May rambling: potential dangers

Demographic Profiles for the New York Counties

Jean Lurcat.1892-1966

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on the potential dangers of social media for children, highlighting its negative impact on mental health and overall well-being.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has been fined a record $1.3B by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission for violating EU privacy regulations and was ordered to stop transferring user data to US servers.

The Ugly Truth Behind “We Buy Ugly Houses”

Imagine a Renters’ Utopia. It Might Look Like Vienna

Demographic Profiles for the New York Counties from the Cornell Program on Applied Demographics. Highlights: The median age in New York State was 39.0 in 2020, up 1 year from 2010 (38.0). Between 2010 and 2020, the median age in New York State rose 1.3 years for men (36.3 to 37.6) and 1.0 years for women (39.4 to 40.4).

Visualized: The Decline of Affordable Housing in the U.S.

Andy Warhol Ruling Limits Fair Use for Copyrighted Images, With Far-Reaching Hollywood Implications

These words made it into the African American English Dictionary

At 81, Martha Stewart is the oldest person to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit  issue

Unprepared Republicans Are Flooding Into the Presidential Race

Life and Death

Wait But Why: 10 Thoughts From the Fourth Trimester

Re: Hank Green’s Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Diagnosis: his announcement; his brother John’s response, Hank’s Press Tier List

Tina Turner by THR, the New York Times, Gloria Reuben, Variety, CBS Sunday Morning profile (2018)

Kareem: Jim Brown and me.

JC Glindmyer of Earthworld Comics in Albany died on May 8 at 65. I had just seen him at Free Comic Book Day on May 6. He was always good to me. Here’s a 2004 profile by Alan David Doane

You can preorder J. Eric Smith’s new book Ubulembu and Other Stories

Ed Ames, Singer and ‘Daniel Boone’ Sidekick, Dies at 95

CBS and Fox Share 2022-23 Ratings Title as On-Air Viewing Continues to Slip

The State of Video Streaming in 2023:

Notes from North of the Border: A Travelogue

Badge #1305, from a . Ford Motor Company radiator manufacturing plant

Thoughts on Grease at 45

Behold the Ritual Clearing of the Tabs

Now I Know: The Convict Who Pulled an Inside Job and Mr. Never Shower and The Cleaner Who Accidentally Became a Russian Mayor and The Fake Town That Became Real (Briefly) and The Worst Way to Target a Lower Stock Price?


Coverville 1442: Adele Cover Story and Coverville 1443: The Paul Weller (The Jam & Style Council) Cover Story and Coverville 1444: The Tina Turner Tribute

We Don’t Need Another HeroWe Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner

Sentimental Me  – Ames Brothers

Try To Remember (from “The Fantasticks”) – Ed Ames

The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakoff.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Josh Groban, and the current casts of Hamilton and Sweeney Todd get together outside the Richard Rodgers Theater on W. 46th Street in New York to merge their musicals

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2

The Best TV Theme Songs of the Past 25 Years

Mtzyri – Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov,

DISNEY PRINCESS CELL BLOCK TANGO, a Disney princess parody

The Music Man excerpt in Japanese

Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna –  Franz von Suppe

Rent a car in western France et al.


My friend Deborah negotiated to rent a car in western France for us, including me emailing my wife’s driver’s license so she could show the dealer. I tried to secure the vehicle myself, but the webpage was terrible. Among other things, it kept slipping back to French, even though it had an English-language option.

Finding a vehicle with an automatic transmission was a challenge. Also, it was fairly expensive compared with US rates.

The downpayment for the trip we gave to AAA to give to Avanti was paid on January 21. I guess we’re really doing this. We booked another hotel for the night after the wedding, and all the accommodations were set.

My wife in the US had never met my friend Deborah. One of the lovely things about technology is that they got to at least see each other on Facebook. They seem to hit it off.

The train

The one unsettled element involves buying train tickets. We’ve discovered that Avanti won’t order them until they have our valid passports.

Our passports expired in August 2020. We didn’t rush to get them renewed since we weren’t planning to go anywhere during COVID. I decided to get mine and received it in March of 2022.

My wife mailed her application on January 8, 2023, which was supposed to arrive at the processor on January 10. (We found out later that it wasn’t delivered until January 17.)

On February 5, Deborah frantically called my cell phone. We were waiting in line at an Indian food buffet. For reasons I  didn’t understand, everyone within range of me could hear her, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

She checked with the train service and adjudged that there would be NO train tickets if we did not buy them immediately.  The next day, she wrote: “Big problem.  I went to the train station today to find out why there are no trains showing for the 18th from Paris to Auray and no trains showing for the 20th from Auray to Paris, and it seems…the SNCF has cancelled all trains for those days to do work on the tracks.  Right during the four-day holiday weekend, the Semaine du Golfe, etc.”


I attempted to navigate the website The Société nationale des chemins de fer français is France’s national state-owned railway company.  But I was having a terrible time.  I was on the site for 45 minutes, and as it kept switching back and forth from English to French, I was quite literally getting a headache.

Ultimately, Deborah bought us tickets. I gave her my credit card number, but it didn’t work. I sent her 375 Euros via PayPal, which was $422 US.

On March 20, my wife’s passport finally arrived, and I emailed the vital info to AAA. I wrote on April 5 to AAA: “Do we have train tickets?” They wrote back, but neither my wife nor I received it. Finally, on April 12, it was confirmed: train tickets to Auray and then back to Paris.

Deborah worked on getting me a refund for the tickets she bought, complicated by the wonky technology on the part of the SNCF website, which is totally believable.


I could not have foreseen protests over French legislation that would increase the pension age to 64 from 62. President Macron said the measures are needed “to keep France internationally competitive amid declining fertility and an aging population.” The pushback started in January but intensified in March.

Alan Singer wrote in March: Macron “used a Parliamentary tactic to avoid an up or down vote on raising the retirement age.” He survived a vote of no confidence, which would have scuttled the bill and forced Macron’s cabinet, but not the French President, to resign.

More protests took place on May Day. “The pension overhaul was approved by the country’s Constitutional Council and officially signed into law, so while Mr. Macron will not find the issue easy to leave behind, there is little chance the protesters will be able to persuade him to reverse his decision.”

Talk about great timing.

Memorial Day: the cost of war

improving coping and problem-solving skills

Perusing a Wikipedia page, I was struck by the cost of war. “Note: ‘Deaths – other’ includes all non-combat deaths, including those from bombing, massacres, disease, suicide, and murder.”

Why I was looking at them is simple. Some people – OK, many people – conflate Memorial Day Day and Veterans Day.

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.  A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.”

What? Nothing about the “unofficial start of summer”?

Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day. November 11th is a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In all major American wars through World War I, more people died from “other” than from combat.  An article in notes: “The chances of dying in combat in the Revolutionary War were roughly 1.8%. But “disease was a much deadlier enemy than the British troops…  you still had a 4.5% chance of dying from dysentery, malaria, or smallpox.” And “a Great War-era soldier was almost as likely to perish due to trench foot or Spanish Flu as to a German bullet.”

Not painless

I wonder how many of these fighters died from suicide? An article in the Military Suicide Research Consortium notes: “During the final three years of World War II, the Army’s annual suicide rate didn’t budge above 10 soldiers per 100,000, and during the Korean War in the early 1950s, that annual pace remained at about 11 soldiers per 100,000, according to a study published in 1985 by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research…

“The Army’s suicide rate in 2001 was less than half that for all American males (18.2 per 100,000). Since then, the pace of self-harm among active Army troops has more than doubled…”

A 2021 paper from the Watson Institute of Brown University cites these startling statistics.

“Suicide rates among active military personnel and veterans of the post-9/11 wars are reaching new peaks…  The study finds that at least four times as many active duty personnel and war veterans of post-9/11 conflicts have died of suicide than in combat, as an estimated 30,177 have died by suicide as compared with the 7,057 killed in post-9/11 war operations.” A 2022 report suggests nearly 17 vets commit suicide each day.


A 2021 Fact Sheet from the White House outlines Five Priorities for Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide. One piece notes that “reducing the likelihood that an individual will experience a suicidal crisis requires addressing the factors—such as increased financial strain, lack of housing, food insecurity, unemployment, and legal issues—that may contribute to or increase the risk for suicide. Conversely, improving coping and problem-solving skills and supporting connectedness are protective factors that can decrease risk.”

Sending people off to war means doing all one can to prevent them from dying prematurely on the battlefield or when they get home.

I found a 2019 video memorial to U.S. soldiers killed in the War on Terror. It’s called The Cost Of War.

See also: Heroes, Monsters, and Boys at Omaha Beach on Medium

Sunday Stealing: Lucky Stubbs


The Sunday Stealing for this week is another Kwizgiver. I’ll write about Lucky Stubbs and other things.

1. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive-through?
While we’ve used the drive-through, we tend to be people who go inside. My wife doesn’t like us to eat in her car, and I get that.
However, I’ve witnessed how people in their cars are given more attention in terms of staffing at some locales than the people inside. This tends to make me irritable.

2. Have you ever lost anything down a toilet?
Undoubtedly, though, I have no specific recollection of what.

3. Do you have a dog?
In my life, I had only one dog. He was named Lucky Stubbs. I believe he was an Alaskan husky we had when I was a tween. He would nip at me, but my parents, specifically my father, seemed unconcerned. That is until he bit one or maybe both of the minister’s daughters. THEN they got rid of him, ostensibly to a farm in the area. (This is a random pic from a governmental website, BTW.)

4.  Ever gone camping?
When I was a kid, we went camping a lot. I hated it. Setting up the tent, no matter how many times I had set it up, continued to be a mystery to me. I hated trying to sleep on an air mattress. There were often lots of bugs. On the other hand, I did think the Coleman stove and lamp were cool.

5. Have you met anyone famous?
I’m sure I’ve answered this before.  Rod Serling, Earl Warren, Nelson Rockefeller, Anita Baker, And Randy Newman, sort of. Probably others.

6. Any plans today?
I will be singing in the church choir for the first time in three weeks and talking with my sisters for the first time in three weeks. These are related.

7. Are you happy?
Sure. I got to go to the wedding of an old friend this month. Now I can sing in the choir and talk with my sisters.

8. Where are you right now?
I am almost always in my office when I write these things.
More an irritation than a mere annoyance
9. What is the biggest annoyance in your life right now?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said this about Florida, but it’s hardly limited to the Sunshine State. “They started by finding marginalized groups to demonize to unite people around a common enemy: Jews, gays, Catholics, or whatever group they could rally the desperate mob to hate. Then they launched overwhelming campaigns of disinformation that ensured the people didn’t know what actually was happening in the world, only what they wanted them to know.
“At the same time, they would re-engineer education so children would be prompted to embrace feverish, unquestioning patriotism while censoring what kids learned in order to promote an idealized country that never made mistakes and only had the best interests of all people in their hearts. Facts, they declared, were for nerds and elitists.”
10. Last song listened to?
P.S. I Love You from On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 by some obscure Liverpudlian band of the 1960s.

11. Last movie you saw?
We Are Marshall (2007) is a movie based on the real story of rebuilding a football team after most of the team was killed in a plane crash. My wife and daughter were watching the film on TV, which starred Matthew McConaughey,  Thursday night when I came home from choir rehearsal.

12. Are you allergic to anything?
Some trees and grasses and this season is particularly virulent.

13. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
Sneakers with support.

14. What do you think of when you think of Australia?
Aboriginal peoples; the Sydney Opera House; the Great Barrier Reef; the Australian Open, the first of the tennis Grand Slam events each year; and the fact that about two-thirds of its land mass is boringly named (Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory).

15. Do you use smiley faces on the computer a lot?
I rather loathe them. That would be a hard NO.

Most awarded songs #10

mondegreen of long duration

Sam Cooke

More fun with tunes that are among the most awarded songs #10. I own every one of them in some form. Here are some of your Grammy and Oscar winners. They’ve been touted by Rolling Stone magazine, RIAA, ASCAP, CMA, NPR, and others.

60. A Change Is Going To Come – Sam Cooke. If you saw the biopic One Night in Miami, you get a sense of the importance of this song on society at that point. He was inspired by Bob Dylan’s Blowing In The Wind. Cooke chose to share feelings he had from dealing with discrimination, at hotels, e.g., that he experienced. Unfortunately, he was killed on December 12, 1964, two weeks before the song was released as a single.

59. I Only Have Eyes For You – The Flamingoes. Quoting me: “I hear those first three or four chords and I am always surprised how it leads to such a lush tune. My first favorite song, probably for 30 years.”

58.  Layla – Derek and the Dominoes. I loved this song when I was in college. My neighbors Howie and Debi had a cat named Layla, who was a sister to our cat Doris. It is, of course, about Clapton’s longing for his friend George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. Rita Coolidge has claimed credit for co-creating the piano part, a segment that her then-boyfriend Jim Gordon was playing the tune during the album sessions.

57. Losing My Religion – R.E.M. I could always relate to this song.

56. Imagine – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. I’m on record of having overdosed on this recording and especially all of the covers. Still, I’m glad that John had a signature song by which he’ll be remembered. His son Julian sang it to support the Ukrainians recently.

“Picket lines and picket signs”

55. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye.  Berry Gordy famously wasn’t a fan at first.

54. You Send Me – Sam Cooke. Cooke took a lot of grief for abandoning the gospel music with the Soul Stirrers. Still, this song is pretty tame for such outrage.

53. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash. as his first big hit – #1 country, #17 pop in 1957 – it is the song I most associate with him. A biopic about him and June Carter was titled Walk The Line.

52. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison. Apparently, because of signing a bad contract with Bang Records, Morrison never made a cent on his first, and signature hit.

51. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and The Papas. They were listed as The Mama’s and the Papa’s on their first big single. Here is was one of the mondegreens I lived with for the longest time:
Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)
but I heard
And I began to pray
Moreover, I’ve heard a number of cover versions that made the same mistake.

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