When did Africa become a thing?

According to Esquire, the Toto song “Africa” is a postmodern thing.

Unlike other similarly delightful synth-rock tracks from the era such, Toto’s “Africa” seems like an old hurt that just won’t quit. From beloved TV shows such as Master of None and Stranger Things, to a Twitter bot that tweets its lyrics from the song several times a day, the song seems to have captivated a new generation. Just this March, a video uploaded by an ingenious idiot who hacked his Volvo 240’s door chime to play the song was viewed over 3.5 million times.

So we go from this:

To a choir rendition in 2013:

To today’s rendition from Weezer:

Not that I’m complaining. The song is on my iPhone playlist. But I’m an old guy. What’s their excuse?

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A modern history revelation

The following painting appears on the second floor of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington:

It shows every woman who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court. Seated from left are Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing are Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan.

The first Supreme Court was named in September 1789. Since that time there have 112 Supreme Court Justices in American history. In all of American history, these are the only women who have had the title of Supreme Court justice.

All four are alive. O’Connor retired 2006. Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan are currently on the court.

This is an amazing portrait, because it makes you reflect on the history of this country and our shortcomings. Just if you go by population distribution, in a country that believed in equality, 57 women should have served on the Supreme Court by now. How much would have history changed if that were the case? But women weren’t allowed the right to vote until 1920. Pure sexism.

A patriarchal mindset kept women and minorities off the court for hundreds of years.

Of the 112 justices, only two have been African American: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Only one of them is alive. Population distribution over history should have made that number closer to 15. But the country was founded on the enslavement of Africans that only ended with the Civil War. And the post Civil War treatment of blacks was dominated by segregation and Jim Crow laws. Pure racism.

You can’t tell me that in all of American history, there weren’t 57 women or 15 African Americans who would have made excellent Supreme Court justices.

But here I am. Standing in the National Portrait gallery, reflecting on a painting of every woman who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court,  realizing that every one of them is still alive and seeing the empty space in the portrait where other women should have been.

We just keep winning

It’s morning again in America (From the Pew Research Center):

Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations. According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.

Look at the last two. Those countries do not have our interests in mind.

Happy Fourth of July.

Thanks, pump truppets.

Beyond clouds: Meet the Milky Way

Here’s a timelapse flight from Europe to South America and the view a pilot has at night.

Now I know it’s beautiful, but I can’t help thinking “wouldn’t it be great to get from Europe to South America in less than three minutes?”

According to the pilot:

Our flight is packed and some 340 passengers are settling in for a long night flight. Its my turn to be at the flightdeck for the first part of the journey, as my other co-pilot gets the chance to rest in the crew bunk above the passenger cabin. We are heading our westbound, along the clearly visible Alps to our left. Just before reaching Geneva and the western tip of Switzerland we are making a shallow left turn to join the Rhone valley leading us to Marseille and onward onto the Mediterranean Sea. Our routing will bring us towards Algeria and on across the northwestern part of the vast Sahara. We will be flying past Dakar in Senegal where we will be heading out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Our south-westerly course will get us across the wide blue – in fact it was pitch-black during the night – to the north eastern shore of Brazil. Landfall is expected just north of Rio de Janeiro and the remaining few hundred miles will get us straight towards Sao Paolo. Our landing is expected around 6am local time, still before the sun will rise.

Ben Carson am being educated by Betsy DeVos

Transportation for immigrants, according to Ben Carson

After the education secretary’s stupid remarks about how black colleges were excellent examples of school choice during the Jim Crow era, you’d have thought that the orange menace’s administration would have sent a memo to it’s cabinet chiefs saying “Ix-nay on the ack-blay.”

Ben Carson didn’t get the memo:

Ben Carson compared slaves to immigrants seeking a better life in his first official address Monday as Housing and Urban Development Secretary, setting off an uproar on social media.

In what appears to be an embarrassing pattern of mis-steps on race for the Trump administration, Carson told a room packed with hundreds of federal workers that the Africans captured, sold and transported to America against their will had the same hopes and dreams as early immigrants.

“That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” said Carson, speaking extemporaneously as he paced the room with a microphone. “But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

OK, let’s deal with a certain flaw in this logic:

The early slaves weren’t thinking about prosperity and happiness. They were facing abuse, torture and murder. And that’s what they expected for their children, because before the civil war, there was no hope for freedom.

Screenings, premieres and seeing people true stories are based on

So, I’m on my way to a baseball game, because the Washington Nationals have a deal where you can pay $75 for standing room tickets to all of the team’s home games in September. And as I’m about to go into the Metro, my brother calls and asks if I want to go to a special movie screening at the Newseum.

Let’s see: Use the $5 ticket to stand up for a nine-inning baseball game, or get in free on a movie that will cost $12 when it opens in D.C. theaters on Sept. 23. Movie it is.

But here’s where it gets strange (for me. I’m sure other people do this all the time and are used to it). It’s at the Newseum, and there’s an open bar. Free drinks!

Waiters are carrying around hors d’oeuvres. Free food!

And as we walk into the theater, there are boxes of popcorn and candy and bottled water. Free snacks!

So into the theater and head up to the cheap seats, because, like, it’s free and there’s no such thing as a cheap seat when you’re not paying anything. But someone comes along and asks us to move to one of the rows closer to the screen, because they don’t want the stars of the movie coming out to talk to empty seats up front. OK.

But before the movie, there are speeches.

So we get one from a Disney executive, since it’s a Disney movie.

Then we get one from a congresswoman from Brooklyn.

Then we get one from a congresswoman from California.

Then we get on from a senator from Delaware.

And all of them make it a point to recognize the senator from New Jersey sitting in the row in front of us.

(Is this how we do movie screenings in the nation’s capital?)

And when they’re done, they bring out two people who are the main subjects of the film, “Queen of Katwe,” based on a true story about a female Uganda chess prodigy.

And then the two stars of the movie: David Oyelowo, who was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie “Selma” and Lupita Nyong’o, who won the Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave.”

Here’s the background trailer:

So this is the second time in a week that I’ve been to a performance where the subjects of the story actually show up at the event. Last week, it was at Ford’s Theatre (yeah, the place where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated) for the second night of a new musical about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (And yes I realize how potentially tasteless that sounds, and no, the name of the musical wasn’t “Springtime for bin Laden.”)

The musical, “Come From Away,” was very good and is headed to Broadway. It’s the story of how the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland, pulled together to take care of the people on the 38 passenger jets that were rerouted to the small island community when all of the air traffic to the United States was grounded. The special appearances were by the woman who was the captain for a Paris to Dallas American Airlines flight, and a middle aged couple (Brit man, Texas woman) who met and fell in love during their five days in Newfoundland and later got married.

Following the performance there was a half hour Q&A with the playwrights and the subjects of the musical.

(Oh, by the way. The Nats lost in 10 innings.)