Monday, February 28, 2022

The Beginning of Trump Financial?

The world has not been idle in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and in particular, various sanctions have  resulted in a nosedive in the value of the ruble.  Given the history of the Iraqi dinar revaluation scam, conspiracy theory expert Mike Rothschild sees potential scams up ahead:

In the responses, Jessica mentions the GESARA scam, which has led multiple QCumbers to max out their credit. believing that a worldwide 'reset' would wipe their slates clean.

With the possibility of a ruble revaulation scam being probable, I can't imagine Vulgarmort not trying to fleece the rubes... how soon before he incorporates Trump Financial?

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Show of Solidarity

Like most people in the West, I have been obsessively watching coverage of the invasion of Ukraine.  Like most, but not all, Americans, I view the Russian aggression against the Ukrainian people as a war crime.  As a New Yorker, I have an affinity for Ukrainian culture and the Ukrainian people, and I'm not alone.  The governor has expressed solidarity with Ukraine:

That structure in the bottom right-hand corner is the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is visible from my workplace. I took a couple of pictures, but trees in the foreground messed up the focus. 

The producers of SNL began their broadcast with a choir singing the Ukrainian national anthem, a truly touching moment. 

As for myself, I figured that my tax dollars were providing lethal aid (what a phrase!) to Ukraine, and I personally need some moral clarity right around now. I sent a donation to World Central Kitchen:

Man, I love that man, and all his works, and I'd rather contribute to the care of the afflicted than the destruction of the oppressors, though I recognize the need for defense against aggression. As I said, I need moral clarity, and there's little to be had.  

It's not a lot, but at least there was some way in which I could express solidarity with the Ukrainians.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Audio Refutation of Visual Evidence

This morning, well it's frigid (19F,  -7.2C).  The wind chill makes it feel like 10F.  The entire site is basically a skating rink, so I didn't do any Scooby Dooing (is too a verb) around the property.  Of course, I had to feed the cat before leaving, so I braved the icy walk to the building where she's been holed up (the other heated building onsite), using two broomstick handles to steady myself as I traversed the frozen ground.

Although the site is icy, and the air is cold, there are signs that Spring is imminent, particularly a sound which seemed incongruous on such a Winter's day:

If you listen carefully, you can hear a distinctive trilling sound repeated several times.  That is the surest harbinger of Spring in the Northeastern United States, the call of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).  These brash birds tend to favor marshy areas, such as much of this site.  They are always a welcome presence, and hearing them warmed my heart on this cold, cold morning.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Pleasures of Northeastern Winter

The cliche about the Northeastern United States is that, if one doesn't like the weather, one simply has to wait ten minutes.  Well, it's not quite like that, except under certain conditions, but the exaggeration isn't too off-the-mark.

Case in point, last Wednesday, the afternoon temperature hit 64F (17.8C), and I was gallivanting around in shorts.  In the wee hours of this morning, the mercury was down to 28F (-2.2222...C) , and a mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow rendered my workplace into a semblance of a skating rink.  These frigid conditions are supposed to last for most of next week.

I try not to complain about the weather, especially now, when things much worse than sleet are falling on people over parts of the globe.  I'm not going to lie, though, I really am looking forward to the arrival of Spring.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Maybe I Wanna See the Wheatfields, Over Kiev and Down to the Sea

Today has been a weird day, a mix of pleasant personal activity enacted in front of a backdrop of existential dread.  I sent some cards to my twin nieces (one of whom is my goddaughter) and had a nice conversation with my sister-in-law about the package which would be arriving in the mail.  I also spoke with Mom for a bit.  Still, the ongoing situation in Ukraine was a nagging bit of worry which I just couldn't shake.

There might be a glimmer of hope, though, as it seems like the Russian public isn't exactly onboard with this attack on a neighboring country inhabited by cultural 'cousins'.  Intrepid dissidents have protested the invasion in Moscow:

And St Petersburg:

I admire the bravery of these individuals who are defying an autocratic regime, knowing that many of them will be arrested.  This gave me some small consolation while everything seems to be spiraling down into a morass of blood and horror.

Because of the Ukraine situation, I have been almost obsessively listening to The Call Up by the Clash, a song which I dissected when I wrote a post with a title almost identical to the title of this post, a line from the song.  The song is anchored by a rough-yet-almost-plaintive vocal by the late Joe Strummer, a man who I wish we still had around to help us make sense of things, exhorting young people to not answer the call to war.  It's a message we need now, as independent journalist Robert Evans put it, not all of the Russian invaders are Putin supporters, some are kids conscripted into service.  Let's hope they find common cause with the people of Ukraine and desert.

Anyway, this is the song which, while not exactly consoling me, is helping to make this dread more bearable:

Joe, Joe, Joe, you left us all too soon!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

'Let's Go Brandon!' Was Bad Enough

Tackling the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an onerous endeavor, and I don't think I could do better than Evan Hurst's post on Wonkette.  Put succinctly, Putin wants to return to the glory days of Russian hegemony, with himself as an autocratic ruler, a sort of neo-tsar.  I would add that Ukraine is the cradle of the Russian state, which had its founding in Kyivan Rus, a polity founded by Viking colonists. Putin went so far as to claim that Ukraine was invented by Lenin, and like most imperialists, insisted that his invasion of eastern Ukraine was a humanitarian crusade to protect ethnic Russians from a hostile power.

For his part, Biden's response was measured, with the President announcing that he would, in concert with allies, begin to impose sanctions on Russian financial institutions, and on Russian oligarchs:

I hope that the US is not pulled into a war with Russia, and I doubt that it will happen.  That being said, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, who form a significant part of the population of New York City.  It might sound cliche, but I fell in love with Ukrainian culture at Lys Mykyta Bar in the East Village, where I came to appreciate these valiant and hospitable people.

I don't think Putin is as clever as his fans believe.  While the Russian army is formidable, so is the Ukrainian military, and the Ukrainians should be fairly successful in infiltrating and sabotaging invading Russian forces.  This could be a repeat of Afghanistan for the Russians.  I sincerely hope that Western powers confiscate property belonging to Russian oligarchs so they decide to counter the chief kleptocrat.  

The most grotesque aspect of this nascent conflict is the Putin worship on the right, as Fox News devotes its opinion shows to defending Russian aggression and Trump praised Putin's genius.  2021's 'Let's go Brandon' was bad enough, but it's not nearly as obnoxious as 2022's 'Let's go Putin!'

I was just about to hit 'publish' when I saw the news: DAMNIT  DAMNIT  DAMNIT!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Early Bird Bastard Special?

You know that you're getting old when the thing that beckons you into a bar is a sign outside advertising 'leg of lamb on roll'.  Today being a day off, I headed off to the tavern-laden commercial strip to run some errands, when I saw that sign in front of The Heritage Bar and Restaurant.  After performing the requisite tasks, I found myself inside the aforementioned Heritage, a worthy establishment, ordering a shot of Tullamore Dew with a Guinness stout chaser.  Soon after, the lamb sandwich, the promise of which lured me inside, arrived.  Lamb is my favorite meat (except perhaps the similar-tasting goat), and the sandwich did not disappoint- it was perfectly cooked, tender without a hint of dryness, and dressed with a hint of caramelized onions.  A second Guinness made a capital accompaniment, and a third Guinness a perfect dessert.

It's here where I note that I enjoy day drinking (I told the bartender this, and another patron replied, "The only kind of drinking.").  I enjoy the slight sense of licentiousness that arises when one looks out the window of a dark tavern interior to see the bright sunlight outside.  Even the feeling of blinking, half-blind and slightly buzzed, in the daylight after leaving is pleasant, in a hard-to-describe way.  More salient, hiding away from the news of the day, more-than-typically dire this week, wasn't a bad activity for a couple of hours.

There's time to catch up on the current horrorshow, but sometimes, a person just has to indulge in some low-key hedonism.  I think I might have to make lunches like this a part of the typical running of errands.  The local establishments can use the business, and I can use the R&R.

Monday, February 21, 2022

A Consideration of Presidents' Day

Ah, Presidents' Day, yet another holiday which allows workers to take a day to travel or engage in recreation during the period in which much of the continental US experiences its worst weather.  Personally, I typically work on the day, which suits me fine.  Part of me suspects that the holiday is a result of lobbying by the ski/snowboarding industry.

As most USAsians know, Presidents' Day is a bit of a portmanteau holiday, created by combining the individual holidays celebrating the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  For non-American readers, there aren't a lot of national holidays here in the 'States, and paid time off is pretty rare, usually reserved for full-time workers.

Now, Presidents Washington and Lincoln, generally speaking, are revered figures in the USA, despite their flaws.  Washington was a slave owner, but he was a damn good president for white male landowners, and in a remarkable move for the time, retired rather than seeking a lifetime position, as he stated in his farewell address, in which he also inveighed against factionalism and regionalism.  Yeah, he was a great president for white male landowners.

Lincoln, of course, signed the Emancipation Declaration, in which he freed all the slaves that he was legally unable to do, as they resided at the time in a hostile foreign nation, founded by traitors.  He tried, and while he espoused the white supremacist ideas common to white men of the day, he was a progressive by those standards. He was in a tough spot, and he saved the unity of the nation at the cost of a sea's worth of blood.

Presidents' Day, though, by not specifying particular presidents, can be seen as a day for stolen valor by lesser presidents, monsters like Andrew Jackson and corrupt boobs like Warren G. Harding.  Maybe we need a Bad Presidents' Day, in which angry citizens can throw dirt clods at dirty clods.   Personally, I didn't think that Donald Trump was the worst president in US history until 2020- until the pandemic hit, George W. Bush had a higher body count due to his corruption and incompetence.  Boy, howdy, though, did Donald lap Dubya in that final year, and that even worse coda to his maladministration in January 2021, when (unlike Washington) he decided that he DIDN'T wish to relinquish power.  I shudder to contemplate that anyone could be a worse commander-in-chief.

So that's this year's take on Presidents' Day, a day I devoted to work and handling a state-mandated car inspection.  I'd rather have a day off in June. truth be told.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

P Is for Panacea

One very bizarre development in the right-wing anti-vaccine and 'alternative' medicine crew is the drinking of piss.  Some of these Trumpy weirdos take their urine at both ends:


 I kinda hate that I know that this guy even exists... thank you, QAA crew

Drinking urine was something the QAnon cultists waiting for JFK to show up in Dallas engaged in. The 'anti-vax cop averred that drinking urine could cure COVID'

The latest curin' urine item I've seen is a report from intrepid Zello monitor Noelle that someone had suggested to the Ottawa occupiers that 'urine therapy' could assauge the effects of tear gas:

I'm not sure if that was actual advice, or a setup by one of the trolls who overran the trucker communications channels (in one case, a subtle troll took over moderation of a Zello channel in a long con). Once again, thank the QAA crew for coverage

Yeah, it looks like the right has dared to enter the magical realm, perhaps taking a cue (by which I mean P) from their fearless leader.  Urine is now their liquid gold, the stuff that cured a nation...  you just can't spell 'panacea' without 'P'.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Vacation's Over, Sweetie!

Longtime readers may have noticed a certain lack of spice in recent blog entries.  My co-worker and companion Ginger has been on vacation at a manager's home for over a month.  I'm grateful, we've had a blizzard, a couple of ice storms, and a run of single-digit temperatures throughout that time, and not having to worry about Ginger was a relief.

That being said, I'm glad that she's back, her gracious host having made travel plans for Presidents' Day weekend.  As always, she provided companionship and amusement to me throughout the graveyard shift.

Here's a photo of Ginger making herself comfortable on a dropcloth- our maintenance crew is doing a lot of spackling and painting in our main building, hopefully presaging an opening in the Spring after two years of inactivity.  

Rest assured that Ginger is hard at work... HONEST.  I haven't seen a single rodent near that dropcloth since she's gotten back.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Make Canada Staid Again

I wouldn't call Canada boring- I have many Canadian friends, on-and-offline, and I have enjoyed travel to such top-notch cities as Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal and Québec City, the most beautiful European city in the world, albeit one in North America.  Also, Canada is the number one source for poutine and smoking hot Canadian girlfriends.

It's been bizarre to see the current right-wing tantrum that has embroiled Canada for the past three weeks- it's as if the, in a quote attributed to Robin Williams, nice apartment over the meth lab suddenly became a pop-up fentanyl manufactory.  Canada... whodathunk it?

My go-to source for Canadian scuttlebutt has been the Toronto-based NoelleNarwhal, who has done great work monitoring the communications of the various convoys and their supporters.  For boots on the ground news from the besieged Ottawa, Justin Ling is doing good work, especially now as the Ottawa occupiers are being ejected from the city by riot police.  I mean, this sort of thing has been three weeks in the making:

That's not the 'Canada nice' I expected, though to tell the truth, these assholes have been jamming up the Canadian capital for three weeks.  Also, apparently de-escalation tactics weren't working, though that's from an official police source, so there's bias there.  It looks, though, like about 100 people were arrested:

Including a few of the ringleaders: Canada, now that you've had your 1/6, including calls to depose the duly elected head of state, please return to the staid state that you've long been known for.  As a neighbor, and a friend, please leave the craziness to us, by which I mean US.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A Penitent's Offering

My upstairs neighbor jetted off to Jamaica for a few days, so she asked me if I could let the dog out in the middle of the day.  She has other neighbors feeding him and taking him for walks in the morning and the afternoon, so I am tasked with taking him out around noon, mainly so he can pee.

Yesterday, he was reluctant to go outside.  He can be a little moody at times, and he wasn't exactly excited to go out to the backyard.  Typically, when I come home on the weekend at 7AM, he goes nuts until my neighbor lets him out so we can goof off together for twenty minutes or so, until it's time for his walk.  Middays, he's not always raring to go.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I managed to tap into my 'Bastard' persona, and did him dirty by playing this video on my phone:


That got his attention, and he ran out back, as I had hoped.  In my defense, I had worked the overnight, so I really wasn't prepared to take a half hour to coax him outside.  Well, he was pissed.  I had a couple of balls that I threw, but no squeak, no dice.  He just kinda gave me the stink eye, and who could blame him?  I pulled a dirty, rotten bait-and-switch on him.

I realized that I had to expiate my guilt, so when I stopped at the supermarket on my way to work, I bought him a squeaky thing, and made my peace offering this morning:


I'm happy to say that all is forgiven, and the two of us spent a good forty-five minutes hanging out, while he let me know who the Squeaky Toy Boss was:

He doesn't look too smug there!  I learned my lesson... no more bait-and-switch.  It's a bad business, one that necessitates penance, squeaky penance.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Last Funny Conservative?

Well, P. J. O'Rourke, satirist and NPR panelist, has died.  O'Rourke was always on the Libertarian, even Libertine, side of the right-wing cadre, and while he usually punched down, like all conservatives, he didn't do so all of the time, and could even engage in actual, pointed satire to criticize the powerful.  That being said, he DID have a naïf view of liberalism, like this claptrap from 2007's Give War a Chance:

At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

Yeah, I'm a sniveling brat for wanting every member of my society, indeed everyone on the planet, to have a shot at being able to sustain himself or herself, to have basic needs met so loftier goals can be achieved- isn't that what every spoiled brat wants?

The earlier O'Rourke wasn't lazy like this, and actually could engage in self-deprecation, such as this dig at himself in a piece written for Car and Driver about driving a Ferrari from NYC to LA:

And I had some other problems, too. I have a daytime job where I'm editor of the National Lampoon and I had fallen grievously behind in potty jokes, racial slurs, and comments that demean women. Deadlines loomed, the art department was in a pet, and down at the printing plant they were snarling in their cages. I had no business taking off just then to go do something silly in a rolling red expense account. 

Even later in life, he could produce a solid line, such as his reluctant endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election

"I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises.  It's the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she's way behind in second place. She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters." 

For the most part, though, late era O'Rourke's body of work was a typical farrago of right-wing talking points, lazy and repetitive.  I would say that, as he got more conservative, he got less funny.

That being said, O'Rourke wrote one of my all-time favorite lines: It's better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money.

It's been a while since I've used that in conversation, but it is a motto I've spouted on numerous occasions while younger and less well-remunerated.  For that line alone, I tip my hat to the last funny conservative.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Regarding Cognitive Tests

Via Tengrain,we have the sorry scene of Senator Roger Marshall talking about imposing a cognitive test on President Biden every year:

I would call Marshall's bluff and force all elected officials to take annual cognitive tests, including him. Does anyone really think that Madison Cawthorn or Lauren Boehbert would pass a cognitive test? Regarding Marj Greene, I think she's uneducated, maybe even pretty stupid, but not genuinely impaired. Hawley, Cruz, Thomas Massie- these are performatively stupid people who graduated from elite institutions. 

While we're at it, how about conducting monthly drug tests for thes policymakers as well? If it's good enough for Joe and Jane clock-puncher, it's good enough for them- after all, they work for us. 

Test them all, test them regularly, let them live under the policies they create for the rest of us.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Sussing Out the Network

In a stunning blow to the Canadian insurrection, hackers were able to take down Give, Send, Go, the favored crowdfunding site of right-wingers worldwide:

Even better, there are reports that donor names and emails were released: Even now, extremism researchers are combing through the data: Maps have been compiled showing companies allegedly involved in the fundraising. One crazy statistic is that over fifty-percent of the funds came from American sources, and government employees from agencies ranging from the DoJ to NASA are implicated in raising funds for this insurrection. I can't imagine their employers would be too happy with these individuals supporting a hostile act against an allied government. The fallout of this stupid Canadian tantrum is going to hit a ton of people in the coming months... and I love it.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Dour Marxist Lightens Up

The Super Bowl is nothing but an overblown spectacle, an orgy of commercialism distracting the proletariat from the struggle necessary to liberate the workers from the systemic domination of Capital.  It is nothing more than a soporific, meant to dull the senses of the masses to their plight.  It would be better if the whole rotten event went the way of the dodo!!  Rather than watch the Super Bowl, that time would better be spent reading or watching or listening to The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord!!!


Oh, a text... it's the gang... whoa, how many pizzas did you get? Cool, I can pick up some beverages, maybe a variety of chips.Great, kickoff is 6:30, right? Yeah, I'll be over, looking forward to seeing everybody.

What?  Oh... yeah, about that... polemics tend to repeat themselves, the first time as self-righteousness, the second time as farce.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

I Studied the Blade

What sort of housewarming present does one get for someone moving into a Manhattan apartment?  You buy something that doesn't take up too much space, for starters.  Dr Jen recently closed on a place and I figured I'd give her practical present:

I believe that, if possible, a gift should be freighted with meaning, and this one works on several levels.  On the simplest level, it's a practical object, suitable for everyday use, which can fit in a drawer in the kitchen.  On a slightly deeper level, it's a beautiful artifact, well crafted, and with a good feel in the hand.  It's also a callback to the 'Redheads with Knives' running joke.  

Finally, the Damascus steel of the blade is a reference to the good Doctor's Syrian heritage, and the blade, a pattern-welded blend of hard high carbon steel and softer low carbon steels, is a good balance... hard enough to hold an edge without being brittle, flexible enough to be tough without dullness.  A metaphor?  You be the judges.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Weird Alt Gay Porn Purveyors to the Rescue

I have to confess that I have been paying a lot of attention to the disruptive convoys in Canada for over a week.  In my post about the convoy, I mentioned that the theme song of the pushback, used to disrupt communications on convoy Zello channels, was Ram Ranch, a salacious song about gay cowboys at the eponymous estancia.  Now, Rolling Stone has covered the 'porno-metal' anthem of the resistance, with a shout-out to Noellenarwhal, one of the principal chroniclers of the convoys.  Today, the big reveal was that the chat-stream of the Windsor, Ontario bridge blockers was taken over by trolls:

Good job demoralizing and confusing these horrible people, all while monitoring their plans for further disruptions.  You trolls worked hard, now it's time to hit the showers like eighteen naked cowboys.

This use of an outré gay alt-porn creation to troll and undermine a right-wing campaign of fuckery reminds me of the time that gay dinosaur/bigfoot/whatever porn author Chuck Tingle nuked the Gamergaters from orbit when they tried to game the Hugo awards in order to make fun of women and people of color writing science fiction.  When Space Raptor Butt Invasion was nominated for a Hugo, Chuck Tingle made a public statement that Gamergate's primary victim Zoë Quinn would accept his award should he win.  It was a masterstroke that made the right-wing trolls look ridiculous, much like the constant interruptions of Ram Ranch makes the Canadian Convoy Clan sound ridiculous.

We might not get the heroes we are expecting, but we get the heroes we deserve, and it looks like weirdos who write unconventional gay porn are the ones who are... heh... rising to the occasion.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Right Wing Fuckery I Could Get Behind

I'm on record as having no real interest in professional sports- I'd much rather watch a bunch of South Asian guys playing cricket in a park, or a bunch of Irish girls playing camogie.  To me, professional athletics, besides being a means to have taxpayers subsidize billionaires, are a Debordian spectacle, with no match being more of an overblown show of excess than the Super Bowl.  

While I think the Super Bowl is a silly display, I don't think it's evil, though I have a keen awareness that Right Wingers believe that the Super Bowl Halftime show is an Illuminati ritual, brazenly conducted in front of an audience of millions.  That is the context in which AZ GOP whacko Wendy Rogers' tweet about disrupting the Super Bowl must be analyzed:

I can get behind a convoy shutting down the Super Bowl, because it's a useless spectacle, attended by wealthy individuals (the cheapest tickets look like they cost almost six thousand dollars).  The idea of a bunch of Trumpers shutting down such an event is hilarious... I imagine that the local gendarmes would shut such a disruption down precisely because it would inconvenience the rich, moreso than they'd intervene in a convoy interfering with the freedom of movement of working people.

Do it, Trumpy truckers, punch up for once in your lives, see how the Powers that Be react to your intrusion into the bubble in which the most privileged Americans live.  Get that convoy mobilized and make the Super Bowl extra super!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Fistful of Q Drops

Every once in a while, I post about Ron Watkins, the problematic proprietor of 8Chan, probable Q drop poster, and election audit partisan.  Watkins has a new grift, he's running for Congress in Arizona's 1st congressional district, and his new ad is a doozy:

I can't even tell if he's serious or if he's trolling, but that Morriconesque soundtrack and washed-out, overexposed look add up to Pure Comedy Gold.  This is the worst Spaghetti Western I've ever seen- the Magnificent Seventeen starring in A Fistful of Q Drops.  The fact that his campaign website is CMZ Army (standing for CodeMonkeyZ Army but looking like CumZoneArmy) only makes the whole thing look more ludicrous and grotesque.

The 2022 GOP primaries are going to be a shitshow, all least there will be some comic relief now and again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Big Big Boom!

I've been preoccupied with earthly matters lately, so I haven't been keeping abreast of things celestial.  That's how I missed this item about astronomers observing the progress of a supernova explosion.  Red giant SN 2020tlf flared up and ejected great gouts of gas before collapsing and exploding, a phenomenon never before observed.  

The artist's rendering of the process is quite dramatic, as befits a big boom on a cosmic scale: 


Here's where I note that I haven't posted on the progress of the James Webb Space Telescope launch, because I wanted to wait until the deployment was a fait accompli.  The telescope has come up in various Secret Science Club recaps, though.  If our astrophysicists are getting dramatic footage of supernova explosions from earthbound observatories, just imagine what sort of images will be obtained using an extraterrestrial observatory.

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Topless Bar and the Tapas Bar

Years ago, I lived in the Dunwoodie Heights section of Yonkers,  about two miles from my current neighborhood, which is the Woodlawn-ish neighborhood which straddles the Yonkers/Bronx border.  The Dunwoodie house was best described as a beach house without an ocean- there were four of us who had known each other for many years, helping a friend pay his mortgage by paying him an almost perfuctory rent (basically, enough to cover the mortgage payment).  We would always have visitors over, and twice a year, we'd through huge parties with over 100 guests- that was the only way to do the major housecleaning... you had to clean before company came over, and you'd REALLY have to clean the day after the beer bash.  We'd always tell the neighbors, even invite them, and we never received any complaints.  The neighborhood is a safe one, a blend of working class and middle class, native-born and immigrant.  

We were a block north of a small commercial strip on Yonkers Ave, a couple of takeout joints, a small supermarket (I believe the term 'superette' should suffice), a pastry shop, and a couple of bars.  One of the bars is a low-key, low-rent topless joint, fairly unobtrusive but a bit of an anomaly in a neighborhood like that.  It never really attracted much ire from the neighborhood, and nobody ever seemed inclined to shut it down.  We're a live-and-let-live bunch for the most part.  Oddly enough, though, it seemed like every ten years or so, somebody would get killed in the place.  I've been combing through the news archives trying to document a shooting around 1990, which actually made a national 'true crime' show, but haven't turned up anything yet.  The second shooting took place around around 2000, and two friends of mine met there for a beer the next day, and wondered why the place was abandoned.  Recently, there was a non-fatal stabbing and a brawl in which a firefighter put some guy in a coma.  As I said, the neighborhood is a generally safe one, but I would joke that, if you wanted to get murdered in Dunwoodie, the topless bar was the place to go.  Even with the periodic mayhem, there really haven't been any calls to shut the place down.

There's a new contender for Dunwoodie murder spot... taking the mantle from the topless bar is the tapas bar.  In the wee hours of Sunday morning, there was an altercation in which an individual shot two employees, one of whom died.  I have to say that I might have been to the place once, soon after it opened, but I recall a time when it was owned by a wannabe wiseguy who spent his parents' money on coke and a vanity project as an aspiring bar owner.  Yeah, not a great place, especially when you hear a stray rumor of the owner keeping a gun in his office, probably next to the cocaine supply.  Oddly enough, even though the tapas bar has a lower body count than the topless bar, there are calls to shut the place down.  It's on the ass-end of the commercial stretch, across from an apartment building, so it's more obtrusive than the topless joint, which really doesn't seem to raise anyone's ire.

Now I have to change my routine- there's more than one spot to be murdered in Dunwoodie.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Betrayed by a Valuable Servant

Smartphones... can you live without yours?  Every once in a while, I leave mine at home while running errands, just to show myself that I am not totally addicted, and to have a couple of hours when my location is unknown to a bunch of telecommunications conglomerates.  Those occasions are rare, and of short duration though.

Yeah, smartphones are valuable servants, so when one is betrayed by such a servant, it is heartbreaking.  So it was with French judoka Priscilla Gneto, 2012 Olympic medalist and 2017 European champion in the 57Kg weight division.  During a match with Japan's Momo Tamaoki during this weekend's French Judo Grand Slam, her smartphone fell out of her judogi onto the mat, and she was disqualified.  The worst thing about this occurrence is that she had the upper hand when it happened:


Quel dommage!  Thankfully, she was able to garner the bronze in the competition by winning her next fight.  It's unfortunate that her little electronic servant betrayed her during this important fight, but such are the fortunes of combat.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Good Advice Guy

This morning, I clocked out at 7AM. I was lollygagging because it was frigid out and sunrise was at 7:01. I was in no hurry to walk the skating rink that is our parking lot- let the sun beat down a while and maybe reduce the ice factor a bit.

As I’m preparing to head out, I see two guys walking toward the front doors and think to myself, “What the cinnamon toast fuck are these guys doing here on a morning like this?”

As they get closer, I recognize one of them, he works for our custodial contractor. He’s a young Dominican man from the Bronx, a good, hard-working kid.

The last time I saw him was on a rare Thursday when I started at 5PM. He told me that he had quit his other job, where he had few hours, with no consistency, and where he felt disrespected. He had found a full-time job, Monday to Friday, and he was planning on quitting the second part-time job because he wouldn’t be able to arrive at 5PM on Tuesday.

I told him that there wasn’t a magic day or hour for him to clean our place, and suggested that he talk to the boss about coming in on Saturday or Sunday, if he wanted to pick up extra work. He has the keys and the alarm codes he needs.

Sure enough, he spoke to the boss, a decent guy, and he remained working Saturdays. He and his wife have a baby and the extra money is useful.  I was happy to hear that he is happy with his full-time job and feels respected and valued there.

I’m glad I had the talk with him, he’s young and I don’t think it even occurred to him that he could negotiate with a boss, and make his own hours. Needless to say, I was happy to see him, and ecstatic that my advice to him was sound.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Straight Out of Dark Dungeons

Via Tengrain, we have news of a book burning in Tennessee, in which a MAGA-loving pastor burned books to be deemed 'demonic':

As a nerd, and someone who enjoys gaming and fantasy literature, this immediately reminded me of the Satanic Panic which gripped much of the country in the 1980s and never quite went away. Back in 1985, Uncle Gary spoke about this nonsense in a 60 Minutes interview: 


One of rhe artifacts of the Satanic Panic is a Chick Tract, Dark Dungeons, which is simultaneously beloved of and reviled by gaming nerds. Whom among us wasn't reduced to paroxysms of laughter as we followed Debbie on her quest for the real power?

Oddly enough, none of us learned how to really cast spells, but we did learn a shitload about probability and statistics, and picked up High Gygaxian vocabulary words such as milieu, weal, and hoddypeak.  Personally, I would love to see a study about the effects of playing D&D on SAT scores.

Of course, the real solution to the occult dilemma which ensnared Debbie was an old-fashioned book-burning, like that we just saw in Tennessee:

Why mess with a winning formula?  The burning of objects they deem demonic scratches an itch among these people, and will do so until the dark time when they get to burn people they deem demonic.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Fear of a Black Narrative

Typically, I post an acknowledgement of Black History Month at the end of February, but this year, circumstances dictate that I write about this topic now, as Alabama school officials receive complaints about Black History Month:

The mere fact that a Black History Month is necessary is monstrous... Black History is American History, the nation was built using unremunerated labor performed by enslaved persons of African descent.  From the 1600s to the 1900s, unpaid Black workers toiled to build the infrastructure of the continent, and to line the pockets of wealthy White men, quite a few of whom professed lofty ideals about individual liberties.  Slavery was ubiquitous in the colonies and the states, and while the economics of slavery in the North were different than the economics of Southern slavery, fortunes were made throughout North America using unpaid Black workers.

Even after the abolition of slavery, Black labor was exploited through sharecropping, debt peonage, and other exploitative economic chicanery.  When Black communities became successful, they were often obliterated... such towns as Wilmington, NC, the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, and yes, Seneca Village on the island of Manhattan were destroyed by hostile whites.  Any lack of generational wealth is the Black community has been caused by White pathologies, not Black pathologies.

I would also posit that Black Americans are more authentically 'American' than White Americans- they had to create a culture on American soil because their original cultural identity was destroyed, and numerous African ethnic groups had to piece together a syncretic Black culture in a New World.  Black American Culture has a particular genius- producing Jazz, Blues, R&B, Rock-and/or-Roll, and Hip-Hop.  Predictably, White people also appropriated these cultural achievements.

Throughout American history, the dominant White culture has sought to erase or denigrate the achievements of Black Americans.  Successful Black individuals were often targeted by violent mobs, as were successful Black neighborhoods.  Black cultural forms were ridiculed by White pundits, then appropriated by White performers.   Black History Month, the shortest month of the year, was formed as a corrective to this erasure and devaluation... it's really not enough, Black History is American history and should be integrated into the national narrative.  There's nothing that mediocre White people fear more than an acknowledgment of Black excellence.

Post title is a riff on the classic Public Enemy album title.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Nutty News from North

Today was a weird day, spend doing a bit of housecleaning and spending entirely too much time following coverage of the right-wing occupation of Ottawa, ostensibly by a convoy of truckers who oppose vaccine mandates  The latest development in this kerfuffle is the pausing by GoFundMe of a fundraiser which raised almost ten million dollars.

There are a couple of Twitter feeds by women who are monitoring the radio-app communications of convoy members and supporters- Noelle covering an English feed, and Jennie covering a French feed.  The feeds are a farrago of idiocy, and confessions of ill-preparedness (convoy members need blankets, shovels, and fuel- which must be transported to idling trucks in Jerry cans).  There are also expressions of fear about donations of sugar-tainted fuel (I can't tell whether or not advice to taste it are serious or not) and laxative-tainted food.  Trolls are interrupting the feed with homoerotic songs such as Ram Ranch and Welcome to the Cum Zone... I can't really endorse listening to either of these.  One troll hilariously asked for an emergency fuel delivery to Frumunda St.

Despite the comedy value of a bunch of idiots staging a moving protest during a Canadian winter, there are worrisome aspects of the occupation- a lot of the occupiers are creeps, residents of a downtown women's shelter have been traumatized, and reports of assaults and threats have necessitate the creation of a hate crimes hotline.

Thankfully, a snowstorm is bearing down on the region, which has prompted accusations of weather manipulation by the Trudeau government because, don't ya know, snow in February in Ontario is suspicious.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Damnit, Dorsey Did It!

He finally forced my hand because using the site became impossible... yeah, I signed up for Twitter.

I held out for as long as I could, but it became impossible to even scroll down a thread without a 'sign in or sign up' prompt. I like to follow a bunch of researchers and a bunch of journalists, and the site lost all functionality for non-members. I was a bit chafed when I signed up, because I was forced to follow an account from a short list of mainly celebrities, so I chose a NYC tourism related site. My first follow of choice is Tengrain, who has always been supportive of me and my endeavors.

If you have a Twitter account and wish me to follow, drop me a line in the comments.  I imagine the first week or so on this site will be mainly involved with accruing a followers/followed list... then the snarking can begin.

Postscript: I know Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO of Twitter, but I am exercising poetic license in order to achieve alliteration.