Nile Dam

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is pretty confident that he, and the rest of you, may have missed the little tidbit from last week about how President Trump weighed in on the delicate Nile dam problem involving Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Here is a piece about it: Three-way Ethiopia dam talks to resume after Trump warning. Basically, President Trump said, when asked about the dam, “”It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way… They’ll end up blowing up the dam.” Way to de-escalate there! Woo-hoo.

Of course, if you’ve been reading about the crisis you know that Egypt may very well blow up the dam. Or the three nations involved may come to some agreement on how much water will be let through the dam… We’ll continue to watch and see.

Carry on.

Introspection

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to withhold much of what is is thinking about the election right now. But he will put this out there. Many Democratic pundits, Democratic voters, and regular people are looking at the results, such as they are now, and saying to themselves, “having seen what has gone on for 4 years, how can people vote for more of this?” The unasked question that they would be well-served to also ask “is what are we offering going to push people away from voting for us?” Now, your Maximum Leader has a few close friends who are quick to point out that Biden is not a real leftist like many other faces of the Democratic Party. They would say that Biden isn’t going to push some of those “far left” policies. To this your Maximum Leader rejoins that Biden may not be that liberal, but the party seems to be that liberal.

Another question for Democrats to ask themselves is this: “How is calling people who disagree with us stupid racists working out for us?”

Carry on.

UPDATE: For what it is worth (and in this case that is most likely absolutely nothing), today your Maximum Leader has spoken to (a statistically insignificant sample size of) 3 women who did not vote for Trump in 2016, but said they did vote for him this year. Your Maximum Leader asked them why they voted for him. All three of them said pretty much variations on the same theme. That theme is: 1) the Democrats tacitly approved of (or actively supported) the protests (riots/violence) in the streets of the US over the summer and they feared for more, 2) none of them want single-payer health care and believe the Democrats will enact such policies, and 3) all the talk of adding DC and Puerto Rico as states (to increase the number of Democrats in the Senate) and packing the Supreme Court disturbed them greatly. One of them said about the last point that “they are sore losers who want to change the rules so they can win.”

Again, that is not a statistically significant sample, but it was interesting. In fact the only argument that could have convinced your Maximum Leader to vote for Trump was the “he will be a bulwark against Democratic excess” argument.

Avoiding Election News

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is taking a quick look right now at some non-election related news stories. (16:47 US Eastern Standard Time.) When he is done, it will be off the interwebs and social media and anything news related until at least tomorrow morning. At that point he will turn on the news to get the weather forecast. Sadly, he will likely get election news as well.

If all goes according to plan, he will have a few cocktails tonight whilst watching movies. Then he will drift off into dreamless slumber…

If all goes according to plan…

Carry on.

Voting

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader voted two days ago.

He will neither encourage nor discourage you from doing so yourself.

Frankly, he doesn’t care if you vote.

And when he thinks more broadly about voting, he starts thinking about shrinking the franchise.

Of course, when your Maximum Leader’s World Order comes, everyone will vote. Everyone will be encouraged to vote. But your votes will be meaningless.

Happy Halloween.

Carry on.

Speaking the Unspeakable.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been watching the news from Europe and Asia a little more carefully over the past few weeks than he has before. You see, he figured that since the Covid outbreaks in Europe and Asia for the most part preceded those of the US and Canada they would likely lead any “second wave” that might be happening. Additionally, since Europe and Asia seem to have better prevention and mitigation protocols than the US, it would stand to reason that seeing how bad a second wave of infections might be could illustrate how it could go in the US.

Well… The news isn’t good. This article from The Daily Beast might be one of the first of many that we will see in American outlets: Italy Did Everything Right to Stop a Second Wave of the Coronavirus. So What Went Wrong? The picture is not promising. Here are some salient points:

If you turn on the news in Italy right now, you might be forgiven for thinking you are getting reruns from March. Pictures of COVID-only units, field hospitals being erected, exhausted medics and coffins are again dominating headlines as Italy comes to grips with a deadly second wave of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the death toll topped 125 in a 24-hour period for the first time since May when this country was still under a Draconian lockdown and seen as a harbinger of what was to come.

[…]

On Wednesday, Italy logged 15,199 new infections–nearly three times as many as the worst day of the pandemic last March and a per capita rate that would be the equivalent of 90,000 new cases in a single day in the U.S., which has not yet been reached.

And it is only getting worse. “Certain metropolitan areas like Milan, Naples and Rome are already out of control in terms of containing the pandemic,” Walter Ricciardi, an infectious disease specialist advising the Italian government who holds the same position in Italy as Fauci does in the U.S. said at a conference Wednesday. “Their numbers are too high to be contained by the traditional method of tracing and testing. And as previous epidemics teach us, when you can’t contain you have to mitigate, namely you have to block movement.”

[…]

But authorities are very concerned still that despite all the best efforts to contain the spread, it simply cannot be stopped. The government’s experts insist that the rate of contagion among school children is not the driving factor, but young people who feel confident they won’t get very sick and insist on gathering socially may be. Now major cities like Milan, Rome and Naples have evening curfews to try to stop young people from gathering socially, which seems to be contributing to the spread. Riccardi said that most of the contagion that happens within multigenerational homes comes from young people bringing it in.

But Italy is by no means alone in its battle against the European second wave of the pandemic. France, Spain and the Czech Republic have all broken records in new cases and introduced measures to mitigate the spread. The United Kingdom has also recorded record numbers of new infections in a single day, and Ireland has completely locked down.

Germany—which largely avoided problems during the first European wave— has reported shocking numbers of new infections, which topped 10,000 in a single day on Wednesday. Authorities there have also blamed young people going out or groups meeting privately for the spread. Dr. Lothar Wieler, told the DW network that people going to work is not the problem. “We don’t see so many outbreaks at workplaces or in public transportation, but it’s mostly coming together in privacy, in parties and also in services and weddings,” he said. “We shouldn’t have too many of these events.”

[…]

But for many, the sacrifices that helped during the first round seem lost now, as though they had been made in vain.

Your Maximum Leader is frequently accused of being a pessimist by Mrs. Villain. He counters that he tries to be a realist. (NB: in any context this is an argument for the ages and will never be resolved.) But your Maximum Leader has privately, and is now publicly, wondered if some mitigation is just the best we can do against this virus until there is a vaccine and approved treatment regimen. The data seems to be adding up in the direction of we can try to limit the number of Covid related deaths, but we aren’t going to stop it. Your Maximum Leader remembers back at the beginning of the Covid outbreak in the US it was quarantine to slow the spread and not overwhelm the health care system. If one carefully read the charts and listened to the experts, the number of dead were not going to change just the period over which people died would be spread out. Your Maximum Leader thinks that this is what we are in for as fall turns to winter. All the precautions and steps we may (or may not) take as a nation (or collection of states - more accurately in this situation) are likely only to change the death toll in the margins. The numbers are going to happen and there isn’t much that can be done to stop them from happening.

Carry on.

The Lost Lincoln

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader watched the Discovery Channel program “Undiscovered: The Lost Lincoln” last night. In the program one follows Dr. Whitny Braun (a professional authenticator, bioethics expert, and professor at Loma Linda University in California) attempt to authenticate an image of Abraham Lincoln. This image was alleged to have been taken in the brief window of time between Lincoln’s death and the removal of his body from the Petersen House to the White House.

Your Maximum Leader, upon seeing the photo for the first time on the reveal at beginning of the show, was doubtful that it was an image of Lincoln. Something about it seemed off. By the end of the program your Maximum Leader believed that was plausible that it could be an image of Lincoln on his deathbed. Your Maximum Leader isn’t enough of an expert in Lincoln’s final hours to determine some things that have been pointed out in news articles. (Like the fact that the figure in the photo has a shirt on, but Lincoln was likely shirtless as his shirt was cut away to look for other wounds.) Your Maximum Leader’s biggest gripes with the show are these. They have a firearms expert show how modern weapons affect ballistic gelatin. That is pretty useless gun porn. (NB: Your Maximum Leader is saying this as a lover of gun porn.) The another gripe is that no one who believes the image to be fake was interviewed. There are doubters out there, and getting some of them on camera to explain their position would have been interesting to see. The doubters might not have made for very good TV, but your Maximum Leader would have liked it. Also, there is passing mentioning of the image being “retouched.” (Specifically some very faint color added to the cheek.) That was glossed over. If the image was retouched in any way wouldn’t that increase the chances of it being a fake? Lastly, and this was spelled out early on, the image they are examining is a high-quality digital image of the original image. The original is in a safe deposit box under court supervision (as the ownership of the image is in dispute). So there may be information to be gleaned from the original that can’t be ascertained from the digital copy.

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader has wasted 2 hours of his time in worse ways than this program. If you are so inclined, you might try to watch it.

Carry on.

Happy Birthday - R3

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes a very happy birthday to King Richard III of England. After Henry II, Richard is your Maximum Leader’s favorite Plantagenet king.

One day, your Maximum Leader would like to travel to Leicester and visit the grave of Richard III. (He’s thought of making a trip to visit the royal burials at Winchester Cathedral and Worcester Cathedral as well.) He wonders if he could sneak into Frogmore to see some more recent ones as well…

Well, a happy 568th birthday to Richard III.

Carry on.

Primetime Arguments

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader started on the bourbon at about 7pm last night, knowing that the Presidential “debate” started at 9pm. He’s a little embarrassed to admit it, but he was about 6 oz of 100 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon in by 9pm.

What a shitshow. It was terrible. Absolutely terrible. It was probably the worst “debate” your Maximum Leader has seen in his lifetime. (And your Maximum Leader remembers the Carter/Reagan debates of 1980. So that is a while now…)

He turned it off after about 45 minutes. He really isn’t sure when he turned it off because time had lost all meaning after a few minutes of whatever that was on his television.

So your Maximum Leader put on this gem and cozied up to Mrs. Villain hoping it would put her in the mood.

Sadly, this didn’t do the trick… Mrs. Villain wasn’t impressed. Not even by the guy at 2:30 in the video.

Sadness.

Carry on.

Comments

Greetings, loyal minions. This blog is old and in need of updates. Both your Maximum Leader writing updates, and the software that runs it. He’s been getting piles of spam comments. He’s sure some of the code somewhere has been manipulated. Sadly, this is beyond his ability to fix. He is looking into finding someone who can do an update and help him out. Until then, he’s had to disable comments. If you are interested in reaching out to him about something you see (or don’t see) here, you most likely have my email. Drop me a line.

Carry on.

100 Below - In The Deep Woods

It was his favorite trail. It wound into deep empty woods. They walked silently for an hour. He spoke. “I’m glad you suggested this. It is so peaceful.”

“I know you love it,” she said.

“I am so happy to be here with you.”

“Let’s go look at the marsh flowers,” she suggested. He smiled and walked a way off the trail. She followed. He sat down on a large rock at the side of marsh. She raised the gun and shot him in the head. She stared at the gun. She sighed. Was it time to end herself too?

There May Be A Bulge In My Stillsuit

Greetings, loyal minions.

The title of this post says it all.

Looks good.

Carry on.

Lovecraft Country

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He doesn’t believe he’s made any secret of this ever. He discovered Lovecraft’s works when he was young, and loved them. He was, and still is, a Lovecraft geek.

That being said, Lovecraft was a terrible racist. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t mean this in the way that the term is thrown about with all the ease of calling someone with whom you disagree “as bad as Hitler.” He means that Howard Phillips Lovecraft really was a racist. He hated Jews, Blacks, Asians, Italians, and probably the Irish and Catholics too. (Not sure about the Irish and the Catholics… You might still be able to be prejudiced against those two. (He kids. Really, kidding… Or is he?)) His letters are full of racist material. Certainly there are outwardly racist bits in his writings, as well as some racist material through interpretation. Your Maximum Leader didn’t catch the offensive themes, or at least didn’t focus on them, when he was young. He has noticed them since he’s gotten older. Indeed, he never thought to interpret “A Shadow Over Innsmouth” as a metaphor for the intermixing of races until someone suggested that interpretation to him (probably around 2005). After re-reading “Shadow” after this was suggested to him, your Maximum Leader saw it clear as day. He supposes that he’d never thought of the story as anything more than a horror story about half-fish people…

Anyhoo…

HBO is putting out a new series in a few days (a week maybe - the DVR is already set) called “Lovecraft Country.” Your Maximum Leader admits that he is all giddy with excitement for watching it. The story is, simply put, one of a Black Korean War veteran who travels during the time of Jim Crow** to learn about his family along the way encountering the racism of America of the time as well as supernatural horrors.

Why is all this coming up right now? That is to ask, why is your Maximum Leader bothering to blog about this? Well, some intertoob algorithms have somehow connected your Maximum Leader’s fondness for Lovecraft and this show and is pushing news articles to him. Here is one from the LA Times by Meredith Blake that he read: “H.P. Lovecraft was a virulent racist. How “Lovecraft Country” confronts his legacy.” The piece, towards the end, does start to deal with writers who are conflicted by their dislike of Lovecraft’s personal beliefs (some of which translate to the page) and their love of the stories themselves and the mythology they create. There is one paragraph that struck your Maximum Leader as noteworthy. In it Hugo Award winning writer N.K. Jemisin is quoted. Here is the part:

But Jemisin doesn’t think Lovecraft — or his canon — should be canceled. Instead, she has argued that readers should acknowledge the potential harm of his writing, then engage with it “when they are strong enough” to do so. “You have to recognize that these are people and that the things that make them sometimes horrible people are sometimes the things that make them good writers or good artists, and that’s what you want to engage with,” she told the New Yorker.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t handle the “cancel” culture well. He thinks it is intellectually and socially stifling. It causes good people to stay quiet when their ideas might challenge the mob. It also emboldens the mob as it does its best to tear down that which makes civilization civilized. So he was heartened to read that a noted award winning author was against cancelling Lovecraft. He supposes it is good advice to suggest that someone wait until they are strong enough to read the works of Lovecraft before they do. Are there really people that sensitive that they can’t manage to read a book or story written by a man dead nearly 100 years? There must be or else people wouldn’t talk about it so much. Your Maximum Leader will suggest that if one doesn’t have the fortitude to read works that might offend or challenge their beliefs or world-view, then please leave them alone. And leave them alone enough for the rest of us to decide how to approach them.

In this vein… Your Maximum Leader wonders if William Faulkner is on the list to be cancelled before too long…

Your Maximum Leader may choose to buy the book upon which the TV show is based and see if he likes it. Not too long ago he bought a collection of Lovecraft inspired stories from various authors and enjoyed it very much. Some of the stories he enjoyed even more than Lovecraft’s on account of a more modern style of writing that was more conducive to his tastes.

Carry on.

**UPDATE: As of the end of episode 1, the story protagonists do not travel to the Jim Crow South, as your Maximum Leader wrote originally. They are traveling from Chicago to Massachusetts during the 1950’s and are subject to not only Jim Crow laws, but the racists who support them. As many reviewers have noted, and it is worth repeating here, there are two sets of villains in the story the first are racist whites the second are the supernatural monsters.

Beirut Explosion

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was shocked and horrified to see the video of the massive explosion at the docks of Beirut, Lebanon, yesterday. Reports are that more than 100 people were killed. Damage is extensive. Your Maximum Leader feels for the people of Beirut and hopes that this was not a terrorist attack. Beirut, once the shining star of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 1960s, then the war ravaged desolation of the 1980s, seems to have been coming back in the 21st century. One hopes this is not a portent of the future.

Your Maximum Leader, no expert in these things. (He’s just an idiot with a website.) Speculated to himself yesterday that, given the location of the explosion at the port along the docks, that something in a warehouse or on a ship must have exploded. Apparently now there are reports that seem to back this up. Here is one: Beirut Ignored Public Warning There Was a Russian ‘Bomb’ at the Port. Here is a second: Fireworks, ammonium nitrate likely fueled Beirut explosion. Both linked articles assert that as much as 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate (the fertilizer used in the Oklahoma City bombing) was being stored in a warehouse or on a ship and it was this material that likely exploded.

Terrible. Your Maximum Leader is sure we will learn more as the investigation continues.

Carry on.

100 Below: From Glowplugs With Love**

Maria Von Monitor took a selfie. Her luminescent face shone against the snow-capped Alpine peaks behind her.Then she spied her new boyfriend running towards her..

“DRIVE! DAMN IT!,” he shouted at her.

Maria fumbled for her keys. She opened the door and got in. She put the key in the ignition and turned it a single click.

James Bond jumped into the passenger seat. “Why aren’t we going?,” he spat at her.

“Glowplugs need to warm up! It’s a diesel!” She cried through tears of panic.

Then the hail of gunfire rained down on them from Blofeld’s henchmen.

** - Your Maximum Leader had to update the title and one word of this short story due his own screw up. For some reason, over the course of his whole life, your Maximum Leader has called glowplugs (a part found in a diesel engine) “glowtubes.” He doesn’t know why he does this. But he does. He’s been school by mechanics including his own father-in-law as to the proper term. In the case of this post, he was not schooled by his father-in-law, or a mechanic, but his best buddy Kevin. Thanks for the edit. It was needed.

He feels shame…

Anima Veneziana

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that an organization, Anima Veneziana is crowdfunding a film about Venice, by Venetians. Any reader of this space knows of your Maximum Leader’s unrequited love of Venice. If he could only go one place in the world before he dies, Venice would be that place.

Your Maximum Leader learned of this project via a piece in Forbes, Venice Is More Than Flooding and Overtourism. The piece opens thusly:

Blighted, decadent, doomed, Venice is often spoken of only in terms of its turbulent relationship with the sea and its museumification by overtourism. A new film, made by Venetians about Venetians, is hoping to change Venice’s international image by bringing to the fore the city’s residents and their lives.

“It was a project born from the dark days under lockdown,” says Monica Cesarato, a local food blogger who developed the idea for the Anima Veneziana film. The short film will follow a day in the life of Venice, “where all categories of its citizens will appear,” she says.

“It stems from the desire to change the narrative of the city, plagued by the stories of its umpteenth death after high water and the closure during COVID-19,” explains Cesarato. One of the worst periods of flooding in Venice’s history hit the city in November, prompting a stream of dramatic images in the international media.

Your Maximum Leader loves that. Blighted, decadent, and doomed. Perhaps those words do best to summarize why your Maximum Leader loves the idea of Venice so much. If he can spare a few bucks (Euros) he might help fund this film.

Carry on.

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