News & Links:
Monday, March 11, 2024



#408  [archive]
MAR. 11, 2024

America's last newspaper
ends print edition
    Well, that sucks.
    I almost can't remember a time when I wasn't reading the Anderson Valley Advertiser once weekly — thirty years, at least. Always I've recommended it, to anyone who's not an idiot, and I still will. The AVA tongue-in-cheek calls itself America's last newspaper, but it seriously is the country's only honest newspaper, where the coverage is unswayed by big money and written from a genuine left perspective.
    It's the last publication I subscribed to through the mail, or ever will. Everything else — Harper's, The New Yorker, Time and Newsweek, The Nation, The Progressive — my subscriptions lapsed years ago. With no more AVA by mail, I'll switch to the AVA's web version, but damn, I'll miss unfolding its crinkly pages over a cup of coffee at the diner.
    The AVA's editor is 84, and his one employee is about the same age. If you're curious what a real newspaper is like, time's running short. 

The oceans we knew are already gone.
    You'll be seeing headlines like this more and more often, for the rest of your life. 

Behind Formula 1 racing's velvet curtain
    I don't give a fraction of a fart about Formula 1 racing, but this article from Road & Track is a marvel of speaking truth to power. It's so good, it was yanked from the magazine's website within an hour of publication.   

Southern anti-trans laws are uprooting families — and leaving them with impossible choices
    Making people miserable is always the point, for Republicans, so every trans teenager’s suicide is a success. 

Kremlin launches US-based propaganda sites in New York City, Washington DC, other cities 

Michigan judge gives man who raped 12-year-old joint custody of her child 

From presidential polls to refusing to report on Trump's stumbles, things aren't adding up at the New York Times 

As newspapers continue death spiral, women cartoonists are booted out

Florida passes "cruel" bill curbing water and shade protections for workers 

Missouri bill would make teachers sex offenders if they accept trans kids' pronouns  

Trump backs Israel bombarding Gaza: "Gotta finish the problem" 

Republicans ramp up campaign disenfranchising Democratic voters 

Fox News guest decrying "migrant crime" previously arrested after getting violent over a grilled cheese sandwich he deemed too cheesy 

Florida Republicans vote to lower minimum age to purchase AR-15s  

Trump is faking dementia to trick the fake news, says Newsmax host 

Seattle cop who drove triple the speed limit without sirens, struck and killed pedestrian in crosswalk, is issued traffic infraction 

Colorado grandmother awarded $3.76M after bungled SWAT raid based on Find My iPhone ping 

Uvalde parents angered by new report that clears city police of missteps during Texas school attack 

"Where is everybody?" An account of Fermi's question [PDF] 

When the anti-choice choose 

Rural vs urban manners 

Winnie the Pooh's hidden sinister underside 

Welcome to my Windows 1.0 site! 

♫♬  MUSIC  ♫ 

Ball of Confusion — The Temptations 

Explode — Tay Zonday 

In My Room — The Beach Boys 

1,000 Shadows — Romeo Void 

Think — Aretha Franklin 


Jim Beard
rock'n'roller, Steely Dan 

Chance Browne
cartoonist, Hi and Lois 

Justin Cline
ice cream man

Eleanor Collins
jazz lady 

Mark Dodson
voice actor, Return of the Jedi 

Buddy Duress
actor, Heaven Knows What 

Tim Ecclestone
hockey player, Detroit Red Wings 

Bob Heil
rock'n'roll sound systems 

Howard Hiatt
researcher, messenger RNA 

Steve Lawrence
singer, "Go Away Little Girl" 

John Lowe
TV repairman 

James C. Niederman
researcher, Epstein-Barr virus 

Ed Ott
baseballer, Pittsburgh Pirates 

Akira Toriyama
mangaka, Dragon Ball 

U L Washington
baseballer, Kansas City Royals 

William Whitworth
editor, The Atlantic


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, 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. Doug, my brother, thank you for re-posting the "Where are they?" discussion we talked about last week, with reference to the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project/program, the sighting of flying saucers over Mt. Rainier, and the ongoing speculation of why there is little evidence that the Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials recently. Enrico Fermi was a character with character and frequently managed to identify and clarify "the question behind the question." Other endeavors like Project Ozma (a subset of SETI) have come and gone, but no one to my knowledge has sufficiently answered Dr. Fermi's question to anyone's satisfaction.

    My Uncle Sid, who was a professor of psychology at a nearby university was briefly consulted concerning a specific question that the SETI team tried in vain to answer: What percent of societies survive their atomic/nuclear weapons/power phase without blowing their planet to smithereens? (I believe the original question was stated less bluntly). I would have been under ten years old when Uncle Sid was working on this problem. I don't recall what his own estimate was, but the consensus estimate of the working group was that 15% of societies survive their nuclear age. This diminishes the number of spacefaring civilizations who might visit Earth or anyplace else in the Milky Way Galaxy. (I don't want to overstate Uncle Sid's contribution here: he was one person on a subcommittee of a very large project).

    In any case, this little episode that inlcuded Dr Fermi's succinct question has returned to the discussion table over and over since the orbs buzzed Mt. Rainier and many of us thought humankind had a future.

    Thanks again for posting this. Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.

    my warmest regards,


    1. When I read something online I like, I save the link, that's all. It's a cool article.

      I wonder how your uncle's team or anybody could quantify a guess, but the answer seems about right and we're not the bunch likely to beat the odds.

      Most of science eludes me, but I used to read a lot of science fiction. I like to think everything's vastly different elsewhere, with different evolution so's the locals don't have two arms and two legs and two eyes and two nostrils like every alien on Star Trek. Maybe the fundamental rules are different too, and instead of a nuclear age our distant nine-eyed and 12-legged alien brothers will need to struggle through their rubber-band war era, or master the hurphylgurf.

    2. Among the exoplanet set, there's an argument for the prevalence of bipedalism and binocular vision. Nine eyes might not have an evolutionary advantage.


    3. Maybe two of the nine eyes are in the back of the head and prevent enemies from sneaking up on ya, and two are always looking into the distance with a zoom image, and two look inward so you can see if there's a hairball in your intestines, and one's giving you an overview from above like in The Sims. That's gotta be an evolutionary advantage!

      And with just two feet, you lose just one and you're basically immobile. Give me six or eight, so's if one or two go on the fritz the worst I'd have is a limp, but I could still get to the bus stop.

    4. Point well made, but as the legs fail, boy, you're gonna carry that weight a long time, and as for eyes, trips to the optometrist take days and bullies call you Eighteen-eyes. On the other hand, Kirk Gibson clobbered a home run in the 1988 World Series without any legs at all. Vin Scully is the evolutionary anthropologist to tell that story:



    5. Possibly the best baseball moment of my life, and the entire at bat... wow. I have sometimes suspected that Mr Gibson's injuries had been exaggerated so the A's would to some extent let their defenses down, but that's the conspiracy theorist in me. Also, being a longtime Oakland A's fan, I didn't enjoy the moment as much then as I do now.

      The runner-up for best baseball moment: I'm not sure there's any video of it, or whether anyone else was as impressed as I was. Playoff game, A's vs Yankees, probably 2000, might've been 2001. I don't remember the inning or anything much, but it was in Oakland, the game was on the line and the A's were batting, runner(s) on base in what I think would've been the game-winning or at least go-ahead situation. Ball is hit to right, the fielder scoops it and throws it to the plate, but the throw was crap, way off the mark into foul territory, so the A's will score, maybe win, except that mutherfucker Cal Ripkin — the shortstop, fer god's sake — had run into foul territory between home and first as backup, and caught the very errant throw, relayed it to the plate, and the catcher subtracted the run.

      Even in Little League, I don't think they teach the shortstop to be that smart. Fuck you, Ripkin.

    6. With runners on first and second, the first, second and third basemen each have a base to cover and the catcher can only move a few feet away from the plate in case the lead runner gets by third. That leaves the shortstop, the pitcher (and the right fielder!) to back up a throw from the right side to the left side or to home. They have nine guys out there for a reason, and they do practice this stuff. Not every shortstop would make that play, and I wasn't particularly a Ripkin fan, but he'd be ahead of the play and running like crazy to the place he might only be needed one time out of a hundred. Really good managers and coaches teach this stuff and keep players with lower batting averages but who can see the game in motion. I know you know this stuff. You just have to admit that Ripkin was a terrific defensive shortstop (and the Orioles backup third baseman).

      Yogi made that run to back up first base every time a ball was hit to the infield. On the once out of 150 times the ball gets by the first baseman, Yogi is there to prevent the runner from getting to second. Hardly anybody noticed the other 149 times. Casey noticed. "I never start a game without my man."


    7. Yeah that's right, Ripkin played for the Orioles and nobody else. I must have the wrong player in my foggy memory, because I know it was the Yanquis. Had to Google it to get my recollection back, and it was Derek Jeter, not Cal Ripkin. What a maroon I am!

      You know some baseball, obviously. And you're right, the shortstop is always on the first base side in foul territory when it's a fly ball to right and there might be a play at the plate. Bet it happens every time, and I never notice it because it doesn't come into play, but shitfuck, that one time it sure came into play. Damn Cal Ripkin *and* Derek Jeter.

      Used to love going to the ball games. But no more. Like the movies, they've made it hell, with constant ads blaring over the loudspeakers, and the crowd noise artificially amplified through the sound system too, because you want that ringing in your ears for two days to remind you that you went to a ball game.

    8. I live in a modest house around the block from the house in which I grew up. (I've lived in a dozen other places, but this is where I ended up). So I'm about seven minutes from Cheney Stadium, a cold concrete edifice where I spent many an evening in my youth (the stadium opened when I was ten) and saw a dozen Tacoma/San Francisco Giants who made it to the Hall of Fame, and many more who were outstanding players for both teams. I listened to the talented organ player (on a pretty damn good sound system) playing everything from what's now called walkup music to victory and honorable defeat music. I ate more twenty-five cent hot dogs than I can possibly remember and downed an equal number of quarter Cokes. There was frequently a ride available on the back of Dad's Bigass Harley, and an open invitation to join him while he worked the games for Tacoma Transit.

      Today I have an old car that will likely make the seven minute journey in one piece, but I've never returned. I have no idea why. I guess just knowing that Juan and Willie and Satch won't be on the field casts a sadness that is hard to penetrate. I'm sure it's not anywhere close to as commercial as that huge stadium in Seattle, nor as expensive. Maybe if they threw in a couple of those quarter Ballpark Franks and quarter Cokes I'd make the trip. But I'm pretty sure I'd find the organ and organist long gone, and that kind of sadness might be too much to take.


    9. I've been to your ballpark a dozen times, and it's a long drive and I don't drive so I probably won't be there again, but it's a nice place for baseball. Better than "that huge stadium in Seattle," a quick bus ride away, but I've only been twice and won't go again.

      My favorite, more than the minor league games, was the Goodwill Games in 1990 -- international baseball. Being a rebel, I rooted for whoever was lined up against the USA.

      I was last at Cheney in 2018, and there was still an organ and organist, but almost certainly not the one you remember. Juan and Willie and Satch weren't there, and never again will be. There were, of course, no franks or sodas for a quarter. I believe our tickets were $9 each, on the first base side. Great view, but from hard aluminum.

      Never had a stadium I *loved* like you love Cheney. Attending hundreds of games I grew very comfortable at the Kingdome, and miss its cheap seats with ample elbow room because the rest of the row was empty. Same with the Oakland Coliseum, another concrete mausoleum for the game. Sicks Stadium was nice, had an old time charm to it, and I liked the ball park in Everett. The newer but "fake retro" stadiums, like San Francisco and Seattle now have, do nothing for me, and make me feel like I'm watching fake baseball played on Disney sets.

      All of which is OK, I guess. The march of time and all that. The game isn't for you and I any longer.

    10. It's so nice to hear that the organ and ANY organist were still at Cheney in 2018. Organs weren't made for church: they were made for baseball. They can start a rally, single out an outstanding play and/or player, warm the entire stadium up a couple degrees, or take us back to a simpler time. They are as much a sacrament of baseball as the manager slowly walking to the mound to yank a tired pitcher in the 7th inning. There was a time that the 7th inning didn't need to be sponsored, but never a time when the organ was unnecessary. I feel cheered, whether I ever make it out to Cheney again or not. Thanks.


    11. An organ, especially if it's well played, adds a lot to a ball game. It's one of the things the Mariners do wrong — I'm almost certain there's no organist at their stadium, it's only organ recordings played robotically, and amplified to painful levels over the loudspeakers.

      Takes some serious boneheadedness to screw up organ music at a ball game.

  2. Thanks also for "Think" and "1,000 Shadows", two wonderful songs written and sung by two talented women.


  3. The Project

    I’m out on the cool deck protecting the bird food from the rapacious flock of band-tailed pigeons, roosting in the nearby Monterey pine, while I plan my book production and tour! (A couple birds, including my former “psycho” sparrow and a scrub jay aren’t afraid to munch a few feet away.)

    1. Whenever I got a story in the Anderson Valley Advertiser (ava) I bought three extra copies and put them on a shelf in my downstairs closet, now there’s such a hulking stack that a friend visiting commented that it may collapse the shelf. (I estimate 70-90 essays up there, first step will be to take them all down and lay them out in order of publication.)

      When people self-publish I assume very few buy the copies and fewer actually read them, mostly as “moral support” for their friends, right? Well, I’ll skip the middleman of bullshit, none of mine will be for sale!

    2. Those stories are a pretty good cross-section of my life: a few from Mexico, Texas, Indiana, and New York along with some weed and women stories. The rest of it is mostly about country living out here the last fifty years including a few pieces of social commentary, which also tend to follow the prevailing theme: me me me!

    3. Damn! I always felt slightly silly going into Redway Liquors, buying three extra copies and thinking, “Okay, I’m adding to my personal clutter pile” but if I hadn’t performed that ritual I wouldn’t be able to collate this project now!

      I’m planning on hiring my housecleaner to do it with me, cutting and pasting all these articles into scrapbooks I bought and you may say, “That’s not a book!” and I would reply, “Hey! What did they think about the first book, The Guttenburg Bible?” Yes, I’m self-publishing a home made book!
      What about the logistics, where should I put the project together? Upstairs on a couple tables? Out in the barn? In a nearby cabin? Do I organize the stories from most recent to earliest or the inverse? Or put it in order of when the experience happened regardless of when it was published? Since I’ll be making three copies I could do one of each, why not?

      I’m looking forward to the “book opening” parties, celebrations, and readings. Maybe one at the library, another at the farmers market, a big private party, interviewed or featured by local media like Kym’s website and finally my “Pilgrimage to Mecca,” ie, the offices of the Anderson Valley Advertiser in Boonville, for without Bruce Anderson giving me the opportunity this wouldn’t have happened. (Eel)

    4. Your comment fell into Google's black hole of comments, from whence for unknown reasons random comments refuse to post. So I sliced it into several comments. Hope I didn't lose a chunk.

      I always liked being in the AVA, but not as much as you. Never bought extra copies or saved a scrapbook. Sounds like triple fun, though.

      What you do, the writing and all, you do well enough to merit a real book, with more than three copies. You want to skip that step, eh? Sadness for those of us who might want a copy. Sadness for 'posterity', whatever that is. But make yourself happy, friend.

      Snip and clip and glue, and it's a book if you call it a book. Has pages, has a cover, sounds like a book to me.

  4. For the majority of humankind's reading history, a book was any kind of archivable writing. No glue, no sticky fingers. So absolutely call it a book (even if your fingers get sticky).



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