Call it history instead.

Cranky Old Man #90
a frothy mix of leftovers and links

I don't understand all of what's happening between Russia and Ukraine, or what the smart response should be. The only things clear to me are ① You can't trust U.S. foreign policy experts, and ② You can't trust U.S. foreign policy pundits. 

The mainstream, widely-read and widely-watched experts and pundits are the same fools and puppets who talked America into war in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and they're (sometimes literally) the descendants of the fools and puppets who talked America into war in Vietnam.

None of those wars were necessary, wise, or the right thing to do, but now we should listen to the same experts and pundits offering the same advice again? Yes, we should listen — and then we should do the opposite.

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Amid wall-to-wall coverage of "organized" shoplifting, an unprecedented rise in deaths inside America’s prisons brought upon by reckless COVID policy is met with a collective yawn.

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History intrigues me, but not so much the history I was taught in school. That's a history all about leaders — what year was Roosevelt born, what were Taft's major accomplishments, who signed the Declaration of This That and The Other, etc. Same as I thought in junior high school — who the hell cares? Not me, not much.

The history that holds my attention is about the lives and events of people who weren't rich or powerful, which is 99% of us, then as now. This article, on the history of Black History Month, got me thinking some thoughts I'd never thunk before…

Black History Month has been part of my world for not quite but almost as long as I can remember. It's hard to overstate its impact on black people, whose entire history used to be presented as not much more than captured, enslaved, Abe Lincoln, maybe Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and then the bell for Algebra class.

Black History Month has had a huge impact on white folks too — for me, it was the beginning of history that didn't feel like a whitewash. Almost everything I've learned about black history came from the same place as the article I've linked to — a mainstream publication wading into black history because Black History Month exists. Major salute, then, to Carter G Woodson (1875-1950), who invented the concept in 1926 as Negro History Week. It's increased my awareness from almost Absolute Zero to something that's not enough but is no longer nothing. 

Next step: Critical Race Theory, absolutely. It's a simple but brilliant concept with a stupid, triggering name. Call it history instead, because that's all it is — the much-needed concept of teaching history as it was, not as white folks pretend it was.

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Republicans don't like history, education, literature... 

We’re seeing dozens of [Republican] proposals to bar whole concepts from classrooms outright. The Republican governor of Virginia has debuted a mechanism for parents to rat out teachers. Bills threatening punishment of them are proliferating. Book-banning efforts are outpacing anything in recent memory.

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Florida Republicans advance wave of draconian bills 

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What if we knew that we would face the same situation that occurred on January 6 again, but with Trump and his supporters better prepared for it? 

This is a blues-inducing and uncomfortable look at some realities about left and right, realities so 'taken for granted' they're often ignored, but shouldn't be.

The Democrats have fallen into the same error that Trump has lured them into time and again: they have been trying to investigate him. A year of small revelations about January 6, dribbling out one at a time, has served to kill the story by overexposure. Over the past four years, Trump has survived countless such revelations about his conduct. There’s no delegitimizing him with his base — the worse he is, the better, as far as they are concerned.

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It's odd, almost unnerving to have no bedtime. Being unemployed, there's suddenly no place to be tomorrow morning, no alarm to set, which means I can stay up as late as I want... but at my age, that means maybe 9:00 PM. More likely 8:00.

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The New York Times buys Wordle 

It's a word game. Wildly popular. Haven't played it myself, and probably never will. Sorry, just, no interest. Everything I (think I) know about Wordle is only that it's free, it's fun, and it has no ads. Now it's going to change under new management, and it won't be a change for the better.

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The golden age of crappy little plastic toys in cereal packets 

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A few sites that have covered last Saturday's Saturday Night Live as if it's newsworthy: The Atlantic, Gothamist, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, etc. 

Knock it off. Journalism should be the presentation of newsworthy news. Saturday Night Live is almost never newsworthy, and the existence and content of a new episode of SNL is absolutely never newsworthy. It's shallow clickbait, of no more news value than paparazzi shots of Taylor Swift or someone being rude on The Real Housewives of Altoona, PA.

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Eight red states are suing to keep migrants and their kids apart 

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Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly. 

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

—Dreams, by Langston Hughes 

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One-word newscast:
cops • copscops

Peter Haberfeld
Howard Hesseman  

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


 Sing along with Doug:
♫♬  "Going Down"
The Monkees  ♫


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. > History intrigues me, but not so much the history I was taught in school. That's a history all about leaders — what year was Roosevelt born, what were Taft's major accomplishments, who signed the Declaration of This That and The Other, etc. Same as I thought in junior high school — who the hell cares? Not me, not much.

    > "Once in a while, you get shown the light
    In the strangest of places if you look at it right"
    . . . The Grateful Dead

    My parents survived the Great Depression, thin but alive. Both were well above average bright, but the idea of going to college was never considered for either. The family scraped together a few bucks for my mom to go to a three-month "business school" which meant, for women, learning typing, dictation, and accounting skills. My dad was lucky enough to land a spot in Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, wherein young men, just out of high school, would build trails, roads, and even bridges in national parks and national wildlife areas. The young men's families would be sent $25 a month and the young men would receive $5. My dad's family lived on that twenty-five bucks a month and a half-dead milk cow for as long as Dad was in the CCC. Dad had graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA on the honor roll, with pretty close to straight A's. So he just kept reading and learning new things on his own.

    Finally, in the late 1960s, the Community College building program came to my home state. Dad was going on 50 and working ten hour days, but enrolled in the "two-year program". He generally took two classes at a time, four nights a week, and, six or seven years later attained his Associate Degree with one "B" and the rest "A's".

    He had always said that the purpose of public school is to teach you the broad outlines of subject areas, teach you some essential communication skills, and teach you how to be a lifelong learner. That's all there's time to do, and the rest is up to you.

    We always ate dinner together, the four of us. Dad would almost always have a quiz for us, maybe on math or history or geography or civics or astronomy. On weekend mornings, he'd cut our (my sister's and my) waffles into the shape of states, and when we named the state successfully we got to take the bite. (Sometimes he'd cheat and cut a rectangle: Kansas looks a lot like South Dakota). He was kind of a card.

    The point is (finally) that my parents gave my sister and me the gift of curiosity and a life-view that school is a preamble to lifelong learning.


    1. So I don't worry much about the history I learned in school. I know it was "Great Man" history, not social history, but that just means I need to keep reading about social history. How were working people affected by significant changes throughout the various global economies and how did the tools developed in each economy affect how people lived their lives? Just to take one global economic transition at random, the long, slow transition from the Agricultural Economy to the Industrial Economy was, in part, facilitated and sparked by a broad increase in literacy, particularly in Europe. Until 1550 or so, there was a tiny middle class in Europe -- the economy was driven by the wealthy and royal courts. Then, after Johannes Gutenberg invented hot movable type in 1450, and after the new printing press was improved for a century or so while printing Bibles, books on a variety of subjects began to become widely available to a growing middle class and literacy became the hallmark of that middle class. They became shopkeepers and scientists and engineers and non-military police officers (and a million other occupations), all of which changed the way everybody lived.

      We don't learn much about these transitions in school. Even in college, subjects are categorized to exclude a study of the broad sweep of human history, and the broader sweep of the tools that we invented along the way to become extensions of our bodies and our brains. We will mostly discover these broad changes and transitions through lifelong learning: reading books, talking with others who are lifelong learners, and a combination of deep and shallow diving into the various realms of knowledge.

      My parents' experience of trying to wrestle an education out of a moribund economy and spending their adulthoods trying to catch up with what they had missed inspired them to teach my sister and me that learning is a lifelong process. That's encouraging for me, because I remain a dumbass about almost everything, but there's still time to learn. It is when learning stops that death begins.


    2. You're a great storyteller, the living embodiment of hot movable type.

      All this reminds me of my grandmother's tales from the depression. "Not just any depression," she would say, "but the great one, which really wasn't great at all." My memories of the stories is unreliable, but I think one of her three husbands worked on or maybe died in construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

      All talk of "greatest generations" is horsehsit, but what she went through, what your parents went through, it's hard to imagine how a typical tattooed twenty-something would handle such hardships.

      Colorado and Wyoming are both literal rectangles. The Dakotas, Kansas, and Nebraska are only almost.

      Gutenberg is the guy who carried us from ancient to intermediate times. Was it Edison and the inventors he stole from who took us from intermediate to modern times? Maybe. Maybe it was Tim Berners-Lee.

    3. I thought when I was retired I'd have all the time in the world and then I lost my reading glasses, so I'll type what I can in three minutes . . .

      People who read history have a variety of ways to think about the past, and it's possible any organizing principle can work if you can stick with it. I think of human history which, in the history of earth is a cherry pit in a bigass cherry pie, as a series of economies. These economies defined the language we used and how we saw ourselves in the world. They are:

      The hunting and gathering economy
      The agriculture economy
      The industrial economy
      The digital economy
      The bio-economy

      The economies get shorter, change more rapidly, and are more complex as the population increases. Each economy dictates the tools we develop to extend our bodies and our brains.

      At the transition points (when one economy is becoming the next economy) there is turbulence, like the eddies at the end of airplane wings, and like the wings of a big airplane, they knock a lot of people over through war, famine, and pestilence (like D. Trump). Each economy redefines what constitutes wealth, education, child rearing, business, leisure, law, and everything else we think is immutable.

      Three minutes are up. Free Twilight zone reference. Name the star.


    4. Ich bin ein Burgess Meredith.

      Did you write that in three minutes, or type that in three minutes, or both? I'd find even the middle concept difficult.

    5. I didn't time myself, buy my wife was repeatedly "reminding" me to run an errand. I certainly didn't proof it or do any editing. Most likely it was closer to eight minutes than three, but not longer.

      This is a social/economic theory that I worked on developing in the early to mid-90s. The "five economies" center of the theory is from a book written in the early 90s called "Twenty-Twenty Vision". The two authors were forecasting the transition between the digital economy and the bio economy to kick off in or around the year 2020.

      My partner and I built an Information Technology planning model around the "economies" concept and used that model for information technology planning in a Fortune 50 company based in Tacoma and Federal Way, Washington.

      Between 1995 and 2001, I gave presentations on the subject to Information Technology conferences in and around Puget Sound. The most absurd thing I did was go to Vancouver BC, all alone, and give a two-hour presentation on "The Five Economies" to a conference of market economists from the United States and Canada. Now, a "market economist" isn't exactly a theoretical economist, but I don't even know the basics of micro-economics; I've never taken a single high school or college class in economics.

      I didn't feel too bad about doing it. I just charged them expenses, and we never planned to make money on the planning model. We were just trying to make ourselves useful and have a good time.

      So what I wrote in eight minutes or so was a summary of a presentation I gave many times over a 10 year period and I think the fact that I was frequently scared shitless while speaking drilled the concepts into my brain. I'm most happy, actually, that my view that this remains a reasonable way to think about the history and future of humankind aggregately is heartening. Even though all the essential concepts were lifted from much better thinkers than us, we did integrate them into a comprehensible whole. Damn, I haven't thought about this stuff in at least fifteen years.

      I do want to make it clear that this model is about a mile wide and an inch deep. We didn't have a single equation to back up our assertions. It was useful strictly as a planning model and pretty useless as a theoretical model. We had fun and found a way to talk about the evolution of human behavior and tool development.

      Long answer to a simple question.

    6. Oh, and way to go on Burgess Meredith. Something like one in a thousand people of our age would get that one; maybe less.


    7. Interesting answer, though. Your presentations were well-received, I'll wager. I'd listen to you speak for two hours. Hell, I'd take notes. It was obvious that more than three minutes went into your previous entry — ten years sounds about right.

      Not fully sure what 'bioeconomy' means, but also not sure I'm really asking. Unlike you, I did take an economics course, during a brief stint in community college. I gave up and quit, along with the math class I was taking alternate nights. The teacher didn't know any more than I knew, I decided after a few weeks and unanswered questions. He only knew bigger words, but not what they meant, and I had other things I wanted do on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

      The math class was a different frustration — that teacher seemed to understand the concepts, but he was awful at explaining them, so I quit that class.

      I still don't get along well with economics, or economists. Paul Krugman, for example. I've read his columns many times and he usually makes sense to me, unless he's talking about economics.

      Re Mr Meredith, it's only the key moment of fiction in the 20th century.

    8. I know that and you know that. Why weren't the Nobel people informed?

      Nonetheless, like Ms Wynette, I'll stand by my man.


    9. Which immediately makes me wonder whether The Crying Game holds up. Probably it does. The big surprise didn't surprise me but I loved the movie anyway. Gotta add it to the rewatch list...

  2. Well damn...I missed the planetary evacuation! (second mystery link)

    Mark Alexander | voenixrising@voenixrising.com

    1. I think they run a regular shuttle service, we can catch the next starship out...


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