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A Revelation of Revelation as Revealed in Revelation

 

I am not a religious person.  I will not go so far as to outright state that there is no ‘God’ (or Universal Center, or Cosmic Creator, or merely some flash of astronomical light that burned all forms of life onto the still forming universe)–whatever It might or might not be I have no way of knowing.  Just as religious folk are painfully arrogant in declaring the absolutism of their beliefs, non-believers alike smugly state their truth as though they know something that others deny in ignorance.  There are the standard, dismissive turns, as though the bulk of atheists are theoretical physicists, pronouncing the true realities of how everything came to be.  They use high school phrases like “if you try the scientific method there is no evidence,” or “I need proof before I buy into your bullshit, and even then . . .”  These terms are not much different than “Accepting God (or Jesus, or Allah/Muhammad, or whichever other messiah has come to save the world) is the one path to salvation,” or, blandly, “Read the bible and you’ll know” (like some layperson quoting Richard Feynman on quantum reality, having no idea what they are trying to say).

 

And yet I would like to take up this issue–particularly with religious people, Christians specifically, who oddly align themselves with US President Donald J. Trump.  I have lately been sliding what will follow, in far shallower ways, onto various social media sites, perhaps only looking to stir the pot, but very serious in my intention to get some true believers to pause for a moment and think.

 

In many ways, at least as a textbook definition, the radical followers (again, ‘true believers’) of President Trump are a cult.  But before you dismiss such a statement, please realize that all growing and stabilized religions were and remain cults in one form or another.  There are atheistic cults, scientific cults, purely hedonist cults, selfish cults, death cults–a cult for every idea that comes into our minds.  Check it out on line.  Here:  https://allthatsinteresting.com/insane-cults  Perhaps, after all, these are the true faiths of man?

 

Anyway, for those who believe the President when he vaguely refers to himself as “The chosen one,”

perhaps it is time for you to refer back to the Holy Book, especially the surreal and horrifying final chapter, John’s Book of Revelation.

Rev.13

[1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
[2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
[3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
[4] And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
[5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
[6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
[7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
[8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
[9] If any man have an ear, let him hear.
[10] He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
[11] And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
[12] And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
[13] And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
[14] And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
[15] And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
[17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
[18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

 

There have been thousands upon thousands of interpretations of this, the story of “The False Prophet,” and since the time of its composition The Book of Revelation has inspired terror among the masses, doomsayers who see the end of everything rapidly coming our way.  And like I said, I don’t believe any of this, but there are plenty of people who do.  And so, in anticipation of the coming 2020 Presidential election, I would like to attempt a breakdown and comparison between Trump and the biblical false prophet, the priest of the antichrist welcoming the War of Armageddon.

So 13:1 has been used as a metaphor since the beginning, declaring seven evil nations and seven evil kings, and ten different weapons and ten different wars, et cetera.  And so we can turn this metaphor into anything we chose.  Talk about riches or business success or failure.  Talk about seven disruptive moments or ten times he offended the whole world.  The crowns upon his horned head require no great leap of imagination.  His rise from the sea could be from the sea of corruption his whole life has involved and “the name of blasphemy” is even more obvious.  To much of the whole world’s population, everything the man says: his lies, his exaggerations, his cheap personal attacks, all of this is a form of blasphemy, of turning the people away from the implied morality of the biblical narrative and destroying everything that ever was of civilization.

 

13:2-4 starts us on the path to some frightening realities, allowing us to make the bare minimum of leaps to suggest Donald Trump.  With “the mouth of a lion,” surely we hear the man roar.  “The dragon” giving him his power seems to imply that those worshipping the man have been deluded by Satan (or, if we like, let’s define “the dragon” as intolerance and hatred.  As resentment of one another and those who do not believe as they do).  It is these very people who are the cause of this shift, as unquestionably they are.  A friend of mine just yesterday described the current minority of the Trump-worshipping far right as people easily manipulated by the current Republican party (perhaps the seven heads are people like Mitch McConnell and talking heads on Fox News and zillionaire political lobbyists, and various conspiratorial loons with growing followings?).  They focus on two things, he said.  One, that the angry and desperate people, they too can someday somehow become insanely wealthy; and two, they have heightened the natural rage over the presumption that someone thinks they are better than them.  And whether this is true with anyone (and unquestionably all of us have encountered such assholes in our lives), it is something to exploit to use that very anger to claim a vote that is ultimately against their own personal interest.

 

13:3 can easily be Donald Trump’s rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again, and then another fall, and then TV stardom, and then as public conspiracy theorist, and finally as President of the United States.  He is healed.  And as for 13:4 . . . “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”  So they worship, in this case, the resentment that is the dragon.  They worship this champion of them, raising him to a messianic level, seeing him as stronger than anyone else.  No one can challenge him.  He always wins.

 

13:5-9 are all about how people come to believe his “blasphemies,” in our parlance let’s call them “lies.”  People believe every blathering, crazy thing he says because the man, the “false prophet” has been transformed into a deity, into a savior, if not of the world, than at least of what these angry white people believe they have lost.  He will restore them to what they dream they were once upon a time, with the same mystical beliefs that inspired the Book of Revelation itself.  And everyone is challenged, insulted, condemned.  There is the promise of “great things,” really just those hollow words with nothing to back them up.  He attacks “saints,” or perhaps only those moral do-gooders that too many people have no more patience with.  The “blasphemy” is his painting those sincere people as enemies, as people out to destroy all that is left to his worshippers.  He offers solutions.  He assures them that the world will change under his reign, dismissing all the cooperative treaties and mutual understandings, and smugly saying there will be a “new deal.”  His influence over people the world over, in all languages, is unquestionable.  They can all hear him and see him as either a god or demon.  There is no middle ground.  As for the 42-months . . . not impossible, is it?  And while that might be one of those biblical calculations that has been lost in translation, the stark reality of scandal that we live in keeps it in the back of our minds.

 

13:10-13 can mean nothing less than full scale war with nuclear annihilation.  And while when the book was written those possibilities could only come from an unknown sky creature, today’s technology has invented a true chance of burning everything off the face of the earth.  Trump’s climate change denial and greed, and his inspiration to other nativist leaders around the world to bulldoze the Amazon and Arctic is also another reign of fire consuming us all.

 

Of course in the face of such catastrophe new religions are born.  New gods are prayed to.  A more desperate form of salvation is offered, and the world gets smaller and smaller and more tribal.  Mankind returns, eventually, into the shivering fear of peeking out of the mouth of your cave and seeing nothing worth living for.  All there is is the false prophet and those who follow him, the actual serpent, the dragon, the very beast Itself.  And the prophet promotes this apocalyptic figure, whether for good or bad is irrelevant.  With Trump it might imply a loss in the election and his conviction that whoever replaces him is out to destroy the world (which to him and his followers is merely “America.”)  Painting this individual as “the beast,” the one whose power is unquestioned and for whom their rivals see the image of Satan (the socialist, the liberal–perhaps even the foreign born!)

 

13:14-18 refer to, first, a dictatorial style imposed law, killing all those who do not kneel before the new messiah.  They are “the enemies of the people” and need to be slain for the salvation of the earth.  People are convinced of this.  Holy wars break out.  Civil wars spread across the globe.  Millions of people are killed, sometimes in a single day.  People stop caring about one another, refuse to trust each other.  They see vast conspiracies out to undermine and target specifically them.  The whole world starts revolving around only you, a solipsistic horror show where everything is out to get you.  Explanations for this grow increasingly tattered and insane.  Anything becomes possible in the diseased mind of paranoid humanity.

 

Let’s look to the end of chapter 13.  The mark of the beast.  Economic collapse.  Here’s a bar code on your hand that will feed directly into your dwindling finances, allowing you to purchase whatever goods you need to just barely survive, like a young mother out in the freezing cold waiting on a breadline in 1964 Soviet Russia.  Your bar code, in this instance, might be 666 9471 8390.  Scan, be counted, let us know what you are buying, and stick your soul into the databank.  Like on Facebook.  And for those who resist the new way of life, let them be ostracized, cast out of the new Eden.  Let them suffer and die of hunger and thirst, of exposure and disease.  Allow the whole world to crumble under the final reign.

 

Of course Revelation ends on a slightly up note, with the return of an angry Jesus to smite these monsters, and the true salvation of a handful of the faithful.  But that is clearly not the moment we can relate today’s chaos to.  Again, I am not a religious person and I believe this prophecy to be nonsense.  And yet, considering the faiths at war all across the world, and the technological age that consumes us, it is not impossible that some holy lunatics with a great deal of money and influence, those who have been licking their lips ever since the re-formation of Israel in 1947, seeing the return of Christ, might not help such a prophecy come at least partially true.

 

There are rich British and American farmers tying to breed a true red heifer, another sign of the coming end.

The fusion of crazy politics and crazy religion is coming full circle.  Too many people are praying for the end times.  And we are all increasingly alone, lost in the void of our own cynically sneering creation.  This is why a commentary such as this can even be written.  So again, Christians, please: take this to heart.  It is from your own holy book.  The interpretations may be my own (as well as thousands of other people who have written on a similar topic).  Do you want the endtimes, or do you pray for a future where your greatgrandchildren may thrive.  I know that many are too self-absorbed to even consider hope for anyone beyond their own children, but it is something to seriously ponder.  Do you want the end right now, or should we try and hold out for the foreseeable future?  This should be your vote in 2020, true believers.  Living or dead.  Which side are you on?

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A Canadian Travelogue

 

Let’s get this out of the way first: Canada is gorgeous

I mean, the churches, the ancient government buildings:

My family and I recently spent a week touring Canada (our annual summer vacation someplace north).  We visited Niagara Falls:

Toronto (where my son and I took in a Blue Jays game; they lost 7-0 to the Mariners, whose pitcher threw a complete game two hitter of 95 pitches):

After that it was lovely Montreal:

And finally two days in old Quebec City:

Now lest you think that I am merely bragging about my awesome vacation, allow me to burst that bubble for a moment:

I wanted to attempt an expression of how even the most beautiful places suffer much of the same blight of every large, industrialized city.  The same dank alleys.  The same random graffiti tags.  The crudeness of the McDonalds that is literally across the street from this:

which has been in existence at the same location since 1786 (we did not eat there; we could not afford it), points to a similar inconsistency of life, the scattering of fast food joints (remarkably more expensive than here in the US; by the way, the gas prices at the Shell are per liter, which amounts to about $4.46 per gallon) mixed in between ancient architecture and the bright smattering of flowers

displays a modern confusion, asking without answer what exactly it is that we want.  The last image of sadness above, the one of the forlorn little girl with apparently nothing worth looking forward to in life, is boldly painted upon the Quebec City social services building, beside more vulgar scrawls of graffiti, and a superfluous, angry demand to “lutter contre le racisme,” which, with no knowledge of French, you should be able to figure out.

 

In fact, some of the bleaker parts of town (where, in fact, we stayed, considering the cost of Quebec City), have absolutely gorgeous murals.  The following is delicately painted alongside several others on the pillars holding up a highway, through an underpass surrounded by discount stores and what appear to be homeless people and daylight prostitutes:

 

I would like to review our stops, discussing what we did and the culture surrounding us.  I took far too many pictures, my son eventually condemning me for being “too much of a tourist.”  Of course since we started in Niagara Falls–profoundly a tourist spot

perhaps he is correct.  I will save you too many more pictures unless they apply to my point (so expect plenty more, along with a few other images to back me up that I did not snap myself.)

 

Niagara Falls is, of course, a wonder to see:

And yet the town itself, which I described to a friend as “an ice cream/casino funhouse,” is not meant for actual Canadians.  Literally two minutes over the US border, you drive into a boardwalk-style town, filled to capacity with wandering souls from every nation on earth, looking to see what we’ve only heard about or dreamed before.  The restaurants are mediocre and designed for quick eats before spending more money on games and rides and t-shirts with a maple leaf and the word ‘Canada’ for thirty dollars.  The prices are outrageous.  In a candy store where we meant to buy our children some treats the woman behind the counter told us the total would be seventy-three dollars.  It was not even an overwhelming amount.  We said no and walked away baffled.  We had a few drinks, swam in the hotel swimming pool, watched fireworks over the falls at ten PM (apparently something that occurs every single day)

Image result for fireworks at niagara falls

We left town en route to Toronto the following day.

 

Now Toronto felt almost like home to me.  A large east coast city, it is designed similarly to the large east coast USA cities I know most intimately.  It is crowded, traffic is a mess, there are people everywhere, and such a dazzle of places to go with no place to park that one cannot help but wind up a little angry.

 

However, unlike those cities I know, the town is remarkably clean

Image result for toronto is clean

Image result for toronto is clean

In fact, here is a comparison to my home town:

Image result for toronto streets one cigarette butt

Image result for philadelphia streets one cigarette butt

The people, too, are on the most part very friendly.  Back at home cars vindictively cut people off with grubby faces roaring obscenities at the wrong people, while in Toronto many stop right in the middle of the street and wave you on to let you cross.

 

The prices, of course, are still very high, the tax rate doubled due to their nationwide free health insurance (come to whichever conclusion you like).  The food was rather good and the experience was very pleasant, the baseball game a joy with similarly expensive snacks and beer, and the seats we had were obscenely close to the field

Toronto seems almost like a city I would move to, some day, if the US continues to collapse into the paranoid, hate-filled mess it has been devolving into since the middle of the Clinton years.  I probably won’t, still loving America like a resented mother, but such stray thoughts often come to mind while on vacation.

 

Montreal was my favorite city, if not the one where we had the best time.  A stunning, glorious place

Related image

Image result for beautiful montreal

The trouble here was a lack of time.  Montreal is a big of a haul from Toronto.  We chose to try and save some money by making this a driving trip.  By the time we left Toronto, all of us were pretty sick of the car.  Everyone was irritable.  The children had been fighting over space in their shared bed, kicking one another, keeping both my wife and I awake, and so we finally switched, my wife with one child, me with the other.  We came to understand why they could not share a bed, both of us getting kicked and being kept awake.  In Montreal, despite seeing so many lovely things, we did very little.  Also the culture is far more French, the language mostly French, and none of us are especially fluent.  Of course plenty of people also speak English (a guy begging for money was bilingual, at first saying “Pouvez-vous,s’il vous plaît, m’échanger de l’argent?”  I replied “Sorry,” understanding the basic premise.  He countered, in English, with, “If you think I am looking to buy drugs you can go into the restaurant with me.”  He had no discernible accent.  I shook my head and walked away.)  But there was an unexpected rudeness to the crowds this time, a pushy arrogance of people refusing to acknowledge the existence of others.  We took a tour around the harbor and smiled at the sites.  But it did not compare to the boat beneath Niagara Falls, where everybody got soaked in our thin plastic ponchos:

Image result for hornblower boat under niagara falls canada

But Quebec City, our last stop, was yet another new experience, and one that saved us all from the dwindling interest our constant driving imposed.

Quebec City has a remarkable shopping district and a truly fascinating history.

The second image above is of the old armory, a place that was often frequented by an aging Napoleon III as France continued turning against him and he fled to the province of Quebec, standing there and looking down upon the peasants with contempt, similar to the way the construction worker in the white helmet was doing to all of us.

 

And yet, of course, the market district is set up for dazzled tourists like ourselves, gathering collections of cheap crap to sell to excited visitors:

Some places, we pretentiously declared alongside our fellow shoppers, were of much higher quality (and even more expensive).

You can even see me greedily looking on in reflection at the marble and jade figurines, deciding which ultimately meaningless work of handcraft I want (I settled for a family of three polar bears, the mama eating a fish while the children look on surly), which sits here beside me now on my desk

I have no idea why I bought this.  Caught up in the moment, I suppose.

 

Our final day consisted of a visit to the falls of Quebec City

The children declared that they wanted to zip line over the falls

Somehow they convinced me to join them

It was horrifying.  I was convinced I was going to fall every second I was up there.  I did not scream or close my eyes.  All I did was hold my breath.

And yet there remains this perminant rainbow just above the water.  Tourists wander down and retrieve smooth sticks that look like elephant tusks.

My son, returning in the second picture, got four of them, one for each of us.

 

And so our trip concluded, with my mind, mired in its negative, generally apocalyptic swamp, coming to evaluations and judgments, and realizing that it was truly a wonderful trip.

 

As we were leaving

with the shore and the towns growing more and more distant,

I realized something I have a hard time saying about anything: I love Canada, for all its minor flaws and presumptions.  It is a wonderful nation, its politics far less jungle-like than in the US, and the people are mostly calm and polite and even friendly.  My wife made a suggestion for the reason for this, which may in fact hold some merit:

Image result for thrown out your pot at the canadian border in montreal sign

Something to consider, perhaps, as we sink back into our daily lives; sober, serious, and no longer void from our everyday responsibilities.  As we prepare to resume our otherwise mediocre existence . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Toronto: A Big East Coast City, But Clean

 

Toronto is gorgeous.  (Wi-fi, however, is awful.  My picture of the city refused to upload.) I am fundamentally a city boy, far more comfortable in the looming crowds than the blank emptiness of small towns. We only spent a day here and I said to my wife even before we got to where we were staying, “Hey! Let’s move here!

The city is immaculate. There is almost no trash blowing around the streets (and that only the result of missing the trash can–which also, the trash cans, are free of caked on filth and grime.) Cars stop for pedestrians with a friendly wave. The pople mostly smile at you too (although fellow Americans remain pushy, and the numerous visitors from throughout Asia come across so touristy that they lose awareness of anything outside the shimmer of their cameras).My son and I took in a Blue Jays game at the beautiful Rogers Field:

Our seats were tremendous:
Even the public restrooms were clean.  In a stadium.  With 25,000 people present.  We were rooting for the Jays, who would up being 2-hit by a Mariners pitcher I have never heard of, losing 7-0. And yet it was a worthwhile experience. My son claims that he wants to eventually visit every home stadium of every team in major league baseball. Presently we are at merely six, all east coast save last year in Seattle.Food was good in Toronto, although our single day limited exploration. Now, presently, we are en route to Montreal, still about 4 hours away.

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Niagara Falls (a travel promotion?)

I took lots of pictures around this scene, most of them saturated. We took the Hornblower trip towards the numerous falls and were drenched. It was awesome; this was perhaps my favorite vision of nature in my lifetime.

Niagara, Ontario, Canada itself is more like a New Jersey boardwalk town (only clean): ice cream, game rooms, casinos and haunted houses and wax museums and all other other over-priced bullshit that tourists like my family and myself gobble up in gift shops. But I urge you–please please please!–if you have the opportunity, please check out Niagara Falls. Just the vision itself makes it wholly worthwhile.

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Our Struggle on Vacation

 

Hello.  I have been mostly absent for the past two weeks or so, outside of an angry rant on guns or some bitter screed about how stupid I think people are.  I have been wallowing in a negative zone for this stretch of time mostly because I fucked up my left foot, but also from the considerations of family and household repair.  Our children spent the first four weeks of summer away at sleepaway camp, freeing my wife and I to lounge around, spend some time together, have a few outings, and sleep, while paying some people to completely redesign one of our bathrooms.  Of course once the children returned, chaos erupted.  They are both well into their obnoxious years: selfish, lazy teenagers demanding something new every second of every day, having no understanding of reality or financial considerations, and arguing about literally everything.  “Take the trash out, please,” turns into something so outrageous that you begin to understand why the mild parental beatings of the past may have some merit.  And while this has never been me, that anger the grows and grows sometimes explodes into my own irrationality, causes me to realize that, after all, they are still only children.

 

Parenting is exhausting and anger never works.  It only teaches them to be angry people themselves.  I have learned to keep my mouth shut after giving instruction and simply take away things that they want, reduce their freedom, add onto the chores, or force them to perform tasks they truly cannot stand.  It is a far more subtle torture, and far more effective, I have found, than shouting and outrage.

 

Anyway, the children have distracted me from my professional responsibilities (and I am not talking about this, but the work-for-payment projects that allow me to make a living).  They yammer away, no matter how many times I take them out to swim, or on hikes, and whatever other activities they eventually earn, and I am constantly interrupted and cannot think clearly, the rhythm broken, the words gone stagnant, the point lost, the purpose finally meaningless.  I have numerous abandoned pieces on here that will likely be recalled next year when I do my second “blooper reel” (check out the first one if you have time.)  I am exhausted.  I need a vacation . . .

 

Tomorrow our family is going out of town for a week, a tour of eastern Canada, from Niagara Falls, through Toronto and Quebec and Montreal.  We are all very excited.  Last year we went to Alaska and it seems to now be our family tradition to take a trip before the next school year begins.  As a result of this, of course, I will be further incommunicado on this site.  I do not like the pieces I have written on my phone, the jagged language and typos displaying both my stubby fingers and tremendous lack of patience.  They all seem very irritable and sloppy to me in hindsight.  Perhaps there will come a brief update on the trip, or a comment about something specific, but other than that I will melt into the family that seems to have otherwise been annoying me since I have been injured (walking is going to be a problem for long periods of time on vacation, but that will be dealt with as it comes.)

 

Anyway, my audience here (and on the other handful of platforms: Medium, Pinterest, LinkedIn) continues to grow, recently rather significantly, and for this I thank you.  It makes one feel pretty good to know that there is a limited interest in a few of the things I have to say (whether pro or con is meaningless, because negative reviews are every bit as important as positive, allowing me to believe that my words have some sort of impact.  People who think what you are saying is shit, backed up by an emotional attack, tend to be your most regular readers.)

 

This will be the 328th piece I have published here on Recording Editorial History, and I have been very encouraged lately by the many of you who have decided to backtrack and read some of the older essays.  Several of of them that I believe to be worthwhile have yet to be revisited and a number that are frankly crap have had a number of recent peeks.  But, if nothing else, I hope that this site as a whole provides you with a bit of a wavering picture of the current trends in belief systems raging throughout the world, with some historical precedence offering partial explanations, and with a point-counterpoint opening to discussions that all of us really need to have, forgetting about the petty frustration and anger that people such as myself sometimes foolishly vent upon one another, and trying to understand, simply, a different point of view–not accepting it, not even reconciling it with your own staunch moral code(s), but learning to accept one another regardless of how stupid and worthless we ultimately deem one another to be.

 

Please check out the “Elsewhere” series, the “Excuses” series, several of the commentaries on the current crop of Democratic Presidential candidates, a number of the pieces of satirical nastiness on Donald Trump, and the very serious discussions I try to have on both animal cruelty and climate change, scattered throughout from nearly the very beginning in June of 2018.  Thanks again, and until next weekend–