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What Republicans fear

Cranky Old Man #80

Boris Johnson pulls the plug on BBC 

This would eviscerate BBC's funding, and either take BBC off the air or make it become a commercial enterprise.

I'm going to temporarily not take this too seriously, though, because the Beeb is Britain, and (maybe?) the British people won't stand for this.

It would be like Trump pulling the plug on PBS — but much worse, because BBC has several channels of quality and original programming while PBS doesn't even have one, and BBC covers the news far more thoroughly and worldwide than PBS has ever attempted. 

And also, BBC is where Doctor Who's TARDIS docks, so this aggression will not stand, man...

♦ ♦ ♦

Texas county rejects half of mail-in ballot applications amid new voter restrictions 

When people vote, Republicans are in trouble. That's why Republicans fear and oppose voting much more than they fear or oppose COVID-19.

♦ ♦ ♦

You know what I hate worse than bad writing? Good writing.

Bad writing is boring or aggravating, but also reassuring. I read it, and think, Ha, even I can write better than that.

For many years, I kept a copy of The Second Son, by Charles Sailor, because that novel was so poorly written, I could open it to any page at random and improve any paragraph. I read it front to back and flipped through it at random many times, whenever I lacked confidence. Wish I still had my copy, even today.

Good writing, though, like Ace Backwords' site, or anything by Jack Finney or Philip K Dick or B Traven, sometimes has the opposite effect. I read it, enjoy it, and aspire to one day do it, but… it'll never happen. They're all better writers than me 8½ days out of 7, as are so many others.

I'm currently re-reading Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the 23rd time, and it's still excellent, and still something I couldn't begin to write, and damn, that's still depressing.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Trump did all he could to destroy the 2020 Census, and largely succeeded. I remember reading about it as it happened, don't you? So it doesn't feel like 'news' to me now, but here's a report on some freshly-disclosed revelation that Trump also tried to destroy the 2020 Census in a slightly different way than was previously known.

Have I said this already? I've been thinking it for years:

It doesn't matter what crimes were committed by Donald J Trump. He is not subject to American law. I'll bet anyone $100 that Trump will eventually die of old age, never convicted of any crime anywhere in America.

♦ ♦ ♦

Good news about COVID-19 — 

• Austria — Vaccination will be required for all adult residents
• France — Vaccination will be required to enter restaurants, sports facilities, and other venues
• Manila — Vaccination is now required for access to public transit 

Bad news about COVID-19 — 

• China — Omicron reaches Beijing, three weeks before the Olympics begin

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Here's something that could finally pierce the 'cool' factor, and make virtual-mania, cryptocurrency, and NFTs fade from popularity: 

Walmart plans to sell virtual goods, create cryptocurrency and NFTs 

♦ ♦ ♦

Phillis Wheatley was a slave, allowed to learn reading and writing, who became the first published African-American poet. Her works include this kinda beautiful but heartbreaking rhyme, titled "On Being Brought from Africa to America" — 

'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

It wasn't enough to steal this woman away from her home, her family, her life, and imprison her. They also put the Christian god into her head. "Jesus," as they say.

♦ ♦ ♦

I'm being laid off in two weeks. The company nicely let us know six months ago, so I've had ample time to do some serious thinking about this, send out resum├ęs, etc, but I haven't. Haven't done squat.

All jobs end. Life ends, too, but I'm not in a panic about it.

It's an old saying but true, that I was out of work when I found this job. When I'm out of work again, soon, I'll find another job. Seems highly unlikely I'll starve to death, and I need to lose some weight anyway.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Chase Bank, or Chase Manhattan when I was a kid, is a humongous and evil subsidiary of the international multi-trillion-dollar conglomerate, JPMorgan Chase. They've opened a new branch at 21st @ Mission Streets in San Francisco, and had this floor-to-ceiling poster created for the lobby.

It's ever-so-slightly out of touch with the city, though. ① The neighborhood is Mission Dolores, not Delores. ② None of the poster's pictures are from the Mission Dolores neighborhood. And ③ 21st @ Mission is a few blocks beyond even a generous definition of the Mission Dolores neighborhood, which orbits around Mission Dolores church and park. (hat tip, r/SanFrancisco).

♦ ♦ ♦  

Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data 

The EU’s police agency, Europol, will be forced to delete much of a vast store of personal data that it has been found to have amassed unlawfully by the bloc’s data protection watchdog. 

ACAB isn't just a catchy acronym. It's the law: All Cops Are Bastards. Police everywhere, even (especially) at the highest level, believe they're above the law.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I would cheerfully take a class from this prof. 

♦ ♦ ♦

In my ordinary internet surf cycle, there are several major league blogs that link to comedic highlights from the latest Saturday Night Live, every Sunday after every new episode airs.

I never click those links, and pledge to never post such links — not because the show isn't funny. I'm sure SNL is funny. It's just everywhere, that's all.

♦ ♦ ♦

 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:

—①—
     —②—
          —③—

 Sing along with Douggles:
Theme from Lost in Space, by John Williams
 



Tip 'o the hat:
All Hat No Cattle • Linden Arden
BoingBoingCaptain Hampockets
Follow Me Here • John the Basket
LiarTownUSAMessy Nessy Chick
National ZeroRan Prieur
Vintage EverydayVoenix Rising

Extra special thanks:
Becky Jo • Name Withheld • Dave S.
and always, Stephanie

1/17/2022 

Cranky Old Man 

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itsdougholland.com 

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11½ hours

Oy, such a day at the shop! Heavy lifting in the back room all morning (my spine's gonna remember it tomorrow), and then standing on my feet flyering all afternoon and evening. Stevi wanted to send me home at 4:30, because I'd worked eight hours and everything after that is time and a half. That's the law.

I was just getting warmed up, though, in good spirits and enjoying my sidewalk duty, and I need the money, so I told her, "My wage is $5 an hour. It says so right on my flyer, and I never asked for a raise."

Stevi thinks I'm nuts, I think, but she shrugged and said, "If you want to keep standing out there, keep standing out there." I kept standing out there for a few hours more, at $5 an hour. She gave me a nice tip, though — paid me for 13 hours, when I'd only worked 11½.

♦ ♦ ♦

I'm really glad I stayed, too. You never know who's going to come walking along on the sidewalk, and today I saw Penelope, a cute & tubby woman who temped at Macy's for a few months last summer, and then got dumped in one of their periodic purges. 

"Doug!" she said, "Did you get laid off at Macy's?" 

"Nope, I laid myself off. Gave them no notice, too — and look at me now!" and I twirled in my ridiculous green cape, and handed her one of the shop's flyers. 

She laughed, and I thought about asking her out, but I didn't and then she said "See ya," and she was gone. It was just like old times, when we worked together and I thought about asking her out, and never did.

Well, probably Penelope would've said no. Or if she'd said yes, probably a date would've been a disaster. Probably, I'm an idiot.

From Pathetic Life #10
Wednesday, March 29, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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itsdougholland.com 

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Station Eleven, and six more

My favorite movie this week was The Andromeda Strain, and my hot tip would be The Trick, but it's slightly sad watching the world end. Station Eleven gets a yes, but it stars Shakespeare, and he can kiss my ass.

— — —

Abby (1974)
YES

streaming freestreaming paid

Abby is a cheap, black-centric ripoff of The Exorcist, but it's better than it sounds, and if you're comparing the two movies, remember that there's a very boring start to The Exorcist before it gets interesting.

Abby gets going much quicker, and the demonic whatsit here has sexual undertones, which helps keep it watchable during the otherwise tedious parts. Bonus points for the weird electronic scare music, too.

Blaxploitation superstar Carol Speed plays the demon-possessed Abby, and she is making a play for an Oscar nomination. Her possessed voice must've been dubbed, or she'd need lots of Luden's, but she does amazing things with her face. I wasn't much frightened, but always entertained.

It also stars William Marshall (a deep-voiced and dashingly handsome actor you might remember as Star Trek's Dr Daystrom, and the King of Cartoons on Pee Wee's Playhouse) as a church bishop who's also an anthropologist (I think?). His son is a preacher, and Abby is the preacher's wife, but she's getting urges that aren't at all pastoral, and then she kicks her husband in the nuts and strips during a couples counseling session.

With such very Christian characters, Abby's wild acting-out seems more audacious and outrageous, but there's no nudity or anything explicit beyond some mildly naughty language. "There are hostile forces all around this house, and they have to be eliminated tonight, or she'll die." The script is silly, sometimes on purpose, but everyone's trying, and the power of Carol Speed compels you to watch.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The Andromeda Strain (1971)
BIG YES — 

streaming freestreaming paid 

It’s hard to believe that this movie is fifty years old. I’ve seen it several times, always loved it, and it still holds up.

This is high-IQ science fiction, about a space probe that returns to earth with an unknown and deadly contamination. A team of scientists are on call for exactly such a situation — the kind of planning-ahead that's probably not done these days — and they come together to huddle over microscopes and 1970s computers to try and understand what invisibly tiny otherworldly life form they're dealing with.

It's from a novel by Michael Crichton, which is also excellent, and the movie was directed by Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), who knew how to do science fiction. It's a money-drenched movie for theaters, but they made the curious choice to go with TV actors — Arthur Hill from Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, David Wayne from Ellery Queen and House Calls, and Kate Reid from Dallas. Wayne and Reid are marvelous, but Hill is just Owen Marshall.

No ray-guns. No green men. The science makes sense, the tension is palpable, and the key element — a nuclear self-destruct system at the laboratory, in case anything goes wrong — adds drama to a story that already had plenty.

The technology depicted is dated because time is an unforgiving bitch, but the story's questions are still worth asking, and there's a political message, hinted just enough that you'll notice if you're paying attention, but not so much as to be a nuisance.

Not to be mistaken for a 2008 TV miniseries that sorta bungled around with the same story.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Konrad (1985)
NO —  

streaming freestreaming paid

This is an odd Hallmark-esque fantasy about a manufactured 8-year-old boy who's unexpectedly delivered to Polly Holliday (Flo on the 1970s sit-com Alice, and watch for a cameo from Linda Lavin).

As a new mom, even artificially, Holliday's character has no experience raising anything more complex than a goldfish, and it's soon decided that she isn't up to motherhood after all, so the factory recalls the boy. Holliday, though, has already built a bed with hammer and nails and 2x4s, and she loves the kid, dang it. Grab a moist towelette.

Once in a while there's a funny line, and Ned Beatty plays a fiddle, a harmonica, and a flute. It's all harmless, Holliday is quite good, the kid's adowable, and the movie's electronic music is poppy, but this is not worth your time unless you're a manufactured human, or eight years old.

It's very 'family friendly', so I should've clicked it off and found a movie where there's a heist or a murder or things blow up or there's something, anything genuine. By the time it sunk in just how stupid this movie is, though, it was more than half over… and anyway, I wanted to see how it would turn out.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

May (2002)
MAYBE —  

streaming freestreaming paid 

A girl with an ever-so-slight disability — she has a 'lazy eye' — grows up shy and insecure, and inordinately fond of a doll. She has trouble making friends, never goes on dates, and then, flash forward, she's a young woman, but still lonely, uncomfortable in her own skin, and she has a crush on a guy she's seen at the park. 

This is presented in a way that's unsettling but also sweet, and relatable if you're a wounded soul, as most of us are. But writer-director Lucky McKee, what are your intentions with this young lady?

See, with movies I've never heard of, like this one, I prefer not knowing what to expect, so I wasn't even sure whether this would be a romance, an art-flick character study, or a horror movie. Eventually it's clear that McKee wants to scare the audience.

It got creepier than I could stand, so I said goodbye to May midway through her movie, but I'd seen enough to recognize that it's well-written and made. If you enjoy gross-out modern low-budget horror, May is probably outstanding. It's just — not for me.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Sooner or Later (1979)
MAYBE — 

streaming freestreaming paid

An old man’s nostalgia tour continues...

I saw this cheesy TV movie on a date with a dame — hi, Cathy — in an otherwise empty doctor's lounge at the hospital where we worked, what feels like a century ago. Without looking for it, I chanced upon it again, so I had to see it a second time.

A 13-year-old girl (Denise Miller) has a crush on a shopping mall rock singer who's supposedly 17, but played by 24-year-old Rex Smith, so she lies about her age to convince him she’s older. It’s a romantic comedy for the acne demographic, so chaste it seems more like Disney than what it was, a heavily-hyped 'big event' in prime time on one of the major networks. 

Whenever kids do something fake on-screen, something a real kid probably wouldn't do, or something obviously meant to let adults laugh at how stupid kids are, it makes me cringe inside. I call this the Brady Bunch Syndrome, because I first noticed those pangs of existential pain watching that shitty show. There's definitely some Brady Bunch Syndrome, watching Sooner or Later.

The cast and acting is of TV quality, with Barbara Feldon and Judd Hirsh as the girl's parents, and Morey Amsterdam as the owner of a music shop (Rose Marie would've been better).

For all the fakery and schlockery, though, some of the story works, and there’s no denying that Smith was dreamy. I remember kissing my girl while he sang “You Take My Breath Away,” and it's not an unhappy memory. Smith bursts into song so frequently this is basically a musical, though nobody else sings. 

It's a rom-com for tweens and wholesome teens, but I've seen worse, like something (title forgotten) where a CGI crab taught Sarah Michelle Gellar to be a better cook and fall in love. Yeah, that was definitely a worse rom-com than this.

Recommended for Cathy if she happens to read this, but probably not for anyone else older than 15.

♦ ♦ ♦

Station Eleven (2021)
YES —   

streaming freestreaming paid 

When enough people tell me something is worth my time, I'll give it my time. So many different people and blogs have recommended Station Eleven, it finally reached critical what-the-hell, so I had to click 'play'.

It's from HBO, based on a novel I haven't read, by Emily St. John Mandel. It's a limited miniseries — ten episodes, then The End — which was a big selling point, because I'm not waiting for future seasons of anything.

It opens with a Broadway production of King Lear, where the leading actor drops to the stage mid-performance. One man in the audience understands that it's not acting, and rushes forward to help. The curtain drops and the actor dies, and through a swirl of backstage confusion, that man from the crowd, Jeevan, finds himself the unofficial and reluctant guardian of Kirsten, a child actor from the play.

Next there's a fateful phone call from Jeevan's sister, an ER-doctor who relays inside information that an epidemic is coming. "It's too late to run… Don't believe a word the news says. The city's gonna be fucked. People are walking around already exposed, and they don't even know it. Avoid contact with anyone."

The novel and miniseries were written and filming was underway before COVID came to town, so it's only pertinent to here and now by coincidence.

Jeevan and Kirsten are the focal points of the first episode, but it's a sprawling ensemble piece, and we don't see much of Jeevan once the story is really underway. It switches around a lot between the pandemic's first days and many years in the future, when grown-up Kirsten is still an actress, working with a traveling troupe that stages Shakespeare for tiny audiences. 

And I gotta call bullshit on that. After a pandemic takes down 99% of humanity worldwide, the survivors will worry more about finding food and water, shelter and medicine and a safe means of waste removal, than about staging Shakespeare amidst the ruins and wastelands. Many of Station Eleven's key actors are playing actors, and there's so much dialogue about acting that this might be the first Hollywood backstage drama that's also sci-fi. In the entire show, there's very little about how the survivors continue to survive, and the conceit about actors and Shakespeare and show-biz quickly wears pretentious and artsy-fartsy.

If you can get past that, though, it's a good show.

Episode 5, "The Severn City Airport," is my favorite, distilling post-apocalypse survival into an hour of movie-quality drama. Despite loving it, though, I wouldn't have understood the episode's end without the internet's help.

Episode 7, "Goodbye My Damaged Home," is also outstanding, with the adult Kirsten seriously wounded, and flashing back to her childhood. This allows the two actresses playing Kirsten (child and adult) to share several scenes, and in addition to everything else, it's remarkable how alike they look.

Episode 9, "Dr. Chaudhary," takes a distasteful and disappointing twist, and I almost quit midway through. Instead I googled Is Station Eleven crap?, and found this Rolling Stone headline promising that the end wouldn't depress the shit out of me. I generally trust Rolling Stone, so I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did.

Thumbs-up, but with some serious complaints.

• The score is violin-centric, so the mood is usually on edge, but it's interrupted way, way too often by pop music that's intrusive and jarring and wrong. It's a headache, especially when binge-watching, and I saw all of Station Eleven in one afternoon and evening.

• There are half a dozen plot points I didn't understand and still don't, and a couple of characters kept popping up and making me wonder, Now, who is this again, and what's she on about? Usually I don't have such elementary unanswered questions about a professionally produced show, so either I'm finally losing it or the whole dang thing needed another pass through the editing process.

• All the Pulp Fiction-esqe timeline-hopping was an unnecessary distraction and a constant reminder that you're watching TV. A hundred scenes start with superimposed text telling when an event was supposed to be set, but clicking around, I'm told that the time-hopping was added. The novel was basically linear.

• And of course, everything in Station Eleven builds toward a climax involving Shakespeare. Enough with the damned Shakespeare.

That said, the pluses outweigh the minuses. There are several memorable characters, the beginning and end both brought tears to my eyes, and in between there's an interesting story, though I don't believe any of it, except that the next pandemic is coming. The actors playing Jeevan and young Kirsten (Himesh Patel and Matilda Lawler) couldn't be better, and I was absolutely there for every scene with either of them in it. Also, a zine is crucial to the plot (though the word 'zine' is never spoken).

"You all seem to know that the world is coming to an end, so it's a good reminder that nothing we have done or do matters at all — but it does."

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The Trick (2021)
YES — 

streaming freestreaming paid

You'll perhaps remember that in 2009, a huge cache of emails was stolen from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, and promptly published by climate change deniers.

The media unanimously pretended that the scandal was the emails, not the theft of the emails, and the wackadoodle climate denial crowd gleefully extrapolated and publicized every off-the-cuff and off-the record remark that had been sent between scientists who'd been talking amongst themselves.

This is a dramatized retelling of those events, and it's infuriating, of course, but well-crafted and recommended by me. The main character is climatologist Phil Jones, then and now one of the world's most respected climate scientists. He had no innate knack for dealing with bullshit, though, and instead retreated inside himself as the man-made hot-air 'crisis' engulfed him. To the world's billions of boobs, his silence made him even more suspect.

For a time the morons and boobs held sway, and The Trick replays that brouhaha very well. When it's over, then and now, every year is one of the hottest ever, climate disasters happen daily, and we're building Hell on Earth and living in the end-times, while the fools still say it's all a hoax.

1/16/2022  

Movies, movies, more movies

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itsdougholland.com 

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Welcome to Aquatic Park.

I'm a sap, yup, but today I'm going to write about Margaret again. My apologies. I woke up with her on my mind, and a letter I've put off for weeks is now fresh finished scribbling.

What I've written to her is not completely honest, but it's close. I didn't quite say this, but I want her to either come see me and stay, or fade away. Either or. I am tired of our in-between "just friends" bull. Give me something to believe in and believe in me, Maggie, or let's not bother.

What I wrote and didn't write, I guess, reveals something about my character or lack, so it belongs in the zine. Here it comes.

But first, for new readers and anyone who's forgotten, a recap of who Maggie is, since I haven't mentioned her much lately...

I've known her for ten years or so, and during that time we evolved from flatmates to friends to more than friends, then lovers, then back to friends again. Lately, even saying we're friends seems less than the truth.

We were in Seattle when we were together, but now I'm here in Frisco and she's in a rural nowhere, twenty miles outside of some small farming town in eastern Washington. When we cranked our romance down three notches, she said she couldn't handle city life without me, and I couldn't live in the middle of all the wheat fields or whatever's home to her now.

It's not being so far away that's the problem, it's being so far apart. When we're together we argue. There's nothing between us beyond a sense of humor that's sometimes shared, sometimes not. Our senses of everything else are opposites, and her sanity comes and goes with the wind, even when she's taken her Prozac. 

That's not merely a wisecrack. Her mood swings are dangerous. An innocent twitch of my eyebrow might make her furious, or on a different afternoon the same twitch might charm her. Gandhi couldn't be cordial enough to keep Maggie in a good mood for an hour.

When she visited last summer, I had just moved out of the slums (the slums I've now moved back to) and into a roach-infested rez hotel downtown. Maggie hated that hotel, and almost hated me. I wanted to show her my life and see what we could rekindle, but she wasn't much interested, and beat me up one afternoon. Not a figure of speech. Bruises. 

Now she's coming to San Francisco to visit me again, and to visit her young daughter, who's being raised by Maggie's sister in suburban Livermore.

That's our background, and here's the letter I wrote her this morning…

Dear Maggie,

Maybe you wondered where I've gone. Haven't written much lately, and haven't called, but I'm still here, Mags, in beautiful San Francisco.

You should know that my situation isn't so swank as last summer when you came. I quit Macy's a month or so ago, to try surviving on odd jobs, moving strangers, wearing a ridiculous costume to hand out flyers on the sidewalk, and whatever comes up. Anything legal. It pays lots less than Macy's, and it's not stable work.

I moved out of that elegant hotel you hated so much. Currently I'm sleeping on dirty laundry in a shitty apartment on a beer-bottled street, shared with some guy I barely know, and maybe with his girlfriend. 

It's simple, uncomplicated, scary sometimes, and I like it. What I don't like is working, especially meaningless work for some company I hate, like Macy's, so I am not looking for another job like that. Also not looking for a better apartment. Or a better life. This one suits me.

Maggie, I'm poor, and it's my plan to remain poor, maybe get poorer. Dumpster-diving? Not yet, but I'm not ruling it out. If you visit, I'm not taking you to dinner. That's beyond my budget. Just a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a package of ramen, and I can make us a good lunch from that.

There are rarely movies, and I gave away my TV. Fun is a bare-bones bus ride to a park, or a stroll at sunset. The city's zoo is free one day every month.

Don't expect more than that when you come to California this summer. Don't expect much from me. I haven't much to offer, except me.

Having no money would be a workable excuse for not calling. Long distance is expensive. A letter is only 32¢ and even I can afford that, so why haven't I written in a month? Well…

You didn't like my low-life lifestyle back when I had a real job, and now it won't surprise me if you're even less interested. So yeah, I've put off writing this letter, but you deserve to know, so there it is.

When you come in June, if you're still coming, things have gotten worse, is my point. I live in a slum. You're welcome to spend the night, but it won't be like a night you've spent anywhere else.

I do hope you're coming, though, and I will show you a low-priced good time. You mean a lot to me, Maggie.

In the middle of all that wheat and peace and quiet where you are, I hope you're doing well.

Your friend, 
Doug  

♦ ♦ ♦

A day off ought to be nice and it is, but it's also a worry if I let myself think too much. I never know more than a day or two in advance whether I'm working for someone or sitting on my butt, and most 'days off' I spend flyering the city for more work. 

Today was one of those days off, so I rode the #19 northbound with a backpack full of sticky-back "anything legal" flyers, but I got distracted and the sunshine was too tempting, so fuck the flyers.

Gave myself the day off after all, and rode the next bus to the end of the line, behind godawful Ghirardelli Square, to the Maritime Museum, which sucks same as the Square, make no mistake — but nestled next to it, mere footsteps from the tackiest tourist traps, is one of my favorite quiet spots in the city. Welcome to Aquatic Park.

I love the bleak concrete steps at the shore, where there's so much solitude — my drug of choice. Closed my eyes, the better to listen to the waves, the gulls, and the huff and puff of passing joggers, the mechanical rumblings of the Sausalito ferry, and a young couple talking loveydovey several steps up and behind me.

When I opened my eyes again, even the beautiful women in halters and short shorts (everpresent in the city on any sunny day) couldn't compare to the fog-free view across the water, across the bay, to the mountains beyond. On a clear day, as they say, you can see forever. Two tall ships with their sails stashed away were docked across the ring-shaped pier, and even without my glasses, I could see tourists walking on Alcatraz Island.

At the shore, in front a "No pets on beach" sign, two families' dogs were fetching sticks tossed into the ceaseless surf. Children built illusions in the sand. One lone man swam slowly from the near side of the pier to the distant, then back again, and I mentally tacked a note to next week, to put on shorts and test those waters myself. Looks cold, though.

For today, I skipped some stones into the Bay, then walked to an ever quieter are west of the museum. Aquatic Park is so serene. So mesmerizing. So gloriously unknown or uninteresting to the city's too many visitors, all swarming like ants over the trinket shops a block away, unaware and uninterested in what makes San Francisco beautiful. Time slipped away, until twilight surprised me.

♦ ♦ ♦

"People are always saying things like, 'I want to go on a big road trip, but I need to save up more money first', or 'As soon as I move away from this town, things'll be better' — always ignoring the present, putting off their dreams for some future Promised Land, a future that gets further and further away."

—Iggy Scam of Scam 

From Pathetic Life #10
Tuesday, March 28, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Addendum, 2022: Back then Iggy Scam was the writer and publisher behind Scam, a very good zine of punk rock and politics. Now she's Erica Dawn Lyle, an artist and author, and the guitarist for Bikini Kill.

Pathetic Life 

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itsdougholland.com 

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Not a pretty view

Cranky Old Man #79

Major good news, for a few:
Navient lawsuit settled; $1.7 billion in student loan debt cancelled 

The loan servicing giant Navient [formerly Sallie Mae] has agreed to cancel $1.7 billion in student loan debts owed by roughly 66,000 borrowers, as part of a settlement announced Thursday with 39 state attorneys general.

I can't quickly find the details I'm curious about, but my assumption is that your debt will be wiped away only if you have a very specific loan situation, and live in one of the 39 states that sued Navient. Another 350,000 people will receive "restitution payments of about $260 each."

Still, kicking the bastards in the ankle is a good thing.

Navient, of course, admits no wrongdoing, but in any legal settlement with any corporation, "admits no wrongdoing" means they're Al Capone.

♦ ♦ ♦

"The United States is the only major economy in the world where the economy as a whole is stronger now than before the pandemic," says Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Even if that's 'true', it's bullshit, probably based on one of the leading lying indicators, like the stock market, or the steady supply of caviar on yachts.

I can see the US economy from my house, and it's not a pretty view. 

Also gotta ask — why is the Secretary of HUD bragging about the economy? She's not the Secretary of Commerce. "HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all." 

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Maine's Governor, Janet Mills, is a Democrat who just vetoed legislation that would've allowed farm workers to unionize. 

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"Forever prisoner" Abu Zubaydah, held without charges and without trial for  almost twenty years — so far — at America's ghastly extralegal Guantanamo prison, has been paid €100,000 by Lithuania.

It's compensation he can't spend except maybe on lawyers, ordered by the European Court of Human Rights, and why? Because Lithuania cooperated with the CIA's torture of Zubaydah in 2002.

Kafka much?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Over the past 20 years, the US has averaged 46 bomb and missile attacks on foreign countries, daily.

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The Amish are not living entirely without modern conveniences. It's complicated. 

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Legislation in California would empower the state to bargain as if it's the union rep for non-unionized fast-food workers. 

Pinch me, I'm dreaming. This is a great idea, and in California — where Democrats have huge majorities in both houses and the Governor is nominally blue — it might be more than a Puff the Magic Dragon hallucination. 

In Sacramento, a union-backed Democratic proposal called the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, or FAST Recovery Act, would establish a state-appointed council to enact industry-wide minimum standards for wages, working hours and work conditions. If passed by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the proposal would also hold corporate franchisors responsible for compliance, not just the local franchise owners.

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Animals laugh: UCLA study finds laughter in 65 species, from rats to cows 

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Me,
Richard Nixon,
and the War on Drugs
 

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Four inmates at a northwest Arkansas jail sued the facility and its doctor Thursday after they said were unknowingly prescribed ivermectin to treat COVID-19 despite health officials’ warnings that the anti-parasitic drug shouldn’t be used for that purpose.

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Good news from an unlikely source! The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority regularly tracks COVID by testing the sewage at a major treatment facility. Latest results are showing a sharp decline for indicators of COVID-19 infection.

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COVID: Quebec to impose health tax on unvaccinated Canadians 

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Why didn’t the FBI see the Capitol siege coming? 

Grid reviewed every public statement FBI officials made about the bureau’s intelligence leading up to the siege to understand how the FBI explained its posture on Jan. 6. We read hundreds of pages of FBI briefings and press statements, FBI officials’ testimony before Congress and public comments in news reports.

We found that the FBI has given at least five different explanations for why it failed to heed these warnings and take steps to foil the Capitol attack or help other agencies prepare a sufficient response. Some of them support arguments the FBI should get more money and legal authorities. But given what we now know, none of them holds up.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Pentagon launches new UFO office 

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Many parents see schools as free daycare for the kiddies, and admittedly, some schools aren't much more than that.

Teachers and students are generally people, though, so close the schools already, and keep them closed until it's safe to re-open them.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Sister Vish-Knew gets an alley in San Francisco 

Sister Vish-Knew was a co-founder of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and I love this info tidbit:

He bought the first five nun's habits that would become the signature of the Sisters from a convent in Iowa City — lying and telling the nuns that they needed the habits for a production of The Sound of Music, when they were really for a drag show.

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Once upon a time, and only once, I bought Collectivo coffee. Collectivo is Spanish for Collective, so my instant guess was that even if Collectivo is shitty coffee, at least it's not made by corporate bastards. 

My mistake. It's ordinary coffee, made by ordinary corporate bastards. They call the company Collectivo, while crapping on their employees. I want my $3 back.

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Is Steph Curry’s memoir worth $10 million? 

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So many people have been charged with trespassing or disorderly conduct for the 1/6/2020 insurrection, it's a pleasant surprise to see charges of genuine sedition

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The Supreme Court has decided, on a predictably thin, fictional pretext, that OSHA can't compel businesses to require that employees get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job

I read the dissent, and this jumped out at me:

OSHA estimates — and there is no ground for disputing — that the Standard will save over 6,500 lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations in six months’ time.

So Friday's ruling will kill about 13,000 people and make another half-million miserable, every year until COVID is over, and COVID will never be over. 

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"Moron" proposes legislation to make Fauci's already public financial records even more public 

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Cranky Ord man is sued by town for writing too many cranky letters... and he wins 

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One-word newscast:
COVID
ethics
rat bastard

Dead:
Jean-Jacques Beineix
Ron Goulart 

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 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:

—①—
     —②—
          —③—

 Sing along with Douggles:
"I Will Always Remember You Young"
by Chris Haa
 



Tip 'o the hat:
All Hat No Cattle • Linden Arden
BoingBoingCaptain Hampockets
Follow Me Here • John the Basket
LiarTownUSAMessy Nessy Chick
National ZeroRan Prieur
Vintage EverydayVoenix Rising

Extra special thanks:
Becky Jo • Name Withheld • Dave S.
and always, Stephanie

1/15/2022 

Cranky Old Man 

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