Jan. rambling: things that don’t work

toaster hoax


Exhibit on Post-World War II Jewish Refugees 

Lula’s New Government Is Taking Steps to Combat Racism in Brazil

Public Libraries continue to thrive despite defunding and privatization attacks

Why Do People Keep Falling for Things That Don’t Work? — How pseudoscience can affect even those with medical knowledge

Nearly all mass attackers were male and experienced at least one significant stressor in the past five years, according to a U.S. Secret Service analysis of 173 incidents in recent years.

The Best Management Secrets for Impacting Employee Mental Health

This “inflation” is different

For Every $1 Gained by a Bottom 90 Percenter Since 2020, a Billionaire Got $1.7M

The FDA will soon allow gay men in monogamous relationships to donate blood, according to draft guidelines released by the agency.

The Once and Future Sex is “Eleanor Janega’s new history of gender and sex in the medieval age, describing the weird and horny ways of medieval Europeans, which are far gnarlier and more complicated than the story we get from “traditionalists” who want us to believe that their ideas about gender roles reflect a fixed part of human nature. Modern attitudes are an attempt to rewrite history.”

Gas stoves can harm your health — and scientists have known that for decades

Nancy Pelosi, liberated and loving it

A few observations on Biden’s documents

Jane Fonda on Cancer Battle, Privilege and Coming Into Her Own at 85

An appreciation of literary lion Russell Banks

The Oldest People in the World

February 2023 Flyer for the next Death Cafe. Saturday, Feb 11th, from 1 pm- 3 pm at William K. Sandford  Library’s Stedman Room. The address is 629 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, NY 12211

Gina Lollabrigida, Legendary Italian Screen Siren, Dies at 95

Cindy Williams, Star of ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ Dies at 75

Royal dysfunction, disorder, and drama are hardly restricted to the British monarchy

Amazon Smile isn’t smiling after February 20, 2023. 

Passenger automobile depreciation tables


M&M’s ‘spokescandies’ controversy, explained. I did not know this was an important political issue.

Comic about batteries, sort of

‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Nab Two Season RenewalsRenewals at Fox. It’ll be 36 seasons of The Simpsons!

HBO Max has removed over 250 Warner Brothers cartoons from that streaming service.

The use of the word “inedible” to mean “I don’t like this food.”

How Doug Liman Directed a Brett Kavanaugh FBI Investigation Doc in Secret

‘Black Panther 2,’ ‘Ant-Man 3’ Secure China Release Dates as Beijing Lifts De Facto Ban on Marvel

The History Behind Captain America Punching Hitler

The Greg Hatcher Legacy Files #4: ‘Friday Anger Management

The Indecision of Mr. Goodell

The “Greatest” Football Comeback???

Alan MacMasters: How the great online toaster hoax was exposed

All right, who left all these tabs open?

Now I Know: Seattle’s Mystery Soda Machine and The Original Turn Signals and How To Save a Sinking Church and The Birds That Gave The Bird


David Crosby, a co-founder of the Byrds and CSN, dies at 81. Essential tracks

Coverville 1430: The David Crosby Tribute and  1429: The Donald Fagen/Steely Dan Cover Story

Speaker of the House – Randy Rainbow

Barrett Strong, one of Motown’s founding artists and a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, died at 81. He was often partnered with the late Norman Whitfield. Here’s his early Motown hit, Money.

I’m A Man and Outro (1967) – The Yardbirds (feat. Jimmy Page)

The Last Stand – Sabaton. “Sometimes you need a Swedish metal song about the soldiers who protected the Pope during the sack of Rome in 1527.”

St. John of Damascus – Sergei Taneyev

If You Raise Your Head – MonaLisa Twins

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture.

Not A Day Goes By– Bernadette Peters

The theme song from the sitcom, My Favorite Martian — but with lyrics… – The Satellite Singers

Fred Hembeck is 70

What the World Needs Now

Fred HembeckI first met Fred Hembeck at FantaCo, the comic book store at 21 Central Avenue in Albany, NY, in February 1980. That was about three months before I would work there.   The occasion was a signing for Hembeck 1980, published by FantaCo.

But I knew his work from the weekly strips that he did for the Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom.  Here’s a brief review by former Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, who nails what I liked about his work.

“Hembeck was great–he had an appealing style, he didn’t take the subject matter too seriously (and simultaneously took it very, very seriously, a dichotomy I could appreciate), and he was a like a comic book archaeologist, digging through old issues to find weird and forgotten stories to spotlight.”

Fred created seven Hembeck magazines with FantaCo, He also made some spot illos for other FantaCo pubs, including the three FantaCo Chronicles I edited. We also became friends. A few years later, he moved from Rensselaer County downstate, and we lost touch for a while.

Then in 2004 – and I’ve mentioned this before – our mutual friend Rocco asked if I had read Fred’s blog. I had never read ANYONE’S blog. But I devoured his writings going back to January 2003.

Eventually, I would send Fred blog ideas or questions, and my name started appearing in his columns, starting in January 2005.

Around the same time, we exchanged CD mixes. His were more eclectic than mine, featuring discs of Andy Williams, Robbie Williams, and Beatles covers. His discs of 1960s tunes were epic.

In time, I decided that I’d start my blog. Fred plugged it. Moreover, I visited his extensive blog roster, checked out some of those folks, and commented on their blogs. That’s how I “met” Lefty, Gordon, Eddie, and even Greg.


Then my family started being in his general neighborhood once each summer. So from 2006 to 2013, my wife, daughter, and I would visit his family, a grand time in which Fred and I would philosophically muse about media.

He tends to stay with television programs he started with to the end, whereas I will give up. We were both describing the same song but remembering different parts: What the World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin, and John by Tom Clay.

These days, I tend to see him at the Albany Comic Con when I can make it, which was impacted by COVID. I should note that Fred does NOT have squiggles where his elbows and knees should be, though his comic book persona does.

So now Fred is older than I am, for about five weeks. Happy birthday, effendi.

Sunday Stealing: Pinterest

Henri Nouwen

This week’s Sunday Stealing is called Pinterest. I don’t know why.

1. When did you last sing to yourself?

Five minutes ago. I often sing to myself.

2. If you’re male, would you ever rock black nail polish? If you’re female, would you ever rock really, really short hair?

It’s not my style. I have no specific problem with it, except that it would involve far more effort in getting ready than I’m willing to expend.

3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Writing a blog post every day since May 2, 2005.

4. What is the first happy memory that comes to mind, recent or otherwise?

Undoubtedly, it involved listening to music, or singing music. I’ll pick the last time I heard I Only Have Eyes For You by the Flamingos. I love that song so much I could weep. Or maybe I did.

5. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?

Surely, I’d spend more time on the genealogy stuff for my sisters and daughter.

6. Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are the top three things?

I may have once had a bucket list, but I found it an albatross. So I abandoned it.

7. How do you feel about tattoos and piercings?

I’ve evolved on them. I used to find tattoos unappealing. But as I see more people wearing them, I’m more comfortable with most of them, though I’d never want one myself. BTW, you can’t give blood for some months if you get a tattoo. I’m fascinated by people with full-body tats; it’s like viewing a totally different culture.

Rolling Stones or Pharrell Williams

More or less. I had good friends, some of whom I’m still in contact with.

8. When did you last cry in front of another person?

Probably in the past month, in front of my wife

9. Who in the world would you most like to receive a letter from, and what would you want it to say?

Maybe someone I wrote about in my blog that they liked what I wrote about them.

10. What is your nighttime routine?

Dinner, watch the recorded news, watch the recorded JEOPARDY, check my email, take my medicine, and brush my teeth.

11. When was your last 3 am conversation with someone, and who were they to you?

It was my daughter, who had just come home after seeing a midnight movie.

12. if you were about to die, and you could only say one more sentence to one person, what would you say and to whom?

A friend who has ghosted me to say, “I love you anyway.”

13. What is your opinion on brown eyes?

I have brown eyes. I’m in favor.

14. Pick a quote and describe what it means to you personally.

I have posted a section from theologian Henri Nouwen’s book Here and Now: Living in the Spirit several times on my birthday. Here it is. One section: On a birthday, we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.”

15. What would you title the autobiography of your life so far?

Information without the Bun, which was the title of my now-defunct Albany Times Union blog.

Wakanda Forever non-review


wakanda foreverI saw the movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever back in November. Yet I didn’t review it because, in some ways, I found it almost unreviewable.

It was challenging to separate the death of T’Challa from the passing of the first film’s star, Chadwick Boseman. Even before the film was released, ABC-TV was plugging the stars, writers, and director on a primetime special, saying they were trying to make sure they honored the late actor. It succeeded at that.

Think Christian ran a spoiler-laden but touching piece,  Mourning Chadwick, Mourning T’Challa, back in November, which you should read unless you haven’t seen the film. Back in 2020, the publication ran Chadwick Boseman’s Sacrifice.

Also, there was a pre-review by Joshua Adams, who made a point of NOT reading any analyses of the new film. He commented that “some of the reactions towards the support of the first film left a bad taste in my mouth.” Specifically, “all the people (across the political spectrum) who implied or asserted that Black Panther was only popular because of black identity politics.” While I had not thought about it before,  I got that feeling too.

The other factor is that I went to see Wakanda Forever at the neighborhood Madison Theater. The marquee did not reflect that the film was even playing there. As a result, I was the ONLY person in the theater. I’m not much for private screenings because I like getting the audience’s reactions.


The one part of the film I will comment on is the introduction of Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). He’s not exactly the villain, as he’s trying to protect his homeland. The emperor of Talokan, a hidden undersea kingdom, offers to fight with the Wakandans against the folks threatening both of their cultures.

The Mayan ancestry backstory worked for me. It was compelling and as logical as a narrative about a secret group of underwater humans could be.

They are not the blue people that Bill Everett drew in the 1940s  and again in the 1970s. I’m a huge fan of that Sub-Mariner published by Marvel and its predecessor. As I’ve noted, the comic book universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe are destined to be different, and I’m all right by that.

I read a reprinted column that the late Greg Hatcher wrote about Batman, where he counted eight different iterations, and that was just between 1964 and 2005.

Back to the film, maybe it was the lack of an audience in the cinema, but I started to find the fight scenes, which were well-choreographed, not so interesting, except for the one-on-one near the end. still, it was well done, and I’m glad I saw it.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever received decent reviews, 84% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s done over $446 million at the domestic box office.

Series of everyday annoyances

change of policy

annoyancesI noticed a series of everyday annoyances. Some were small and brief, but still…

ITEM: I wrote this letter to a local newspaper to which I subscribe. I’ll call it Teeyou. 

I have been a subscriber for many years. Our family believes that supporting local media is important for the democratic process. And we like helping our delivery folks, who have been very amiable.

Still, I am quite irritated. The subscription price went up from X to X+$8 [per month]. I know this because my DISCOVER card email noted today, “Your recent recurring charge seems a little outside your normal spending with this merchant.”

I tried calling you folks… to see what other options are available, such as delivery for Sunday only, Sunday and Thursday only, or only online, but I couldn’t navigate that menu.

So I tried to access you on the website. I get to the Link Subscription. “Your print subscription includes unlimited digital access. To get started, set up a digital account below.”

[I explain how its portal sent me into an interminable loop] I go through this process AGAIN and AGAIN. You FIND my subscription, but I can’t get any more detail.

Given that I could cancel the thing for a month and then get my daughter to subscribe for $1 for six months, the processes are rather enraging.

PLEASE let me know what the other subscription options are.

But, but…

Here is the reply:

Thank you for contacting Teeyou. Reviewing the information provided, I noticed you had a rate change on 11/16/2022… Rate increases happen due to production and employee costs at least once a year as is on the back of your bill [I don’t receive a bill] or on the second page of your newspaper. However, for being one of our valued subscribers, the system allowed me to lower the rate to [slightly below the price before the increase]
Please confirm if you agree to the new rate so I can apply the changes to your account.  
Thank you for being a valued subscriber,
Customer Service Management
Note that they NEVER actually answered my question about options.
ITEM: As I noted, St. Peter’s Hospital and CDPHP, the insurance company that my wife and daughter have through my retirement, were at loggerheads over reimbursement. My former employer’s people assumed it would be resolved. The problem was that I had to decide by November 30, one way or another. I decided to change to another policy on that last day. And on December 3, the entities resolved their differences.
ITEM: Our mail was not delivered at least four times since Halloween. Thrice it was doubled up, with so much mail cascading from the mailbox that it looked like waterfalls.  The fourth time, our postal delivery person was delivering on Sunday. BTW, I recognize that our regular guy is fastidiously trying to get letters and packages delivered.
ITEM: The urgent care company I wanted my daughter to visit last month encourages going to their website. But I couldn’t use it after they closed for the day; one can’t even make an appointment for a future date. BTW, they also say one can just show up, but experience tells me that would be a three-hour wait.
ITEM: New York State law requires vehicles using their windshield wipers must have their lights on. But this black car heading towards us didn’t, and it wasn’t easy to see. As it turned out, it was an Albany police car. I hate when that happens.


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