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  • ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel ‘Tales of Dunk and Egg’ in Early Development at HBO (EXCLUSIVE) January 21, 2021
    A series adaptation of “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” a prequel to the events of “Game of Thrones,” is in early development at HBO, Variety has learned exclusively from sources. The one-hour show would be based on the series of fantasy novellas by George R. R. Martin, which follow the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Tom Hanks Sci-Fi Movie ‘Bios’ Gets New Release Date January 21, 2021
    “Bios,” an upcoming sci-fi movie starring Tom Hanks and a pup named Goodyear, has been delayed. The movie, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, was initially scheduled for April 16, 2021. It has been pushed back by four months and will now open on Aug. 13. “Bios” is taking the place of an untitled Blumhouse […]
    Rebecca Rubin
  • ‘Embers of War’ Series Adaptation in Development at Stampede Ventures, Wiip (EXCLUSIVE) January 21, 2021
    Stampede Ventures and wiip have partnered to adapt the first book in Gareth L. Powell’s epic sci-fi novel series “Embers of War” as a television show, Variety has learned exclusively. Gary Graham is attached to adapt the book for the screen, with Breck Eisner onboard to direct. Both will also executive produce along with Greg […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Why Did Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez Receive a Trump Pardon? January 21, 2021
    In the days before outgoing President Trump finally revealed his long list of last-minute pardons and commutations at around 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday, several names in the entertainment world had been mentioned as likely candidates: some accurate (rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, Death Row Records cofounder Michael “Harry O” Harris); some inaccurate (Joe […] […]
    Jem Aswad
  • Netflix Italian Original ‘Fedeltà,’ About Love and Betrayal, Starts Shooting in Milan January 21, 2021
    A new Netflix Italian original series titled “Fedeltà,” which translates as “Faithfulness,” has begun shooting in Milan. The relationship drama follows a couple in their thirties contending with the consequences of presumed betrayals. The six-episode show is based on a bestseller by author Marco Missiroli, who won Italy’s top literary prize, the Premio Streg […]
    nvivarelli
  • Sky Sets 20% Diversity Representation Goal for 2025 – Global Bulletin January 21, 2021
    In today’s Global Bulletin, Sky reveals diversity goals; Stan pacts with Walter Presents for international drama; LevelK sells “Tove”; and Abacus boards Martin Scorsese-hosted doc “The Oratorio.” Comcast’s pay tv operator Sky has announced a goal for 20% of its U.K. and Ireland workforce to be from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds by 2025, […] […]
    Naman Ramachandran
  • Hillary Clinton Recognizes the Costume Industry Coalition in Video Message January 21, 2021
    Secretary Hillary Hillary Rodham Clinton recorded a video message in support of the theater community, in which she recognized the Costume Industry Coalition (CIC). In the video, Clinton shared her love for live theater and how the theatergoing experience of seeing sets and costumes helped immersed her. Clinton credited the artisans, the “group of people, [… […]
    jazztangcay
  • Trust Helped ‘Dissident’ DP Jake Swantko Frame Documentary About the Murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi January 21, 2021
    Cinematographer and producer Jake Swantko had to move quickly if he and director Bryan Fogel wanted to dive into the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was captured, killed and dismembered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. The story was still moving as Fogel and Swantko were starting to think […]
    jazztangcay
  • How Ion Media Scored for Investors by Bucking TV’s Conventional Wisdom January 21, 2021
    About 15 years ago, Ion Media chairman-CEO Brandon Burgess set out to play “Moneyball” with a group of TV stations that were on the verge of bankruptcy.   He scored in the long run by following his own kind of algorithm, with a strategy that was counter to the business trends that are transforming the pay-TV […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • Netflix Korea Sets New Guinness World Record With Tiny Variety Ad January 21, 2021
    In the world of advertising, bigger is often better, but sometimes the smallest things can carry a powerful punch. Netflix Korea has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as having devised the smallest magazine print ad ever, a 1.712 centimeter by 2.429 centimeter advertisement for the finale of “Busted” that it hopes […]
    Brian Steinberg

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  • Dose of Arctic air in Northeast, Upper Midwest to be accompanied by spotty snow January 22, 2021
    As a tiny piece of the polar vortex spins across southern Canada, forecasters say that a small dose of Arctic air will be turned loose on the northeastern United States and part of the Midwest into the weekend and will continue to produce barrages of lake-effect snow and snow showers in the region. “The air...
  • Eloise may strengthen into a dangerous storm before second landfall January 20, 2021
    Eloise, currently a tropical depression across northern Madagascar, can strengthen rapidly late this week before making a second landfall in Mozambique.  Eloise first developed over the weekend across the open waters of the southern Indian Ocean. The depression intensified into a moderate tropical storm before moving inland across northern Madagascar late on […]
  • Extreme cold sends temperatures plummeting to 73 below zero in Siberia January 18, 2021
    If you’re someone who’s not a fan of cold weather, chances are you won’t be taking any trips to the Russian city of Yakutsk anytime soon. The city is currently in the midst of an abnormally long period of harsh subzero cold that is considered unusual even for Siberia’s standards. The temperature in portions of...
  • Winter storm could wallop large corridor of US next week January 21, 2021
    It’s the dead of winter, but apparently Old Man Winter didn’t get the memo until the middle of January. Harsh winter weather and widespread, heavy snowfalls have largely been absent from the lower 48 states in recent weeks, but that drought is about to end in dramatic fashion. A duo of storms, with the second...
  • Butterfly population 'plummeting toward extinction' in California January 21, 2021
    They are a symbol of summertime and could once be found in backyards and classrooms across America. Many schoolchildren have watched in wonder as large orange and black butterflies emerge from cocoons. “One of my most vivid childhood memories from Iowa's corn country is watching clouds of monarch butterflies dance around the milkweed patch by...
  • Tiny corner of US has been isolated from mainland for 10 months January 21, 2021
    About 10 months ago, the U.S.-Canadian border was forced to close to non-essential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it will remain shuttered until at least Feb. 21, 2021. The border closure has had an impact on many, and nowhere is that more evident than in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle. A geographical oddity, the Northwest...
  • Flooding highlights outline of 400-year-old historic site January 21, 2021
    Sometime between 1643 and 1645, British general Oliver Cromwell’s forces gathered at the riverbanks east of Earith, a town in Cambridgeshire, England, to build what historians would call one of “the most elaborate fortifications” to have survived from the English Civil Wars. Nearly 400 years later, floodwaters highlighted the Earith Bulwark after heavy rainf […]
  • Beautiful day for snowboarding quickly turned terrifying January 21, 2021
    Cracks started to race up the ridgeline releasing thousands of pounds of snow without warning. While he watched the cracks spread past him up the mountain, 25-year-old snowboarder Maurice Kervin looked back over his shoulder to see the slabs of heavy snow racing toward him from all angles at 50 to 60 mph. Within seconds,...
  • 'Extraordinary wind gusts' spark fires, power outages across Calif. January 20, 2021
    The biggest storm to hit California so far in 2021 ramped up on Tuesday, but the storm did not feature much precipitation. Instead, hurricane-force winds lashed the Golden State, causing widespread disruptions and power outages. "We've got debris flying right down the road," AccuWeather National News Reporter Bill Wadell said while in Fontana, […]
  • Chilly pattern with spotty snow may be harbinger of bigger storm to come January 19, 2021
    It’s the middle of January, and true Arctic air hasn’t been felt across much of the Midwest and Northeast yet this month. However, AccuWeather forecasters say that’s about to change. The weather pattern will usher in rounds of chilly air typical for late January, and it is projected to trigger rounds of lake-effect snow and...

Rick Wilson: Trumpists, Here Are Your Terms of Surrender. Also, F*ck You.
 

 

Thomas L. Friedman: President Donald J. Trump: The End
 

 

Eugene Robinson: Trump Leaves a Scorched Landscape, But Biden Brings Hope at Last
 

 

 

 

 

Max Boot: A Return to Normalcy
 

 

Frank Rich: The Trashing of the Republic
 

 

 

Peggy Noonan: Liz Cheney Shows What Leadership Looks Like

 

 

 

 

Paul Krugman: Who’s Radical Now?
 

 

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Biden’s Speech

 

 

Dana Milbank: A President Replaced. A Nation Redeemed.

 

 

 

 

Adam Gopnik: Our Year in Hell

 

 

James Fallows: Time For Consequences

 

 

David Brooks: 2020 Taught Us How

 

 

 

 

 

David Gergen: What I Learned Helping Reagan Prepare for the 1980 Presidential Debates

 

 

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Biden Can’t Lose Sight of the Nuclear Crisis
 

 

 

Charles Blow: Relief, but Lingering Rage

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Hiaasen: Impeach him! Invoke the 25th! Whatever — just get Trump the hell out of there!

 

 

Charlie Pierce: Joe Biden Will Have to Deal With Trump’s Immigration Poison for Years

 

 

Jonathan Chait: Biden: “We Must End This Uncivil War”
 

 

 

 

Fareed Zakaria: The Breaking Point
 

 

George F. Will: Hawley, Cruz and Their Senate Cohort are the Constitution’s Most Dangerous Domestic Enemies

 

 

David Ignatius: Joe Biden’s Fundamental Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas Kristof: Biden’s Classy Call

 

 

Froma Harrop:
Without Discipline, Humane Border Policy Fails

 

 

The Laundress Signature Detergent

________________________________________________

John Underhill: It’s All Greek to Me

 

I’ve been putting off writing this post because it’ll be the last one that I’ll throw up before the 2020 Presidential Election and in 2016, just after Trump was nominated, I posted The Most Hated Man in America. This year, I don’t wanna be right again if that means losing you, however I obviously have the gift of prognostication (a noun meaning “the action of foretelling or prophesying future events”) and anyone who doubts that, just read on. I’ve had a few choice words to describe my feelings about Donald J. Trump through the years, yet who am I to question the leadership of this man? What gives me the right to ask if he’s insane or not? I’m just an ordinary citizen of the United States, at least I was the last time I checked but who knows anymore? In the four years since Donald J. Trump has been our duly elected president, I’ve been right about pretty much everything I’ve said about him (actually since 1988 but who’s keeping score?) and if he’s not the most hated man in America by now whom, pray tell, would grab that crown from him?

Trump has accomplished much as president but most of it is doo-doo in my (humble?) opinion, if anything, Trump has pulled off what Roger Stone only dreamed about in his whiskey binge blackouts, complete with warped back tattoos, Wall Street hookers and America’s ass laid bare for all to see — warts and all. If the greatest accomplishment that Trump ever pulls off is that in being the complete and total jerk that he is, he has revealed so many more for the history books to flesh out, demonstrated with aplomb by the entire GOP. He and his immediate family will walk after the election, free from prosecution so he doesn’t flee to Russia as Rome’s King Tarquin fled to the Latin League in 400 BC, but there will be fierce negotiation and retribution following Trump’s defeat.

I hope Mr. Trump understands that I have nothing against him personally, (except that ‘good’ genes thing, I really can’t get over that) and as he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos back in 2009 about those who lose money in his many bankruptcies, “You know, it’s like on ‘The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business.” The business at hand is governance, however and Trump sucks at that. He’s a fantastic representative of a businessman, (in the Thorsten Veblen sense of the word, more later) and his marketing and deal-making skills is phenomenal. I mean they are phenomenal. Not so much with the governance thing, however. He never understood the difference between the two and now he will suffer the greatest electoral landslide since Nixon — the other way around. If Trump wins a state, I will NEVER visit that state again until the year 2050, if God gets us through this shitstorm of ineptitude, greed and racism. Massachusetts was the only state to go for Senator George McGovern in 1972, so Nixon voters, you’ll be allowed visit the Bay State again in 2022.

As the greatest Greek historian Thucydides wrote in 480 BC, “My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the taste of an immediate public, but was done to last forever” and some things never change with know-it-alls and although I’m not a great historian like Thucydides, who’s to judge? He would recognize the likes of ‘Donald the Fake’ in ten seconds, no doubt and in that I’m certain. I thought about a few titles for this post before the one I ended up with this because the title ‘Mea Culpa’ came a close second until I found out it was the name of Trump’s ex-personal attorney Michael Cohen’s new podcast. The title of his show is from the Latin meaning, “My fault,” which makes it an Italian word, but where I’m starting from Ancient Greece in thinking about democracy (from the Greek word for ‘demos,’ or the people) I thought better of it and then remembered the great football analyst and oddsmaker (a kinder word for a ‘bookie’) ’Jimmy the Greek’ born Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos in Steubenville, Ohio in 1918, he was one of the greatest prognosticators of our age until he got canceled in 1988. Jimmy lost his job on the NFL Today because he was recorded while drinking (not a surprise, but with no big glasses on this time), basically bringing up slaves and slave owners as to why African-Americans are so good at most sports compared to slow-footed white people.

Jimmy’s first bet wasn’t on sports but on politics, winning big after he took Democrat Harry Truman to beat Republican Thomas Dewey in the 1948 Presidential Election because, “no one trusts a guy with a mustache.” Since 1950, can you name a politician who sports the style? Hitler’s goofy looking ‘stache made them passé forever and after that, Jimmy parlayed his ‘sixth sense’ into a career in prognostication which ended up paying him millions of dollars. He needed every penny of that money it turned out, because three of his children would end up dying from Cystic Fibrosis, the awful inflammatory lung disease that has no cure. If Jimmy were alive today, I’d predict that he’d pick Joe Biden to win this presidential election on November 3rd because no one (truly) trusts Donald Trump, now do they?

The Seven Sages were ‘sophists‘ [little quotes, “I love thee too much” say the parentheses] from Ancient Greece, men and women (Sappho Rules!) also spoke and wrote about mythical, apocryphal stories as if they were true. The best of them were based on reality, such as Homer’s epics and we use them today to divine actual, real history. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would begin to break free of the tradition of ‘bending the truth’ in making good arguments while getting paid (also called ‘being a lawyer’) and these ‘philosophers,’ as they would come to be known, figured it all out and created knowledge, democracy and the institution we know as a republic. And lawyers too! There’s still a lot sophistry around today, of course (Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Sean Hannity etc.) and yet Donald Trump is the greatest sophist of them all (to date). The greatest Homeric sophist of all time, actually the poet Homer himself was the most famous sophist before Trump came along and where archeological remains have been found in Greece hinting about Homer’s true existence, this find indicates that he was probably born on the island of Chios, Greece where Thucydides once wrote,

When any stranger comes and asks who is the sweetest singer, they are to answer with one voice, “the blind man that dwells in rocky Chios; his songs deserve the prize for all time to come.

This does not necessarily say that Homer was a Chian, but it fits my story so I’m sticking with it. Sorry, Smyrna. Homer’s great fame and tourism potential aside, the connection to Chios, with an archaeological site known as ‘Teacher’s Rock’ that can be visited today (very popular with the cruising set, I understand and visitors should follow the signs guiding you to the ‘Sanctuary of Kyveli,’ enjoy!) where the blind Homer wrote about the so-called ‘Trojan War,’ with the Greek Helen getting ‘abducted’ by the swarthy Paris, (heh, heh) but enough with the afterthoughts, a battle between these Greek brothers called the Peloponnesian War, or the Attic War as the winning Spartans called it would follow just after the Persian invasions of Greece, where King Darius and his son Xerxes put Sparta and Athens on the same team. Athenian statesman/general (strategoi) Themistocles meaning ‘Glory of the Law’ won a big naval battle against the Persian empire under Xerxes in 480 BC, resulting in a decisive victory for the outnumbered and outgunned Greeks, he was a populist and his base of support were the lower-class Athenians, generally at odds with the nobles, he was elected to be an Archon in 493 BC and convinced the polis, or the citizens of Athens to increase the naval power of the city-state during the first Persian invasion of Greece, where he also fought at the famous Battle of Marathon. The fabled runner Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, ran all the way back home to report the big news of the victory, then died of exhaustion.

Jimmy the Greek Snyder’s family also hailed from Chios and anyone who has ever wondered why a whole family would up and move everything: lock, stock and barrel to a brand new country on a whim, they should look to his ancestors for some clues as to why this might happen — and it still continues to happen. And happen. At the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in 1823, also a proxy war between Russia, Britain, France and Turkey, nearly three-quarters of the Chios population of 120,000 citizens were killed, enslaved or died of disease. Only 2,000 Greeks remained on the island after the horrible Chios Massacre and it’s estimated that nearly 52,000 Chios islanders were sold into slavery after almost 52,000 were killed outright. This war was born from religious and ethnic hatred (with atrocities committed on ‘both sides’) culminating with little children and babies getting smashed up against rocks and thrown into the sea. Chios is only eight miles off the coast of Turkey and this is why Jimmy the Greek was born an American.

According to Sir Isaac Newton, who was also a Classical Greek scholar, ten kings of Sparta reigned an average of 38 years each in Ancient Greece, which can be used as a yardstick to estimate that the Greek Spartan Eurysthenes ruled from the years 1104–1066 BC and he was the father of his successor, King Agis I, founder of the Spartan Agiad dynasty. In Athens, the sophist and statesman Solon was born about 630 BC and died on the island of Cyprus at the age of 80, he argued for all citizens to be admitted into the Ecclesia, or the assembly of male-only, Greek citizens and advocated for the first courts to be formed, drawn from the first citizens of Ancient Greece from lots, the first use of the ancient practice called ‘sortition’ (still done today in jury duty), yet Solon also described Athens as being under constant threat from unrestrained greed and needed to escape the city more than once to prove the fact.

In 430 BC, after an unsuccessful expedition by the great Pericles against Sparta and after the city was devastated by an unknown plague, Pericles died during the epidemic that also claimed his sister and both of his sons, Thucydides, an ardent admirer of Pericles said at the time that Athens was “in name a democracy but, in fact, [was] governed by its first citizen.” The great historian would also contract the plague yet he would survive the ordeal to tell the story in The History of the Peloponnesian War of the great Pericles’ final Funeral Oration, the annual rite honoring those who died in battle defending democracy,

While those of you who have passed your prime must congratulate yourselves with the thought that the best part of your life was fortunate, and that the brief span that remains will be cheered by the fame of the departed. For it is only the love of honor that never grows old; and honor it is, not gain, as some would have it, that rejoices the heart of age and helplessness.

After Pericles died, the dishonorable Cleon, a strategoi from a wealthy background and another populist, was primarily known for his overuse the courts (he sued the great playwright Aristophanes) Cleon used the law to his unjust advantage in creating the ancient practice of ‘sycophancy’ (done today, well, everywhere) and advocated that every man, woman and child on the Island of Lesbos (then called Myteline) be killed as vicious retribution for siding with the hated Spartans. His arguments first won over the Ecclesia and they even sent a ship to Myteline to commit the act before an emergency session of this early Greek ‘Senate’ (Italian word) rethought the brutal decision and then recalled the first ship, with double rowers working all night to catch up, literally arriving as they were about to read Cleon’s verdict to the townspeople. After the usual suspects were rounded up and killed instead, the citizens of Myteline were spared.

Olympus, Greece is nowhere near Mt. Olympus, the tallest mountains in Greece where the hundreds of Greek Gods reside, recounted in dizzying detail by thousands of sophists through the centuries writing odes, however the real Olympia is an actual place, an archeological site discovered in the past 100 years revealed over 70 buildings and the ruins of many of these structures have survived, (although the main Temple of Zeus is only stones on the ground now), it’s a huge tourist attraction and has two sweet museums, one devoted to the ancient games and one to the modern. Located in Southwest Greece, after thousands of years preserved in the alluvial dirt, the Olympian festival area became known as the Olympics, heralded by the great sophists, they met every four years for over a millennium.

This year, we were supposed to have the Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan but the 2020 Olympic Games will wait ’till next year because of the caronavirus, however the original Olympic games that started around 776 BC continued unbroken for over 1000 years, these Ancient Olympiads are the most reliable way of dating Greek archeological finds today, where Thucydides says of the year 428 BC, “It was the Olympiad in which the Rhodian Dorieus [son of Diagoras of Rhodes] gained his second victory,” like us remembering 1976 because that’s the year Sugar Ray Leonard won the Gold medal. Jim McKay always handled the Olympics on TV back in the day, which was always on ABC in the 1970s, thwarting the highly-qualified Brent Musberger, who famously was punched-out by Jimmy the Greek for cutting his airtime, Brent spoke eloquently this year over the loss of the groundbreaking third member of the NFL Today lineup back then, Phyllis George, who passed away in May of this year, the former First Lady of Kentucky was the first woman to break into the all-male world of sports broadcasting. Needless to say, Jimmy and Phyllis couldn’t stand each other. Somehow, though, we all seemed to get along in the old days and we can do better today; people are suffering in a big way and some are even dying while our creaky democracy lumbers along and sways under the heavy load of history. We need democracy now more than ever and if you look for it, we have been through this shitstorm before and will make it work out alright together — or not at all. Violence and factionalism will destroy anyone who continue to practice it and the resulting death and destruction will scatter their families, their works and their culture to the four winds. We have too many examples.

PS: Don’t kill the messenger.

John Underhill

October 22, 2020


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