Attempting to save tadpoles on Memorial Day

Arlo and I spent a lot of time at Riverside Park today; running around the playground, picking up glass along the banks of the Huron river, and watching super-enthusiastic baby geese practice their diving. [We also got to see what appeared to be an epic battle between a great blue heron and a family of geese.] It was pretty idyllic. Over the four hours we spent hanging around the park, we saw two groups of kayakers pass by, a pack of college students float along on rafts, a father and son actually swimming, about a dozen people fishing, and probably about 100 kids dropping by to check out the recently opened Liz Dahl MacGregor Playground. I’ve been spending time in Riverside Park for over a quarter century now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so vibrant. Everywhere you looked, there were couples on blankets, people walking dogs, and families chasing kids. And, before anyone suggests that what I saw was just the most recent manifestation of gentrification, I should add that it was probably also the most diverse group I’ve ever seen sharing the park at the same time. And everyone appeared to be having a great time together.

OK, with all of that said, there was one thing that wasn’t exactly perfect. When walking around the park, Arlo and I stumbled across a big puddle that was absolutely teeming with tadpoles, which appeared to us to be about a week old, meaning that they wouldn’t be losing their tails and becoming frogs for another six weeks or so. So, Arlo and I, as we sat there, watching them, began to discuss what might happen to them if this tiny pool of water in the middle of the park should dry up before they’d completed their metamorphosis. And, by the end of that conversation, we’d decided to walk home, get a jar, and come back to collect some of them.

[You can see video of the tadpoles here.]

I know, in the whole scheme of things, it may not be that impactful, as few tadpoles make it to frogdom anyway, and, of those that do, most are probably eaten before they even have an opportunity to mate. But, as I was just telling my friend Jean, I suspect that most tadpoles, if you’d ask them, would rather have a chance to meet their ends as frogs in the river than die as froglets in a dried-out puddle. So, with that in mind, we took home a few dozen, thinking that, one day, if we’re lucky, we might be able to bring a few fully-realized frogs back to the banks of the Huron River to eat bugs, make love, and enjoy life.

Even if we don’t get any that make it all the way to frogdom, I’m thinking that it’ll at least give Arlo and I an opportunity to talk about the place frogs hold in our ecosystem, the stages that tadpoles have to go through on their journey to becoming frogs, and the threats they face at each stage, not just from fish and birds, but from the amphibian fungus (“the most deadly pathogen known to science”) that has been decimating their global populations for these past several decades. I don’t know that Arlo and I will keep it up, but we started an audio diary about our tadpoles, and we’re talking about drawing pictures of them tomorrow evening after school. [Hopefully they don’t all die tonight.]

So, why am I mentioning this? Well, I thought that maybe some of you, especially if you’ve got inquisitive little kids at home, might want to consider doing the same thing… I can’t think of a cheaper, more compelling way to engage with kids on the environment.

One more thing… I was going to repost something that I’d written about Memorial Day on this site 16 year ago, all about how I didn’t feel terribly patriotic under the Bush administration. It wasn’t a great post by any means, but I thought that it would give me an opportunity to think through why it is that I’ve felt so much more patriotic since the dawning of the Trump era. [“In spite of” Trump, not “due to” Trump.] But then it occurred to me that I’d rather not think about Donald Trump after such a great day, and that I could just write about frogs instead.

If it’s not clear from the above, I love frogs. In fact, if I make it to retirement age, I’m thinking that a good deal of my time will be spend building and tending to a frog pond in my backyard.

Oh, and this is our new, awesome park… Thank you again for everyone who had a hand in making it happen. [Does anyone still remember the broken and sad playground equipment that used to be near the entrance to the park a few decades ago?]

[If you do decide to take some tadpoles home, you can found out how to care for them here.]

Posted in Environment, Mark's Life, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Another day in the post-reality nightmare hell-world of Trump’s America

Since we spoke yesterday about the official-looking poster Donald Trump had made to declare his innocence in the White House Rose Garden, things have gotten even worse. Here are four things that have happened over the course of the last day.

1. The official White House Twitter account posted the following, essentially making the case — in one sentence, and without any evidence — that its everyone who doesn’t support Donald Trump who’s a criminal.

2. Donald Trump, after being reminded by a reporter that a finding of treason can be punishable by death, rattled off a list of perceived adversaries within the FBI who, in his opinion, have committed treason by pursuing an investigation into Russia’s now-proven interference in our 2016 election.

3. The President of the United States shared an obviously doctored video of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in which the Congresswoman appeared to be drunkenly slurring her words. The video, according to experts, had been slowed to about 75% of its original speed and altered for pitch. Facebook, by the way, has refused to remove the video from it’s platform, as it says it’s a “form of expression.”

4. Donald Trump has officially called on his protector, Attorney General William Barr, to initiate an investigation into those who investigated him, arresting five of his close associates, and detailing ten instances in which he, as President, engaged in likely obstruction of justice. In doing this, Donald Trump also declared that Barr now has the authority to declassify any information that he sees fit about the intelligence communities sources and methods, a move which, at the very least, will ensure that fewer people come forward to tell authorities about the ongoing criminal activities of the administration. [According to New York Times national security editor Amy Fiscus, “Barr wants to know more about the CIA’s informants in Russia and what they passed along about the 2016 interference,” which, you can be sure, Putin would very much appreciate.]

None of this is normal. Please stop acting as though it is. The President of the United States is not only rewriting history, and weaponizing the Department of Justice in order to go after those he perceives to be his adversaries, but he’s talking openly about trying people for treason, and the possibility that he might decide to stay in office longer than the eight years allowed by law. I’m sure that some will say that he’s just exaggerating for effect, or to get under the skin of Democrats, but I don’t think, given what we’ve seen from him thus far, we can afford to give him the benefit of the doubt. We are completely untethered from reality here, and we’re drifting quickly into the darkness.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Standing behind a placard of lies, Donald Trump says he refuses to do his job until the investigations stop

Donald Trump was scheduled to meet with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer this afternoon at the White House to discuss his desire for a robust infrastructure program to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges. According to the Washington Post, however, Trump — arriving 15 minutes late for the meeting — walked in “visibly angry”, accused Pelosi of saying something “terrible”, and then stormed out of the room. And, from there, he apparently kept right on walking to the Rose Garden, where a lectern with the presidential seal had been outfitted with an official-looking placard declaring “no collusion, no obstruction.” [Super presidential, right?] Donald Trump then went on to rant about the Democrats, telling the assembled members of the press that, until the investigations into his administration had been brought to a close, he would not be participating in the legislative process on behalf of the American people… “Get these phony investigations over with,” Trump demanded.

When asked afterward why Donald Trump would go to the trouble of pretending to storm out of a meeting and then have what he claimed to be an impromptu press conference — as if members of the press couldn’t figure out that the production of the above-mentioned placard would take some pre-planning — Chuck Schumer responded by saying that Trump “had to run away” because he hadn’t done the actual work of figuring out how an ambitious infrastructure plan, like the one he said he wanted, would be paid for.

And, now, as I mentioned above, Donald Trump is saying that, until the investigations stop, he will not longer work with Congress to do the work of governing… essentially saying that he’s going on a legislative strike until the Democrats stop attempting to do their constitutionally-mandated job of executive oversight. [Bill Clinton, as you might remember, took a much different approach, saying that he intended to keep working with Republican lawmakers, even as they pursued impeachment, saying that he wouldn’t stop doing the work of the people.]

Here’s footage of Trump demanding that the investigations be brought to an end.

There are any number of things that one could say about the President’s public tantrum today — like the fact that he declared “I don’t do coverups,” when we know for a certainty that he personally arranged for two of his mistresses to be paid-off during the campaign in order to guarantee their silence — but I’d like to spend our remaining time together talking about a few of the “facts” shared on that placard Donald Trump was standing behind today.

THE CLAIM: “$35+ Million spent (on the Mueller investigation)”
THE FACT: The investigation, which ultimately brought indictments against 34 people — including 5 close Trump associates — for about 200 separate criminal charges, actually made money. While the Special Counsel investigation may have cost $35 million, it’s estimated that that assets forfeited by Trump associate Paul Manafort as part of his plea deal totaled between $42 million and $46 million, meaning that there was a net positive to tax-payers of approximately $10 million.

THE CLAIM: “No collusion”
The FACT: While the Mueller report did say that no evidence was found of conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, it did not evaluate — in the words of the Washington Post — “the broader, non-legal concept of ‘collusion.’” So, in other words, the Special Counsel did not find “no collusion.”

THE CLAIM: “No obstruction”
THE FACT: The Mueller report actually laid out ten instances of potential obstruction, and called on Congress to take up the question of whether or not the President should be indicted. [Under Department of Justice guidelines, Mueller was not able to make a prosecutorial determination.]

THE CLAIM: “675 days”
THE FACT: Investigations of this nature take a long time, and there’s nothing unusual about the fact that the Mueller investigation took 675 days. In fact, Ken Starr’s investigation of Clinton lasted 1,693 days, and the Iran-Contra investigation took 2,420 days. And let’s not forget the Republican-produced piece of political theater that was the Benghazi investigation, which ran from May 2014 to December 2016, costing American taxpayers over $7 million, and yielding a total of zero indictments. [And, yes, the House Select Committee on Benghazi cost us, the American tax payers, approximately $17 million more than the Mueller investigation.]

CLAIM: “18 angry democrats”
FACT: Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as well as the Deputy Attorney General who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein, are both registered Republicans. As for whether any of the prosecutors hired by Mueller are registered democrats, I’m sure some are. There is no evidence, however, that this impacted their work at all. As Jim Walden, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, told NBC News, the team assembled by Mueller, “(is) probably one of the most impressive groups ever assembled for a special counsel investigation… You’ve got a collective of prosecutors who’ve covered some of the most high-profile and complex investigations in the last 20 years.” These are highly regarded prosecutors, and there’s been not one shred of evidence to indicate that any of them were driven by political motivations.

OK, I could go on, but I think you probably get the point, right? We’re living in a hell world, completely untethered from reality, and we’ll all be dead soon… Good night.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 105 Comments

Maynard-Lao Archive: Item 0004 [The Monkey Power Trio’s 1995 release, “The First Hour”]

As I explained a while back, we’re currently in the process of making our way through this 180 year old home of ours, and deciding which of our possessions should remain, and which should be jettisoned into the ever-churning gyre of filth and garbage that surrounds us. Well, what follows is my justification for continuing to keep two copies of the first record put out by my one-day-a-year band, The Monkey Power Trio.

TITLE: The Monkey Power Trio’s 1995 release, “The First Hour”
DESCRIPTION: This is the second Monkey Power Trio-related entry to make its way into the official family archive. The first, as you may recall, was the t-shirt I was wearing during our first session, recorded in Brooklyn back during the summer of 1995. Well, this 7″ record, which we decided to call, “The First Hour” in recognition of the fact that we’d decided to keep doing the same thing every year, was the result of that first session, and, with its frantic pace and improvisational nature, it laid the foundation for everything that would come afterward in our catalog.

No, it’s not a great record by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s an historic artifact from a point in time that’s important to me — the exact moment when my friends and I decided not to just move away from one another and become adults, but to stay connected over time and geography, bound together by a promise meet and record one day a year until just one of us remains alive.

This 7″ single contains the MPT originals, Baby Eyes, The Theme from the Film: “Daddy, What Was Monkey Power?”, Jehovah’s Shit List, October Throughout History, Kling Kling Bang Bang Pop, and You Like-a the Cheese?.

I could go on, but everything worth saying about this first record, and how it came to be, was already been said in the exhaustive oral history about “The First Hour” I posted with my bandmates Matt Krizowsky and Dan Richardson.

[note: I had thought about including two copies of this particular artifact, with he thought being that, once I’m gone, both Clementine and Arlo should be forced to care for one. Upon further reflection, however, I decided to just put in one copy as a test to see which one of them loves me more.]

Posted in Art and Culture, Monkey Power Trio, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Saying President Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct,” Michigan’s Justin Amish becomes the first Republican member of Congress to call for the President’s removal from office

While five-term Congressman Justin Amash has long been a critic of Donald Trump’s, today is the first time, to my knowledge, that he’s gone so far as to say that the President should be forcefully removed from office. And, this tweet of his, I believe, makes him the first Republican in Congress to call for the President’s impeachment, demonstrating that even the worst of Republicans have it within their power to become heroes under the reign of Donald Trump.

As Amash, who has described himself in the past as being “the only libertarian in Congress”, has been hinting over the past several weeks about running against Trump in 2020 as an Independent, I suspect this is a calculated move on his part — an attempt to test the waters, and see how much national support he might have, if he should decide to jump into the race — but, none-the-less, even if it is a self-serving move on Amash’s part, it’s an interesting development. [I suspect it was timed to dominate the Sunday news shows.] While I doubt we’ll see any other Republicans in Congress standing up with him, and calling for impeachment, I do think this will get a lot of press, and, hopefully, it encourages a few non-elected, independent conservatives to show some backbone and come out publicly as being pro-impeachment as well.

Here, for those of you who might be interested, are Amash’s subsequent tweets that followed the one above.

For what it’s worth, I’d love to see an ideological, Ayn Rand-worshiping Tea Party Libertarian like Amash in the general election, pealing votes away from Donald Trump, so I’m all for him throwing his hat into the ring. I don’t agree with him on policy, but I respect his contempt for Donald Trump, and wish more Republicans had the courage to stand up to the President and the MAGA cultists who form his base.

Oh, and I do love that Amash refers to himself as “the only libertarian in Congress”, which is clearly a slap in the face of Rand Paul, who really does deserve to be slapped in the face [and knocked from his riding lawnmower] more often. [Amash came to Congress in the big Tea Party wave of 2010, and was a founding member of the so-called Freedom Caucus, which, over time, has moved away from its founding principles to fully embrace Donald Trump.]

update: Well, it looks like someone told The Donald.

update: Well, it looks like this move of Amash’s just got him a primary challenger in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments


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