Bulletin on greennotGreen

So that it doesn’t get lost in the Trump news, here’s the latest bulletin from greennotGreen’s sister:

I’m sorry for not blogging yesterday, but frankly there’s not much to report. gnG is now sleeping 95% of the time, although she did get up out of bed at about 2 AM before I could stop her. (She’s tethered by oxygen cannula and IV pain pump, so she couldn’t have gotten too far.) The only thing that might interest the BJ community is the discussion we had with hospice nurses over the use of oxygen to raise sats. One nurse favors it, one feels it just prolongs the very disturbing agitation phase. The family is left to make the decision. I couldn’t quite bring myself to lower her sats on purpose, although she might have preferred it. Dying at home is best for the patient, but my god, what a trial to the family.

Cheryl Rofer Guest Post on What is Going on in the DPRK Right Now: Fireworks

(and a mushroom cloud hat too!)

Sunday is the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the father of North Korea and grandfather of its current president, Kim Jong Un. The North Koreans promise a big event and may have prepared some fireworks for the celebration. Reports of activity at their Punggye-ri nuclear test site suggest that the biggest firework will be underground.

Sunday is also Easter for Christians and part of Passover for Jews. North Korea likes to intrude on others’ holidays. It’s something of a tradition. And this year brings the added frisson of showing up an American president whose bluster approaches Kim Jong Un’s.

The New York Times has an extensive article on the preparations. 38 North has better overhead photos.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and is working toward a nuclear weapon small enough to be carried on their missiles, which they also have been testing and improving.

The way in which this test could be different from the previous five is that an American carrier group is heading toward Korea. Its purpose has not been stated, but it is obviously part of the Trump administration’s desire to show off its military strength. There is nothing it could do, short of starting a war, to stop a nuclear test.

I’ve been thinking about the estimates of North Korean nuclear weapons. The common way to estimate is to take the estimate of fissile material, an estimate of what is needed for a weapon, and divide the second into the first. But there are other considerations. I’ve worked some of them out and come to the conclusion that North Korea doesn’t have as many nukes as sometimes is claimed. My best guess is a half-dozen or fewer. But even that could cause a lot of damage.

Cheryl has indicated she’ll hang around in comments for about an hour to answer whatever questions you all might have.

Sunday Movie/Serial Club : It is Time… Emissary, DS9 Season 1, Episode 1

Welcome back, Schroedinger’s Cat!:

Moving is not fun, no matter how many times I do it. Whether it is across continents and oceans, states or to the neighboring town, it never gets easier. I am so glad that the Insufferable Movie Snob kept the blog going on, posting her detailed and funny reviews. If you haven’t already checked out her reviews you should do so now. She rocks! Here is a link to her last review.

My last movie/TV review post before my brief unplanned hiatus was on Star Trek Deep Space 9. Unlike The Next Generation, aliens of DS9 were more than just obnoxious caricatures and Star Fleet officers were not always perfect. Main and recurring characters experienced growth and change. The show had strong women characters who had more to do than just look pretty. I have be re-watching DS9 since the fall and I for one would like to revisit Terak Nor more than once. It has a wealth of episodes pertinent to this moment in history that we are all a part of.

When I asked which episode you wanted me to review, these were the episodes that came up in the comments.

His Way (6.20)
Its Only a Paper Moon (7.10)
Far Beyond the Stars (6.13)
Blood Oath (2.19)
In the hands of the prophets (1.20)
A Time To Stand (6.1)
Tears of the Prophets (5.26)
Once More Unto the Breach (6.7)
In the Pale Moonlight (6.19)

Most of these episodes are in seasons 6 and 7 when DS9 reached its climax. Because of the serialized nature of the show I think it would be better to go in chronological order. So people who haven’t watched DS9 before can join in if they want to.

With that in mind, I will start at the beginning with The Emissary. I also think Duet is a must watch of the season one episodes and we can end our season one watch with In the Hands of the Prophets. If you would like me to cover any other first season DS9 episodes leave a comment.

This is a complete list of season 1 episodes. Without further ado let’s dive in and begin at the beginning.

The scene of action is Deep Space Nine, an outpost at the edge of the alpha quadrant near Bajor, a planet devastated by war and occupation by the Cardasssians . When the show begins the Cardassians have just left, or should I say wrecked the station, before leaving. Our hero, Benjamin Sisko, a commander in StarFleet is named the commanding officer of the station. Benjamin Sisko has a young son, Jake, who is none too thrilled by this transfer to the middle of nowhere, where the replicators are broken and the living quarters are missing a bed…

Click the link to read the rest!

Guest Post From Cheryl Rofer: The Department of Energy, What Does it Do? 🤔

(Not Cheryl Rofer!)

Fails Dancing With The Stars, Wins Nuke Prize

by Cheryl Rofer

According to the New York Times, Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, presidential aspirant, and now Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Energy, um, didn’t know what the Department of Energy does when he accepted Trump’s nomination. “Sure I’ll be Ambassador for Oil and Gas,” he said. Twitter is meeting this revelation with humor and “We’re all going to die.”

In a better world, like the one we’ve been living in the past eight years, Cabinet secretaries actually know something about the organizations they are leading. It’s time to disrupt that fusty idea. We have Betsy DeVos, who wants to eliminate public education, as Education Secretary, a fast-food executive as Labor Secretary, and so on. Rick Perry has advocated eliminating the Department of Energy, so he was the natural pick.

Does that mean we are all going to die? That’s not so much the purview of the Energy Secretary. The President has a military guy who carries around the “football,” which is the most immediate starter of nuclear wars. As far as policy goes, the Secretaries of State and Defense have much more to say about starting wars nuclear and conventional. And, surprisingly for this administration, they actually seem to have responsible views on nuclear weapons. Here are excerpts from James Mattis’s and Rex Tillerson’s testimony to Congress. They are quite different from what Donald Trump has tweeted, and much more like the policies that Obama has followed.

Mattis almost says something that the arms control community has wanted to hear from the president:

the role of nuclear weapons is “[t]o deter nuclear war and to serve as last resort weapons of self-defense.”

Change that to

the only role of nuclear weapons is “[t]o deter nuclear war and to serve as last resort weapons of self-defense.”

and a lot of arms-controllers would be very happy.

The Secretary of Energy is in charge of building and maintaining nuclear weapons, so there is some concern about accidents and such, but fortunately it will not be Rick Perry handling the wrenches or working the gloveboxes. A big downside of someone like Perry is that there is no way he can play the role Ernie Moniz did in developing the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Now the question is how much influence Mattis and Tillerson will have on their boss.

Late Evening Report From the Electoral Field: The Bella Q Files!

The Ohio election system is made up of two (or more) separate yet equal parts. The people that cast the votes and the lawyers, like commenter Bella Q, who observe them. This is Bella Q’s story… (donk donk)

Earlier today commenter Bella Q did a stint as a (legal) observer in OH, here’s her report from the field.

I had a Saturday 12-4 shift as an observer at my OH county’s Board of Election – the only early vote location – and voters were in remarkably good cheer, even when the line was an hour and a half. Many brought children with them, nearly all of whom were impressively well-behaved.  They seemed interested to be on the outing while staying close by the parent(s) and being very still and quiet.  In the 5 hours I was there, I heard perhaps 3 children out of many dozen making fussy noises.

There were several combinations of parent(s) and new teenaged voters, as well as a number of other self-identified 1st time voters, many of whom appeared to be naturalized citizens based on their audible accents. That was at the end of a counter of 11 check in stations where I was sitting.  All the poll workers – most of whom are regular Board staff were consistently and sincerely pleasant with voters, which was clearly critical to keeping the atmosphere pleasant to just short of festive.

A taco truck with a sign: Guac the Vote was handing out tacos to voters. There was a table next to it with coffee and candy in the morning, water and candy in the afternoon, and pizza in the late afternoon. They had music playing as well.  The progressive group organizing those booked a chili truck for tomorrow; I know this because I was chatting with a woman staffing that event as those arrangements were being made. They were meticulous about not mentioning candidates or causes because they were within the distance at which electioneering is prohibited.

Biscuit the taco dog came over from Indy to protest against Trump; she posed patiently for many photos. Her handler was asked to keep her across the street from the voting line, but he reported that the request was polite, and he didn’t know about distance requirements and immediately complied.



1767 people voted during the 12-4 period, with the last voter at about 5:10 pm.  There was nothing to observe, since it was Board staff; essentially I was there to report the line lengths/wait times and the vote total to the Regional Voter Protection Director.  And interesting statement dogs.  Had there been any incident(s), that report would have been relayed as well.  I was struck by how efficiently voters were accommodated through the process as well as how pleasant they all seemed even when they’d had a lengthy wait.

Weekend Movie Club: “The Haunting” (1963)

Via stalwart commentor Schroedinger’s Cat, your Halloween movie review from Mnemosyne, aka The Insufferable Movie Snob:

Every fan of The Haunting has at least one story about seeing it, and often more than one. Here’s one of mine:

Years ago, G (my now husband) and I went to see it on a triple bill at an old movie palace in downtown Los Angeles. The college kids sitting behind us mocked it at first: old-fashioned, black-and-white, Julie Harris’s oddball whispered voiceovers.

But then, as the film went on, they got quieter and quieter. Finally, about half an hour in, one of them turned to the other and whispered, “Is it just me, or is this movie kind of getting to you?” And then they shut up for the rest of the film.

That’s the kind of horror movie The Haunting is. It’s not a slam-bang special effects spectacle, or a gross-out endurance test. It sneaks up behind you and lays a cold hand on your neck, whispering to you, asking if you’re sure you know what that noise in the dark was that you just heard.

A quick technical note before we begin: when you see the film, make sure you get a letterboxed copy and not one of the older pan-and-scans. You will literally miss out on half the movie if you don’t get the full widescreen version.

Director Robert Wise got his start working for Val Lewton‘s B-movie unit at RKO in the 1940s, where Lewton produced (and usually wrote) subtle horror films that are still classics today: Cat People. I Walked With a Zombie. The Seventh Victim. One of my favorites is Wise’s third film as a director, The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff as an absolutely chilling remorseless killer. Wise’s films all show a great attention to sound, so it’s not surprising that he’s best known today for his two blockbuster musicals, West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

But Wise started as a horror guy with Lewton and, like his former colleague Jacques Tourneur, Wise decided to make a “Lewtonesque” horror film where the horror comes not from what the characters see, but from what they hear. In fact, you never see a single ghost in The Haunting. You hear them, the characters touch them, you see the physical effects of what they can do, but you never see one.

Except… it always seems like you’re about to see one just out of the corner of your eye, but the wandering camera never quite turns in the right direction. Watching it again, I noticed how the mirrors in the rooms are carefully placed so you can often see the actors in them, but only a part of them — their backs, their hands, their shoulders. Seeing the movement in the mirror distracts the viewer, drawing your attention (conscious or unconscious), and making you wonder if you’re finally going to see something. But you never do. I also noticed that the numerous potted palm trees placed in many of the rooms constantly sway in a slight breeze, again drawing the viewer’s attention and making us wonder just what is causing that motion.

As with most ghost stories, the outline of the plot doesn’t sound like much. The film opens with a sequence narrated by a man we will soon discover is Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), an anthropologist and psychic researcher who is trying to convince the current owner of Hill House to allow him to bring a team in to do experiments. He narrates the sequence of events at Hill House that gained it its awful reputation, barely able to conceal his glee at the possibility of being able to investigate a real haunted house. The director shows us three mysterious deaths at Hill House: a woman’s carriage crashing in the driveway, a woman falling down the stairs, a woman hanging herself in the library…

For the rest of Mnemosyne’s review, click over to SC’s blog…

Weekend Movie Club: Unfaithfully Yours

Courtesy of our own Schroedinger’s Cat, this weekend’s review by Mnemosyne, aka “The Insufferable Movie Snob”:

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I have a weakness for Hollywood iconoclasts, and Preston Sturges was one of the biggest iconoclasts of the old studio system. Like Ernst Lubitsch, Sturges was allowed to put themes and scenes into his films that few other directors or writers had the freedom to do; of Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), where Betty Hutton’s character is impregnated by a mystery man after a night of drunken revels and goes on to birth sextuplets, film critic James Agee famously said “the Hays office must have been raped in its sleep” to have allowed such risqué content.

Unfaithfully Yours is a bit like that — it has scenes that you won’t see in any other Hollywood film of the era, because no one else would have been allowed to film those scenes. Was Sturges a drinking buddy of Joe Breen’s? Did his writing seem innocuous on the page but play very differently in front of the cameras? Did his bosses tell Breen to lay off because Sturges was making pots of money for them? Nobody knows, but we’re all happy he managed it.

I filed this under “dark comedies” because, make no mistake, this film is dark. Hot-tempered conductor Sir Alfred de Carter (Rex Harrison) becomes convinced that his much younger wife (Linda Darnell) is cheating on him and, during a concert, he imagines three different scenarios for how he’s going to handle the situation, only to have each of them go hilariously awry when he tries to put them into practice in real life.

Harrison gets a lot of praise for his acting in this film but to me Darnell has the more difficult role. She plays the real Daphne — a doting but confused young wife who doesn’t understand why her ardent husband is suddenly rejecting her — plus three additional adulterous versions that Harrison’s character conjures up in his head during his fantasies. Darnell is able to play these distinct characters with panache and make all of them believable while never letting the audience lose sight of what Daphne is really like. It’s a bravura performance…

Click over for the rest of Mnem’s review.