Thanks for being there, you.

Leftovers & Links #50 

34 compelling first lines of famous books. Eight of these are books I’ve read, ten are books I tried to read but found too boring, four I’ve never heard of, and two are movies I never knew were based on books.

How many of these have you read?

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Well, this is nice, I guess, and it’s the best we’re going to get: A court has decided that the Portland Police Department can’t continue keeping cops’ identities secret when they’re ‘suspected’ of brutality.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, cops intentionally blurred video that showed them killing a kid who had his hands raised in the air.

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The Rittenhouse trial seemed to be a hell of a mess, beginning to end. The judge was a loon, and the prosecution was incompetent — not really a surprise, as this was the same prosecutors office that declined to press changes against Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha cop who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake for no good reason. Y’all might recall, it was the protests over that whitewashed killing of a black man that attracted Rittenhouse and his rifle to Wisconsin. 

I’m not going to be all up in arms (pun intended) about the Rittenhouse verdict, though. It’s the wrong verdict, clearly. It will encourage more violence from the kind of people who don't need much encouragement. It’s at least a borderline plausible verdict, though, for reasons I am too damned weary to elaborate at the moment.

Well-funded defense
+ wingnut judge
+ incompetent prosecution
= not guilty.

Get used to Kyle Rittenhouse. In a few weeks, he’ll probably write an op-ed for the New York Times, and then he’ll be a regularly-featured talking head on Fox and One America News.

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It took lots of 19th-century engineering and labor to bring New York City its supply of drinking water.

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In a conversation with a friend*, he lamented the stupidity of the left in calling critical race theory by that name. “It’s like ‘defund the police’ or ‘global warming’ or “being woke’ — just another clumsy phrase easy for the right-wing bastards to misconstrue and lie about.”

And he’s right, but also it’s irrelevant. If the left had thoroughly think-tanked such ideas to come up with exactly the right phrase that would be impossible for the right-wing liars to misconstrue, guess what? They’d misconstrue it. They’re scorpions; that’s what they do.

* By 'friend' I mean someone who sends emails but says “please don’t publish this.” For an actual friend — someone to have coffee or go to a movie with — there’s nobody. That's mostly my own choice, though.

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They tried laying a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, before really understanding much about the practical sciences involved. 

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Running for President, Joe Biden promised to “fight” for a $15 minimum wage, a public option for health care, lowering the entry age for Social Security, etc. Each of these is, of course, already just a half-assed compromise with what’s actually needed, but in each of these and everything else he promised, there’s been no “fight” from Biden. Also, no “fight” against climate change, and no "fight" against Republicans trying to dismantle elections, democracy, and civil rights. What little Biden promised to be, he's less.

As President, he seems to be channeling Eisenhower — an elder statesman who poses for the camera, and doesn’t get much done. He's coasting, as if there are no major problems facing the country. Flash: There are major problems facing the country, and the shitstorm will kick into a much higher gear when Republicans steal Congress in 2022 — they’ve already won, just based on gerrymandering. Maybe Eisenhower isn’t the President we need.

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Yeah, I know and so do you, that almost all the major league politicians are just varying levels of corrupt, stupid, and posing for the cameras. Trump was all three, and Biden is mostly the second and third. A major improvement, to be sure, like eating the same dinner of maggot-infested gruel, but now it's no longer being pissed in by the cook — that’s the improvement Joe Biden has brought.

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Much hubbub lately about billionaire Charlie Munger, who works for billionaire Warren Buffett, and fancies himself an amateur architect. He’s donated a fat wad of money to construct a dormitory at U-Cal Santa Barbara, with the stipulation that they have to use his homemade blueprints and nothing can be changed. The wacky thing about his building design is, most of the bedrooms lack windows.

I try not to comment on every ‘news’ story that captures mainstream media’s attention, because so many of them — like this one — don’t really matter. Seriously, who gives a damn about windows in a dorm at some college in Cali? It’s news that’s barely news.

That said, here’s an article that adds info I hadn’t heard from the first round of the nonsense news coverage: This isn’t the first dorm Munger’s designed without windows. There’s already one at the University of Michigan, where a student who lived there for four years says, “The windows thing was a big bummer, but after a year I kind of got used to it.”

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I do not understand this era, the 2020s. Barely understood the 2010s, for that matter. Guess it’s to be expected, as I grow older and older, that more and more of the world around me is baffling.

A lot of boomers are put off by the technology — they need help logging onto a computer, can’t figure out how to change the ringtones on their phones, and so forth, but I don’t think that’s me. Any new technology I’ve tried to learn, I've learned. Old dude’s still got it. Still got a landline, too.

But… social media, smart phones, gaming? It’s not that the tech is over my head; I simply don’t see the point. Got no interest in such things.

Not to mention all the non-tech things that really do baffle me: Republicans. Piercings. Internet acronyms. Squid Game. Poke. Kardashians. Emojis beyond smiley and frowny faces...

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And I'll close on sort of a related thought … 

I never sought or expected or even daydreamed about being a successful writer, best-selling author, or any of that rot, but for fifty years I’ve enjoyed having a few people read what I’ve written. Thanks for being there, you.

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


 Sing along with Doug:
Flying, by the Beatles

Sincere tip 'o the hat:
Captain Hampockets
Follow Me Here
Messy Nessy Chick
National Zero
Ran Prieur
Vintage Everyday

Voenix Rising

Becky Jo
Name Withheld
Dave S.


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  1. >How many of these have you read?

    I've read ten or eleven. Tried a few more, and didn't get through them. My favorite book, not opening line, of the batch is probably 2001 : A Space Odyssey. I think Breakfast of Champions is fantastically overrated, not in the top five of Vonnegut's works. Jane Austen can fuck right off.

    1. Chi, I was raised on robbery and Vonnegut, and I agree with you about Breakfast. Sadly, he went downhill from there, and it was a long, strange trip.


    2. Smart people read Vonnegut, I guess, including all the smartest people I've ever known. I've never made it past any Vonnegut chapter one.

  2. The only book I found to be problematic is the Clarke book, 2001. It's easy to make a mistake, but the book they reference was based on the movie, not the other way around. The movie was loosely based on a few Clarke short stories, most notably The Sentinel, written post-war and published in the early 1950s. The Clarke/Kubrick relationship was unusual and fairly entertaining, but I've been dropping too many long comments on this site lately. It sounds from your line above that you figured out there was no book on which to base this movie. Astute and informed.


    1. Nah, I get no credit for astute. I knew the book was based on the movie, but forgot it until you just joggled my head and informed me.

      > I've been dropping too many long comments on this site lately.

      That's the first thing you've said that I just flat-out disagree with.

    2. The movie is the last one I saw with my parents. My mom was a reader and she loved both detective and science fiction books. My dad was dedicated to making sure his two kids were ready for the "space age" whatever that is or was, and gave us an astronomy quiz many nights at dinner. No pressure, no prizes, lots of fun. My parents weren't movie people -- maybe one every two or three years -- and I guess we knew this would be the last time we went to a movie as a nuclear family. Free joke.

      We drove all the way up to the Cinerama Theater in Seattle -- just over 30 miles, but we hadn't been to Seattle since the 1962 World's Fair -- and, of course, were rewarded by watching a great movie surround us. I've been happier since, but I can't remember when.


    3. Johnny Basket, I have enjoyed greatly your "too many long comments" and please don't stop. Good writing and good teaching.

    4. John — Hey, I'm not sure I knew you were a Seattle-area kid like me. 2001 at the Cinerama would be just about the best way to see it. My favorite memory there is a restored version of The Exorcist. Oh, and frickin' Lawrence of Arabia — how could I (almost) forget that...

      My parents were also not much into movies, just once or twice a year when we were kids, and once we were grown up I think they stopped going entirely.

      Gotta ask, was your father successful in his quest — are you ready for the space age?

  3. I give up. Very long comment just vanished while I was typing it.


    1. I know, use the sidebar message box. It's kinda narrow for oversize comments, because I edit as I go. Not your fault, not your problem, but the fuckers at Google owe me a half hour.


    2. Condolences, sir.

      I can't make the comment box wider, but for whatever it's worth, it can be dragged deeper.


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