Riggin’ in the Friggin’ Solstice 2021 – Wisdom and Betrayal

Riggin’ in the Friggin’

Solstice 2021 – Wisdom and Betrayal

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 21st 2021

When it came to observing the Winter Solstice, the Nordic gods were first and foremost. Makes sense, given that they lived in the land of ice and snow, and the midnight sun and noon darkness. Observing the Solstice didn’t make them better behaved, mind you; even compared to the pantheons of Rome and Greece that came later, this was an exceptionally unruly bunch, with amazing sexual antics. Loki alone could add four more letters to the somewhat overworked acronym, LGBTQ.

Perhaps the best-known of all the legends of the Aesir is that of Baldur, son of Odin and Frigg. Baldur was what could be considered “the nice one,” for a given value of ‘nice.’ Like most Nordic gods, his hobbies included murder and mayhem. But he was politer about it. Certainly all the other gods loved him, save one, and all living creatures, again, save one. You can’t have a story like this without a little bit of the Joker and Kryptonite, right?

Baldur was associated with wisdom, knowledge, and light. As with most such deities, he was born on the Winter Solstice. He was the local version of Prometheus, and like most other light-bringers, he met a bad end. Getting born around Winter Solstice is something of a warning sign amongst gods.

For all his wisdom, and for all that he was loved and admired by pretty much everything, Baldur began dreaming of his death. He mentioned this to Frigga, who like most mums, decided to ensure safety for her son. Death is something of an option with gods, and so Frigga decided to ensure his immortality by making him invulnerable to everything. So she went to nearly very plant and creature on Earth and asked them to vow never to hurt her son.

Since Baldur was, as noted, loved and respected, everyone agreed to this. Obviously there were no Republican Senators in those days, showing how far we’ve fallen. It wasn’t until later that Frigg got around to realizing that she forgot to ask the mistletoe not to hurt Baldur. She shrugged it off, concluding that mistletoe was a harmless enough plant, good only for unwanted sexual advances at office parties. Mistletoe routinely kills mighty oaks, and could probably kill Yggdrasil, the Nordic tree of life, if given a crack at it. Perhaps Frigg lived above the treeline. She was certainly no arborist.

But she was something of a blabbermouth. She mentioned this omission to Loki, the one god who didn’t like Baldur. Sibling rivalry or something. Frigg’s sake, woman, what were you thinking?

Loki made a spear from mistletoe and convinced a blind old god, Hodr, to throw it at Baldur. Hodr didn’t have any reason to think this was an odd request; the gods had made a pastime of throwing spears, maces, cats and low-yield nukes at Baldur because his invulnerability tickled them pink. A twig’s as good as a Nord to a blind Hodr, right? So Hodr tossed the spear, it hit Baldur, and Baldur dropped down dead.

The pantheon petitioned the goddess of Hades, Hel-Half-Rotted, to release Baldur. Hel said she was fine with that so long as the gods got a unanimous vote on it. Which they did—almost. One Frost Giant refused. Given that the Frost Giants and Gods were mortal enemies it’s not real clear why they had a say in the matter, but in this instance the Giant was Loki in disguise, adding yet another letter to his personal LGBTQ designation.

So poor old Baldur went to Hel, and Loki ended up strapped by his own entrails to a table while a poisonous snake dripped venom into his eyes. But he got over it.

Light bringers come, and light bringers go, usually in horrible fashions. We have a streak in us that likes to tear down the thinkers and the optimists, and make some sort of ersatz “moral lesson” from them. Baldur seems the exception to that rule; there’s no homily that he deserved to die for any number of (usually) demented reasons. If there’s a lesson here at all, it’s that popularity and civility can’t protect you from the random vagaries of the universe or even a malignant plot with unlikely odds of working.

But here’s the thing; Baldur dies, as do light bringers, and are gone from this world. But the world keeps on turning. The next day following solstice, a ship stationed exactly at the Arctic circle might see a brief glint of sunlight to the south before seconds later, the sun sets again. The nights get shorter, and eventually, the days get warmer. The equinox—twelve hours of daylight—will inevitably come three months later. No matter how many light bringers die, the light returns, on its own, and in its own immutable pattern. It’s one of the few things in this world we can absolutely count on.

It is also the first day of winter, and even as the light slowly returns, the storms and the cold hold sway. The return of the light isn’t a solution. It is, instead, a promise.

It’s dark now. But Earth has made a promise to her children, one that even Loki can’t thwart.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

Pearl Harbor — And other attacks on government facilities

Pearl Harbor

And other attacks on government facilities

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 11th, 2021

I wrote a piece the other day about the burning of the Christmas tree in front on the Fox News New York headquarters that was mildly sympathetic to Fox.  I pointed out that they could turn the arson into a positive by reaching out and helping the homeless man accused of setting the fire in the spirit of the holiday. OK, we both know that was never going to happen.  I like teasing fascists.

Instead, Fox went into breast-beating and garment-rending mode.  They gave it more air time than they did the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol.  They praised themselves for having the courage to stand up to this assault on everything is good and decent and pure.

Then they tried comparing it to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Inspired, perhaps, by the fact that the man accused of setting the blaze is Hawaiian.

If you have a sufficiently depraved mind, one capable of pulling up phrases that would make Satan blush and Trump avert his eyes awkwardly, then you can guess at what my attitude toward Fox News is now.

Pearl Harbor.  Christ…

OK, the arson did occur on December 7th. Going by that logic, if I sneak into one of their loos and drop a cherry bomb in the crapper, blowing it up, that would be comparable to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima if I did it on 6th August? My mum was born on January 6th. If word gets out, will QAnon make her a saint?

If we want to mess with these people, we could dump a bunch of ladyfingers under Mar-A-Lago along with a picture of Amy Comey Barrett on November 5th. Just have some rando Englishman explain it to you. Make sure it’s a real Englishman and not just some Brit. You want the full piquancy of the arched-eyebrow condescension.

OK, moving on…

What? You wanted a dissertation on the morals and ethics of Fox News? Well, they don’t got none. Finito! Moving on. Delivered in the tone of an archaeology professor explaining for the fifth time why the story of Noah’s Ark isn’t in the syllabus.

We done with “My dog is plotting against me” type nuttiness. Now we’re going to Kesey’s ever-loving bull goose loony assortment. But which I mean, a version, perhaps THE version, of the 32 page Power Point memo the GOP were passing around on how to overthrow the government and destroy the United States. The official title of this document, dated January 5th 2021, wasElection Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” If you want to read it for yourself (and it’s actually about three typewritten pages long) then you can find it at Archive.org 

The talking points show the direction this is headed. “The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency – The electronic voting machines were compromised and cannot be trusted to provide an accurate vote count – To restore confidence the “failsafe” of counting the paper ballots must be used to determine who won the election for President, Senators, Congressional Representatives – Hand counts reported by the media are not really hand counts and easily subverted.”

Got all that? The Chinese Communists (who are actually capitalists), headed by that noted Chinese Leader Hugo Chavez (who was at least a socialist, but still not a communist) subverted the election by using Chinese voting machines made in the well-known Chinese province of Canada.

It goes downhill from there.

Back in 1954, there was a book, How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. The title is pretty self-explanatory. Someone needs to write a similar book, “How to bullshit with charts.” The FF, FI & O tries strenuously to do just that. On slide 5, for example, there are charts purporting to show huge Trump leads in states he subsequently lost, alluding to a “pause” in the counting. There’s nothing to show where the charts came from, when they were tabulated, or what the “pause” was. But boy-howdy, they shore looks like real honest-to-gaw charts. A series of charts purporting to show “fixing the vote” follows, all with official looking and undescribed synoptic lines beneath to make it look like someone was using actual arithmetic. This is followed by “The Algorhythm” which is a more complicated chart designed to awe and impress Republican Congressmen smart enough to know what a chart is but not what it’s supposed to do. This is followed by “Where and How It’s Done” which would look right at home on a corkboard in a basement, with random paper clipping and scribbled notes connected by red yarn with a big box saying “Illuminati” in the middle. This is followed by a page, ironically advising, “One Tactic that is part of a larger Strategic Plan. Other tactics include riots, threats, censorship, looting, etc.” Eek! Scary! “Riots, Threats, Censorship, Looting, etc.,” you say? Oh, what’s a poor Republican to do! Summon the Proud Boys! They’ll protect us!

It then dips back into the tin-foil helmet zone. “China has leveraged financial, non-governmental and foreign allies including Venezuela to acquire INFLUENCE and CONTROL US Voting Infrastructure in at least 28 States. KEY Issue in 2020: Critical Infrastructure control utilized as part of ongoing globalist/socialist operation to subvert the will of United States Voters and install a China ally.”

Well, here you were, all fat, dumb and happy, and you had no idea your will had been subverted by Hugo Chavez. Pretty smart for a dead guy! You have to give him credit.

It rants about perfidious Venezuelans, Chinese and Canadians for a bit, noting that like all commies, they have for-profit corporations (eek!). Then it gets around to “Perpetrators” Those are: “•Local Zealots –illegal ballot harvesting, illegal voter roles, counterfeit mail-in and absentee ballots, and illegal adjudication changes •Electronic Voting machines that shift votes from one candidate to another either through an algorithm or adjudications •Foreign Actors that shift votes and/or add votes all across the country either through adjudications or outright database overwrites •In this election, all 3 demonstrably occurred, but not necessarily in a coordinated fashion.”

Good thing they weren’t in a coordinated fashion. If only those zealots knew how to speak Cantonese, or even Mandarin!

You get the drift. This may not be the exact copy of the one shown to Republican congressionals on the 5th of January, but I’ll bet that copy is essentially the same. And they were advised to hunker down and expect a serious effort to stop the electoral college vote.

Psst! Think we should teach them how to spell ‘algorithm’?

It’s easy to laugh, but remember this: Hitler’s Nazis were widely seen as ineffectual, too nasty to get elected, and really, really ridiculous.

This lot are the same. Laugh, but don’t dismiss the threat they pose. These are the same people.

Bah Humbug — Grinch burns Fox News Christmas Tree

Bah Humbug

Grinch burns Fox News Christmas Tree

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 8th 2021

Back around 1962, a buddy of mine and I decided it would be fun to go sneaking past homes after dark that were heavily decorated with Christmas lights and steal some of the bulbs just so we could pop them on the sidewalk. Basically it was the same impulse that people get with bubble wrap. There was nothing political or religious motivating us; it was just two kids amusing themselves and being minor assholes. Over the subsequent year, I became an atheist and became a rebellious teenager, but you know what? We didn’t go out popping Christmas bulbs the next year. I had enough sense by then to realize that was just being an asshole for assholery’s sake. Even as a new born atheist teenager, I realized that you didn’t lift yourself up by hurting others’ joy.

Now, someone set fire to the big Christmas tree in front of Fox News in Manhattan last night. Word is it was a homeless guy, Craig Tamanaha, aged 49. Authorities don’t believe there was any political or religious motive behind it, or even any premeditation.

It wasn’t actually a tree; it was a conical metal framework with an overlay of decorations and stuff designed to look like a tree. It was festooned with 10,000 glass ornaments, 100,000 lights and it took over 21 hours to put together. Crews were later seen taking down what was left of the structure. It was a sad sight.

Fox News was understandably unamused. “We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us. We are in the process of rebuilding and reinstalling a new tree as a message there can be peace, light and joy even during a moment like this,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement.

Well, I’m glad they’re rebuilding it, although in this instance, it’s unlikely that it’s some form of brave and principled stand against an act of cultural terrorism. For all anyone knows, Tamanaha just found the light on his sleeping spot making it hard to sleep (not that sleeping outdoors in midtown Manhattan in December is easy under any circumstances). Or maybe he didn’t like the color pink. It was awfully…pink.

Of course, the right wingers are going to lose their minds over this. “War on Christmas,” blah blah blah. It was the libruls or the commies or the gays or some fool thing. Fox announcers already declared this could only hurt Joe Biden in the polls, because you know, anything they don’t like will hurt Joe Biden in the polls and it can’t hurt to try to associate Joe Biden with burning Christmas trees in the eyes of their dim-witted viewers. I’m sure the right wingers will come up with even sillier shit over this. They always do.

In a way it’s a shame that it was Fox News that was hit and not one of the hundreds of major corporations in the neighborhood who always put up giant Christmas decorations. Because in this sad act was an opportunity to show a little real Christmas spirit, the one that corporations all insist we should have so they could play on our sensibilities and rob us blind with our own cooperation.

Here’s what Fox could do. (And there are some corporations that might do this, but I’ll be amazed if Fox is one of them.)

Contact the legal representative for Tamanaha. Work a deal. Tamanaha pleads guilty in court, but prosecutors will work a time-served plea agreement. Tamanaha expresses remorse and promised to never do such a thing again. In return, Fox News pays for a years’ housing for Tamanaha (it doesn’t have to be midtown where rents are often five figures a month) and see to it that he has food and warmth for a year. Do what they can to help him—locate family, if any, and get him access to medical or psychiatric care—even pay for it, if the costs aren’t too hideous. If he is capable of holding a job, maybe hire him on as a custodian or something. If he isn’t, set up a GoFundMe for him.

And yes, tell the world what they are doing. They’re a corporation, and they aren’t going to do with without some sort of payback. This would be good publicity.

Make it clear that this is a one-time thing. Don’t want word getting out that you can score all this good stuff just by igniting a Christmas Tree. The next guy that tries it can just rot in jail, as far as Fox is concerned. Nobody would have trouble understanding that, no, not even Joe Biden.

I suspect that Tamanaha, and hundreds of thousands like him, need help like this. Remember, a lot of those homeless people are veterans, or mentally ill, and this is the time of year when they most need the help and most deserve it. If Fox could rise above themselves and show some charity and goodheartedness, it might make everyone’s holidays a little brighter.

And perhaps all those elaborate corporate decorations might, if ever so slightly, represent something better than corporate greed playing on the mawkish sensibilities of their targets.

Wading In — Compromised Court weighs Roe Vs. Wade

Wading In

Compromised Court weighs Roe Vs. Wade

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 1st, 2021

Listening to the arguments this morning at the Supreme Court in the matter of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case on whether the state of Mississippi can ban abortion at 15 weeks gestation:

Right wingers are frantically seeking justification for striking down Roe Vs. Wade, the seminal and oft-upheld abortion ruling that gives women access to abortion.

Roberts wants to know if anyone is hurt by pushing viability back from 24 weeks to 15 weeks. An embryo isn’t even remotely viable at 15 weeks, making Roberts’ proposed definition an utter joke. Kavanaugh wants to punt, saying in effect, the Supreme Court has nothing to do with rights and the states should decide that sort of garbage. (Yeah, this clown is on the Supreme Court.)

Amy Coney Barrett wanted to know if invalidating a woman’s right to an abortion would invalidate other “rights” like birth control. That’s a bit like asking if a law forbidding Moslems from voting would affect the rights of Jews or Catholics to vote.

And then there’s Slappy.

Thomas asked Rikelman, attorney for Jackson, to identify the constitutional right that protects abortion. “Is it privacy? Autonomy? What would it be?”
“It’s liberty,”Rikelman replied. “It’s the textual protection in the 14th Amendment that the state can’t deny someone liberty without the due process of law.” Ouch. Slappy the lawn ornament got slapped.

Attorneys for Dobbs are trying to handwave the concept of “undue burden” away, saying it’s impossible to define and difficult to enforce. Never mind that the concept enters into nearly all court decisions regarding access to and exercise of personal rights. Remove that concept, and there’s no reason why a county can’t charge people $100,000 to file a property damage suit. See how simple it is?

It seems likely that the Court will strike down Roe Vs. Wade. They’ll bend over backward trying to pretend it isn’t a religious issue (it is) and not even remotely secular.

Sonia Sotomayor asked of the attorney for Dobbs, “How is your interest anything but a religious view? It’s debated in religions, so when you say this is the only right that takes away from the start the ability to protect the life, that’s a religious view isn’t it? Where does the life of a woman and putting her life at risk enter the calculus?”

The court will have to trash dozens of decisions and overrule the wishes of the American people (Attorney for Dobbs is arguing that abortion is “injurious to democracy”!) in order to make this potential ruling stand.

Sonia Sotomayor said, “Fifteen justices over 30 years have reaffirmed that basic viability line,” she said, alluding to how Roe v Wade has been upheld since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision.

Four have said no, two of them members of this court. But fifteen justices have said yes, of varying political background.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, this house bill in Mississippi, are saying, ‘We’re doing this because we have new justices on the supreme court’. Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

Sotomayor continued with the question: “If people believe it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?”

Answer: it won’t. People will know the court has been hopelessly corrupted by a fascist president and his theocratic supporters. An institution designed to uphold the Constitution will now willfully disregard the same document because they are Dominionists and put their vicious and cruel religious opinions ahead of the rights the Constitution is meant to protect.

You may be in a place like California or New York and think to yourself, “Well, the state government isn’t going to strike down abortion,” and you might be right. But the god-struck minions of the anti-choice movement aren’t going to stand for abortion being allowed anywhere in what they see as their country that they run on behalf of Jesus. Kavanaugh maybe be nattering about states’ rights now, but he’s as intellectually and ethically vacuous as any Republican representative. He won’t hesitate to argue that the federal law overrules all state laws as soon as there’s a federal law to uphold. And 34% of the most conservative of all states control the Senate, 42% the vote would make the House Republican.

In the meantime, I expect a vast underground railroad to form, similar to the one that helped emancipate hundreds of thousands of slaves from the cruel authoritarianism of slave owners, and for much the same reason. It will uphold the human right of women to have control over their bodies and not be forced into having a child they do not wish to have. You think the Blob Squad won’t see that as an intolerable state of affairs?

I will do anything I can to support such an underground railroad, and urge everyone to put human rights ahead of cruel and unjust laws. Fuck the Dominionists, and fuck their vicious and authoritarian moral posturing. They have no right.

And the Court, more and more, will find itself shouting from within the vacuum it is about to put itself in.