Archive for January, 2018

Doomsday Clock Now ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’

Amy Biancolli: life is huge

John Green: On emergencies

The Women’s Marches Could Have Lasting Consequences

How Arafat Eluded Israel’s Assassination Machine

Water run out: Days are numbered in Cape Town

Evangelical toadies are destroying the Christian brand and The death of Christianity in the U.S.

I Was a Successful Journalist When a Doctor First Handed Me Opioids

Good People Don’t Defend A Bad Man

How he convinced America that character doesn’t matter

His Racism: The Definitive List

How democracies die

Why Don’t Norwegians Immigrate to the United States?

More than 160 women say Larry Nassar sexually abused them; here are his accusers in their own words and It’s Time For Every Last Coward Who Enabled Nassar To Pay For Their Sins

When convictions are clearly wrong, these prosecutors don’t just hinder justice—they actively work against it

N.Y. gun violence costs state economy over $5.6B a year

An experiment involving monkeys watching cartoons shows how far Volkswagen went to manipulate research on the harmful effects of diesel fuel

FACEBOOK begins its downward spiral

“Keep going today. Keep moving amid every obstacle. Keep moving amid every mountain of opposition” – MLK, Jr.

The Reasonable Ineffectiveness of Mathematics

A Tiny New York Town With Not One, But 5 Indie Bookstores

10 Letters We Dropped From The Alphabet

Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed science fiction writer, is dead at 88; Le Guin on Tolkien

RIP Hugh Wilson (WKRP)

Connie Sawyer, World’s Oldest Working Actress, dies at 105

Comic strip creator Mort Walker, R.I.P. Beetle Bailey was the brother of Lois in Hi and Lois

Jeopardy! Contestants Present: “Get Well Soon, Alex!” and Alex Trebek returned to taping Jeopardy!

From Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr’s collection of vintage ephemera, circa 1912


How STAR WARS was saved in the edit and Star Wars’ infamous Holiday Special, explained

Some nice Albany photography

Hello Chuckthewriter.blog!

Now I Know: How Fire and Fury Fueled a World War II Revival and Now I Know: How Some Places are Beeting the Snow and When A Penny Saved is Ten-Thousand Pennies Earned and The A-Maze-Ing Solution to a Bar’s Legal Problems and Why Nike Makes Glowing Sneakers

Aristocrat, friend of royalty and cad and card cheat Sir William Gordon-Cumming

MUSIC

Holly Holy- Neil Diamond (live 1971)

Sunny Afternoon – the Rodford Files

Cry Like A Rainstorm – Bonnie Raitt

Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes

John Knowles Paine Symphony No. 2: In Spring

Coverville 1201: Cover Stories for Pat Benatar and Shawn Colvin and 1202: Cover Stories for the Kaiser Chiefs and the Thompson Twins and 1203: Journey and Cheap Trick Cover Stories

The River Cam – Eric Whitacre

H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nemesis” has the same meter as Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”

Nights at White Castle

5 Songs You’ve Never Heard That You’ve Heard 1000 Times

Two Catskill HS Students to Perform at Carnegie Hall, one of whom I know well

Hugh Masekela, great South African jazz trumpeter, died at 78

Edwin Hawkins, Known for the Hit ‘Oh Happy Day,’ Is Dead at 74

Mark Edward Smith (1957-2018) of The Fall

Denise LaSalle, singer and writer of earthy songs dies at 78

Hormones appear to affect our musical preferences

I received a notice about a workshop in Washington, DC on March 8, from The Association of Public Data Users (APDU), Building the Case for Public Statistics: Workshop for Stakeholders.

The opening sentences of the description I firmly believe:

“In uncertain times, we need evidence. Federal statistics are vital sources. Researchers, businesses, governments, and nonprofits rely on this data, and we need to do a better job of telling policymakers that investment in data is important.”

This resonated with me because recent events from the current regime have suggested a blatant disregard for data. Most notably, officials of the Centers for Disease Control have been banned from using certain words, those being Vulnerable, Entitlement, Diversity, Transgender, Fetus, Evidence-based and Science-based. Later, the Department overseeing the CDC, Health and Human Services denied actually banning the words, saying that they are “recommendations.”

Nevertheless, this newspeak has been widely, and understandably, mocked, with folks on social media finding ways to include all the words as often as possible. Jim Reisner wrote, “The science-based study on diversity showed that a vulnerable, transgender fetus was not eligible for any entitlements generated by an evidence-based analysis of Republican compassion.” I thought it was brilliant.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s head, Scott Pruitt, has called for the elimination of the term “global warming.” He has cited the Bible to justify removing scientists from advisory boards. When EPA employees spoke out against the anti-science policies, then came scrutiny of their email.

Also, the regime has reversed the inclusion of climate as a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, as the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality – bad enough – it has refused to take action to remove fraudulent comments or to prevent them from being filed.

As a librarian, I count on access to data that are undistorted by political agendas. I need, to quote Joe Friday, “Just the facts.”

For ABC Wednesday

A few items that might not generate a whole post:

I went to New York City on January 16 to visit our center at Pace University. The librarians are divvying up the state to find out how we can serve them better. After that, the center director, Andrew. and I met with some folks from the Census Bureau, led by Andy.

Andy and his colleagues were touting the 2017 Economic Census, which will take place electronically in May 2018. This allows them to generate data that help businesses to make decisions on location, demographic trends and the like.

I was REALLY happy I didn’t go down the following day, because it snowed, not just in Albany, but in NYC. Snow in NYC makes travel dreadful.
***
A bunch of folks met at my church to walk down to the Women’s March in Albany on January 20. Some guy commenting on my Times Union blog said there wouldn’t be 10 people at the event. I replied that there would be more than that going just from my church, and that was true.

I’m lousy at crowd size guesstimation, but I heard everything from three to six thousand. In any case, there were so many there, good friends of mine who were present I simply did not see. But there they were all over Facebook.

I did not know that nearly 60 protesters from the J20 anti-Trump march in DC last year are still subject to prosecution, though 129 indictments were dropped.
***
I tend to watch football only in the last couple weeks of the season and into the playoffs. The first weekend I saw one game, and watched summaries of the three others online. The next weekend, I saw parts of games. But I recorded the last two games and watched them later. The trick, of course, is NOT to watch live TV, check email or social media. Ignorance in this process IS bliss.

There’s been reports that NFL viewing is down. Some think it’s because of players taking of a knee during the national anthem. Others believe it’s that, with the increased reporting of brain damage from CTE, people are less likely to watch it.

I think it is that the official reviews of every touchdown, almost every play in the last two minutes of each half, plus the coaches’ challenges take FOREVER. Still another reason for watching on tape delay. well, not TAPE…

Go, Philadelphia Eagles!


When Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) got tired of the lack of progress regarding the murder of her daughter, she commissions an ad company guy named Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) to put up Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That’s the movie my wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany on the Sunday it was touted as Best Picture by the Screen Actors Guild.

Of course, the beloved chief of police William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) is not happy to be called out in 20-foot letters, even on a back road. Besides, he has even a bit of an unrelated problem. But one of his officers, Jason Dixon (Oscar nominee Sam Rockwell), who still lives with his mama (Sandy Martin), is a hotheaded bigot who gets even more incensed.

Mildred’s ex, Charlie (John Hawkes) has been spending time with a 19-year old female named Penelope (Samara Weaving). Mildred’s son Robbie (Lucas Hedges, whose last three movies I’ve now seen) is coping with loss.

Three Billboards also stars Amanda Warren and Peter Dinklage.

Lots of people, obviously, really liked this movie and I’m one of them. I appreciated the development of the memorable and distinct characters, which shows that most of us are complicated beings. Occasionally the film is unexpectedly funny, and I laughed aloud more than once. Previous Oscar winner McDormand (Fargo) deserved her nomination, as do Rockwell and previous Oscar nominee Harrelson.

And some critics absolutely hated Three Billboards. A few thought the first part was great and it fell apart, by seemingly redeeming the worst character, which I don’t believe is what happened. Others found the film of little redeeming value, with a deus ex machina ending. What?

I’ve read that the wordplay from Martin McDonagh, who was also the director, was considered too glib and clever for its own good. And some just hate its politics: see, for instance, writer Ken Levine’s scalding take.

A couple other notes: there’s violence, but the murder is not shown, except in photos. In fact, the one time I turned away from the screen momentarily involved a scene practically out of Little Shop of Horrors.

It was a bit nerve-wracking occasionally, though. And if I didn’t realize this on my own, the woman sitting directly behind me let me know by telling her friend that she was so nervous she needed to ear more popcorn.

The odd thing about Super Freak by Rick James from 1981 is that I read ABOUT it a lot, but I didn’t actually HEAR it very often, due in part, I was led to believe, by its then-controversial subject matter.

And while it’s #481 in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame list, it wasn’t his highest charting single. He had several hits starting with 1978’s You and I. Of course, what gave Super Freak a second life is when M.C. Hammer used it, with permission, as the basis of U Can’t Touch This. James got a Grammy out of the deal.

He collaborated with fellow Motown artists such as Smokey Robinson (Ebony Eyes), and The Temptations. The Temps sing background on Super Freak. James is featured on Standing On The Top, from their REUNION album, when the group briefly had seven members rather than five.

Rick James, born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., was an upstate kid, born in Buffalo, New York. He was in various bands before joining the Navy Reserve, mostly out of fear of being drafted. But he took off to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he formed the rock band the Mynah Birds, which, for a time, featured Neil Young.

His music career ground to a halt when the “military authorities discovered his whereabouts and eventually convicted James on a one-year prison term related to the draft charges. After being released, James moved to California where he started a variety of rock and funk groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s.”

Unfortunately, success did not bring joy. He reportedly spent $7000 a week on cocaine for five straight years. He was convicted of assaulting two women in the early 1990s, and spent a couple years in jail. “After divorcing his first wife, he married Tanya Hijazi on December 24, 1997 and they divorced in 2002.”

Then he died of a heart attack on August 6, 2004 at the age of 56. He would have been 70 on February 1, 2018.

Listen to:

You and I – #13 pop, #1 soul for two weeks in 1978 (long version)

Mary Jane – #41 pop, #3 soul for two weeks in 1978

Super Freak – #16 pop, #3 soul for five weeks in 1981

Standing On The Top (Temptations featuring Rick James)– #66 pop, #6 soul in 1982 (long version)

Cold Blooded (long version) – #40 pop, #1 soul for six weeks in 1983

Ebony Eyes (Rick James featuring Smokey Robinson) – #43 pop, #22 soul in 1984

Loosey’s Rap (Rick James featuring Roxanne Shante)– #1 soul in 1988, looking very Prince-like

U Can’t Touch This (M.C. Hammer) – #8 pop, #1 soul in 1990 but it felt WAY more ubiquitous than that

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