tehran from engaging in a wide array of aggressive and malign behaviors that defy global norms. In his May 21, 2018 speech, “A New Iran Strategy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Iran to end verifiably its nuclear weapons and advanced ballistic missile programs, cease its support for terrorism and the destabilization of foreign governments, release all hostages, and halt its aggression against Israel and other U.S. allies.1

To achieve these objectives, the administration designed a strategy to pressure the regime – diplomatically, economically, and militarily. To that end, the administration walked away from the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and reinstated the comprehensive sanctions that had forced Iran to the negotiating table in 2013. The focal point of U.S. strategy was to intensify the Iranian regime’s ongoing liquidity crisis, which threatened to cripple its economy as a whole. The secretary of state also insisted the U.S. “will advocate tirelessly for the Iranian people,” who endure grave human rights violations and pervasive corruption. The Trump administration made it clear that it did not seek regime change, but would take advantage of the Islamic Republic’s deficit of legitimacy. In short, the U.S. purported to implement a policy of maximum pressure.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2019/01/31/midterm-assessment-iran/

According to the Neocons we should fear Iran…….but they prefer bullsh*t to facts…..