Prompt: Songs that makes me sad

By the time the video was made, Roy Orbison was already dead.

Cry FreedomNot only are there many sad songs that I appreciate, they tend to be among my favorites by a given artist. “Sad songs say so much” – no, that Elton John song is NOT on the list.

Biko – Peter Gabriel. The last song from the third eponymous album, the 1980 collection referred to as Melt. It is my #1 album of that year, and one of my favorite album of the decade. Stephen Biko was a black South African anti-apartheid activist, and the song gave voice to the tragedy of his death.

September ’77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
The man is dead
The man is dead

Related: in the 1987 movie Cry Freedom, “South African journalist Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington).” There’s a monumental scene of The Funeral (Nkosi Sikelel’ Iafrika), which I find quite moving.

In My Room – the Beach Boys
I didn’t really relate to the band’s early songs about surfing and automobiles. But I surely “got” this piece. My bedroom wasn’t even a proper room, but rather two walls carved out of what was probably a dining room. It was where I would read incessantly, play with my baseball cards, and daydream.

End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
By the time the video was made, Roy Orbison was already dead. Of course, George Harrison and Tom Petty, who sings most of the verses, have since passed.

A Salty Dog – Procol Harum
Maybe “The captain cried, we sailors wept, our tears were tears of joy,” but I’ve always found this track melancholy:
Across the straits, around the Horn, how far can sailors fly?
A twisted path, our tortured course, and no one left alive

Telling Me Lies – Trio (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris.
The lyrics are devastating, and the three-part harmony just does me in. The fact that Linda’s singing voice is stilled by the damn Parkinson’s adds to the poignancy.

Sending Immigrants to Sanctuary Cities?

The 2020 Census provides an opportunity for everyone to be counted.

Immigrants make America greatAs I’ve indicated, I read quite a bit from right-wing websites; I find it a useful exercise. The Daily Signal – about which you can read HERE – recently addressed, “Answers to 4 Big Questions About Sending Illegal Immigrants to Sanctuary Cities.” Because I don’t want to drive more traffic there, I’ve chosen not to link to it.

I will say, despite what I consider some bias, that it was a serious response. And it addresses what I initially thought was the regime’s flippant and retaliatory Tweet storm that apparently is being considered as policy.

First DS asked: “Where Would Illegal Immigrants Be Transported? More than 170 cities and counties have some sort of sanctuary law prohibiting local law enforcement from assisting federal immigration authorities, and in some cases, jurisdictions may even obstruct enforcement.”

The Center for Immigration Studies lists eight states in this category as well: California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont.

I’m not linking to the “Low-immigration, Pro-immigrant” CIS site either, which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group. Still, I think their list appears to be largely correct.

Why Would the US Want to Release Illegal Immigrants Anywhere in Country? The DS response is a combination of the facts – too few immigration judges in a lengthy process – and a challenge to sanctuary cities – “Do you really want them, or are you just grandstanding?” As usual, the regime can use this for its strategy of fear: targeting seniors with anti-immigrant Facebook ads.

“Would It Be Legal?” Perhaps. DS makes a convoluted argument.

“What’s the Harm?” Now we’re getting to the crux of the matter. “Besides not solving any problems with illegal border crossings, the policy being considered by Trump could create new problems… Sanctuary jurisdictions, generally in heavily Democratic areas, usually encourage illegal immigrants to fill out census forms already…”

I have to take exception to the tone of this. EVERY jurisdiction wants to count EVERYONE, in anticipation of redistricting in 2021. The complete count committees being developed across the country note this.

“The 2020 Census provides an opportunity for everyone to be counted. Tribal, state, and local governments; community-based organizations; faith-based groups; schools; businesses; the media; and others play a key role in developing partners to educate and motivate residents to participate in the 2020 Census.”

That said, as DS argues correctly: “Increasing the populations of sanctuary jurisdictions is just going to give them more political power, not less.” If billionaire George Soros were REALLY were behind every Democratic party action, as is supposed, he’d be building housing in sanctuary cities for refugees right now.

Perpendicular yellow lines to dig safely

What do YOU call the strip of land between the sidewalk and the curb?

Dig safely New YorkOne evening late last month, my wife and I noticed lights from a utility truck. Soon, two guys in uniform are on our lawn.

The next morning I noticed they had sprayed perpendicular yellow lines from the middle of our lawn to the sidewalk, then in the grassy berm. They’ve placed little yellow flags indicating where our utility company, National Grid, had determined there are gas lines.

(Sidebar: what do YOU call the strip of land between the sidewalk and the curb?)

What are they doing? I email the utility because you really can’t find anyone to talk to unless you smell gas or the power’s out or they’re cutting off service.

The next day I receive this message: “We were notified by Dig Safe to mark where our service is. Please call – NY – Call 811 or 1-800-962-7962 (Dig Safely NY) to see why the lines needed to be marked.”

Curiosity got me, so I made the call. The woman to whom I spoke did say that someone had requested the action but was reticent about saying who. Finally, she looked up our address to tell us it was the city of Albany. “They’re checking to see if they can use a wood chipper there.”

Interesting. There’s no tree on our property line, but the ROOTS of the tree just to the north DOES have obvious roots in front of our house. And the tree DOES have branches that can get tangled in the overhead wires.

Moreover, the berm on the adjacent property is also marked off. It would be a real shame to lose that large oak, which provides shade on our house. It would, as my wife put it, “change the climate.”

But she suggested another scenario. Maybe the city of Albany is going to fix our sidewalk, again. Back in 2012, they paved the sidewalk of five residences, the last of which is ours.

Ever since, it has drained poorly only in front of our house. When it rains, our sidewalk is a lake. When it’s cold, the lake turns into an ice pond. Vigilant snow removal, followed by melting and refreezing, turns the walkway into an ice rink.

My wife has bugged the city officials at least every other year, with at least one city official acknowledging that our sidewalk was constructed in a way that it’s the lowest point on the block. It was done by a contractor the city doesn’t use anymore, but there were other priorities before our redo.

Could the periodic lake in front of our house disappear forever? It would be a happy day! The tree scenario is far more likely. Hey, maybe they’re doing both.

World Autism Awareness Month

The only time I’d written about autism in this blog, other than reviews, wasn’t even about the condition.

autism A group on my floor at work showed the short TEDx talk Dear Society…signed Autism… recently. You should watch it – it’s only eight minutes long – but the bottom line is that people like to be seen as people, not symptoms.

We had a lively conversation about the condition. I don’t think I’m an expert on the subject, but I’m extremely interested in it, in part because I have a relative on the spectrum.

So I tend to seek out media portrayals such as the current television show The Good Doctor (ABC), the now-completed Parenthood (NBC), the movie Life, Animated, and the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the latter of which attempted to have the audience experience what it might feel like to be in the head of someone with autism.

Without any effort, I’ve come across several stories on the topic this month. Most fascinating to me is one about the gut microbiomes, which “recent research suggests… also affect brain communication and neurological health.”

Other pieces: A Mother Of A Son With Autism Thanks A Stranger Who Helped: ‘Nobody Does What You Do’ and How a simple act of kindness transformed a boy’s birthday.

Plus Samantha Bee take on the anti-vaxxers, with two principles. “Vaccines do not cause autism” and “Don’t treat autistic people like their existence is worse than a pandemic.”

The (so-far exaggerated) reference is to measles, which has had more cases in the US in 2019 SO FAR than every year since its “eradication” in 2000. The plurality, if not the majority, of the cases are in New York State, in the three downstate counties of Rockland, Westchester and Kings (Brooklyn).

The only time I’d written about autism in this blog, other than reviews, wasn’t even about the condition. Rather it was a reference to whether a particular charity was on the up-and-up, and that was back in 2008!

Still, two different entities found that old article and recommended to me a bunch of autism-related links. I decided to put them all in a post HERE. And here’s a CDC article: Concerned About Your Child’s Development?

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – AOC

Almost immediately, well before the November general election, when AOC was actually elected, the 29-year-old organizer and former bartender, became a cause celebre.

AOCSome weeks ago, when I roughly plotted my ABC Wednesday for this round, I decided on O is for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I thought it’d be simple. HA!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran for Congress in 2018. She entered the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th House District, representing parts of northern Queens and eastern Bronx.

Her opponent was the incumbent, Joseph Crowley. She campaigned hard, while Crowley, who had not been primaried since 2004, only started taking the challenge seriously in the latter stages. On June 26, she won the primary.

Almost immediately, well before the November general election, when she was actually elected, the 29-year-old organizer and former bartender, became a cause celebre. From Vanity Fair: It appears Republicans have finally learned that criticizing social-media-savvy freshman [AOC] only makes her stronger. And She Quotes Watchmen in Response to Critics.

Are the attacks because of anxiety, as one neuroscientist who studies such things suggests? Something is driving faux scandals such as a fake nude photo or dancing in college (horrors!) or not being “hot” enough.

Perhaps it is their fear of her support of a high marginal tax rate for rich people, which is supported by people such as Peter Diamond, Nobel laureate in economics “and arguably the world’s leading expert on public finance…

And “it’s a policy nobody has every implemented, aside from… the United States, for 35 years after World War II — including the most successful period of economic growth in our history.” She is on Financial Services Committee, and Banks Are Afraid.

The New York Democrat has been met with warm welcomes from working people in red states, such as Kentucky, where poor communities would benefit from progressive policies, such as the Green New Deal, a framework for environmental considerations.

The Onion kiddingly said that Fox News debuted a premium channel for 24-hour coverage of AOC. Fox News’ Laura Ingraham actually did rant about AOC’s “Minority Privilege”. Rush Limbaugh complains
the Member of Congress is too “uppity.” James Woods calls her “The Most Dangerous Person” in the nation.

On the other hand, her lightning-round exploration of government ethics limits was brilliant as was her questioning of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. Her explanation of a broken system was spot-on. She encourages people to “shake the table” in pursuit of justice.

Even an AIER writer believed that The Amazon Deal Was An Outrage From the Beginning, something AOC opposed for NYC.

As a novice political entity, she’s been told to “wait her turn,” advice which she has largely ignored. Noam Chomsky says she and other newcomers are rousing the multitudes. And don’t we want an engaged electorate?

Film director Michael Moore dubbed AOC the leader of Democratic Party now. Surely, she is challenging the Democratic establishment.

As a result, a least one House Democrat is trying to recruit someone to run against her in a primary in order to make her a ‘one-term congresswoman.

AOC says “I’m not a superhero. I’m not a villain.” Well maybe; there IS a comic book about her. She’s normal enough to gush at meeting Bill Nye, the science guy.

For ABC Wednesday