News & Links:
Monday, December 25, 2023



#397  [archive]
DEC. 25, 2023

    Sincerely and un-sarcastically, Merry Christmas to all who do it and dig it.
    I'll offer only one moment of mild dissent: If Christmas leaves you broke, stressed, exhausted, and/or disappointed every time you do it, it's OK to stop doing it.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns Republican-gerrymandered legislative maps
    Wisconsin is a mildly left-leaning state that's been under Republican-gerrymandered control since the previous century. This is the restoration of democracy there. 

Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana charges on federal lands and in Washington
    This is a good thing, three cheers and appreciated. But like most of the good things Biden does, my gut-level response is, it's not enough. A blanket pardon, but only for simple possession?
    And the dude's been President For almost three years and hadn't already pardoned pot possessors?  

Chemical leak at Tennessee cheese factory sends 29 workers to hospital
    Why is anhydrous ammonia under pressure part of the cheesemaking process? 

Tesla blamed drivers for failures of parts it long knew were defective
    This ought to cost Tesla the company, but instead they'll eventually negotiate a settlement that's easily affordable for Elon Musk fine, and continue business as usual. 

1980s actor John Schneider calls for Joe Biden to be executed
    Such comments, especially in a public forum, used to warrant a visit from the Secret Service, and often arrest and prosecution. If Mr Schneider doesn't face such consequences lickety-split, maybe I'll stop holding back my own opinions about several hundred current and former elected officials.

States that legalize marijuana see enhanced college basketball recruitment, study finds 

Rite Aid’s 'reckless' and 'racist' use of facial recognition gets it banned from using the technology in stores for five years 

NLRB says Whole Foods can fire workers for wearing Black Lives Matter pins 

Substack says it will not remove or demonetize Nazi content

It's a Christmas miracle, but police urge Aussies to ignore bags of cocaine washing up on beaches between Sydney and Newcastle 

Why are Alaska’s rivers turning orange? 

Disproportionate declines of formerly abundant species underlie insect loss 

Human-driven extinction of bird species twice as high as thought, study says 

Washington Post's new CEO is accused of helping to lead a massive cover-up of criminal activity when he worked for Rupert Murdoch 

Boom, bang! Tales from a cell below the ‘crazy unit’ of a US prison

Catholic Church put up 30,000 children for adoption without mothers' consent 

Amusing, Interesting, Outrageous, or Profound
    AIOP is my Lemmy page, for anything that's (in my opinion) amusing, interesting, outrageous, or profound. It's mostly a rough draft of this page, but you're invited to stop by. 

Seattle Children’s Hospital sues after Texas Attorney General demands handover of patient records  

Judge says Rudy Giuliani must pay $148 million judgment immediately 

Update: So Giuliani immediately declares bankruptcy

Founder of anti-gay group Moms For Liberty filmed her own gay sex tape 

Ramaswamy pledges to withdraw from Colorado Republican primary in solidarity with Trump 

Huntington Beach removes black history month, other ethnic celebrations  

Florida school district pulls 673 books from teachers’ classroom shelves  

Florida Republicans propose banning Pride flag, making support for LGBTQ a ‘political viewpoint' 

Federal judge finds Republicans' complaints "misinformed or misleading," OKs removal of Confederate statue in Arlington Cemetery 

Bruce Lee wins 1958 Hong Kong Cha-Cha Championship 

Don't talk to the police [video]

The Police Problem
    All about about ordinary evil cops. Some highlights below: 

Los Angeles deputy who fatally shot Black woman who'd called 911 for domestic violence had previously killed another person under similar circumstances 

Texas cop who body-slammed 65-year-old man, causing brain bleed, faced 5 internal investigations in 6 years 

Bodycam video still suppressed, but Mississippi police officer who shot unarmed 11-year-old black boy is reinstated 

St Louis cops' story of crash into gay bar and arrest of owner keeps changing, and the cops ran a red light the block before 

Jury acquits 3 Washington officers in death of a Black man who told them he couldn’t breathe 

♫♬  MUSIC  ♫ 

Batman — Nelson Riddle 

Downtown  — Petula Clark 

Medical Center — Lalo Schifrin 

The Sins of Memphisto — John Prine 

Wooden Dreams — Luther Wright & The Wrongs 


F.M Bradley
porn star 

Colin Burgess
drunk rock'n'roller, AC/DC 

Paul Chevigny
civil rights lawyer and general good guy 

Toni Negri
anarchist member of Italian Parliament

🖕 Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah
royal highness of Kuwait 

Craig Stewart
founder, Emperor Jones 

Maureen Sweeney
barometric readings at Normandy


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited. 

Tip 'o the hat to the AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Chuff, Dirty Blonde Mind, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Lemmy.world, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Self-love Is My Superpower, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration.

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo emeritus, Jeff Meyer, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. I remember being in high school, I think, and coming across some kind of lefty conspiracy-addled zine that mentioned Toni Negri. What that obit fails to mention was the real story: the Italian police arrested and imprisoned this pretty bookish nerd guy as the secret mastermind of a vast communist terror network, including presiding over the Red Brigades. He was of course nothing of the kind, but they claimed it was his voice on a recording announcing the death of politician Aldo Moro, who the Red Brigades had earlier kidnapped. It wasn't. They wouldn't let him go, though, and he was charged with being "morally" responsible for the death of a policeman killed during a bank robbery (as I understand it, he thought it was pretty dope, though he had nothing to do with the robbery or killing). To avoid 30 years in jail, he first got himself elected to parliament (unlike Bobby Sands, this was a get out of jail free card in Italy), then Mitterand gave him political asylum in France.

    That was my intro to Italian politics which is just drenched in conspiracy theory, of which... most of them turn out to be true. Fascists, neo-fascist coup attempts, terrorist bombings in the Years of Lead devised by a secret political lodge run by a mattress salesman, etc. There's a movie called Il Divo that ties together a lot of them, though I imagine it is impossible to follow without a primer.

    Tried reading Negri a few times after that but was totally bored. Surely an unfair and silly thing to say but his writings to me were proof that he never influenced anyone to do anything other than maybe write their own unreadable books.

    1. As with many things, I know little about Toni Negri. A name on the periphery of my limited consciousness. I tried reading something from him but didn't try hard, and like you grew quickly weary of the effort.

      I wondered how and why an anarchist gets elected to Parliament, so thanks for explaining it's a Trump-level get-out-of-jail-free card.

      Overall, I do not weep with sadness at his death but he seems to have made the world slightly better while he was here. Maybe just by being an anarchist in Parliament.

  2. "MLB star gives Porsche to wife of new teammate who gave up jersey number" . . . CNN headline

    Life made so much more sense when the NFL linemen worked at Sears in the off-season.


    1. Concur. The Dodgers signed a couple of megastars last week, two men with contracts so huge they dwarf the Mariners' entire payroll. That and the Adverising all over everything in the game is why I give baseball only a sliver the attention I once did, with nothing left over for hockey, football, or roller derby.

    2. Hey, skate lube and those paper thin helmets don't come cheap. If RD is still around it's likely the most honest of the professional sports. And yup, throw in Nastycar and Dribble-in-yer-Underwear and fuck ALL the money sports. I used to be a TV sports guy but I don't think I can name a current professional athlete. I assume Dizzy and Daffy Dean are no longer taking calls.


    3. There was an amateur roller derby league in Madison when I lived there. We thought about going, but it was a little pricey and we were poor. Looks like Seattle has something similar. I don't think there's any more "big time" pro roller derby.

      I am finished with watching sports on TV. It's an insult to my (yes, even my) intelligence watching the commercials, and the commercials now extend into the play. Just unwatchable. And on radio, unlistenable.

      Aaron Rodgers, if he's still playing, is a current pro athlete I can name, but only because I lived in Wisconsin. Even that Japanese guy who got $700m, I can't remember his name. Starts with an 'S', I think.

    4. A decade ago, Tacoma had rec league roller derby. I know this only because the lady who was cutting my hair was a volunteer ref. That's a long way from the Bay Area Bombers and the Northwest Pioneers (Northwest what? Certainly not the Pacific Northwest.) I actually followed professional bowling for a while years ago because I was slightly acquainted with Earl Anthony, who practiced at the same bowling alley where my league rolled. Earl worked at West Coast Grocery in Tacoma on swing shift and would come in about midnight, just as our league was finishing and grab a lane and start bowling. The owner, Chuck, would give Earl a key and tell him to lock up when he was done practicing. I bowled for four or five years and Earl was there almost every time I was. I guess that's what it takes. For what it's worth Earl was a nice guy. Very focused to say the least.


    5. Earl Anthony had a straight job? Jeez, what a time. He's famous enough I've heard of him, would've guessed bowling was what he did for a living. Must've taken time off for tournaments, but that's so 1960s.

    6. Earl quit his day job (which was mostly a night job) sometime in the mid-70s when he started winning tournaments with some regularity. The PBA didn't pay much back then, but largely because of Earl and a couple of other bowlers, the prize money increased through the 70s, and Earl also made a little money in bowling product placement.

      Interestingly (I think) Earl was a near-scratch golfer and a minor league pitcher. As David Bromberg said, "Don't let the glasses fool ya . . ."


    7. I used to watch basketball pretty often and I would more but as far as I can tell the broadcasts are essentially geared at compulsive gamblers only. They interrupt the game rather frequently to let you know the latest lines which aren't just "Kings +4" but insane things like "-1000 that Some Guy will get 7 rebounds." Over and over again, throughout the broadcast, by the announcers, by the crew, on screen, in commercials. I assume this was introduced slowly, boiling frog-style, and I just missed it. Totally fucking whacked though.

    8. I don't get cable, but I was at my sister & BiL's and saw that stuff on a roundball broadcast. It was a shock because I hadn't watched basketball for 30 years or so. I also noticed on the NFL games they give the spread (Seattle + 5 1/2).

      Gambling is an addictive disease like opioid abuse or alcoholism. It might be the only addictive disease I don't have, so it seems really scary. So what do the networks and cable channels get for aiding addiction? They must be getting money somehow or they wouldn't do it.

      The telecasters' defense? It's not a disease -- it's a condition.

      Thanks for surfacing this shit.


    9. Gambling doesn't amuse me much, and used to be a big no-no in big-time sports. Now the NBA just OK'd a huge Nevada gambling concern's purchase of the San Antonion Spurs. Big-time sports has decided to take the gambling money because it is, after all, money, but Pete Rose remains suspended for life and death.

      Fuck all the games except low-stakes chess.

    10. And yeah, Dr John, fuck the networks and cable channels for aiding addiction. I think there's a radio station that's nothing but nonstop lines for upcoming games...

    11. I suppose addiction is doing the same thing over and over, unable to stop. To American business that sounds like a giant cash register. The sport-talk shows are scummier than Jerry Springer. I sometimes drive late at night. On the AM radio I hear over and over, "Tampa by 5, the Raiders by 4 1/2, Alabama by 22 in the Prune Bowl . . . and on and on.


    12. Ever feel like we've become our parents, or maybe our grandparents? I can still hear my pop & uncle saying how the whole world had gone to hell, with no standards, no common sense or common decency... and that was fifty years ago.

      Of course, all the things *they* were railing against were *beautiful*...

    13. Well, Black people didn't have to cross the street when a white woman was approaching, Presidents had a hard time conducting illegal, immoral wars without getting booted out of office, and the music was pretty damn good. That's what pissed some "older" people off. I never heard my parents complain about any of it except the volume of the music. Both my folks thought I'd ruin my hearing. Now I can't hear shit.


    14. I suspect they see wedding themselves to gambling money as their next (maybe last?) opportunity for huge growth. Sports has so far been immune but cable TV is dying and the big flood of cash from broadcast rights has to eventually be effected.

      The way gambling companies have taken over advertising on broadcasts is really extraordinary, as if the franchises found a whole new liquor industry formed in a matter of minutes.

      The Texas thing is amazing, because the gambling complex they want to build in Dallas isn't even legal right now. The right-wing piece of shit Adelsons have built-in the cost of bribing Texas politicians to legalize this into the purchase price. I'm not aware of that ever happening before (and Texas politicians may be cheap but there are a lot of them...)

    15. In another fifty years or so, these will be "the good old days," and future old fogeys will complain about how the oceans boil and Miami became marshland and typhoons and pandemics and droughts and flooding and hurricanes and riots over access to water and rice have all become routine...

    16. Only in retrospect does it all seem so obvious, inevitable. Remember when gambling was a vice? Something shady people did in shady places, with shady payoffs and debt collections and broken legs?

      Then came Vegas, first as a small, quaint destination run by mobsters, but as that became wildly profitable more profits were needed, and now that city is a monstrous celebration of neon and glitter and money in the middle of a desert.

      With so much money being made, of course they need to make even more and more money, and bit by bit all of America has become an extension of Vegas.

      Legalized casinos in Texas by — what do you think? — my guess is 2026. Money moves fast.

    17. You're more optimistic than I am. Who the hell will they be talking to?



    18. Ghosts, I guess. Even now, most of my own conversations are with the dead.

      Hey, never heard that song before and it's sweet. Nice tune and performance, but I especially like the poetry.

      Said the straight man to the late man
      Where have you been
      I've been here and I've been there
      And I've been in between.

      I talk to the wind
      My words are all carried away
      I talk to the wind
      The wind does not hear
      The wind cannot hear.

      I'm on the outside looking inside
      What do I see
      Much confusion, disillusion
      All around me.

      You don't possess me
      Don't impress me
      Just upset my mind
      Can't instruct me or conduct me
      Just use up my time

      I talk to the wind
      My words are all carried away
      I talk to the wind
      The wind does not hear
      The wind cannot hear.

  3. It's Monday again and time for a few Dick Clark memorial tunes.

    First we take Manhattan. Actually Leonard Cohen and his Songbirds do on Austin City Limits . . .


    Here are Dick Dale and his band, The Del Tones, all playing Strats, some of them production models and some of them one-offs. Mr Dale is left handed. Figure that one out. The song is Misirlou.


    And then there's Richard Penniman singing a very early rock 'n' roll tune . . .


    Happy Monday. Better luck Tuesday.


    1. Man, I do love the instrumental stuff, Misirlou and the sounds of that era. Add lyrics and a voice, and I judge both, but it's mostly the music I want and when the music's that good who needs lyrics.

      Unsure how many survive on my current playlist, but a few times I've gone searching for rock instrumentals and liked most of what I've found.

      Cohen and Li'l Richard are pretty good too.

    2. Who needs lyrics?



    3. Doug, Mr. Dale is playing the proto-Strat right side up upside down. The tuning pegs should be on the bottom when a left hander is playing. This must be a Leo Fender custom job: Leo and a couple of his guys were pretty tight with the surfing crowd -- especially the guitar-playing surfing crowd. I know of no movies of early LA surf rock concerts, but those that were held within 50 miles of south LA had the Fender "engineering" team hanging around the stage. The Bigsby/Fender electric Spanish guitar evolved and was born in the young white honkytonks of the south LA beaches.

    4. https://audio.jukehost.co.uk/xPcHsuItPeKpMLnuxiwye7B94MU59hSn



  4. There's no place to comment where the small conversation about Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen was taking place, so let's get this straightened out. I don't know much about Bruce's origin story, but Bruce had a shaky start with Columbia after being signed with almost unlimited development money available. He put out two albums that were well reviewed but didn't sell. He went through three or four bands during this time and ended up with the E-Street Band that included Steven Van Zandt, Patti Scialfa (who Bruce later married), Max Weinberg on drums and Clarence Clemons on sax. There were many more members who came and went during the early days. Bruce got especially close to Clarence and Steve (Steve produced some early album cuts for Bruce and Clarence and Bruce always seemed to be on the same page musically.) From the third album on, when Bruce recorded with a band it was the E-Street Band, although he cut quieter albums without a band or with just a couple of backup players.

    When Clarence Clemons died in 2011, Bruce named Clarence's nephew, Jake Clemons as the new sax player and Jake has been with the band since.

    I didn't tell you any of this. Somebody might have, but I'm not particularly familiar with Bruce and his band. I know it took him a year and a half to record Born to Run (the song AND the album) because he knew this was his last chance with Columbia after two commercial failures. And I know why he's called The Boss. But that's about it. However, I'm happy to be your research assistant while you're working and commuting. I enjoy learning as well.


    1. So like most bosses, Springsteen practices nepotism.

  5. You make joke, but Bruce is a pretty passionate guy. He was really close to Clarence, and Jake was as close as he could come. Clarence was 69 when he died and Bruce is 74, fell on stage recently, and had to cancel appearances due to a peptic ulcer. We're all getting old. Bruce has had a long and storied career.

    As you might know, Bruce and Barack Obama have a podcast called "Renegades: Born in the USA". Unlike Bruce's concerts, the podcast doesn't last four hours and Bruce rarely falls down.


    1. I know when I think about listening to a podcast, the first one that comes to mind is the one by a couple of billionaires, one of whom bombed several countries, and the other an extrovert who still likes to shake his ass on camera at the age of 75.

    2. I've not listened to the podcast, mostly for those reasons. I'm not entirely convinced earning a lot of money making music makes someone a bore. And Obama didn't come from money. Neither man is a billionaire. I suppose many people who perform for large audiences are extroverts, but I'm not convinced Bruce is one, and I'm not convinced extroverts have nothing interesting to say. To state the obvious, neither man is doing this podcast for money, which puts them in the minority of podcasters. One of those countries trained terrorists to hijack four planes and kill people we should care about. And Bruce is 74. Other than that, you got it mostly right.


    3. Not a joke, really, and I'm sure Jake is a fine player. I'm not complaining about this particular instance. It's just that "who you know" and "family connections" are the baseline for about 98% of American success stories, so the American dream of hard work that pays off and gets you ahead is 2% true.

      Numbers approximate.

    4. Barack Obama, I'll just mention before darting to the toilet, was an average and ordinary president. Her was several solar systems better than what followed — Trump — but basically more of the same. We need a hell of a lot more than Obama to rescue America and/or Earth.

    5. 16.3 Million People Signed Up for Health Care Coverage under ObamaCare During the 2022-2023 Open Enrollment Season. Broadly, those are people who wouldn't have had health insurance without ObamaCare. This is the first significant change in federal health benefits since Lyndon Johnson. And Mr Obama brought blues and jazz to the White House monthly for eight years. I know none of that counts because he failed to stop global climate change, but he was fighting the Senate and/or the House in all but two years. Obama was as disappointed as you that the American people kept voting for Republicans.

      The plain fact is that any candidate who would please you and Claude would be unelectable. I think it's a dangerous time to throw in the bad hand we've been dealt and leave the table for a burger and shake. It saddens me, but giving up seems an unacceptable option.


    6. And holding a plebiscite to replace Bruce's sax player and close friend MIGHT be appropriate for the Marine Band, but it's Bruce's band. The sax parts of those songs require focus, but not the touch of Paul Desmond. Let the Boss grieve in his own way.


    7. I do not advocate for a federal takeover of the E-Street Band, nor even a fine from the Equal Opportunities Commission. Just saying, everything's rigged everywhere.

    8. > The plain fact is that any candidate who would please you and Claude would be unelectable.

      Can't speak for Claude but Bernie Sanders or AOC would please me, and either could easily win a national election. The majority of Americans still like bright ideas and truth-telling. The Democratic Party, being middle-right and under corporate control in all practical regards, would never allow either on the national ticket. Because they'd win.

    9. Obamacare is a sickening compromise with a compromise with a compromise, enabling further billions of dollars to be stolen by profiteers every time anyone gets a hangnail. It would be a challenge to come up with a stupider system, but indeed, it ended the pre-existing conditions clause and allows many millions more Americans the option of being driven bankrupt by medical bills, while some 45,000,000 or so (haven't checked the stats lately) have easy access to death from lack of medical care.

  6. Our ability to write and publish on these pages criticism of our government, our military, crazy political candidates and dumb social mores exists, in part, because the Smothers Brothers stood up to the network that hosted their show and told them that there were social and political and racial problems in their country and they were going to talk about them. They lost the battle but won the war (and won in court), even though it cost them their livelihood and cost Dick his business and his house.

    Tom Smothers died today at 86, of some kind of cancer: a fairly long life, but we all could have used more of his time. Dick is a year younger and I advise you to read Dick's parting words to his brother. They were a great comedy and music team, and, as far as I'm concerned, they were American Heroes. They attacked the things that pulled our country apart: racial prejudice, poverty, inappropriate concentration of wealth, and an illegal and immoral war. It cost them everything and they did it without regret. They exercised their right to speak and criticize, and did it with lovely voices and pointed commentary.

    I can't thank Tom, who led the fight against the idiots at CBS, but I can and do thank Dick who supported his brother every day in every way. We are short of heroes, and I refuse to let this day go by without acknowledging the Smothers Brothers.


    1. A great man with a pretty good brother. Fifteen minutes until my bus comes and I still need to squeeze out a poop before going, so I probably won't read the obituary and Dick's last recitation of "Mom always liked you best" until tonight or the weekend.

      But definitely, "hero" is the right word.

  7. In only two sentences that's the sanest spin on Christmas I've ever seen.

    1. Your one sentence is pretty sane and succinct too.

  8. I just lost an almost complete, impossibly long comment about my time in Presidential politics in 2004 and I'm not going to try to rewrite it. One of our many cats knocked the power cord out of the back of my cheap-ass mini-micro PC. All that remains is the epilogue . . .



    1. Sorry, man. I'm not sure whether it's the same for readers as for me, but when my comments disappear they're visible *first*, on the page immediately after posting. They only disappear after you leave the page.

      So my habit is, after every comment I've written, I immediately copy the text, then refresh the page. If the comment has vanished, at least I have the text, and it'll usually work if I rework a few words.


The site's software sometimes swallows comments. For less frustration, send an email and I'll post it as a comment.