Monday, October 16, 2017

Past the Half-Way Mark

October has turned a corner- we are now past the half-way mark in the month. It's time to give a rundown on the major events on the job. So far, things have been going pretty well, I have recognized a bunch of regular October visitors, including three intrepid souls from Pittsburgh, a very nice local couple, and a patron who had come to me with a complaint a few years ago, who is now a fast friend (I have really come to appreciate his daughter, a really nice kid who is a talented artist and a budding bassist). Hilariously, the public seems to have a knack for pulling off things that management hadn't anticipated- now there is a bag-check so nobody sneaks bottles of booze onto the site, and last Saturday, a couple of guys decided to start a barbecue in the parking lot, in a well-traveled traffic lane. I was tasked with telling these bros to douse the grill, and they were cool about it, probably because they had finished heating their hot dogs. Tonight, I will be sending an e-mail to management detailing the latest in the organization/public 'arms race'... we may need signs detailing more individual behaviors which are disallowed on the property. Sure, there's no smoking on site, but a charcoal fire is not a cigarette.

Generally speaking, it's tiring but fun. 99.9% of our visitors are wonderful people, the occasional obnoxious drunk, while drawing a disproportionate amount of attention, is in the minority. I haven't had an urge to hit anyone with a shoe yet. The month is halfway through, and I haven't had a day off yet, but on the whole, I can't complain. Much as I'd hate to have it become public knowledge, I don't mind dealing with the public.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scary Monsters

I am on record being a fan of the late, great David Bowie. One of my particular favorite Bowie Songs is 1980's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Poking around the intert00bz, I found a great live version from 1995, with Bowie fronting Nine Inch Nails:





Now, isn't that an appropriate track for the Halloween season?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Prunes Give Me the Runes

Today's selection is M.R. James' Casting the Runes, a supernatural thriller in which a reviewer plays a cat-and-mouse game with an occultist who has cursed him for a bad book review... some people just can't take criticism! In the course of the narrative, the reviewer needs to figure out a way to reverse this fatal curse, which was 'activated' when the occultist slipped him a piece of paper inscribed with arcane runes. The story was filmed in 1957 as Night of the Demon, a not-so-subtle take on Mr James' tale:





The movie is referenced in my favorite song from the Rocky Horror Show, Science Fiction/Double Feature, from which I took the post title:





Personally, I think that, with a giant demon chasing you, you wouldn't need prunes to 'move things along'.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gives Me a Headache

Being October, I'm swamped at work, especially on the weekends, so in accordance with the prophecy tradition, I like to post scary stories or film clips on the weekends. One of the weirdest of the 'weird tales', by modern standards, is Green Tea, by Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu. The story concerns a young author who descends into madness and hallucination becauTea was my companion-at first the ordinary black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong:se he... uhhhh... drinks green tea:


"I wrote a great deal; I wrote late at night. I was always thinking on the subject, walking about, wherever I was, everywhere. It thoroughly infected me. You are to remember that all the material ideas connected with it were more or less of the beautiful, the subject itself delightfully interesting, and I, then, without a care." He sighed heavily. "I believe, that every one who sets about writing in earnest does his work, as a friend of mine phrased it, on something--tea, or coffee, or tobacco. I suppose there is a material waste that must be hourly supplied in such occupations, or that we should grow too abstracted, and the mind, as it were, pass out of the body, unless it were reminded often enough of the connection by actual sensation. At all events, I felt the want, and I supplied it. Tea was my companion-at first the ordinary black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong: but I drank a good deal, and increased its strength as I went on. I never, experienced an uncomfortable symptom from it. ! began to take a little green tea. I found the effect pleasanter, it cleared and intensified the power of thought so, I had come to take it frequently, but not stronger than one might take it for pleasure. I wrote a great deal out here, it was so quiet, and in this room. I used to sit up very late, and it became a habit with me to sip my tea--green tea--every now and then as my work proceeded. I had a little kettle on my table, that swung over a lamp, and made tea two or three times between eleven o'clock and two or three in the morning, my hours of going to bed. I used to go into town every day. I was not a monk, and, although I spent an hour or two in a library, hunting up authorities and looking out lights upon my theme, I was in no morbid state as far as I can judge. I met my friends pretty much as usual and enjoyed their society, and, on the whole, existence had never been, I think, so pleasant before."



Ahhhh, yes, ordinary black tea, the crushed and oxidized occidentalized tea favored by Westerners, rather than those inscrutable Easterners with their hallucination-inducing green tea. Le Fanu's tale is perhaps the second best cautionary tale about tea, second only to Rabbit's Kin:





I first ran into this tale in the course of Tor Books' wonderful Lovecraft Reread series.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Predictable 180 on Debt

Nine days ago, Donald Trump hinted that he would pressure investors to take a bath on Puerto Rican debt obligations, but being a mendacious prick, he has not only ditched that, but threatened to pull FEMA from the island. Meanwhile, the Republican congress wants to offer Puerto Rico a loan for disaster relief, a loan which Puerto Rico really can't afford. Once again, the U.S. government has failed this territory and its people.

Over the course of last weekend, I had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Puerto Rico with several Puerto Ricans, both inhabitants of the island who were in New York on vacation (one gentleman discussed having had family vacation plans prior to the hurricane, and taking advantage of his US sojourn to indulge in such luxuries as hot showers and access to the news) and Nuyoricans. The general mood was one of sadness, with anger towards the federal government, but gratitude to the state and local governments which are stepping in to fill the void left by the absence of a coherent federal response. In a discussion with one woman, who was wearing a PUERTO RICO T-shirt in solidarity with the people of the island, I remarked that New York City should just name Puerto Rico the sixth borough... the population is not much more than that of Brooklyn, and there are plenty of people who have a foot in both NYC and PR... people such as the people I spoke with, people such as numerous friends of mine.

Puerto Rico needs genuine help, not a doubling down on their financial straits in the guise of assistance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More Fridge Notes About Injuries and Food

I bounce around a lot from site-to-site on the job this time of year. While I still spend the majority of my time at my usual spot, I am called upon to cover additional ground as the workforce gets spread around thin. At a site I don't spend too much time working, I found this fridge note from a co-worker:




It's an interesting juxtaposition, injuries and food. I'm the guy who places the orders for first-aid supplies for the organization, and chemical cold packs are the items which see most use, aside from small adhesive bandages- people fall, they get stung by insects... things happen. I'm glad that the staff uses real ice-compresses, while saving the instant ones for the patrons.

The title of this slim post (I'm running to another site as soon as I hit 'publish') is inspired by the title of Talking Heads' second album. Here's Found a Job from the album:





I found a job... and I can't seem to escape it these days.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seems Legit

Okay, I've gotten a couple of comments from an outfit claiming to be from New York Times©... uh, shouldn't that be a trademark? Anyway, it's for a modeling gig, albeit a 'furry' one:


Hey this is the New York times©, we were wondering if you would be interested in modeling for a magazine cover, all you would have to do is come dressed as a tiger man, thank you, send application @newyorktimes.com®


They even sent a follow-up:


Hey this is NYT©, we were wondering if you are still up for that tiger man gig?


Oddly enough, the 'Paper of Record' seems to have a very odd profile:


On Blogger since October 2017

Profile views - 3



What could possibly go wrong with sending in an application?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Once Again, We Consider Columbus Day

As is typical, on Columbus Day, I reconsider the meaning of this holiday. To put it mildly, although accomplished, Christopher Columbus was not a nice man. As not only an Italian-American, but a Genoese-American, I think that our community can nominate a much better representative than Columbus, who sailed for Spanish monarchs four centuries before Italy existed as a nation... and I'm not the only Italian-American to reconsider this representation. I wouldn't object to renaming the day Antonio Del Monaco Day- he was a handsome guy and he recorded one of the great Italian standards:





Of course, the holiday itself should be kept- when I got home from work after 2AM, I only found a parking space close to home because the alternate side parking rules were suspended. Che miracolo!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Road to Hell

Being that I am in super-busy mode throughout October, I often pre-schedule my weekend posts. Appropriately, Atlas Obscura has been featuring some spooky posts for the month. I especially liked this cross-cultural feature about reputed entrances to the Underworld. It's an interesting read, and it sets up a great opportunity to post a video for the terrific Straight to Hell, by the Clash:





The song lent its title to a spaghetti-western parody by Alex Cox that I have never gotten around to watching. I know it's a self-consciously 'cult' film, but any film that features the late, great Joe Strummer and members of the Pogues has got to be of some interest to a bastard such as myself.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

As if Work Weren't Busy Enough

Besides a crazy work-schedule, the first Saturday in October marks the beginning of my volunteer coaching gig. It's always amazing to see how much the kids have grown over the summer... Funny, we coaches don't change. This time of year, I don't get much sleep, but I've always considered sleep to be overrated. It's much more productive spending time being beaten up by a bunch of seven year-olds for a few hours on a Saturday morning.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Busy Weekends Ahead

This afternoon, it begins... our second major Fall fundraiser starts, so it's all hands on deck, staffing-wise. At the beginning of the evening, I have to prepare our site for the influx of visitors, and at the end of the night, I have to make sure that everything is locked up, all of the lights are off, and the coffeepot is unplugged. During the actual event, I basically act as a 'backstop' for my co-workers, if anybody has any problems, I will respond, either acting as a pacifier or a rectifier. We typically get a good crowd, with a couple of unruly drunks in the mix- a couple of unruly drunks who are dealt with quickly, so they don't cause any problems. I have actually gotten to know quite a few of the 'regulars', often people who have had a complaint about something which I have helped to rectify. Funny how seeming to be sympathetic and allowing people to vent serves to disarm them, often eliciting gratitude. I've got a good poker face, and a high tolerance for emotional people, so I have a knack for defusing tense moments. It doesn't hurt that I look like a person who is perfectly capable of knocking someone on their ass if they get out of hand- the one time I contemplating staging a physical interposition between an asshole and a co-worker of mine, the guy's friends got the hint and hustled him away from the confrontation- lucky for him, this particular co-worker of mine is one badass woman. Most people aren't looking for a fight, and I have ended up being 'buddy-buddy' with people who came to me with chips on their shoulders. When dealing with the public, it helps to model yourself on a local bartender- give them ear, but channel that old McSorley's adage: Be good or be gone.

The one thing to which I cling throughout the month is the fact that things get R-E-A-L Q-U-I-E-T after this month and a half long crunch time. Come mid-November, I'll be hanging out in peace and quiet, playing with Ginger, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Typical Leftist War on the Poor

Well, the aftermath of the Mandalay Bay Slay has been predictably stupid, but it seems as if the Congress might put regulations on the sale of bump or slide stocks. As an aside, the right-wing media is very clear about blaming the Obama administration for the legalization of bump-stocks- so much for the gun-grabbing Kenyan Usurper. Via Wonkette, I've found the stupidest defense of bump stocks from a Breitbart not-too-bright brat:




My favorite items are 3. and, especially 5. Let's take 3. first: Bump-stock devices are not made for accuracy, but for the fun of mimicking automatic fire. Mimicking automatic fire is fun, but attending country music shows in open-air venues is terrifying. Automatic fire has a military application- providing suppressive fire to diminish an enemy's ability to attack, but in the absence of a hostile force, it's really only effective in slaughtering masses of people in close proximity. With the reduced accuracy of automatic fire, one engages in spray and pray- a lot of lead is put into the air, in the hopes that at least one projectile with hit a target. Tragically, shooting congregated concertgoers is like shooting fish in a barrel- 'spray and pray' becomes 'spray and slay'. Bump stocks aren't of value to the sportsman, unless one considers mass-shootings of human beings a sport.

Item five is a real howler- leave it to some Breitbart asshole to apply the label 'typical leftist war on the poor' to describe a reaction to a millionaire's very real act of war against some Heartlanders who wanted to enjoy a night of music which was cheaper than a $200 slide-stock. Sorry, Buford, but if you can't afford a real automatic weapon, you should have chosen your parents more wisely.

I doubt that anything will be accomplished- there will be the typical false pieties, the typical admonitions that having a frank discussion of America's mass-murder problem is somehow 'disrespecting' the families of the slain. It's the same old shit, so on with the body count.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sixty Years of a Space Age

Being a nerd-American, I have to note the sixtieth anniversary of the launching of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite launched into Earth orbit. The successful launch of the satellite was a propaganda coup for the Soviet Union, demonstrating that Soviet science and engineering had overtaken that of the West, and setting off a panic. If the Soviets could launch a sphere into space, they had rockets which could hit Wichita or Des Moines. Behold, the sound of terror:





The BBC Newshour had great coverage of the repurposing of a radio telescope by an English astro-engineer to track Sputnik 1's orbit. At any rate, the launching of Sputnik galvanized the U.S. government to create NASA and the 'Space Race' was ignited. Sixty years later, things seem to have stagnated, but the untenanted probes have performed spectacularly.

Regarding 'Sputnik Moments', the World's Sexiest Astrophysicist has something to say:





Me? I'd prefer to see international cooperation in space. Dwight Eisenhower pointedly created NASA as a civilian space agency, which gave the US a 'public relations' advantage over the USSR's military space agency. Every inhabitant of the Earth should eventually get a shot at a new life in off-world colonies:





Hopefully, humanity will get its act together, put violent conflicts behind it, and join in a grand interplanetary adventure. The launching of Sputnik 1 may have launched a panic, but that panic resulted in positive action. Well, it also resulted in at least one novelty song:





Now, that's got to be the second best song ever written about a satellite.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fucking Miracles, How Do They Work?

Oh, cheese-and-crackers, this fucking week, this fucking president... first we have him traveling to Puerto Rico and claims that the response is 'nothing short of a miracle', while the response has involved human toil, human generosity, human compassion. Then he claimed that the Puerto Rico disaster response has 'put the budget out of whack'. Fucker, know what puts the budget out of whack? Your weekly golf trips which you bill the taxypayers for and your former HHS secretary's half-million dollar charter plane habit. Tom Price's expenditures could have gone a long way to alleviate the suffering of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Also, what the hell is up with singling out Puerto Rico for the pricetag of recovery, while not mentioning Texas and Florida? No need to answer that, it's Trump's racism, specifically his animus against Latinos.

Commenting on the mass-shooting in Las Vegas, Trump also used the term 'miracle'- ‘What happened is, in many ways, a miracle.’ No, it was no miracle- it was a combination of window-alarms, smoke detection, and the human responders from the hotel security department and the Las Vegas Police Department.

I'm a secular, cynical person, so I don't look for miraculous explanations for human successes, or in these instances, harm mitigation. You want miracles? Talk to a couple of clowns:





At this point, I think that either of these guys would make a better president than Donald.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Really World, WTF?

Wow, the news is terrible... the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night was the worst yet. The radio news is goddamn depressing, better put on the local FM music station... GODDAMNIT!!! Tom Petty just died. Just fucking great, world...

The radio has been playing a string of Tom Petty's songs this afternoon... the guy had a long, variegated career. Talking about his death with a co-worker, I came to the conclusion that Tom Petty was the mac-and-cheese of popular music- he may not have been the most flamboyant performer, but he always delivered a satisfying performance. While not the greatest vocalist, his distinctive, sometimes droll/sometimes lugubrious twang was perfectly suited to his songs about underdogs. I also appreciated the fact that he matured before the public eye- in one case, famously disavowing his former display of the Confederate battle flag as he came to terms with his Southern heritage. Yep, he was a reliable fellow, always good, often excellent, with lyrics which expressed the uncertainties of life and love. He also had quite a sense of humor, which was often self-deprecating- no pretentious egomaniac here. My all-time favorite Tom Petty moment is featured on a live album, when the audience takes over singing his breakout single 'Breakdown' in harmony, and Mr Petty lets them roll with it, joking, "Gonna put me out of a job!"





Now, there was a man who trusted his fans. He wrote a bunch of enduring songs, not all top forty hits, but songs which will be played for posterity. It's been a shitty day, coming home from an overnight shift, the news was dominated by the Las Vegas mass shooting, but not even tuning out the news improved the day>

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Prepare to Dive!

Another October has arrived, the month of the major Fall fundraising season at work is upon us, so I will be a busy bee. Today is especially crazy, because I have to go to the wedding of two co-workers before heading off to work.

October also marks the start of my Saturday morning volunteer coaching gig. Last Saturday, I ran into my next door neighbor, and he remarked that he hadn't seen me in a while, so I gave him my standard line about October: "Basically, I become Captain Nemo, and I won't surface for six weeks or so."

In honor of my upcoming 'submarine voyage, here's my favorite Sex Pistols tune, from a live 2016 concert by the reconstituted band:





Hopefully, I won't end up missing before the month is over:





At least I won't be freezing in my Spam tin... I'm going to try to schedule posts throughout the month when I'm able to, but I don't anticipate keeping up to date with current events to the extent that I usually manage to do.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Disarray on the Workfront

October is my crunch month, the busy month at my place of employment, when we have concurrent fundraisers so we can keep the doors open the rest of the year. Last week, I submitted a draft of a schedule for the month, but it still hasn't been approved my management. For some reason, the Powers that Be have decided to limit the part-timers to a cap of nine-hundred hours for the year. I have four part-timers in my department, so I can foresee some bad decisions being made for us, decisions which will negatively impact our functioning. So far, I have had to cover two sites for two nights in a row due to staffing limits.

I spoke to my immediate supervisor about this, and he is trying to make things work within the parameters set by the mucky-mucks. He's a good guy, but this is his first Fall with the organization, so he is still learning the ropes and feeling his way through management. His suggestion was 'calling a meeting' for everyone in my department (he himself is juggling several departments), but I think that tomorrow I will try to get him to commit to a certain amount of hours per employee so I can coordinate with everyone in order to allocate shifts. Personally, I only need two days off this month (both SSC nights), and have already joked about setting up a cot onsite somewhere.

Needless to say, morale is bad. Even our contractors are picking up on this- I had a long conversation with one guy I have know for years and mentioned a grumpy vibe. To compound matters, one employee who was universally beloved by the rank-and-file, including myself, was fired for snapping at a vendor when said vendor broke a piece of equipment that was crucial to his job. Even worse, one of our contractors wanted to hire him, but was told that that would be unacceptable under any circumstances.

So... the 'spider sense' is tingling, telling me that the coming month is going to be an unpleasant slog. I am probably going to have to pull an ad hoc schedule out of my ass, and justify my decisions after the fact. The way I see it, I have to be willing to force the staffing issue in the face of institutional paralysis. I've been with the organization for over ten years now, and I feel that I have a reputation for level-headedness and a sincere, though not sycophantic, dedication to the organization. To paraphrase 1980s-era local band Dancing Hoods, I've got a reputation and it's giving me the hoops of fire:





I must jump through, when I've got a reputation, you know.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hef Dead

In the world of celebrity, if being able to go by one name means success, what is being able to go by one syllable? At any rate, 'Hef' has died at the ripe age of ninety-one. I think it'll take a while to process exactly what his overall effect on society was. My favorite snarky assessment, which I can't seem to find on the t00bz, of his career is that 'he brought masturbation out of the bathroom and put it in the newsstands.

Obviously, Hugh Hefner didn't invent pornography, but he did 'class it up' by placing it tastefully in a magazine featuring articles and fiction by a host of luminaries. Hell, I bought an issue of Playboy six years ago for an article about narcotrafficking. In an interview I recently heard on the radio, the impetus behind Playboy was repackaging men's lifestyle magazines, which generally focused on hunting, fishing, and fighting off inexplicably hostile animals for the urban sophisticate. Hefner himself held a lot of progressive views, even putting up $25K for a reward for information leading to the arrest of killers of slain civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Despite Hefner's progressive bona fides, there's still the nagging feeling that his fortune was based on the exploitation of young women. Was Playboy's depiction of women in various states of undress liberating or demeaning, or both or neither? The prudes of the time sure got their dander up, but did women benefit? Hefner obviously was a product of his time, a time during which sexism was rampant, but was the freedom he offered really a liberation? I don't describe myself as a feminist, because I feel that it's a label that has to be bestowed by others, and I honestly don't have a good handle on how erotica should be considered (for instance, a friend of mine who is an alternative model told me that she got over her body dysmorphia by posing without clothes- sorry folks, no pics!). I will defer to my great-and-good friend Vacuumslayer to explore the less savory aspects of Hef's legacy. I agree with her that Hefner, who seemed to have been prematurely weaned, pushed an airbrushed image of pulchritude which is unrealistic and unhealthy and has fed into a Beauty Industrial Complex. Personally, though, while I can see how someone could derive benefits from posing nude, I can't imagine that any of you would be happy to discover naked pictures of your mother:





At any rate, I can't help but feel that Hugh Hefner remained in the public eye about forty years too long- after his heyday of the 1960s, he seemed to devolve into a parody of himself, ending up as an elderly cartoon lecher canoodling with girls young enough to be his granddaughters... not that I'm knocking it. I can't say that I, like the vast majority of straight men, have never had an occasional fantasy about such a life, but few of us have that combination of wealth and arrested adolescence that we attempt to live such a life, and most of us recognize the sleaziness of the fantasy.

Yeah, Hefner was a complicated fellow, and his legacy is pretty hard to unravel- I'm having a hard time even sorting out my attitude toward the guy. That being said, I can't help that our current president fancies himself a 'playboy' in the model of Hefner, but lacking any of the redeeming qualitites.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

9/11 Was an Inside the Butt Job

Republicans sure know how to pick candidates, with the GOP voters of Alabama picking Roy Moore as their candidate for an upcoming special election to fill Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat. Moore is a religious fundamentalist who, among other things, recently blamed the 9/11 attacks on, among other things, 'legitimizing sodomy'. Weird how much he sounds like the senior members of Al Qaeda, blaming the victims of religious fanaticism for incurring the wrath of God... fundamentalists are fundaments, to a man.

Basically, Roy Moore was blaming 9/11 on buttsex, but he's wrong- lube doesn't burn hot enough to melt steel beams!

On a serious note, how the hell did our nation, founded on secular Enlightenment principles, come to this?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Banning Chad?

Like most people who follow current events, I am puzzled over the addition of Chad to Trump's new travel ban. Chad has been an ally of the United States in the fight against radical fundamentalist Islamist (the GOP's magic words!) terrorism. Chad is particularly helpful in the fight against Boko Haram. My brother Vincenzo, who was with the US Army's Africa Command, liaised with the militaries of Chad and Mali to a great degree (he'd jokingly refer to himself as 'Vinnie of the Sahel' those days).

Part of me wonders if Trump had a high school rival named Chad, the sort of perfect specimen that the MRA/incel types hate. Trump is the sort to never forget a grudge, maybe he's got the country conflated with some guy he hasn't seen in decades.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Remember this Handsome Fellow?

Some years ago, I posted about a magnificent black cat which sometimes hangs out at my principal workplace. His status was pretty ambiguous, he was un-neutered and bore no collar of any sort, but his glossy pelt and overall healthy, well-fed condition suggested that he was not a stray. He shows up from time-to-time onsite, but yesterday he was hanging out outside of our visitors' center, receiving adulation from an adoring public, including myself:




He's even more well-fed than before, has been altered, bears some flecks of gray in his beautiful coat, and bears a flea-collar, but no identification tags of any sort. He is even friendlier than he previously was:




I still have no idea if he belongs to any particular neighbor, or if he's just the recipient of care from the neighborhood. Apparently, there is a local woman who cares for feral cats in the neighborhood. If his status were less ambiguous, I have no doubt that we'd grab him and put him on the payroll

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Llorando Para Puerto Rico

Being a New Yorker, and one who worked in the South Bronx for fifteen years, off and on, I have an appreciation for Puerto Rican people and their culture. Being U.S. citizens, the Puerto Rican population of New York city, Nuyoricans, often have jobs as civil servants- cops, firefighters, state and local clerical workers. Puerto Ricans have a long history of serving in the US military- they are good people, good neighbors, and good Americans.

It's heartbreaking to see Puerto Rico devastated by hurricane Maria after having been hit by hurricane Irma just days before. To compound matters, the government of Puerto Rico has labored under a debt burden for too long with no relief in sight.

At least FEMA seems to be on the ground, though Trump has been spending his day picking fights with football players. Knowing the close relationship between New York and Puerto Rico, our governor Cuomo traveled to the stricken island with needed supplies and a cadre of aid workers. At least one of our local papers has been vociferous about Puerto Rico's need for aid.

I've been reading up on which charities to donate to, and I think I will choose Voices for Puerto Rico, as they don't have a 'faith-based' agenda.

Here's a video of Ponce, Puerto Rico-born Eddie Palmieri and his band playing a love song to the island:





To all of my Puerto Rican friends, tuvieron mal suerte, tiene que estarán fuerte... y no se olvidáramos.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nibiru? Nah, Beer/Brew

Yet again, some idiot is claiming that a 'hidden planet' called Nibiru is going to crash into Earth today, killing us all. Meh, we've seen these idiots claim that the world is going to end time-and-time again. Nibiru, my ass... if a friggin' planet were on a collision course with Earth, it would be visible to the naked eye by now.

At any rate, this is a shitty day for an apocalypse, because it's the day of the local street festival, and I plan on going on a twelve-hour bender. October is a hell of a month on the job, so I figured I'd binge on craic (this elicited a hearty laugh from a co-worker of mine) before going on a long slog. The festival is always fun, and I only need to crawl two blocks to get home.

The beauty of the neighborhood is that it has its own theme song by a bunch of great local guys, a song which perfectly captures the spirit of the community:





There's no need to worry about the end of the world when there is an endless supply of beer.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Festival Circuit

Today, I decided to make a couple of recreational stops before heading to work. I decided to visit the Boyce-Thompson Center in Northwest Yonkers. The center was originally the Boyce-Thompson Institute for Plant Research, until the institute relocated to the campus of Cornell University. After the Institute was abandoned, it deteriorated into a near-ruin, afflicted by vandals and, ironic for a botanical research facility, runaway plant growth. It was rehabilitated into a multi-purpose medical/retail/commercial property earlier this year. Here's the impressive brick facade of the building:




In a nod to the history of the Institute, there are bioswales adjacent to the parking lot, containing a mixture of wild plants, such as milkweeds (to my delight), and plants which were used for research purposes by the Institute scientists:




Being across the street from Lenoir Preserve, one of my favorite places in Yonkers, the Center is destined to be a favored post-hike destination for me. I had lunch at The Taco Project, which manages to be 'contemporary' while respecting traditional Mexican cuisine. For instance, the pork belly tacos had the crispiness of well-made carnitas with a pineapple flavor reminiscent of tacos al pastor... washed down with a delicious horchata, the tacos were a perfect meal, just the pick-me-up a stroller in the preserve or Untermyer Park could ask for.

For dinner, I hit the Middle Eastern Festival at the St John Paul II Maronite Church at Immaculate Conception... basically, I pigged out on a combination plate of falafel, baba ghanouj, hummus, spinach pies, and my favorite, kibbeh, all washed down with an Almaza beer chased by a tiny cup of Arabic coffee. Before leaving, I purchased some pastries, including baklava and basbousa, from two absolutely charming women to bring to work. I might have to stop by again on Sunday to buy more baba ghanouj (it had a perfect smoky flavor) and kibbeh before going to work.

Tomorrow, I am taking a day off from work so I can attend the local street festival and get my drink on. Before heading out today, I had a conversation with my next door neighbor and he asked me, "Which bar do you think you'll be drinking in?" I thought, "All of them, Katie" but answered, "The street will be closed, so I'll be open-carrying all up and down the street." I have to get my licks in, recreation-wise before, as I told my neighbor, "Work turns me into Captain Nemo, eventually resurfacing in a month-and-a-half."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Been Busy, Catching up with the Atrocities

It's been a busy week... on Monday, I went out drinking and learning, at work I am in Fall mode, compiling and re-compiling schedules, dealing with contractors setting up for the Autumn fundraisers, and generally staying on my toes. I'm getting a full dose of the horrible performance by our moron president at the United Nations (Vixen Strangely is killing it all week).

It's not normal, with Trump referring to Kim Jong Un with his jokey nickname while threatening to totally destroy North Korea, and making up a new mashup African country while bragging about his friends exploiting African nations and peoples.

This week of diplomatic blunders can't end soon enough- I fully expect Trump to mention his very fine allies from Kekistan before the week is over. Maybe it's a good thing that I've been ensconced in a cocoon most of the week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Uh, You Could Use Your Own Services, Man

Today has been an unusual day on the job. I arrived at 5PM, my department being stretched thin, necessitating some shift reshuffling. Shortly after arriving, I received a call from my department head- a couple visiting one of our other sites was stuck in our parking lot with a flat tire, and the daytime staff would be leaving shortly. I made sure everything was locked up at my primary site and drove down to the site at which the visitors were stranded.

It wasn't a standard flat-tire situation that a typical motorist support club (or a person with a lug wrench and a basic degree of know-how) could cope with- the couple were traveling in a camper van, but not a Camper Van Beethoven... the sort of thing which demands a special jack and a special lug wrench. Luckily, the owners had a membership in an RV club that provided roadside assistance. This organization had a service contract with a tire company which specializes in truck tires.

The roadside assistance tech arrived in a truck which, frankly, needed a new set of tires:




That thing was balder than I am. I guess the shop owner doesn't want any of his employees dipping into the profits.

The whole process was fascinating to watch- the tech used a pneumatic jack to elevate the dual-wheel assembly, removed the tire, which had a leaky valve stem, from the rim and exchanged it for a new tire. Picture this on a larger scale. Oddly enough, it took longer for the owner of the tire place to figure out the billing than it took to change the tire, because the RV club operator had told him that the camper van was a rental and he didn't know who to bill. A few phone calls, and the billing kerfuffle was eventually resolved and I was able to lock up the parking lot.

Basically, half of my shift was spent dealing with this situation, three hours and change spent in order to lock up a parking lot. At least it was a gorgeous evening, a temperate night after a glorious sunset. Sometimes, even when work is a pain in the ass, it's wonderful.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Secret Science Club Post-Lecture Recap: Two Lecturers, Two Black Holes

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House, in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, for this month's Secret Science Club lecture featuring Princeton University physicists Steven Scott Gubser and Frans Pretorius, whose latest book, The Little Book of Black Holes, is literally hot off the presses. The two doctors lectured in a 'tag team' style, taking turns at the microphone and occasionally engaging in physical demonstrations of concepts.

While setting up, Dr Gubser joked that, while living in a two-religion household is fine, living in a two-operating system is more difficult, so he made the switch from Linux to Apple at the behest of his brother-in-law. He then began the lecture by discussing time dilation- according to the Theory of General Relativity, time moves more slowly for a moving observer than for a stationary observer. He confessed that the demonstration would be 'slightly fake', because he's not the Flash and could not run near the speed of light, then the two demonstrated the Twin Paradox, as one ran across the stage and the other remained stationary. At the end of the jog, he joked that, at this pace, the jogger would be one femtosecond younger than the stationary observer. The Twin Paradox is not an optimal frame of reference, general relativity doesn't take into account acceleration, and the 'paradox' is a red herring- a better analogy is a pair of hypothetical light clocks, using a photon traveling between two sensors. The speed of light being constant, the photon of a moving time clock would appear to an outside observer to be moving on diagonals, moving a greater distance than a stationary clock:





At greater speeds, the photon would move greater distances. The photon trajectory forms a right triangle relative to the 'clock' and its trajectory, so the Pythagorean theorem can be used to derive the value of Tau (proper time). At any rate, a moving observer would experience slower time relative to a stationary observer.

The lecture then shifted to the subject of gravity. According to the Theory of General Relativity, gravity is a product of the curvature of space- mass bends space, and gravitational forces can also produce a time dilation, with time moving faster the further an observer gets from a source of gravitation. The mass of an object determines the degree to which it can curve space, and the good doctors displayed a graphic which contrasted the amount of curvature among different heavenly bodies, ranging from our sun to a white dwarf to a neutron star to a black hole. Each of these objects represents a degree of compression of mass- a white dwarf is the remnants of a star approximately the size of our sun compressed to a diameter of approximately a few thousand kilometers (thanks, Smut). A neutron star is the remains of a supermassive star which has collapsed under its own gravity- a star with two times the mass of the sun would collapse into a two-kilometer diameter. On Earth, gravitational time dilation effects GPS units.

Stellar black holes are stars which have collapsed into a small enough radius that they cause spacetime to undergo a gravitational collapse within a radius known as an event horizon. This collapse of spacetime is the ultimate expression of curvature, a condition in which a singularity is formed. The spacetime dilation at a singularity is infinite, a hypothetical clock would stop. The Schwartzschild radius is the radius at which a body's mass, compressed into a sphere, would result in gravitational forces which had escape velocities which exceed the speed of light. At the Schwarzschild radius, time dilation is reversed- a stationary observer would find that time moved slower than a moving observer would. One of the pillars of the Theory of General Relativity is that there's no such thing as gravity, just the movement of time in space.

At the event horizon of a black hole, the curvature of space becomes infinite in 'a nasty way'. Crossing an event horizon, an observer would experience an 'oh, damn, what do I do now?' moment. With the stopping of a clock at the singularity, escape would always be in the victim's future... there would be a spaghettification as a subject is stretched out by gravitational forces.


Einstein initially doubted the existence of black holes
. As Carl Sagan quipped, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. Evidence for black holes was circumstantial... observations of the center of the galaxy revealed that the stars were orbiting an object four million times the mass of the sun, but no such object was observed. Strong-but-circumstantial evidence pointed to the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

Stellar black holes are inferred from accretion disks orbiting something which cannot be observed directly. In 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected evidence of two black holes colliding. As Dr Gubser noted, the era of gravitational wave astronomy had finally arrived. He also joked that scientists are better at breaking discoveries than making them. Gravitational waves 'marry' matter and energy. In the LIGO-detected event, two stellar mass black holes orbited each other, forming a binary. Two dense concentrations of matter were coming together at the speed of light, and energy was lost to gravitational waves. As the two black holes moved closer, they collapsed with a massive javascript:void(0);energy output- the death throes of a binary black hole collapsing into a single black hole. The evidence for this energy output is circumstantial, the gravity not allowing photons to escape. LIGO's detection of gravitational waves signifies the dawn of a new era in astrophysics. LIGO uses interference patterns to detect the stretching and squeezing of space due to gravitational waves. The collision of the black holes cause the gravitational waves to produce a 'chirp' pattern:





The way in which the waves chirped helped researchers infer the size of the black holes. If the collision of the two black holes had been visible, it would have outshone all of the stars for a fraction of a second.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session- the Bastard did not have an opportunity to get a question in, but Drs Gubser and Pretorius fielded a wide variety of questions. A question about the evidence for relativity led to a discussion of the eclipse observations of bent light which resulted from gravitational effects. A question about GPS systems elicited response that the systems need to take time dilation into account. A discussion of pulsars, spinning neutron stars, revealed that they pulse at regular frequencies, so they are good clocks. A question about the fate of the universe elicited the response that time ends- relativity predicts its own demise, but that a collapse could possibly be followed by a re-expansion. A question about whether a racecar driver would age more slowly than an avid jogger was answered by the assertion that extreme velocities are needed to make an observable difference in aging. Another audience member asked about Hawking radiation- black holes emit dim and faint radiation, but it is swamped by the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. Asked about his 'fantasy' experiment, Dr Gubser answered that he would want a range of interferometers measuring a range of interference pattern up to the ten kilometer ranges, and more sensitive detectors. He also wanted to explore the analogs between black hole collisions and heavy ion collisions (PDF).

Once again, the Secret Science Club has dished out a fantastic lecture. Kudos to Margaret and Dorian, Drs Gubser and Pretorius, and the staff of the beautiful Bell House yet again.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Move Under Ground

This is going to be one of those days- New York City will be congested because of Trump's visit to the United Nations, even though he's not exactly endearing himself to members of that body. I have to get to Brooklyn for tonight's Secret Science Club lecture. While the roads will be a nightmare, the 4 train should be as reliable as ever... as usual, the best way to move is underground.

The post title is taken from Nick Mamatas' 2004 Beat Writers against Elder Gods novel. While the subway system can be a scary place, it's got nothing on crosstown traffic:





Now, that's scary stuff.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Life of a Character Actor is Always Intense

Another fave of mine gone... Harry Dean Stanton, perhaps the finest character actor in cinema history, has died at the age of ninety-one. Stanton's filmography, spanning seven decades is formidable, and Stanton was good in every film in which he acted. No less a film authority than Roger Ebert formulated a Stanton-Walsh rule: No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad. An exception was CHATTAHOOCHEE (1990), starring Walsh. Stanton's record is still intact.

Stanton managed to be ordinary-yet-distinctive looking... he was instantly recognizable, but looked like an everyman. He excelled at playing working stiffs, even a working-stiff-in-space (this is a rough scene, so if you're easily horrified, skip it, poor guy was a cat lover to boot):





The man also was a soulful crooner:





Here's a great video of him singing a duet with Art Garfunkel at a roast of Jack Nicholson, with some funny banter beforehand:





Stanton and Garfunkel... what a concept!

Stanton excelled at playing the laconic, competent straight man opposite various lunatics, whether a lipstick-smeared wicked mom in Wild at Heart:





Or a ranting conspiracy theorist in Paris, Texas:





Being a child of a certain age, my first exposure to Harry Dean Stanton, and the role that forever established my fandom, was his take on a world-weary car repossessor in Repo Man, the movie from which I took the post title:





While not an admirable character, Stanton's repo man did have a certain code of conduct:





By 1984, Harry Dean Stanton was often characterized as the world's greatest character actor, which I would not dispute:





David Lynch had a nice take on Harry's appeal:





At 91, he lived a good life, he was a character actor who managed to take on the status of a big star, the ordinary guy who, through his very ordinariness, achieved acclaim.

POSTSCRIPT: This appearance by Harry on David Letterman's show seems to have an allusion to a scene in Kelly's Heroes.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

The D.C. Stands for 'Dark Carnival'

Today is the day I've been anticipating all year, the day of the Juggalo March on Washington. The Juggalo march will coincide with a pro-Trump, fake patriotism rally. Check out this bullshit from the 'Mother of All Marches' organizers:


ANYONE WHO WOULD PROTEST THIS RALLY IS PROTESTING AMERICA AND SHOWING THEMSELVES TO BE THE VERY DOMESTIC ENEMIES OUR FOUNDING FATHERS WARNED US ABOUT. ANYONE ATTEMPTING TO SILENCE US IS COMMITTING A DIRECT ASSAULT ON OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF FREE ASSEMBLY.



Yeah, blow it out of your asses, righties. While it seems like people from all sides of the political spectrum are jockeying for Juggalos, the Democratic Socialists will out out to support the march, even planning on handing out Faygo to the marchers. Since a lot of Juggalos come from broken homes, growing up with an 'economic anxiety' that is supposed to be the motivating force behind Trump's election, it would seem that the Democratic Socialists will have a sympathetic audience. At any rate, the subculture isn't sympathetic to the iconography of the Lost Cause, having (very NSFW)two songs specifically denigrating Confederate iconography. To be sure, I am not a fan of the songs, with their misogyny and homophobia, but I appreciate the sentiment about CSA supporting white supremacists.

The idea of Juggalos becoming an anti-fascist force among working class American Heartlanders is intriguing... and the memes that this idea has spawned are hilarious:





It's going to be an interesting day, to be sure... the NSFW trailer for the event details the travails of the fandom, and features a great spiel by the band's lawyer about the problems the band is having finding a concert venue:





It looks like Washington is going to transform into a Dark Carnival as the Juggalos make their righteous anger towards conformist authoritarianism known... they aren't a gang, they shouldn't face government sanction. While I'm not a fan of ICP, the Juggalos are alright by me. WHOOP WHOOP, my friends.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hart Had Heart

Now, here's another death that hits me where I live- Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü died at the all-too-young age of 56. Besides being a monster drummer, Hart was a writer of poignant lyrics, bringing heart as well as melody to the hardcore punk movement. I first heard Hüsker Dü on a local college station while I was a high-schooler and immediately became enamored of the Twin Cities music scene of the early 80s.

Hüsker Dü never received much commercial airplay, but the band was influential- according to one anecdote, the Pixies found bassist Kim Deal by putting out a classified ad: "Bassist wanted for rock band. Influences: Husker Du and Peter Paul & Mary." Hüsker Dü's fingerprints can be foud all over the grunge music scene and subsequent 'alternative' music.

In honor of Mr Hart's passing, I have been binge-listening to the band's magnum opus, the double album Zen Arcade. The album is a sprawling concept album, a hardcore punk rock opera about a young man's alienation. One particular standout track is Grant Hart's Turn on the News, which, sadly, is even more topical now than when it was written:





With its mentions of shootings, airline disasters, and refugee crises, the song couldn't be more relevant. It's a tribute to Grant Hart's perspicacity and devotion to humanity. It's tragic to lose Mr Hart so young, especially at a time when he is needed more than ever.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

If Everything Is Simply Jake then You're Frightened of Death

Another literary giant dead- this time it's J.P. Donleavy who has shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 91. An Irish-American who studied at Trinity College after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War 2, Donleavy was best known for his first novel, 1955's The Ginger Man, a stream-of-consciousness novel widely held to be autobiographical, about an American rogue ostensibly studying law at Trinity. The Ginger Man. first read by Brendan Behan was originally published by the storied (heh) Olympia Press, a French publisher known for its smut as well as its experimental fiction. The Ginger Man straddles this line. The novel is a picaresque, and the main character a sociopathic reprobate who sees women as sexual objects and sources of funds, but the language is glorious. The title of the post is taken from the novel:


“But Jesus, when you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both it's health, you worry about getting rupture or something. If everything is simply jake then you're frightened of death.”


I'm somewhat conflicted about the novel- the misogyny expressed is toxic, but the character comes off as an obnoxious Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Nevertheless, it's a great read, it offers a glimpse of life in postwar-Dublin, life in a country which, albeit poor, was spared the horrors of World War 2.

Donleavy had a knack for salacious grotesquery, The Onion Eaters being a black comedy about an unusually endowed young American inheriting a castle in rural Ireland from his aunt and running into all sorts of bizarre characters, including the titular onion-eaters, who have hatched a scheme to introduce poisonous snakes into Ireland to undermine people's faith in God. This review is spot on- The book reads like Hunter S. Thompson meets Mervyn Peake, or National Lampoon's Animal House in Castle Gormenghast.

The Lady who Liked Clean Restrooms was a slight novel, based on an urban legend, about a Southern belle, Bryn Mawr educated and living in Scarsdale, whose life becomes unraveled through her husband's infidelities and an impending divorce. It's a nice love letter to New York City, and is one of the few Donleavy novels which features a female protagonist and an unambiguously happy ending.

My favorite novel by Donleavy is A Fairy Tale of New York, a 1973 book adapted from a 1961 stage play about a native New Yorker returning to the city with his dead wife after a period of time studying abroad. In order to pay for his wife's funeral expenses, he has to work off the bill at the funeral home. In the course of his work, he meets a rich widow, and embarks on yet another of Donleavy's bawdy picaresques... in this case, being sued by a widow for 'tarting up' her dead husband with an excess of makeup and engaging in petty larceny and a string of seductions. The novel takes a while to warm up to, being written in a stream-of-consciousness style composed largely of sentence fragments. My favorite passage in the book is a dirty, dirty tale about a gentlemanly cook on a naval vessel who entertains his fellow seamen after baking them 'fluffy golden delicious biscuits'. The book also reads as a melancholy love-and-hate letter to the city itself. While it is the sort of place which can crush and dehumanize people, New York, from the lowlands of Brooklyn, past the canyons of Manhattan, to the catacomb hills of the Bronx is the sort of place in which even a young orphan can indulge in self-reinvention: "When I was a little boy. Left in a brand new foster home. I went out playing the afternoon around the block got lost, so busy telling all the other kids a fairy tale of New York. That my real father was a tycoon and my mother a princess."

The novel is exactly the sort of novel which could inspire the greatest Christmas song ever written, a bawdy, funny, melancholy melange.

I will be the first person to admit that Donleavy's prose is an acquired taste, with a lot of 'problematic' content, but I have long been a fan. His was a style and a narrative voice which was inimitable... a style and a narrative voice which I initially disliked until I could catch the cadence, the rhythm of it. His novels certainly warrant a slew of 'trigger warnings', but if you have a high tolerance for depictions of bad behavior, there are gems to be found amidst the sleaze.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blame Your Porn Viewing on an Intern, Ted

Funny, I am sort of let down by the Ted Cruz porn-tweet scandal, I was really hoping that Ted would be caught liking something more outré, like Furry Porn, Vore, or some sort of Chuck Tinglean erotic weirdness. To be honest, though, the actual porn liked in Ted's Twitter account is perhaps the Ted Cruziest porn imaginable, as it involves someone barging in on a couple having sex, violating their privacy. What could be more Religious Right than that?

Ted Cruz being a weasel, he is now claiming that this tweet-like was not his fault, leading to a hilarious mashup of Ted with Jamerican rapper Shaggy. For the record, I am a Shaggy fan, being especially taken with his first single, 1993's Oh Carolina:





Of course, this was a cover of a 1960 original by the Folkes Brothers backed by Count Ossie and his Rastafarian Nyabinghi drumming troupe:





One of the music collections I had hunted for for years was a four disc history of modern Jamaican music, starting with the Folkes Brothers' version of Oh, Carolina and ending with Shaggy's cover. Unable to find it in record shops, I put it out of my mind for a while, only to be reminded of it by, of all things, Ted Cruz' Twitter Pornfest. When life hands you TMI, use that information to locate something of interest.

At any rate, since Ted is trying to pin the blame on an underling, let's hope that someone on his staff decides to reveal the good stuff, such as Ted Cruz' bigfoot obsession.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PrimarieZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Once again, a bunch of local primary elections are taking place, and my worksite is a polling place. I set the alarm for three-thirty in the morning in order to arrive at five. The poll workers started arriving at a quarter after five in order to get things up and running by six. Needless to say, I'm dragging my ass at this time- I usually get home from work at the time I left the house this morning.

For the most part, the poll workers are the usual crew that I have come to know over the past couple of years. There are a couple of new faces, but the core group, including a co-worker of mine, is intact. In a smart move, our retail department decided to open our gift shop (this also allows for some early fall re-merchandising), and the small cafe onsite is open as well.

Right now, I'm starting to flag, and I need to take the old contact lenses out... my relief comes at five PM. There's coffee to be had, but I may have to find a sunny spot on the property to take a short nap before hitting the road this afternoon.

The big regional race is the New York City Democratic primary between Bill DeBlasio and Sal Albanese. My personal feeling is that Albanese shouldn't be challenging the incumbent, but there's a not-so-loyal wing of the party in New York State, which has altogether too much power, largely due to heinous gerrymandering.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Disposable Heroes

September Eleventh again, a day on which friends of mine were killed. The memory doesn't dull- I see the family members of murdered friends, I teach children who will never know their parents. It really hits when the absence is made apparent at gatherings.

This year, I've done a pretty good job at ignoring the public memorial services, but one thing rankles- the first responders who worked on the recovery efforts are still suffering. Americans love to lionize our heroes, but we do a really bad job of caring for them. Once the photo-ops are over, the votes against survivor benefits are cast. We love monuments, but we don't love flesh-and-blood, especially when it is stricken.

It will happen again- already the Hurricane Harvey responders are suffering the effects of toxic chemical exposure. Again, the public pieties will be mouthed, the public obligations ignored. It's a day for loving America, I just wish it were a day for loving Americans.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Horror Show for the Ages

Watching the footage of Irma hitting Florida is riveting- it's not every day when you get to see an entire state disappear from the map:




The videos of downtown Miami are chilling:





How much of a future does Miami really have, this low-lying coastal city in a storm-prone region? I am reminded of J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World. Tengrain is exhorting Florida's Rick Scott to seek high ground, but I know he lives on a mountain. Tengrain also mentions Donald Trump's weird assertion that the Coast Guard is improving its 'brand'... I never knew that this branch of our military has a 'brand'. We'll see how FEMA's brand fares in the aftermath of the storm when the cameras are elsewhere.

Speaking of cameras, Irma's got to be good for the television ratings... on the heels of Harvey, this is bound to be the best television season EVER. Stay tuned, you never know how things is going to turn out.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fackebook

I haven't signed up for Facebook, and I don't plan on doing so at any time in the future. The site originated in a misogynistic, invasive college website, it compiles all sorts of information about its users including facial recognition data... and I really don't need to know that some guy I worked with twenty years ago is now a deplorable racist or woman-hater. No Facebook for me, thank you.

As if things couldn't get any worse, Facebook accepted a one-hundred thousand dollar ad buy from Russian sources seeking to affect the presidential election. Even worse, many of the fake Russian Facebook accounts were set up to promulgate divisive causes such as Texan and Californian secessionist movements; anti-immigrant, Muslim, and LGBT stances; and right-wing conspiracy theories.

I've long maintained that Facebook is a cesspool, but this sort of unopposed propaganda war takes the cake- Facebook compiles all sorts of data on its legitimate users, it's long past the time that they take steps to keep tabs on hostile foreign actors, who shouldn't be difficult to suss out.

Friday, September 8, 2017

There's Hurricanes in Florida...

With all of the natural disasters hitting places as far-flung as the Indian subcontinent to Mexico... With earth, wind and fire wreaking havoc, and a nuke-armed nutjob on the loose, I am reminded of a childhood favorite- the Kingston Trio's Merry Minuet, written by Sheldon Harnick, is a masterpiece of comedy so black it's fuligin. It's surprisingly topical, but it always seems to be so:





I'll be hiding under the bed, laughing like a hyena.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Contempt for Chris Christie Comes to the Fore Again

I have long held New Jersey governor Chris Christie in contempt, not only for his bullying nature, but for his scuttling of a much-needed sub-Hudson railway tunnel project. Well, now, seven years later, the Gateway Tunnel Program is in the news again, with Donald Trump seeming to agree to the project, at least at this moment.

I'm not exactly optimistic about the funding for the project- besides the money needed for post-multiple-hurricane recovery, the upcoming Debt Ceiling conflict bodes ill for any large infrastructure projects that would benefit 'blue' America. This project should have been funded seven years ago, but that would have been a victory for the Kenyan Usurper and those liberals in the New York City metropolitan area. If it had been started back then, the damn thing would probably have been finished by now.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Most Dangerous Storm in US History

Listening to the radio and reading the news on the internet has been pretty scary today. Besides the horrific damage caused by the category 5-plus storm (I made up the 'plus' part, but the Beauford scale tops off at 5) to the Leeward Islands. I really fear for what will happen to the people of Puerto Rico, who have been ill-served by the United States government for too long. I have a lot of Puerto Rican friends, I value their culture, and I have long felt that our government has to bail out this beleaguered American territory. Florida also looks to be destined for an unprecedented boning with several models suggesting that the storm will barrel right up the urethra of America's dong.

As if Irma's not bad enough, the fact that tropical storms Jose and Katia are also at large is enough to give one the creeping horrors:




It gets worse though- the party in control of the executive and legislative branches of government denies anthropogenic climate change and opposes regulations which would curb carbon emissions. To compound things, this party of small government had sought to slash FEMA's budget, while the agency is nearly broke, and is set to continue its debt-ceiling brinksmanship. This is exactly what the country does not need in the teeth of what could be a series of four massive blows to its southern coastal regions.

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, but it's got nothing on the most dangerous storm ever to hit the United States... the Category 45 shitstorm which hit Washington D.C. last January.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Donald's Acting Cruelly Again

Vulgarmort is as it again, he sent his house-elf Jeff Sessions to announce that he's planning to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Barack Obama instituted to provide undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors protection from deportation, the ability to obtain drivers' licenses and work permits, and (it is hoped) a pathway to citizenship.

Barack Obama described DACA in terms of basic decency, something that Vulgarmort lacks:


"We shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us."


The 'Dreamers' who have benefitted from DACA are English-speaking and American-schooled... they have been vetted, checked for any possible criminal backgrounds or threats to the Republic. These are not unscrutinized individuals, they are assets to their local and state communities and the broader national community, exactly the sort of persons we Americans should welcome into the fold.

As is typical, Vulgarmort's timing is bad- his proclamation comes on the heels of a dreamer dying while engaged in post-Harvey rescue efforts (a case of Mexico sending us her best) and prior to a Houston reconstruction effort that will most likely require immigrant labor. As an aside, a Democratic congressperson should propose an 'American Jobs Only for Houston Recovery' act in Congress just to show up Republican hypocrisy.

I am pro-immigrant, I have many immigrant friends, I value the contributions of immigrants to American culture. I feel that this rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is cowardly, bigoted, and cruel. I make it a point not to inquire the legal status of my immigrant friends and neighbors, so I don't know if any of my friends will be impacted by this action, but I would hate to think that people I care for would be deported just so some rich, incompetent ogre can claim some sort of victory.