i want to be the anti-trump


Now that we’ll have a new Republican president who spent five years spreading the lie that President Obama was not a citizen, who spent $20k of Trump Foundation charity money on a six-foot portrait of himself, who admires Vladimir Putin, who brags about groping women, who Tweets crazy stuff in the middle of the night about a former Miss Universe, and will soon have the codes to unleash the U.S. nuclear arsenal …

Now that the KKK and neo-Nazis are celebrating the new Republican president …


Now that we’ll have a Republican vice president who doesn’t seem to accept the reality of evolution or global warming, and who believes in preposterous “gay reparative” therapy …

Now that the last three years have averaged the hottest global temperatures ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice has declined by more than 30% in just 25 years, and we are likely to have a global warming denier heading up the EPA …

Now that we’ll have a new Republican Secretary of Health and Human Services who belongs to a group (AAPS) that pushes anti-vaccine and other fringe propaganda, and once co-sponsored a bill to define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, which, if passed, could have had birth control pills classified as murder weapons …

Now that our new Republican president has selected for Treasury secretary a Wall Street insider, former Goldman Sachs partner, and hedge-fund manager who’s profited from predatory lending (and Trump says he’s “draining the swamp” in D.C.) …


Now that we’ve elected the guy who swore the election was rigged against him, and still makes the delusional, evidence-free claim that millions voted illegally …

Now that all that is happening, I have to do something to make me feel like I’m countering the crazy.

One thing I’m doing, which I planned before the election, is volunteering at a local youth tutoring program for kids. I help with skill building and homework. (I’ve been paired with an elementary school boy who is Muslim. His parents are probably immigrants. Hopefully in Seattle he isn’t a target for bullies and bigots.) I think that if I can instill some critical thinking in a youngster, I’ve done a small service.

I’ve also joined the ACLU – it’s been quite a few years since my membership lapsed, but I’m back on the rolls now.

I made a donation to Planned Parenthood, now that we could face the return of back alley             abortions if a near-future Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

I donated to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

That’s barely a drop in the bucket. I’ll be looking for other volunteer or political action opportunities – something to avoid the dystopia that seems to be in the offing.

The backsliding on social issues — like reproductive freedom for women — is likely to cause considerable harm and suffering. Meanwhile, the science denial among today’s Republicans is excruciating to hear. It’s like riding a bus in heavy traffic and watching the driver gleefully put on a blindfold. The wingnuts are behind the wheel.

The small bright spot we can point to is that the majority of voting citizens did not vote for Trump. The current count is 2.5 million more votes for Clinton. There is hope.


i go to new york


Decided to attend NECSS in Manhattan. That’s the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism. Some of the NECSS highlights for me included:

  • Most of the medical-related sessions. Of particular interest was hearing doctors give accounts of dealing with patients who are also seeing and getting advice from alternative health providers.
  • The Skeptical Extravaganza of Special Significance was very entertaining and funny thanks to the wonderful George Hrab and the wide variety of stunts and activities.
  • Bill Nye was both amusing and inspirational when discussing climate change.
  • Richard Wiseman’s keynote. He combines engaging and enlightening in a perfect way.

In addition to the conference, I got pizza, of course. Multiple times. A little place called Amadeus was the local slice source for me. Also visited Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. I spent hours at the latter, including attending a spectacular Hayden Planetarium show. Also saw a very fine production of Matilda.

(1) The naked cowboy (2) Hailing a cab. (3) Massive brick edifice. (4) Entrance: Chelsea Pods. (5) Where Kong died. (6) Colorful Matilda stage. (7) Famous museum dino. (8) Large museum head. (9) Walking the Highline (elevated park). (10) Strawberry Fields.







give it back, but not too far back


I can appreciate down-home Americana as much as the next person. That’s why I love the story of the nutty folks with guns out in Burns, Oregon. It’s a classic USA tale.

A gang of guys with weapons take over a government building mostly used as a way station for birdwatchers. The birders probably don’t realize the brutal government oppression that this building and the wildlife refuge surrounding it represent. According to the gun-toters, it’s actually ground zero of a citizen insurrection.

They are protesting the fact that two guys who were convicted of setting fire to public land are being given the mandatory minimum jail sentence. It’s hard to say exactly what they want to happen other than to get publicity, but they seem to want government handouts. Federal property like the wildlife refuge they are squatting on should be given to them or to private ranchers or miners,

I picture these people as guys who grew up on crappy action movies, and as adults try to live out adolescent fantasies of being righteous warriors. I visualize insecure men practicing steely-eyed glares and trying to out-macho and out-patriot each other. They drink beer and get misty-eyed about “taking the country back.”

Something tells me they would draw a line before giving the land back to the native Indians, who had the land before white guys appeared. Or giving it back to the plants and animals that were there before the Indians. Oh wait, that’s sort of what the wildlife refuge is trying to do – keep the area available for nature and for people to enjoy. Give it back, but not too far back. Give it back so it happens to go to them.

A classic American story – privileged white boys want to own some kind of fantasy world and wave their guns around.


Below: The tundra swan, one of the inhabitants of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, south of Burns, Oregon. You can also find sandhill cranes, snow goose, quail, pelicans, and more. The refuge was established in 1908.