Lizard-witness news.

Monday, August 31st, 2020

There’s this story:

Georgia officials trying to stop large, invasive lizard that eats ‘anything they want’

The Argentine black and white tegu [ a..] lizard that tops 4 feet long, sprints at nearly 20 mph and gobbles up everything from grasshoppers to young gopher tortoises, a rare native species.

Researchers caught one at a farm in Toombs County earlier this week, the sixth one documented in Georgia this year. Researchers caught three of them themselves, collected one that was a road-kill and were handed another two that a resident shot.

and then this photo and story:

AP photo: Godzilla (aka Gojira) appointed Shinjuku’s tourism ambassador in April

Godzilla finally gets citizenship in Japan

Shinjuku has a population density of about 17,000 people per square kilometre but undeterred by this it has granted citizenship to a new resident, who only goes by one name – Godzilla.

…and I’m trying to cleverly thread the two together but I think they’re only funny inside my head, so maybe that’s where the connectivity should stay.

Storm will pass.

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

I spent most of the day off of Twitter and Instagram, so I missed that the current occupant of the office of President apparently unleashed a storm of tweets…and you know what? If you don’t sit there paging hypnotically through them, but instead have a day that is more positive and affirming…well, the storm passes without affecting you in the slightest.

I should say that this “just turn away” philosophy does not work with a global pandemic or with any of the other real issues in the world…but tweets from a lunatic? Ah, they were here and now they’ve evaporated into the steamy ether.

Adding fuel.

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

I do wonder sometimes if the raw BTUs of social media rage could be harnessed, would we finally have a source of clean energy that could surpass thousands of spinning windplants and acres of solar arrays.

The thing is, of course, is that anger, which by my amateur measurement has been building every week and every month throughout 2020, is not really “clean” by any spiritual or karmic measure. It’s full of dirt, and interleaved with duplicity, and egged on by the thousands of…let’s say entities, real and synthetic, who take the 280-character ball and run with it, expressing their agreement or contempt or…just expressing that they too are here on the planet and would like to have a moment to be heard.

So. Very. Angry. And then hurt. And then angry some more.

When actor Chadwick Boseman died—was it only yesterday?—I prepared my eyeballs for the reactions, the “takes”, the attempts to express emotion in original ways when the call for emotions has come so frequently this year that, well, what’s left in the tank?

Much of the memorialization was quite poetic and beautiful, but there was some that just communicated a certain “I’m numb, so cmd-c copy, cmd-v paste, I’m going to lie down for a while.” That’s OK too, of course, but when the copy-paste amplification attacks our neighbors, our fellow Americans who may or may not also be in pain, well, that’s energy I’d sure prefer to divert elsewhere.

Chadwick Boseman.

Friday, August 28th, 2020

If you go back through the Twitter feed of the late Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday, you feel the energy, the fervency he was trying to pour in to getting people to the polls in 2020, right up until a very few days ago.

This while battling colon cancer. And working, over four years, on films as diverse as Avengers: Civil War, Marshall, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, and Da 5 Bloods. Before that, he portrayed a memorable Jackie Robinson in 42.

But I think my favorite is Thurgood Marshall, because Marshall was probably my favorite Supreme Court justice, and Boseman truly brought him to life on the screen.

Boseman was a young man. A 2000 Howard University grad. Born in Anderson, South Carolina (not far across the border from Georgia.)

In 2018, he delivered the Howard commencement address, saying in small part, “Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you.”

“I don’t know what your future is,” he told the graduates, “but if you’re willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes … then you will not regret it.”

Avoidance maneuver.

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

I’m not the first person to testify to this (plenty of Twitter people and the commenters on Nancy’s blog are saying much the same) but…even though I come from a family who watched both conventions from gavel to gavel and soaked in the raw politics of it all, I am going extremely out of my way to avoid what they’re calling the 2020 Republican National Convention.

It’s not easy though. I fire up the YouTubeTV (y’know, what passes for cable these days) and, holy crap, pasty fervent mask-free sputtering white folks fill the tiny icons up and down the dial (that was a WKRP in Cincinnati reference).

If it looks like a channel might be covering the damage from Hurricane Laura or the brutal shootings in Kenosha, I might punch it up for a few seconds, but even BBC World News and France 24 are taking this superspreader Hatch Act violation from the South Lawn of the White House live as if it means anything.

You know, it doesn’t mean anything. I’m getting more out of a rerun of Beat Bobby Flay (remember to de-vein your shrimp!) than any of this multicast drivel. Hey, the week’s almost over.

In the gulf.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Way, way, way back in 1999 I did some spinny blue turbulent hurricane promo graphics for KTRK, Channel 13 in Houston so if a hurricane threatened Houston or the Gulf Coast generally, the TV station would be prepared with flashy graphics that were, well somewhat sober because people’s lives were at stake.

I remember that they started with the matter-of-fact “there’s a hurricane in the gulf.”

Well, tonight there’s a hurricane in the gulf, designated ‘Laura’ for reasons meteorlogical, and it’s headed right for the small towns and low, surge-susceptible bays of Louisiana, just east of the Texas-Louisiana border.

Laura is supposed to make landfall past midnight, and I’m thinking of the many folks in those towns, making their living growing sugarcane, repairing boats and ships of all sizes, and, of course, from the petrochemical industry that is tucked away in the bays south of Port Charles and along the coast into Texas.

We drove unhurriedly through the towns on back roads and US 90 in December of last year headed from New Orleans, skirting the top of the Houston megasprawl, to Austin. Be safe, Louisianans, Texans, and others in the storm’s path.

A long temporary.

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

I remember a time when the yellow signs above the freeways admonished us about driving, not public health.

One mom of two told me the other day she explained to her son that all this was temporary, but a really, really, really, really, really, really, long temporary.

That seems like a good explanation.


Monday, August 24th, 2020

News sites love to push out tons and tons of tracking code, giant logos, and fancy animations and video along with their web pages, but I know when I find myself in, shall we say, a bandwidth-constrained location, where the data speeds are just about at 1995 dialup levels, well, then you’d certainly appreciate a site where the headlines are simple, the text is easy to read and the ads are mercifully nonexistent.

CNN has one, as does NPR. There may be others, but these will get you through a data drought and reassure you that the idiotic stuff that you thought was happening (and yet couldn’t bring yourself to watch)…well, yeah, that stuff is happening.

I like to think this as a public service of these massive news sites. It might be possible that it’s just a script running on a server somewhere that people have forgotten and when they spot it, they’ll yank it down with force.

But I sure hope they don’t. Words, just words. Sometimes that’s the essence of what the news is.

The things we have to lose.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

The current President likes to toss out the phrase “what do you have to lose?” as a sort of salesman-y “just give it a try” challenge.

Vote for Trump—what do you have to lose?

The Twitter universe being what it is, the urge to answer his rhetoric with a substantive list of just what we have to lose results in thousands of tweets; taken together, what we have to lose seems to dominate the universe of online discourse.

So much we’ve already lost. So much new, larger, vast swaths of potential losing in areas of healthcare, employment, and, of course, a path toward living within and through the pandemic.

If any time calls for a choice that is the opposite of “what the heck, give it a shot”—it is now.

Because in the days remaining before the election, even simply listing all we have lost and will lose would take up all the time. But we don’t have to do that. We feel the loss every day.

Droplet patterns.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

We returned to an Atlanta in its familiar late summer pattern: rainy, sometimes very rainy late in the afternoon, just in time for commuting drivers to find small lakes on the city’s interstates.

Since I’ve never really had to commute to a job, I have no real read on whether there are fewer folk out there having to fight with this on the freeways, but I can report that in our very intown Virginia Highland neighborhood, on my way back home with a takeout dinner, I saw more than a dozen bicyclists soaked to the bone, including a dad with two first-grader-ish protegés off his starboard beam, heading down Virginia avenue, looking very much as if they were biking through a swimming pool.

The kids were not distraught, however. (I might have been at that age.)

Trucking on.

Friday, August 21st, 2020

I typed the keyword truck into my fancy database of all my (and Sammy’s) Instagram pictures, and here’s what instantly came out. Some of what came out. These are all my pics (she has a few fine truck images as well.)

So…why? Is Friday truck day? Do I simply need a cleanse from the week of politics, pandemic, and paying our bills? That’s probably it.

Hope you have a good weekend.

Call to the light.

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Joe Biden brought the fireworks Thursday night.

“And while I’ll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me.”

“We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back in schools, we will never have our lives back until we deal with this virus.”

“No miracle is coming.” ​ “The president still does not have a plan. Well, I do.”

“Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it. I believe we’re ready.”

I’m voting for a guy who has the courage to speak truth to the American people.

Nice job, Joe.

Gotta do the work.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

The Democratic nominee for Vice-President, Kamala Harris: “Let’s be clear: there is no vaccine for racism.”

She says, “We’ve gotta do the work…None of us are free until all of us are free.”

Inspired. Inspiring.

Up and coming.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

I’m spending another evening largely averting my eyes from actually consuming the Democratic Virtual and Multibox Extravaganza Convention, because, as I said yesterday evening, yeah, I’m voting for Joe. No question. Will walk through reams of bureaucracy to do so.

I’m pro-human being and I vote.

But I hear in the attempts at covering this thing that there will be a whirlwind..uh..speech?…which will include some fine Georgians like Sally Yates, Sam Park, and Stacey Abrams, as well as some big names like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who literally has a big name.

Why are they talking, even for a few seconds in a whirlwind montage? Because they’re (some pundits say) up-and-coming. That’s sometimes a nice way of saying “young,” and political professionals have a tradition of trying to spot the next up and comer by judging the audience response to the youngster given the honor of the keynote address.

But, well, you know, Covid, virtual, no audience. So how can you tell if they’re lighting up the room? And is lighting up the social media universe the same thing (I would say: no.)

So look sharp, the President of the United States from the 2028 elections may well have just said one or two powerful things. Make a note.

Forming a more perfect (union.)

Monday, August 17th, 2020

I tried a minute or two of MSNBC and NPR talking about or in some cases over the TV show/streaming thing that was the Democratic national convention, and maybe it’s the year we’ve had, or maybe it’s the poor audio quality and compounded delays of what passes for live broadcasting these days…

…but my reaction, overall, was impatience.

DNC, I am sold. I do not need to be persuaded. You’ve had my vote almost from the day Trump took office.

I do understand the theory that there are persuadable people out there, but barring research to the contrary, I find it hard to buy that there are any voters who will tune in the Democrats and the Republicans and say “well, let’s just see how good a case they’ll make.” Any voters.

It does my heart good to see and hear Americans from all over read chunks of the preamble to the Constitution. It does my heart good to see Eva Longoria host a program that has some of the feeling of Live Aid without the rock and roll, but again, I think I’d rather watch a tightly edited montage of attorneys, poll watchers, congresspeople, and voting rights advocates suiting up, ready for just and legal and (I would hope extremely) nonviolent battle.

It does me less good to hear John Kasich of Ohio talk about why he just couldn’t stomach Trump in 2016 (yet did he vote for Clinton? Oh no, he did not.)

I do not need to hear from Republicans who will, although they agree very little with the Democrats, hold their nose and vote for Joe because Trump is worse. Happy for their vote, but do we really need to hear their anguished calculations?

It definitely does my heart good to read the words (and there’s a video too) of a former Trump administration Homeland Security official who confirmed that yeah, collectively we aren’t crazy, all this really awful, illegal crap happened behind the scenes at the hand of the current President and oh by the way, he really does have the breadth and attention span of a piece of pepperoni.

By rights, we should have dozens of former Trump officials lining up behind the microphone from here to the horizon making clear how messed up the situation inside the White House walls is, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from these past almost-four-years, it’s that people aren’t quite as honorable as you would like them to be, when you would like them to be.

If they start to appear in numbers, that would be a fine October surprise.

Convening, but not really.

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

This posed promo picture from ABC in 1952 was meant to symbolize the vast resources brought to play in covering these events. Um. Two guys and a camera guy?

In 1952, American television provided coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions, and they were only able to get the pictures out of the city of Chicago because AT&T had recently finished the first TV-capable transcontinental coaxial cable (an investment of some 40 million dollars.)

The Republican convention, held first, was conducted under some fairly draconian specifications for the TV people…for example, they could shoot only from the extreme sides of the auditorium. The Democrats learned from those missteps and, notably, contracted a towering scaffold right in the middle of the attendees so the speakers at the podium would be easily seen. Their politicians were front and center, and in better lighting. It’s always about the pictures.

We are now in the second decade (or is it starting the third?) of the 21st century, and the two parties are conducting something they are calling a convention, but because of the pandemic, what we will see will probably be closer to the world’s fanciest Zoom call, with speakers in little boxes, waving, and…I don’t know? Real crowd noise? Fake crowd noise? I guess we’ll see, if we bother to watch the foregone conclusions on both sides.

Even as a diehard broadcasting type person, I’m having trouble moving that to the top of our viewing priorities.