Living and Dying in Interesting Times Plus The Alex and Ronni Show



In the past week, President Donald Trump suggested that 75-year-old Martin Gugino, the man who was seriously injured at the hands of the Buffalo, New York, police for no reason, was an Antifa provocateur. And he has accused others whose politics he doesn't like of being members of Antifa.

Antifa stands for Anti-fascist, is not an organization but a diverse group of unaffiliated people who oppose fascism. There is no main Antifa group.

Last week, Washington Post columnist, Alexandra Petri, published a list of ways to figure out if people's grandparents had become Antifa agents. That would be people like you and me. Here are a few of her suggestions:

“Is always talking on the phone with an “aunt” you have never actually met in person. Aunt TIFA????”

“Always walking into rooms and claiming not to know why he walked into the room. Likely.”

“Suddenly, for no reason, will appear or pretend to be asleep.”

“Carries peppermints (chemical irritant?) in purse at all times.”

See more of Ms. Petri's suspicions of what behaviors might indicate an old person is an Antifa agent at the Washington Post.


It wasn't always that way. Smiles in the earliest photographs are rare and even in paintings, people rarely smiled until the 18th century. We are so accustomed to somber-looking people in early photos that this one of a 19th century, young girl, O-o-dee. of the Kiowa people in the Oklahoma Territory is almost shocking.


TGB reader Nana Royer sent this video of Colin Jones discussing the “smile revolution” in 18th century Paris, which broke with centuries-old conventions to introduce the white-toothed smile we know today.

What prompted this change? Jones attributes it to the emergence of dental science and changing technologies of mouth care, and the development of a cult of sensibility, subjectivity and politeness. Listen to him explaining:

You can read more here and here.


The increase in the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths this week in the United States has skyrocketed. Some other countries have done an amazing job in fighting back and New Zealand, as of last Monday, is the first to be down to zero cases. Here is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

You can read more about how they did it here and here. Shouldn't the U.S. government be studying how New Zealand accomplished this?


There is a store in San Diego called the Art of Play shop. It is full of puzzle boxes, illusion, amazing playing cards and all sorts of other puzzle toys.

In the video below from Atlas Obscura's Show and Tell series, co-owner of the store, Dan Buck, gives a tour of the secret room and some of the most interesting puzzles. It's longer than I usually post – 13 minutes – but I sure enjoyed it.

You can find out more at the Art of Play website.


What can you do but weep. I cannot imagine what evil lives in the heart of the man who is our president. The Washington Post and other publications reported last week:

”Hunters will soon be allowed to venture into national preserves in Alaska and engage in practices that conservation groups say are reprehensible: baiting hibernating bears from their dens with doughnuts to kill them and using artificial light such as headlamps to scurry into wolf dens to slaughter mothers and their pups.

“With a final rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the Trump administration is ending a five-year-old ban on the practices, which also include shooting swimming caribou from a boat and targeting animals from airplanes and snowmobiles. It will take effect in 30 days.”

How is it that this not a crime?


In last Wednesday's blog post, I listed a few of the modern conveniences that make me grateful to live now rather than in the 19th century or before. It was worse that I realized back then.

Maybe with the coronavirus, we are getting the smallest idea of what life was like in 19th century cities. From National Geographic.


In my cancer/COPD predicament these days, I don't have the energy to do much cooking anymore. But if I still did, I would like these kitchen hacks.


The U.S. Federal Trade Commission this week released data on scams being perpetrated related to the COVID-19 virus.

”Since January 1, people across the U.S. have made 91,808 COVID-19-related reports to the FTC. Most of these reports involve online shopping, with travel and vacations coming in second,” reports the FTC.

“The online shopping reports are mostly about people ordering products that never arrive, while most of the travel and vacation reports relate to refunds and cancellations. So far, people have reported losing $59.27 million on these and other COVID-related fraud reports.”

What is the matter with people who do such things as these? You can check out statistics for your state here.


A cat investigates the arrival of a treadmill in his home. When I started watching this video, I thought four-plus minutes would be a bit much. Not so. I enjoyed it clear to the end.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.


The cat video reminded me of my 2 cats. A friend gave me 2 large cat figurines, a mom & kitten, that sit flat against the wall. Both my cats approached them crouched low to the floor & slowly walked together to investigate. I didn't think these figurines looked life-like but apparently they were life-like enough to them.

I miss my cats. The last one passed away 1 1/2 years ago. They came with me when I bought this condo 10 years ago. Now, they're gone & I'm thinking about where to live next as I age.

What a pastiche...............thanks. I liked the cat the best. Maybe cuz it's Saturday.

So much good stuff here to comment on... I remember going on a museum tour many years ago, and there was an 1800s photo exhibition, and the guide explained that people didn’t smile in photos because they had to remain still for such an extended period of time.

Where can I sign up to be an Antifa agent—or a citizen of New Zealand?? Everytime I see a NZ video here, it just amazes me.

The Cesspool Cities video was... my god, those poor people then. Just the fact that so many lived in windowless tenements. Earlier this week when you wrote of the blessings of modern conveniences, I thought back to the mid-1960s, when my mother took my sister & me to visit her great grandparents who lived in West Virginia. They were in their 90s, had no running water, no power. Just amazed me. But they had a simple, sweet home—a smokehouse (they raised pigs), a springhouse, an outhouse (of course); and a big handpump outside their backdoor. We only met them once, but half a century later I still think of them... oops, I’m rambling.

Loved the video with the Japanese puzzle boxes, and the cat on the treadmill. As always, thanks Ronni.

Dear Ronnie, watched the video you posted about the hellish conditions, which poor people were stuck with a century ago...yeah Carnigee, Melon (spelling?) and the other wolve$ may have funded libraries but paid their workers about zilch The only reality that continues to keep me from actively embracing socialism, is the Bible.

See, Mongolia is probably more applicable to the US than NZ (NZ being an island), and they are... not a rich country... and appear to have frankly rocked the pandemic. Still no community transmission after all these weeks...

Cat wins again! All the other "stuff" is great, too, though, and we definitely should be taking lessons from New Zealand on COVID-19. Maybe their successful response has something to do with having elected as their leader a smart woman who cares about her country and its citizens. We in "MAGA-USA" are faring MUCH worse under the would-be Emperor of tRumpistan!

Thank you, Ronni. Loved the Atlas Obscura video visit with Dan Buck (added value: the John Oliver piece on facial recognition rolled right in afterwards!).
So much I didn't know and a few things I did know but couldn't bear to look at again.
Thank you and all those who helped you put together another of your always fascinating "Interesting Stuff" posts.

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