January rambling: Room at the Table

Writing While Black

From https://xkcd.com/2564/

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer

Why the Tonga Eruption Was So Violent

A cold case team believes it has solved the mystery of who may have betrayed Anne Frank

One Year Later (Jan 6)

Writing While Black Under Scrutiny

Peter M. Pryor, the trailblazing Black civil rights lawyer, dies at 95

Hockey jersey is retired, 64 years after Willie O’Ree broke the NHL color barrier

Rachel Balkovec latest in a line of women shattering baseball’s barriers

Why Turkey Is Now Türkiye

How do you pronounce Kyiv, anyway? 

Service Providers: Are you Making This Big Sales Tax Mistake?

How Early Should You Get to the Airport, Really?

Can You Actually Work on Amtrak’s Free Wi-Fi?

54 years ago, a computer programmer fixed a massive bug — and created an existential crisis

A review of Pieced Together, the current exhibition at the Pine Hills Branch of the Albany Public Library,

Kelly’s Hawaiian adventures

Woody Allen’s ‘A Rainy Day In New York’ Secures Surprise Theatrical Release in China

Daniel Radcliffe to Play “Weird Al” Yankovic in Biopic

The 40th anniversary of Destroyer Duck, which I bought at the time

How Wordle Became The Internet’s Omicron Pastime

2021 Domain Insights and Trends


Now I Know:  The Origins of the Football Huddle and When Fake Burps Have Real Consequences and  The Crime Tip from a Non-Tip at the Tip of the Nation and But The Cat Came Back and The “You Should Retire” Law of 1882


Louie Anderson, RIP. His first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 

Ralph Emery, Country Music Broadcaster, Dies at 88

Dwayne Hickman, Star of ‘The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis,’ Dies at 87

Howard Hesseman, Dr. Johnny Fever on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ Dies at 81

Kay Olin Johnson, who has been actively involved with the Olin Family Society (my MIL’s lineage) forever, passed away 1/22, just a week after attending the latest OFS council meeting, which I attended. I was extremely fond of her. She was a remarkable lady who will be sorely missed. She was mentioned at least once in this blog, here

Betty White -This is Your Life (1987)

NY Governor Kathy Hochul announced flags on state buildings would be flown at half-staff in honor of fallen New York Police Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora. Flags were to be lowered to half-staff at sunrise on Jan. 28, the day of Officer Rivera’s funeral service, and returned to full-staff at sunset on Feb. 2, following Officer Mora’s funeral service.

Virtual DC Feb 7 2022


Seriously, Upgrade Your Face Mask

The Biden admin has launched a phone line for Americans to order four free COVID  tests per household, expanding availability to Americans who may not have internet access: 1-800-232-0233.

Fear of COVID Is Keeping the Vaxxed Out of the Workforce

It is killing Trump supporters by the hundreds each day


Room at the Table – Carrie Newcomer 

Tonight You Belong To Me – MonaLisa Twins

Theatrical Rock and Meat Loaf

Dragons – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

The Family Madrigal – Stephanie Beatriz, Olga Merediz from Encanto 

Academic Festival Overture by Brahms

You Can Call Me Al – Peter Sprague

Coverville 1387: Cover Stories for Kings of Leon and Prefab Sprout and a Tribute to Ronnie Spector and 1388: The 30th Anniversary Tribute to Nevermind at #1

Take On Me – a-ha (MTV Unplugged, 2017)

Bad Wolves – Rebecca Jade featuring Jason Mraz, Miki Vale, and Veronica May was Song Of The Year at the San Diego Music Awards

Sedition – Randy Rainbow (2021)

Abhor-Rent: 525,600 Minutes Since The Insurrection from
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Death Don’t Have No Mercy – Grateful Dead

Miracle and Wonder: Paul Simon – Audiobook by Malcolm Gladwell (Chapter 1 – The Mystery)

Bitcoin: less than eco-friendly


Amy, who wields a Sharp Little Pencil, writes:

bitcoinRoger, I’m sorry I didn’t capture the link for this. Wondering what your thoughts are concerning Bitcoin in general, as well as the issue of resources used? (You said I can ask you anything!)

According to the  Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, a tracker created by Digiconomist — a platform that monitors “unintended consequences of digital trends” — executing a single Bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy that the average U.S. home consumes over a three-week period. That same single transaction has a carbon footprint that is the equivalent of watching more than 50,000 hours of YouTube.

A lot of layers here. First off, I’d be lying if I said I fully understand Bitcoin. Then again, I don’t really recognize the real implications of abandoning the gold standard 90 years ago either, though I know people who do. But Bitcoin is far more legitimate than it was even a decade ago.

Yes, I “get” the basic premise of Bitcoin, but it’s way too volatile for my taste. The very day you wrote me, January 25, I found this article. “Bitcoin’s dead-cat bounce? Here are the signs that may indicate price bottoms, analysts say.”

Or this one. “Bitcoin claws back from crypto crash, but one bear case sees $14K as a next stop.” Not to mention, this:  “Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Predicts Bitcoin Could Exceed $1M by 2030.” Sounds like a lot of spitballing, but what do I know? Not much, as I said.

Carbon footprint

I had heard about the energy/carbon footprint problem of Bitcoin broadly. But the article Amy linked to really breaks it down. 1,449,125 “VISA transactions could be powered by the energy consumed for a single Bitcoin transaction on average (2153.84 kWh).” And as one subhead notes, “Limited scalability causes extreme transaction footprints.”

Is this fixable? If Bitcoin switched to a consensus algorithm, theoretically. “In proof-of-stake coin, owners create blocks rather than miners, thus not requiring power hungry machines that produce as many hashes per second as possible. ” And no, I have no real idea what that previous sentence is saying.

Speaking of energy use, there is a race to acquire lithium. Unfortunately, the process of mining is less than eco-friendly.  It’s ironic. “As the world scrambles to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, the environmental impact of finding all the lithium required could become a major issue in its own right.”

For example, South America’s “Lithium Triangle, which covers parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, holds more than half the world’s supply of the metal beneath its otherworldly salt flats. It’s also one of the driest places on earth.” So it takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a ton of lithium.

Thus there is a paradox of “clean” electric vehicles being powered by the “dirty” lithium mining business.

Thus, the technologies we use to make life better and easier may not either.

Songs Based On Historical Events

based on actual events!

Playbill_from_the_original_Broadway_production_of_HamiltonLooking for something else, I came across Songs Based On Historical Events.

“Many times, we listen to a song, not ever knowing it was based on an actual event in history. The list includes a very brief description of the historical event upon which the song is based, but you can find more by going to the song itself.”

If you have Apple Music, you can hear each of the whole tunes. Otherwise, you get 30 seconds per. So I’m going to link to the ones I could find. But the list is long, so I’ll do it piecemeal. AND I’ll add a little more context to the description where needed.

Also, the individual songs from the musical Hamilton pop up. A lot. I’m not going to list each of those. Listen to the whole thing here or here.

Don’t know much about…

Aberfan – Dulahan — “About the 1966 coal mine disaster in South Wales”. I didn’t know about this event.                                                                                        MY ADDITION: Abraham, Martin, and John –Dion; and also, with What The World Needs Now – Tom Clay. The song alludes to the assassinations of Lincoln (1865), MLK (1968), JFK (1963), and RFK (1968). The Clay version also uses actual 1968 audio clips of MLK’s last speech (April 3), RFK announcing MLK’s death (April 4), the actual RFK shooting (June 5), and Ted Kennedy’s eulogy to his brother (June 8).

Agent Orange – Kamalata — “Connects the use of Agent Orange to earlier U.S. war ‘activities'”. I knew a US serviceman who died from Agent Orange in the early 1980s, despite the government denials
A Great Day For Freedom  – Pink Floyd — “About the aftermath of the Berlin Wall collapse” in 1989.

A League of Notions – Al Stewart [with Lawrence Juber] — “About the League of Nations”, the predecessor of the United Nations after WWI. The US never joined.
Alice’ Restaurant [Massacree]- Arlo Guthrie –“An 18-minute long satirical account of 60s counterculture. Based on a real event” he experienced with his friend Rick Robbins in 1967. But a historical one? It HAS become a Thanksgiving tradition.
All And Everyone -PJ Harvey –“About the battle of Gallipoli.” At dawn on 25 April 1915, Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey, eventually knocking Turkey out of World War I.
All The Things She Said – Simple Minds — About Polish political prisoners who had been in Russia since the end of WWII

Dead musicians and other things

All Those Years Ago – George Harrison — “A tribute to John Lennon which references his 1980 assassination as well as events from his life”

America Pie – by Don McLean –“Music and social history for the roughly ten years after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959”
American Witch “- Rob Zombie — “About the Salem Witchcraft trials” between February 1692 and May 1693.
Amerigo – Patti Smith — “About Amerigo Vespucci’s 1497 voyage to America.” He’s the guy the Americas are named for.

Antarctica – Al Stewart — “About the exploits of Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton,” and their disputes in the first decade of the 20th century
Angel – Sarah McLachlan –” About the drug overdose of Smashing Pumpkins keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin” on July 12, 1996
Anthem For A Lost Cause – Manic Street Preachers — About the destitution caused by a 1980s mining strike” in Great Britain

A Pot In Which To Piss – Titus Andronicus — “About the Civil War”
April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Sublime — About the L.A. riots of 1992
Avalon Of The Heart – Van Morrison — “About the Arthur legend.” which may be based on a real person from history, possibly a Celtic warlord of the late 400s CE.

The Amy Schneider JEOPARDY run

The Tournament of Champions will be fascinating

Amy SchneiderI knew it would happen. Before I had a chance to watch the 41st Amy Schneider match, I got an email from The Hollywood Reporter indicating How ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Amy Schneider Fared in Her 41st Match. This arrived at 7:34 pm EST. The show airs at 7:30 pm on WTEN in the Albany, NY market. And people on the West Coast were even more peeved.

The actual headline, which I didn’t read until after I actually watched the episode, was even more explicit. “Jeopardy! Champ Amy Schneider’s Win Streak Ends. Chicago librarian Rhone Talsma dethroned Schneider after 40 games on Wednesday’s show.”

I note in the article that audiences seem to like these long runs. “Schneider’s winning streak — along with [Matt] Amodio’s [38 wins] earlier in the season — has been a boon for ratings on Jeopardy!” I’ll admit that I have been watching these shows as soon as they record, in the obviously futile attempt to not find out beforehand. It’s funny. I managed to watch all four NFL playoff games and never knew the score before I started viewing, though I did avoid the email and phone.

Looking back at her run, I had forgotten that, in her initial appearance, Amy was in 2nd place going into Final Jeopardy, but she got it correct and Andrew He, in his 6th game, did not.

Same as it ever was

She played a bunch of lock games, i.e., she couldn’t lose after Double Jeopardy, no matter what she did in the Final. Starting in game 12, she began to make large bets in FJ, $25,000 of her $36,800. I wondered if host Ken Jennings hexed the champion by stating that she “never” missed in the Final. She didn’t get the Final in game 16 and some games thereafter.

Frankly, all of those big wins became boring to me. Jennings reiterated some of Amy’s biographical points. The interview segment wasn’t designed to see the same person 20 or 32 or 38 times. And keeping the secret of the streak must have been tough.

But there were some things that I suppose helped me to find her appealing even after such a long run, some external. For game 20, she wore a sweater in honor of her favorite player, Julia Collins, who had won 20 games. I remember some of the right-wing press mocked Amy’s gender identification, writing that “she” broke Collins’ record.

And Amy was robbed at gunpoint over New Year’s weekend in Oakland, CA. She was shaken though otherwise fine, but she had to replace her ID, credit cards, and phone.

I got these right!

Still, the only sport for me watching the games was when Amy would get FJ wrong and I got it right. You can find the answers here.
Game 18: INTERNATIONAL LANDMARKS – In December 2020 an international agreement added nearly 3 feet to this; one surveyor lost half a toe in the effort
#23: MUSIC LEGENDS – Of their July 1957 first meeting at a church fair, one of this pair recalled: “I was a fat schoolboy and… he was drunk”
#29: 19th CENTURY NOTABLES – On his deathbed in France in 1890, he told his brother, “The sadness will last forever”
#33: CEMETERIES AND MEMORIALS – 60,000 are at rest in a National Memorial Cemetery opened in 1949 in the crater of an extinct volcano in this state
#36: FILMS OF THE 2000s – One of the screenwriters of this 2001 film described it as “‘Clueless’ meets ‘The Paper Chase”‘

The last game (so far)

The key to Game 41 was that Rhone Talsma, a LIBRARIAN, thank you, from Chicago, IL had to hit the second Daily Double in the DJ round. He had to bet a lot, and in fact, bet all $7800 and got it right. This was gutsy, especially since he wagered it all in the first round’s DD and lost $1400. This latter wager got his score well above half of Amy’s, where he was at the end of the round. $27,600 for Amy, $17,600 for Rhone, and $3,200 for Janice Hawthorne Timm.

As noted, he had to get FJ correct and Amy had to miss it. COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD: The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an H, it’s also one of the 10 most populous. I figured it out myself at the last second.

But Amy will be OK. She’ll be in the next Tournament of Champions against Matt Amodio, Jonathan Fisher (11 wins, including dethroning Amodio), Tyler Rhode (5 wins), Andrew He (5 wins, beaten by Amy), Sam Buttrey (the inaugural Professors Tournament winner), and others. And she’s signed with  CAA.

We Need To Talk About Cosby

without the trusted Bill Cosby, he couldn’t be the predator for so long

we need to talk about cosbyMark Evanier wrote a post simply titled Cosby. He was touting the fact that he will record the new four-part documentary on Showtime by W. Kamau Bell, We Need To Talk About Cosby. You should watch the 150-second trailer on his page.

Interesting, though, that he just never found his records — or him on TV — uproariously funny.” Mark’s “qualified admiration for him as a comedian all flows from seeing him perform live at Harrah’s in Reno in the early eighties.” Whereas I loved the comedy records, and still have a half dozen in the attic somewhere.

MY POV is captured better in the review of We Need To Talk About Cosby in The Hollywood Reporter. The “docuseries explores Bill Cosby’s legacy as a TV icon and a convicted predator, showing how his fame, influence, and criminality were all connected.”

Writer Daniel Fienberg says it is, “for the most part, exactly the right documentary for the moment and Bell is clearly the right filmmaker to have crafted it. It’s a complicated and pragmatic project” which doesn’t gloss over his awful behavior.

The significance

“The documentary is designed to instigate a conversation and not to build a case, which gives Bell a very different responsibility… That means not ignoring the significance of Cosby the comic and Cosby the entertainment mogul and Cosby the reshaper of public perceptions of Black family and Cosby the champion of education and Cosby the self-appointed hectorer of troubled Black masculinity… Some people won’t want to see how complimentary the series is at times, much less for how long.”

Yes, Cosby was a popular comic but also the guy, the BLACK guy, who won three Emmys in a row for I Spy, when there just weren’t many black folks on the TV screen. Not to mention his several other series from The Electric Company to the Cosby Show, most of which I watched regularly.

“The point that Bell and his experts… want to make is that without establishing how beloved and, more than that, trusted Bill Cosby was, you can’t fully understand how he was able to do what he allegedly did for so long. And if you can’t make clear his position of righteousness and rectitude, you can’t understand both why it was so hard for some people to believe those stories and why Hannibal Buress felt the need to famously put Cosby on blast in a 2014 comedy routine.”

It WAS difficult to accept. And oddly, part of it was his moralizing hectoring, which I found merely annoying at the time. In retrospect, it was ironically pathological.


“And if you can’t understand the power that Cosby wielded in Hollywood, and how basically unprecedented it was for that power to be wielded by a Black man, you can’t properly put Cosby in the context of Hollywood’s upheaval of the past five years — nor can you understand how, with many of these accusations as public as they were, a network like NBC still was trying to develop new projects for Cosby as recently as 2014. What he meant can’t be separated from what he did.”

W. Kamau Bell said both on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and in Vanity Fair that he is “terrified for people to see his Bill Cosby docuseries.” Even before people have seen it, he’s already getting pushback.

Evanier mentions in passing that separation of art and artist is always tricky. My buddy Greg Burgas mentions Orson Card, the science fiction writer, who is merely racist and homophobe. My real problem with William H. Cosby is that a) I find his behavior, especially after his moralizing blather, unforgivable, b) his damn comedy routines are STILL stuck inside my brain, and c) I don’t have SHOWTIME but really want to see this series.

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