Archive for December, 2018

onam.empireOligarchy Is Destroying Our Society and the Planet

Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers

The main problem with privatization is that it tends to socialize risk and privatize profits

Moments of madness: Freud’s thoughts on human nature resonate today

Low nurse staffing levels directly linked to higher patient mortality, study finds

The politics of ’12 Angry Men’ has never really left us and probably never will

The Postal Inspector Who Took Down America’s First Organized Crime Ring

Pew’s ‘striking findings’ from 2018

150 Minutes of Hell

Can Compassion Be Taught?

Now this is how you do sanctuary right

Walter Ayres: New Hope Budget

My friend and former pastor Donna Elia: Woman of the cloth, woman of the belt

Being Mortal review – a surgeon’s view of how we should end our days

Morrie Turner: Wee Pals, Kid Power

Curios from the Outer Rim: SUPERMAN at 40

Is tech ruining the way we use exclamation points?!

In Vermont, a small-town feud leads to a big middle finger (literally)

A simple, free way to pass your permit test; the New York State version

A few of the 700some stories about the street names of Albany

The annual obit reel from Turner Classic Movies

Word of the year? listen or risk

The Internet has screwed up Christmas shopping

Holiday weight gain: Can it be avoided? Probably not

Now I Know: The Starbucks That Never Gets Your Name Wrong and Rodentia Intelligencia and A Crowd-Pleasing Side Dish and The Transatlantic Battery Bunny Battle and Is a Burrito (Legally) a Sandwich?

A woman tricked her dad by replacing Ferrero Rocher chocolates with chocolate-covered brussels sprouts

Chuck Miller: Photos of 2018

Dustbury notes my Advent devotional

Arthur answers my questions about where to live and religion and his likes

WHICH SIDE IS HE ON?

Russia picked him and ran him for President, former Israeli intelligence officer says

No, These Tariffs Have Not Been Good for America

He says: Give Me a Wall or I’ll Engineer a Recession

He took credit for a growing economy – Now what?

Shutdown halts civil court cases — including those against him

Regime Suggests Unpaid Federal Workers Do Odd Jobs to Cover Rent

Daughter of the podiatrist who helped defer him from Vietnam says ‘bone spurs’ were a lie

Trials of Individual-1: a scorecard

The E.P.A. proposed new rules for assessing pollution that would make it easier for power plants to release mercury and other toxic substances

Here’s how his environmental record is hurting communities worldwide

Is this any way to run a superpower?

Back when (a) he was just an annoying, self-promoting business tycoon and (b) Jon Stewart manned the desk at The Daily Show

MUSIC

Who Cares – Paul McCartney, video with Emma Stone

Coverville Countdown: The 40 Greatest Covers of 2018, Part One and Part Two

I’ll Be Seeing You – Nancy Wilson

Crimson and Clover – Prince

Love Always Wins – Hande Yener

Jerusalem – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Bourée – Jethro Tull

“The Chipmunk Song” Turns 60: Secrets of a Holiday Novelty Smash

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. oh, phooey…

This is true: I am writing this at 2:30 a.m. a couple weeks ago. I went to sleep, but woke up.

This time, I know it’s because I ate too late. I realize, from experience, that me eating after 7 p.m. is a recipe for nocturnal interruptus.

To put me back to sleep – which usually works for me – I got up and just looked for sleep-related articles, all from the CBS News This Morning program, just to show how significant the topic is.

How lack of sleep affects health and tips for a good night’s rest – October 11, 2017

It’s “frightening” how few young people get enough sleep, expert says – June 25, 2018

New data suggests lack of sleep early in life can raise the risk of heart disease later. Research in the journal Pediatrics connects insufficient sleep in young teens to cardiac risk factors, including high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and obesity.

In the book “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS), Matthew Walker says sleep is underestimated as a means for preventing disease.

“For example, even if you’re getting eight hours but are waking up many more times throughout the night or you’re not getting that deep sleep, what we’ve discovered recently is that deep sleep provides the very best form of natural blood pressure medication that you could ever wish for.”

Parents are hiring coaches to get their babies to sleep better – December 1, 2018

New parents face a host of challenges, but one of the most common is dealing with sleep issues. When children don’t fall into a regular pattern of sleep, parents aren’t sleeping much either.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that at six months old, only 43 percent of babies were sleeping 8-hour stretches and at 12 months old, only about 57 percent.

To train their infants to sleep when they do wake in the night, some parents won’t go to their baby’s crib, or may delay feeding. But for others, it is too difficult to ignore the crying.

Also, I heard about Bose Sleepbuds which cost about $250, a bit pricey. Here are some reviews:
New York Times – “tech probably isn’t my solution”
Engadget – helpful but needs improvement (4 stars out of 5)
Techradar – (4 stars out of 5)
Tom’s Guide – They Ruined My Sleep (2 stars out of 5)
PC Magazine (3 stars out of 5)
390 customers on Amazon reviewed it. 5 star 35%, 4 star 16%, 3 star 11%, 2 star 15%, 1 star 23%

AMAZINGLY, 40 minutes of reading about sleeping has made me tired again and… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

For ABC Wednesday

Donna SummerThose of you too young to remember the days of disco may not understand how truly reviled it was. The teenage son of a friend of mine mocked the fact that I bought, owned and played the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

But not everyone thought disco sucked. Another friend bought me the Donna Summer album Live and More, a two-LP collection that featured, on side three, in order, live versions of Love to Love You Baby, I Feel Love, and Last Dance.

Then on side four, there was a 17-minute studio version of the MacArthur Park Suite, starting and ending with the Jimmy Webb song with One of a Kind and Heaven Knows mixed there.

The woman born LaDonna Adrian Gaines was one of the most significant artists in her time. “A five-time Grammy Award winner, Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the United States Billboard 200 chart and charted four number-one singles in the US within a 12-month period.

“Summer earned a total of 42 hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 in her lifetime, with 14 of those reaching the top-ten. She claimed a top 40 hit every year between 1975 and 1984, and from her first top-ten hit in 1976, to the end of 1982, she had 12 top-ten hits (10 were top-five hits), more than any other act during that time period.”

Donna Summer had “nineteen Number One dance hits between 1975 and 2008 (second only to Madonna).” Her “success continued throughout the Eighties and into the Nineties. In 1992 Summer was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

In 2013, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, described as the Queen of Disco and the Mother of Modern Dance Music. Unfortunately, it was the year after she died of lung cancer in May of 2012.

Listen to multiple versions of Donna Summer songs, shortest take first

@Love to Love You Baby – #2 pop for two weeks, #3 R&B in 1976 – here or here

@I Feel Love – #6 pop, #9 R&B in 1977 here or here or here

Last Dance – #3 for two weeks pop, #5 R&B in 1978 here or here

MacArthur Park – #1 pop for three weeks, #8 R&B in 1978 here or here

Hot Stuff – #1 for three weeks pop, #3 for three weeks in 1979; here; it also won her a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, the first time the category was included.

@Bad Girls – #1 for five weeks pop, #1 R&B in 1979 here or here

No More Tears (Enough is Enough) – with Barbra Streisand – #1 for two weeks pop, #20 R&B in 1979; here or here; four Number One pop hits in a little over a year.

@She Works Hard for the Money – #3 for three weeks pop, #1 for three weeks R&B in 1983 here or here

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

@ co-written by Donna Summer

Donna Summer would have been 70 on New Year’s Eve.

Kelly SedingerThere’s this guy in western New York named Kelly Sedinger who has been blogging regularly since early 2002. I have no real idea how I came across Byzantium’s Shores, but it would have had to have been after I started my daily prattling in 2005. For most of the time, he used the nom de blog Jaquandor, but much less so now.

Besides his now-tempered following of the Buffalo Bills football team, his exquisite knowledge of classical music, and his odd attraction to a pie in the face, Kelly’s driving force has always been the power of the written word.

In 2014, he not only wrote but published Stardancer, which he sent to me. I enjoyed it, but have not yet gotten to the other books in the Song of Forgotten Stars Trilogy.

Yet, when I read the prologue to his supernatural thriller, The Chilling Killing Wind, I was compelled to immediately buy the book, a Christmas present from me to me.

It is about a guy named John Lazarus, who had attended the executions of two of the murderers of his wife Michelle and was about to attend the third, and final, one, that of Roy Edgar Chalmers.

Lazarus is a professor and an ex-cop, now living with his fiancee, Ellen, still negotiating the relationship vis a vis the memory of Michelle.

John isn’t expecting “closure” with Chalmers’ death, any more than he felt it after the executions of Luther Mayhew and Raoul Serrano before. He doesn’t know how little closure until a string of murders rock the small Michigan town where he lives.

I received the book on a Friday and finished it by Tuesday. It was a compelling read. I don’t read murder mysteries, but my daughter has begun watching certain TV procedurals, and without getting too much into it, he seemed to follow the form without being formulaic.

Kelly seemed to think his YA sci-fi was something my daughter would enjoy, and she might if she gave it a chance. But I gather she’ll almost certainly enjoy The Chilling Killing Wind. There are minor issues I could note, including at least one typo, but I was glad to have read this.

I’m not sure where Kelly goes from here, though. He has proposed a John Lazarus series, and I’ll be curious how that will shake out.

can you ever forgive meWhat is extraordinary about Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which my wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany recently, is how one manages to care about the protagonist, very much in spite of herself. This is based on a true story, generated from Lee Israel’s 2008 memoir.

Lee (Melissa McCarthy) was a biographer in the 1970s and 1980s of actress Tallulah Bankhead, journalist and game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen, and cosmetics tycoon Estée Lauder. The Kilgallen book appeared on The New York Times Best Sellers List, but the Lauder book was a disaster.

By the early 1990s, her work had dried up, her agent (Jane Curtin) ducked her calls, and she was having difficulty making ends meet. The veterinarian wouldn’t even treat her cat. Moreover, her personality, fueled in part by alcohol consumption, tended to be abrasive.

Lee sold a couple genuine letters of famous people to Anna (Dolly Wells), a sweet young woman who inherited her bookstore owner and was interested in Israel’s talent and persona. For the money, Lee starts to forge letters of deceased writers and actors and selling them to Anna and other dealers. She also started to steal actual letters of famous persons from archives and libraries, replacing them with forgeries.

Israel coincidentally runs into an old acquaintance Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) at a local bar. To her surprise, they become not just drinking buddies but actual friends. It’s the core relationship in the movie. Can You Ever Forgive Me? is not a fast-paced story or overwrought drama but a too-believable tale of what one will do to survive.

Julianne Moore was initially attached to the role of Lee Israel, but Melissa McCarthy, mostly known for her comic portrayals, was excellent in the role. It is unsurprising that the film received 98% positive reviews from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but only about 83% from audiences.

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