18 February 2021

The Moment

498,469   deaths in the United States from the pandemic. So far. And that’s not counting people who died from other immediate causes but would still be alive were it not for the disease. And incompetence by leaders like Greg Abbott (allegedly governor of Texas, though he’s not doing his job) proves lethal when confronted by a new threat—an extreme weather event of a kind increasingly common due to the instability brought about by global warming. At least one Texas mayor (Tim Boyd, Colorado City) actually had the audacity to resign rather than do his fucking job, all the while abusing his constituents who expected him to actually lead. No word on whether this lazy goldbricking politician will return the money he was paid for occupying a position he had no intention of fulfilling.

And speaking of goldbricks, Rush Limbaugh has died. I personally wasn’t aware he was still alive, though as he is about the same age as I am, I sort of assumed he was. This AINO POS deserves part of the credit for the low position the United States occupies on the world stage, but not much. If it hadn’t been this Morton Downey Junior wannabe, it would have been some other brainless name-caller who thinks he’s got an unearned right to an opinion based on nothing but his feelings about the way things ought to be. Research is for losers. You can make a fortune blowing hot air over the deregulated airwaves, defaming those who don’t have your platform, undermining the nation that supports you. Dean Clarence Manion did it better.

I spent two days in the cold and dark while I waited for PGE to get the power back on. Yes, we had an ice storm here in Portland, a fairly rare event for us, but at least our officials didn’t try to shuffle off their responsibilities onto others—or, if they did, they were better at hiding it. I’ll no doubt find out later on. I didn’t die, anyway, though I was bored as hell and forced to read actual books (yes, pieces of paper glued together between stiff covers) to pass the time. (Willy Ley’s ancient history of astronomy, Watchers of the Skies was one of them, if you’re interested, and Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament was another. My supply of books is limited, partly because of the shelf-space issue, and partly because of the relative ease of obtaining virtual books I can look at on a machine, so when the power goes it’s either relics from my childhood or books that I can’t get in electronic form….)

Well, boredom stops here, now that I’ve got the internet and my e-library back, so I’ll be shelving Ley (and to some extent Metzger) until the next information drought comes along.

25 January 2021

Old Person Rant #59

For no good reason—well, today I’ve been converting old files from one format to another—I’ve been thinking about how much of my life I’ve spent just copying material from one form to another. Typing up handwritten notes, photocopying typescripts, scanning typescripts into a digital copy, copying reel-to-reel recordings onto cassettes, or cassettes into wav files or flac files or whatever, or changing superscript files to wordperfect, wordperfect files to ms word, ms word files from doc to docx, and on and on and on. And there’s constant information loss at every stage of the process. Let’s try converting an old wp file to ms word for example—piece of cake, right? Well, some of my old files are catalogs of project material that—thanks to varying situations of acquisition—exists in different formats itself. I therefore constructed tables of data to tell me where I could find particular items, using Greek letters and other symbols as reference points. (Phi stood for a photocopy, for example, and tau for a transcript, and beta for an old-fashioned white on black copy, and so on and so forth.) Okay, so now I transform the old wp file into ms word and guess what—the table structure comes through just fine, as do the lists of material written in Latin characters—but all the Greek characters and symbols have been stripped out. Useless. Okay—let’s say I use some form of Open Office to convert it instead. Now the symbols come through just fine, but the table structure is destroyed. I’ve found the simplest thing to do is to convert the document twice, using one system on one and one on the other, and then use the compare feature to try to reconstruct the original with a minimum of fuss. Am I happy with this? Well, no, but at least I’m not copying the whole thing by hand. I mean, with some stuff I’ve had to take printouts of the old documents and scan the results into jpegs or whatever to have anything usable.

Mind you, today’s efforts are comparatively simple. The only glitch in converting from the old ms word format to the current is that certain features of the new don’t work unless I create a blank document and manually copy the contents of the old file into it before saving it. Tiresome, but at least I don’t have to transcribe the whole thing by hand. And nothing like the annoyance of trying to copy the contents of an old wire recording into one of the (relatively) new digital formats.

24 January 2021

Screw It

And again I have absolutely nothing to say on a day in which (I’m sure) many things happened—I just haven’t looked at the news, or much of anything else. It’s a dull gray day here with water constantly falling from the sky and not much else of note about it. I took my dog up to the park briefly, and my roommate’s dog up the street a bit and back, and they didn’t seem to mind the rain—though my roommate’s dog is supposed to avoid getting wet as long as he still has stitches in his ear. (The stitches are a souvenir of an encounter with a passing creature of some sort—a dog I suppose—while he was out briefly chained in the front yard on Boxing Day.) My internal landscape is gray and foggy as well, so it’s pretty much wall-to-wall grim here.

But I am alive. Still. And that’s all good. I guess. Screw it. Or whatever.

23 January 2021

Clarification

In the news I see that Dr. Fauci has contradicted whatever members of the incoming administration claimed about there being no vaccine distribution plan. It seems there was in fact a plan. An inadequate plan. A bad plan. But not a nonexistent plan as had been reported.

Well, I’m inclined to trust the doctor on this one. A bad plan—an inadequate plan—these are not the same as no plan at all. A bad plan may be better than no plan at all. More likely a bad plan is worse, involving clearing it away before the real work can be started. But it is not no plan at all, so I am noting that correction.

22 January 2021

And That's What I Like About Nowhere

420,008   pandemic deaths in America, and it turns out that the outgoing President had no plan at all for getting vaccines to the people who need them, and the incoming team is going to have to start from scratch. I knew from the beginning that putting an inexperienced real estate developer in charge of one of the most complex organizations on earth was not going to go well; I knew there would be bumps in the road as the clueless tycoon learned the basics of the job he had taken on; but I did hope he would rise to the challenge and surprise us all. He surprised me, at any rate—I never thought anyone could so blitheringly incompetent as this guy proved to be. I mean, the president of the goddamn United States has the ability to call on the world’s greatest scientists, foreign affairs experts, diplomats, military strategists—whatever is needed—to help him stumble through the affairs of state, so there’s no excuse for this level of incompetency. If somebody really can’t do the job he was elected to, he at least has the resources to fake it.

Even with expert advice things are chancy, as Kennedy found out with the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But ignoring the people who know what they’re talking about is a recipe for disaster, as Reagan found out with the AIDS epidemic, or as Bush II found out with Nine Eleven. Listening only to the echoes of your own voice spouting bromides you’d heard some popular pundit expound is a road to nowhere.

21 January 2021

Back to 1776—and Then Some

Well, that didn’t take long. Apparently that noxious pseudohistorical partisan hit job our government posted the other day—yes, that 1776 commission report—is already gone. That’s politics for you. At least this time the prevailing winds and historical honesty were aligned.

The whole concept of having an official interpretation of American history is a bit nauseating, actually. It’s no longer a matter of which events, which individuals, which movements, which institutions are worth remembering; now orthodoxy demands to control how you feel about them, who were the heroes and who were the villains. Was the genocide directed against the Native American peoples worth remembering? (Apparently not; I didn’t see a word about it there.) Were the Progressives right in their aims? Why not?

It would be bad enough if the interpretation were at least based on a solid historical foundation; when key pieces are made-up or based on misinterpretations of the evidence the whole thing reeks of bad propaganda.

Fuck it. The whole thing reeks. Period.

20 January 2021

Good News / Bad News

On the good news side, Paul Pierrilus—who was scheduled to be “deported” to a country apparently randomly selected by US officials—is still home, thanks to the diligence of his congressman, Mondaire Jones. It seems that the DHS could not produce an approved travel document for Pierrilus. His future is still uncertain. On the bad news side, the authorities did manage to split up two Haitian brothers traveling legally in the United States on visas, sending one of them to Mexico (for unknown reasons) and the other to a detention facility (as an unaccompanied minor), much to the consternation of family members in California who were expecting them.

19 January 2021

Turds of Lunacy

Today I woke up at the insistence of my dog, who wanted to let me know that he had crapped on the floor, presumably because I hadn’t waked up earlier when he needed to go out. (I had thought that taking him out the last thing before going to sleep would take care of matters, but he’s an aging guy, and sometimes can’t control himself.)

In the news I see that my government has left me a similar piece of excrement to clean up in the form of a 45-page pile of crap entitled “The 1776 Report.” Imagine what you would get if a John Bircher, a Christian Nation advocate, and an old-fashioned Dunning-era racist got together to pen a screed about American values and then gave it to a not-too-bright twelve-year-old to edit, and you’ll get some idea of what this steaming heap of manure reads like. It was supposed to be a reply to the 1619 project, which I’ve never looked at (it costs money and my time is short), but as this one is free, I read it through for the laughs. For example it says that “Many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil.” [Citation needed!] “But the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.” Ah, but not race-based slavery, the American sin. Slavery-promoting Americans supported the idea of a natural caste-system, with white people at the top, black people as natural slaves, and others (Native Americans for instance) as fit only for destruction. This view has never “been more the rule than the exception”—though it wasn’t uniquely American either. How this squares with the Report’s claim that “all men are created equal” means “that human beings are equal in the sense that they are not by nature divided into castes, with natural rulers and ruled” is discreetly left unexplained.

And also I read that a New Mexico AINO POS named Couy Griffin, a leader of an anti-American group calling itself Cowboys for Trump, has been arrested for his participation in the 6 January insurrection. He has denied being in the Capitol, but there is supposedly evidence showing he was part of that mob and present in restricted areas of the building. This nitwit has openly threatened another attack on the Capitol in which “there’s gonna be blood running out of that building.” I’m hoping it’s his. After all, to paraphrase the old racist trope he himself recycled, The only good cowboy is a dead cowboy.

And another turd left me in today’s news. There are thousands of Americans without papers—people who have spent their entire conscious lives here in this country, but on various technicalities do not possess the paperwork making them officially US citizens. Rather than fix this bureaucratic flaw, our government for decades has been attempting to round these people up and send them to countries they have no connection to—places whose language they don’t speak, whose customs they don’t share, places they have only a formal connection to, if that. One of these guys is Paul Pierrilus, who came to America at the age of five. His parents and sister are Americans with papers--officially recognized as US citizens--but Paul Pierrilus is not. He was born in Saint Martin, a French territory, but that doesn’t give him French citizenship. His parents were originally Haitian, but that doesn’t give him Haitian citizenship. He’s never even been to that country. Nonetheless, in one of the final acts of a dying presidency, the government is deporting the 40-year-old financial advisor to Haiti.

Well, cleaning up my dog’s accidental crap was relatively easy. Cleaning up the pile of shit left by the moribund administration is going to take a lot more work.

18 January 2021

Casualties

I   am taking another day off, more or less, to see if I can’t catch up on sleep and maybe start feeling a little better. Don’t get me wrong; everything is essentially fine here. I just can’t seem to wake up properly and get things done. Every time I start to write something it meanders off into a mist of lost metaphor and false leads. Whatever idea I had when I started is quickly overgrown with second thoughts and things I meant to get in earlier but somehow never did, and then the goddamn lost cause blackberries invade and coherence and meaning are the first casualties.

17 January 2021

Day Off

I   am taking the day off. I don’t know what is happening to me, but I feel like garbage, and not in a good way. I may take a break from writing here, simply because I’m not writing anything that seems worth reading, not even to me, who wrote it. And if I can’t at least enjoy it, how can anybody else?

16 January 2021

Maybe

For anybody who is concerned, I am still alive. I am feeling fairly bad—tired, in constant minor pain, and unable to move without considerable effort. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, or if anything at all is wrong; maybe I just need to put in more effort. But I don’t feel good, I don’t feel energetic, I don’t have ideas, and I don’t have focus. Still—no, there is no still. I’m doing my best, but my best sucks right now. More later. Maybe.

15 January 2021

Sleeping Today

Another day down the tubes. My back and my knee are still giving me trouble, and frankly the pain—not that it’s all that extreme or anything—makes it hard for me to focus. I ended up sleeping for large portions of this day, hoping that the rest will do me some good. I can’t tell if it does at all, but at least I don’t notice the pain as much when I’m asleep.

14 January 2021

Suspense

Some day may come when we can laugh about all this—you know, the pandemic, the psychopath in charge, the comic-opera attack on the American seat of government—but that day is not today. Today we are still facing the legions of the dead and dying and there is no end in sight. There’s hope—but no conclusion. It’s kind of like waiting for Andy Ngo to become a victim of one of the savage beatings he’s promoted so assiduously here in Portland. You know it’s bound to happen, but the details of how and when keep you in suspense.

13 January 2021

The Ongoing American Tragedy

I   don’t know what’s been happening today, since I’ve mostly been lying (or sitting) quietly while I wait for the pain to go away. I assume it’s all been bad. Death threats from the Trumpenproletariat. Carefully balanced false equivalences from the punditocracy. Displays of cowardice from elected representatives. Gutless Mike shaking in his boots lest the boss strike him dead with a withering nickname. It would take an Aristophanes to do justice to this tragedy.

12 January 2021

Not feeling well again

Nothing is working properly today—my back is out, my shoulder still hurts, my right knee still hurts and my right leg doesn’t work properly even setting aside the pain. And setting aside the pain isn’t something I can do right now anyway, so it remains a hypothetical aspect of my health and wellbeing.

11 January 2021

You know, it’s legal to drive a car. It’s legal to pick your friends up at the bank and give them a ride somewhere. And yet you can still be held to account for driving the getaway car in a bank robbery.

I saw Jerry Coyne (or somebody of that ilk) saying that Josh Hawley shouldn’t be held to account for his part in the insurrection because his actions were within the law. That is, he tried to set aside the results of the presidential election on fraudulent grounds by misusing a power granted him by the American constitution. His part in the insurrection was played under color of law, as the saying is.

I don’t see the distinction, however. Indeed in my view it just makes Hawley’s actions all the worse, since he was abusing a position of trust for political ends. Losing a book deal is nothing. The guy ought to lose his power, his position, and his liberty.

10 January 2021

Spooky

And The Steal continues. The Republicans keep coming up with new and different ways of recycling the same old bullshit about the election. It is tiresome. People were seen bringing in ballots to counting centers in the dark of night. Oooo, spooky stuff! Dead people were seen rising up from their graves to vote. Even more spooky! And worst of all, states made changes to their election procedures in light of the pandemic without the participation of the legislature, which is against a novel interpretation of the Constitution that is not generally accepted. Okay, you lost me there—it’s really reaching. Give us all a break, please.

09 January 2021

Disgruntled

This has not been my day. Nearly hit by a car while crossing Huber this morning, charged twice for a pricey set of books I’ve ordered, and still wondering about how I was supposed to know that my shoulder was heal by itself before I’d had it evaluated by professionals. Yeah, Medicare says it won’t pay for my visit because the excruciating pain in my shoulder was something that would heal on its own. How I was supposed to know that when I’ve never had anything like this before I don’t know. Needless to say, I am not pleased by any of it.

Some asshole I was reading on Quora claims that Fawn Brodie made up a story about Joseph Smith attempting to walk on water, while admitting that he hadn’t actually read the book anytime recently. Unmitigated bullshit. Fawn Brodie relates an “apocryphal story about Joseph Smith” narrowly escaping drowning when attempting to fake a water-walk on a hidden plank bridge, giving sources for it from 1834 and 1835. In other words, Brodie didn’t make it up, and didn’t claim it was true—which is the meaning of the word “apocryphal” in this context. There is such a thing as research, after all. If you’re going to write something on Quora, you should try it out sometime.

08 January 2021

Random Rant #83094

Every time I try to write something I end up recycling bits from the past—old commercials, bits of songs, things my father said to me. I might write about how the right-wing ravers can’t seem to keep their story straight—were the unhinged AINOs that looted the Capitol Trump supporters? Or were they anti-fascists? Nobody seems to know for sure. Ben Shapiro says one thing, and Tucker Carlson says something else. Who are they supposed to believe? Some Fox lady was bragging about how were Trump to lose, his followers would simply go about their day and accept it—not that Trump was going to lose, mind you. What a contrast to the Biden supporters!

(As someone who is neither a Trump nor a Biden supporter, I found this unlikely as hell—I expected the Biden supporters to shrug and go about their business when Trump crushed him, as I predicted he would; if Biden somehow won I did expect Trump supporters to riot, vandalize and loot to show their displeasure with the results. Mind you, I was with Tomi whatever-her-name-is as far as predicting that Trump would win, but picturing staid conservative Biden supporters taking to the streets, let alone throwing some kind of fit about it—no, it’s too much to ask.)

(Of course the BLM and anti-fascist protests would have continued regardless; they were never dependent on national politics.)

07 January 2021

Out

This is the end, my friends. It’s a wet rainy day here in Portland, and the knowledge that we have a mad president—not just an unhinged president—a stark raving lunatic running the country. He needs to be removed from office right now, by whatever means, and only then should his enablers and nuthatch followers be taken care of.

06 January 2021

The Steal

The Steal is on. Armed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol today, egged on by the Dopey Don, and are now being beaten back by the police. While unarmed insurrectionists inside the building were trying to nullify Arizona’s presidential vote because it hadn’t gone the way they wanted, armed insurrectionists stormed the building from outside, apparently for the hell of it, since they didn’t seem to have any clue about what they were going to do except break windows and vandalize the center of American government.

This coup attempt came as the results of the Georgia run-off elections were being calculated, with control of the Senate apparently passing from Gutless Mitch to some Democratic scumbag to be named later, and in the wake of President-In-Name-Only Trump’s phone call pressuring Georgia officials to “find” enough votes to somehow make him the winner.

These AINOs—Americans In Name Only—both inside and outside the government, should all face charges. Indeed, I would go further. The gormless dope in charge of this whole riot should be impeached, removed from office, and then charged with the crimes he’s committed. The various officials who have abetted this whole farce, senators and representatives alike, should likewise be removed from office. All involved should be given a choice of renouncing their American citizenship and leaving for whatever shithole country will take them, or being sent to Gitmo never to be seen again.

05 January 2021

Chilling Effect

Okay, the authorities did (kind of) what I expected, at any rate. No charges are to be filed against the officer who shot a man at point-blank range in front of the children and left him paralyzed. On the other hand the guy who opened fire on a crowd, killing two men and injuring a third, is being charged for something—which I didn’t expect. The first is par for the course. I’ve seen the story play out over and over again. An officer of the law kills somebody—maybe a kid playing with a toy gun, maybe some guy standing by his own house who didn’t show the proper deference—and people are upset. First thing the police do is try to blame the victim—maybe the kid playing with the gun had once been accused of shoplifting, or the guy by his house had an outstanding warrant on an old charge of jaywalking or something. And we learn that the officer was only following orders, was within the departmental guidelines, was doing as he was trained to do. Then upset members of the community are described as rioters, and acts of vandalism by unknown parties are turned into major infractions of the law. Maybe we hear noises about new training for officers, or some sort of new review board to be set up. The authorities announce that the officer in question will be returning to his job, and the officer himself says that if the same situation comes up again he will do the exact same thing. And pundits editorialize about how terrible it is that police officers can no longer shoot unarmed civilians without a big fuss being made over it, and how this will have a chilling effect on police shooting unarmed civilians in the future, and we can’t have that, you know. And everybody forgets about it except maybe the friends and family of the dead. And then the clueless seem puzzled when a slogan like “defund the police” starts making the rounds. “What could have brought that on?” they ask. “Isn’t that kind of extreme?”

04 January 2021

Paris Timelapse

Well, things are getting worse, but I still feel like writing something or other. Today I got sidetracked into trying to run down a short film I saw in a PBS series called Film Odyssey back in 1972, featuring scenes of night life in Paris in high speed. I think it was in black and white. In Portland it was (apparently) broadcast 12 July 1972, but the newspaper simply describes it as “an unusual view of Paris” or the like without giving the title of the piece. And at this point I’m giving up on the day.

03 January 2021

Nothing #14207

Nothing is happening, and I continue dispirited and depressed. I’m going to try to get back to regular posts in the near future, but I don’t have anything prepared, exactly, and the effort exhausts me. Maybe things will be different soon.

02 January 2021

Antics of the Rich and Infamous

Whatever. The pain is diminishing, anyway, but the news remains lurid and flashy, like a defective neon sign just outside your window. Over a hundred legislators, allegedly, are planning to throw a spoiled-brat party when it comes time to finally certify the vote of the Electoral College. This is the kind of crap the Diggers used to pull in the Haight-Ashbury days—no substance, just a childish attempt to gum up the works. And while I’m personally childish enough to rather enjoy the sideshow, it’s odd to see America’s supposed leaders wallowing in the mud like so many hogs. It makes levitating the Pentagon look like a class act, overflowing with solemnity and dignity. You guys might want to keep in mind that people out here in the real world are really suffering. You know, if you can spare some time from your antics and high jinks.

01 January 2021

Tired, In Pain, and Upset

After thinking it over I decided to offer a quick Happy New Year here—not that I believe it is going to be happy, but you never know. I’m not happy, but that’s mostly because I’m tired, in pain, and upset with the people who share this house with me. I’m sure that everything will pass, but for the moment I am in too much pain to care much—not that the pain is extreme at all, just annoying—and I am too dispirited and discouraged to put words down on virtual paper. But I don’t really want to start the new year with a perfect blank, so—Happy New Year. And Allah help us all.

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