Friday, June 30, 2023

Consider The Source

     If a book, article or website is being consistently pushed by highly polarized sources, especially if they're the only ones pushing it and even more if it claims to have been banned by any major, content-neutral platform, then you are being sold bullshit.

     Count on it.  It doesn't matter if the sources saying nice things about it are Left, Right or either Plain or Fancy Whackdoodle.  It doesn't matter how much the book (etc.) confirms your own biases or blows 'em wide open.  If it makes extraordinary claims without providing extraordinary proof?  It's bullshit.  If it offers supposedly ground-shattering insight and hasn't made the front page of a major newspaper or been the lead story on network news?  That doesn't confirm there's a conspiracy to suppress it -- it confirms that it's bullshit.

     Shocking, surprising, impressive, moving, horrifying, verifiably-real stuff sells newspapers and gets eyes on screens.  The New York and LA Times would bite the heads off chickens and TV anchors would compete to eat live rats on camera if it produced big ratings and advertiser dollars.  Luckily for us, most people find it repulsive instead.

     Vaccines work.  They don't cause autism or make your heart explode.  5G is just a cellphone/data protocol -- and some of the nodes run at frequencies close to those of airplane radar altimeters.  Human beings -- Americans -- went to the Moon and returned safely.  JFK is dead.  JFK, Jr. is dead.  RFK is dead.  RFK, Jr. is a loon.

     Stop stuffing your mind with crap, no matter how shiny and sugar-coated it is.  Please.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Yep, Canada's Still On Fire

     Canada is burning and I've picked up a chronic cough.  Y'know, a lot of that country was so damp that it didn't burn all that well.  Sure, they had wildfires.  Huge swathes of Canada (and Alaska) are forest and scrub, lightly populated if at all, and sometimes it just burns; that's been happening for as long as there have been forests.

     Don't think of this as the woods at, say, a state park or tucked into a corner of farmland.  Those are manicured in comparison.  It's wild forest.  Nobody's logging it.  No hogs or cattle are eating the low stuff.

     It's drying out up there.  Call it weather.  Call it climate.  Call it a drought.  Whatever it is, we've got to live with it.  These are fires too big to put out; they'll save the settled places, or try to, and let the rest burn.  The expert prediction, from firefighters to climatologists, is that Canada's going to burn all summer.

     If you compare a map of the active fires (see my "Canada is burning" link) with a map of population density, Canada's doing a remarkable job of prevention and control where people and fire risk overlap.  With less than the population of California in a country about the same size as the United States, that's as much as you could hope for.  The majority of Canada's population lives within a couple hundred miles of the U.S. border and that's the part that hasn't caught fire.  At least so far.

     For them, and for the rest of us who are downwind, a reminder that a Corsi-Rosenthal box is a cheap, high-volume indoor air purifier you can make with commonly-available odds and ends.  I'm not going to tell anyone to wear a mask outdoors when the air is gritty, but that same N95 so many people chafed at will stop the worst parts of border-sneaking woodsmoke before it gets to your lungs and you can make up your own mind about it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Triumph Of The Ignorami

     The last few days, I haven't posted.  I've just been watching it all auger in.  Appalling ignorance and anti-science became Flavor of the Day on the political Right a long time ago, but the rise of Robert Kennedy, Jr. among Democrats has been as disappointing as it has been predictable: the anti-vax, quack-medicine Left has a long and lurid history, after all.

     At a time when technical and scientific literacy are key skills for human survival, when a solid grounding in real history is the only way to grasp the implications of current world events, nonsense is becoming ever more popular.

     This kind of superstition and preference for comfortable fables that confirm one's preconceptions over awkward truths (and best-fit scientific theories) is how civilizations grind to a halt and begin to decline.  I can't stop it.  I don't know how much of the inevitable damage I can personally avoid.

     It's not an easy thing to blog about.  I'm not sure what's next, but my bet is that it won't be good.  And the partisan finger-pointing will be epic -- and useless.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

What Is Happening In Russia

     No, seriously -- what is happening in Russia?  Mr. Putin seems to have gotten himself into a bit of a corner and some of the chaos he's been inflicting on Ukraine started to come home.

     At present, it appears the mess has stopped short of Moscow, which means it's not going to be very sweeping, at least not yet; but anyone who tells you they know what will happen next is taking through their hat.

     Interesting times.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Pick A Card, Any Card...

     ...Every card's got a social or political issue on it, every card has two sides and no matter which side you turn up, there's more heat than light, more opinion than fact, more reaction than evidence.

     One example: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, angling for the Republican Presidential nomination, went to San Francisco and made a campaign ad in the mean streets of the Tenderloin, commenting on "...[S]o much riffraff just running around...," open drug use, people defecating in the streets and so on, the kind of "urban decay" narrative the worst parts of that city so readily support.  And it is bad.  People and politicians get into shouting matches over causes and solutions, but the situation itself is undeniable.

     The thing is, San Francisco is not uniquely pestilential.  In response to Governor DeSantis, commenters on social media posted photographs of homeless encampments in and near major Florida cities, no less tatterdemalion and desperate than anything in the City by the Bay.  Any U. S. city has examples of a modern-day "hobo jungle;" policies and attitudes can change how evident they are, and climate plays a huge part (cities with mild winters and summers are going to have a larger homeless population ), but it's there.  The unhoused and inadequately housed are a part of the American scene, some by choice and others by necessity, and the underlying causes are poorly understood and poorly addressed, when they are addressed at all.

     Pointing at 'em in horror won't fix it.  Sweeping them to the outskirts or abandoned neighborhoods only moves the problem and may make it easier to ignore.  Neither laxity nor severity towards the homeless changes their numbers.

     So, yeah, pick a card.  Why not?  It's all nearly everyone is willing to do.  But don't come whining to me when your choice results in only cosmetic change at best.  As long as "dealing with it" consists of pointing at the other political party and blaming them, the used needles, hobo dung, appalling litter, improvised shelter, beggars and inert bodies on sidewalks and in vacant lots will continue.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Quick Dinner

     I didn't feel much like cooking last night but I wanted to make something nice.  Tam took a bad spill on the sidewalk the day before yesterday and comfort food was in order.

     Started with a pound of sweet Italian sausage, a 17.6-ounce jar of fancy pasta sauce, toasted fregula pasta, a large box of golden oyster mushrooms and a few Greek olives similar to Castelvetranos.  Plus an egg (or more, if you like 'em) and an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce.

     The most recent addition to my cooking supplies was a glass-lidded deep-walled 12" "everyday" skillet with PFOA-free non-stick, replacing both a shallow frying pan and a large non-stick saucepan with a clear lid.  It is great for this kind of thing.

     I browned and drained the sausage (with some extra "Italian" seasoning on it as it cooked)  and cleaned and added the mushrooms.  Once they were underway, I added the sauce, took a look at it and added an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce (and a little more seasoning).

     Meanwhile, I had a little over a half-cup of fregula in a 2-cup glass measure, with water over it to bring the combined level up to a little over a cup.  I salted it and was zapping it in the microwave 30 seconds or a minute at a time as I was cooking, letting it rest in between.  The water level declines and the pasta swells as it cooks, and while it needs to come to a boil, watch carefully on the one-minute runs -- it'll foam up and boil over.  This is just pre-cooking; the pasta will finish in the sauce.  (You can cook it directly in the sauce but it takes a bit longer.)

     With the sauce, meat and mushrooms stirred up, I let it simmer uncovered while I sliced four of the big, green olives and added them.  The pasta followed.  Reserve any excess pasta water and use it if the sauce seems too thick.  "Thickness" is subjective, but it's hard to go very far wrong.

     The sauce was bubbling, so I pushed a little hollow into it, broke the egg into that, and stirred the yolk with a toothpick -- I prefer 'em broken and solid.  YMMV, so adjust to taste.  I sprinkled some parsley over it all, put the lid on, reduced the heat and let it simmer for fifteen minutes, checking every five.

     It turned out pretty good, just what I was after!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Too Weird For Comment

     Any more, I often look at the latest news and and think, "Okay, that's so askew and oddball that anything I can say about it would fade to invisibility in comparison."

     This livin' in the future is strange.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

You Don't Get The Soapbox

     I'm not going to quote from the angrier comments I received for my post about Juneteenth and I'm most certainly not going to publish them as comments.

     Suffice it to say that some people are irked -- irked! -- that we set aside a day to mark when this country stopped letting any of the people in it fall under the legal definition of livestock.  Those commenters are annoyed that the descendants of those citizens might be especially happy and show it, that the Federal government (and the governments of many states) might recognize it.

     Well, to hell with that.  The U. S. was among the last modern countries to outlaw slavery.*  We did so at considerable cost in lives and money and it's a victory worth celebrating.  If you don't like it, stay home and mope -- it is, after all, a free country.  Now.
* Almost.  The 13th Amendment slips in this when abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude: "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted...." 

Monday, June 19, 2023


     For some nitwits, this is a controversial holiday.

     You (may) get a day off work.  There are cookouts and parades, fireworks and celebrations -- and you're complaining?

     Try this on for size:  In 1776, representatives of what would become the United States of America signed their names to a document that proclaimed "All men are created equal..."  Eleven years later, they wrote up and signed another one that would become the foundational law of the new country.  To keep the new country from flying apart, the U. S. Constitution compromised: some men were going to be more equal than others.  75 years later, that compromise resulted in a calamitous civil war and once it was over (and well over, the 15th wasn't ratified until 1870), at least on the paper of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, all citizens were equal before the law.

     Depending on where you lived, who your ancestors were and just how much effort you made to exercise your rights, those rights were still not protected by anything much stronger than the paper they were written on. It was nearly a hundred more years before that pot boiled over.

     The promise of the Declaration of Independence is still not perfectly fulfilled.  Perhaps it will never be; perhaps it's an ideal, a dream.  Maybe the best we can ever hope for is to keep working towards it -- and that's a worthy goal.

     When a day is set aside to mark one of the biggest milestones on that road, the official end of slavery in these United States, it takes a pretty small heart to resent it.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Big Question

      Sure, they're called "rolled oats," but you've got to wonder just what, exactly, they've been rolling in.  I mean, really...?

Saturday, June 17, 2023


     I was cleaning up around the grill after supper.  A nice sale at the grocer's meant we'd had steaks, a rare treat these days.

     It was getting dark and I thought I saw a yellow flash.  I stopped, watched, and there it was!  There was just enough light to spot the tiny creature between flashes, helicoptering hopefully over a weedy spot.  A wider look at the back yard found a couple more, too.

     There's lots to worry about these days, but in my back yard, there are small, harmless insects who light up because they're lonely.  And that's kind of wonderful.  I hope they all find a perfect match, and next year we have even more of them. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Pretty Abnormal, Considering

     U. S. House of Representatives districts: Every time there's a new court decision or the makeup of the relevant court changes, both of the big political parties take turns complaining about the unfairness of it all or proclaiming that now's their chance.

     The House often sits close to the tipping point -- a seat here and another one there can change which party holds the majority.  You can't blame the parties when they scramble for that narrow advantage.  It's how they're built.

     But what are we doing with House districts?  Do the ones where you live have much correspondence to communities, neighborhoods, people who shop in the same place, or are they some stretched and stitched-together chimera that groups likely [Party] voters together, no matter what other differences they might have?  What was the original point of the House of Representatives, anyway?

     The Senate is clearly and obviously where the individual States debate as States.  But the House was supposed to be representing you and me, granularly enough that we could write our Congressthing about local issues and they'd have some clue what we were nattering on about and feel some obligation to address it, however inadequately.  I'm not sure that's what we've got.  I doubt there's any magic rule to drawing up districts that would make them sensible and fair, but the present methods show a remarkable tendency to take the uncertainty out of election results at the expense of any other consideration, no matter which party has the greatest effect on the details.

     Maybe it's time to take another look at that, if we could take a break from playing culture war and running what's left of civil society over a cliff.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Pretty Normal, Considering

     Counting supporters, detractors, journalists and the lunatic in prison stripes who jumped in front of the limo,* around a thousand people showed up outside the courthouse for former President Donald Trump's arraignment in Federal court yesterday.

     In a city that size, it's about what I would expect for a high-visibility political candidate not appearing at a rally.  Yes, the talking heads and clicking keyboards will tell you the circumstances are unprecedented and they're right; most Presidents and ex-Presidents manage to stay out of serious trouble, though some have been better at it than others.  On the other hand, Mr. Trump is not the first pol to end up in a courtroom, and the high-profile ones do draw a crowd.  What they have not drawn are riots and we didn't get one yesterday, either.  Chalk that up as a win for civil society, even including the guy with a real pig's head on a pole and the protester getting roughly arrested for making dumb moves around a Secret Service-protected motorcade.  I'll even let 'em have one called-in bomb threat without a bomb.  As such things go these days, the public reaction was essentially normal.

     The staggering level of denial over the nature and severity of the alleged offense isn't normal, but to have expected otherwise would have been unreasonable.  That high will be a long time wearing off and the hangover is liable to be epic.

     I'm sure the whatabout brigade is lining up to comment, so for them I'll point out that if being sloppy with high-security government files was, say, speeding, President Biden and former Vice President Pence were five over the limit, Secretary Clinton was nearing ten over...and per the evidence, ex-President Trump was 50 mph over, not wearing a seatbelt and maybe going the wrong direction on the freeway.  Sometimes the traffic cop can't let you off with a stern lecture and a warning to not do it again.  Sometimes you end up in court.
* Protip: Don't do this, no matter how deep or sincere your feelings, no matter how sure you are that your cause is just.  It doesn't end well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Test Day

     Today -- this afternoon -- should be interesting.  Mr. Trump's appearance before the court in Manhattan attracted some supporters and detractors but face it, it's Manhattan.  The people of NYC have got plenty else to do and a long tradition of cynicism and indifference.

     Miami?  Magic City.  Vice City.  Part of a vacation and retirement paradise and among big cities, it's in fourth place for the number of people with incomes below the Federal poverty level.  I'm told the traffic's pretty awful but there are a lot of people in the area with time on their hands.  And Florida is the land of Mr. Trump and Governor DeSantis, of The Villages* and the War On Woke.  (Miami's also been invaded by the Little Fire Ant, a pest with a bite painful far out of proportion to its size.  Make up your own metaphor.)

     Things could get slightly sporty.  On the other hand, the Florida Governor's popularity and not-exactly-supportive opposition to Mr. Trump may combine with the prospect of Federal hard time next to convicted J6 offenders to give pause to some prospective demonstrators.  It's hard to predict but not to worry: it'll play out on your TV and computer screens this afternoon, live, wall-to-wall and overheated.  There's probably even theme music already.
* Which is like Portmeirion on the flat, just a seesaw panopticon and guardian blob away from an American version of The Prisoner.  Be seeing you!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Serendipitous Stew

     Saturday, I made pot roast.  This isn't unusual.  Most Saturdays, I make either beef pot roast or roast pork, with a changing array of vegetables and seasoning.  This Saturday, it was cooked with a turnip, parsnips, red potatoes, carrots, celery, yellow onion and fresh porcini mushrooms.  I seasoned the roast with coarse kosher salt and pepper, browned it on all sides with a half-strip of bacon (and added some garlic powder and Italian mix seasoning as it was browning), then set it on the rack.  I poured almost a cup of coffee into the bottom of the pan and sprinkled a tablespoon of lime juice over the roast, and set it roasting with the lid on.  (Trust me, this works.  You don't taste either in the end result.)

     I usually go for an hour per pound and the roast was two and a half pounds.  I set timers every thirty minutes as a reminder to look in on the pot.

     After a half hour, I started adding vegetables -- chunks of turnip first (and a very little ginger powder and ground cloves), then parsnips, then beef broth up to not quite the top of the rack, potatoes and so on in the order listed above, taking my time and adding them in layers.  I kept an eye on the liquid level; you want everything to kind of steam.  I didn't add the mushrooms until there was only an hour to go.

     At the end, I took out the meat and let it rest while I poured the broth into my grease separator.  We had slices of roast and plenty of vegetables with a little broth over them, a nice Saturday dinner.

     There was enough left for two more meals, so I put together a couple of gallon freezer bags with equal amounts of broth, vegetables and meat and left them to freeze.

     Sunday dinner came and I wanted to put together something from the leftovers that wasn't the same.  I had an eight-ounce can of tomato sauce, some celery and carrot.  I snipped a whole slice of bacon into sections and got them about half-fried in the pan while I started the leftover pot roast defrosting in the microwave.  I cut up three stalks of celery and  about the same amount of carrots and added them to the bacon to sautee; you want to keep them stirred.  The idea is to keep the vegetables a bit crisp.  I poured off the excess bacon fat, added the mostly-defrosted pot roast and the tomato sauce, with a little basil and a bay leaf.  After five minutes or so, I went after the slices of meat and larger chunks of vegetables with the kitchen shears, cutting them down to stew-sized pieces, then let the pan simmer for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

     Tam and I had dinner while watching an episode from the first season of Strange New Worlds.*  I hadn't tasted the stew while cooking, trusting my nose instead.

     The first taste was a remarkable surprise.  Anyone who enjoys a nice BLT knows tomato and bacon goes well together, and with the good broth and vegetables, it was outstanding, smoky and rich with umami.  The meat was tender and the combination of sauteed and slow-cooked vegetables worked well with the other flavors.  It was well beyond dressed-up leftovers, more than the sum of its parts.
* We just started watching this addition to the Star Trek universe and it holds up well, most similar to the original series.  It's also reminiscent of The Orville and I have to wonder if the Star Trek people looked at the success of the upstart series and thought, "Oh, is that what the fans want?  We could do that."  They'll never admit it if they did but it's enjoyable space opera, bang on target.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

What Took You So Long?

     A few comments have come in along the general lines of "Bye," or "I'm done reading your blog," and what I want to know is, what took you so long?

     Here's part of what I wrote on 6 January 2021, published at 4:34 p.m., EDT:
"For the record, from here on, no Republican candidate is getting my vote again, not as long as they're supporting the rabble-rousing Mr. Trump.  [...]  Presidents ought not raise up a mob and sic it on Congress.  That's not how we resolve differences in this country."

     I had watched real-time coverage of the Trump rally and attempted insurrection on the over-the-air TV networks and via social media.  The nature and scale of the violence was clear -- people climbing outside walls, forcing past barriers, confronting police (with varying levels of conflict), making forced entry into the building, interrupting the proceedings and sending Congress running for cover, breaking into Senate and House chambers.  After all of the political protest and rioting in previous months, it was clear that this was something different, for all that it had begun as a more or less normal rally.

     My original assumption was that there would be a rah-rah rally and probably an unauthorized march to go wave signs outside the U. S. Capitol, maybe a little violence, but as the rally ran down, it was clear the crowd was in an ugly mood.  I told Tam before it wrapped up at 1:00 p.m. that I thought the crowd would try to enter the Capitol, but I had not anticipated how well they would succeed or badly they were going to interfere.  I figured that of course the Capitol Police were ready.  They were not.  After things started to wind down, I thought that of course the GOP would repudiate so profound an insult to law and order, to American traditions of Federal government.  I assumed prominent Republicans would step up and assert that this was not who they were, that this was not what their party stood for -- and by and large, I was wrong.  Only a few spoke out and many of them backed away from that position in the following weeks.

     And I blogged about it.  Not just once, but again and again.

     So what took you so long to bail?  I told you on 6 Jan of 2021, "[N]o Republican candidate is getting my vote again, not as long as they're supporting the rabble-rousing Mr. Trump."  I meant it then and my judgement has not changed.  I have acted on that judgement in subsequent elections.  If you don't like it, go bellow in one of the many echo chambers that serve the deluded adherents of Mr. Trump's party -- and do such a disservice to the proud traditions of our country.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Nope, You Don't Get It....

     In my unpublished comments, the Law of Excluded Middle rules: If I'm not out wildly cheering for Republicans, I must be a Democrat, though they like to precede the party name with various epithets.

     This is patent nonsense.  I haven't voted in a party primary since Gerald Ford got the Republican nomination for President and failed of election.  "Not entirely awful" is the highest mark I have given any President or Presidential candidate ever, people who I believe would not start WW III if elected or sell the country's secrets.  I don't think most of them are crooks; I think they're egotistical bumblers to varying degrees.

     That is not a widely-held opinion.  Most people appear to want to believe that their party's pick is a person beyond reproach, who will usher in an age of milk and honey, while the other party's choice is despicable villain, out to ruin everything because badness.  Me, I think most of them struggle madly to keep up and the best of them -- the very best -- manage to not look like complete clods in the doing.  A few Presidents during my lifetime have been highly effective cheerleaders, at the cost of some level of a cult of personality.  One of them was a certain crook, and at least one was ethically suspect.  But they're all Just Some Guy.

     None of them -- but one! -- lied about the outcome of an election, and kept lying as every lie was debunked, nor whipped up a mob to storm the Capital and interfere in the counting of Electoral College votes, injuring police officers, sending both houses of Congress and the Vice president running for safety and doing millions of dollars of damage.  Only one of them kept on lying about the process and results for years after the election was over.  No President in my lifetime had winked at racists and home-grown authoritarians until Mr. Trump.  And I am not at all inclined to forgive his behavior, nor the party that continues to tolerate, even celebrate it.

     But that doesn't automatically make me a Democrat.  I'm voting, somewhat reluctantly, for Democrat Presidential candidates in the general election* and I shall do so until a better alternative presents itself; but a vote for a Republican for that office means a vote in favor of insurrection, authoritarianism, and disregard for the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  I disagree with Democrat polices on multiple things, but the GOP didn't even bother to have a platform listing any policies in 2020 and what their leading candidate has expressed is unconstitutional, unAmerican, intolerant and plainly horrific, pledges of "retribution" and sending Federal troops unasked into cities to take over police work.  I will not consider any of their candidates until they repudiate Mr. Trump and his insane take on Federal governance.

     The President of the United States is Just Some Guy and the best of them have managed to remember that most of the time during their term of office.  Mr. Trump doesn't believe it, and acts like the autocrats he admired so often when he held the White House.

     Is he guilty of any crimes?  That's up to the courts to decide.  But as a voter, my mind is made up: he's got no business in the highest office in the land.  That doesn't make me a Democrat; it makes me someone who is not at all impressed by bluster and BS.

     Gads, I hate to think of the inflated prices Mr. Trump's fans must be paying for used cars, if they are so easily bowled over by fast talk and handwaving, by fear-mongering bluster and enthralling lies.
* For years, I voted for the LP's pick.  Occasionally, I thought they were the best of a bad pool, and even when they were not, it was a useful protest vote and a way to help keep a multiparty system afloat.  For most of my life, the Republicans were good on the Second Amendment, squishy on the First (except for some aspects of Freedom of Religion), lousy on the Fourth and Ninth, adequate on the Tenth, while the Democrats were abysmal on the Second, generally good on the First, Fourth and Ninth, squishy on the Tenth.  They tended to keep one another between the guardrails.
     How Congress and the Supreme Court was leaning had a lot of influence on which party's candidate posed the biggest risk, and the respective campaign platforms filled in the details, but there wasn't a real difference in how much they could screw things up.
     With the present Supreme Court, there's little a Democrat President can do to mess with the Second Amendment even if that party held both chambers of Congress, which they don't.  On the other hand, Congressional margins are narrow and the highest court is likely to go along with a Republican President.  Since the current pool consists mainly of Mr. Trump and his Across the Trumpverse counterparts, Younger-Trumpier Trump, Trump With Breasts, Techy-guy Trump, Religious Trump, Trump of the North, African-American Trumps I and II, a handful of nobodies and a couple of more-or-less normal OG Republicans who haven't got a chance (Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, respectively the "more" and "less" normal), and their party is asking for an unconditional pledge to support the nominee even if it's Mr. Trump, the GOP is off the table.
     The post-COVID Libertarian Party has decided to embrace the craziest of crazy -- and since one of the two big parties now presents a much greater danger than the other, a protest vote is no longer viable.  So I'll continue to sit out the primary and vote in the general election for the Democrat Presidential candidate to block, counting on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court and a House and Senate likely to remain in knife-edge balance for the next several election cycles to keep him from following his party's wackier thinkers too far to the Left.

Friday, June 09, 2023


      There's a great furor online -- celebration among many of the people who are critical of former President Donald Trump, anguish and outrage among his supporters.

      Me, I never liked the guy and never voted for him; the real-estate promoter and reality TV figure always reminded me of every bad boss I ever had, most of whom were remarkable screw-ups, untrustworthy, overbearing and in love with their own greatness.  Not all of them were crooked, not all of them were incompetent, but every one of them left a mess wherever they went, creating unhappy employees, badly disrupted workplaces and always doing more harm than good.  Mr. Trump seemed to me to be cut from that same cloth in 2016 and his subsequent actions have only confirmed my opinion.  I started out thinking he was a bad choice and in the fourth year of his Presidency, he managed to convince me he was a disastrous one instead.

      There certainly appears to be sufficient basis to charge him with skullduggery with classified or sensitive government documents.  Is he guilty?  Well, that, you see, is why we have trials.  He'll get his day(s) in court and he has no shortage of money and skilled lawyers to apply to the case.

      Dancing in the streets or shrieking and pounding on the table (boy-howdy, I'd sure hate to be the set-building carpenter at Fox News!) are hardly appropriate actions at this point.

      In my personal opinion, the man is a slug who had no business being in the White House in the first place and shouldn't be returned to it. His primary opponents range from "slightly less bad" to "not entirely awful," but so far the entire pack of them is nowhere near to baying at his heels and I doubt his current legal woes will make much difference in the Republican primary.

      As for the general election, I don't think the Democrats could ask for a better motivation to get their voters to the polling places.  The GOP has abandoned the political center in favor of a set of grievances and pet issues, and I don't think it's a winning strategy.  In 2016, a narrow electoral college majority was willing let a bombastic outsider have a go at the job.  2020 demonstrated that a majority of voters were not happy with the results.  Rerunning the same play is going to have the same outcome.

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Not Saturday

      I woke up convinced today was Saturday.  Fed the cats and laid in bed, half-dozing and watching the news until they started wrapping up, then changed to the channel* that has Saturday morning cartoons -- and got a black-and-white movie with Jimmy Stewart.

      Tam had been up for a while. I not-quite-shouted down the hall, "Hey, Tam, don't they always run news before the cartoons?"

      "This is Thursday."

      "Ha-ha, no it's not.  I went to the endodontist yesterday, so it's...  It's...  Oh, crap.  It's not Saturday, is it?"

      "Like I said."

      So I got up and made breakfast.  I did not immediately Tweet that of course it was Saturday and any claim to the contrary was a plot by my enemies, because grown-ups accept reality.  They don't whine about it, they deal with it.

      Even grown-ups who watch Saturday morning cartoons.
* Thank you, MeTV.  Back when basic cable was a thing, USA network recognized the dwindling number of low-budget independent over-the-air TV stations, surviving mostly on classic reruns and moved to occupy that niche.  A generation later, USA has grown up and serves as a kind of just-barely-junior outlet for Comcast's NBCUniversal.  Meanwhile, the old-time no-network independent stations are largely gone and MeTV saw an opening for that kind of programming on the "dot channels," secondary services of the big free OTA channels and low-power TV stations.  From Saturday morning cartoons to the good old sitcoms and Westerns to weekend monster movies with a goofy host, they've managed to create a high-grade version of the kind of entertaining shoestring operation that used to haunt the UHF dial, cardboard sets, can-do attitude and all.  The graphics are better and the film rarely breaks live on the air these days, but the content is just as shiny as memory insists it was in the old days.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

The Fog Of War

      You don't get a lot of accurate information from a battlefront, unless you happen to be in charge of one of the two (or more) warring sides, and even then, it's imperfect.

      So don't expect a lot of clarity as things appear to be heating up in Ukraine.  There's no advantage to either side in handing out the unvarnished truth.

      I can tell you there's a very clear aggressor here -- that'd be the side the crossed the other country's border, so it's Russia -- and there's a lot of evidence that they aren't fighting by the rules.  But like so many things in U. S. politics these days, there's some knee-jerk "If the other party is for it, I'm against it," and the far Right appears to have a real mancrush on Vladimir Putin, so you're on you're own sorting that out.

      Autocrats are uniformly bastards; it's inherent in the exercise of that much power by one man, and in the structures it requires.  Some are worse than others, but they're all bad.  But it's not my job to sort your head out for you and if the past seven or so years have taught me anything, it's that it's a lot easier to sell glitter-dusted, bellowing bullshit than cold, hard, quiet facts.  Nevertheless, I remain opposed to fantasy bullshit and in favor of reality; YMMV and if so, it will eventually bite you where you sit down.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Root Canal

     Friday morning, I spent three hours in a chair at the endodontist, getting a root canal.

     Or, as it happens, most of a root canal.  My teeth are weird, with higgledy-piggledy roots that rarely go where skilled dentists expect, and this tooth -- my farthest back, lower right, number thirty, which does not say good things for my dentition -- was pretty unfriendly.  And it already had a cap, so the specialist had to work through a smallish opening to avoid weakening the cap. 

     He found one (1) calcified, unhappy root and cleaned it out, spent time searching for any others, looked at the X-rays, looked at my tooth again and sent me off to the fancy 3-D imaging machine.  Even with it, the other bad root was hard to locate.  By the time he'd spotted it and found the proper angle of attack, it was time to fill the excavation and schedule me for another session.

     The interim condition is less than ideal: having been drilled on, cleaned out and filled, the tooth is more sensitive than before and the filled area is not quite full to the top.  So it's a good thing my next appointment is for Wednesday.

Saturday, June 03, 2023


      Three eggs, gently beaten* with a couple of tablespoons of Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs that had been well-saturated with water (and got a little extra seasoning, including a dash of smoked paprika) and poured into a 10" skillet over medium-low heat.  I snipped (kitchen shears are your friends!) bits of Swiss cheese into as it was starting to gel a bit, about three-quarters of a slice.  I usually offset the pan on the burner, so the side I'll eventually fold to the top cooks a little more quickly than the one on the bottom.

      I'd gently fried three small slices of Lebanon bologna first, mostly to get some of the fat out of them and into the pan.  As the omelette continued to cook, I snipped two of them over it, leaving a kind of "hinge" clear across the the diameter of it.  Then I added several big pinches of shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, snipped a couple of pickled Piparra peppers over that and followed up with the last of the meat and Swiss cheese.

      The omelette was ready to fold shortly after that, which went uneventfully -- there's a specialized spatula called, originally enough, an "omelette turner" that makes this much simpler.  A few minutes more cooking (about half the time covered to ensure it would cook through) and a couple of flips finished the job.  It turned out to be a good combination.

      One of these days, I should do a short article on kitchen tools.  I have accumulated many over the years, but a very few of them do the bulk of the work.  Certainly a nonstick-safe spatula and spoon plus a sharp, medium-large knife and a good cutting board are core elements, with a ladle, meat thermometer and slotted spoon not far behind.  Measuring tools are mostly for baking; I mix omelettes in a two-cup measure because it's a handy size about as often as I used it to meter out quantities of ingredients.
* If you want a thick, fluffy omelette that rises in the cooking, use more breadcrumbs and beat vigorously.  If you want it thinner, use less crumbs, perhaps a bit more water and mix gently, minimizing the amount of air it takes in.