Late on 14 August 2023 Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis finally issued her long-awaited indictment against former US President Donald J. Trump and 18 cohorts in the 2020 election interference case. The 98-page indictment contains 41 counts of alleged criminal activity, mostly charged under Georgia’s RICO racketeering laws, created for dealing with organized crime groups. In addition to the codefendants, 30 more individuals are mentioned as unindicted coconspirators, making it one of the largest such cases on record. Also charged with Trump are former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump lawyers Rudy Guiliani and Sidney Powell. Willis alleges in the indictment that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result, including the now-infamous taped phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where Trump asked him to “find” the number of votes needed to flip the state his way.
On the evening of Sunday, 6 August 2023, 74-year-old Giacomo Chiapparini entered the storage room of his family-run dairy farm’s cheese factory near Bergamo, Italy, to check the robot used to clean the wheels of Grana Padano as they aged, stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves. No one knows what went wrong, but one of the metal shelves buckled, spilling its store of hundreds of 40 kg (approximately 88-pound) cheeses and creating a domino effect, whereby the entire stock came crashing down, crushing the septuagenarian.
In late July 2023 a trio of notable performers exited earth with swan songs of their own. American icon Tony Bennett passed on July 21, Irish singer Sinead O’Connor and Eagles founding member and vocalist Randy Meisner both died on the 26th. They were accompanied by a host of lesser-known (to US audiences, anyway) singers cross the globe, with no less than 10 others passing during that five-day period, from lands as disparate as India, Kenya, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Jamaica and the UK.
It has certainly been an odd growing season. In the six weeks from May 1 to mid-June, normally a fairly wet period, we recorded just a quarter inch of rain on the property. The ensuing six weeks, to late July, normally a fairly dry period, saw seventeen inches! About an inch a week is sufficient to keep most plants going without hydration support, but unfortunately the effect isn’t cumulative – those 17” bunched together won’t last 17 weeks, and now, as August begins, it’s looking drier again. But I’ve enjoyed the break from the Gunga Din routine that kept me hopping through last summer’s drought.
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.