Thursday, February 29, 2024

No, You Are Not

     United States junior Senator from Indiana Mike Braun is running for Governor.  Like just about everyone else, but okay, fine, he's a career politician, running for office is what he does.

     His ads proudly proclaim he's an "outsider!"

     Yesirree, the U. S. Senate, they're a bunch of....outsiders?

     If the Senate was like any other workplace, the day those ads started airing, Senator Braun would have arrived to find his historic Senatorial desk had been relocated to the steps outside the building.*  As it is, the Senators have got too much gravitas and not nearly enough endurance for the exertion, and the desks themselves are too precious for horseplay.  But stop tryin' to buffalo me, buster -- if a Senator is on the outside, there's no inside left.
* Fond memories of working as a cable TV line tech, in telephone poles and in muddy ditches.  We all carried hammers, to bash in the hardware that held our stuff to the poles and reseat loose climbing pegs, and if your co-workers noticed you "choked up" on the hammer handle, why, they'd helpfully saw off the portion you didn't use.  And the next time you pulled that hammer out of your tool pouch and decided you needed more leverage without looking closely, it'd escape your grasp and plummet down.  If you were lucky, you'd only need to put in for a new hammer.  If you'd parked your truck too close to the pole, a fair-sized ball peen hammer leaves quite a dent in the hood -- or hole in the windshield.
     Yes, this is immature BS, bordering on hazing, but the Senate could probably use a little of it.  It'll keep you aware of your limitations.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Spanish Fried Rice

     I needed to make some brunch and a check of the larder turned up a couple of versions of microwaveable rice, a small can of mild green chilis, a little bacon and some of the most amazing eggs--

     The eggs rate their own paragraph.  I usually buy the house brand from the local supermarket.  They've nearly always got free range extra-large on the shelf, typically with brown shells, priced within fifty cents of the "factory" white eggs. They've got strong shells and good dark-yellow yolks, signs that the chickens are probably eating a healthy diet.  Tamara's more adventuresome.  She has a knack for arriving when the grocery has run out of their own brand and she's liable to pick up unusual kinds.  She bought the last batch of eggs, which are free-range, cage-free and possibly running their own little chicken civilization somewhere, red in beak and claw, a terror to weeds, bugs and millet.  The "extra large" batch was a little assorted in size, one red-brown and eleven in various shades of blue-green, the latter probably from Araucana chickens or a related breed.  The shells are sturdy and the yolks, well.  About those yolks: They are a deep red-orange, some of the darkest egg yolks I've ever seen.  The eggs scramble up sunset orange instead of sunny yellow, and they taste great.  (By the way, the color of a hen's earlobes often predict what color eggs she will lay, though I don't know how that works for Easter egger chickens.)

     I fried the bacon, set it on paper toweling to drain and poured off the grease before sauteing the already-microwaved Spanish rice and then pushing it to the sides, adding the can of chilis and cooking them down a little before stirring the whole thing together and adding some dried white onion, parsley and cilantro.*  Once I was happy with it, I pushed it back to the sides and scrambled three eggs in the middle over high heat, mixed it all together, turned the heat down and snipped in the bacon.

     I had chopped Havarti cheese on mine.  Tam had hers plain.  It was good stuff.
* The usual warning applies: If you have never had cilantro, don't experiment in a meal.  Have a taste of the stuff by itself.  It tastes "soapy" to a significant percentage of people and pleasant to most others.  The difference is genetic.  It's not like olives; it's not an acquired taste.  It's either palatable to you or it isn't and that's not going to change.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024


     You may be relieved to know that although he could make a strong case for the throne, the most-likely candidate to be King of Hawaii instead had a decent run in state politics as a Republican, though he hasn't held elective office for quite some time.

     I'm pretty sure there won't be a Royal restoration in that state any time soon.

Monday, February 26, 2024

All Chevron, No Rocker

     The Chevron case is looking to be the next former U. S. Supreme Court decision to feel the present Court's axe.  Woo-hoo, some folks are thrilled: it's the end of the regulatory state! 

     Maybe.  The general thrust and effect of Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council was to let the government's subject matter experts interpret the laws Congress passed and make regulations about those subjects on which they were experts.  The courts were generally expected to defer to their expertise, barring some grave injustice.  Pull 'em out, and what you've got left are the politicians in Congress (mostly lawyers) and sitting judges (all lawyers) interpreting the laws and regulations, and what the majority of them are experts in, other than Law and Schmoozing, is Golf, with a sideline in Press Conferences.  What they don't know about, say, the health effects of tetraethyl lead in gasoline would (and did) fill a jail.

     While leaded gasoline is unlikely to come back -- and my MGB didn't much mind the lack -- the end of Roe v. Wade may (or may not) have a similar effect.  Given that our present Congress can't even manage to keep the government funded for more than a few months at a time, even at the cost of failing to contain Russian aggression, I'm not entirely sure that they can be counted on to do any better a job regulating artificial intelligence, private space travel or food safety; I'd rather Congress addressed the big ideas and left the details to the people who think about that stuff all day long.

     The United States Supreme Court might not agree with me.  Pundits are saying they probably don't.  Then we'll run the experiment at full scale in the real world, and see how that works out.  What could go wrong?

     Ineptitude is not a virtue.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Fancy Brunch?

     No, it's not fancy.  But it's darned good.  I have always kept a little canned meat in the panty, and from early in the pandemic, I made a point of maintaining several cans of chicken, tuna, corned beef and Spam®  on the shelf.

     They last a long time, but not forever.  You have to rotate the stock.  I've got more Spam® than anything and I've been thinking about what it might go with.  "Breakfast hash" with potatoes, eggs and diced canned meat is always good, but this morning I realized I'm down to one (1) egg.

     What I did have -- and I've been pondering it for a while -- was a microwavable pouch of "Tasty Bite"* brand Bombay potatoes.  This is good old ordinary diced potatoes in a mildly-spicy tomato sauce, with interesting chickpeas for good measure. The flavor palette is somewhere not quite between regular (mild) chili and Cincinnati chili, and I thought it would play well with Spam®.

     I diced and browned the canned meat, with a dash of McCormick* curry powder so it could learn the role, microwaved the Bombay potatoes, and mixed them in the skillet, using a tablespoonful of water to rinse out the bag.

     It smelled wonderful.  I scooped some into a bowl and had a taste: even better!  I invited Tam to have some "experimental brunch," and she arrived in the kitchen wondering.
     "What's in it?"
     "Spam, potatoes, tomato sauce..."
     "Any beans?"
     Those green chickpeas are impossible to deny. "Some chickpeas."
     "I'll have a little."
     She took her bowl and wandered off.  I added more to my bowl, covered the skillet and followed her to the office.  "So, is that stuff any good?"
     "It's tasty!  Is there any more?"
     There was, and between us, we nearly polished it off.

     Next time, I might soak and rinse the canned meat or use the low-sodium version.  I might also scramble a couple of eggs and mix them in.  It's plenty good made as described -- and given that the usual microwave pouch and can of meat have "best by" dates a year or more in the future, it'll keep for a rainy day treat.

     If you want it hotter, you could try the Hot & Spicy Spam® variant, or use hot curry powder.  You can even serve it over rice, rice and potatoes being a pretty common encounter in Indian food.
* Why the brand names?  Spam's sui generis.  India's a big place, and has an amazing variety of cuisines. Indian foods sold in the U. S. are often adjusted to American preferences.  "Curry powder" in particular is highly variable from one brand to another, and pretty much an invention mimicking the mix of spices a skilled Indian cook might choose.  So here are the specific kinds I used, and you may find something else that suits you better.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Supper For A Snowy Day

     There's a chuck roast simmering under all those vegetables.  It came out tender and flavorful.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Stop Giving Them Air

     Just because some highly mockable edgelord type says something mockably antithetical to the norms of a free society, or looks like an idiot, or -- as is so often the case -- both, this does not oblige you to make a big deal of mocking it, with a link back to their original brain-dropping.

     If it's something that has to be seen to be believed -- and snickered at for awfulness -- then do a quick screen capture, share it, laugh and move on.  Don't feed 'em links.  Don't feed their quiveringly-needy egos.  Not even if they send you a nice statue for your city park.

     P.S.: "Psyop?"  If you haven't read Sefton Delmer's accounts of his WW II propaganda-war efforts (accounts sadly limited by the Official Secrets Act), then don't try to tell me what is and isn't a "psyop."  But here's a hint: all those TV and online news/opinion hosts don't know, either.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Falling For The Heroic Narrative

     For some politicians, it's all kayfabe: facade.  After years of attacking John McCain, Arizona's Kari Lake made conciliatory remarks towards Meghan McCain, who's not having any of it.

     The contrast here is between someone who thinks it's "just politics" and someone who takes it seriously.

     We're constantly treated to the spectacle of Ivy League scholars in office and running for office who claim to be "just plain folks" and assure us of their disdain for "elites."  Yeah, no.  Most of 'em are the sons and daughters of millionaires, "self-made" successes who had only a little of the family money or an inside track at a top law firm to jump-start their careers.

     I was thinking about how reading Robert A. Heinlein novels made me a bit of a sucker for the rags-to-riches narrative when it occurred to me: with very few exceptions, even his plucky heroes are living pretty well or better.  Max in Starman Jones is dirt-poor, the Lermers in Farmer In The Sky aren't much better off, and from there it's a string of middle-class types (Rod Walker in Tunnel in the Sky, Johnny Rico of Starship Troopers, Don Harvey in Between Planets, all three kids in Rocket Ship Galileo) -- Podkayne and Clarke's parents are pillars of their community, Clifford Russell's father is some kind of retired diplomat/spy/polysci prof "married to his best student" and "Thorby" of Citizen Of The Galaxy is a misplaced gazillionaire.  None of them are frauds or fakes,* and I suppose J. Random "just folks" Politicians really do like barbecues, cheap beer and hanging out with the likes of you and me -- but not, perhaps, nearly as much as they let on.

     Those books were inspiring.  The politicians, not so much.  RAH was out to entertain you first and foremost and if he gave you some positive notions in the process, well and good, but it was a bonus.  Politics might be "show business for ugly people," but it's not supposed to be primarily entertainment.  The stakes are real.  The kayfabe isn't.

     We fall for it at our peril.
* Okay, Max Jones kind of is, but he also kind of isn't, since he's the real deal when it comes to knowing his trade.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

George Remus

     I was looking up some information on Cincinnati, Ohio's interesting Eden Park when I stumbled across George Remus: pharmacist, attorney, bootlegger.  You know those over-the-top films about the lurid adventures of organized criminals, double-crossing spouses and crooked law enforcement during Prohibition?  Here's the real deal.

     If you made up his life for a book, you'd be accused of straining credulity.

     P.S., Eden Park has a copy of Rome's Capitoline Wolf statue -- stolen in 2022, replaced in 2023.  The old one was a gift in 1931 from, of all people, Benito Mussolini.  The new one was funded by a group of Italian-Americans.  Heck of a place, that park.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

General Advice

      Sometimes -- not every time, but sometimes -- the reason your life is a shitstorm is because everywhere you go, you sling shit.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Big Melt

     Possibly the snow melt will begin today.  The forecast is calling for a high of 45˚F.  The snow and icicles I see out the window augurs skepticism, but it may happen.  If not today, tomorrow, when we're supposed to hit 56˚.

     Not sure what follows that, but at this point rivers of boiling mud wouldn't surprise me.

Sunday, February 18, 2024


     In the course of looking up information about a piece of popular music, I followed one link to another to an article about the daughter of a couple of motion-picture actors, which included information about their personal lives that had long seemed likely -- and I found I didn't care.  They were married a long time, did a lot of charity work and were generally well-regarded both within their profession and by the wider world.

     Lurid details aside, they were kind to children and animals, apparently did not cheat on their taxes more than anyone else, raised several kids who managed, at least, to stay out of the headlines: why should I pry?  Both of them are dead now, anyway.

     Our appetite for gossip has increased along with the growth of the Internet, and our general urge to get ourselves good and irked runs all the way across the political and social spectrum.  Other than a boost in blood pressure and heart rate, what's the use of it?  I'm saving my outrage for genuine criminality and conspicuous rudeness.  I don't care if you're a holy roller or a flaming libertine, as long as you don't drive drunk and refrain from praying over people who don't want to be prayed over.

     We spend too much time poking at other people's sore spots, and then being offended when they complain.  How about cultivating the ability to let the other weirdos just be weird, and expecting them to do the same for you?  And trust me, if you're a human being, you're weird.  You might not see it, but somebody does.  It's better for everyone if they're not out to outlaw your weirdness, or warming up the tar and gathering feathers, and for you to refrain likewise.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Winter Snuck Back

     Unofficially, Indianapolis had over four inches of snow yesterday, falling and freezing as rush hour approached.  On my way home around 7:00 yesterday evening, I encountered four cars off the road along a blind S-curve that descends into a little low spot to cross William;s Creek.  It's posted for 15 mph, and from the positions and spacing of the cars, they had each made a wrong decision about speed, braking and/or steering at various times.  My brakes went into antilock mode a few times, at speeds of 25 mph or below -- it was that slick.

     Temperatures fell all day yesterday and continued that way overnight.  Today's been sunny and slightly warmer -- just enough to loosen the wet snow on high tree branches, and send it flurrying down in wind gusts.

     Tomorrow's supposed to be warmer.  But we've had a reminder: Winter won't slip away quietly.  We've had a few days of birdsong and sprouting crocus, and we'll have more of them later.  But not today.  And probably not tomorrow.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Well, They Killed Him

     Reports coming out of Russia this morning claim opposition politician Alexei Navalny has died in prison.

     This is the man Putin's government tried to poison at least once before.  While he was publicly critical of corruption and mismanagement in Russia, I don't see that he ever got even a quarter of the votes in any election.  Nevertheless, he was harassed by Mr. Putin's party throughout his career, in and out of courts and prison, frequently barred from speaking in public.

     Compare and contrast with the United States, where politicians out of power can be found all over the media, no matter how lurid their history or what they have been accused of or charged with.  It's not the same -- and that was before Navalny's sudden and unexplained death.

     Of course, in Russia, the Chief Executive effectively has absolute immunity for his actions while in office.  Make of that what you will.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Winner Only Needs 51 Percent Of The Vote

     "Look, up in the sky: it's a drone! It's a kite! No! It's Lowered Expectations Man! Able to leap over moderate-sized buildings in a bound or two and outrun an electric rental scooter! Disguised as a laid-off reporter for a failing newspaper, Lowered Expectations Man attempts to fight crime and support fairly accurate information, a moderate degree of fairness, and many but not all of our better traditions!"
     "Our story opens in a low-priced fast-food franchise, where LE Man is choking down a tepid greaseburger...."

     What's all that got to do with anything?  Just this: in U. S. elections, the broad trend is that the winner tends to be the major party candidate the voters view as the least extreme.

     In the Long Island district formerly represented by expelled Congressperson George Santos, the Democrat who used to hold the job beat a Trump-aligned Republican, and it appears that he did so not by fiery rhetoric, an inspiring biography or superior advertising, but by getting out there and being closer to the center than the GOP's candidate.  In a district that had long leaned Democrat, that was all it took.

     In general elections, normal wins and being way out there loses.  Sure, not every time; there's a ready market for worry and fear and a candidate who can get the voters stampeding often does well in a given election -- but over the long term, the most normal-sounding candidates win.  When the pathologically online talk about wanting to "move the Overton window?" That's the game: if your side isn't nearest the middle now, try shoving the middle towards them.  Sometimes that works, but there's a lot of inertia and the middle's where it is because the vast bulk of people -- of voters -- like it that way.  It tends to bounce back, carried by the independents and those voters with only a little Party loyalty.  This isn't the cheering base that flock to rallies; it's the quiet folks who don't seek out arguments but show up for the general election, year after year.

     Are there enough of them to make a difference in the near term?  I don't know.  And it's not like the "middle" is some universal location; what passes for average in New York's Third Congressional district probably looks pretty far out to voters in Carmel, IN, and a bit staid in Portland, OR.  Nevertheless, over the long term, count on the middle.  Nobody loves tepid greaseburgers, but most of us will eat 'em when everything else on the menu looks worse.  Superduperpartisanman may catch eyeballs, but being the least-bad choice on the ballot is the winning bet.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Okay, The Dog Caught The Car. Now What?

     Given that the slim Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives has finally achieved their wildest dream and succeeded in impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security* Alejandro Mayorkas, can we expect them to buckle down to doing the few useful tasks the House has, like, oh, making sure the government's not going to start kiting checks† and helping to prevent Ukraine falling to Russia?

     The last time we tried ignoring the Bear, we stumbled our way into a generation-long Cold War that nearly went hot multiple times -- and that was in the hands of leaders who had already been though a World War and understood the stakes.  The current crop of Chief Executives and contenders has never been shot at in battle (or, come to think of it, anywhere else), and I'm just a little worried they haven't all fully grasped that global thermonuclear war is a game you can only win by not playing.  It only takes one to spoil the fun for everybody, everywhere.

     Secretary Mayorkas's impeachment has moved on to the Senate for trial, where it will fail.  There's no question about it: the Democrats have the majority there and the dude's not going to be removed from office.  So what was the point, really?  Couldn't House Republicans have held a press conference instead, with charts and graphs and guest speakers?  And then passed the saving on to us -- or even Ukraine!

     Don't hold your breath.  It's stopped being actual governance and become more of an art form.  A performance.  They'll be writhing through the audience for tips next, just like strippers or drag queens.  Look out for loose sequins and stray glitter! 
* I still don't like the name of the department; it reeks of IngSoc and bullshit.  If you become what you pretend to be, wouldn't it be better named The Department of Not Getting Caught With Our Pants Down, Again?
† It's a U. S. tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War, but personally, I don't think it's worth a Continental.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

It's Not A Damn Horse Race

     Efforts to maintain -- or at least portray -- impartiality and balance can lead to some strange twists in coverage of political news, especially at the Presidential level.

     Even the most fair-minded and dispassionate reporter* gets drawn into the sense of drama, wanting to see,

     "Two households, both alike in dignity,
     In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
     From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
     Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."

     Don't hold your breath waiting for the Bard to write the political ads.  The candidates kids are all grown up and mostly married, and no "pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life" to "with their death bury their parents' strife." Ain't gonna happen.  Nor are the two houses the same.  With three and a half years age difference, the frontrunners are a couple of old guys, and however they are right now, they'll both be a day older tomorrow.  Both of them get words wrong, confuse the names of public figures and generally show their years.  But only one of them sat idly by in the White House while a mob broke into and trashed the Capitol building, putting Congress and his own Vice-President to flight, and may have been directly involved in various plots to overthrow the election.  There's no contest; you don't give the guy who punched the Rebublic in the nose a second chance to try for a knockout.

     In Congress, far too many states and districts have picked for drama, for the most fiery campaign talk, for the most fervent loyalty to their Big Man, and what's it got us?  The 118th Congress was historically, spectacularly ineffective and the 119th bids to be more of the same, while the fuse of Ukraine burns steadily towards Europe and the world.  Too many in the Federal legislature are proud of shoving a stick in the spokes.  The big drama thrillride candidates?  We've tried 'em.  They don't work, in the most literal of senses.

     Given a choice of dodderers in the Executive -- and that's all we've got -- I'll go with the one that doesn't dabble in coups.  Given a choice of Congresspeople, I'll try to find the ones who aren't there for the LOLs and likes.  The Press and public can keep their drama.  The thing about a horse race is, at the end, you're mostly left looking at the back ends of horses.
* Wherever the last few of the breed linger, the windswept high plains of Minot or the wilds of Cheektowaga, studied closely even as they dwindle.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Tomato-Olive Salad

     This works well with a bacon, egg and cheese on toasted rye sandwich:

     Tomato-Olive Salad (serves two)

     9 large cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges, rings or smaller sections
     A couple of tablespoons of sliced kalamata olives (to taste). These are the ones that cut up in pitting usually cheap then whole pitted versions.  Taste is just the same and they save steps.  This is the only source of salt, so use fewer or even rinse them if you need to minimize salt.
     1 Piparra pepper (pickled), snipped into thin rings.  Add more if you want more zing, leave out if you don't.  They are much less leathery and more flavorful than pepperoncini, but you could substitute one them, chopped small.
     1 large fresh shishito pepper, snipped into thin rings, seeds, pulp and all.  Ripe, red ones have mild heat; the more common green ones don't.  The underlying flavor is akin to bell peppers, and you could sub a bit of one if you wanted to.

     This should scale up easily.  You could use full-sized tomatoes, chopped small, but the delicate cherry tomatoes suit it well.

     Sprinkle with dried or chopped fresh parsley and Italian-mix seasoning to taste, mix well and let it sit a spell to "marry."  This produces its own dressing, a mix of the tomato liquid, the olive oil and vinegar from the olives and the sharp vinegar from the Piparra pepper.  While I made enough for two, I got a refill after my first serving, so I'll have to make more if I want to serve it as a side with dinner.  It's not salsa, but I think it would make a pretty good dip for tortilla chips.  You could add onion (fresh or dried) and/or garlic -- there's already a bit of garlic in the Italian seasoning.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

It's The Year Of The Dragon!

     In honor of the Lunar New Year, I had a nice, garlicky breakfast: breathing fire!  We each do what we can, after all....

Friday, February 09, 2024

"Vote For Me -- I Don't Know What I'm Doing!"

     The ads are all of a pattern:

     "[CANDIDATE] is an outsider.  Unfamiliar with indoor plumbing, skeptical of color television and Touch-Tone™ dialing, [CANDIDATE] will bring a fresh perspective to governing." (Ad goes on to outline experience unrelated to office being sought.)

     Yeah, that's not working for me.  I want them to be a little familiar with being a functional part of government, most of which consists of fairly dull paperwork and trying to convince peers or other branches to go along with your own fool notions, horse-trading as necessary. And don't lie to me; if you've already served a term in high office, you're not an "outsider" any more.  Give it up.

     Right now, the Indiana Governor's race has still got Business Authoritarian, Religious Authoritarian and plain ol' "45 Loves Me!" Authoritarian, three strong men who promise to bash the state into shape no matter how loudly anyone in it yells, plus Generic Placeholder Republican and Generic Placeholder Democrat, the latter two being a couple of women who at least seem pleasant and are not (so far) inside my television set talking nonsense.  The first three all want me to know what kind of way outside outsiders they are, fine, upstanding fellows with nary a hint of the taint of "Government" on them -- including a serving U. S. Senator.  And while I do admit the Senator in question seems pretty damn useless in Washington, D.C., anybody who can make his way from the Senate cloakroom to the cafeteria unassisted and has an office in the complicated complex of buildings connected to the Capitol has lost any claim to outsiderness.  (To still have a chance of being seriously considered an "outsider" after that, he ought to be sleeping rough and own only what he can keep in his pockets, but I'm a harsh judge.)

     The other two "outsiders" are a guy who claims to be a successful businessman -- which these days means he either knows his way around laws and regulations, or has hired people who do and taken their advice -- and a fellow who thinks it is very important that I know his grandfather was a pastor.  The last time I checked, religious piety wasn't an inheritable trait, nor was it a necessary skill for being Governor (and a good thing, too -- Indiana's had one or two real hellions in that office), and otherwise, his only demonstrated abilities are being an okay actor in TV commercials and fathering about a half-dozen children.  I'll even grant that the last might count as applicable job experience, but I'd like to see a few more relevant entries on their resumes.  School board?  Scout Leader?  Hello?

Thursday, February 08, 2024

I'm Okay With Frienderdome

     The notion of "Frienderdome" doesn't bother me.

     One of the newer microblogging social media sites that has popped up in the wake of X (formerly Twitter)'s turn towards open partisanship* has fostered a grass-roots a "block early, block often" approach to intractable conflict, and it seems to be working.  There are lots of notions over which people of goodwill can disagree and discuss -- is right turn on red a good idea, or an unacceptable risk to pedestrians?  What colors work best in washrooms?  Should we tax the rich more, less or leave the rate alone? -- but there are other issues that are pure "Shiri Scissors" stuff, creating only division and resistant to forming a consensus.  You can't fix them, no matter how clever you are.

     If you can't resolve it and the conflict isn't something you can ignore, stop picking at it on social media.  Put up a wall.  In real life, if necessary you'll find a modus operandi or move on; on social media, all interaction is optional and if it only annoys, pull the plug.  It doesn't do any harm and you'll both be happier.

     We form online relationships based on imperfect knowledge.  Sometimes the curtain is pulled back and we're delighted.  Other times, we're shocked.   I worked in radio for years, and while many people looked the way they sounded, many others did not; the voice of Adonis or Aphrodite sometimes came from the mouth of a goblin or a crone.  Accept it.  Move on.
* It's Mr. Musk's site.  He's free to pick sides, to boost one opinion and ignore, mock or remove disagreement.  He's free to alter or remove moderation and standards enforcement.  But nobody's obliged to hang around if they don't want to, and in true Internet form, they haven't.  There is a wealth of new possibilities, each with a slightly different focus and culture.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024


     It appears that every pundit, professional or amateur, has a take on how the U. S. Supreme Court ought to rule in the matter of Mr. Trump's eligibility to run for Federal office.  And it seems that every politician, legal scholar or big-name attorney has filed an amicus brief, too.

     Here's my advice on finding out how the Justices will rule: wait and see.  Maybe they'll issue a majority opinion of such limpid clarity and transcendent insight that everyone who reads it will nod in agreement.  Maybe they'll corkscrew their way down paths of legal reasoning so complicated that hardly anybody will be able to follow it.  Maybe they'll say he's home free.  Maybe they'll say he's O-U-T.  Maybe they'll find a way to split the difference.  Maybe they'll hem and haw and try to wait until the election is past and the matter is moot.

     Nobody knows.  Not you, not me, not the most eminent law professor or dedicated Court-watcher.

     If I was on the Supreme Court, I'd've denied certiorari without comment and sent out for a late breakfast.  Why fish in such turbid waters when you can leave it in the lap of a lower court?  But that's just me.   Any person who tells you they can read the minds of the Justices is talking nonsense.  We'll find out when they decide.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

That Famous British Reserve

     What ever happened to it?  The UK's Royal Family used to be extraordinarily tight-lipped about medical issues, all the more so if those issues were in any way -- whisper it -- private.

     As of this morning, I know more about the King of England's prostate than I ever expected or wanted to, and have heard reams of speculation about nearby region's of the man's anatomy.  While I'm as sorry for him as I would be for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis -- probably more so than many of his actual subjects, if social media comments are any guide -- he's in no danger of receiving sub-par medical care and will be waited on hand and foot during his convalescence, same as always.

     Get well soon, Chuck, and see if you can ask the press to please STFU and go find some actual news to cover.  I totally get that it's nicer and safer to cover than the mess in Gaza or Mr. Trump's interminable legal struggles and verbal gaffes, or the screwups in Congress that impede fixing the border and let the world stumble ever closer to WW III, but each and every one of those things has more impact on my life than the UK needing to haul a new Monarch off the reserve list and get him up to speed for those important rubber-stamp and ribbon-cutting duties, without which the Empire would grind to a creaking halt.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Today I Learned...

     Your GPS -- and mine -- function because of the work of a 93-year-old, grandmotherly mathematician, who still prefers paper maps for her own use.

     Gladys West spent most of her career well behind the scenes at the Dahlgren Naval Proving Ground, doing obscure math about planetary orbits and the shape of the Earth.  That second item is critical information if, say, you need to hit Moscow with an ICBM, or fly a plane from Sacramento to London.  (To get me from home to an unfamiliar branch library, a lower level of precision will do -- but only if cumulative mapping errors haven't thrown the whole thing off.  So we need Ms. West's work again.)

     She is one of the people who built the future, and I'll be you hadn't heard of her before today, either.

...This Old Gray Head....

     As a child, I often wondered why old people were so crabby.  In hindsight, the main reason was probably that I was a particularly annoying child.  But next on the list was a wider issue: so much of the world was annoying to anyone who'd seen a long span of it.

     It still is.  As a culture and as individuals, we make the same mistakes, over and over.  And so do our elected officials, ever willing to clutch for short-term gains and downplay the long-term costs.  It's irritating.  How can they be such fools?

     The answer to that, of course, is because they're human.  We're not very good at long-term thinking.  Farmers get a little better than most, needing to look to harvest, to planting, to the next year -- but you won't find many Jeffersonian yeomen (or women) holding high-level public office; they're too busy trying to keep their heads above water, financially and sometimes literally.*

     It's enough to make a person grumpy -- and it often does.

     So shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but maybe try not to be such a nitwit instead.
* Unless they're too short of the stuff.  Or have both too little and too much, a trick California's weather and infrastructure are managing to accomplish far too often of late.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Turnips For Breakfast

     Turnip hash.  I've made it before and I'll probably make it again.  It's a little more work than fried rice or the potato version, since turnips need to be peeled, but it's tasty and it makes a nice change.  Today's was simplified, four strips of Hatch chili bacon,* a large turnip (diced) seasoned with a little paprika and dried onion flakes, and four eggs, plus some parsley and truffle powder at the end.

     Tam has hers with hot sauce.  I sprinkled mine with grated Cotija cheese.  Either way, it was good.  Turnip made this way cooks up a little softer than potato, with a mildly spicy flavor.

     Anything you can make with potatoes can be made with turnips instead.  They have a little more flavor, but do just as well with the usual seasonings as any spud.
* Our corner grocer has it occasionally.  Like the applewood-smoked bacon I usually buy, it's not cheap; but bacon's more of an enhancement than a main dish and if used sparingly, the price per meal isn't bad.

Friday, February 02, 2024

No, I Will Not

     There's no way I'm trusting a prognosticating rodent's shadow-viewing for how much longer winter's got to run.

     Also, next Thursday's high temperature is predicted to be 58, so anything after that in the way of winter weather counts as a "freak snowstorm," in my opinion.  Winter will be out the door and the bolt shot behind it.  If it wants to act up, it'll have to sneak back in.

     (Pretty sure I saw Prognosticating Rodent open for Eric Clapton at Market Square Arena in the 1990s.)

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Bipartisanship? Oh, My Goodness!

    The vote was overwhelming as well as bipartisan: 357 to 70.  The bill expands child tax credits on income tax filings -- not as much as similar temporary measures during the pandemic, but more than the level they had reverted to.  It also expands corporate tax breaks, which was what House Speaker Mike Johnson chose to focus on when discussing it.

     The choice didn't help: the far fringes of the GOP voted against it -- mostly, the House Freedom Caucus.*  So did the Dems on the far left; someone else can tote up how many DSA-affliated nays there were. (Voting details here.)

     The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R. 7024) worked the way important stuff in Congress is supposed to work: the middle pulled together and got it done while the extremes fumed and barked.  The far Right tried to jam it up in a way that required a two-thirds majority to get it through, and the vote beat that threshold handily.  Now it's off to the Senate, where -- surprise! -- the more-extreme among the Senators are grousing; the GOP's outliers are fretting it might help Joe Biden's re-election efforts and some of the farther-out Democrats are irked that it won't do as much for the poor as they wish it would.

     Interestingly, while broad details of the vote and provisions of the bill are easy to come by, finding out the name, number and specifics took some digging.  This site had lots of info, but I'm darned if I can figure out what they do; some sort of back-office consulting, apparently.  The Clerk of the U. S. House of Representatives has links that will let you drill right down into the text.  The usual sources, from NPR to Fox (paywalled), bubble with soap-opera stuff; they'll tell you it's supposed to help poor families and they give the vote results, but in-depth information is remarkably lacking, just "Mikey tried to put a good face on it, Chucky hates it and so does Alexandria," which I suppose is kind of interesting in a junior high school way, but not especially useful.  What'll it do for Joe Sixpack and Terry Businessperson?
* Named, as near as I can figure out, under the guidance of the We Didn't Understand Orwell Society.  Not calling it irony, but look at all that rust!