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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 28, 2020

Why should you wear a mask? Wrongo’s FB friend (an MD) explained it well:

 “We don’t wear the mask to keep ourselves safe or even to make other people comfortable. We wear masks so the germs that spill out of the holes in our faces via water droplets and aerosols get caught in the mask and don’t get into other people’s eyes, nose or mouth or land on their wounds, clothes, hands or face….That way transmissions end with us. We stop the spread and can go about life almost like usual. Masks are also a great visual reminder of what’s going on…people stay back a bit. I actually wonder if that visual reminder is what so many people hate about masks. Do they want to pretend this is not happening or not a big deal or that they aren’t utterly failing society in every way?”

From Pew Research: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are about twice as likely as Republicans and Republican leaners to say that masks should be worn always (63% vs. 29%). Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say that masks should rarely or never be worn (23% vs. 4%).

Republicans also are less likely than Democrats to say they have worn masks in stores or other businesses always or most of the time in the past month.”

Fact Tank says that only 49% of conservative Republicans say they have worn a mask all or most of the time in the past month, compared with 60% of moderate Republicans.

All of this explains where the virus is expanding:

Wearing a mask is more threatening than an attack by terrorists:

Europe thinks we should wear masks:

A tough year gets tougher:

Times like these call for better drinking choices:

The presidential race is shaping up to be a real fight:

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Who Should Fight America’s Pandemics?

The Daily Escape:

Lightning strikes with rainbow, Dickinson, ND – photo by Lightcrafterartistry

COVID-19? Nobody thought anything like this would ever happen. Wrong. Lots of people did. From VOX:

“Per capita, the United States is currently seeing about twice as many confirmed coronavirus cases as Canada and about 30 percent more deaths.”

The key difference between the US and Canada says David Fisman an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto:

“We have a federal government that is supporting provinces’ responses….You have a chief executive who is directly undermining the public health response.”

Politics and politicians by definition, are always in the loop in a national emergency. Yesterday, we talked about how civic-minded politicians stand aside, letting the experts decide strategy. Then they help the experts by making the government work to support the strategy. And they then help with communicating priorities to citizens.

Our national response to the pandemic has been mostly incompetent. The wealthiest, most scientifically advanced country in history has been brought to its knees by a virus it knew was coming. As late as 2016, we had a coordinated national strategy to combat pandemics.

What can we do to insure we do a better job in the future?

This has been a hot topic in pundit land for the past few weeks. There are two threads of discussion: First, make the US military the leader in fighting pandemics. Alternatively, an “empowered” civilian agency or possibly, an empowered public-private partnership should direct the fight.

Let’s start by talking about how civilian government agencies might do a better job, if they were “empowered” and also funded. In 2005, GW Bush said: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare….we need medical personnel and adequate supplies of equipment…In a pandemic, everything from syringes to hospital beds, respirators masks and protective equipment would be in short supply….If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine on line quickly and manufacture enough to immunize every American against the pandemic strain…”

Bush thought it would take $7 billion to build out his plan, plus annual appropriations thereafter. But that wasn’t supported by Congress. Obama built on Bush’s plan, but his efforts also were not sustained by a Tea Party Congress. Trump’s FY 2021 budget proposal reduces CDC funding by 16%. It was submitted just 11 days after the WHO declared the Coronavirus a public health emergency.

What should we be doing? First, we need to invest in ourselves, to break our reliance on offshore sources of PPE and pharmaceuticals. We saw that China stopped exporting PPE to the US, husbanding it for their own needs, and subsequently, showing a preference for shipping these goods to nations they perceived as friendlier.

Second, we need to empower an elite governmental team to combat a pandemic. The 2014 Ebola outbreak told us we needed a health security infrastructure. By 2016, America had coordinated an “all-government response” to the next pandemic. Laurie Garrett, a science journalist summed up the infrastructure created by Obama as a:

 “…special elite corps inside of the National Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and CDC…an emergency capacity for surge drug approval at FDA… a lot of co-ordination with the states… a division that was doing nothing but training hospitals in infection control and appropriate epidemic responses… and…Study on how to surge hospital beds, how to surge physicians out of retirement…”

Sounds great, no? It needs to be rebuilt if we are to have effective control of our pandemic response.

The story of using the military also begins with Garrett. In September 2014, she briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how the US military could help the countries affected by Ebola. She says that this was:

“…unprecedented in US history; we’d never mobilized US military for a medical response like that before”.

But today, the military wants the job. From Roll Call:

“To many lawmakers, the Defense Department is an attractive place to fund medical programs, partly because the defense budget is so large and enjoys support from both political parties, especially Republicans.”

Congress not only funds the NIH, it also provides $1 billion a year for DOD research labs looking into cures and treatments for cancers and other diseases.

Going forward, the military would like to see an increased focus on health as a part of national security. The debate is not a matter of either health security, or military security, it has to be both.

With a new administration, we need to think beyond stimulus packages, to fundamentally rethink what national security means. In the next pandemic, we can’t be scrambling for enough face masks to protect our medical professionals and hoping that the military can save us.

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Monday Wake Up Call – April 27, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Harvest Moon over Bisti Badlands, south of Farmington, NM – 2019 photo by navidj.

Question: How many Americans have died from COVID-19? A: 54,024 as of Sunday.

Question: How many Americans died in the Vietnam War? A: 58,220.

Barring a miracle, we will pass that Vietnam milestone this week. By then, there will be more than one million confirmed cases, and 60,000 deaths in the US. Can we take a minute, and try to place the Coronavirus in the context of the dead and broken bodies from Vietnam?

Vietnam took ten years to reach that horrible number, while COVID-19 has met it in less than three months. Wrongo served during the Vietnam War. It was a trying time for all Americans. We were disunited at home, at much at war with each other, as with the Viet Cong. It scarred at least a generation, and there are still victims of both the domestic and foreign fights among us.

Today’s fight against the Coronavirus may become the current generation of 20-something’s Vietnam. Jobs won’t come back quickly, friends and family are dying, and the lack of testing and a vaccine will make life scarier for young people than for any other group.

Like Vietnam did to the boomers, Coronavirus could scar young people for years to come.

As we head into month four of the outbreak, we know that we are undercounting deaths. The Economist reported on one aspect of the undercount early in April, comparing cardiac arrest deaths in NYC to the historical average:

Are the increased rate of cardiac arrest deaths really COVID-19 deaths? A strong case can be made that they are. Back to the Economist, who says that the outbreak will be worse in the South: (emphasis and parenthesis by Wrongo)

“Places with older residents and more diabetes, heart disease and smoking have higher CFRs (case-to-fatality rates)…..Counties with lots of poor or black people tend to have more health problems, less social distancing and fewer ICU beds. Yet CFRs in such areas are even higher than you would expect from these factors alone.

Together, these variables leave a geographic footprint….the highest death rates will probably…be…in poor, rural parts of the South and Appalachia with high rates of heart disease and diabetes. Worryingly, the three states that announced plans this week to relax their lockdowns (Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina) are all in this region.”

It didn’t have to be like this. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but in the end, the single most important factor in America’s disaster of a response was the lack of early testing. That will be a greater disaster if we fail to keep growing testing as the lockdowns end.

One thing that’s difficult to comprehend is the lack of empathy for the dead and their families and friends by some Americans. Most can rouse themselves to celebrate the first responders, health care workers, and “essential” workers, but not all can.

The WaPo has analyzed all of Trump’s Coronavirus briefings, and found this:

“The president has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 briefings held since March 16, eating up 60% of the time that officials spoke….Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims.”

Trump has not even ordered American flags lowered in tribute to the dead, while some governors have. New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo both did in April. As Susan B. Glasser said in the New Yorker:

“Trump, who has in the past personally asked for the flags to be lowered after a shooting or a politician’s death, can’t even bring himself to do this much for victims of the coronavirus.”

Time to wake up, America! We must tread carefully for the next few months, because we truly know very little about the virus. For example, there’s no evidence that Coronavirus antibodies prevent reinfection.

To help you wake up, listen to “Road to Nowhere” written by David Byrne for the 1985 Talking Heads album “Little Creatures”. Here, it’s performed in 2012 by David Byrne and St. Vincent, live in Paris with a brass band:

Sample Lyric:

Well, we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Should America Be Reopening Now?

The Daily Escape:

Poppies, Antelope Valley, CA – 2020 photo by user_greg. Part of the annual spring “super bloom” in CA.

Given Trump’s decision to open the country to walking around while infected, it’s becoming clear that for the administration, the business of America is strictly business.

But this is wrong. In a pandemic, the business of America is not business; it’s public health. Absent public confidence that the virus is at least under control, many businesses and workers won’t be comfortable heading back to work, no matter what politicians say:

“More than eight in 10 voters, 81%, say Americans “should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy…. Democrats (89%) are more likely than Republicans (72%) to say Americans should continue the “social distancing” measures”

Looks like Trump holds a minority view. To see if there was any concrete basis for saying the US was in a position to reopen soon, Wrongo looked at the COVID-19 Tracking Project’s state-level numbers, and subtracted the terrible NY numbers from the rest. Here’s the result:

The conclusion is that NY isn’t all that terrible compared to the rest of the US. It has a decreasing share of America’s total infections and deaths. But the highlighted rate of increase in deaths in the rest of the US since April 12th should concern the White House.

In fact, the seven-day average for growth in new cases shows that cases in the rest of the US are growing faster. NY is growing at 5.27%, while the rest of US is growing at 5.83%.

And the news from the places without lockdowns isn’t good. Politico reports that hot spots have erupted in farm belt states where governors insist lockdowns aren’t needed:

“The only hospital in Grand Island, Neb., is full. The mayor…asked for a statewide stay-at-home order that the GOP governor insists isn’t needed. More than one-third of those tested for coronavirus in the surrounding county are positive — and there aren’t enough tests to go around.

Grand Island is the fourth-biggest city in a state President Donald Trump and his top health officials repeatedly [say is]…keeping the virus at bay without the strict lockdowns 42 other states have imposed.”

New cases in Nebraska and in Iowa, South Dakota and other parts of the heartland are starting to spike. This should be raising concerns about whether we’re controlling the disease. Here’s Nebraska’s Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts saying that voluntary social distancing is working: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“This is a program that depends on people exercising personal responsibility and their civic duty….This is about making that decision, not the heavy hand of government taking away your freedoms.”

All of a sudden, as if they saw the bat signal, Republicans want to do the “Live Free or Die” thing. From the Daily Beast:

“A protest movement is taking hold targeting states that have extended social-distancing rules, closed schools, and restricted access to large religious gatherings. And it’s being fed by loyalists and political allies of President Donald Trump.”

This seems to be “spontaneous” support for Trump’s effort to reopen the economy.

In Michigan, a demonstration called “Operation Gridlock” protested Governor Whitmer’s shelter-at-home orders. Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in America, and the lockdown lowered infections. But Republicans criticize the order. Several thousand cars blocked the Lansing streets to protest what they see as an infringement of their liberty.

A lot of calories are going into the open vs. lockdown debate. It’s all a waste of time. How will we get a healthy economy if we eliminate the lockdown before we have any chance of stopping the mass transmission of this disease?

People aren’t staying at home because governments told them to. They’re doing it because it’s not safe to be out there. They aren’t going to go to work willingly in crowded offices, or travel, or attend concerts unless the danger is visibly lessened. And the economy will not recover until people are willing to do these things.

It’s not about flipping a switch. Businesses reopening will happen in small steps, as public health officials and political leaders, especially mayors and governors (and businesses), work to establish the basic conditions for a return to economic activity.

The bottom line is that the people are in control. We had to be convinced to stay home, and now we’ll have to be convinced to go out.

You go first, should be the people’s mantra. Trump should go back to holding MAGA rallies immediately. He should put his life and those of his supporters, where his mouth is.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – March 29, 2020

“To prevent the Black Death spreading in the 14th century, all ships thought to be infected were isolated for 40 days to prevent the spread of the disease. In fact, the word quarantine comes from the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning ’40 days’”.  via Ilargi

Some math. $2 trillion from Congress, and $4 trillion from the Federal Reserve so far is how much per family? 83.5 million families divided into $6 trillion = $71,856 per family of new national debt. Hard to know exactly, but households are likely to see only about $3,400 of that $71,856, assuming it is a two-person, two-kid family that makes under $150,000/year. Your mileage may vary.

This shows that our government has once again misdistributed the stimulus. Isn’t it always the case that in a crisis, our Crisis Capitalism government never misses a chance to give money to the corporations and the rich? Why is it so difficult to distribute the funds more equitably? Because they want to distribute as little as possible to the people.

Don’t you think that Trump should wait until every state has all the tests, medical gear and ventilators they need before he starts prognosticating on what date we can all return to normal lives?

As part of his deflecting of responsibility, Trump blames Obama for not stockpiling medical masks during his presidency. But Trump has been president for the past three years, he owns the stockpile. Clearly, he made no effort to add new medical masks in his time in office. He owns the shortage.

NY Governor Cuomo has shown miles more leadership ability than Trump in dealing with the crisis. He’s been blunt, factual, and realistic. In contrast, Trump has downplayed and lied about the pandemic. On to cartoons.

Anything you need in order to revive the bull:

Trump’s driving the Death Train:

The pandemic shows that our safety net is full of holes:

Hypocrisy begins with the GOP:

Our new reality:

Stay at home used to be for the timid:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 29, 2018

They found water on Mars. It appears to be salt water. Maybe we’ll build a giant desalinization device, and a few survivors of this hell on earth can give a fresh start to humanity on Mars. Also, Russian scientists found nematodes in Siberia that have been frozen for nearly 42,000 years. With climate change, they were visible to scientists. A few came back to life in the lab:

After being defrosted, the nematodes showed signs of life, said a report today from Yakutia, the area where the worms were found. ‘They started moving and eating.’ One worm came from an ancient squirrel burrow in a permafrost wall of the Duvanny Yar outcrop in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River….Another was found in permafrost near Alazeya River in 2015, and is around 41,700 years old….They are both believed to be female.

Both of those news items are more believable than much of what we hear from Washington, DC these days. For example, Trump’s speech to the Veterans this week included his caution about believing the news media. That led to this cartoon by Darin Bell:

And consider the gloating about “historic growth” in GDP by Trump. John Harwood schools us on the data:

If you think that’s fake news, check out the data.

Trump went off on Iran. What could be behind President Rouhani’s provocations?

Michael Cohen stayed in the news again this week. He’s gonna get a TV series:

Tariffs are always a tax on consumers. Donny is here to collect:

Americans no longer have unlimited voting rights, or election security in the US. This is believable:

Establishment Democrats always react the same way:

Wrongo isn’t on board with the democratic socialism platform, but he believes that corporations should be subjected to tighter regulations. They should pay more in taxes. They should be forced to reimburse the people for the deleterious impacts of their activities, like cleaning up factory sites that have polluted the land.

And every American should have access to healthcare, childcare, and some form of employment. We could make the choice to provide a free education to every American if it were a higher priority than new bombers, or aircraft carriers. ICE should be reformed, not abolished.

Establishment Democrats are trying to scare voters away from candidates who support the democratic socialism agenda. They should relax, democratic socialism isn’t about taking everything what you have away, and making it government-owned.

When you consider the perils and benefits of democratic socialism, you should think about Europe. Five of the top 10 happiest nations in the world (according to the UN) are Scandinavian: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden. And they are all democracies.

Ever since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset the 4th ranking House Democrat by running on a democratic socialist platform, Dems worry that what worked in the Bronx won’t work in Kansas. They’re right, it won’t work in Kansas. That’s why candidates need to run on issues that are important to their districts. A voter in Kansas is probably more concerned over the price of wheat than he is about gay marriage.

But, running on the economy and jobs works everywhere.

Ocasio-Cortez campaigned with Bernie Sanders in Kansas. James Thompson, a centrist Democrat running for Congress in Kansas, said she might as well come out, because the local Republicans were going to call him a socialist anyway.

Democrats were called socialists in 1992 when Bill Clinton won. They shouldn’t panic – they should own the accusation.

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NIH Lifts Ban on Deadly Virus Research

The Daily Escape:

Nature tells us that while we were talking breathlessly about Trump’s tax cuts, on Tuesday, the US government lifted ban on risky pathogen research:

The National Institutes of Health will again fund research that makes viruses more dangerous. The US government has lifted its controversial ban on funding experiments that make certain pathogens more deadly or transmissible.

The research that will now get government funding involves three viruses: Influenza, SARS, and MERS, viruses that could kill millions if they mutated in a way that let the germs spread quickly among people.

More from Nature:

The NIH announcement ends a moratorium on what is called gain-of-function research that began in October 2014. Back then, some researchers argued that the agency’s ban…was too broad. The 21 projects halted by the policy included studies of seasonal flu and efforts to develop vaccines.

The NIH eventually allowed 10 of these studies to proceed, but three projects using the MERS virus and eight dealing with flu remained ineligible for US government grants, until now.

Biologists say they need to alter these viruses in the lab to understand what genetic changes matter in starting pandemics, allowing them to understand the risks, and get prepared. But some of their past efforts to tinker with viruses have made other scientists uneasy.

In 2011, scientists revealed that they had deliberately made forms of a deadly bird flu that could spread easily among ferrets, a stand-in for people in flu studies. Critics argued that the knowledge gained wasn’t worth the danger of creating a super flu that might escape the lab. In early 2012, virologists agreed to put a voluntary moratorium on their bird flu work that was supposed to last only 60 days, but ended up lasting more than a year.

Now, these scientists will once again get federal money to conduct ‘gain-of-function’ research on pathogens such as influenza viruses. But the agency also said that researchers’ grant applications will undergo greater scrutiny than in the past. NIH Director Francis Collins said the goal is to standardize:

A rigorous process that we really want to be sure we’re doing right…

Nature quotes Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, who says that gain-of-function studies:

Have done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics — yet they risked creating an accidental pandemic…

He argues that such experiments should not take place at all. But if the government is going to fund them, there needs to be the extra level of review that NIH seems prepared to implement.

Really, what could go wrong? We still don’t know precisely how weaponized anthrax that was used to attack several news media offices and two Democratic Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others, escaped from the government’s bio-defense labs at Fort Detrick in Maryland, one week after the 9/11 attack.

OTOH, basic scientific research is a public good. Samuel Stanley, the president of NY’s Stony Brook University told NPR:

Basic research on these agents by laboratories that have shown they can do this work safely is key to global security…

We’ve got to trust that the NIH will select scientists and labs that have rigorous containment procedures and manage the process to insure that what could become the world’s most dangerous bio-weapons remain safely locked away.

On to more Christmas music! Let’s listen and watch the Royal Choral Society perform the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. The Royal Choral Society has performed Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday at the Royal Albert Hall every year since 1876. We seem to like it at Christmas. This performance is from April, 2012:

This music lifts your heart up and can help wipe away the hate in the world.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 23, 2017

Sorry for the lack of columns; Wrongo has an acute case of Trump Fatigue. It is difficult to: a) think of anyone or anything else, and b) when writing a column, everything seems linked to every other thing, and none of you want to read a thousand-word rant. On to the rich harvest of cartoons.

Le Pen’s ballots in today’s election in France may be enough to force the big box to open:

The March for Science, unsurprisingly, has opposition:

 

It isn’t enough to just think about the planet on Earth Day:

Fox replaces O’Reilly with another loser:

Why do we still call it the Presidency when the differences are so stark?

Why would millions of people willingly watch a real-time murder?

 

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Saturday Soother – March 11, 2017

(Wrongo and family are repositioning from a week at our annual [comparatively] low-rent  Mar-a-Lago equivalent to the Northeast. As a result, there will not be Sunday Cartoon Blogging or a Monday Wake Up Call this week)

The Daily Escape:

(Photo by Wrongo. Friday sunrise, 6:30 am)

With Trumpworld continuing to both amaze and depress, you need a soother today more than ever. Grab a hot cuppa something and take a walk on the beach with Wrongo. Here are two random thoughts that seeped into Wrongo’s consciousness while on the beach in 75° for the past few days:

Ancient DNA found in the dental plaque of Neandertals shows that they used plant-based forms of aspirin and penicillin. They’re the ones that went extinct, while it took us another 40,000 years to discover penicillin.

In 1943, a US destroyer accompanying the USS Iowa that was carrying FDR, fired a torpedo at the President. That destroyer, the USS William D. Porter, was only in service for two years, and had many mishaps in its short life. The flotilla was secretly taking FDR to Europe, and were maintaining radio silence as they sailed through waters thought to contain German U-boats. Not long into the journey, there was a massive explosion that shook the little fleet. All of the ships immediately began anti-submarine maneuvers. The chaos continued until the William Porter admitted that a depth charge had fallen off of the stern of their ship. The safety on the charge had mistakenly not been set, and when it crashed into the rough sea, it detonated.

Soon after detonating the depth charge, a huge wave smashed into the Porter, washing a man overboard, never to be seen again. As a result of the wave, the engine room lost power in one of its boilers. The mission, which had demanded total silence, turned into a fiasco of hourly reporting by the William Porter to the Iowa.

And it got worse. On Nov. 14th, the four ships were east of Bermuda when FDR wanted to test the defenses of the Iowa in the event that they came under an air attack. The crew of the Iowa launched weather balloons to simulate anti-aircraft targets, and fired its guns.

The Porter’s crew shot at the balloons the Iowa had missed. They also practiced torpedo drills, taking practice shots at the Iowa, which was 6,000 yards away. During live torpedo drills, the tube primers, (small explosive charges), were supposed to be removed for practice, but one torpedo man forgot to remove the primer from one of the torpedo tubes. The torpedo officer ordered the fake firing command, and an armed and launched torpedo whizzed across the sea straight toward the Iowa.

When Roosevelt heard that a torpedo was zooming toward him, he asked to be moved by his wheelchair over to the railing so that he could see it. Fearing an assassination plot, the Iowa turned its guns on the William D. Porter, but the crisis ended when the torpedo detonated as it struck heavy waves created by the Iowa’s increased speed.

After calm was restored, the torpedo man, Lawton Dawson, confessed to having accidentally left the primer in the torpedo tube and then attempting to conceal the evidence by throwing the primer overboard. An inquiry proved that the situation was merely a string of unfortunate events and the information was kept from the public.

Dawson was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor, and the rest of the crew’s careers were to be ended, but Roosevelt intervened, asking that no punishments be levied on the crew for the series of accidents.

Later, the William D. Porter was reassigned to the Aleutian Islands for a simple patrol mission. However the William D. Porter’s crew accidentally shot a five-inch artillery shell that landed on the base commander’s front yard: Situation Normal, all Fucked Up.

In honor of our stay at the beach, where we had remarkable sunrises daily, here is The Cyrkle with their 1966 song “Red Rubber Ball“. Few know that it was co-written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley of The Seekers. The tune hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band had one more Top 20 hit, “Turn-Down Day,” later in 1966. That was the year Wrongo entered the US military.

Listen to “Red Rubber Ball”:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Is Climate Change Real?

Wrongo has never written about climate change, but will make an exception today. NASA recently released a series of then and now photos called “Images of Change” which reveal how our world has changed (not for the better) over the past 30+ years. The series provides a comparison of satellite images that depict everything from Arctic ice retreat to island building, to urbanization.

The series shows how rapidly our planet has changed in recent decades, due largely to urbanization and climate change. Perhaps, with the Trump administration firmly in control of a climate denial narrative, these photos will soon disappear from the internet, so please go and see all of them while it is still possible.

Here is one photo that shows the Arctic’s sea ice. It is clear that the ice has been shrinking for decades. The picture below compares September 1984 (on the left) with September 2016:

The total area of persistent (4 years or older) ice has declined from 718,000 square miles to 42,000 square miles in the 32 year time period. In the images, blue/grey ice is younger whereas white ice is older. But please calm down, you can’t stop the Trump express to climate Armageddon unless:

  • We take control of the Senate from the Republicans, and
  • Win the White House in 2020.

And at a time when we won’t let most Muslims into our country, and absolutely zero Syrians, maybe it’s time we chill out with a beautiful song by a Syrian national currently based in Paris, Lena Chamamyan. Here she is singing “Love in Damascus”. The accompanying video has many photos of Damascus; probably most taken before the rebellion. Wrongo could not find a reliable translation from Arabic for you, but the singing is beautiful:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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