January rambling: India #1 in ’23

Arthur answers my questions

Happy New Year! 2023

The U.S. Census Bureau’s projections

India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution 
Bossism: Revolt of the Oligarch Class
The Debt Ceiling: a (p)review
Social Quitting: How social media barons squandered their lock-in and made themselves obsolete.
Attack of the Chatbots: Screenwriters’ Friend or Foe?
Person to Person with Norah O’Donnell, interview with Jon Stewart

Clint Meneely: 1975 recording about Meneely bells of Troy, NY

Barbara Walters Remembered by ‘The View’ Co-Hosts, Past and Present, in Show Tribute Episode
Pelé, , Charismatic Master of the “Beautiful Game,” Dies at 82

Sign Up To Be An Organ Donor. You can provide lifesaving organs to as many as eight people.

The Curious Case of Nebraska Man

A Plane of Monkeys, a Pandemic, and a Botched Deal: Inside a Science Crisis You’ve Never Heard Of

Now I Know – Grapefruits: The Nuclear Fruit? and 
The Littlest Big Winner and Then, Their Pants Exploded and The Sesame Seed Backlash of 2023 and America’s Secret, Tasty World War II Weapon? and Why Can’t Californians Buy This Snack?
Abortion rights

The Supreme Court’s decision last summer that overturned the federal right to an abortion sent Rachel Sweet into overdrive focused on two states (Kansas, Kentucky) that share traditionally conservative values.

“With those [successful] campaigns behind her, Sweet has had time to reflect on the lessons learned from those hard-fought victories, including what many activists on her side of the issue misunderstand about voters who are persuadable on abortion rights.”

(The takeaway here is that one should not be so quick to pigeonhole people who could turn out to be your political allies on some issues.
People have been talking about Buffalo, the second-largest city in New York State, a lot recently. Part of it has to do with the deadly weather; folks there are used to snow but not that. Some of it surely with the near-death on national television of  Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, coincidentally, the first game I started watching from the beginning all season. There’s been a lot of “the city’s been through a lot this year,” going back to the shooting deaths of ten black folks at a supermarket in May 2022.
I’m not unhappy about it. It’s just that I hope we can show such concern for each other when there’s no crisis. I know this is an unrealistic ideal.
Quizzes and questions
fillyjonk does the annual quiz I completed
Arthur answered my questions about Nancy Pelosi v. Kevin McCarthy, and Sinema and  ranked voting and sheep
Coverville 1425: The 2022 Coverville Countdown, Part One and 
1426: : The 2022 Coverville Countdown, Part 2 and 1427: The Kenny Loggins Cover Story and 1428: The Jeff Beck Tribute

Hymne (Hymn to the Blessed Sacrament), by Olivier Messiaen

Pale Blue Eyes – the Velvet Underground
The Boxer – Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Douglas
The Stars and the Moon – Audra McDonald
Sumer is Icumen in – The Hilliard Ensemble
To Whom It May Concern – Lisa Marie Presley, who died at 54

“Weird Al” Yankovic Breaks Down His Most Iconic Tracks

Jeff Beck:  Farewell and Guitar Giant  dies at 78 and his 10 Best Songs: With Yardbirds, Solo & Beyond

Movie review: Devotion (2022)

high flyers

Devotion 2022The newish film Devotion, which my wife and I saw at the Spectrum 8 Theatre in Albany in early December, is based on a true story that was the subject of a bestselling book.

Elite US Navy fighter pilots were being trained in the early 1950s. One was a black man, Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors), training close enough in Rhode Island to occasionally visit his wife Daisy (Christina Jackson) and their cute daughter. Things during training seemed surprisingly uncomplicated. But Brown feels inner turmoil, understandable when one is The First/The Only.

One of the other pilots is starting to forge a friendship with Brown, Lieutenant Tom Hudner (Glenn Powell). The plot gets more interesting when some men are on shore leave in France. Much of it involved a Famous Movie Star and other US military folks who are less comfortable with a black wingman.

Ultimately, the airmen are deployed to the Korean conflict. The airmen, especially Brown, are very good at what they do. Ultimately, stuff happens, and if you’ve read the book or most reviews, you have an idea what.

Most reviews are correct, with 81% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic wrote, “It’s committed to the hallmarks of the genre, for better and for worse.” This is spot on.

It’s a good film, and I’m glad I saw it. It’s not extraordinary except for the very detailed use of the aircraft, some of which were borrowed from aeronautic museums. The look and the flying felt real.

Too much Devotion

Incidentally, I disliked the generic title devotion, which had been used as the titles of films in 1931, 1945, 1995, 2005, and 2013. The book title was  Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos. Maybe Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice would have been less boring.

The 2022 Devotion was not a theatrical blockbuster, with less than $20 million in ticket sales, which is unfortunate.

Thinner or fatter?


thinner or fatter
from the Cambridge dictionary

One of those EOY questions:
Thinner or fatter?

Thinner. But you really need the bigger picture. In the first two months of 2022, I lost five pounds. I’ve lost five pounds a dozen times or more. I gained it back by mid-April and lost it again.

By mid-July, I was five pounds HEAVIER than I had been at the beginning of the year. So I decided to try Noom. (Here’s the old FTC notation: I haven’t been paid to plug Noom.)

Anyway, I was back to the year’s beginning weight by the end of July. Five pounds more off at the end of August. A quick five pounds in early September; was that COVID related?

Then I stayed there in September and half of October before losing five pounds in two weeks. It’s been prolonged, but the point is that I haven’t regained the weight. So I’m 25 pounds less than at the beginning of the year and 30 pounds less than on July 16.

The great thing, and I mean this sincerely, is that almost no one noticed. Only one person other than my wife ever mentioned it, and they notice almost everything. When you are considered obese, you can achieve stealth weight loss without anyone paying attention.

The shirt’s baggy instead of tight, but it’s the same shirt. I did need to buy a new belt, though, because – TMI – my pants started slipping down. I’d keep my left hand holding them up, which quickly got old.

The system

Let me tell you what I like about Noom. It categories foods into Green (eat all you want), Yellow (have somewhat less of those), and orange (a limit to those). But it doesn’t say, “You can’t have that.” The problem with previous diets has been the feeling of deprivation. I can NEVER have ice cream? Or pizza? What’s the point of life?!

The app tells me calorie counts and categories. It contains many brand-name items, including Panera sandwiches and Trader Joe’s entrees. Trader Joe’s BBQ Chicken Teriyaki is green and delicious, while the non-BBQ version, which I’ve not had, is yellow.

Noom has daily readings tied to psychology. It’s not just food issues but broader topics such as when one feels fear. The website indicates, “What sets us apart is that we’re a highly structured program that provides the insight, education, and skill development to help you understand the ‘why’ behind your stress, so you know how to manage it now – and always.”

What I try to do at least five days a week is eat a heavily Green breakfast and/or lunch. Breakfast is often oatmeal, banana, blueberries, maybe strawberries, 1% milk (yellow), and brown sugar (orange, but I don’t care). Sometimes, lunch is fresh spinach, a five-ounce can of tuna, and light mayo (orange, but whatever.) I can eat out or go to events without thinking they’re all traps to scuttle my goal.

And my goal is another five pounds. Then another five pounds. I’ve long found saying I’m going to get to X weight is not productive for me.

My A1C is down too, and I wasn’t even trying that hard.

The random 2022 post

Carnegie Hall

ice tireThis is the random 2022 post. I think I stole the idea from near twin Gordon. Some folks, such as Kelly, will highlight particular posts. “If you have a blog or other online writing forum, share some of your favorite work from this year.” That sounds like an intriguing idea, but too much work when I can just punt

January 21: What ordinal number is your favorite band’s best album? “Conversely, there isn’t a major Motown artist whose first few albums I would peg as their best, except one.” This was lots of fun. Thanks, Greg.  

February 27: Documentary review: Ascension. “Perhaps more unsettling than the lynchings of over 4,000 African Americans by white mobs were the public, festive occasions these murders became.” I watched the Chinese documentary, then Paramount Plus rolled me to Lynching Postcards, a chilling documentary short.  

March 23:  The follow-up post: ice, COVID, more. “I’ve been trying to access the records of the court case involving my grandmother, Agatha Walker (later Green), and my biological grandfather Raymond Cone from October 1926.” The next sentences: “Alas, I got word that they can’t find the records. They may have been misfiled or destroyed.” Sigh, big time.  The photo above is from this post. 

April 28: Not running for office. “At some level, when I was much younger, I suppose I thought I would someday consider running for public office.” Nope.

May 17:  1972: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” “The link has a number of resources.” This was about my “criminal” past and “Ban The Box.”

June 7: Kottke.org – a “quality hyperlink product”. “Lydia Davis was one of the FFAPL Literary Legends in 2021.” A rabbit hole I fell into. 

The second half

July 26: The Lydster at Carnegie Hall. “We took a taxi to the venue and got there by 7:30.” This was probably the most fun I had with my daughter this year. 

August 6: 1972 #1 hits: Watergate break-in. “American Pie, Parts I and II – Don McLean, four weeks at #1.” A Saturday music post.

September 15: September rambling: perfect Yiddish word. “In Memorium Video from this year’s Emmys and going about a decade back.” A linkage post.

October 25: Plan B, when you’re tired. “We have since canceled three hotel reservations.” About the fact that nothing was going according to plan because of COVID, my wife’s leg infection, et al.  

November 18: Me in the autumn of 1979. “In many ways, I remember 1972 better than 1979.” Things in my 1979 diary are totally foreign to me.  Weird.

December 2: From politics to library science. “He blinded me with science!” My life choices.  

Not incidentally, I was weirded out about the passing of Armen Boyajian on December 5. He’s a guy I’ve known since high school who’d been commenting on my blog recently. I answered the question specifically for him, which he may not have seen.  

This was the year that was


That Was The Year That WasIt’s time for my annual look back at the year that was. The questions were stolen from Kelly because why not?

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

To part one, not so much if I made them, which I may or may not have. Regardless, the list of things I want to finish, if anything, has gotten longer. So making more of them would be foolhardy.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Someone named in part after me had a third child

Did anyone close to you die?

Four people were in the choir:  BettyMike, Nate, and Susan. KenJimPaul, Mary, and Kay. I never mentioned my wife’s aunt Effie Oliver, who I was very fond of. Nor did I discuss my father’s favorite cousin Sheldon Walker. I feel as though I have forgotten someone.

What countries did you visit?

None. Maybe in 2023.

What would you like to have in 2023 that you lacked in 2022?

This is what Kelly wrote last year. “An end to the pandemic, and a feeling that my country is moving toward rationality and a renewed commitment to thinking collectively and valuing democracy.” I’ll still buy that.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I didn’t get as detailed about how sick my wife had been in October, though I wrote about it in two posts. Anyway, taking care of her – changing bandages, making meals, whatever. My MIL is pleased with how well I cared for her daughter, so that’s nice.

What was your biggest failure?

I think not getting to the genealogy stuff.

What was the best thing you bought?

A portable white noise machine.



Whose behavior merited celebration?

Anyone who tried to protect democracy. The Jan 6 committee. Librarians.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Supreme Court. Most federal Republicans. The newly re-elected governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL). I could name LOTS of names, but I don’t have the energy. But I will select one: Lindsay Graham, a spineless worm. (Or is that an insult to worms?)

Where did most of your money go?

My daughter has gone to college.

What did you get really excited about?

Singing in the choir. Albany was COVID-green far too infrequently, but I relished it every week.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I’m working on this apparently popular theory that you can fake it until you make it. So I’m working on at least pretending to get happier, even though it feels… wrong.

Richer or poorer?

My daughter is going to college.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading more books: I read stuff online, in magazines, and newspapers, but books fall by the wayside. Also, taking more naps.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Deleting political emails because I’m always inundated.

How did you spend Christmas?

With my MIL, eventually.

Did you fall in love in 2022?

Yes, actually

How many one-night stands?

Same as last year


What was your favorite TV program?

I’ve watched almost no television except Abbott Elementary, The Good Doctor, JEOPARDY!, and news programs. No time.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

If that one guy would just GO AWAY…

What was the best book you read?

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, which had sat on my shelf for a few years.

What did you want and get?

A Democratic US Senate

What did you want and not get?

A Democratic US House of Representatives, not that I was expecting one.

What were your favorite films of this year?

I have a difficult time seeing films on TV or the computer. That said, I’d pick  CODA. I did see and enjoyed SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, She Said, and Devotion at the cinema.

What did you do on your birthday?

It was a Monday. Optimally, as little as possible. I really don’t remember. I probably wrote a blog post.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?


Assuming facts not in evidence

What kept you sane?

Music, always. Also, this here blog and the interactions it’s led to.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine. Rightly the TIME Magazine Person of the Year, though, as someone said, the cover looked like something designed for an MCU poster.
Nancy Pelosi. Wrangling a herd of cats is not easy. I saw Paul Ryan, one of her predecessors as Speaker of the House, on ABC News acknowledge that she did a good job, though he disagreed about her priorities.
Taylor Swift. I only have two of her albums, but she markets herself very well and uses her power for good, not evil.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The threat to democracy itself. And it’s not just in the United States. The attempted coup in Germany, the retrograde leadership in Hungary, and the chunk of votes that Marine Le Pen got in the last French elections.

Related, the power of the lie and the astonishing willingness of some people to believe it.

Who did you miss?

The weird thing even now is that you don’t see folks. Several people from my church are still attending online.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2022:

For me, in-person is SO much better. Better than plays online, ZOOM meetings, et al.

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