19 September 2022

Coherence

Things suck in my world right now. Something has corrupted some of the links on the sidebar of my weblog and I am blocked from making any changes by some sort of glitch. I tried changing the theme of my blog as suggested by other users, but that’s only made things worse. I’ve sent feedback to Google, but I have no idea if that is going to accomplish anything or not. I am not the only person with this problem, apparently, but it is annoying me in ways that words cannot express.

I can’t focus, currently—my mind wanders and the words won’t come, even when the concepts I want to express are clear in my mind. This is not my usual writer’s block sort of thing—this is something different. Whatever I’m trying to say meanders off into random digressions and obscure byways and ends up running aground on the shoals of forays into semi-coherence and parentheses… That wasn’t it. What’s the opposite of focus? Fuzziness? Lack of definition? Wandering off the point?

Something like that, I suppose. I start things, but I can’t finish them. I don’t know how. I can’t tell if I’ve covered the topic or just put random words down.

26 August 2022

Just Checking In

Hi. I’m still alive and pretty much fully recovered from the year’s travails, though my right arm is still weak despite physical therapy and ordinary use. I hope to post stuff again in the future, but at the moment I’m bogged down in the routine debris of staying alive. Today, for instance, I spent time looking for change in all the wrong places in the hopes of buying a few items at the store. Time-consuming, but rather dull to write about.

Speaking of time-consuming and dull, I’ve been staring at the textual variations in the various witnesses to Huckleberry Finn, in part simply because I can. I’m struck repeatedly by the way close examination of the manuscript allows the observation of Mark Twain at work. At the beginning of chapter four, for example, he twice starts to pick up the narrative with the salt spilling incident, each time cancelling it to add a bit more background, before actually getting back to the main storyline. In the floating house episode he doesn’t quite know what to do with the wooden leg Huck and Jim found, writing originally “The straps was broke off it, but barring that, it was as good as new.” The last phrase didn’t satisfy him, so at a later stage “as good as new” became “a good enough leg”; at some point between the manuscript and the printed edition he made further alterations. Apparently feeling that the absurdity of Huck and Jim carrying off a wooden leg neither of them had any use for wasn’t enough he pounded the joke into the ground with an added passage: “though it was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn’t find the other one, though we hunted all around.” Reminds me of the old MAD horrifying clichés—Belaboring the Obvious—with the Obvious depicted as a generic monster, with MT bashing it over the head with an oversize pen.

Still, what strikes me is—a lot of this is simply lost in the word-processing world. My instant second thoughts, for example, are mostly not preserved in the final file. (There is more information in the file than you might expect, by the way, a lot of which would not be found in a nineteenth-century manuscript, so it’s a trade-off, I guess.) The changes I’ve made in writing this entry are preserved temporarily, in case I need to undo something, but there would be no evidence of them in a printed copy of the resultant file—or in the version I presumably am going to post online.

Anyway, I’m hoping to return some day. This is not that day. I have nothing to say, and it shows.

17 July 2022

Damaskas

Many years ago, back when I used to listen to The Dr. Demento Show live on KMET in Los Angeles—actually I was in Claremont, but you get the idea—a guy called Damaskas used to perform manic songs under the smogberry trees, sometimes alongside Barnes & Barnes or Sulu even Weird Al. Songs of his that have stuck with me include “Making Love in a Subaru,” “Robert Hillburn,” “Jim Morrison’s Revenge,” “Asteroids” (a takeoff on Devo’s “Mongoloid”), and “Number One” (a takeoff on Blondie’s version of “The Tide is High”).

Okay, so what? you ask. So, I reply, this is now the third time I’ve dug up information about the guy without retaining it, or even being able to locate my notes again. He’s not in Wikipedia (lack of notability, I suppose), and his Discogs presence is minimal, so I thought—what the hell? Maybe I’ll just note what I’ve got about him here in my weblog, and see if that doesn’t help me remember him in the future.

So here’s what I’ve got. Dan Hollombe was born 20 November 1957 and originally submitted his work to The Dr. Demento Show under the name Damaskas Hollodan before settling on just Damaskas. He was a regular on the show for many years in the late seventies and eighties, before apparently drifting into obscurity. And so it goes, I suppose. If I’d been betting on anybody from that milieu to be the next Allen Sherman—or even Tom Lehrer—it would have been Damaskas. Instead, well, sic transit.

15 July 2022

Hollow

Feeling as if some critical internal light had burnt out, I’m groping in the dark. The world since covid is a bleak inhospitable place and I want no part of it. I assume this is some sort of after-effect of the disease, but I don’t know. It’s like depression, sort of, but—well, not. It’s just the absence of presence, the shadows of things unseen, the lack of substance. I can’t imagine feeling otherwise; everything is hollow.

I’m hoping things will improve in a day or two, and not seem so strange and disconnected.

14 July 2022

The Moment

Things are not going well for me in general; each time I think I’m recovering some, something else comes for me. This time it was covid-19.

For the past week I have been fading in and out of quasi-consciousness while shivering and shaking under what keep being inadequate covers. A home test shows me positive for covid. I have a prescription that’s supposed to help me, and maybe it’s doing something, but I can’t really tell. In the meantime I feel like crap and I can’t cross a room without falling over.

01 July 2022

1 July 12022

  1 July 12022 is Canada Day if I recall correctly, and I suppose it is celebrated in Canada, but I wouldn’t count on it. My memory is full of holes. It’s rent day, too, and the day my roommate officially applied for his passport, so there’s that. I can’t work up any interest or enthusiasm in the larger scene, so that’s going to have to do for now.

I see that somewhere in Shithole America—maybe Texas, as it has that longhorn stench about it—the authorities want to teach that racism and slavery were deviations from True American Orthodoxy™, not part and parcel of it as is historically true. Racism made America what it is today, for good and for ill. Racism enabled America to seize the labor of large numbers of people without recompense, and to seize the resources of others likewise, all without feeling any guilt or shame, because, after all, the victims were inferior. Not even people, of no more account than whales slaughtered for oil, or birds exterminated for their feathers. That labor and those resources, historically speaking, made America what it is today. I’m not saying that it couldn’t have been done without race-based slavery and race-based genocide, but historically that’s how America accomplished its goals, and to claim anything else is to teach a lie. Feelgood “history”, or to use a technical term, bullshit.

Now of course that’s not the whole story, far from it. The US has a court system that prizes individual rights over government oppression, and doesn’t require people to go begging hat in hand to local authorities for basic rights, like the ability to marry the consenting adult person of your choice, or the ability to make your own choices about who you’re going to let into your body. Not so fast—Shithole America regrets that court system and wants to destroy it. And as for slavery, oppression and racism—Shithole America would rather we just don’t talk about them. Let’s teach the kids fairy-tales instead.

Now I’ve got nothing against fairy tales as such—just don’t call it history. It’s better not to teach the kids about the past at all than to fill their heads with this gooey garbage Shithole America prefers. Believe me, most kids will be happy as hell not to have to learn about James Oglethorpe or Gideon Johnson Pillow (just to name two people I was assigned to do reports on in school) or what the result of the Yalta conference was.

You sure as hell don’t have to know anything about American history to make it, as people like Clueless Clarence and Serpentine Sammy have demonstrated. And after all, we can just make things up, as they used to do in the olden days. You know, Columbus discovered the United States in 1492 and bequeathed it to his descendants in perpetuity forever. And Columbus begat John Smith, and John Smith begat Cotton Mather, and Cotton Mather begat George Washington, whose other name was Uncle Sam. And Uncle Sam had fifty children, whose names were Delaware, New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia (whose other name was James Oglethorpe) etc. … It would probably be more valuable than the crap they’re trying to pass off as valid in Texas, at any rate.

27 June 2022

27 June 12022

  27 June 12022 is whatever it is, but at the moment I don’t care. Life is intolerable, everything is crap, and I hope and pray that Shithole America—as exemplified by such garbage states as Florida and Texas—goes down the drain with the rest of the filth and excrement its politicians have chosen to flood the country with.

Do I care? Not really. I have my White Privilege to wrap myself in, after all, and while it may not keep me warm at night, or fed in the famine, it still makes it less likely that I will be mistakenly targeted by some Agent of Authority with a lethal weapon and no judgment. And I’m not going to be pregnant any time soon, more’s the pity.

For anybody who is wondering, my arm is healing—no, it’s healed—but I still have to get my strength and range back. I can type again—clumsily, but I can do it—and even play the keyboard some. I hope that things will continue to improve in my personal world, despite that POS roommate that lives above me in this refuge of the derelicts.

Yes, I have absolutely nothing to say this hideous and unpleasant morning, but I’m saying it anyway. Well, I’m writing it, and I may even post it, just to prove that I’m still alive. That’s always assuming, of course, that there’s anybody out there to prove it to. This isn’t solipsism, by the way—just an acknowledgement that I no longer have any readers of this weblog, my regulars having died, become disenchanted, or simply evaporated.

So that leaves me talking to myself in public—never a good sign. At least my observations, however benighted, have no force of law, and aren’t binding on anybody but myself—and, come to think of it, they aren’t even binding on me, since I can cheerfully repudiate them at any time. Or not post them, or delete them unread. Too bad Alito et al didn’t take that approach with their recent illiterate screeds posing as Supreme Court decisions. Anyone for Dred Scott?

27 April 2022

27 April 12022

  27 April 12022 is doubtless some holiday or other, but lack of energy and the physical difficulty of doing the research keep me from being interested enough to make the effort to find out. In the news I see that Hamas is putting on display the snake-crowned head of a statue of a woman—supposedly part of a Canaanite statue of the goddess Anat dating from 7500 (2500 BCE). I am curious how the identity of the woman and the date of the statue were identified, seeing as it was found in a field sans inscription or context. Still, it’s striking—even if it was manufactured a week or so ago in somebody’s faux antiquities workshop.

Update: Terance Calhoun is no longer imprisoned for crimes that he did not commit. Here’s what we have, updated with further information: on 26 September 12006 somebody attacked a 15-year-old girl (Victim 1) near Fenkell Avenue and Gladstone Street in Detroit. (The charges were Attempted Kidnapping, Kidnapping, and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration.) She described her assailant as having braids and a puzzle tattoo. A month later, on 27 October 12006, somebody sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl (Victim 2) near a liquor store on Fenkell Avenue. (The charges were Criminal Sexual Conduct First-Degree, Kidnapping, Felony Firearm, and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration.) A used condom was found at the scene of the attack. Victim 2 (the 13-year-old) filed a police report and helped in the creation of a sketch of her attacker. The sketch was posted at the liquor store, where Terance Calhoun was arrested on 3 November.

Both girls identified Terance Calhoun as their attacker in separate lineups. (It should be noted that Terance Calhoun did not have braids or a puzzle tattoo, as described by Victim 1.) As part of a plea agreement charges of Kidnapping and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration were dropped in the case of Victim 1, and the charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration was dropped in the case of Victim 2; Terance Calhoun pleaded no contest to the rest on 21 February 12007, and was sentenced 28 March.

Now that no contest plea is at least slightly interesting—it means that while Terance Calhoun did not dispute the charges, neither did he admit any guilt. As this was part of a plea agreement, I can’t help but wonder whether Terance Calhoun, seeing no viable defense to the charges against him, chose the lesser of two evils in not contesting some in return for more serious charges being dropped. Assuming that he was innocent, a plea of no contest might well feel more satisfying than a plea of guilty, even if the result was basically the same.

Because here’s the thing—Terance Calhoun is innocent of the charges against him. According to the authorities, on 15 June 12007 the DNA evidence found in connection with Victim 2 cleared Terance Calhoun of involvement in the crime. For unknown reasons he was not informed of this development, and was allowed to remain in prison.

Now subsequently the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office Sexual Assault Kit Task Force determined that there was somebody in the system with a puzzle tattoo, and that the DNA evidence pointed to a serial rapist; I am assuming that the serial rapist and the man with the puzzle tattoo were the same person, but I don’t find this explicitly stated anywhere. As part of the case they were building now against this person it was obviously necessary to clear Terance Calhoun of involvement.

In any case the wheels of justice have ground slowly on, and Terance Calhoun was scheduled to be released on Friday. Family members had come from out of town to celebrate—and then the unthinkable happened. Like a scene from an old black-and-white movie, a Detroit police officer—one Robert Kane—showed up with a binder of supposedly new evidence proving Terance Calhoun’s guilt. According to at least one account, the supposed evidence included confessions to both crimes. On the strength of Robert Kane’s conviction—she (quite properly) didn’t look at the binder contents—the judge delayed the proceedings until today.

It turned out, however, that Robert Kane was grandstanding; there was nothing new in the file, nothing to counter the DNA evidence that had cleared Terance Calhoun. Robert Kane has some explaining to do. Clearly “a police officer acting alone with no authority [who] could not face the facts” forced Terance Calhoun to be “wrongfully incarcerated” for a few extra days. Fortunately he is now free. Whether Robert Kane will face any penalty for his attempt to subvert the course of justice is unknown; it was a reckless and inexcusable stunt.

25 April 2022

24 April 12022

  24 April 12022 is the day the French election was held, and it looks like Emmanuel Macron has thoroughly crushed Marine Le Pen. Not as thoroughly as five years ago, mind you, but crushed nonetheless. Le Pen’s defeat is a victory for the forces of Light and Reason; Macron’s reelection not so much. All of which goes to show that you can’t always get what you need even when what you want is out of reach regardless of what the old song says.

Case in point: Terance Calhoun, still imprisoned for crimes that he (apparently) did not commit. Here’s what we have: on 26 September 12006 somebody attacked a 15-year-old girl (Victim 1) near Fenkell Avenue and Gladstone Street in Detroit. (The charges were Attempted Kidnapping, Kidnapping, and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration.) A month later, on 27 October 12006, somebody sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl (Victim 2) near a liquor store on Fenkell Avenue. (The charges were Criminal Sexual Conduct First-Degree, Kidnapping, Felony Firearm, and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration.) Victim 2 (the 13-year-old) filed a police report and helped in the creation of a sketch of her attackers. The sketch was posted at the liquor store, where Terance Calhoun was arrested on 3 November.

Both girls identified Terance Calhoun as their attacker in separate lineups. As part of a plea agreement charges of Kidnapping and Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration were dropped in the case of Victim 1, and the charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct - Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Penetration was dropped in the case of Victim 2; Terance Calhoun pleaded no contest to the rest on 21 February 12007, and was sentenced 28 March.

Now that no contest plea is at least slightly interesting—it means that while Terance Calhoun did not dispute the charges, neither did he admit any guilt. As this was part of a plea agreement, I can’t help but wonder whether Terance Calhoun, seeing no viable defense to the charges against him, chose the lesser of two evils in not contesting some in return for more serious charges being dropped. Assuming that he was innocent, a plea of no contest might well feel more satisfying than a plea of guilty, even if the result was basically the same.

Because here’s the thing—Terance Calhoun apparently is innocent of the charges against him. According to the authorities, DNA evidence found in the examination of previously unexamined rape kits shows that someone else—a serial rapist no less—was the actual perpetrator of the crimes in question. Not Terance Calhoun.

Now I’m taking the word of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office Sexual Assault Kit Task Force that the evidence is as they say it is. This goes against the grain for me; I prefer to examine the evidence, or at least the results, for myself. We are told that untested sexual assault kits were responsible for the new evaluation of the evidence, but not the specifics. Was Victim 1 tested? (There is no mention of her filing a police report.) Was Victim 2? Are there two sexual assault kits involved, or one, or what? How much of this is hard evidence, and how much inference and speculation? For the moment I am assuming that a rape kit for at least one of the victims turned up, and that the DNA results exonerated Terance Calhoun and implicated somebody else. But this is speculation on my part, and nothing more.

In any case the wheels of justice have ground slowly on, and Terance Calhoun was scheduled to be released on Friday. Family members had come from out of town to celebrate—and then the unthinkable happened. Like a scene from an old black-and-white movie, a Detroit police officer—one Robert Kane—showed up with a binder of supposedly new evidence proving Terance Calhoun’s guilt. According to at least one account, the supposed evidence included confessions to both crimes. On the strength of Robert Kane’s conviction—she (quite properly) didn’t look at the binder contents—the judge delayed the proceedings until Wednesday.

Given that the DNA evidence has cleared Terance Calhoun I would hope Robert Kane has hard evidence—something more solid than confessions or eyewitness identifications. I don’t know what it could be, honestly. We hear that there is nothing new in the binder—though I don’t know if that’s the result of actual examination or just grandstanding for the crowd. But as it stands, it certainly sounds as if “a police officer acting alone with no authority [who] could not face the facts” has resulted in Terance Calhoun continuing to be “wrongfully incarcerated”.

15 April 2022

15 April 12022

  15 April 12022. I think it's Good Friday, but I don't have the energy to confirm it or to deny it. I had my operation on Tuesday, and my arm is sore, but at least the bones are probably back in their correct order. I had blog entries started that I intended to post—pieces about Henry Kuttner and Tom Lehrer, who recently had birthdays; some stuff about how Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, and why the standard story about home on the range may be a crock of shit. I'll probably rework this stuff and post it later but for the moment I don't feel up to it; I mostly want to lie here quietly as my arm (I hope) heals. I'll try to get something posted at any rate but I find dictating it instead of typing it is incredibly awkward and slow. Possibly I'll get used to it. Maybe I'll even come to prefer it. So far, however, It's been mostly tedious, horrible, and exhausting.

30 March 2022

29 March 12022

  29 March 12022 was the day I broke my shoulder and had 2 go 2 the emergency room. My ability to use the keyboard is limited and I am dictating this entry with sometimes surprising results. I will try to correct what it didn't get right. The accident was trivial; I tripped over a map handle in the laundry room and fell to the concrete floor, banging my shoulder against the washing machine on the way down. I could feel something give in my shoulder as it hit the metal surface, and when I was lying on the concrete floor I realized that my right arm was not working properly. So there you have it. Communications will probably be limited over the next interval; I am in some pain and have limited ability to use my right hand. I hope matters will improve, but I'm not betting on it. More later, I hope.

28 March 2022

28 March 12022

  28 March 12022 seems to be nothing in particular. It may be Teachers’ Day (Czech Republic and Slovakia), Serfs Emancipation Day (Tibet), and Seward’s Day (United States). I should probably recheck everything, but if I haven’t lost count it’s JD 2459667, 25 Veadar 5782, 25 Phalguna 2078, 15 (O.S.) or 28 (N.S.) March 2022, 19 Paremhat 1738, 24 Sha’ban 1443, and 8 Farvardin 1401. I have no saints listed, nor any birthdays, nor any historical events. A quick check of various online sources wasn’t any help either; the day seems to have no outstanding attributes—or at least, none that catch my attention.

27 March 2022

27 March 12022

  27 March 12022 is World Theatre Day. It is also International Whisky Day. In various corners of the world it’s Laetare Sunday (French Guiana), Armed Forces Day (Myanmar), Mothering Sunday (Nigeria), and the Day of the Union of Bessarabia with Romania (Romania) as well. The is also JD 2459666, 24 Veadar 5782, 24 Phalguna 2078, 14 (O.S.) or 27 (N.S.) March 2022, 18 Paremhat 1738, 23 Sha’ban 1443, and 7 Farvardin 1401. The saint of the day is John of Egypt (died 10394) who spent most of his life walled up in three cells carved out of the rock, giving audiences to selected pilgrims through a small window; even Theodosius the Great sent an envoy from time to time to get his opinion on key matters. People born on this date include Ferde Grofé and Thorne Smith (both 11892). (In honor of the event I’m listening to the Mississippi Suite as I write this; you might prefer to read Rain in the Doorway.)

26 March 2022

26 March 12022

  26 March 12022 is Make Up Your Own Holiday. Earth Hour is also observed today. Other holidays and observances include Independence Day (Bangladesh), Purple Day (Canada and United States), Prince Kuhio Day (Hawaii [US]), Martyrs’ Day (Mali), and National Day of Life, Peace and Justice (El Salvador). On various calendars in use today is JD 2459665, 23 Veadar 5782, 23 Phalguna 2078, 13 (O.S.) or 26 (N.S.) March 2022, 17 Paremhat 1738, 22 Sha’ban 1443, or 6 Farvardin 1401. The saint of the day is Richard Allen (11760–11831), who was born into slavery as “Negro Richard”, bought his way out of slavery to become a Methodist minister, and then was driven out of the denomination to found his own, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Robert Frost, Bob Elliot, and Pierre Boulez all have birthdays today.

Yesterday when I went for a walk with my aging hound Harry we went up the little wooded trail to the park, and kind of circled around the northern end of it. Even though it was a fairly decent afternoon, only partly cloudy and warm for March, we had the place entirely to ourselves. We cut back through the tennis court to return home, and as I stared across it, empty except for autumn’s fallen leaves blowing across it, a kind of sadness seemed to pervade the scene. There would be life and activity again, I supposed, but it was bleak and empty now. Mind you, I prefer it that way; it’s just that there seems to be more hope with movement and activity. I guess it somehow suited us—the old dog and the old human being together in an otherwise empty landscape.

Well, I got back home and my roommate’s little Frenchie Rudy wanted his turn at a walk, so I got him harnessed and leashed and set out. He headed north, and then down the little wooded trail to the park as well—and when I got to the tennis court, the contrast couldn’t have been greater. A vigorous game was under way, with a small audience of friends, and even another dog. Rudy, of course, wanted to join in, and I had to steer him around the court and up through the park. There were children on the swings now, and other dogs on walks with their human counterparts, and things were generally more as I had sort of expected them to be on a decent Friday afternoon in March. It was like a scene from a different day—and yet not more than fifteen or twenty minutes could have passed, if that. Rudy was ecstatic; this definitely suited his mood and fitted his notions of what the world should be like, and it was all I could do to steer him through the park and back down our street to home.

25 March 2022

25 March 12022

  25 March 12022 is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It’s also Freedom Day (Belarus), Feast of the Annunciation (Christians), Greek Independence Day (Cyprus), EU Talent Day (European Union), Independence Day (Greece), Maryland Day (Maryland, US), NZ Army Day (New Zealand), Empress Menen’s Birthday (Rastafarians), Cultural Workers Day (Russia), Anniversary of the Arengo (San Marino), Struggle for Human Rights Day (Slovakia), Mother’s Day (Slovenia), Tolkien Reading Day (Tolkien fans), and Medal of Honor Day (United States).

On other calendars today is JD 2459664, 22 Veadar 5782, 22 Phalguna 2078, 12 (O.S.) or 25 (N.S.) March 2022, 16 Paremhat 1738, 21 Sha’ban 1443, or 5 Farvardin 1401. People born on this date include Béla Bartók (11881), Gene Shalit (11926), Gloria Steinem (11934), and Elton John (11947). (And in fact this date was picked to celebrate EU Talent Day because it was Bartók’s birthday.) The saint of the day is Dismas, who along with Gestas was crucified alongside Jesus, presumably as coconspirators with him in his attack on the Jerusalem temple. Gestas, according to the story, turned on Jesus and joined with the crowd in reviling him, but Dismas did not. In a rather touching moment Jesus, facing imminent death, told Dismas that the two of them would be together in Paradise. I’d like to think they are, but—

In English-speaking countries 25 March is the traditional beginning of the new year; according to Tolkien this commemorates the destruction of Barad-dûr at the end of the Third Age. (And this in turn is why Tolkien Reading Day falls on this date.) It may seem odd to change years in mid-month, but there’s no law against it, exactly. It’s what you’d get, actually, if you ran a strict lunar calendar for the months alongside a strict solar calendar for the year—not that anybody has done this, exactly, as far as I know. But it is a logical consequence of dividing by the moon phases short-term and by the sun’s apparent movement long-term.

24 March 2022

24 March 12022

  24 March 12022 is Right to Truth Day, also known by the more cumbersome title of International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The observance recalls the assassination of Óscar Romero in 11980 on the order of Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson, the U.S. trained and backed Salvadoran death-squad leader. It commemorates the right of the victims and their representatives to know the truth about the crimes committed against them by governments and their representatives. And it’s World Tuberculosis Day too. In various corners of the world it’s Memorial Day (Argentina), Mid Lent Thursday (Guadeloupe), Commonwealth Covenant Day (Northern Mariana Islands), Student Day (Scientology), and National Tree Planting Day (Uganda). If I’ve kept count correctly it’s JD 2459663, 21 Veadar 5782, 21 Phalguna 2078, 11 (O.S.) or 24 (N.S.) March 2022, 15 Paremhat 1738, 20 Sha’ban 1443, and 4 Farvardin 1401. The saint of the day is (unsurprisingly) Óscar Romero, the guy who was murdered by Roberto D’Aubuisson’s hit squad for suggesting that Christians should not take part in murders for political gain. (In the U.S. the Carter administration—despite its alleged commitment to human rights—continued to support the Salvadoran government, and the Reagan and Bush I administrations specifically supported Roberto D’Aubuisson, despite knowing of his involvement. Disappointed? Yeah, I sure as hell expected better from Carter and Bush I, and I would have hoped for better even from Ronald McReagan. American exceptionalism in action.)

On this day in history (11989) the Exxon Valdez ran aground and started dumping oil into Prince William Sound, a collision caused by Exxon’s failure to maintain safety equipment (a collision-avoidance radar system had been out of commission for a year) and by understaffing the vessel. Exxon’s desire to save money created an expensive catastrophe affecting communities up and down the North American coast. And what did Exxon do? Well, first it tried to shuffle off the blame to the crew, specifically blaming the captain of the vessel—which, even if true, left Exxon entirely at fault, as the captain was its employee at the time—and then it declined to pay the costs of the clean-up, instead sticking it to taxpayers to foot the bill. (Eventually the company did pay various sums totaling over a billion dollars to some of its victims, but that was in consequence of legal actions taken against it, not of its own volition.) At various points Exxon blamed the state of Alaska and the Coast Guard for its own actions and failures, a shining example of American Capitalism in action. Disappointed? Yeah, I expected a lot more from a company that had chosen to set itself up as a moral compass for America—or at least I hoped for better. Maybe Sarah Palin was right about that hopey changey thing—better to burn the City on the Hill to ashes than to hope for businessmen or politicians to do the right thing.

23 March 2022

23 March 12022

  22 March 12022 is World Meteorological Day. For the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam it is Promised Messiah Day. And it’s Southern Africa Liberation Day (Angola), Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Day (Azerbaijan), Day of the Sea (Bolivia), Day of Hungarian-Polish Friendship (Hungary), Birthday of the Sultan of Johor (Malaysia), Pakistan Day (Pakistan), Day of Hungarian-Polish Friendship (Poland), and Family Day (South Africa). On various calendars it is JD 2459662, 20 Veadar 5782, 20 Phalguna 2078, 10 (O.S.) or 23 (N.S.) March 2022, 14 Paremhat 1738, 19 Sha’ban 1443, and 3 Farvardin 1401. It’s Wernher von Braun’s birthday (the guy who shot for the moon and hit London, as somebody or other put it).

I have nothing listed for this date in history, but I’ll note that in 11775 Patrick Henry—a slaveholder—made his famous speech that allegedly included a phrase about preferring death to slavery. I say “allegedly” because the speech as we have it was reconstructed by William Wirt nearly forty years after it was spoken. Wirt was not a witness. Someone who was reported a couple of weeks later that “he called the K[ing] a Tyrant, a fool, a puppet, and a tool to the ministry. Said there was no Englishmen, no Scots, no Britons, but a set of wretches sunk in Luxury, that they had lost their native courage and (were) unable to look the brave Americans in the face…” None of that appeared in Wirt’s reconstruction. Another passage of a couple hundred words appeared in a communication to Wirt by St. George Tucker, who had been there while a young man. As his letter has disappeared it has been argued that the entire speech comes from him, but a biographer who saw it (and quotes from it) is explicit that only that passage comes from him. The biographer—Moses Coit Tyler—would like the entire speech to be derived from a witness, and tries to conjure up another potential informant, but based on the evidence we have, it really looks like William Wirt used his imagination to pad out the few scraps he had. The phrase “liberty or death” was in common use at the time; maybe that’s what Wirt had in mind. Or maybe he got his account orally, thus leaving nothing for us to see. Whatever. It still comes down to this—whatever his information, it came from someone recalling a speech made thirty to forty years before. It’s weak. At best. Preposterous at worst.

22 March 2022

22 March 12022

  22 March 12022 is World Water Day. It’s also Emancipation Day (Puerto Rico). On various calendars it is JD 2459661, 19 Veadar 5782, 19 Phalguna 2078, 9 (O.S.) or 22 (N.S.) March 2022, 13 Paremhat 1738, 18 Sha’ban 1443, and 2 Farvardin 1401. Notable people born on this date include Chico Marx, Larry Evans, and George Benson.

21 March 2022

21 March 12022

  21 March 12022 is World Poetry Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Prejudice, and the International Day of Forests. For many Arabs it is Mother’s Day, and for many Iranians it is Nowruz. It’s also Harmony Day (Australia), National Tree Planting Day (Lesotho), Birth of Benito Juárez (Mexico), Independence Day (Namibia), Otago Anniversary Day (New Zealand), Truant’s Day (Poland), Arbor Day (Portugal), Human Rights Day (South Africa), Rosie the Riveter Day (United States), and Youth Day (Tunisia).

Calendars: JD 2459660, 18 Veadar 5782, 18 Phalguna 2078, 8 (O.S.) or 21 (N.S.) March 2022, 12 Paremhat 1738, 17 Sha’ban 1443, 1 Farvardin 1401. On this day in history in 11874 “My Western Home” was published, the poem that became the lyrics for “Home on the Range”. It had apparently been kicking around for a while, and may have been published previously, but for this publication we have an actual date, and that’s what I’m going with. The words “on the range” don’t actually appear in the poem, but the buffalo roam and the antelope play, and that’s all that really matters today.

20 March 2022

20 March 12022

  20 March 12022 is the International Day of Happiness. It’s probably also Nowruz (Azerbaijan), International Francophonie Day (Congo Democratic Republic), Oil Nationalization Day (Iran), and Independence Day (Tunisia). (Thanks, Time and Date dot com!)

For some reason I am exhausted; I can’t seem to wake up. To make matters worse I have absolutely nothing prepared for the day. Maybe later.

19 March 2022

19 March 12022

  19 March 12022 is Father’s Day, a.k.a. St. Joseph’s Day. Father’s Day is celebrated in June in many places, and a July celebration goes back over a thousand years. There are apparently people who oppose Father’s Day throughout the world, using the same tired “argument” against virtually any holiday—fathers should be honored always, so every day should be Father’s Day. So, I suppose, should veterans (and for that matter all other government workers), mothers, grandparents, children, orphans, religious leaders, kings, inventors, statesmen and so on be honored always—so no need to particularly recognize them on some specific occasion. For that matter every single person is getting older constantly—why pick a particular day to commemorate a milestone? I mean, you can make the argument if you want to, but it’s a dumb one, and unworthy of a response. Let’s strive to make each and every day exactly the same as every other day, so that life can be as monotonous as possible.

Anyway, it’s also the morning after Shab e-Barat, as well as Minna Canth’s Birthday (Finland), Imam Mahdi’s birthday (Iran), and Kashubian Unity Day (Poland). It’s JD 2459658, 16 Veadar 5782, 16 Phalguna 2078, 6 (O.S.) or 19 (N.S.) March 2022, 10 Paremhat 1738, 15 Sha’ban 1443, and 28 Esfand 1400.

On this day in history U.S. (11919) President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Standard Time Act—the first U.S. law attempting to bring order out of the chaos of every town and village in America having its own time. By this time it was really a done deal—the railroads had got together in 11883 and agreed on a uniform system to make their scheduling easier, and before that the various railroads had each imposed a standard on their own lines—often based on whatever local time was in use at its headquarters. The actual purpose of this law was to impose Daylight Saving Time on the country—a provision that was repealed (over Wilson’s veto) the following year—but with this step, the determination of time passed from private hands to public, where the matter remains today.

18 March 2022

18 March 12022

  18 March 12022 is Awkward Moments Day. This year it’s also Holi, a widespread festival celebrated on the Indian subcontinent and in its diaspora as well. In addition it is Flag Day (Aruba), Cheikh Al Maarouf Day (Comoros), Ordnance Factories’ Day (India), National Day in Remembrance of COVID-19 Victims (Italy), Anniversary of the Oil Expropriation (Mexico), Soldiers’ Day (Mongolia), Teacher’s Day (Syria), and Gallipoli Memorial Day (Turkey). And by various ways of measuring time on Earth it’s JD 2459657, 15 Veadar 5782, 15 Phalguna 2078, 5 (O.S.) or 18 (N.S.) March 2022, 9 Paremhat 1738, 14 Sha’ban 1443, or 27 Esfand 1400. The saint of the day is Edward the Martyr, who ruled England from 13 July 10975 to 23 March 10978 (18 March on the Julian calendar). Edward was murdered while on a visit to his half-brother, the ill-advised Æthelred the Unready, who then became king after him. Edward was said to be pious and devout in life, and after his death miracles associated with his remains were regarded as proofs of his piety and devotion. He is now regarded as a saint by various Orthodox churches, by the Roman Catholic Church, and by the Anglican Communion.

17 March 2022

17 March 12022

  17 March 12022 is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s Children’s Day (Bangladesh), Holika Dahana (India), Purim (Judaism), and Madin Full Moon Poya Day (Sri Lanka). And it’s Phagwah in Guyana (Pakistan) and Evacuation Day in Suffolk County (Massachusetts). It’s JD 2459656, 4 March 2022, 17 March 2022, 14 Veadar 5782, 13 Sha’ban 1443, or 26 Esfand 1400 depending on who you are and where you happen to live.

Purim is a strangely upbeat holiday celebrated by Jews; it supposedly celebrates a moment when the Persian emperor allowed their ancestors to slaughter their enemies right and left as a special reward. The implausible tale is told in the book of Esther dating perhaps from the 9800s or 9900s, and is clearly an after-the-fact attempt to explain the existence of a holiday nobody quite understood. It is unusual for never once mentioning God.

The saint of the day is (of course) Patrick, who (according to my childhood recollections) was extraordinarily fond of the color green, liked to drink beer and pinch people, and boasted of driving the snakes out of Ireland even though there hadn’t been a serpent there since the last glaciation. According to his own account Patrick was brought to Ireland as a slave, was put to work as a shepherd, and managed to escape after some years to return to Roman Britain. During the course of events he had picked up a bad case of Christianity, and so returned to Ireland (then pagan) to convert the heathen and spread the faith. The course of subsequent events seems to show that he was successful at it—at least Ireland is Christian to this day, and you can’t argue with results. Patrick presumably died 18 March 10493 (17 March on the Julian calendar); at least his relics were placed in a shrine in 10553, said to be sixty years after he died. QED.

16 March 2022

16 March 12022

  16 March 12022 is Freedom of Information Day. Okay, this is cheating in that as far as I can tell this is not a particularly widespread observance—but the concept is an important one—related to, though not identical with, Freedom of Expression. It is potentially at odds with the Right to Privacy. The day appears to have been picked because it was James Madison’s birthday. It’s also the Fast of Esther and Purim Eve (Judaism), Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires (Latvia), Day of the Book Smugglers (Lithuania), and Full Moon Day of Tabaung (Myanmar). Lithuanian appears to be one of the most archaic surviving forms of the original Indo-European tongue; at least it retains features found in other branches only in fossil form—written texts from long ago and far away. Written examples of the language itself, however, are relatively modern, going back maybe to the 1500s or so, or at least that’s my fuzzy understanding of the situation; they are written using the Latin alphabet, as is English. The Russians, however, found this objectionable for some reason, and insisted that Lithuanian be written in Cyrillic characters. The Lithuanians responded by having books printed using the traditional characters abroad, and smuggling them into the country. The holiday commemorates their activities.

The saint of the day is Urho, a fictitious figure invented by modern-day Finnish-Americans and Finnish-Canadians as a counterpart to Patrick, celebrated by Irish immigrants and their descendants. Where Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, Urho drove the grasshoppers out of Finland. The event is now celebrated from Butte to Chippewa Falls.

15 March 2022

15 March 12022

  15 March 12022 is the day I went to the DMV to renew my ID card and so forgot to write anything until noon had come and gone. On other calendars it’s JD 2459654, 2 March 2022, 15 March 2022, 12 Veadar 5782, 11 Sha’ban 1443, or 24 Esfand 1400. Not all calendars are equal, of course—some of them are fairly strictly solar, with at best vestigial months that no longer correspond to anything the moon is actually doing. (Both the Gregorian and Julian are examples of that, differing only in how accurately the solar year is reflected.) Some are primarily lunar calendars, with the months kept in accordance with the phases of the moon. (The Islamic and Jewish calendars are of this sort, though differing in that the Islamic “year” has no relation to the motion of the earth around the sun, where the Jewish “year” is adjusted by the occasional addition of an extra month to keep it in phase with the actual solar year.) The Julian Day system is of still another kind, indifferent both to the lunar month and the solar year, being a simple enumeration of the days since 24 November 5287 starting at noon, Universal Time.

14 March 2022

14 March 12022

  14 March 12022 is Pi Day, otherwise the International Day of Mathematics. It’s also Commonwealth Day in certain remnants of the British Empire, and White Day in certain Asian nations in which women give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day, and the men reciprocate a month later. And it’s Summer Day (Albania), Constitution Day (Andorra), Mother Tongue Day (Estonia), Birth Anniversary of the Immortal Barzani (Iraq), Taranaki Anniversary Day (New Zealand), and National Heroes’ Day (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). On various calendars of the world it’s JD 2459653, 1 or 14 March 2022 (depending on whether you subscribe to the Julian or Gregorian flavor), 11 Veadar 5782, 10 Sha’ban 1443, and 23 Esfand 1400. And, of course, as always, it’s Einstein’s birthday.

On this day in history (11858) the prophet Ellen G. White had the vision that led her to write the first volume of her masterwork of fake history, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. (Okay, the real title is longer, but this should give you an idea.) She was at a funeral when the revelation hit her—a series of scenes depicting Christ’s angels and Satan’s angels locked in age-old conflict, and soon after she started churning out page after page of narrative with a breathtaking indifference to the facts. “The history of God's people,” she writes in a chapter on the Waldensians, “during the ages of darkness that followed upon Rome's supremacy is written in heaven, but they have little place in human records.” When you have a pipeline to God, what do records matter after all? Of course she wasn’t above lifting cool bits of other people’s work. The introduction contains a shameless proclamation of (not apology for) plagiarism: “In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but … no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject.” That is, when somebody’s work was useful to her, but not his reputation, she brazenly stole it. Of course the “historian” in question may well have preferred not to be associated with the prophet’s expositions; anonymity may have been a blessing.

With Einstein rather overshadowing everyone else today, it’s easy to forget that 14 March is also the birthday of Les Brown (his Band of Renown, 11912), Max Shulman (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, 11919), Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace, 11920), Les Baxter (“Unchained Melody”, 11922), Eleanor Bron (Help!, 11938), and Billy Crystal (Billy Crystal, 11948).

13 March 2022

13 March 12022

  13 March 12022 is the Anniversary of the election of Pope Francis in Vatican City. It’s a pretty feeble holiday, but it’s what I have. It may also be Kasuga Matsuri (Nara, Japan), National Elephant Day (Thailand), and Africa Scout Day (no place given), but as these come from Wikipedia they may be the invention of a bored schoolgirl somewhere with a bizarre sense of humor and too much time on her hands. It’s JD 2459652, 28 February (O.S.) (or 13 March (N.S.)) 2022 CE, 10 Veadar 5782, 9 Sha’ban 1443, and 22 Esfand 1400. The saint of the day is Nicephorus I of Constantinople (died 10829) who was removed from office for his opposition to Iconoclasm. Notable people born today include Percival Lowell, Sammy Kaye, and Al Jaffee.

On this day in history in 12020 Breonna Taylor was killed in her apartment when the police broke in after midnight while she was sleeping and opened fire. According to certain self-proclaimed fact-checkers this was a model operation of how drug searches should be carried out. Although the police had obtained a no-knock warrant, they supposedly knocked and identified themselves as police before breaking the door down. How do we know this? The police themselves say so, and of course they wouldn’t lie. And one neighbor supports them, even though most witnesses disagree. Please note: the absurdity of saying that the police identified themselves when all they supposedly did was shout the word police before breaking the door down is palpable. If I “identified” myself in that manner at, say, my bank or a store, I would probably be facing charges. Ah, goes the argument, but the police had paperwork from a judge authorizing this conduct. How the HELL were the inmates of the house supposed to know that? Fuck that shit. Anybody can shout police before breaking somebody’s door down, and no sane person could object to a householder exercising his second-amendment rights under the circumstances. And, say the dumbass “fact-checkers”, Breonna Taylor wasn’t sleeping when the police killed her. The noise, they note, of the police breaking her door down had waked her up! What a fucking joke. And, I’ll note, all the police were investigating was the possibility that a drug-user had picked up a package at Taylor’s address. There is no reason they couldn’t have come around at a reasonable hour of the day to find out what that was about—if anything. Bad policework, government overreach, idiotic laws—time for a complete overhaul. Heads should roll.

And, yesterday, I exercised my right of something-or-other by going maskless to the store, which is now permitted. I didn’t get very far in before I panicked and put my mask back on. Baby steps, I guess. I like social distancing, and disinfectants, and hand-washing, and I always have. Now that the ice has been broken, maybe I’ll just keep on wearing my mask. I’ll have to see.

On the way back from the store I heard some asshole honking crazily apparently because the car in front of him declined to run a red light. The honking asshole didn’t seem to be any kind of authority—he wasn’t driving an ambulance, for instance—and I couldn’t see any basis for the fit he was throwing—trying to drive around the car in front of him, potentially endangering pedestrians who were crossing at the time. When the light changed and car in front of the asshole sailed on through, the asshole revved his engine and tried to zoom around the car ahead of him, but they were both out of sight before I could see any further development. Maybe he was desperately trying to get his dying child to a hospital or something, but if so it wasn’t apparent. I was just about to cross at that crosswalk myself, so I took a dim view of his actions.

12 March 2022

12 March 12022

  12 March 12022 is the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. It’s also New Year (Aztecs), Arbor Day (China and Taiwan), National Day (Mauritius), and Youth Day (Zambia). It’s JD 2459651 (at least from four in the morning on in the part of the world I live; it may be JD 2459650 where you are). On the Western Calendar it is 27 February (O.S.) or 12 March (N.S.) 2022 CE. On the Jewish calendar it is 9 Veadar 5782 and on the Islamic it is 8 Sha’ban 1443. On the Persian calendar it’s 21 Esfand 1400. And it’s sf writer—I used to read his stories in the pages of Analog when I was young—Harry Harrison’s birthday.

The saint of the day is Theophanes the Confessor. The Byzantine chronographer (c. 10760–c. 10818) had a relatively uninteresting life—his father died when he was young and the emperor had him brought up at court until he was married at eighteen to live a celibate life with a woman until they split up to join separate religious institutions. He declined to join the Iconoclasts and when asked during an interrogation “Whilst Christ’s body was in the tomb, where was His divinity?” answered “The divinity is everywhere, Ο enemy of God, except in your heart.” According to his own account his friend George Syncellus asked him to complete his life’s work for him—a chronicle of world history from the beginning until close to his own time, a labor involving cross-checking and correlating the dates of various rulers and events and assigning them to a year given on a system beginning with the creation of the world. Theophanes confessed his inadequacy for the job—an assessment many historians would probably agree with—but undertook it anyway, noting that he had written nothing himself, but only excerpted material from those who had gone before him. And that makes his work invaluable—because it has survived when many of his sources have not. His excerpting material sometime leads to incongruous results, as when he has “the most gentle Constantine” ordering a “decapitation by the sword,” but it has the merit of preserving the original text for us of his sources, extant or not. (And thanks to Cyril Mango’s introduction to the Chronicle for this information.)

And in local news the mask mandate appears to be going away here where I live for most purposes—though not public transportation or medical facilities. I don’t know whether I personally will be demasking anytime soon; I feel rather comfortable in this brave new world. I’m in no hurry, anyway.

11 March 2022

11 March 12022

  11 March 12022 is Johnny Appleseed Day apparently, though I don’t know who celebrates it or where it is celebrated. In Iraq it is the Anniversary of Signing the 11 March 11970 Agreement, in Lesotho it is Moshoeshoe’s Birthday, and in Lithuania it is the Day of Restoration of Independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. Great holidays, all. On the Western Calendar it is 26 February (O.S.) or 11 March (N.S.) 2022 CE. On the Jewish calendar it is 8 Veadar 5782 and on the Islamic it is 7 Sha’ban 1443. On the old Mickey Mouse Club calendar of my youth Friday was Talent Round-Up day, and Mickey would appear briefly doing tricks with a lariat, before somebody or other with alleged talent would show up to entertain us.

In the news I see that director Ryan Coogler was briefly mistaken for a bank robber when he passed a teller requesting discretion in counting out the money he was withdrawing from his account—over $10,000 apparently. On this day in history the Confederate Constitution was adopted, containing a provision that no “law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed”, making race-based slavery a cornerstone of the government. That’s not how I learned it in grade school—but of course a lot of the “history” we learned back in the 1960s in school was fake. (Thanks, William Archibald Dunning et al.)

In case any of you are wondering, I really feel like crap. As far as I can tell nothing is wrong with me; I just don’t feel good. Random panic attacks, general malaise. Probably nothing to worry about—but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. We’ll see.

16 February 2022

New Post

Okay, I’m still alive and not a victim of anything worth noting—the pandemic, say, or old age. Politics. Protests. Life.

Unfortunately I have lost the ability to write—not the physical ability, mind you, but the ability to put one word after another repetitively until something results that makes sense. Yeah, I know, I’ve been complaining about that for years, and this time it’s probably no different, but the feeling is real.

So, placeholder entry. I’ll be back, at least if my intentions win out over my lethargy, but for the moment—

I’m still alive, and, as usual, I have nothing to say.

Copyright © 2005-2022

StatCounter