Five Things: June 2, 2020

Oh, not much going on in the world at the moment, is there?

Here are today’s five things:

Trump gassing peaceful protestors to walk to a photo op: I think we’re all used to the president being appallingly tone deaf, but this one seems destined for the top ten collection (I’m hesitant to rank it any higher at the moment simply because there are at least eight months left in his presidency, and he’s going to be more desperate as he goes along). The fact that the tear-gassing begun during his “Oh boy I sure wanna do me some martial law” speech, and then the president walked over to the church and held up a Bible like a cudgel, surely did give the event symbolism. Just not the symbolism he was aiming for, and definitely not the symbolism history will provide it.

The topper, of course, is that the Church was neither told he was coming nor wanted him to be there. As the Bishop Mariann E. Budde noted:

“He did not pray. He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years. We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.”

Mind you, gassing protestors and wielding the Word of God like a club makes the president’s base of racists and Really Bad Christians happy, and he wants them happy with him because no one else is, or will be. Trump is not the anti-Christ, but I tell you what, if a Democratic president did exactly the same things Trump is doing now, the same Very Bad Christians who are oozing with joy over Trump would be tossing the term around with impunity. But that hypothetical president wouldn’t be the anti-Christ, either. Just a very very very very very bad president.

Update on the ant situation: Lacking a strong pheromone trail, the ant legions are bit scattered and confused in the front hallway, and I thunder through regularly, deploying the Thumb of Doom on them. I tried cinnamon as some suggested to see what it would do to them; the answer is, it doesn’t seem to do anything, and now I have cinnamon in my hallway. What does seem to work, however: Febreeze. It corrals them pretty effectively. This is all containment until the ant traps arrive in a couple of days. I’m making a science project out of it, basically.

For all that:

That blackout thing: I missed the “Blackout Tuesday” thing in the planning stages and found out about it after people started complaining that associating lots of black screens with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag was making it useless for actual transmission of information. Good intentions have unexpected consequences, basically.

While I would not tell others how to do their thing, for myself I’ve been largely resistant to changing up my social media profile pictures or jumping onto hashtags. That sort of thing often feels like empty calorie activism to me, I suspect in part because I have other ways to signal how I feel about current events and social issues (hint: you’re reading it right now). But I also acknowledge that if you feel like you want to do something but don’t know how, profile pics and hashtags are at least a start. It does help to pay attention to consequences, however, unintended or otherwise.

Crazy Rich Asians: I eventually maxed out on reality last night and decided to indulge in some escapism, which involved a) salted caramel ice cream, and b) Crazy Rich Asians, which has become one of my go-to films for a bit of happiness. There are lots of reasons I like this film, but one of them is that — having gone to a high school that had its share of kids whose families were “comfortable” (to use the euphemism one character in the film uses for being really rich) — it does a pretty good job of simulating the casual aspects of being wealthy, i.e., what your concerns and cares are like when money literally is no object. I don’t want to go too far in that, since there are a lot of clearly amped-up-for-plot-purposes bits (the bachelor and bachelorette parties are prime examples), and ultimately this movie is a fairy tale complete with a marriage proposal. But when it’s not directly doing that, it gets the everyday utopia of wealth right. These folks have problems, but rent sure as hell isn’t one of them.

A wretched record: Speaking of films, this is an interesting story in Variety about how The Wretched, a low-budget horror film I certainly haven’t ever heard of before, has been the number one movie at the box office for weeks — because it’s showing at drive-ins, which are the only theaters currently open. This is one of those “technically correct, but come on” records. 2020 is going to be full of those before the end, I suspect.

42 thoughts on “Five Things: June 2, 2020

  1. The Stupid Statement of the Week award is going to have a very broad field, this time around. x.x

  2. Remember Richard Feynman and the ants from “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman.”

    Has anyone tested the effect of tear gas on Coronavirus? If it is anything like Lysol, maybe Trump was trying to help..

  3. I’m sure he’ll come up with something newly stupid or insensitive or holy-fuck-I-can’t-believe-it to do before he leaves office but clearing the streets to stride “bravely” down them for the Biblical photo op will certainly rank up there. The less time he spends away from his rallies and actually in the White House, the more the voters get to see who/what they really voted for.

  4. In need of some light silliness at the moment, so I brought some…

    Awaiting the inevitable spin-off blog posts “Five Stranger Things” (probably written by Athena about monster hunting in other dimensions) and “Five Better Things” (probably written by Krissy about raising a teenage daughter)

  5. Sunday night I needed something to decompress, and finally got around to binge-watching all the episodes of BLACK GIRL IN A BIG DRESS on YouTube. Lots of fun, with some social commentary wrapped in humor,, and the short episodes (most under five minutes) make snack and bathroom breaks easier as well.

  6. Best against ants is borax. I use 1 part borax to 9 parts powdered sugar. Mix and add a little water to make a gel. If your ants don’t love sugar, you can mix borax with peanut butter instead (1 part borax to 2 parts peanut butter). We get ant scouts sometimes in the spring, and the borax-sugar gel gets rid of them every time. You can also just soak a cotton ball in liquid if you put in too much water.

  7. We just has a huge ant incursion, in that they’d made an entire big nest underneath a windowsill, on an upstairs floor, even. How do they find these places?! It turns out there was a gap under the sill, which they’d filled with big ants and baby ant larvae sacs; we noticed them after they spilled out to the side in a huge mass, it was pretty gross. Ended up having to destroy both the sill and their nest, and rebuild it without a gap, and with lots of silicone sealant. Ew…. (File under: things you didn’t need to know!)

  8. I can’t even be shocked any more by evil political shenanigans, I don’t think. I didn’t even blink at the church shenanigans. I can’t be shocked that police are murdering. This is the darkest timeline, Murphy’s Law wins, etc.

    I did like Crazy Rich Asians, though, so there’s that.

  9. Linked on Facebook, because your eloquence is more readable than my incoherent gibbering of rage.

  10. I would like to suggest “Interstate 60,” on YouTube.
    Probably one of the best “vanity” films ever.

  11. You left out the part where the Bible he was holding up was upside-down and backwards, doesn’t this make him at least a Satanist?

  12. My experience with ants has been that food-grade (because cats) diatomaceous earth works well as a deterrent. I used to get them on my kitchen island and I used a little brush to put that stuff all around the base and now they no longer climb up there. I also use it along the countertop and see fewer of them. The borax-based ant traps did not help. It just attracted more and more of them, they never stopped coming.

  13. I can’t even touch comments about Trump’s latest week of bullshit with a ten foot pole yet without my head just exploding. I will say that while “Crazy Rich Asians” is a decent movie, the book series is a much wilder ride that I soaked up in a long weekend and thoroughly enjoyed.

  14. Another vote for Borax and sugar water. We get ants nearly every spring and it’s done the trick every time. Usually in 24 hours.

  15. In the video of Trump’s biblical photo op, he handles the Bible as if he didn’t know what it was. It was like he didn’t even know what a book was.

    It’s tempting to think he really doesn’t know what a Bible is. I doubt he has read it, but of course he knows what it is. He knows that it is important to some of his base. He knows he should treat it with reverence. What he lacks is the ability to act out reverence in a believable way.

    The embarrassing way he embraced an American flag is another example of this.

  16. I’m thinking more that the American Flag photo and the Bible photo are poses intended to be recreated by those painters/photoshoppers who love to portray him as a strongman.

  17. Really surprised that the cinnamon didn’t work – it causes our ants to scatter like a bomb went off, and they refuse to walk over it.

    It may be a difference between western ants vs. midwest ants: the ants in your tweet look like the ones I grew up seeing in Chicago, while the ones here are smaller & redder, and tend to look for grease first and sugars a distant second. They don’t come for spills, but I’ve had inch wide trails heading for the cat bowl when I got a no-grain kibble.

  18. Re ants: Any citrus air freshener sprays (especially if they’re all-natural and without stanky chemicals) tend to work really well in my experience. It definitely messes with their ant-radar and they avoid it like the plague. I’ve also heard that fresh coffee grounds work too.

  19. Huh. Not the place I woulda expected to find a discussion of Crazy Rich Asians (cuz in my circles it’s a badly needed touchstone, warts and alls, for representation. And its success was totally a bonding agent for the community and a balm for the very real slights that have been visited on it). Just makes it even more satisfying to find a sympathetic audience here.

    Lot of people don’t get it….for probably the same reason Trump and his backers don’t get why his antics are so pathetic. Then again, >I< don't get how a) a person doesn't ask permission, b) uses tear gas and force on clergy, and c) doesn't even pray or invoke the victims' names would would be surprised at getting blowback.

  20. 2020 the year of the * Any record set this year will need one. As an added bonus it is a good analog for a certain bit of anatomy that nicely sums up the year so far. The only thing keeping me from sinking into a very deep funk is that we are launching people into Space again. Go us, go SpaceX! But I am biased, I help make parts that are all over that thing and I can’t express how cool that feels.

  21. I read all three of the CRA books over the last 12 months. Enjoyed them all very much. In the Aftertimes, I look forward to seeing the movies based on these.

  22. Re: the ants
    Coffee, diatomaceous earth, etc. are all barriers and will not actually kill or get rid of the ants, only stop them from crossing the barrier. Diatomaceous earth WILL actually kill ants (and pretty much any other insect) that contacts it if blown into walls, crevices, holes, etc.. The diatomaceous earth actually scratches the chitin (what the ant exoskeleton is made out of) and the ant desiccates to death because its waterproof coating has now been scratched.

    Recommended reading for getting rid of household pests without poisoning the kids or the pets: Tiny Game Hunting by Hilary Dole Klein and Adrian M. Wenner.

    For actually killing the commonest types of ants in your home: mix 1 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar and 1.5 teaspoon boric acid (or mix Borax and sugar together, dry, in low dish. Ants will not only eat the sweet bait poison but they will actually bring it back to the nest to share with the rest of the colony. (Ants have two stomachs; one for them, one for their buddies.) Should take about 2 weeks to eliminate the colony.
    IMPORTANT: If you are using the boric acid poison, put it in containers in places that pets absolutely cannot reach, as it will kill them. I usually put it under the sink and close the doors with rubber bands. Trust me, the ants will find the poison.

    At this time of year, the ants are usually seeking higher ground because their (outdoor) nests are being flooded by rain. Unless they find a reason to stay (clean that kitchen! Vacuum up those dropped snack bits!) they will usually depart on their own.

    Fun fact: ants will eliminate the competition, including other ants. As a (weird science nerd) teenager, I used to keep the ants around for 2 weeks (vacuuming up the ones I saw) to eliminate all the other pests, including silverfish (destroyers of paper!), fleas, ticks, etc. Worked beautifully. In the year that everyone got a flea infestation, regardless of pet ownership, my bedroom was literally the only insect-free room in my home. (For anyone interested, the fleas were eliminated in the rest of the house with Frontline for the pets, relentless vacuuming and and lamp and a bowl of soapy water. Takes one to two weeks for total elimination and vacuuming must be thorough and daily.)

  23. I’m done with the excuse I hear about Trump “tone deafness.” I no longer believe he’s tone deaf. I think he used that Bible as a weaponized palliative for his own ants. My sole regret is that he wasn’t chanted at on his way, and that someone with a megaphone wasn’t orchestrating group laughter as he left.

    The bishop was spitting mad, and that yielded some relief.

    My ants seem to think ant traps are desserts. They have become frightened at surfacequakes, and the cats occasionally regard them with quizzical expressions, becoming extremely prejudicial about any approaches to the disk.

    We are awaiting for the Borax Effect in a few days’ time.

  24. I have ants. Now the climate is warming, I have ants most of the time. Keep foods in sealed container, ignore ants…. no damage done.

    And I’ve never been so happy not to be American. Our leader may be a big soppy wet fascist, but he’s too scared/not powerful enough to go full Trump, and that’s nice. He is, however, another fake Christian, and that’s really annoying. If you don’t walk it, don’t talk it, you peanuts!

  25. With the ants, the old magnifying glass and sun trick is a sure fire killer. It does tend to be a bit time consuming, though. Also, after about 100 ants, your magnifying glass hand starts getting tired.

  26. “Trump is not the anti-Christ”
    I dunno. Reading the Revelation of St. John there are some interesting parallels between the Trumpenfuhrer and the priests who support him, and the Beast and the priests who support it.

  27. Cinnamon as ant repellent? The city of Stockholm, I am told, has a default aroma of cinnamon from the delicious pastries baked to go with everyone’s coffee. Mmm, coffee & cinnamon buns. Pandemic time might not be the best time for a cheeky visit to Sweden, sadly.

  28. This is what happens when a bunch of people who have lost their principles and ways choose a professional narcissist with delusions of competence and humanity to represent them on the basis of his ability to indulge their fantasies,

    The GOP chose the Southern Strategy a while ago. (“You know, our opponents decided bigotry didn’t work for them, but they got votes for being bigots, so let’s get us some of that.”) Reagan and W and Trump (and his Senate) sort of put the nail in the coffin of Republicans as fiscally responsible politicians. Having Presidents (W and Trump) who didn’t and don’t seem to understand the basic parameters of the Constitution they swore to defend seems at odds with the GOP claim of Constitutional probity (at least W had some basic humanity, though). What have they got left? “We like guns and Christianity, don’t like nonwhite people, and like women when they do what we tell them, and don’t appear to care what we have to do to get what we want.”

    At some point, I imagine that there will be a Dallas moment for the GOP where we’re all told that the bad parts of the last four (eight?) years were some sort of nightmare that didn’t actually happen. That would explain their antipathy toward the media – memory holes are hard to sustain. But the people that believe these things and actively want them to be are still here and still waiting (and voting). What do you do if a bunch of your people want America to be a cult with the inevitable murder-suicide pact at its end?

    The borax traps worked OK for our ant problems, though having a daughter who appears to need a highchair (at, er, more than two) doesn’t help.

  29. Point of order: this is an absolutely horrible timeline, but it’s a timeline in which Colonel Stanislav Petrov disobeyed Soviet Air Defense protocols back in 1983.and held off on announcing an apparent incoming American first strike on the Soviet Union. I respectfully submit that any timeline in which Colonel Petrov followed SOP, leading to a thermonuclear war, is worse than the timeline we’re in.

    Of course, the occupier of the Oval Office still has access to the nuclear football…

  30. Constance Wu went to high school with my niece in Richmond, VA. I am happy to report she was anything but a Crazy Rich Asian. Probably has a little money now though.

  31. The one year we had ant problems, we figured out it was due to a half-eaten Snickers bar in the bottom of an overnight work bag that hadn’t been used for a while. Got rid of the bar, washed the bag, soaped up the trails, put out some bait traps, and the problem went away for us. We got lucky; they never came back.

  32. We’ve had ants for the entire 23 years we’ve lived in this house (in Oregon). They always hang around the shower (for moisture?) on the *second* floor. An exterminator pointed out the cedar tree branches touching the exterior wall there.
    Their strangest behavior has happened at least 5 times over the years. They swarm the smoke detector (hard-wired) near the 16-foot ceiling outside that bathroom. They make the loud alarm go off. That detector now hangs by its wires, away from the wall.
    I have never found anyone else who has seen the smoke detector behavior. And they ignore the shower on the first floor, directly beneath the shower they love.

  33. Bruce K: Yes, that’s probably worse. I doubt I’d be having this discussion on that timeline – the Soviets had biological weapons too, which would have made the nuclear apocalypse even better. Fallout or anthrax (or smallpox) as a way to die isn’t the choice I would have wanted to be making for my life.

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