Monday, January 31, 2022

Taking the Scam to the Next Level

MAGA is a scam.  There is a pantheon of grifters ranging from the dangerous, powerful Vulgarmort to s host of lesser luminaries of varying malevolence.  Among these lesser luminaries is one Vincent Fusca, a kinda grubby guy in a silly hat who has become a minor celebrity among the lunatic fringe of the MAGA movement:

Well, he DOES look like he's been through a plane crash...  He's mostly harmless, though he did crash his special Trump van and tried to grift 50K from the rubes.  His real schtick is going to Trump rallies and trying to score with MAGA Mamas of a certain age:

I can't blame a guy with trying to get some action, as long as everybody is a consenting adult.

Now, Fusca has decided to throw his stupid, ubiquitous hat into the ring as a state senatorial candidate in his native Pennsylvania:

I don't think he'll get very far because he's a mush-mouthed, mush-brained hobo, but there's always a chance- I mean, the US elected a doughy, mush-brained carnival barker as president.  Here's to you, Vincent Fusca, for taking the grift to the next level.  If I had a stupid hat, I'd tip it to you.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Required Crypto-Economy Listening

I find myself fascinated, yet repulsed by cryptocurrencies, those weird funny monies backed by the full faith and credit of sketchy Libertarian techbros.  In current news, a hack of a decentralized finance platform resulted in the loss of $80 million (so valued) of crypocurrency.  Hilarity ensued when the administrators of the platform begged the hacker(s) to return the money.  I know Libertarians are naive, but this is precious:

For a good primer of cryptocurrencies and the related (both are powered by blockchain technology) Non Fungible Token market, I recommend the Scam Economy podcast, hosted by reliable lefty and internet nice guy Matt Binder.  In his first episode, he interviews cryptocurrency expert David Gerard, who explains seemingly complicated concepts in simple terms.  Blockchains?  They are basically immutable ledgers, glorified spreadsheets which can be added to, but not deleted from.  He talks about cryptocurrencies being what a Bloomberg journalist termed a 'Stimulus Led Fad' that involves a lot of wash trading, collusion in trading to hype, and pump, up an asset.

Gerard also talks about how automated, non-alterable programs, dubbed the Iron Will of Unstoppable Code by blockchain aficianados, really turn out to be sitting ducks for hackers, being difficult to alter to improve security.  He also notes that this immutability goes out the window as soon as the big boys start losing money- the small fry are not so lucky.  

He also discusses the computer functions used to 'mine' cryptocurrency- a useless 'proof of work' which is very energy intensive.

This discussion of 'nerd money ripped off from nerds' is fascinating, and entertaining, the sort of deep dive expressed in laypersons' terms which can help explicate a subject which is... uhhhh... cryptic.  Do yourself a favor and listen, it really breaks down this topic which is typically obfuscated by layers of technobabble.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Can't Get There From Here... Not by Transit

Last night, I had planned on taking public transportation to work this afternoon, but while listening to the local all-news radio station, I learned that the county bus system had cancelled service for the day, due to the weather.  Typically, I would take the 25 bus to the Yonkers train station, and take the Metro-North Hudson Line train to the vicinity of my workplace.  I found myself in a 'can't get there from here' situation, and was trying to figure out the best way to go south to go north, using the NYC Subway.  This would have entailed walking to the Woodlawn terminus of the 4 Train, then transferring to the downtown Number 2 train at 149th St, and taking the 2 to 96th St, where I could transfer to the uptown 1 train, taking it to Marble Hill, where I could catch the Metro North train, several stops south of my beloved Yonkers.

Doing the math, and noting that the temperatures were in the teens, making both walking and waiting on various platforms unpleasant at best, and fraught at worst.  I decided to brave the roads.  While small, my car is a little workhorse- it has front-wheel drive and a manual transmission, so it handles pretty well in the snow.  

The worst part of the drive was the hilly street on which I park- it hadn't been plowed, but there had been a significant amount of traffic, judging by the wheel ruts in the snow.  With low gear, and facing downward, I was able to maneuver out of my parking spot and into the wheel ruts, then drove to the bottom of the hill to the fairly well-trafficked road, timing it perfectly to make the traffic light.  I really try to avoid having to stop, and more crucially, start, when driving in the snow.  From there, I made it to the main commercial drag, where the roadway had been plowed relatively well.  I drove to the Thruway service road, and once I merged onto the Thruway, it was smooth riding.  Exiting from the Thruway, I stuck to major roads.  There had been lower snowfall in these northern parts than in my beloved Yonkers.  When I arrived on the job, the lot had been plowed, and a local DPW plow/salt truck was parked in the lot as the driver took a break. This was a most welcome sight.

I'm working a double overnight, because my coworker covered the graveyard shift I typically work.  Besides, who the hell wants to be on the road at midnight after a heavy snowfall and subsequent deep freeze?  Better to let the plows and salters work unimpeded throughout the night.  Right now, I am contemplating whether to drive home or not, mainly because I suspect that finding a parking spot tomottow morning might be an ordeal... I might have to park six blocks away, near the local school.  I have all night to ponder this dilemma, by which I mean finding out if the buses are running.  

So, now, it's time to hunker down, brew a pot of coffee, and be glad that I'm inside.

Friday, January 28, 2022

First Nor'easter of the 2022 Season

The weather forecast for this weekend was dire- a Nor'easter is expected to dump up to a foot of snow in the region, accompanied by gusty winds.  Some of the more dire forecasts indicate that a bomb cyclone may occur, which will produce whiteout conditions.  As I always do before a major storm hits, I gassed up the car.  In an annoying development, I could not find the shovel I typically keep in my car (you never know when you'll need to smack some asshole with a shovel), so I had to purchase a replacement, an Ames Tools long-handled square point shovel... with its compact metal head, it is more useful in chopping packed snow from around a plowed-in car, and is better configured for lifting snow than a cumbersome snow shovel, which is properly employed as a mini snowplow.  I'm not so vain to think that straining while shoveling snow is somehow 'macho'.

I had planned on heading to work this afternoon and working straight through until tomorrow morning, but my coworker took this task upon himself, for which I am grateful.  I will be returning the favor tomorrow, and if the roads are still a mess, I will rely on public transportation to travel to and from the job.  I really don't want to have to dig up the entire neighborhood in order to get a parking spot, not if I can leave my car where it is.

Tomorrow is going to be a l-o-n-g day, involving shoveling snow in the vicinity of the house, and a multi-hour commute, but right now, I am sitting snug and smug at home.  I'll pop outside for a bit to gauge the snowfall, but there's no urgency- it's not like I have to be at work at midnight.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Granuaile Would Be Proud

I identify as multi-ethnic, the descendant of various European cultures who met and mixed in the New York metropolitan area.  I derive much pride in the various heritages that I can claim, especially when one of my peoples does something valiant.

That being said, I stand in awe of the Irish fishermen who are planning to disrupt a Russian naval exercise off of Ireland's western shore.  The Republic of Ireland has been steadfastly neutral since its inception (not always to the credit of the nation- I can also feel shame as well as pride in my peoples), thus it has never jointed NATO.  The Irish navy consists of nine vessels (as opposed to the French Navy, which consists of a yearning, plaintive vocal).  Thus, it is up to the fishing fleet to intervene when the naval fleet cannot.  Rachel Maddow had some good coverage of this potential confrontation:


Besides disrupting the lives of marine animals, the very resource the fishermen depend on, the Russian Navy has been implicated in sabotaging undersea cables.  At any rate, they seem to be up to no good, and the anglers aren't taking this lying down.  

These are valiant people, the sort of people who brave the North Atlantic's perilous waters on a daily basis to earn their living.  The inhabitants of Ireland's west coast have always been an anti-authoritarian lot- they are worthy successors to Granuaile, who would be proud of their resistance to a foreign oppressor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A Tome to Treasure

Last night, I headed over to have dinner with some old friends, brothers that I have known since high school.  Both of them have relocated to California, and I hadn't seen the two of them under the same roof in years.  I often say that there's no trip like the nostalgia trip, and last night was no exception- I couldn't shake the feeling of being nineteen again, and being dans la maison with the buds.

There was a slight tinge of melancholy to the proceedings- they were both in town to help their mom, a lovely and hospitable woman, clean out the house so she could move out to California after the death of the paterfamilias, and be closer to her children and grandchildren.  They were throwing out old papers and going through the books, deciding which ones to keep and which to discard.  Dad, who had succumbed to COVID in 2020 at the age of 85, was a professor of Slavic languages at New York University and, being a multilingual public intellectual, had a plethora of books in every room of the house,  As a funny aside, he had a series of books by a poet who used to write him a Christmas card, with an enclosed poem every year, but the missus noted that she never really saw him reading poetry, that she believed he had these books to foster the writings of a countryman.  

Hearing this, I joked, "He may not have had a love for poetry, but he had a love for poets."

Among the books was one glorious tome, a gorgeously illustrated facsimile of a codex written in Church Slavonic, an epic history of the campaigns of Prince Dmitry, accompanied by translations into modern Russian and English.  Inscribed in the title page of the book was a dedication from the woman who had given him this beautiful book, a grad student from Korea.  After thanking the Good Professor for his mentorship, she apologized for the presumptuousness of a student giving a book to a teacher, perhaps implying that the learner was now the master.  I imagine the Professor, a kindly, avuncular man, got a good chuckle at the idea that he could ever be offended by this sweet gesture.

It was an emotional moment, hearing this dedication to a man who I considered a friend, a generous host, and a low-key-yet-important role model.  My relationship to the Professor was quite different from this student's relationship to him, but I know we valued him equally.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Techbro Tax? No, Just Value Vanishing

I have to confess that I have a bit of a fascination with cryptocurrencies, though I view them with revulsion... a good friend of mine got involved in Bitcoin soon after it was formulated, and made a bundle.  Here's where I note that individuals who get in early on a pyramid scheme tend to do very well- the late adopters, not so well.

Last week, I posted about the current cryptocurrency crash, today I will address the travails of a couple of individuals foolish enough to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon this late in the game.  The first cautionary tale about someone who puts their trust in the full faith and credit of anonymous Randian techbros is NYC's new mayor Eric Adams, who elected to take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin- with the crash, he lost just about ten percent of the value of his first paycheck due to the crash.

The second cautionary tale here involves professional football player Odell Beckham, Jr, who also decided to receive his financial remuneration in cryptocurrency.  This is sheer insanity:

At least he isn't beholden to the fiat currency backed by corrupt, well-established institutions such as governments and financial institutions.

Again, I note that early adopters of cryptocurrencies will do well, they are at the top of the pyramid.  These tyros, jumping on the bandwagon, are left holding the bag- it's as if they paid a techbro tax for their naïveté, but unlike tax payments, the value simply disappeared, to the benefit of nobody.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Pro-Death Rally

Yesterday, an anti-vaccine rally took place in Washington DC, in which perhaps ten thousand anti-vaccine activists descended upon our nation's capital for a superspreader-event-cum-hate-rally.  Much of the hype for this event can be laid at the feet of inexplicably popular meathead and podcaster Joe Rogan, who has made a career about JAQing off about politics and policy.   Boy, howdy, was this one a doozy, a heady farrago of persecution fantasy, Nazi imagery, and calls for violence.

I've been catching up on coverage by Time's Vera Bergengruen, The Daily Beast's Zachary Petrizzo, and NBC's Ben Collins, supplemented by coverage by activists who were present at the event.

I'm particularly disgusted by RFK, Jr's comparison of vaccine mandates to the Holocaust... this was a guy who had a stellar environmental record for decades, who is now a crank reduced to trivializing the real horrors of the Nazi regime:

There were also farcical, hypocritical denunciations of the politicization of the pandemic: No mainly right-wing (again, WTF, RFK JR?) action would be complete without calls for violence: Activist Anthony Walker captured a nutter explicitly threatening violence against the press: MAGA infiltrator Amanda Moore also covered the event, and provided some appalling imagery: All told, the anti-vax rally was an appalling spectacle as well as a superspreader event, and is sure to have ripple effects as the attendees return to their homes.  It was a freak show, to be sure, and the horrors won't be confined to one weekend in DC.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Worst Sequel EVER!

The big news in entertainment is that there is a planned sequel to the 1983 comedy film A Christmas Story.  Here's where I note that I have never seen the entire film from start to finish, though I have seen clips of the classic scenes without the extraneous connective tissue.  

Even without having seen the whole movie, I've offered to write a sequel, So You Shot Your Eye Out, and it's going to star this guy:


Oddly enough, the film will also serve as a sequel to The Manchurian Candidate... it could also be titled All the Stupid President's Stupid Men.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Neo-Nazi Numbnuts

In the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, which resulted in the death of activist Heather Heyer, the white nationalist organization Patriot Front was founded as a breakaway 'sect' of explicitly Neo-Nazi group Vanguard America.  The founders of Patriot Front sought to avoid the use of outright Neo-Nazi imagery, using a more palatable facade of 'patriotism' to, in terms of alt-right gamer vocabulary, hide their power level.

The Patriot Front group made a big show of being present at this weekend's anti-choice rally in DC, as intrepid Daily Beast journalist Zachary Petrizzo reported:

These right-wingers wore the more 'respectable' uniform of khakis and matching jackets rather than the more explicitly fascist trappings of older Neo-Nazi groups, but the improvised metal shields belie the group's willingness to engage in violence. More importantly, the true nature of Patriot Front has been revealed in a massive data dump, including internet chat logs, arranged by activist organization Unicorn Riot: Some of the leaked material puts the lie to any pose that Patriot Front is not a Neo-Nazi organization: At the DC march, activists informed Patriot Front members that their personal information and private communications had been leaked:

While not wanting to downplay the threat posed to marginalized communities by these Neo-Nazis, once again I am moved to declare: Thank goodness these people are idiots. I hate Neo-Nazi numbnuts

ADDENDUM:  This is remarkable, it's funny how people don't like assholes who descend on their city to terrorize them.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Fake Money, Real Crash

Imagine, if you will, a currency backed by the full faith and credit of a coterie of Randian techbros, unfettered by burdensome regulations... the sort of currency which Libertarians would assure you is better than government-issued fiat currency.  Imagine the possibilities (it's useful for money laundering and dark web trafficking in drugs and humans) afforded by such money

 Just imagine what is possible without oversight!

Wow, a crash estimated to be worth (whatever that really means) one trillion dollars of funny money occurred.  The premier cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has lost 45% of its value from a November peak, and even dodgier, Dogeier, cryptocurrencies have probably fared worse.

Libertarians typically being a lot less intelligent than they think they are (this is why they embraced Dunning-Krugerrands), I imagine there will be a lot of outcry over the possibility that such a crash could happen.  These brainiacs sure hate regulation, even though it would save their asses from ruination.  I've long suspected that cryptocurrencies constitute a pyramid scam and crashes such as this convince me of this more and more... I mean, the very prefix 'crypto' suggests to me that something is just not on the level.

I'm just glad that the one good friend of mine who is heavily involved in cryptocurrency (a socialist, oddly enough) got in on the ground floor, and will probably end up fine.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

COVID in Retreat? I'm Still Avoiding Engagement

The New York metropolitan area was hit hard by the omicron variant of COVID.  Anecdotally, I can state that I know a dozen people who were laid up for a week by the disease.  Thankfully, everyone was vaccinated, so the worst symptoms they reported were similar to influenza- upper respiratory tract soreness and muscle fatigue.  

The reports are now coming in that COVID is 'in retreat' in the region: breakthrough infections and outbreaks among the unvaccinated have dropped by half, in my immediate vicinity cases have dropped by 30%Vaccines reduce the incidence of transmission, the incidence of hospitalization among the infected, and the incidence of death among the hospitalized... currently, 86.6% of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 73.3% have been fully vaccinated.  

Even with COVID 'in retreat', I believe that discretion being the better part of valor, I will remain hunkered down and bunkered down for a while.  I really don't need to let my guard down while the omicron wave is ebbing, but not entirely receded.  I have plans to meet friends from out of state next week, at their ancestral homestead in Yonkers, but I have no desire to hit a restaurant or bar for a sit-down meal.  I've managed to navigate the pandemic fairly well so far, and with the chronic staffing issues at work, I really don't need to be out of commission for two weeks because I let my guard down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

When Prophecy Fails and Fails and Fails...

 Today is National Popcorn Day in the Consumer Goods Liturgical Calendar, so it is a big day in QAnon lore, as an up-and-coming extremism researcher notes:

According to members of the QAnon cult that has been haunting Dallas since early Novemer, momentus undertakings were to have occurred, namely the downfall of the movement's enemies:

It's about 10PM Eastern Standard Time, so I suppose that there are three hours left, Dallas time, for this prophecy to take place.  I'm not going to hold my breath on this one, and I'm certainly not expecting the holdout QCumbers to change their minds simply because yet another prophecy has failed.  Eternal disappointment is the lot of the True Q Believer, after all.

Now excuse me while I put a big dent in this bag of Smartfood purchased for the occasion, because I'm enjoying the show...  it's not often that an effective horror franchise comes along.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Don't Wanna See no Blood, Don't Be a Macho Man

It's been a pretty rough year, so I figured I'd post a feel-good story, a story in which a clear-cut hero does something awesome, and with flair.  I present to you the spectacle of a Michael Jackson impersonator, attacked by a bully, turning the tables with his grappling skill:

MJ, an aspiring professional wrestler named Santana Jackson, takes down the assailant with a kosoto-gake, then attempts an armbar, before getting the guy in a headlock. At the 34-39 second interval, the videographer perfectly captures the doleful expression of a man who thought he'd successfully bully a weenie... that's a lesson hard learned. As an added bonus, check out what the T-shirt the guy is wearing says- PURE COMEDY GOLD!!! 

Mr Jackson brings glory to the dojo- he effectively defended himself without doing any undue harm to the aggressor, all the while making the aggressor, who apparently was arrested afterward, look ridiculous. As an added bonus, apparently he was able to return to his performance. 

Post title taken from the MJ song which is now Santana Jackson's theme song:


Santana sure showed how funky and strong his fight was.

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Annual MLK Day Spectacle

I'm old enough to remember when Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr Day wasn't a national holiday... in fact, even so-called moderate, sensible Republicans were opposed to dedicating a national holiday to one of those people.  African-American friends of mine would celebrate in a solemn fashion,with church services, prayer and award breakfasts, and days of community service.  Thankfully, the holiday, probably because it occurs during a month in which the weather is inclement, hasn't been co-opted by commercial interests.  Oddly enough, there is a half-assed attempt to on the part of reactionary elements to grab some stolen valor on this day.

Via Tengrain, we have a coordinated effort started by Lauren Windsor to push back against any opponents of voting rights legislation who invoke MLK's name on this day:

She has been very active today, and you should check out her chastisements of various bad actors who are engaging in hypocrisy today. Perhaps the most grotesque commemoration of the day came from the FBI:

We all know how pro-MLK the FBI was while King was alive. On some level, I get it... the safely dead, safely silent King has passed into sainthood, and can be safely invoked, even by people who's entire careers have been trying to roll back the gains King was able to wrest from the reactionary culture. 

The one thing that has long puzzled me is the fact that the Feds considered African-Americans, who have been loyal citizens of a society which has marginalized them, less authentically American that the supporters of a culture which actively engaged in treason against the United States. Looking at the events of the past year and a half, this still puzzles me. 

That being said, have a nice, contemplative MLK Day, and don't forget to call out those creeps who would try to bogart Dr King's legacy.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Things Returning to Normal

Today, I received a phone call from one of my subordinates, who informed me that he would be able to return to work tomorrow after being out for two weeks with COVID.  Last week, my other subordinate returned to work after his two week bout with COVID.  It looks like I will actually be able to get the requisite number of days off this week, indeed for weeks to come.

Oddly enough, Ginger is the one who is out now.  She's staying at the apartment of one of our managers, who was concerned that she was constipated, and wanted to observe her, uh, elimination functions.  I'm happy to say that she is fine.  It's not a bad thing that she's on vacation, though- we've had frigid temperatures (6F, -14C, with negative wind chills) lately and tonight into tomorrow morning, we are supposed to get a 'wintry mix' of snow, sleet, and rain.  There's no fun in going on the scout in those conditions... even I am not too keen on it, despite breaking out the flannel-lined pants and layering garments.

Of course, my greatest source of relief is knowing that everybody, two legged and four legged, is doing fine.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A to Z, Soup to Nuts... Oh, Just Nuts

I've been working graveyard shifts all week, so I've been doing my sleeping in the daytime,  Today, I woke up and decided to check in on coverage of Vulgarmort's rally in Arizona.  I'm not interested in the headliner, who I know will merely repeat his mantras about fake news and a stolen election (with an occasional new bit of mind-numbing nonsense), my real interest lies in the weirdos and morons who decided to brave the omicron surge in order to attend a superspreader event in which their idol will play the greatest hits.  I can't say these people let me down.

One of the intrepid reporters covering this event is Dallas-based Steven Monacelli, who is covering the rally for Rolling Stone magazine.  When told the press area was full, and he had to leave, he simply walked in the general entrance, which I imagine had a sign reading lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate over it... I feel his pain, but look forward to reading his coverage.

As is typical Acyn Torabi and Aaron Rupar are doing a bang-up job covering the speeches, such as this return of a crowd-pleasing theme of Trump rallies since 2016.  

Several QAnon researchers are also on the case.  The anonymous Hot Tub Twin caught an opener in full Q-mode, talking about a psy op using black op operation and black out information.  I'm going to have to incorporate 'black op operation' into my everyday vocabulary.  He also caught an interview in which a MAGA drone said Gavin Newsome had been executed at Gitmo and replaced by a clone.  Podcaster Julian Feeld caught a Hotep weirdo talking about Trump being a 'good European gentile' and a reincarnation of King Cyrus.  His cohost Travis View highlighted the second weird Trump statue I've seen at a right-wing event.  Australian QAnon watcher 2022 Karma is keeping tabs of the weirdos who have been awaiting JFK's arrival in Dallas since November, who road-tripped out to see their God Emperor.

The weird thing about today is that this rally isn't the only right-wing event taking place in Arizona this weekend... the intrepid woman behind the Arizona Right Wing Watch account covered an anti-vaccine Reawaken America rally in which attendees harassed students at an adjacent school.  She is also covering the Trump rally.

Looking at this coverage, I have to say that the MAGA rank-and-file, the remnant of True Believers, actually appear to be getting more crazy in their devotion to a counterfactual narrative.  I'd like to believe their numbers are shrinking, and I imagine some of the unvaxxed attendees of these superspreader events will be vexed sorely by omicron, but they are still capable of mischief.  As I noted, I'll be working the graveyard shift in a little over an hour-and-a-half, and I have some weird horror videos to watch in the quiet pre-dawn hours.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Brocast News

In the realm of disinformation vectors, few are as pernicious as Joe Rogan, the host of the number one podcast, which is particularly popular with young men (his audience is 71% male, with an average age of 24).  Rogan is a former kickboxer and UFC announcer, a supposed commedian and sitcom actor, and the former host of the 'reality TV' show Fear Factor.  His persona is that of a bro who specializes in JAQing off- he tends to listen to even the most cockamamie nonsense uncritically, and overly scrutinizes the declarations of actual experts.  

Rogan is, as you'd suspect, an anti-vaxxer and anti-masker.  Last year, he questioned why young people should be vaccinated against COVID, and when he contracted the disease, he claimed that he threw a kitchen sink of medications at it.  Here's where I note that he's wealthy enough to afford premium healthcare, and was receiving monoclonal antibodies as well as ivermectin.

If you want to see a perfect example of Rogan's particular blend of credulity and skepticism, here's a clip of him questioning the fact that the incidence of young males suffering myocarditis after COVID is higher than the myocarditis risk after vaccination:

Yeah, when presented with evidence that refutes his claim, he goes to his default mode of JAQing off.  This is a guy who a lot of young males, the very ones at risk of suffering from myocarditis after COVID, get their news from.  This meathead bro is pushing dangerous misinformation on the bros who listen to him, thereby putting vulnerable persons who interact with them at danger of infection.  We're never going to see the end of this pandemic.

Hilariously, Rogan had a sold out live appearance rescheduled because of vaccine mandates.

Post title taken from a movie that I had conflated with a sitcom that Rogan was featured in.  Hell, as a small, albeit big, blogger, I have more of a devotion to fact-checking that he does.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Preview of Civil War 2.0?

There's a thread throughout right-wing extremist culture (and, increasingly, Republican politics) of a second civil war, or at best a 'national divorce'.  While I don't want to downplay the very worrisome possibility of a mass shooting or bombing at, say, a hospital, I'm not particularly worried about a broader right-wing insurgency because, frankly, these people are numbnuts.  For example, look at recently arrested 'Oathkeepers' leader Stewart Rhodes... for all of his tough talk and rebellious yearnings, this is a guy who shot his own eye out.

My biggest concern is that right-wingers will begin low-scale conflict that occasionally flares up, analogous to The Troubles (though, truth be said, with our constant incidence of shootings, we're pretty much already there).  For a possible preview of such a situation, I turn to Florida (where else?), for perhaps the Florida Man-est story ever... the story of a Republican functionary who instigated a road-rage incident, then used his BMW SUV to ram the then-parked Prius of his victim, began shooting, and was gunned down in self-defense by the victim of his aggression:

Kuczwanski rammed his BMW into the Prius on the driver’s door, and began pushing the car sideways in the parking lot.

Kuczwanski then shot a gun at the white Prius, according to the sources. The Prius driver drew a gun and fired back into the windshield of Kuczwanski’s BMW. Kuczwanski was hit and killed.

Turns out the asshole had a prior incident, in 2014 at the same intersection, in which he brandished a gun at another driver.  He was placed on probation until 2018, but was able to keep his gun.  Personally, I would have revoked his driving privileges as well.  If he'd had neither gun nor motor vehicle, he might be alive today.

For me, the real takeaway of this story is that right-wingers love gun violence, but they aren't particularly good at it.  Well, not when they have a target that shoots back.  The fact that this guy never suspected that a Prius driver, obviously a wimp, would be able to defend himself should be an object lesson to all of the wannabe warriors out there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Bye Bye Baby, Thanks for the Music

Today's bummer is news that Veronica Bennett, known to music fans as Ronnie Spector, has left us at the age of 78.  With her glorious voice and stunning good looks, Ronnie was a pop music icon in a decade suffused with a cavalcade of girl groups.  Starting off as Ronnie and the Relatives, the Ronettes, composed of Ronnie, her sister Estelle, and cousin Nedra Talley, were known as much for their big hair and brassy attitude as they were for their glorious harmonies.  The trio got their first big break during an attempt to enter the Peppermint Lounge while underage- the club manager mistook them for the house band's background dancers, and bandleader David Brigati actually handed the microphone to Ronnie.  This led to Ronnie and the Relatives being hired by the Peppermint Lounge as regular house performers.

One of the earliest singles by the Ronnie and the Relatives was the 1962 release Silhouettes, a gorgeous song about unrequited love:

In 1963, Ronnie and her relatives auditioned for Phil Spector, who wanted to sign Ronnie as a solo act, but her mother insisted that the family members be signed as a package deal.  The band was then dubbed the Ronettes.

The Ronettes' first single, Be My Baby, was a smash hit, and an influential one (Brian Wilson wrote Don't Worry Baby as a tribute, and Billy Joel's Say Goodbye to Hollywood was also inspired by it).  To hear it is to fall in love with it:

The follow-up, Baby I Love You, was recorded by Ronnie backed by Sonny and Cher and Darlene Love, Estelle and Nedra, aided by their cousin Elaine, being obliged to tour across the US with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars.  Again, while I prefer the yearning of Be My Baby, I have to say that Ronnie absolutely knocked it out of the park vocally:

In 1964, the Ronettes toured the UK, where they met the Beatles and had an obscure band called the Rolling Stones perform as their opening act.

Upon their return to the US, the Ronettes recorded Keep on Dancing, but Phil Spector refused to release the single (perhaps a harbinger of bad, horrible things to come).  It's a nice single, I can't imagine why Phil dinged it, but I'm not a control freak:


Phil was a violent, abusive control freak, he insisted that Ronnie remain in California when the Ronettes toured as an opening act for the Beatles in 1966.   After the tour, the Ronettes recorded I Can Hear Music, which inexplicably wasn't a hit, though the Beach Boys charted with a cover version:


The Ronettes broke up after a 1967 European tour.

Things got worse after Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968- Spector kept her confined to their house in California and threatened to kill her if she left him.  Eventually, her mother was able to sneak her out of the house.  Not content with holding her captive and subjecting her to emotional abuse, Phil Spector also withheld royalties from Ronnie, Estelle, and Nedra.  He also used his industry clout to stymie any efforts by Ronnie to restart her career, though she did record some interesting songs, such as this George Harrison penned number:

And here's where I note that the local Indian restaurant closed over an hour ago...

In 1976, Ronnie sang a duet with Southside Johnny on a Bruce Springsteen composition, You Mean So Much to Me:

She also recorded a cover of Billy Joel's homage to her, Say Goodbye to Hollywood:

Although she had admirers and collaborators among up-and-comers like Springsteeen and Joel, a mainstream comeback was seemingly out of reach for the erstwhile chart-topper.  In the 1980s, her comeback came when journeyman rock-and/or-roller Eddie Money, looking to jumpstart a flagging career, insisted on having Ronnie Spector sing on his 'Hail Mary' comeback single.  Eddie recalled his phone conversation with a skeptical Ronnie Spector, still traumatized by her abuse by Phil Spector:

“I could hear clinking and clanking in the background,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Ronnie, what are you doing?’ 

She said, ‘I’m doing the dishes, and I gotta change the kids’ bedding. … I’m not really in the business anymore, Eddie. Phil Spector and all that, it was a nightmare.”

Thankfully, Ronnie Spector decided to sing backup on Money's Take Me Home Tonight, which hit number four on the American record charts, and brought her out of exile from the music industry and put her back where she belonged, at the top of the pops:


 Soon afterwards, the Ronettes won a lawsuit against Phil Spector for unpaid royalties.

Other collaborations followed Ronnie Spector's comeback, notably an EP produced by Joey Ramone, who also had his traumatic run-in with Phil Spector, though the extent of Spector's malfeasance in this paarticular instance (he did end up murdering a woman) may be exaggerated.  Here's Ronnie singing a duet with Joey Ramone on Bye Bye Baby:

Here's to Ronnie Spector- star, survivor, proof that second chances are possible.  Thankfully, she was able to overcome the obstacles set in her way and continue to record for decades after her return to the music industry.  She exuded graciousness and gratitude regarding her comeback, and she was very funny, despite the trauma she experienced:

What an amazing legacy... thankfully, we weren't totally robbed of it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Secret Science Club Zoom Lecture: Changing Climate, Winds, and the Deep Blue Sea.

Tonight, my great and good friends of the Secret Science Club are presenting a Zoom lecture featuring oceanographer, climate scientist, and Antarctica explorer Dr Joellen Russell of the University of Arizona.  Dr Russell also serves co-chair of the NOAA Science Advisory Board’s Climate Working Group, heading up the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling team. She is also a founding member of Science Moms

Dr Russell, appropriately, greeted the audience with an 'ahoy', and told us that she had a story for us.  She began her lecture with Voyager's picture of the pale blue dot that Carl Sagan urged NASA to photograph.  She noted that Planet Earth is better called Planet Water, the surface of the planet being 72% water.  She then displayed the Earth Systems Model, a computer simulation of the planet.  

The Keeling Curve is a diagram of carbon dioxide measurements taken from Mauna Loa and the South Pole.  Even during the pandemic, carbon emissions rose, driven by forest fires and ocean warming which expelled CO2.  In her home in Tuscon, there were heat waves, long-term drought, and a flood driven by a monsoon.

Global warming is ocean warming.  Sunlight radiates onto the earth, and most of it radiates back into space.  Certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap the heat in the planetary system.  93% of this heat differential effects the ocean.  She then talked about the carbon dioxide issue- the government declared greenhouse gases pollutants.  In 2007, the government required cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

85% of the increasing CO2 is the result of burning fossil fuels, 15% is the result of deforestation and land use changes.

Using the oceans to sequester CO2 poses problems, such as the release of the gas due to natural cycles, such as loss of solubility due to warming.  The planet has gotten windier, which stirs the ocean, prompting CO2 release.  Wave height can be measured with radar.  This ocean-mixing is getting deeper.  Simulations have mapped the air-sea carbon flux, but they have to be verified by observation, typically done at sea.

From 1999 to 2015, 585,652 ship-borne temperature measurements were made, but robot (Argo) floats made 1,485,744 measurements in the same time period.  There are only about 6,000 oceanographers currently working.

The Argo floats are biogeochemical floats descend to a depth of 1000 meters, then continue a descent to 2000 meters, measuring temperature, pressure and salinity.  The floats drift, which allows them to be deployed without the permits that propelled probes would necessitate.  Analysis of the data can be conducted aboard ship in realtime.  

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is the blender in which the global ocean is mixed- it takes up to 50% of the carbon dioxide, and up to 75% of the heat.  Why does Dr Russell study the sea around Antarctica?  This is where the fate of Arizona will be decided.  The world is deeply, profoundly connected.  The Southern Ocean is a critical, yet precarious, carbon cycling engine.  

Cool water upwells from the depths, driven by the extreme winds which displace water higher in the water column.  This water carries carbon-rich detritus from the ocean floor, even though most decaying material never reaches the bottom.  This seafloor carbon is one of the most significant carbon sources which is going to pose a problem.

SOCCOM measures air-sea carbon flux- high carbon deep waters reach the surface.  Pathways of high carbn spiral upward, and are taken into the atmosphere.  Better models can lead to better predictions of climate patterns globally.  Weather models are now more properly called climate models, which take into account ocean conditions.

Progress toward real-time carbon accounting is occurring.  Dr Russell's goal is a real-time carbon accounting and climate model, so better predictions can be made.  The ultimate goal is to make this a better 

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session.  Some Bastard in the audience asked about the possibility of the upwelling of methane hydrates.  Dr Russell noted that she's a chemist, the methane issue is 95% dependent on pressure, so a wholesale release of methane is unlikely, though local conditions, such as a landslide, can reduce pressure.  Another question regarded carbon sequestration, and Dr Russell waxed rhapsodic about trees, which are literally made of air, using carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

What is the most important thing to bring on an expedition?  Chapstick, though she always brings antibiotic ointment, blocks and blocks of chocolate to bribe the crew, and coffee, including coffee beans to chew.  She joked that anyone yearning to go to sea should leave a leaf blower running on their kitchen table for a month.  There is constant engine noise, intense winds, hundred-foot waves.  Chapstick is necessary.  Also, don't skimp on buying gloves.  If you are hurt, you lose measurement time, if you miss a measurement, that data is forever lost.  I'm going to note that Dr Russell is a gifted comedian.

Regarding carbon emissions during the pandemic, our vehicle emissions dropped, but home heating and air condition usage increased.  The air quality in New Delhi dramatically improved.  The wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere added tons of carbon into the atmosphere.  We also experienced a hot La Niña, which increased ocean upwelling.

Another question involved the role of ocean upwelling on the melting of the Antarctic ice shelves.  Some of the models didn't take into account melting in Antarctica and Greenland, which she considers crazy.  The ice sheets are thinning and the freshwater sitting on top of the ocean water can trap heat in the water at a depth of about 600 meters.  This cap raises the water temperature by about four degrees, driving additional melting.  She described this finding as a watershed.

Regarding ice ages, Dr Russell indicated that we put so much CO2 into the atmosphere that there will be no other glacial advance- the warming atmosphere, the increased winds, the 'burping' of CO2 into the atmosphere... this synergy has overloaded the system.

Another question involved the next phase of the research- Dr Russell indicated that she wants to go from two measurements of wind speeds to four measurements to measure peak winds, the winds that most drive carbon flux.  There is no way to make up for missing peak winds when making models.  She needs realtime carbon budget, and the satellites to accomplish this.  She also wants to better measure coastal carbon budgets, which would necessitate the use of gliders, and a denser floater array.  There is plenty to do, and she wishes that our global partners would further help in funding.  She joked that the Germans had the flimsiest floats with the least impressive engineering.

Regarding the recyclability of the Argo floats- their housing is edible... as the floats approach the end of their lifespan, they will sink and biodegrade until organisms can consume the material.  Regarding the float bot costs, a particular cable (RF resistant, salt resistant) increased in price from about $2 apiece to about $1000 apiece.  Tank tests are difficult, they need to operate in the inky depths.  The floats can be reprogrammed remotely though, a couple of lines of code to change operational ranges and avoid hazards.  Each float measures temperature, pressure, and salinity, diving two thousand meters over the course of ten days.  The floats also have two optical sensors, a chlorophyll fluorescence and backscatter to measure growing and pooping.  There are also oxygen and Ph (increased carbon increases acidity) sensors.  There are also other possible projects for realtime carbon accounting- Boeing offered to install carbon sensors in the noses of their planes, but NOAA didn't have the budget to provide the sensors.  This is a low-cost, minimally damaging program, but there wasn't the will to push it.  Dr Russell also noted that we don't have a civilian ocean forecast system.  In 2004, NOAA declared there was no budget for it, but the EU has such a system.

Another question regarded the effect of fresh meltwater on ocean currents- the only current which is not speeding up is the Labrador Current, which is effected by an influx of fresh water.  This upsets the hydrological cycle of the planet and is a Big Deal.  The older model of slowing currents has been refuted by observation.  

The last question involved the role of seismic activity in oceanic warming- Dr Russell indicated that it typically doesn't.  They do monitor seismic activity in active subduction zones.  The majority of carbon emitted doesn't come from hydrothermal vents, but from volcanoes.  She stressed that her goal is to measure every carbon molecule.

Once again, the Secret Science Club delivered a fantastic lecture.  This particular lecture hit what I call the Secret Science Sweet Spot, that blend of hard science, adventure narrative, and advocacy, all accompanied by vivid graphics, that is so appealing to me.  Kudos to Dr Russell, Margaret, and Dorian for an informative, entertaining, and enlightening program.

Here's a brief video of Dr Russell discussing the Southern Ocean:


Here's a longer video regarding the subject of the measuring array:

Pour yourself a nice beverage and soak in that SCIENCE!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Greatly Relieved, Little Bit Peeved

This year has been pretty cruddy so far, beginning with both of my subordinates on the job testing positive for COVID and having to quarantine.  On a hunch, I contacted both of them today to see how they were progressing.  One of them will be unable to return until next Monday, the other one had big news...

"Oh, I'm coming in today."

"When were you planning on telling me this?"

I don't know why he hadn't informed me that he was cleared to return to work.  I am grateful for the fact that I was finally able to take a day off, but a little advanced notice would have been nice.  As it was, I had to go to my workplace to drop off the departmental phone and pick up my laptop, which I had kept in a locker, having no need for it at a home in which I wasn't spending much time.  I now have to reconfigure the schedule, now that I won't have to work any overtime.

I am greatly relieved that my long slog is now over, but I am peeved at having to make so many changes on such short notice.  I'm sure my coworker is a bit confused about how I feel, but my annoyance will pass.  Hell, just the fact that I am able to stay home on the first truly frigid night of the winter is a relief.  I did buy a pair of flannel lined pants on the drive home, though.

With any luck, things will be totally back to normal next week.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Questioning the Riddler

I have to confess that I am not much of a film buff, and cannot recall the last time that I saw a movie in the theater back in the pre-pandemic days.  That being said, I do keep abreast of 'nerd culture' news, so I did see the gross character design for the Riddler in an upcoming Batman movie:

Uh, that doesn't look like asupergenius supervillain, that looks like a creep who tries to lure children into his van, parked outside a grammar school... more the Diddler than the Riddler.  While clearly meant to evoke the Zodiac Killer, this riddler looks like a broke-ass convention-goer's Oscar the Grouch cosplay, thrown together using an indigent veteran's stolen overcoat and duffel bag.

Longtime readers will know that my official stance on 'Batman' is: West Batman is Best Batman.  The 1960s television Batman was a masterpiece of camp, a Day-Glo action comedy which has yet to be surpassed for sheer fun.  Frank Gorshin's Riddler, alternating between a dapper green suit and green leotard, both festooned with Fragenzeichen, was a creepy blend of manic intensity and twisted genius.  Gorshin's Riddler wouldn't leave the house looking like a grungy loser.

If put to torture by, say, the Gotham Inquisition, though, I might confess that the best iteration of the Batman franchise was the remarkable 1990s animated series, a classy blend of Art Deco design and film noir sensibilities.  Flawlessly acted, impeccably conceived, it navigated a middle course between the comic book campiness of 1960s Batman and post-Tim Burton grim-and-gritty Batman.  In the series, the Riddler, resplendent in Gorshinesque green suit, bowler, and pink domino, was reimagined as a disgruntled computer programer fired by his greedy employer and seeking revenge.

This new trash-Riddler, so different from the dapper, unhinged brainiac of previous Batman properties, hints at a bigger problem in the franchise... a lack of fun.  It's almost as if the current production team behind the Batman property were made fun of as kids for liking comic books and are now trying too hard to make the material 'serious'.  The campy fun of 1960s Batman and the classy noir of 1990s Batman have both been jettisoned in favor of a grungy, grimdark aesthetic which is hard to pull off without degenerating into self-parody.  Looking at the tryhard, grimdark Riddler of this upcoming Batman movie, that parody isn't even funny.  Well, not like Adam West Batman.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Current Earworm: Overlooked This One Last Year

Every once in a while, while listening to the radi-adi-o, I am struck by something about a song that is new to me.  While driving home from work, listening to one of the college radio stations I typically listen to, a particular lyric to a catchy tune caught my attention:

I didn't take the time to listen to his name
So just for now, I'll call him Ichabod Crane
My Sleepy Hollow baby standing in the rain.

Longtime readers will know that I am a big fan of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and have a genuine affection for the working class village which, since 1996, bears the name of Irving's formerly fictional (at best fictionalish) milieu.  I also love the story of the historical Ichabod Crane, a man whose storied military career has been almost entirely subsumed by his goofy, timorous fictional landscape.

So, what was this song that hit my funnybone?  It's a paean to a guy who looks like a young Jeff Goldblum, who indeed played Ichabod Crane in a TV movie based somewhat loosely on Irving's story.  It's a pleasant tune by Mattiel Brown and her eponymous band, with droll lyrics and some nice, crunchy guitars:

The song's sound is somewhat of a departure from Mattiel's prior sound, which involved more 'soaring' vocals and instrumentation devoid of grunginess.  The new single, thankfully, reminded me of the old material, for which I am grateful.  Here's Keep the Change, which perfectly showcases her strong, clear vocals:

It's here where I note that I am a sucker for altos.  It's funny how one earworm can lead to an infestation of earworms... and here I am unable to get any ivermectin!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Deer 58, Where Are You?

I figured that I needed a break from politics, and the perfect excuse presented itself as I was scouting the property with my faithful Ginger.  In the hinterlands of the property, in a somewhat marshy area, I ran into this handsome fellow, sporting two earrings and a fancy collar:

He was fairly tame, tame enough for me to get close enough to snap a quick photo with my phone camera, close enough so that the number 58 was legible on his ear tags.

I've been trying to ascertain what organization has collared this stag, but googling 'deer' and 'tags' results mainly in websites describing hunting regulations in the state.  Adding 'collar' actually resulted in a hit for a website enumerating police responses to hunting accidents and hunting violations.  

The most promising result described a White-Tailed Deer Movement Study run by the U.S. Geological Survey and State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry a few years ago on Fire Island, a barrier island off the south shore of Long Island.  With this information, I might contact these organizations to see if Deer 58 is a subject of a new study.  He's the first radio collared deer that I've seen, and I'd be more than happy to help in any research regarding him..

Post title taken from a classic, New York City set sitcom.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

We All Saw What Happened

I am just catching up on the 1/6 anniversary coverage, starting with the executive branch speech regarding the insurrection (via Tengrain).  It was a masterstroke to have VP Kamala Harris, who was present in the Capitol, take the mic first.  President Biden hit the proper righteous notes, and excoriated the wannabe dictator who urged the crowd to BE WILD!

The Republicans have been trying to paint the insurrection as an Antifa/BLM plot to make Trumpers look bad, or a Deep State plot, led by Wray's FBI, to restore the globalist Cabal.  This is, of course, when they aren't portraying imprisoned rioters as political prisoners, innocent victims of an oppressive Democratic regime.  The dualism, or cognitive dissonance, is best illustrated by insane MAGA cartoonist Ben Garrison's commentary, a dipshit diptych:

Attempts to obfuscate the real history, to deflect blame from the real perpetrators, are particularly galling.  The 1/6 perpetrators livestreamed the invasion, they posted about the attack on social media. the dummies' smartphones recorded their locations.  We know who they are, and we know what they did, and what they tried to do.

Enough about these idiots, and the Republicans who aided and abetted them (hopefully, they will have a day of reckoning when the 1/6 committee gets going in earnest).  There were heroes that day, such as Capitol Police Officer Goodman, a good man who defeated a thousand bad men, using his wits to misdirect them.  There are also the Sedition Hunters, the global network of amateur sleuths who track down the coup plotters using open sources, often piecing together a rioter's identity through a tattoo or a distinctive garment (the hunt for Bullhorn Lady reads like a a thriller novel).

I don't want to see 1/6 become a national day of remembrance, because it will be twisted by right-wingers into a celebration of the stupid, manipulated people who tried to force an abnegation of democracy, on behalf of a failed businessman, carnival barker/reality TV host with dictatorial aspirations.  Never forget, but don't play into the hands of revisionists.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

If Your Insurrection Lasts More than Four Hours

Last week, I read a Newsweek item about the millions of Americans who stand ready to take up arms against the duly elected Biden Administration, and the article opened with a real doozy:

Mike "Wompus" Nieznany is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane from the combat wounds he received during his service. That disability doesn't keep Nieznany from making a living selling custom motorcycle luggage racks from his home in Gainesville, Georgia. Neither will it slow him down when it's time to visit Washington, D.C.—heavily armed and ready to do his part in overthrowing the U.S. government. 

Walks with a cane due to injuries he received fifty-odd years ago... this is a guy who wouldn't last a week during an insurgency, even if he didn't face enemy fire.  Among the arrestees who's ages are known, the average age is forty-one, with two-thirds of arrestees being over thirty-five.  At least one of the rioters died of a heart attack, though sadly, tales of him repeatedly shocking himself in the balls with a taser seem to be untrue.  Many of these guys would croak without statins or insulin, which might be in short supply during a shooting war.  As horrific as 1/6 was, it was also suffused with a sad Divorced Dad energy, an uprising of deadbeats.  Notably, the two insurgents who died as a result of violence were women.  So much for MAGA chivalry!

But Big-B, you might ask, what about the guns that right-wingers possess?  As far as that goes, just because they own guns doesn't mean that they are competent in their use.  The most infamous current militia leader shot his own eye out, like a kid in a comedy film.  Congresscreep and violent fantasist Madison Cawthorn, besides being mobility-challenged, can't hit the broad side of a barn, and has terrible gun safety practices, even shooting while a friend was downrange, and shooting a pristine target point-blank from over the firing line.  In a real shooting war, these idiots would end up fragging each other.

One mantra that has been going through my head for the past four years is a riff on Marx: historical entities and facts repeat themselves, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce,  adding that a third time, they repeat themselves as tragedy cum farce, or maybe farcical tragedy.  The people want an insurrection, but can't even get an erection without pills... instead of a Whiskey Rebellion, they'd have to settle for a Cialis Rebellion.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Insurgency Began And You Missed It

Enough of my navel-gazing posts, I figured I'd spend a few days discussing the 1/6 insurrection, the failed Cuckoo Coup that Republicans are trying to spin as No Big Deal.  Today's post will be about the runup to the insurrection, which astute observers of the Right pretty much knew was going to happen- check out the dates on this exchange:

Trump had issued his call-to-arms, and even sought to profit from his minions coming to the nation's captial in response:

The warning signs were there for all to see, and the idea that law enforcement organizations failed to see them is not entirely convincing, especially in light of the resignation of Bob Barr as DoJ head and the ascension of Christopher Miller at the DoD suggest that Trump insiders were preparing for 'something wild'. The idea that Trump was watching the insurrection unfold on television, knowing that the Capitol and Metropolitan Police were under attack, and the Vice President and Congress members imperiled, suggests that he was aware of the goals of the rioters, and supportive of them. The revelation that the FBI had rapid response teams deployed near the Capitol comes as some relief, if only one can trust that FBI director Wray had been committed to the peaceful transition of power.

The insurrection was telegraphed, and there's a nagging suspicion that the response was botched, or even worse, hampered by bad actors... incompetence, or collusion, or just a misguided sympathy toward right-wing authoritarians that bit police personnel in the ass?  Thankfully, the insurrection failed, mainly because the insurgents were a bunch of incompetent boobs.  I've come to believe that the best possible outcome was achieved- a failed coup without overmuch violence (the hypotheticals are pretty scary).

Post title taken from one of my favorite REM tracks.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Three Days in and 2022 Is Already a Disaster

A fleeting thought crossed my brain last night after I posted yesterday's blog entry, "Am I becoming too one-note about the pandemic?"  Well, that was sixteen hours ago, and a lot can change in that span of time... and change it did.  This morning, right around 7AM, I received a text from one of my coworkers... sure enough, he had been exposed to COVID and would have to quarantine for at least a week.  

For those keeping score, my other subordinate (we're a department of three) is already under quarantine because his wife and daughter have the 'rona.  Suddenly, my job has become like one of the 'Highlander' movies:


And here I am, trying not to lose my head!

The worst thing about this, besides the fact that two dear friends are now having to deal with the possibility of a dangerous (even though they are vaccinated and boosted) disease, is that I just cannot make plans, not even to go to a diner for a coffee and a spanakopita.  Hell, at 7AM, when I realized that I had to be at work by 5PM instead of 9PM, I regretted listening to a podcast after getting home around 1AM.  

I shouldn't complain too much, with the current conditions, I really don't plan on being anywhere besides home or work for a while, with occasional trips to the grocery store.  Working overtime when there's nothing else to do isn't so bad...

On a tangential note, today I witnessed something I hadn't seen before in the course of the pandemic.  I stopped at a supermarket to buy the week's milk for my workplace coffee, and I saw two couples squaring off as if to fight, and loudly arguing.  A store manager was on the scene to intervene, and these people didn't look like they'd actually engage in fisticuffs.  I don't know if this was just a function of me being in a store around 3:30PM rather than 11PM, or if it was a function of people losing their patience, but I hadn't seen the like at all before.  Did people forget just how bad Spring 2020 was here in the NYC metro area?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

There is but One Headline

COVID, COVID, COVID... is there really any other story these days?  Notice that I dropped the '19', it's been three calendar years since this scourge emerged.  There's no other story which is independent of the pandemic.  Supply chain problems?  Anti-government sentiment?  Labor shortages?  All are affected by this disease, which in the form of the omicron variant, is sweeping the US in a potentially devastating fashion.  The current pandemic statistics are horrifying.

The news is dire, with 20% of healthcare workers leaving the workforce, and elective medical procedures being canceled.  In the NYC metro area, the MTA is reducing service due to the pandemic's effect on employees.  It's no wonder that 'compassion fatigue' has increased among hospital staff- I call it righteous anger at recalcitrant assholes who endanger everyone else.

In yesterday's post, I toyed with the idea of being less of a 'doomer', and the reality is that I'm not as pessimistic in real life as I am online, but the fact remains that the pandemic is THE headline of the year for a third year running, this plague is the background noise that will be present behind all other stories for the foreseeable future.  I don't want to be a one note bloviator all year, but to not center the pandemic in my commentary would seem irresponsible.