Hi, The Pumpkin here. I’m trying to cram stuff in this week because I’m taking a short vacation away from muh li’l laptop next week and you’ll miss me when I’m gone. Sorry.
PS I’m going by train, as long as the virtue signals are working….
Quote of the Week
“We all know how Trump struggles to do the bare minimum of being a president but it’s still genuinely shocking just how much he struggles to do the bare minimum of being a fucking person.” – John Oliver, on Trump’s fumbled El Paso appearance.
Good luck with 2020
(This article first appeared in Tuesday’s Boglington Post but has been moved here because it’s better, okay?)
Further news reaches us of Trump’s continuing mental disintegration.
Japan Times reports, a number of countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens after the USA experienced 25 mass shootings in 2 months; including last week’s murders of 22 people at a Walmart supermarket in El Paso.
A perfectly responsible, normal reaction. Some governments feel a duty to safeguard their own citizens.
“Well, I can’t imagine that,” Trump said when told of the warnings. “But if they did that, we’d just reciprocate. We are a very reciprocal nation, with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.”
For someone so thin-skinned, he sure resembles a rhinoceros at times. Especially when he’s proposing to wreck his own tourism industry.
So reasonable warnings from civilized countries like Japan to their own citizens when in America to be careful and avoid the sort of Wild West arcades where the little mini-Trumps go to blast away at live foreigners and schoolkids, result in a “reciprocal” threat from the madman-in-chief to warn Americans they’re in similar danger abroad, or not to travel anywhere, shitholes, whatever.
That’s to countries that generally don’t have racist neo-Nazis, teenage paranoiacs and other psychopathic Trump true-believers running around with legally owned AR-15 assault rifles shooting people indiscriminately. (We have news today of a Trump supporter, a disorderly military veteran fracturing the skull of a random 13-year-old child he thought was “disrespectin’ duh national anfum”, by piledriving him headfirst into the ground at a fair.)
I imagine most normal Americans can’t wait to get out, warnings or no.
Who reacts like this, like some brutal mob boss, to any perceived slight? Who else imagines themselves to be personally insulted when someone passes a reasonable comment involving their country, or kneels when the anthem is played, when the appropriate response would be to try to reassure travellers that they’re perfectly safe with him in charge, and attend to the cause of the protest without fake patriotic melodrama?
Donald the fucking Sun King, that’s who. King Donald the Mad.
It’s not that long ago that Trump was tweeting abuse at London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, for allowing one shooting and two stabbings over a single weekend, in a city of 7 million stressed people. As if he could do anything to stop them, apart from by not being a Muslim. Oh, and by not criticizing President-elect Trump over his efforts to ban Muslims. When was that? Three years ago!
And we’re not even his country. No yet, anyway. (I hear he’s considering an offer.)
Good luck with 2020, America.
You’re going to need it.
(I see that rotten stinker with the ludicrous ‘Mr Pastry’ mustache who likes to start wars and changes regimes more often than his fetid old underpants, John Bolton is in London today for talks with the preposterous PM, the craven weasel Boris Johnson.
Iran, here we come.)
Oh, and guess whose name has popped up in the Jeffrey Epstein saga, as another “friend of the late financier”? Why, trot forward on a pure white Arabian steed, Mr Trump’s young protege, Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman of Saudi Barbaria, no less. Epstein’s Rolodex must have been on fire! (New York Times: The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People, 12 Aug.)
It might perhaps offer some kind of explanation as to why the Trump family is so assiduously putting about the fake news, that Hillary Clinton had Epstein killed in prison to protect Bill.
On the other hand….
E Pluribus, Donald
A rapper calling himself A$AP Rocky has been found guilty of affray and given a two-year suspended sentence by a Swedish court, following an attack on two young immigrant fans who were following the rappers’ party in a possibly annoying way.
The court found that Rocky had not acted in self-defense, as his defense lawyer tried to claim, but had joined in with two of his roadies in a serious but not gravely injurious attack.
This story would have been water under the bridge and certainly not had profile, had it not been for a bizarre tweet from the supposed President of the United States, demanding that Sweden drop the charge.
What Donald Trump thought he was doing, what right he had to interfere in the normal judicial process of another sovereign country over such a trivial affair, only God and the psychiatric community will ever know.
What we do know is that Trump has no regard whatever for the rule of law, in his own country or anyone else’s where he has no right of interference, other than for the arrogance of office.
This utterly bonkers individual actually threatened action against Sweden for persecuting a US citizen.
He tweeted: “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem”
By which we assume he means the vanishingly small number of crimes committed by Muslim immigrants and refugees, on which he notoriously fixated in 2017, claiming by some miracle of foresight that there had been a riot, two days before a minor affray conveniently broke out in one of Stockholm’s migrant majority banlieus.
What he meant by “we do so much for Sweden”, is anyone’s guess. The USA does nothing for Sweden, so far as I know. Sweden is a grown-up, independent nation, a stable constitutional monarchy, and has been for hundreds of years. Longer, certainly, than the USA, where around the end of the C19th hundreds of thousands of ethnic Swedes made their homes.
Perhaps that’s what he meant. The USA had taken in 1.2 million ethnic Swedes by 1910, driven out by years of poor harvests and failed agrarian reforms. That’s what “we did for Sweden”. “We” depopulated the place!
A$AP Rocky is not a well-known personage in the UK, we suspect, but we must assume that someone sympathetic to his cause got to the White House. Could that possibly have been Trump’s friend Kanye West, a rap artist equally as damaged by having been larded with a great deal more money than his modest talents might justify, as Trump himself is?
Oh, right, sorry, I’m being slow today. “Don’t call me a racist, see what I do for you colored people!”. Get the black vote out somehow.
There’s always something transactional in everything this Grade One menace does.
Shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans
We just had to pirate this priceless Trump anecdote from a strange piece in The Guardian, 13 Aug., on celebrities and their moments with the Gilded Oaf:
“Charlie Sheen recalls running into Trump in a restaurant, just before he was to get married. Because he couldn’t make it to the ceremony, Trump removed his expensive platinum and diamond cufflinks and handed them to Sheen as a gift. ‘Six months later I was having some jewellery appraised and remembered the cufflinks,’ Sheen recalled in 2016. ‘When the jeweller took a look, she recoiled and said: ‘In their finest moment, they were cheap pewter and bad zirconia.’ They had ‘Trump’ stamped on them. I think that says a lot about the man.'”
It perhaps says quite a lot about Sheen, too, that he couldn’t tell the difference.
I feel sure that if everything everyone now knows about this appalling caricature in the White House were to have come out loud and clear in 2015, he would never have been adopted as the pet monster of McConnell’s monstrous Republican party. Would he?
It reinforces the point about how difficult it is to get everyone at the same time to understand what’s going on, so poorly are most people equipped to pay attention, glued as we are to our cellphones (I’ve just signed on for a new one… it’s got a big screen and a twin-lens many gigapixels camera thing! And you can watch Netflix movies in realtime and store hundreds of thousands of tunes!) (Oh, do get on with it. Ed.)
There’s always enough inattention and confusion to ensure the baddies get away with it.
He doesn’t even like killing people. (Just watch video of him desperately trying to ignore a Yazidi woman in the Oval Office, telling him how her entire family was butchered and she was raped and enslaved by ISIS… “And so where is your family now?”)
Surely, there must be an almost unbearable level of embarrassment even among that power-crazed, money-grubbing bunch of shits, hicks, hacks and charlatans, that they elected a half-daft fairground freak in a tinsel tutu?
Is it even fair to mock him for his cheap tackiness, his utter fakery – from his cufflinks to his hair, to his tan to his boasts about the size of his, most of the time, negative bank balance, his vast intellect, his astonishing golfing prowess, and his prodigious… “wherever”?
His weird way of acting all the time as if he himself were a newly arrived immigrant, striving for a place in the sun, a street-rat clawing his way out of the Bowery, doing and saying whatever it takes to survive, even at his age.
That peculiarly American, insatiable hunger for acceptance in a cold world.
Did he learn that from Grandpa Drumpf?
Mockery hasn’t done any good, he’s still there, squatting like a big orange toad on the face of American democracy – for what that was worth – hacking about in the rough.
Each successive week brings more and more evidence of calculating insanity. He so clearly qualifies for the 25th Amendment. Yet nobody dares lift a finger!
Why are you all so pathetic?
The Lucky Jew
A theatrical colleague has half-Polish nationality. She and her boyfriend went over to Warsaw on a brief vacation trip and to visit family. On her return, we were up at the Director’s house watching a film and she gave me as a little holiday coming-home present, a Lucky Jew.
This rather startling memento is a small, carved wood and painted figure, about 3 inches high, of a bearded gentleman garbed in black, with a large nose and an expression of humble servility, clutching a bag presumably of money and a golden plate.
The tribute was in honor, she explained, of my recent triumph in the role of Shylock, the multi-layered, much put-upon Jewish banking character from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.
Happily, I found the idea funny. I find most ideas funny.
It came with the explanation that the Lucky Jew is “a thing” in Poland. What kind of thing I’m not sure, a souvenir thing for tourists unaware of the difficult history, presumably. Searching it, I find no hidden corkscrew.
I might have found my Lucky Jew embarrassingly antisemitic, were it not for something that happened the very next day, for which I forgive its creator everything.
That was a Tuesday night. Wednesday was a day on which the latest issue of Private Eye magazine arrives in my local supermarket. It comes out fortnightly, and rather than flashing my contactless card at the tobacco counter lady for a silly small amount, £2, I add on a £2 National Lottery entry for luck.
And, guess what, Reader, it came up!
Okay, so it was only three numbers, for a prize of £30.
But I haven’t won anything on the Lottery since winning £2.50 about ten years ago. Admittedly, I rarely enter. As the brilliant Saatchi and Saatchi ad campaign used to say, “It could be you!”, about the most insidiously persuasive tagline I’ve ever read – and I used to write them for a living.
Winning anything on what’s now known with chintzy faux-affection as Lotto is practically impossible to do, since the cheating bastards increased the number of draw numbers, adding on an extra ten, lying that it gave us more chances to win, and doubled the stake. You have to guess six numbers from 60 for two quid. The odds against picking a full suite of six correct random selections out of a possible 60 are astronomical, let alone with the seventh Bonus ball you need to go full £millions.
They really don’t want you to win anything, so they can go on throwing money at netball players and obscure provincial orchestras, and the lesser prizes are pathetic, given the difficulty of winning one of them.
Lucky for Lotto, however, so many people enter so many lines that by the law of averages, one eventually scoops the jackpot. The resulting publicity is the only thing that keeps people betting. A fifty-grand prize won’t do (5 correct numbers!), although it would me – apart from me, everyone foolishly dreams of becoming an instant multi-millionaire. Little do they know.
So anyway, I went back to the store yesterday to pick up my winnings, and do you know what?
That’s right! More luck!
I did my shopping, and when I paid for it, it apparently triggered the requisite very large number of points accumulated over many shopping weeks, and the checkout guy handed me a £5 voucher with my receipt!
I’m not sure how long this run of luck is supposed to hold out, from my Lucky Jew.
Today I had a call from the cellphone store, my sparkling new Huawei cellphone we ordered yesterday had gone out on the courier run this morning but for some reason connected with the end of civilization as we know it, the courier had delivered it straight back to the warehouse instead of to the store, and we can’t get another delivery before Friday, and that’s the day I leave for London and I’m not going without a degree-level course in how to find the on-switch.
I’m a bit on edge today, to be honest.
Because there are two kinds of luck, aren’t there.
“The weak foreign trade performance and declining construction investment proved sufficient to bring the German economy to its knees …”– A German economist responds hysterically to the news that Germany’s GDP shrank by a massive 0.1% last quarter.
Your old Granny comments: “We need to shrink GDP in all nations and by a lot more than tenths of a percentage point. Blind worship of growth figures is killing us.”
As if to rub in the point, after the Great Iceberg Lettuce Famine of 2017 and the Avocado Crisis of 2018, in August, 2019 Britain is facing an acute shortage and rising prices of – cauliflower. (Children across the nation cheer! And go on climate strike.)
The disaster is climate-related: “Heavy rainfall in June destroyed crops in Lincolnshire, and alternative European supplies wilted in last month’s heatwave. The shortages were described as “very concerning” by a spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association.
Expect to see more of this, we should.
Anyway, I’m sorry for Lincolnshire. The pickers all come from Romania, what are they going to do?
The BBC draws a veil over their plight.
Meanwhile, fearful of accusations of hypocrisy if she flies, Greta Thunberg has set sail on an oceangoing yacht, bound for a conference in the USA.
The media is reporting that it’s a zero-carbon voyage. Your Old Gran wonders if it’s a carbon-fiber yacht?
They mostly are nowadays.
A 72-year-old Australian man is in a critical condition following an incident in which he intervened to save his dog from an attack by a large Goanna lizard.
It was at first thought the dog had died, but later reported that it had survived the attack.
The man’s wife commented that that was the best news she had heard all day. (Guardian)
“In 2010 the famous Eyjafjallajökull eruption closed down all airports in Europe. But its CO2 emissions were only about 150,000 tonnes a day, compared with human activity which is responsible for almost 100m tonnes a day.” – Andri Snaer Magnason, Icelandic author and glaciologist.
(Your Old Granny adds: Your weekend shopping trip from Heathrow to New York will cost the rest of us as much atmospheric forcing per head as the average Ghanaian emits in a year. Thanks for that.)
GW: Slipslidin’ away
Pakistan: “Monsoon rain and floods in Sindh province have left 26 dead. At least 16 people died in Karachi district, which was one of the worst hit areas. Heavy rain and flooding damaged buildings and inundated streets. Deaths were caused electrocution from downed power cables, drowning, lightning strikes and collapsed buildings. Karachi recorded 129.40mm of rain in 24 hours to 11 Aug.” (Floodlist)
India: “Heavy rain has caused flooding and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. 6 people died on 12 August after landslides in 3 villages in Chamoli district. Major roads were blocked. (Some places received) up to 130mm of rain in 24 hours. The heavy rain is increasing river levels.”(Floodlist) Over 180 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides in southern and western parts of the subcontinent over the last few days.
Japan: Typhoon Krosa (the third in 3 weeks to hit Japan) weakened to a tropical storm but still managed to dump more than 820 mm (32 inches) of rain on Shikoku, as of 15 Aug. Out of that total, 124.5 mm (nearly 5 inches) and 60.5 mm (2.38 inches) poured down in 3 and 1 hours, respectively. An elderly man died and over 40 people have been injured. (Accuweather)
Vietnam: In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Wipha, flooding that began around 8 Aug. has caused 10 deaths and displaced almost 2000 people. Kien Giang and Lam Dong are the worst hit provinces, where some rivers have reached record levels. (Floodlist)
Greece: “Fires have been raging through a “unique, untouched pine forest” on the Greek island of Evia as authorities fight to keep the flames under control. Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby villages as the fire broke out in the early hours of (13 Aug.) Other wildfires broke out on the island of Thassos, as well as in the central region of Viotia and the Peloponnese. There was also a fire reported in Peania, a suburb of Athens. (BBC)
Switzerland: 2 people are missing, thought to have been swept away in their car, after flash flooding in the canton of Valais. The area saw violent storms on 11 Aug. Heavy rain from the storm caused the Losentze river to overflow, triggering flooding and mudslides in the commune of Chamoson. (Floodlist)
USA: At least 5 dogs have died after swimming in lakes affected by toxic algal blooms caused by heatwaves in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. Torrential downpours are forecast for areas from northern Florida to southeastern Georgia and perhaps the Carolina coast later this week, at risk for multiple showers and thunderstorms on a daily basis.
A hailstone with a maximum diameter of 4.83 inches fell in Bethune, Colorado, on 13 Aug. The record was confirmed on Wednesday evening by the Colorado Climate Center. The previous state record in Colorado was 4.5 inches. (Accuweather)
Excessive heat warnings are out for 110 degree (43C) temperatures in central California, around Sacramento (The Weather Channel) CNN reported (22 Aug.): “Almost 50 large wildfires are burning in a dozen US states from Texas to Alaska. The McKinley Fire, which has now spread to more than 4,300 acres in Alaska, has destroyed at least 80 structures so far, the Alaska Division of Forestry reported Wednesday morning.”
Australia: unreal scenes as the Melbourne area of Victoria state is deep in snow. Videos have been tweeted of wombats shivering and kangaroos frolicking in the cold. Extraordinarily, the rare cold winter – storms, snow – accompanied bizarrely by many unseasonal wildfires in the parched interior – is given not one line of coverage in the Australian mainstream media today.
Wednesday, and News.com.au is reporting that the weather pattern in the southeast especially but really, all over the big island, is totally chaotic, with 38 degree days alternating with near freezing temperatures, rain and wind and then back again. Except they’re not using the word ‘chaotic’. And as winter turns to spring, the wildfire map is showing hundreds of outbreaks all along the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. They’re not mentioning those either.
Oz, you’re about as fucked as America is. And you’ve got the pols to go with it.
Postscriptum: 24 Aug., looking down on the Pole, a cyclone is clearly visible forming amid the chaos of the jetstream winds, bringing more heat and wave action to the Arctic today. (Climate Reanalyzer, courtesy of Arctic News)