Here we go again. If you’re counting, this makes three criminal indictments in four months, in three separate jurisdictions. I’m going to step out on a limb here and opine that this has got to be a record. On August 1st, 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith dropped the other shoe he was holding, indicting Donald J. Trump on four charges in relation to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
Let me say up front that I have seen neither of the summer blockbusters, “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer,” which combine in this article’s portmanteau title, nor do I intend to. That said, it simply isn’t possible to ignore them, or be unaware of their existence. “Barbie,” in particular, has been cross-publicized in a dizzying variety of promotional tie-ins to other products and services, everything from fast food to auto insurance. Watching commercials for the two weeks prior to its release was like living a Pepto Bismol fever dream.
Nevertheless, Barbenheimer is fast on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon, and as such, worthy of celestial consideration. And the cosmos has been paying attention, no doubt.
After a very dry spring in much of the eastern US evoked widespread drought conditions, the climate change worm turned dramatically in late June and early July 2023, deluging these same areas with more rain than they could handle. Vermont quickly became the poster child for Northeast flooding, with new records set for rainfall in the Green Mountain State. Wastewater treatment facilities were among the hardest-hit, with 33 impacted statewide, and the plant in Johnson inundated by eight feet of water, leaving “total destruction” in its wake, with “just the shell of a building” remaining.
On June 30th, 2023, the last day of the term, the US Supreme Court issued a bizarre ruling regarding free speech and the ongoing culture wars over gay marriage, siding with a Colorado website designer who balked at having to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. But here’s the thing – in 2016, when the suit was filed, Lorie Smith wasn’t designing wedding webizes at all, for couples of any sexual persuasion; she claimed to have been approached by a gay couple whom she refused the services she wasn’t offering to anyone, based on her religious objections to same-sex unions. So, Lorie Smith’s suit against Colorado’s antidiscrimination law was hypothetical or, shall we say, prophylactic?
The celebration of Independence Day in the US is, tragically, often bound up with a deadly expression of Americans’ Second Amendment rights, coinciding with an uptick in the already ubiquitous incidents of mass shootings. Although Founding Father John Adams, after the signing of the Declaration, wrote to his long-suffering wife Abigail that “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” I doubt that murdering fellow citizens was the type of celebratory gunplay he anticipated, nor the parade of lost and shattered lives.
[Alice and Annabelle hydrangeas relax in the shade, with a less-than-usually-troublesome squirrel standing guard]
Or is that “heaven”? It’s been awhile coming, but now, in their third summer here, the hydrangeas are really beginning to come into their own. I have five varieties, four Oakleaf and one arborescens, and all are showing improvement over last year’s output.