“Your website is at risk”

Do you know what I hate? Technology warnings that I do not understand. Specifically from my blog host, with the headline above.

<em>Your website… is currently running PHP version 7.2. Updates for this PHP version are no longer issued by the PHP project. In practice, this means that any bugs or security vulnerabilities discovered in your PHP installation will not be fixed and that your website is potentially vulnerable to several known security threats.

On June 2, 2021, we’ll be making an attempt to upgrade your site’s version of PHP to v7.4.

We’re constantly working on making improvements that we hope will reduce or eliminate any upgrade-related complications. We plan to upgrade your site and run a series of automated tests immediately afterward to ensure your website is working as intended.

If it passes all of our tests, it will stay on PHP v7.4 but you will want to inspect it yourself right away because our tests can’t catch everything. If this happens you can change PHP back easily from the panel.

If it fails, we’ll automatically revert your site back to PHP v7.2 and notify you.

We want to stress the importance of getting PHP upgraded as soon as possible. We’ve made the upgrade procedure a quick and simple process, but we understand that you may also need to update your site’s code for it to be compatible with newer versions of PHP.</em>


So I’m asking you that if you see something weird on this site on June 2/3, please me know what they are because I might not see them.

It’s LIKELY that it’ll all be fine. But being a pessimist, particularly when it comes to things largely out of my control…

BTW, PHP is “a popular general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to web development. Fast, flexible and pragmatic, PHP powers everything from your blog to the most popular websites in the world.”

May rambling: food and death

100 years since Tulsa, and one since George Floyd

From https://xkcd.com/2460/

I’ve been thinking a lot about food and death. NOT death caused by food poisoning.

At my FIL’s funeral this month, someone told a story about how my parents-in-law met. They were both students at what is now UAlbany. She was a food server, he made deliveries of supplies. He came into the dining area, just as she was about to eat her fried egg sandwich. Instead, she offered it to him.

The next week, they went to the movies together. They lived happily for many years. It is a sweet story, but the telling was incomplete. The kicker is that he HATED fried egg sandwiches, but he ate it anyway.

My wife has discovered there were foods that were always in her parents’ house. One staple was spaghetti and meatballs. As it turns out, she HATES spaghetti and meatballs, but he liked them, so she served them. Now my wife has stopped buying them for her.

Arthur tells of taste obsessions and his late husband Nigel.

Some links

Generally, I have no energy for the Big Lie believers or the January 6 deniers who say those insurrectionists were tourists, blocking an investigation. But if Chuck wants to rant about Marjorie Taylor Greene – she’s beyond reprehensible.

Why Liz Cheney Matters.

We’ll Never Stop Trying to Cut Taxes for the Rich, Republicans Warn.

John Oliver: Stand Your Ground gun laws “exalt a white person’s fear over a black person’s life.” Also, sponsored product on the local news broadcasts.

I, too, rage America.

Avoiding Overtaxing Minorities When We Need Them Most.

100 Years: Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre, which I wrote about here

What to make of Israel/Palestine?

Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution.

Restaurant Workers Say They Won’t Return to Work Without a Living Wage

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
– Jack Kornfield

And more

Working 55 hours a week can be deadly.

The Problem With Bitcoin

Comics writer and journalist David Anthony Kraft passed away.

In honor of Ms. Ruby Hughes.

Adam Ragusea on converting recipes in liters and milliliters to pounds and ounces, and Vidalia Onions.

It’s going to rain. Can you smell it?

How to Conduct an Address Search to Access Data for your Location. Census Reporter is an option to find your block group, state and Congressional districts, and more.

Why you need to have your ancestor’s New York death certificate.

The filing cabinet was critical to the information infrastructure of the 20th-century.

Are you getting robocalls purportedly – and clearly not – from the Social Security Administration saying your number has been compromised? I’ve gotten a few dozen on my landline and my cell this year, from several area codes, mostly the 30-second version. Annoying, but also really pathetic.

Now I Know: The Forest Man of India and How Elephants Communicate From Miles Away and The Circle of Life and The Secret Ingredient is Curiosity and The Reason Florida Disavowed Space Oranges.


Spring Ain’t Here – Peter Sprague, featuring Rebecca Jade.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Afro Fiesta feat. Twanguero and I-Taweh.

Main themes from Laputa: Castle in the Sky – Joe Hisaishi.

Coverville 1358: Cover Stories for Dave Mason, Donovan, and Graham Gouldman.

Danse slav from the opera The Reluctant King by Emmanuel Chabrier.

We Love the Drums – Peter Sprague, featuring Duncan Moore.

I Fought the Law – Bobby Fuller Four.

The Hamilton Polka – “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Withdrawal from Afghanistan

forever war

AfghanistanThe Weekly Sift looked at both sides of the debate regarding the planned US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

“Pro: Leaving saves American lives and resources and gives our military more flexibility to confront challenges more central to our well-being… Con: Without us, the Afghan government will probably fall to the Taliban…

“But one argument has been conspicuous by its absence: If we stay for six more months, or a year, or three years, Afghan democracy will stabilize, the Afghan Army will finally have enough training, and the government we leave behind in Kabul will be able to sustain itself.”

He is siding with Joe Biden on this. “Whatever our original intentions might have been, by now, it’s clear that we’re not building a secular, democratic, pro-Western government that will someday be strong enough to stand on its own.

“There’s a lesson here, and it’s the same lesson we should have learned from Vietnam: To install a new form of government in a country, people on the ground have to be buying what you’re selling.”

For two decades, part of the rationale for the “forever war” was so that the 2300 US soldiers who died in Afganistan will not have “died in vain.”

“Over the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of American troops have served in Afghanistan — most of them honorably and some heroically. It is a shame that their effort and sacrifice have not produced a lasting result that our nation can point to with pride. But more effort and sacrifice will not redeem what bad policy has already wasted. We need to leave.”


Chris Hedges in Common Dreams is harsher. He calls it The Collapse of the American Empire. “War…when, as in Afghanistan, there is no vision at all, descends into a quagmire.”

I remember quite well when the war in Afghanistan began. My wife and I, reeling from 9/11 and the constant news about the same, ended up at a bed-and-breakfast in Cherry Valley, about an hour west of Albany, in early October.

The best thing about planning the trip was that there was no television. We’d be news-free! This turned out not to be the case. A radio from an adjoining room blared the news of the start of the Afghanistan war. I knew it was coming, and I even understood the limited intention to root out bin Laden and al-Qaeda from that country.

Then, the Afghanistan war seemed almost forgotten for a time as the US launched into battle in Iraq, complete with a bogus rationale.

Nine years after bin Laden’s death, in Pakistan, no less, and with no US troop deaths in the past year or so, it’s time to move on. Whether we ACTUALLY do that is subject to the interpretation of what “leave” means.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2021

Billy Preston, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, LL Cool J, finally

Here are two possibly contradictory things. I know that who gets, or doesn’t get, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t equate with their talent, commercial success, or “worthiness.” And, for the most part, I am really quite happy who got in this season. Here was my wish list. Maybe next year for Chaka Khan and Devo.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reveals its 2021 Inductees, celebrating the most diverse list of Inductees in the history of the organization.”

Performer Category

go gosTina Turner – for a time, she and Fela Kuti were vying for the top spot on the fan ballot. In the end, Tina won going away. I didn’t vote for her because she was already in, with Ike Turner and I chose to vote for those who weren’t in at all. But I’m not complaining, as I have two of her solo albums.
The Best 

Carole King – she ended up sixth on the five performer ballot. I didn’t vote for her either, as she was in as a songwriter with Gerry Goffin. But no complaints here, even though Tapestry is the only album of hers I own.

The Go-Go’s – came in third in the fan voting. I voted for them and saw them perform 30 years ago in Albany. 
We Got The Beat 

JAY-Z – near the bottom of the fan vote, but an understandable pick.
Song Cry 

Foo Fighters – in the top five of the fan vote. I didn’t vote for them, primarily because Dave Grohl was already in the Rock Hall with Nirvana. But I like Grohl. He’s been Touring in a Van, Interviewing Rock Stars and; Performing with His Daughter. 

Todd Rundgren – YES! His third time on the ballot is the charm. He’s been my #1 or #2 pick each year. Nazz, Utopia, solo work, plus producing.
Appropriately, Just One Victory 

Early Influence Award

Kraftwerk – it was on the ballot about a dozen times. Not this year, but they got in anyway, and that’s great.
list from J. Eric Smith.

Charley Patton  – Wikipedia says (April 1891 (probable) – April 28, 1934) he was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the ‘Father of the Delta Blues’, he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians.
Spoonful Blues 

Gil Scott-Heron – an inspired choice. In case you don’t know, “his music… influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo-soul.”
We Almost Lost Detroit 

Musical Excellence Award

This is an odd category. It used to be the “sidemen” award for folks such as Motown’s James Jamerson or Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew. But, under the new title, it has included Ringo Starr.

LL Cool J – I’ve been pushing for him for years, and I voted for him this year, but he was in the bottom two of the popular vote.
I Need Love 

Billy Preston – MY FAVORITE CHOICE. Nearly a decade ago, I made the case why he should be included. 
My Sweet Lord (live)

Randy Rhoads – I must admit, I know the name, but not the body of work from Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osborne

Ahmet Ertegun Award

Clarence Avant – read the Wikipedia article about the Black Godfather, who made black music more visible.

Yeah, there are more musicians to get in. But I must make my annual appeal for Estelle Axton in this category.

Critical Race Theory

meaningless debates

Critical Race TheoryAlmost all social progress movements inevitably generate a pushback. The recent response to the march for social justice for people of color* has created a boogieman response about the Critical Race Theory.

And what is that? I’m not quite sure, but a writer in a Newsmax piece thinks he does. “Critical Race Theory is Marxist. Its real target is Christianity and the Bible.”

Sounds terrible. And here I thought it was a framework for a better understanding of systemic racism. For instance, Disney has launched a “diversity and inclusion” program, called “Reimagine Tomorrow,” which has Newsmax in a snit.

THE black Republican US Senator

Much of the recent discussion seems to center around the response by Senator Tim Scott to President Biden’s “Can’t Be Called the State of the Union” address. The Weekly Sift guy addresses this:

“The most quoted line of Scott’s response is ‘America is not a racist country.’ I have to agree with Matt Yglesias:

“Is America a Racist Country?” is the perfect meaningless culture war debate because it has basically no content at all. What is it asking? Compared to what?

“Scott clearly wasn’t claiming America has no racism, because he also said, ‘I have experienced the pain of discrimination.’ He even allowed that American racism is not entirely in the past: ‘I know our healing is not finished.'”

In fact, in a 2016 interview, the senator said he had been pulled over seven times by police; he acknowledged he was going too fast two of those times, but the other five times, the only thing he was guilty of was being Black.

“So the argument he started is basically semantic: How much racism does it take to count as a ‘racist country’? Today’s US is not as racist as the Confederacy or Nazi Germany or the old apartheid regime in South Africa. Is that good enough? How many angels of color have to be included before we consider a pinhead dance to be integrated?”

What IS racist?

Part of the problem is that  race-focused “conversations derail when people are using the same terms in different ways.”

Or looking at it another way, the United States is a place. Can a location be “racist”? People can act in racist ways and clearly can create a system that perpetuates racism. So, no, Critical Race Theory isn’t ‘anti-American’.

“Remember: Meaningless debates serve the interests of people who have nothing to say. If you have a real vision of the future you want, avoid getting baited into arguing about nothing.”

The Department of Homeland Security produced a report in 2020, suppressed by the previous regime, identifying white supremacists as the leading domestic terror threat. In the past, the government told us violent white racists were few in number and weak in intent. Yeah, right.

Note the mental health issues facing the black community, sent to me by the publisher. Also, Race and Medicine from the New England Journal of Medicine

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah explains Critical Race Theory as well as anyone. Check out the video near the bottom of the page.

Anniversary of George Floyd’s death

An article in Vanity Fair noted that less than 53 weeks ago, George Floyd was just an average guy trying to make it in this world.

Yes, there has been a lot of outrage over police violence in the past year. Eyes have been opened, hearts and minds changed. Lots of unexpected alliances have been formed.

While there is so much work to do, I’ve decided to be optimistic that things can never go back to the way they were. But change is slow; it usually is.

*or whatever term you prefer

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