Dealing with the way stuff happens

The Sad Gap

As luck would have it, I came across two different series of blog posts involving, well, dealing with the way stuff happens in the world.

The first source is a series sent to me by my friend ADD. “If you have any interest at all in where our civilization is going and how we got to this perilous moment, please take a look at Professor Sid Smith’s new series How To Enjoy The End of the World. You’ll find far more reasons to have hope and even know how you want to proceed than you might think; the title is NOT meant to be funny or ironic.

“He’s absolutely serious about making the most out of living in a time of the collapse, starting with understanding why it’s happening.” If you watch none of the other videos, check out the prologue “Why You Shouldn’t Let Collapse Get You Down.”

Greens

The other was two videos in the Vlogbrothers series. Hank Green asked Are You Stuck in The Sad Gap? In his piece, Hank notes all the myriad topics he’s concerned about at about 2:25, and the list he says is incomplete.

Hank writes in the notes: “I… think that there are some people who think that The Sad Gap is the honorable, correct place to be. As if you are a bad person if you get out of the place where you only feel hopelessness and outrage. I am, frankly, OVER THAT. I think it’s making things much worse. And I never thought it was the right thing to do and the moment I realized that other people did, I got very worried.”

His brother John Green replied in How Do You Cross the Sad Gap? In four minutes, he notes how impossible it is to fix EVERYTHING, even if you wanted to. He notes what worked for him. Now, he’s focused on maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, where he, with tons of help, has actually turned the tide in that narrow, specific area.

I get it

I see the despair out there, everywhere. “OMG, OMG, what can little old ME do about Ukraine and gun violence and racism and environmental catastrophe” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? The fretting, I posit, is totally human and understandable, and not terribly helpful. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t happen to me from time to time.

Maybe you and like-minded people can do… something about one of the things you are most passionate about. Or at least recontextualize it. But trying to fret over each perceived crisis until we move on to the next one is not particularly productive.

Ranking the Presidents of the USA

Numbers 32 to 36 ranked highly

John Tyler

In response to my Presidents Day post about knowing all of those guys – they’re all guys – in order, led to a couple of discussions.

One involved a friend of mine whose kid, who I’ve known since he was a baby, has “very strong feelings” about ranking the Presidents. I think we all should have a “resident political scientist” (RPS), in our midst, and a credentialed one at that.

I find the exercise interesting, as an old poli sci major would. Yet I’ve always been mildly conflicted between whether President was successful and how that success or failure turned out historically. (I have one specifically in mind; see below.)

Nevertheless, here’s a list, not the whole roster. The comparative rankings I’ll refer to is the overall 2021 C-SPAN Presidential Historians Survey, linked to here. I’ll not create a full list of my own.

So it begins

1. George Washington, #2. Does he get nicked for owning slaves? Of course, true of many of the early dudes. But as anyone who’s heard Hamilton knows, part of George’s greatness is not staying around too long.

7. Andrew Jackson, #22. Jackson has tumbled over the years. But not far enough for the RPS, who would put him third from the bottom, ahead of only Trump and perennial cellar-dweller Buchanan. As abhorrent as I think he was, I’m not ready to put him down that low. Among other things, he kept South Carolina from seceding and paid off the national debt. Conversely, the spoils system started with him. And he’s responsible for the Trail of Tears.

Surely, he should be off the $20 bill. Incidentally, some versions of his dollar coin are flawed.

9. William Henry Harrison, #40. Seriously? Why is this man even ranked? Some polls exclude him. His only major decision was to give a too-long inaugural speech. Then he died a month later.

10. John Tyler, #39. Can we count the stuff after he left office? I think we do anyway, and I have a couple of examples. This traitor sat in the Confederate Congress for a few months before he died in 1862.

Leading to the Civil War

11. James K. Polk, #18. I was helping my daughter with her history homework last year. The fact that he met every major domestic and foreign policy goal he had set during his single term was impressive. But he led the country into a nasty war against Mexico, which accelerated the divide between free and slave states.

13-15. Millard Fillmore, #38; Franklin Pierce, #42; James Buchanan, #44. Worser and worse, as they say. Shortly after Fillmore’s ascent to the presidency upon the death of Zachary Taylor (#35), he supported the odious Fugitive Slave Law, part of the Compromise of 1850. Pierce, who was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning, signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which fractured the Missouri Compromise more slavery in the territories.

Perhaps there was nothing for Buchanan to do. As JFK was quoted, “No one has a right to grade a president — even poor James Buchanan — who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions.”

16. Abraham Lincoln, #1. Perhaps no President has been more analyzed, for good and ill.

17. Andrew Johnson, #43. What might Reconstruction have looked like if not for him? An oversimplification, sure, but…

18. Ulysses S. Grant, #20. Few have been more rehabilitated than USG. Yeah, the Panic of 1873, but Reconstruction helped. So did his book.

20th century

29. Warren G. Harding, #37. When I was growing up, only some of the Presidents around Lincoln fared worse than Harding, with Teapot Dome.

31. Herbert Hoover, #36. Another “worst ” President growing up.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt, #3. New Deal, WWII. Conversely, internment camps for the Nisei. Plus many provisions of the New Deal actually harmed black people. Much of the positive energy of the administration came from his wife Eleanor.

33. Harry Truman, #6. The fact that the military desegregated under his administration is a BFD for me. Berlin airlift, and reining in MacArthur are pluses.

34. Dwight Eisenhower, #5. Even though he likely wasn’t in favor of the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, he respected the process. So he sent in troops to desegregate Little Rock HS. He also created the armistice in Korea, despite opposition in his own administration. He initiated a massive interstate highway system. But he also gave one of the best farewells, warning us of the “Military-industrial complex.”

Ones I remember

35. John Kennedy, #8. I’d long thought that JFK was overrated, a function of his youth and being assassinated. He had that Bay of Pigs debacle, though the world DIDN’T go to war in ’62. He was coming around on civil rights in ’63. But I must credit him with the initiation of the space program that DID go to the moon in that decade.

36. Lyndon Johnson, #11. The most vexing President in my lifetime. On one hand, he pushed the civil rights legislation, sometimes in the name of his late predecessor. And he had a robust social welfare program. But the massive escalation in the Vietnam war was unforgivable.

37. Richard Nixon, #31. RPS’s mom would put Nixon in the lower echelon of presidents, “but maybe that’s just because I was in high school and college in the 70s.” I DESPISED Nixon politically when he was in office, over Vietnam response but also his war on drugs. The EPA was created, only Nixon COULD have gone to China, and a more robust health care COULD have happened except… Watergate, of course, was the public spectacle debacle that I watched on TV daily.

The unelected President

38. Gerald Ford, #28. ADD asked, “What are your thoughts about the one that was never elected President or Vice-President? That’s my favorite trivia question.” My favorite, “Which President was born Leslie Lynch King Jr.?” Now here’s my unanswerable question: would the Republicans push out Nixon if Spiro Agnew would have become President? I’ll acknowledge that I opposed Ford’s pardon of Nixon at the time, but I’ve softened on it.

His problem was that he was tasked with cleaning up messes: Nixon, but also Vietnam, inflation, an economic downturn. Ford’s social policies were liberal by today’s standards, notably his support of the Equal Rights Amendment, but he didn’t have a lot of political capital, especially after the 1974 Congressional elections, which brought in a wave of Democrats. He did the best that he could. His wife Betty, though: SHE was a force.

Oh, and his appointed Veep was Nelson Rockefeller, considered a liberal, but he ran with BobDole in 1976 and lost.

39. Jimmy Carter, #26. The Camp David between Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachim Begin was a highlight. But the ongoing energy crisis was a drag. He had solar panels installed on the White House (and Reagan had them taken down.) Of course, the Iran hostage crisis sunk him.

A different job

40. Ronald Reagan, #9. I always thought Reagan should have been king. A cheerleader for America. He was good at that, actually. But his policies, from trickle-down economics to anti-union policies to a larger war on drugs to ignoring HIV/AIDS for years. But he knew how to sell it like an actor. Getting shot and coming back healthy certainly helped. He DID appoint the first woman to SCOTUS. The fact that he said to Gorbechev “Tear down this wall” and the Berlin wall came down a couple of years later means he gets to take credit.

41. George H. W. Bush, #21. Breaking his “no new taxes” promise helped to sink him.

42. Bill Clinton, #19. He had to face that horrendous wave of Contract On America tools such as Gingrich. Even at the time, I dismissed the idea that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 would be a boon to competition in local cable markets. His war on drugs was as bad as recent Republicans. He did select Stephen Breyer and RGB for SCOTUS. His impeachment was silly, especially given the behavior of some Republicans, such as Gingrich, which we didn’t know at the time.

21st century

43. George W. Bush, #29. Going into Iraq was the big debacle, though his Hurricane Katrina response was lousy. Oh, yeah, and the 2008 economic collapse. #29 seems high.

44. Barack Obama, #10. He signed the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) when so many others had tried and failed. He also backed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. it appeared Obama was working hard on his economic stimulus program in response to the Great Recession even before he was inaugurated. Unsurprisingly, he talked a lot about race, which I thought was appropriate.

45. Donald J. Trump, #41. Tax cuts for the riches. His disturbing relationship with Putin in Helsinki and subsequently. Amazingly racist comments. His bromance with Kim Jung-un. His pathological need to try to undo everything his predecessor accomplished, from Paris climate change to the Iran nuclear agreement. He lied all of the time, even about things not worthy of the effort. His administration developed the COVID vaccine, but his messaging undermined its success. Still, it was the Big Lie over the 2020 election and his culpability on 6 Jan 2021 that truly puts him so low on my list. Twice impeached.
.
This is difficult, but my bottom five probably are Buchanan, Trump, Pierce, Harding, A. Johnson. Tyler, Hoover, and W would be in the next five.

 

Correcting grammar strikes a chord

more cheesier

correcting grammarMy recent post on correcting grammar has struck a chord.

My friend and former editor Alan got me thinking:

How do you feel about Positive Anymore, Roger?

I had not heard the term before, to be honest. But I have heard this construction. From the Wikipedia article, it “is the use of the adverb anymore in an affirmative context. While any more (also spelled anymore) is typically a negative/interrogative polarity item used in negative, interrogative, or hypothetical contexts, speakers of some dialects of English use it in positive or affirmative contexts, with a meaning similar to nowadays or from now on.”

I’d better show some of their examples.

1 “A servant being instructed how to act, will answer ‘I will do it any more‘.” (Northern Ireland, c. 1898)
2 “Any more, the difference between a white-collar worker and a blue-collar worker is simply a matter of shirt preference.” (Madison, Wisconsin, 1973)
3 “Everything we do anymore seems to have been done in a big hurry.” (Kingston, Ontario, 1979)
4 “I’ll be getting six or seven days’ holiday anymore.” (Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1981)
5 “Anymore we watch videos rather than go to the movies.” (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, c. 1991)

Its use as from now on in the first and fourth sentence sounds wrong, as though the word not was left out in error. The usage in sentence three, as nowadays (or these days), sounds oddly familiar and colloquially acceptable to me. Yet the same word in the beginning (sentences 2 and 5) bugs me. Maybe it suggests that the sentence is going in another direction, such as “Any more, do you have bread?”

More Adverbs

Then Alan requested:

Can the other part [of my post] be people who say “whenever” when they mean when?

This one I had not heard at all. Its usage suggests an indefinite time, but they’re talking about a specific timeframe. A regional variation, apparently, but I don’t much like it. It’s two extra syllables that do not convey any more or different information. But it’s all I have to say about that.

Tim, who I remember from back in the days (March 2020) we used to sing in the choir together, quips:

I prefer the brand of macaroni and cheese that is more cheesier. Then there is the -ly being chopped off most adverbs these days.

As I noted way back here: There are rules for forming comparative and superlative adjectives. One-syllable adjectives generally add -er or -est. “For adjectives with three syllables or more, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.”

The adjectives with two syllables are… complicated.” The ones ending with -y, -er, -le, or -ow generally use -er and -est, though one changes the -y to -i.

But cutting off the -ly sounds more informal than wrong. “I’m gonna come back real quick.” “She steered that boat real smooth.” The meaning is clear. Incidentally, I came across an article Errors in the use of adverbs. For at least two of the examples, I shrugged, “Whatever.”
Incorrect: She angrily spoke.
Correct: She spoke angrily.
Adverbs of manner usually go in the end-position.
Not really something to concern me.

Descriptive versus prescriptive

My ferocious hearts competitor friend Janna indicates:

I tend to think corrections on my grammar pet peeves rather than pointing them out (except to my kids LOL). In this age of e-communication, I think many are the result of bad autocorrect.

Well, yes, some software corrections are overly zealous. I’ve used Grammarly for years, but I have vigorously disagreed with supposed errors of mine. I’m very forgiving of mistakes in contemporaneous speaking, particularly with noun/verb agreement. On the other hand, I’m much fussier over a formal address.

Alison, who I was once related to – or to whom I was…, if you insist – correctly notes:

Well, there’s descriptive grammar and prescriptive grammar and some of the latter was imposed on the language by a dude who thought English should follow Latin grammar. It’s class-related also so my opinion is that prescriptive grammar is only necessary for formal or academic settings- except for “normalcy.” That’s an abomination.

Agreed. I noted here that the creative use of y’all, et al. for the second person plural you “is not the failure of the speakers, it’s the failure of the language.

July rambling: Phonus-Balonus!

VeggieTales’ creator Phil Vischer’s viral video on race in America

Trevor Noah: Maybe not a great idea to take a victory lap in the middle of a pandemic.

60 Minutes Australia: Inside the wicked saga of Jeffrey Epstein: the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell.

Defund the Poice: What’s in a slogan?

Why a Struggling Rust Belt City Pinned Its Revival on a Self-Chilling Beverage Can.

ADD has updated the Comic Book Galaxy blog for the first time in five years.

Stop microwaving books: Michigan library frustrated by damaged books.

Appreciating Letty Owings; the Reason I’m Here, By Greg Hatcher.

Meet 8-time JEOPARDY champion, Jennifer Quail Part 1 and Part 2.

Local galleries are reopening! Part 1 and Part 2.

Phonus-Balonus: 1920s Slang We Need to Bring Back.

A Brief History of the Lawn Chair”.

Riddle of the Week: The Gold Chain Math Problem and The Hen and the Egg.

Stop Doomscrolling. Ah, too late.

Now I Know

The Job That’s a Riot and The One Thing You Can’t Do in IKEA and When It’s OK to Lose Your Head and The Sweet Mistake and The Robutts That Protect Your Phone.

Race in America

VeggieTales’ creator Phil Vischer releases viral video on race in America (17 minutes, and very good).

Elijah McClain played violin for lonely kittens. His last words to police are devastating.

Facial recognition: “Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm”.

Racism, Disparities, and the Health of the Nation.

My denomination: PC(USA) General Assembly affirms that Black lives matter; pledges to work against systemic racism.

I thought I understood white privilege, then I married a Black man.

Man shares two lessons he learned from disrupting a racist joke in a group of white people.

Dr. Robin DiAngelo Wants White People to Stop Saying They’re Not Racist; she’s the author of White Fragility.

slave castles — and the weight of history.

Reparations.

Free online comic book – Henry Johnson: A Tale of Courage.

When The Klan Ruled In Freeport, Long Island.

This ‘Equity’ picture is actually White Supremacy at work.

Blackface: The Birth of An American Stereotype and Celebrities now apologizing for using the racist trope for laughs have no idea just how sorry they really are.

Frederick Douglass’ admonition on the moral rightness of liberty for all.

The rage and love of James Baldwin.

Diversity in business is about expanding networks

This Rocket Scientist Is Tracing Black Ingenuity Through Barbecue.

Blacklexa (at 1:28).

anti-racism

Full bibliography here.

IMPOTUS

In the Land of “No We Can’t”.

His ‘Roger Mudd’ moment augurs ill for his reelection. If he can’t explain why he wants another term, he shouldn’t expect voters to give him one.

Reverend reveals what evangelicals say privately about Trump.

Mary Trump: he is the product of a deeply dysfunctional family that makes him a uniquely destructive and unstable leader for the country; inside his psychopathology.

Family, Cronies Cleared For Millions In Bailout Funds, such as Elaine Chao’s family business.

A Shameful Moment: Formal Withdrawal From WHO as Covid-19 Cases Climb.

Lincoln Project: Benedict Donald and Comrade Trump and Whispers. More.

Randy Rainbow Devastates A “Poor Deplorable Troll”

Music

America by Rebecca Jade, Erik Canzona, and Alfred Howard. Rebecca Jade is the Artist of the Year at 2020 San Diego Music Awards.

Ennio Morricone, Prolific Italian Composer for the Movies, Dies at 91.

Coverville: 1314: Cover Stories for KT Tunstall and Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies and 1315: The Blondie Cover Story II and 1316: Ennio Morricone Tribute and Ringo Starr Cover Story.

Perdido, by trombonist Juan Tizol, performed by Wynton Marsalis.

Be Still – Beach Boys.

Ballade in A minor for orchestra by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Adagio For Strings – Samuel Barber – conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Fantasy on Themes from the Masque of the Red Death – David Baker.

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen.

Dancing in the Canebrakes by Florence Price.

K-Chuck Radio: Our Robot Overlords.

Music For The Movies: Bernard Herrmann (Documentary).

Have you evah? (Swell party)

Now I probably never will

Have you evahHave you evah? is a meme done by ADD. Here’s the Cole Porter song, performed by Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra and Debbie Harry & Iggy Pop.

Driven 100 mph — No, I doubt I’ve ever done 65.

Ridden in a helicopter — No. BTW, there are scenes in the movie Catch-22 and the YV show ER that freak me out.

Gone zip lining — Heck No.

Been to an NFL game — Yes, on October 13, 2002, in San Diego, the Chargers against Kansas City. Also, sometime between 1964 and 1969, probably towards the latter, the New York Jets v. the Houston Oilers at Shea Stadium. The home teams won.

Been to Canada — Several times. To the Toronto area for five days, to Montreal twice (1991/1992), to Windsor for about five minutes, and to Niagara Falls at least a dozen times.

Visited Florida — Twice, both times to ASBDC conferences. Once in Miami; there was flooding on the first floor. And Orlando. Both in the 1990s.

Visited Mexico — Once to Guadalajara in 1987, once to Tijuana in the mid-1990s.

Visited Vegas — Never.

Eaten alone at a restaurant — Many times.

Ability to read music — A fair amount.

Ridden a motorcycle — I’ve been on the back of someone else’s once or twice.

Ridden a horse — I did. The first time was June 9, 1976, after I had suffered a hangover. Not recommended.

Stayed in a hospital — A few times. At five and a half – a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. At 19, after a car accident. And at least one other time.

Donated blood — 170-odd times. Far less frequently in the past two years because of the increased scar tissue at the injection sites.

Been snow skiing — No.

Wishing upon a star?

jeop
Been to Disneyland — no Disney anything. Pricey!

Slept outside — My family used to go camping, Not my idea of a good time.

Driven a stick shift — My college girlfriend tried to teach me. Then she screamed because I was burning out her clutch.

Ridden in an 18 wheeler — Yes, a few times in the 1970s, when I used to hitchhike.

Ridden in a police car — Yes. In college, writing a story for a college newsletter. When I got arrested in 1972, I think we were put in a van.

Driven a boat — In the past two or three years in western Massachusetts.

Eaten escargot — If I did, I don’t recall.

Been on a cruise — No. And now I probably never will.

Run out of gas — Once, in Speculator, NY with my father when I was about 11.

Been on TV — Technically, several times. My church choir used to sing at telethons when I was a kid. I was on a kids’ show thrice. Ken Screven interviewed me for a benefit called Rock for Raoul in 1985.

There was an anti-racism workshop in the 1990s and I was asked some questions. When the Underground Railroad History Project used to give tours, I could hear me singing in the piece. I was interviewed about a 1987 snowstorm in 2017.

Probably a couple other times. Oh, yeah, I was on JEOPARDY! twice. Also, I was interviewed by the local TV affiliate before the shows aired.

Eaten sushi — A few times. At least once in 2020, at a restaurant in downtown Schenectady.

Seen a UFO — I think so, a couple times, though my recollections are fairly vague.

Been bungee-jumping — Not on your life. Or mine.

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