Now I won't be forced to say Merry Christmas anymore!*
*Because apparently that was one of his achievements.
The guy who inspired my previous post about his desire to execute all Democrats for treason appeared in the comments section of the Facebook post above, which shares a sentiment I have heard expressed often, which is that the Coronavirus epidemic we have been experiencing is due to deliberate biological warfare waged by the People's Republic of China.
Let's pretend for the sake argument that it is true, China did this to us on purpose. Then, if you are a die-hard America First Trump supporter, wouldn't it make absolute sense to do everything possible to limit the spread of virus so that it infects fewer Americans? Like wear masks? Engage in social distancing?
For example, for reasons not entirely clear to me, motorcyclists are often represented as stalwart patriots who love America more than the average America citizen. I don't know why, maybe because they like to sport American flag patches or fly flags on their motorcycles? Wouldn't it be expected then that they would want to be in the vanguard of combating the "Chinese Virus"? One way they could do that would be to agree to cancel the annual motorcycle rally held in Sturgis, South Dakota, where tens of thousands of them converge every year from all across the country, so as to prevent the state from turning into a coronavirus hot spot and then carry the virus back with them to their hometowns. Nah, who am I kidding? Many thousands of them decided it was more important to celebrate their freedumb, excuse me, freedom, by attending the gathering this past August. A look at the graph chart below illustrates better than words could what happened next.
I took the screenshot of an exchange of comments I had in someone's Facebook post (and which will be the subject of a separate post on this blog). As you can see, the commenter declared that "every Democrat should be executed."
I was curious to see if he meant Democratic politicians or anyone who is a registered Democrat, and in reply to my query, he made it clear that he meant all of them. So, this psycho believes that tens of millions of Americans should be murdered for their political affiliation. And I am sure he is not the only one who feels that way.
Personally, I have been registered as a non-affiliated voter for the better part of the last two decades, though before that I was a registered Republican who tended to vote for Libertarian candidates when they were on the ballot. However, after George Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, I have voted for Democratic candidates in every presidential race from 2004 to the present.
While the political divide has always existed in America, what the Trump presidency, and in particular, this last presidential election, has exposed is that there is a fair number of people in this country who view many of their fellow Americans as an enemy to be eradicated.
One of my operating theories about ardent Trump supporters is that he is their vicarious instrument for hurting the people they hate. For example, when California suffers from devastating wildfires, Trump threatens to withhold federal aid because of some apparent failure to rake the forests, and Trump supporters are okay with that, because after all, California is home to left wing Hollywood supporters that they hate. Egging on self-stylized civilian militias in Michigan to liberate their state, which emboldened some of them to plot to kidnap the state's governor, is not a deal breaker for them.
And then there is the prevalent view among them that the election was stolen from Trump and that Biden is an illegitimate president, even though Biden ended up amassing more than seven million votes than Trump.
I have long considered myself to be an optimist, but I am starting to fear for my country.
From an early age I had a negative opinion of cats. A big part of it could be that a couple of houses up the block from me lived what would be called one of those crazy cat ladies. I believe she was also a hoarder before the term became popularized, as what little I ever saw of the inside of her home revealed stacks of newspapers, magazines, clothes, etc. She probably had about a dozen cats congregating around her house, and she would leave food out for them. When I would walk past her house on the way home from school, I often held my breath because of the overpowering stench of cat pee emanating from her property. Around the same time, we got a pet dog, a miniature schnauzer, and so my early exposure to pets was a dog who always seemed happy to see me and eager to play with me.
Over the years since my wife and I bought our house in 2000, we would periodically have mice roaming around, and my wife would occasionally float the idea of us getting a cat. I was less than enthusiastic about it. I loved dogs, and I didn't even want to get one of them, as working full time and raising two children was responsibility enough as far as I was concerned.
Fast forward to May of 2016, and my wife tells me that she thinks there might be some cats living underneath our backyard deck. I hadn't seen any cats yet, so I was skeptical. But then a day or two later, while I was getting ready for work one morning, I saw a mother cat and her four kittens playing on our deck. I started taking photos and videos of them and posting them on Facebook and I would buy cans of cat food and put them out on the deck to feed them.
In early 2018, we started to get another regular feline visitor. It was a smaller tabby cat with a white chest who would run across our desk while nervously peering at us. At first we thought it was a male and called it Milo. But after capturing it the summer of that year, we discovered it was a female. So we renamed her Katrina. The top portion of her left ear was also clipped off, leading me to believe that someone had previously captured her and had her spayed. We also noticed that Oscar's left ear was similarly clipped. Maybe because she was older, Katrina never really became accustomed to being a house cat. She spent most days hiding underneath the love seat in our living room, emerging only to eat and use the litter box. I actually set her free after two attempts at housing her, the first time because she pooped behind the love seat. But I didn't want to give up on her and for a third time I was able to entice her into the house and then shut the door behind her. Katrina ended up living with us for about a year and a half. She still spent a lot of time hiding from us, but sometimes she would nap out in the open on top of the love seat or even on my bed. Every now and then I would be lying on my bed with the door open, and Katrina would walk in, sit near the entrance, and make noises at me. Snickers would rough house with her a lot, but at times he could be affectionate towards her as well. One time I was sitting on the sofa watching television and Snickers was napping at the other end. Katrina jumped up onto the sofa and woke up Snickers, who proceeded to start licking her.
In February of 2019, when Gilbert was still a regular visitor, I opened the door and let him in. Since I wasn't able to pick Katrina up to shut her in my bedroom, I had to take my chances with her. She went up to Gilbert and they seemed to share some level of affection together. She went out into the deck with him and then disappeared. On the previous two times where I drove her out of the house, she was back on our deck within minutes. This time, she did not come back. That night was rather unseasonable warm for February, but several nights later it had gotten very cold. I flipped on the deck lights to see if there was any feline activity and was stunned to see Katrina at the door looking up at me almost pleadingly, as if she realized she had made a big mistake. I opened the door and put some food nearby to entice her, and after a while she came inside and I shut the door behind her. She remained with us for almost the remainder of the year, but was able to escape out the back door around Christmas of 2019. She was not to be seen for weeks, and then in late January my daughter said she would sometimes see her on our front stoop. Then she began to visit our deck again in February. She looked to us to feed her but did not seem keen on coming in the house. However, I noticed that if Snickers was in the dining room, she would want to come in. So, rather than shutting Snickers away, I let him stay. I opened the back door and as before had a bowl of food to entice her. Katrina warily came in after a number of false starts and started to eat, but she looked up at me as I started to close the door. But this time, Snickers had conveniently placed his body between her and the door so that Katrina could not escape as I closed it. Katrina was back in the house again, but not for long. This past May, with the weather warm again, we would slide open the glass back door while keeping the screen door shut. Snickers though, being the clever cat that he is, learned that he could use his paws to push open the screen door, which enabled Katrina to escape again. She did not disappear though, returning to our door regularly to be fed, and retreating to hide under our deck if we got too close to her. I have been able to entice her into our house to play with Snickers a number of times, but she seems wise to my tactics now and all of my further attempts to shut her in have failed. Katrina seems perfectly content to be our outdoor cat, engaging with us on her own terms while spending her days napping on our deck and her nights sheltering underneath it. With winter approaching, I may try to make further attempts to capture her again, but only time will tell if I succeed.
Before the spring of 2016, cats were not a factor in my life. I never contemplated owning one and barely took note of the cats in our neighborhood. But ever since that morning when I observed Snickers, his mom and his siblings on our backyard deck, cats have become a permanent fixture in my life. Barely a day goes by where I am not feeding or taking notice of daily visitors like Katrina and Oscar, or taking note of new cats who appear for a day or a few weeks and then are never seen again.
For those of us sane Americans, it is astounding the level of cult like devotion that some of our fellow countrymen and women have for Donald Trump. On Long Island, where I live, the days leading up to the election have seen Trump caravans consisting of cars and trucks festooned with Trump flags driving up and down our major roads. For me, one of the more ironic manifestations of Trump support are Trump 2020 face masks, given that he consistently downplayed the severity of Coronavirus to the American people and generally eschewed the wearing of masks, only to himself end up being infected with the virus last month.
But one of the more bizarre offerings I have seen from the Trump Cult comes from this brochure that I received in the mail several months ago. I have no idea how I ended up on their mailing list, but at any rate, I found it so hilarious I decided to hold on to it and revisit it after the election.
The part I find especially funny is the motto "Unbowed, Unbroken, Vindicated" etched into the rifle, as it is a shameless ripoff of the motto of House Martell from Game of Thrones, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken."
While it is still too soon to call the race, it seems pretty clear that Trump has no chance to achieve the needed 270 Electoral College votes he will need to win. In fact, it looks to be the reverse of the 2016 race, where he will end up with the 232 that Hillary Clinton got while Joe Biden will end up with the 306 attained by Trump in the previous election. One wonders if Trump will agree that Biden will have achieved one of the greatest presidential wins ever, considering that Trump's 306 Electoral College votes in 2016 were not accompanied with a win in the popular vote, whereas Biden is currently on track to have approximately 5 million more votes than Trump. Donald Trump is neither unbowed, unbroken, nor vindicated.
It's the month of October, which means another Columbus Day where we recognize the European discovery of the Americas by the Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus. However, for his detractors, Columbus is not a hero, but rather a villain who inaugurated the rape, murder and plunder of the indigenous inhabitants of the New World.
While Columbus is an easy target on whom to pin the blame for all that followed, what is often overlooked is that his story, though clearly an important one, is just one part of the larger story of the European voyages of discovery that sailed out into the Atlantic Ocean in the 15th century. When Columbus first encountered the inhabitants of the islands he discovered in late 1492 in what are today the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles, the Spanish monarchy in whose service he sailed already had a template for dealing with indigenous peoples that involved subjugation.
After Columbus departed from Palos in Spain on August 3, 1492, he did not immediately sail out into the unknown. His first destination was the Canary Islands, a chain of seven islands in the Atlantic approximately 100 kilometers west of the Moroccan coastline, where he could take advantage of the trade winds. The Canary Islands were claimed by and in the process of being conquered by the Spanish. These islands, believed to be the islands referred to in antiquity as the Fortunate Isles, began to be visited by European navigators since the 14th century, who found them to be inhabited by a race of people known to us as the Guanches.
The origin of the Guanches has been the subject of much debate, though the consensus is that they are related to North African Berbers. Some descriptions of them from the Age of Discovery tell of tall men with blond hair and blue eyes. It is believed that their presence in the island chain dates to roughly the 5th century BCE, though no one is sure under what circumstances they arrived there. By the time Europeans began to visit the Canaries regularly in the 14th century, they noted that the Guanches did not seem to have any knowledge of seamanship. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that a Carthaginian expedition lost to history attempted to colonize the islands and that over time communications with Carthage were cut off and their descendants forgot how to navigate the seas and even how to build ships for sailing between the seven islands. They must have forgotten a lot of things, as the medieval Europeans found them living at what we would call today a Stone Age level of technology.
Beginning in 1402, the Kingdom of Castile, which by the time of Columbus would be unified by the marriage of its queen Isabella to King Ferdinand of Aragon to form the Kingdom of Spain, began the military conquest of the Canary Islands. In Rivers Of Gold, Hugh Thomas writes of the Guanches that "They had no horses, and Castilian cavalry terrified them. They had many languages and were ruled by numerous independent kinglets. They fought well with stones and sticks, but their numbers were already falling because of contact with European diseases."
As late as Columbus's visit in August of 1492, the Guanches were still holding out in several of the islands, and their conquest was not fully completed until 1496. From Rivers Of Gold, "The Canary Islands became a source of wealth for Castile. Numerous Canary Islanders had been kidnapped since the 1450s and sold as slaves in Andalusia." Sugar mills were established on the island, and of course missionaries sent to convert the natives to Christianity. Over time, the Guanches ceased to exist as a distinct people, though today there are still people who are descended from Guanches ancestors who intermarried with Europeans.
When we look in horror today at the destruction the Spanish perpetrated in the Americas during the age of the Conquistadors, it is clear that what happened was not an aberration nor policies that were made up on the fly, but rather was a continuation of what they had already been doing in the Canary Islands over the course of the previous hundred years.