Whither? Zither! I still don’t care

It’s my general disdain for having to deal with the political process this early.

zitherAnother Ask Roger Anything reply! Bill, who I know because he’s a friend of my sister Leslie: OK, here’s my question: Whither?

There’s obviously a lot going on in my subconscious.

To which, Dan, who I know IRL, replied: Wither? Zither!

In a recent dream, I’m at some sort of conference, where the participants are sitting in a large circle. The instructor is riding me constantly for being so backwards. I’m using a tablet when everyone else is using their smartwatches.

I’m becoming increasingly irritated. After repeated snark, I storm out of the room.

For some reason, rioting ensues on the campus. I am sitting on a toilet, with people pounding on the door to get in; it is NOT the only stall.

Bernie Sanders walks into my stall. I get up and throw him down a flight of stairs.

This is obviously a dream about my technophobia. Plus it’s my general disdain for having to deal with the political process this early. It’s not so much antagonism towards Bernie, who I voted for in the 2016 Democratic primary.

To wit, Kevin, who I’ve known since college, asked: Who do you favor for the Dem. nomination for Pres at this point in the campaign?

As I noted here and especially here, I don’t care all that much, yet.

I AM grumpy about people saying that Joe or Bernie or Elizabeth – who appear to be the front runners, so far – should not run because they’re over 70, or will be soon.

This piece about Mayor Pete pleased me.

I don’t think my senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a shot. She was perceived as too “corporatist” early, and she got Al Franken booted out of the Senate. (The actual facts re: the latter are irrelevant to the narrative.)

Re: Beto, I’m still trying to figure out if there’s a there there.

I get more email from Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, than any other candidate, almost entirely on environmental issues. It IS a way to differentiate himself.

WHY MLK Jr. was targeted for assassination

MLK’s activism took a turn from… “his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.”

mlk targetedLast year, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, there was an understandable restatement of the facts surrounding the event. And the obvious question addressed who killed MLK.

This TIME magazine article is typical: What We Know About Why James Earl Ray Killed Martin Luther King Jr. “Fifty years later, some questions linger about why exactly the civil rights leader was targeted and whether the shooter acted alone.”

I have no doubt WHY he was targeted: he didn’t “stay in his lane.” The Intercept noted that his activism took a turn from… “his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.” As long as the issue involved castigating those Southern white people, all was well with the liberal establishment.

But Martin had the audacity to, first privately, then publicly denounce the war, and by extension Lyndon Johnson, the President who had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

King “labeled the war an ‘enemy of the poor,’ saying that its budget was draining anti-poverty programs; he also pointed out that it was hypocritical for him to preach nonviolence to activists at home, while watching his government reject that principle abroad. But ultimately his stance came from personal moral conviction and his devoted Christian beliefs.”

Sadly, a half century, the issues have not really changed. A recent article in Common Dreams written by by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis – who I saw recently – and Lindsay Koshgarian addresses this.

The title is “Trump Wants to Give 62 Cents of Every Dollar to the Military. That’s Immoral.” Correctly, it notes: “A budget shows our values more clearly than any tweet, campaign speech, or political slogan.”

Standing against that type of immorality got Dr. King killed. He died exactly one year after his speech at Riverside Church in New York City opposing the war in Indochina.

“James Earl Ray, a career criminal who had briefly served in the U.S. Army, shot the advocate of non-violent resistance. Ray was spotted at the scene and, almost immediately after the killing, his fingerprints were found on the gun. Those prints were already among the FBI’s records for wanted individuals.

But just as Mick Jagger sang about who killed the Kennedys, America’s indifference may have slain the civil rights leader. And it may do so to ourselves.

Musician Richard Thompson turns 70

London Calling. Purple Rain. The Joshua Tree. Remain In Light. Graceland. Born In The U.S.A. Thriller. Murmur. Shoot Out The Lights? Tracy Chapman.

Richard ThompsonLong before I ever heard of Richard Thompson by name, I was familiar with Fairport Convention. But I never owned any of the group’s albums until friends of mine, unloading their vinyl in favor of the shiny new technology called compact disc, gave me a few. I learned that he was the nifty guitarist.

I still only have one of his CDs. Or more properly, it was the last of several albums by Richard and Linda Thompson.

I’ve told the story before, back in 2011. I owned nine of the Top 10 on the “Rolling Stone – The 100 Greatest Albums Of The 80s”, as they were dubbed in the mid 1990s: London Calling. Purple Rain. The Joshua Tree. Remain In Light. Graceland. Born In The U.S.A. Thriller. Murmur. Shoot Out The Lights? Tracy Chapman.

I was given #9 on the list by co-workers for some occasion, Christmas or my birthday, and understood very quickly why it was so well-regarded.

I do have one other CD, which I recommend. Beat the Retreat: The Songs of Richard Thompson, is a 1994 compilation disc of covers by an eclectic roster, including Maddy Prior, June Tabor, David Byrne, X, and Los Lobos. As more than one critic suggested, fans of Thompson will disagree on which of the cuts they like/hate on the album. Here are the REM and Bob Mould cuts.

There’s one song in Richard Thompson’s oeuvre that continues to affect me greatly, the autumnal Dimming of the Day. I may have heard it first by Bonnie Raitt on her 1994 Longing in Their Hearts album. The Blind Boys of Alabama perform it on Beat the Retreat.

This old house is falling down around my ears
I’m drowning in a river of my tears
When all my will is gone you hold me sway
And I need you at the dimming of the day

You pulled me like the moon pulls on the tide
You know just where I keep my better side

Richard Thompson has a vast discography which I need to investigate.

Listen to:
Fairport Convention
Crazy Man Michael
Sloth

Richard and Linda Thompson
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
A Heart Needs A Home
Dimming Of The Day – Dargai
You’re Going To Need Somebody
Shoot Out the Lights album

Dimming of the Day
Bonnie Raitt & Richard Thompson
Mary Black
Five Blind Boys Of Alabama

More Richard Thompson here.

Migration is important to the United States

“Unless American birthrates pick up suddenly and expand the work force — an unrealistic assumption given that the country just set a record for low fertility… the United States will be staring at real G.D.P. growth of less than 1.6 percent per year in less than a decade, all else remaining equal.”

migrationMigration to the United States is a volatile issue, you’ve likely read. Yet “a growing number of Americans say immigration levels should remain the same or increase.”

This word comes from the the latest data from the General Social Survey — “a widely respected poll that has measured trends on American attitudes since the 1970s. The 2018 survey, released in March 2019, shows 34 percent of Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, down from 41 percent in 2016…

“That’s compared with 23 percent of Americans who want more immigration, up from 17 percent in 2016. Forty-one percent say they want immigration levels to stay the same. It’s the first time since the survey question was first asked in 2004 that more Americans want immigration to remain the same than to be reduced.”

Perhaps it’s the realization that the numbers show that we need more migration to the United States, not less. “By any reasonable metric, the idea that America is experiencing mass immigration is a myth. The reality is that we desperately need to pick up the pace of immigration to maintain our work force and economic health.

“A good yardstick for whether a country is admitting too many or too few immigrants — beyond the political mood of the moment — is its economic needs. If America were admitting too many immigrants, the economy would have trouble absorbing them.”

“In fact, the unemployment rate among immigrants, including the 11 million undocumented, in 2016, when the economy was considered to be at full employment, was almost three-quarters of a point lower than that of natives. How can that be evidence of mass immigration? The truth is that America is a low-immigration nation. Demographic trends in America point to a severe labor crunch that’ll become a huge bottleneck for growth unless the country opens its doors wider.”

Yet the federal government has made legal immigration more difficult, even adding regulations to H1B visa applications, the ones that restrict the type of applicants to those with “special” skills. It has also reduced the overall numbers, banning people from certain countries.

“It has long been clear that the dropping fertility rates of native-born white Americans meant that the generations coming after the millennials were on track to be much smaller. From 2015 to 2035, the number of working-age Americans with domestic-born parents is expected to fall by eight million. Furthermore, the Census Bureau in 2017 quietly revised downward its population forecast for 2050 by a whopping 50 million people from its 2008 estimates…”

The government has also regularly employed mass deportation efforts against legally registered immigrants, removing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the most vulnerable. These are usually people escaping war and violence in their own countries and now being solid contributing residents here.

“Unless American birthrates pick up suddenly and expand the work force — an unrealistic assumption given that the country just set a record for low fertility… the United States will be staring at real G.D.P. growth of less than 1.6 percent per year in less than a decade, all else remaining equal.”

Experts suggest that America should be admitting a million MORE migrants moving to the US per year — more than double the current number from now until 2050. “This still won’t add up to mass immigration because it would put America’s foreign-born population that year at around 26 percent, less than Australia’s is today.”

Also, the Dreamers, the children who came here as minors, need a path to citizenship. They know no other home save for the US and have contributed mightily, going to college, and/or serving in the armed forces. Even DJT said to the Wall Street Journal in January 2018: “I have great feeling for DACA. I think that we should be able to do something with DACA. I think it’s foolish if we don’t.”

Here’s a video showing where people came to the US from.

For ABC Wednesday

Tom Swifty for April Fools Day

“A Tom Swifty is a Wellerism in which an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech.” An example: “Your Honour, you’re crazy!” said Tom judgementally.”


I love a good Tom Swifty. No,that not a real person, but linguistic joke based on a fictional character.

As this link explains, Tom Swifties are a special kind of pun. “Sam Weller in Charles Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” (1836-7) was prone to producing punning sentences such as: ‘Out with it, as the father said to the child when he swallowed a farden [farthing]'” I’d never heard of a Wellerism.

“A Tom Swifty is a Wellerism in which an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech.” An example: “Your Honour, you’re crazy!” said Tom judgementally.” [Judge (= your honour) + mental (= crazy) + ly)].

“The quip takes its name from Tom Swift, a boy’s adventure hero created by the prolific American writer Edward L. Stratemeyer, under the pseudonym Victor Appleton… Tom Swift rarely passed a remark without a qualifying adverb as ‘Tom added eagerly’ or ‘Tom said jokingly’. The play on words… arose as a pastiche of this, coming to be known by the term Tom Swifty.

“In a true Tom Swifty, it is an adverb (word specifying the mode of action of the verb) that provides the pun.”
“I swallowed some of the glass from that broken window,” Tom said painfully.” [Pain (like ‘pane’ = window glass) + full (= full stomach) + y.]

“But frequently the pun occurs in the verb, and there may not be an adverb at all. Strictly speaking such puns are not Tom Swifties, but they are generally included in the term.”
“My garden needs another layer of mulch,” Tom repeated. [Re (= again / another) + peat (= mulch) + ed.]

“And sometimes it is neither a verb, nor an adverb, but a short phrase (usually acting like an adverb in modifying the verb.”
“Don’t let me drown in Egypt!” pleaded Tom, deep in denial. [Denial (like ‘the Nile’). The Nile is a river in Egypt]

“Traditionally Tom is the speaker, but this is by no means necessary for the pun to classify as a Tom Swifty. Sometimes the pun lies in the name, in which case it will usually not be Tom speaking.”
“Who discovered radium?” asked Marie curiously. [Marie curi (like ‘Marie Curie’) + ously. Marie Curie discovered radium]

“Many – probably most – Tom Swifties are morphological; i.e. the words must be broken down into morphemes (smaller components) to understand the pun.”
“This is the real male goose,” said Tom producing the propaganda.” [Propa (like ‘proper’ = real) + ganda (like ‘gander’ = male goose)].

“Often the adverb (or whatever) has a homonym (a word which is pronounced, and perhaps spelled, the same, but has a different meaning) which leads to the punning meaning of the sentence.”
“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish. [Relish (= delight, sauce)]

“There is a special kind of homonym called a homophone. Homophones are homonyms which are spelled differently.”
“I won’t finish in fifth place,” Tom held forth. [Forth (like ‘fourth’).

Fun with Words has collected about 400 of “the wittiest and funniest Tom Swifties.” Or most groan-worthy, depending on how you think of these. Or create your own and irritate your friends.


A Sinister Hamburger

Graphic stolen from Mr. Brunelle