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Cranky old man

Leftovers & Links #67

A festive shit log, anyone?

It’s Christmas Eve, which means children across Spain’s Catalan region are gathering in their homes for the traditional whacking of the festive shit log.

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I don’t like video games. Sorry, they're just not my thing. It gets my attention, though, when a video game wins a Hugo Award

That's the highest honor in sci-fi, and if sci-fi takes gaming seriously enough to add a new category of Hugo, I had to check it out.

I didn't buy or play the game — I'm intrigued, but not that intrigued — but I watched this preview of Hades and it looks like fun.

♦ ♦ ♦

How Christmas was celebrated in the middle ages 

“Once Christmas Day came around, if you had the stamina, then you were expected to eat, drink, be merry, dress up, play games, go dancing around the neighborhood for 12 days solid before you collapsed in a heap,” she says.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Five observations from one cranky old man:

① Whatever Spun wanted me to take away from visiting their site, I only yawned for a few moments of frustration while my computer and browser struggled to render the page.

It’s just me, right? It’s just me who wants to read a website, not follow bouncing words and flashing headlines and swim through un-asked-for visual effects?

Here’s a charming old gent in a short film from 1929, that’s been so beautifully and painstakingly restored and colorized, it looks more like a hoax than history.

③ I'm not among the mourners saddened by the departure of Chris Wallace from Fox News.

I've read that Wallace was “fair and balanced,” unlike the rest of Fox News, but even if that’s true, so what? Did I miss a shred of enlightenment by watching exactly none of Wallace’s work? Did he do any journalism — meaning, was there any news reported by Wallace in his 18 extremely well-paid years at Fox, that wasn’t reported everywhere? 

He's just another TV celebrity whose 'talent' was good ratings, not good journalism.

④ A time-saver, when surfing the internet for news: If a link takes me to video from a TV station’s newscast, it’s not worth watching. If it's video from a network TV newscast, I’m still skeptical, and I'll look for a more reliable source — which means, a news source written to be read, not watched.

⑤ And finally, a question from this week’s New Yorker, which is the magazine's annual all-comics issue:

“It’s that time of year again, when the grim graybeards of The New Yorker cede their control of the magazine to the lighthearted loonies and let them run the esteemed asylum for a change. What does that mean for you, the reader?”

Since you asked, I’ll answer: It means a New Yorker I’m finished with in about twenty minutes. I have no interest in pages and pages of comics, so it’s an annual issue that gets skimmed and quickly tossed in the recycling bin. I feel the same about The New Yorker’s annual issue dedicated to short stories.

It’s a testament to the quality of The New Yorker’s writing, that despite getting screwed out of two issues every year, I continue renewing my subscription.

♦ ♦ ♦

University of Hong Kong removes Tiananmen Massacre monument — which isn’t theirs — in dead of night. 

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Biden extends pause on student loan repayment through May 1 

That's good news indeed, but sweet jeebers he had to be harangued into doing this — and he almost didn’t.

Biden is a walking pile of reverse charisma, with no ideas, and no notion what ordinary people are like. He wouldn’t have won in 2020 against any Republican except Trump, and he can’t possibly be re-elected in 2024 unless he’s running against Trump again. Just sayin'.

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High-beams on fire.

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Stealth bomber caught on Google Maps.

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Vintage photographs of Amsterdam streets.

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One-word newscast:
Covid 

Dead:
Eve Babitz
Joan Didion 

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U.S. has reunited 100 children forcibly taken from parents under Trump.

Which is great news, of course, but… 

About 5,500 children were forcibly removed from their parents under Trump...

♦ ♦ ♦

As a lifelong resident of apartment buildings and residential hotels, I found this article interesting. Most American cities require even low-rise apartment buildings to have two stairways, which wastes a lot of space and doesn’t seem to really make the buildings any safer from fires.  

♦ ♦ ♦ 

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

—①—
     —②—
          —③—

 Sing along with Doug:
My Buddy Valentine, by Mary Lou Lord


Sincere tip 'o the hat:
Linden Arden • BoingBoing
Captain HampocketsFollow Me Here
John the Basket • LiarTownUSA
Messy Nessy ChickNational Zero
Ran PrieurVintage Everyday
Voenix Rising

Extra special thanks:
Clayton Barnes • Becky Jo
Name Withheld • Dave S.

12/24/2021  

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itsdougholland.com 

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50 comments:

  1. Warren Zevon has been gone nearly two decades, and his music still echoes across the Web. My favorite Zevon is Mutineer, which isn't one of the oft reference tunes. Here he is singing it in his last Letterman appearance . . .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqWqyjUsCAw

    Here are the lyrics . . .

    Mutineer
    by Warren Zevon

    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
    Hoist the mainsail, here I come
    Ain't no room on board for the insincere
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer

    I was born to rock the boat
    Some may sink but we will float
    Grab your coat, let's get out of here
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer

    Long ago we laughed at shadows
    Lightning flashed and thunder followed us
    It could never find us here
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer

    Long ago we laughed at shadows
    Lightning flashed and thunder followed us
    It could never find us here
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer

    I was born to rock the boat
    Some may sink but we will float
    Grab your coat, let's get out of here
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer
    You're my witness
    I'm your mutineer
    I'm your mutineer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, man.

      I've liked that song since the night WZ sang it on TV, but never seen the lyrics alone, and it's better as poetry than as a song. It's seriously wow.

      That gent had some talent.

      Delete
    2. Doug (above) and Cap (below),

      I couldn't disagree more about the Zevon song. The arrangement on Letterman (Zevon: piano, Background Players: flute, piccolo or hornpipe, coronet) is the one he used in the recording, and it's perfect for this song. The key he sings it in is out of his range, so his voice has to really work to hit the notes, and it adds intensity to the performance. And the warmth of the piano is electrifying (although it's not an electric piano). I don't know how he does it. Seems to me to be very good lyrics and a near-perfect song.

      jtb

      Delete
    3. I know nothing and couldn't do it a fraction as well so I shouldn't can't critique any of it. Great poetry, is all I'd say, with a tune that's adequate but not terribly whistleable. Again, though, WTF do I know?

      Delete
    4. WTF you know is what brings you pleasure and insight. If your point is that if we can't sing as well as Linda Ronstadt or Bob Dylan we shouldn't enter into a conversation about our preferences, or even of Linda and Bob's relative contributions to the culture of music? This position doesn't just short sell your own value as a listening citizen: it short sells mine, and even worse, short sells the Captain's. I'm not saying you should be forced to take a position on any musical question -- I'm suggesting that, as a somewhat functioning member of society you get to have an opinion and as a barely functioning member I do too.

      jtb

      Delete
    5. . . . and furthermore, I don't read every current comment on your site. But I read every comment to which you affix your (printed) signature because I know that the perspective you bring will be thoughtful, logical, sometimes playful, and will have serious depth. I don't expect you to know how to build a safe highway cloverleaf; but if you'd thought about it awhile you'd likely have some insights about high-speed intersection safety that I'd entirely overlooked, and once in a while have some useful ideas that highway design engineers had underweighted. You might even say (on a slightly different topic) "Why in the world would Tom Waits cover a Cyndi Lauper song? Isn't he a songwriter? How many of Jimi Hendrix's songs did Dylan cover?" I hope you get my thrust: we just trust the opinions of some people more than others based on the amount of rigor they bring to the process and based on the number of times they say "I have no idea, but I'll look into it."

      jtb

      Delete
    6. I am overflowing with opinions, but I don't want to be this guy. If Warren Zevon came back to life I wouldn't tell him 'Mutineer' is "Great poetry, but the tune isn't much."

      I do read every comment here, usually without regretting it. Sometimes I even learn stuff. My own comments are typed quickly, with ample booboos of text grammar and thinking. I've never learned anything from reading my comments...

      Delete
  2. We'll have to ask our college poetry friends how many iambic feet it takes to make the middle of the third line rhyme with the end of the second. It slams you back in your seat like a defective carnival ride, which is the way Warren lived much of his life.

    Grab your coat, let's get out of here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All carnival rides should be at least a little defective.

      Ever been to a poetry slam?

      Delete
    2. Not unless this is one.

      . . . and we might have different definitions of "defective".

      Delete
    3. Tried to dash this off poetry-slam style. I could spend another ten minutes on it, but I wanted to stay as true to slam-style as possible, writing quickly, using material at hand.

      Riding the Tilt-a-Kilt
      by johnthebasket

      All carnival rides should be slightly defective
      If there isn’t real danger, the contraption’s a sham
      We should yammer and scream and hurl (an invective)
      Like we’re getting rear-ended at a poetry slam

      Delete
    4. 'Defective' was just a wisecrack :) but I love the poem.

      I went to a couple of slams, long ago. They're a strange concept, basically dueling poets, but I had a great time, both times. The poetry was recited with joyous playacting and rowdy audience participation, and the performances were rated like Olympic gymnastics, and someone went home with a poet champion's t-shirt.

      It's been 20 years, and for all I know poetry slams have faded from the earth like typewriters and black-&-white TVs, but you win the t-shirt for today.

      Delete
  3. >A festive shit log, anyone?

    Many years ago, we sublet an apartment from two Catalan native Spaniards. They also hide a figurine of a shitting peasant in their nativity scenes :

    https://www.shbarcelona.com/blog/en/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2128743049_f97ce086d6_z.jpg

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caganer

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I am a video game person, as you know. Hades is considered a masterpiece of its genre, but it's a genre I dislike. I'm slow and old, and it is a twitch-reflex game with many enemies on screen at once. I do have one raised eyebrow at it getting a Hugo, but it is generally considered caputal-G Great.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I'm also a pretty major Zevon fan. He's up there in my pantheon with Tom Waits and Frank Zappa. I agree with Doug, though, about this particular song - the words are better than the song as a whole, IMO.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I had no problem viewing SPUN, but it has that over-designed style I fucking HATE.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    >he can’t possibly be re-elected in 2024 unless he’s running against Trump again.

    Man, I think Trump in '24 would be the first Republican in decades to maybe win the popular vote as well as the EC. Biden is killing this country with inaction, on many fronts. The fake dems Manchin and Sinema are the triggermen. Biden is teaching people that IT DOESN'T MATTER. Wrong or right, that is the lesson. He's a fucking spineless supplicant to the system.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    For whatever reason, the Amsterdam photos are all broken in my browser.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Merry fucking Christmas

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbTULjLtKP4

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pooping in a nativity scene, as a cultural keepsake. That’s beautiful.

      Totally with you on the raised eyebrow. I really wouldn’t know so I gotta ask — you don’t play Hades, but are there video games with depth comparable to a book or movie, in addition to the action? If a Hugo means anything, I would hope Hades has something more to it than (admittedly cool) running around and fighting things and stuff blowing up.

      I had to switch browsers to see Spun, and that over-designed style is what I hate, too. Fuckers.

      Sorry about Amsterdam, but the pix work for me. The second photo, fog in the background and a canal in the foreground, is especially beautiful. You get nothing?

      Didn’t Biden say at some point that he wanted to be a little FDRish? My ass if he did. He’s just another idiot playing nice in the middle of the road, while the world burns and democracy rots. I want to say I’ll never vote for him a second time, but fuck me I’ve said that before, and when election day comes the alternative is always terrifying. We don’t deserve a democracy anyway, if this is the best we can do.

      Great Fear, man. Merry fuckin’ Xmas.

      Delete
    2. >re there video games with depth comparable to a book or movie, in addition to the action?

      Yes, I think so. There are games that tell grand stories and deal with philosophical issues. But fundamentally, Hades is just an action game in mythological framework. I find the Hugo dubious. The games that could truly be seen as worthy are more text-heavy role-playing games - the first two that come to mind are one old one - Planescape : Torment, and one new one - Disco Elysium. And sometimes, more action-y games can do amazing things with storytelling, like Bioshock.

      If you're interested (I'm sure you won't play, but might find these illuminating) :

      Disco Elysium in-depth : https://youtu.be/zJgGOMPOGpI?t=10

      Planescape Torment : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydVf472GOso

      Bioshock : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzOVZM_DiJY

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      >Sorry about Amsterdam, but the pix work for me.

      They work for me now, as well. Before, they had that "broken picture" icon.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      >Didn’t Biden say at some point that he wanted to be a little FDRish?

      He also said, before the nomination, "Fundamentally, nothing will change." Fucking bingo.

      Delete
    3. I'm pretty sure I've detected subtle differences between the Trump administration and that of Biden. In addition to the dogs, who might or might not be the ghosts of Fala, the horrible hourly lying and petty thievery pretty much stopped. You're obviously a better historian than I am; I'm just getting around to assessing the Kennedy administration. I think they did OK by the way. In another 60 years when I assess the Biden administration, I suspect I'll view it as a transitional administration, after Trump, but before the bill came due. And for god's sake, be careful what you wish for.

      John

      Delete
    4. Captain

      Strat-Edgy is a great name for a gaming company.

      As you know, I haven’t played video games much at all since PacMan first came out, so if I’ve heard of a game it must be quite famous and successful. Your third link, Bioshock, is the only one of these three that I’d heard of, so it’s a recoil seeing that Bioshock was at least partially inspired by Ayn Rand and the Randian philosophy called objectivism. I’m wondering whether the popularity of Bioshock is related to the rise of Trump and QAnon, phenomenons at least mildly linked to Rand’s world view. Do you detect any proselytizing when you’re in that world?

      As for sleepy Joe, yeah, I’m fooling myself any time I forget to be cynical, and imagine an elected official might do something useful. To be successful as a major-league politician, you have to play the game — kissing ass, following the orders from Big Money — and no-one with any scruples is allowed to play the game.

      The difference between Joe Biden and, say, Mitch McConnell, is mostly about what mask they’re wearing and what role they’re playing, and what they want us to believe they care about. What they both *actually* care about are things they're agreed about, and nobody remotely like you or me are anywhere on their agenda.

      I like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she’s a fluke. She’ll never be allowed to rise any higher in the hierarchy than where she is, and if she makes too many waves she’ll get Paul Wellstoned.

      John

      Trump was kind of a fluke, too, in that he never wore a mask of normalcy and congeniality. Biden is better, sure, but he's Capt Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat when we're sailing full speed ahead toward an iceberg.

      Delete
    5. > I’m wondering whether the popularity of Bioshock is related to the rise of Trump and QAnon, phenomenons at least mildly linked to Rand’s world view. Do you detect any proselytizing when you’re in that world?

      Bioshock is old-ish. Released in 2007. But it was influential, and successful, and has had two sequels. It's conceivable that it's a small piece in the puzzle of what made the current climate, but not HUGE. And yeah, it's a little heavy-handed with the Randian horse shit. If one were to play it at the same age when a lot of people read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, it could be influential on an idividual.

      ~~~~~~~~~~

      >To be successful as a major-league politician, you have to play the game

      Bernie's no savior, but this is why he's not president this very moment. First they installed HRC as the nominee, then they installed Biden. Fuck 'em, they're accessories to the murder of Democracy.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~

      Unrelated - How has Madison weather been? I'm on /r/Collapse daily, and it seems like the entire north-central and NE, as well as a lot of the midwest, are experiencing high temps and a distinct lack of snow, the entire season so far. Christmas day is predicted to be SIXTY-FOUR here in Southern PA. We've had no snow. Chicago has had no fucking snow. I think Denver, or at least a few major cities in CO, has had no fucking snow. How's Mad City?

      Delete
    6. You and I must have talked about Ayn Rand, but I’m old and stupid and I forget — were you dumb enough to read her and believe her, like I was? I’m *slightly* glad I was a true believer for a while, because it’s helped me recognize some of the many bullshits, but damn, she’s been dead for almost 40 years (I’m planning a party!) and she’s still fucking this country up.

      As for Bernie, I love the guy but I am unsure of that claim. Trump was an unflushed toilet, a con-man, transparently stupid, evil, racist, misogynist, and he got 47% of the vote against a walking Cream of Wheat, Joe Biden. Maybe it’s a right-wing/center-wing talking point and I’ve internalized it, but had Bernie won the nomination I suspect it would’ve been a cinch for the fascists to paint him as an unAmerican Stalin Khrushchev Marx Lenin Kropotkin crackpot. Much as I yawn and roll my eyes at Biden, I fear he was the best we could’ve reasonably expected.

      Talkin’ ‘bout the weather — Without doing any Googling, my recollection from almost twenty years here is that Wisconsin sees some light snow in October, steady but not deep accumulation in November and December, and it hits hardest in January and February. Not this winter, though — there’s been a few flakes, but nothing measurable that’s stuck, and I haven’t yet scraped the car windows even once. Today’s Xmas and we’re having autumn weather. By far the mildest winter I’ve seen since coming here.

      Delete
    7. >were you dumb enough to read her and believe her, like I was?

      In my memory, I read and actually enjoyed The Fountainhead, and about 4/5 of Atlas Shrugged, but never took her ideas to heart. I read them in my early 20s, and had already seen a small amount of reality, and grown a small bit of compassion and empathy for my fellow humans. She was unable to wrench that away, I guess.

      ~~~~~~~~

      Re Bernie, his time was in 2016, before Trump was elected. The moronic DNC installed a standard politician in Hillary, as the nominee, against a charismatic (to his supporters) "maverick," non-insider type. She had no hope. But I think Sanders would have had a fighting chance in 16 vs. Trump. As far as 2020, I dunno. I agree that Sanders, an actual left-wing candidate, would have drawn some fiery ire - they called fucking BIDEN a Socialist, after all. But he'd also have punched back, unlike Sleepy Joe.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      I fear that Winters may be done with very soon.

      Delete
    8. Sleepy Joe is the name Trump gave Biden because Joe was three or four years older than Trump. If it's come to letting Trump program the language we use to describe Democrats, I guess it's time to give up.

      I don't let Trump program my language, and I don't let Trump persuade me that it's time to give up. The Democrats are fucked up right now, as they were when they tried to put the party back together after FDR. The result of that reimagining was the list of legislation I provided (partially) yesterday. Trump wants us to give up. The last time I was working I took two months of unpaid leave to work for a fairly progressive candidate for President, so I was part of the failure, but I'd do it again. I could have used the damn pay then and I could use it now. Shit.

      Delete
    9. Yeah, valid point about the lingo. I hesitated to use 'Sleepy Joe' for exactly that reason, same as I now hesitate to call anyone a 'loser' even if they're a loser. I shoulda come up with something fresher.

      I have given up, though. Call it 'retired' and it sounds better. I've done enough futile fighting for the right things, so now I sit in my recliner and complain. It's more fun.

      Delete
    10. Agreed, and I regret falling into it as well.

      Delete
    11. Weather addendum, Captain —

      The forecast was for "rain or snow, turning to rain," but instead we got about four inches of snow overnight. It's coastal snow, though — light and fluffy, not the thick stuff that freezes solid.

      Latest first snow I've seen or heard of, but it's snow.

      Delete
    12. I found this with Google, from a Channel 15 WMTV News article :

      "Being a transition time of the year, the first snowfall of the season can vary greatly from year to year. Since snow records started back in 1884, we have had the first flurries of the year as early as September 23rd and as late as November 28th. The earliest accumulating snow was October 6th with the latest being January 1st. The earliest one inch or more snowfall was October 10th with the latest being February 6th."

      Delete
    13. So we were five days from the latest accumulation. Interesting. I try to keep the distinction between weather and climate in mind, but the weather here all winter has been milder than Seattle.

      Delete
    14. We've just had our first accumulation today. maybe 3/4 of an inch, from about 9-11 AM. Already melting.

      Delete
    15. Your town usually gets plenty of snow by now too?

      Delete
    16. Yeah, definitely. Not as much as you, but significant accumulation.

      Delete
  4. Doug, there's obviously something in what you say: there's a ton of show-business horseshit and creepy deal making in American politics. Since I've been following and involved in politics here are a few things the do-nothing but look busy Democrats have given us . . .

    Civil Rights Act of 1964 - James Meridith was famous for being first, but any college that receives any government money (99%+ including GI Bill funds) must not discriminate on the basis of race in their admission and retention policies for students and teaching and administrative staff. There were hundreds of colleges that practiced discrimination prior to this act. Eventually the Justice Department demanded and received compliance from all of them.

    Voting Rights Act of 1965 - In most of the former CSA states, Black folks and other racial minorities had a hell of a time voting in many counties prior to this law. Nothing is perfect, but after a few State Secretaries of State and other voting officials were jailed and fined in the 60s, things got better -- much better. It cost Trump the 2020 election among other things.

    Medicare - Before 1965, if a retired person couldn't afford to purchase medical insurance, many simply went without medical treatment and died before their time. As one who uses Medicare every week, I can tell you it has saved my life. Before Medicare I would have died in 2016 or sooner.

    Medicaid - I pay a small amount out of my Social Security to fund my monthly Medicare insurance payment. Many Americans can't afford to purchase Medicare insurance, and many American families can't afford medical insurance while they are working-age. In 1965 Medicaid provided those families with medical insurance, focusing on medical care for children.

    Clean Air Act of 1963, Air Quality Act of 1967, etc. - The Clean Air Act has been upgraded and updated four times since 1963, and the deadly aroma of Tacoma was scrubbed damn clean under these acts. Companies were fined, scrubbers were installed, and the air is measurably cleaner in Tacoma and across the country.

    Clean Water Act of 1972 - Passed under Nixon with a Democratic-led bipartisan veto-override pointed at his head, our rivers stopped catching on fire. In my hometown, the Commencement Bay Project, funded under the Clean Water Act returned a salmon run to local rivers, and local fish went from being poisonous to being edible in 20 years, with the substantial removable of heavy metals from local waters.

    . . . There have been dozens of similarly broad-based revolutionary and evolutionary pieces of legislation passed in the last 70 years that have made life more equitable for minorities (desegregation of the armed forces, elimination of the draft Army, etc), old folks like me (recent Medicare upgrades), poor people (The Affordable Care Act, etc.), and disabled people.

    None of the legislation is perfect. It could all have gone a little farther to help people: it was passed through compromise. Joe Biden was on the right side of almost all of it. He was a few years old when Harry Truman desegregated the Army and was ineligible to vote, but he voted for the legislation he could; and he played a vital role in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in the time of Obama.

    I complain about congress and the executive and the courts almost as much as you guys do, but I also keep in mind that, once in a while people rise to the occasion and change the country for the better. When they do, what follows is almost always pissing and moaning about how they didn't go far enough. Welcome to representative democracy.

    John

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    1. Love you man, but it’s more than coincidence, I think, that the great and agreed accomplishments you list are mostly from 50+ years ago.

      As a left-leaning man, there is no left-leaning party that matters in American politics. The Democrats are the party of the political center. If you asked me to describe them in one word, it wouldn’t be Democratic, it would be ‘compromise’.

      Biden sucks. He’s “better than Trump” but that’s the best thing to be said about him, and you know, “better than Trump” is swell, but my boss would probably be better than Trump. In the Senate Biden repeatedly fought for cuts to Social Security, backed the repulsive Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funding for abortion, voted for NAFTA that drove a spike through American manufacturing, and backed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, or as I call it, the mass incarceration act.

      Sure, Biden is probably a decent man, as Bernie Sanders said campaigning for him. I voted for Biden, but he’s not a leftist and America’s gone fifty miles to the right in recent years — a leftist is what we desperately need (and what we’ll never be allowed).

      The Affordable Care Act saved my wife’s life for a few years, and I appreciate the hell out of that, but it’s also just a big wet smooch on the anus of the insurance companies. For all the right-wing lies and uproar about it, you’ve never seen Anthem or UnitedHealth, HCA Healthcare, Humana, Cigna, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Trinity Health, Tenet Health, or any of the other moneymaking monstrosities say an unkind word about Obamacare. They love it.

      The limit of my optimism is that I still vote, not because it makes a difference but because my late wife asked me to.

      > I complain about congress and the executive and the courts almost as much as you guys do, but I also keep in mind that, once in a while people rise to the occasion and change the country for the better.

      It was Chekov who said, in Star Trek IV, “Now would be a good time.”

      Delete
    2. >it’s more than coincidence, I think, that the great and agreed accomplishments you list are mostly from 50+ years ago.

      Thanks for putting the energy into this reply that I was NOT willing to put in myself.

      Delete
    3. I was there. It was a time of Senator McCarthy and Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon and hundreds of newspaper and television and radio commie-hunters. I was in the streets, making noise about a war that shouldn't have been prosecuted. Got whacked a time or two by batons. It wasn't the good ol' days of liberalism. Every step was a fight.

      John

      Delete
    4. I came a few years after you, and never got baton-whacked, but I got teargassed a few times. Saw a few people get baton-whacked, though, and helped clean up the mess. Those were the days.

      I knew it was pointless when the first gulf war got underway. There were millions of us in the street saying no no no, and didn't slow anything down in the slightest.

      It's like hunger-striking against the Nazis. Peaceful protest only works when someone somewhere on the other side has a conscience.

      Delete
    5. Doug, I like your site very much, especially your reasonable takes on almost everything. I think you are too pessimistic and discouraged about the future though.

      The way I see it, climate change and healthcare and Biden's halfwayisms, these are all huge problems, and none can ever be solved BY SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES THEY CAN'T BE SOLVED. Only by someone who believs the problems can be solved.

      Delete
    6. I love that outlook, honest, and you're right. Beautifully said, too.

      Just... I live in this world, see its leaders, and it makes me too pessimistic to play Pollyanna. Sorry.

      Delete
  5. The Spanish flu of 1918-19 wasnt even Spanish. It started amng American soldiers training i Kansas.

    Now vulnerable and untreated people are dying of Covid but there is a vaccine to save many of them. Vaccines are effective, and safe, and the principls are very well understood. If everyone got the vaccine all this would be over long ago, but millions of high school dropouts refusse because they know science better than scientists. Dumbshits.

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    1. Dumbshits indeed and dumbshits ahoy, and there are so many of them...

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  6. To the Captain with love, johnthebasket (another fan)


    San Diego Serenade
    by Tom Waits

    I never saw the morning 'til I stayed up all night
    I never saw the sunshine 'til you turned out the light
    I never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long
    I never heard the melody, until I needed a song.

    I never saw the white line, 'til I was leaving you behind
    I never knew I needed you 'til I was caught up in a bind
    I never spoke 'I love you' 'til I cursed you in vain,
    I never felt my heartstrings until I nearly went insane.

    I never saw the east coast 'til I moved to the west
    I never saw the moonlight until it shone off your breast
    I never saw your heart 'til someone tried to steal, tried to steal it away
    I never saw your tears until they rolled down your face.

    I never saw the morning 'til I stayed up all night
    I never saw the sunshine 'til you turned out your lovelights, baby
    I never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long
    I never heard the melody, until I needed the song.

    jtb

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    Replies
    1. I wish Tom Waits would cover some of Cindy Lauper's early songs, "All Thrtough the Night" or "Girls Just wanna Have Fun".

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    2. Could Tom Waits sing a happy ditty without making it sad?

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    3. I'm trying to think. I have to go check.

      Ice Cream Man : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg30NEZ85G4

      Of course, there's Step Right Up : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTdScE3Rqh8

      Jesus, that's it for anything resembling a "happy ditty."

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    4. Upbeat Tom Waits songs? OK, sort of depends on your definition, but here are a few, just from memory:

      New Coat of Paint (Heart of Saturday Night)
      Pasties and a G-String (Small Change)
      Jack & Neal (Foreign Affairs)
      I Never Talk to Strangers (Foreign Affairs)

      I sort of drifted away from Tom Waits somewhere around Swordfishtrombones, so I don't know if there are any upbeat tunes after that. Sure, none of these is "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", but not much is. Anyway, Cyndi has near-perfect pitch and a 4+ octave range and a pretty good backing band. She probably doesn't need any help from Tom. And he moved away from her kind of music long ago.

      jtb

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    5. Lots to listen here, and I only had time for "Ice Cream Man" this morning. It's a happy ditty, I guess, but I don't think it's really about ice cream.

      The rest I'll listen to this evening. Thanks!

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    6. I forgot about Pasties and A G-String. That fits as well.

      I also drifted from Tom Waits, but a bit later - after The Black Rider in 91-92 or so.

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    7. Cap, I strongly suspect he drifted from us, based on my close attachment to him over his first seven or so albums, though I wouldn't rule out mutual drifting.

      Come to think of it, mutual drifting might be the polar opposite of mutual orgasm, but I should probably think some more.

      John

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    8. Sorry, gents. I listened to all the above, and I don't think any of them qualify as a happy ditty. My guess would be, he's genetically incapable.

      Good listening, though. I'd forgotten 'Step Right Up' but I *love* that song. Might be my favorite Waits.

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    9. I'm thinking I have no idea what a ditty is. I guess I was using it in a Tom Waits sense, as in, "Dad came home drunk last night and parked the car on the front lawn." "Oh, ditty?".

      I'll look again with this additional guidance.

      j

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    10. "A short, simple song," says Google, but when you add 'happy' to the mix, it's gotta be impossible for Waits.

      Not a problem or a weakness, though. I can't dance. There are some things some people just can't do.

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    11. I used to be able to dance, but time dances faster.

      jtb

      Delete

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