Do the right thing.

Cranky Old Man #82 

On my ride home after breakfast at the diner a few days ago, I saw dozens of people, usually in clumps of 4-5, wearing all red. I've lived here a long time, so I know what this means — it's game day. The university's color is red, the team has a home game, and many people wear red to support the team. 

Can't imagine there's any sporting advantage to it — the home team isn't going to sink an extra free throw because the seats will be filled with red-wearing fans — so what it really means, of course, is indoctrination. Standing together. Merging yourself into the crowd. It's a small-scale manifestation of groupthink and obedience, and I find it small-scale troubling every time I see it, before or after every home game for football, basketball, hockey, badminton, etc.

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Happy 20th birthday, Guantanamo Concentration Camp 

Guantánamo Bay was a mad, cruel experiment about how legal limbos and forged purgatories of the law can function to dehumanise and degrade. It was developed by people supposedly versed in a liberal legal tradition but keen to make exceptions in battling a supposedly novel enemy. The detainees were deemed “unlawful enemy combatants” — as if there was such a thing — thereby placing them outside the formal protections of humanitarian law. They were subjected to sleep deprivation, forced feeding, lengthy detainment, beatings, stress positions and an assortment of other torture methods.

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Texas says supply chain issues have limited the number of voter registration forms it can give out 


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Capitol attack panel grapples with moving inquiry forward: to subpoena or not? 

The Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and Republican members of Congress Jim Jordan and Scott Perry may have inside knowledge about Trump’s plan to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election and whether it was coordinated with the Capitol attack.

But the outright refusal of McCarthy and the other Republican lawmakers to testify voluntarily with the investigation has intensified discussions among the panel’s members and investigators about whether to force their cooperation.

The select committee is undecided on whether to take that near-unprecedented step, in part because of one major concern that has emerged in recent days, according to two sources familiar with the matter: Republican retaliation against Biden and Democrats in future inquiries.

They're pondering the political repercussions, which is almost always the wrong thing to do, and certainly the wrong thing to do in a matter of such urgent consequence. As if Republicans will be cordial, and behave within precedent and prudence, if only the Democrats let them get away with an attempted coup?

Do the right thing. Do it now, or don't. Either way, what happens next will let voters see what the Democrats' leadership is made of.

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College football coaches making $25,000 a day? Let’s sideline this lunacy! 

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U.S. Senate candidate Gary Chambers smokes marijuana in new campaign ad 

The candidate, Gary Chambers, is black and genuinely progressive, and of course I'm rooting for him, but from my great (and greatly appreciated) distance, victory seems unlikely. He's running in a Louisiana Democratic primary against a bland white middle-of-the-road Democrat, for the right to face a beloved QAnon incumbent.

That said, the ad is brilliant, gets across the message, and if I had money and could anonymously donate to Chambers, I would.

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Sixty years ago, NASA scientists found that women would be better astronauts. Their work was never published. 

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Michigan Attorney General: 'Absolutely' enough evidence to charge GOP electors 

Oh, I like this. Michigan AG Dana Nessel is deferring to the feds for now, which makes sense, because it looks like an interstate operation. If US AG Merrick Garland continues to seem unconcerned with the Republican crime wave, state prosecutions would be perfectly proper.

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Emily’s List and NARAL — abortion rights groups — withdraw support for Sinema over filibuster 

“So, we want to make it clear: if Sen. Sinema can not support a path forward for the passage of this legislation, we believe she undermines the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory and also the mission of EMILY’s List, and we will be unable to endorse her moving forward,” Butler said.

I don't know whether this is a Big Deal — Sinema won't face election until 2024 — but it's the right thing to do.

So many politicians and political groups won't do the right thing, because it's futile or might have political consequences, but that's dumb. Doing the right thing, even when it's just a gesture, is how people know you're seriously in favor of the right things.

Case in point: Me. Until reading this, I'd thought Emily's List was a left-leaning group with feminist tendencies. No, they're specifically about abortion rights — but I only know that because today they spoke up about Sinema blocking filibuster reform that would protect voting rights — because big picture, that relates to abortion rights, too.

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Boy robot writes a note… in 1774. 

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Athletes warned against speaking up on human rights at Beijing Games 

It's a precaution that probably makes sense:

"Chinese laws are very vague on the crimes that can be used to prosecute people's free speech," Human Rights Watch researcher Yaqiu Wang said.

The real question is, Why are the Olympics being held in a totalitarian nation while it's well-known to be committing genocide? And the real answer is, money.

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By habit, choice, and for simple survival, I tune out most of the Republicans' stupidity and cruelty, but this one's a doozy: 

Florida Department of Health confirms Dr. Raul Pino put on leave for encouraging Orange County Department of Health employees to get vaccinated 

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One-word newscast:

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What's the solution to the QAnon and Republican assault on common sense and common decency? With Fox News and a thousand mysteriously well-funded media outlets trumpeting BS 24/7, how can their lies be defeated by the truth?

It would take a rigorous and vigorous dedication to telling the truth by mainstream media, but "mainstream media" is the Catch 22. No matter how deep the river of lies, the New York and Los Angeles Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN will never simply report that Republicans are full of shit. Until mainstream media calls liars liars, plainly — and in the news, not merely in editorials — democracy will continue drowning in lies.

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


 Sing along with Doug:
Hava Nagila, by Chubby Checker

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


Cranky Old Man 

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  1. In the summer of 1965, President Johnson gave a speech in support of passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With the unlikely help of Everett Dirksen and other Republicans of conscience, the Act passed, and gave minority Americans the same voting rights European Americans enjoyed. Dr. King helped apply social pressure on Congress, and let the celebration when the bill passed. Thus, it is a good time to look back briefly.

    I remember that day clearly. We still loved LBJ (Vietnam was just starting to heat up) and hoped like hell he was going to become our generation's FDR, replacing the leader we had loved and lost, Jack Kennedy. My family's story starts earlier . . .

    My dad's mother and her family were from Alabama, and decided to try their luck farming in Lake City (a settlement on American Lake, now part of Lakewood in Pierce County, Washington) rather than in Alabama. My grandmother's name was Antoinette Collier; she met and married her husband Edward in Lake City. He went blind when their four kids were still young. Antoinette had to find a job to support the family and herself. She began working at a fairly small munitions production facility in Dupont which became a huge munitions production facility after the Pearl Harbor attack. Her kids were grown by then. Dad's youngest brother was 16 and managed to join the Navy.

    Antoinette continued to work the ordinance assembly line throughout the war. Her work partner was a Negro lady named V. Alma Boone, and they became lifelong best friends. I have many wonderful memories of going out to Grandma's and seeing Mrs. Boone on Sundays when she would visit after church. She was an old woman by the time I met her, but she dressed and looked like a movie star, had more Church hats than seemed possible, and wore exotic perfumes. She'd get my sister on one knee, me on the other and sing to us and tell us stories.

    Grandma told us that in the 30s, Grandma's father came to visit, found V. Alma there, and told his daughter (Grandma) to get the nigger out of the house. Grandma was a quiet, polite person, but she banned her father from her house for years for using that word to describe her best friend. The word was in common use, including in Washington state, but Grandma would not have her best friend attacked or embarrassed.

    After the incident with her father, Grandma became more interested in what came to be called the Civil Rights Movement. She was in her 60s by then, but she stood by V. Alma and other African Americans. I had an opportunity to watch President Johnson's speech with Grandma and V. Alma, and it became obvious which side was the correct and decent one. I never looked back. In that house, Harry Truman was The Man, partly because of his decency and integrity, and partly because he began the desegregation of the Army.

    I was 15, and on that day LBJ, Grandma, V. Alma Boone and history conspired to make me a lifetime advocate of equal voting rights for all. Those people all lifted me up and allowed me to see the future. I will not allow that future to be co-opted by redneck dipshit racists.

  2. Damn, that's a lovely story, John. We're old, you and me, so I'll assume your Grandma and Mrs Boone are gone. Posthumous hugs for both of 'em.

    I can't see the humanity in any humans alive and conscious in that era who stood with the other side. And more and more I feel the same about the 2020s.

  3. Poem of the Week

    My high school days were not as hellish as yours, Doug, but I had a very small circle of friends, and I mostly tried to keep my head down. It wasn't my best time.

    However, I did have two or three damn good teachers. One of them was Carl Moore, a youngish math teacher who was also the school's cross-country coach. One day we walked into class and Carl announced that we'd be reading the best poem ever written. This raised a couple questions in my mind, to wit:

    1) What, if anything, did the best poem ever written have to do with differential equations?

    2) How did Carl Moore establish that this was the best poem ever written? Was this something the foreign press voted on like the Golden Globes?

    3) Carl was a "by the book" guy. What was he doing hanging around poetry?

    Of course I didn't get any of those questions answered until decades later when I figured them out for myself. Here's the poem . . .

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    by Wallace Stevens

    Among twenty snowy mountains,
    The only moving thing
    Was the eye of the blackbird.

    I was of three minds,
    Like a tree
    In which there are three blackbirds.

    The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.

    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.

    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the blackbird is involved
    In what I know.

    When the blackbird flew out of sight,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.

    At the sight of blackbirds
    Flying in a green light,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.

    He rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him,
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For blackbirds.

    The river is moving.
    The blackbird must be flying.

    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The blackbird sat
    In the cedar-limbs.

    1. I've never much noticed blackbirds, and didn't even know until I googled just now that there are 16 kinds of blackbirds in America, including the ones with orange flourish.

      Did Mr Moore answer your three questions, and if so what were his answers? Also, did he allow you to call him Carl?

      The poem is poetic and I liked it, bits of it very much. I am inclined to disagree that it's the best poem ever written.

      Pertinent Doctor Who, because Doctor Who is always pertinent:

      BILL: I'm wondering what you're supposed to be lecturing on. It's like the university lets you do whatever you like. One time, you were going to give a lecture on quantum physics. You talked about poetry.

      DOCTOR: Poetry, physics, same thing.

      BILL: How is it the same?

      DOCTOR: Because of the rhymes.

  4. We called the crewcut Mr. Moore Mr. Moore.

    Yes and no, which is often the answer:

    It wasn't the best poem ever written: just Mr. Moore's favorite.

    Dr. Who was broadcast by the Beeb starting in 1963, although I think it wasn't available in the US until much later. I'm guessing that Mr. Moore hadn't seen the good Doctor, although he might have answered the poetry/physics question the same way (allowing for a broad definition of "rhymes".

    I think Mr. Moore spent a half hour on this poem because the class was going pretty well and he wanted to show us a glimpse of the road ahead.

    I also suspect that Mr. Moore, who was something more than just a crewcut, believed that, like mathematics, poetry could reveal something interesting about the universe. For example, we spent a little time on the standard Fibonacci sequence with seeds 0 and 1: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, ... Not by coincidence, this sequence is displayed in nature again and again and again, particularly in blooms and other growth patterns of plants. The bees understand, in their own way, the Fibonacci patterns and pollinate in a sort of Fibonacci way. The sequence was introduced to Europe without use of a digital calculator by the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, later known as Fibonacci, in 1202.

    In retrospect, I think Mr. Moore was letting us know that without need of mysticism or esoterica both mathematics and poetry could reveal deeper truths about the universe, but I'm just guessing.

    I have number XIII framed on the wall of my home office/bedroom because it reminds me of snowy afternoons in the Pacific Northwest and because it rhymes in its own way.


    1. Mr Moore certainly sounds like something more than a crewcut. I like the cut of the man, and your descriptions of him.

  5. I don't expect much but bluster from Dana Nessel. She's the Atty Gen who dropped the investigation and didn't prosecute over the water contamination in Flint.

    1. Well, fuckshit. I hadn't heard that the prosecution was scuttled. Nessel is a Democrat, so I guess I should've seen it coming.


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