Eclipsicle Sunday

WEIRD WAYS TO OBSERVE THE ECLIPSE: During the Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, most of the USA will experience a partial eclipse. This means the bright surface of the sun will be only partially covered; the crescent shaped-part that sticks out from behind the Moon will be just as bright and blinding as ever. How do you observe such a thing? The answer many be found in your pantry:

“Try a water biscuit,” suggests Duncan Waldron of Brisbane, Australia. “Tiny holes in the cracker project very nice images of the crescent sun.”

Anything with tiny holes can be used to witness the eclipse. Other kitchen items that work are vegetable steamers and colanders (spaghetti strainers).

Or, just go outside and look at the ground. Beneath any leafy tree, you might be surprised to find hundreds of crescent-shaped sunbeams dappling the grass. Overlapping leaves create a myriad of natural little pinhole cameras, each one casting an image of the crescent-sun onto the ground beneath the canopy.

No trees? Try this trick: Criss-cross your fingers waffle-style and let the sun shine through the matrix of holes. You can cast crescent suns on sidewalks, driveways, friends, cats and dogs—you name it. This opens up a seldom-tapped well of possibilities for hand shadows, like the crescent-eyed turkey shown above.


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Psychopathic Saturday



It’s been quite some time since Americans—and citizens of other nations—had to worry about nuclear war during their daily lives. But it has taken just a few tweets and a couple of utterances from President Donald Trump to remind people that the planet can be turned into ashes by the act of one man. So perhaps Trump should be thanked for providing a sort of real-time public service announcement.

Yet Trump himself has no need for such a reminder. For decades, nuclear weapons—and the prospect of nuclear annihilation—have weighed upon his mind, as I pointed out several months ago. Unfortunately, the contradictory thoughts he has expressed on the subject—most notably that he would make a great nuclear arms negotiator and that nuclear war might indeed be inevitable—are not reassuring for anyone freaking out over the current Trump-generated tweet-crisis involving North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.

In a 1984 interview with the Washington Post, Trump, then merely a 38-year-old celebrity developer, shared his fantasies: He was hoping to build the “greatest hotel in the world” and construct the world’s “tallest” building in New York City—and one day become the United States’ chief negotiator with the Soviet Union for nuclear weapons. In between boasts of how rich and famous he was, Trump declared that he could negotiate a great nuclear arms deal with Moscow and said he wanted to head the US arms negotiating squad. “He says he has never acted on his nuclear concern,” the newspaper reported. “But he says that his good friend Roy Cohn, the flamboyant Republican lawyer, has told him this interview is a perfect time to start.”

David Corn @ MJ

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Teaching Thursday


Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

Just ask middle and high school students about their society’s basic institutions, courts, trial by jury, the law of wrongful injuries (tort law), or about their civil rights and liberties — and the duties that accompany these rights — and you’re likely to draw blank gazes. In 2006, a poll revealed that more high school students knew the names of the Three Stooges than the names of the three branches of government. Just last year after my address to the student assembly of a preparatory school, a small gathering of students who wanted to talk could not name their state’s governor, senators or representatives to Congress — notwithstanding the ballyhooed information source that is misnamed the “smartphone” in their hands.

The imbalance between the vocational emphasis in education and the civic experience is vast. Civics, as a topic, is not a standalone subject in most schools anymore. And where it is, the textbooks are so dry, dreary and self-censoring of controversial subjects that reading them is like reading a microwave oven manual.


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Wildlife Wednesday


Twas a gorgeous day in Micki’s garden…


…until Bambie the Browser showed up…


…then stayed for dinner.

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Kitty Cat Tuesday


You would be mad too if you had to dress like this!

All the world’s a stage, and all the cats are merely models: On Thursday afternoon, the Algonquin Hotel’s Annual Celebration & Cat Fashion Show took place, featuring fabulous felines decked out in outfits celebrating famous Broadway shows. Yes, that is the King of Siam from The King and I (though not a Siamese cat), and, indeed, there was a furry interpretation of a von Trapp child in lederhosen.
The beloved gathering of cats and the humans who love to dress them featured the first public appearance of the hotel’s new Algonquin Cat, Hamlet, as retiring Algonquin Cat Matilda III was serenaded by the cast of Cats.


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Deep Doodoo Monday


Although it is now common to assert – as a form of in-the-know mockery – that the notion of a “Deep State” in the U.S. was invented by Trump supporters only in the last year, the reality is that the U.S. Deep State has been reported on and openly discussed in numerous circles long before Trump. In 2010, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Dana Priest, along with Bill Arkin, published a three-part series which the paper entitled “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control.”

The Post series documented that the military-intelligence community “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.” The Post concluded that it “amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight.”

In 2014, mainstream national security journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady published a book entitled “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry,” which documented – in its own words – that “there is a hidden country within the United States,” one “formed from the astonishing number of secrets held by the government and the growing ranks of secret-keepers given charge over them.”

Glenn Greewald @ TI

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