Saying NO and being OK

the indispensible person

happier nowArthur received a question. His response is titled Saying NO and being OK.

The query is quite long. Here’s the beginning. “How do I learn to say no? All my life, I have tried to live my life helping others. As I approach my mid-sixties, I have found myself embroiled in so many people’s problems, that I am overwhelmed beyond belief.”

I SO relate to this. Arthur gave some sage advice, identifying the anonymous writer as perhaps a “rescuer,” which has often been the case in my experience. Sometimes, people, myself included, get a certain gratification from being indispensable while, AT THE SAME TIME, feeling overwhelmed by the implications of the tasks at hand.

One of the things I have done more often preemptively in the past decade is to say NO to almost everything that’s not already on the schedule. This wasn’t easy, and it is/I am a work in progress. And I needed to do so in even low-consequence situations.

A recent example. As I’ve noted, my church exterior appears in the season two premiere of The Gilded Age series. My wife got the DVD of Season 1 from the library and asked me, “Would you like to watch this with me?”   Sometimes I am too literal. I hear: Would I LIKE to watch it with her? The answer to THAT question is, Why yes! Of course!

But I said NO because I was working on reading a book review that I would be presenting at the library soon.

This happened to me a lot. Someone asks, “Could you…” be on this committee or take on that responsibility? Could I? Well, yes, I believe I have the requisite skills to do the job. Yes, I COULD. But even if it’s the question asked, the answer should not be whether I COULD but rather if I SHOULD, whether I WILL.

Well, this once

That said, I’m much better at a one-off, and Arthur alluded to this aspect. As I write this, I agreed to serve communion at church because someone will be out of town. Frankly, I like doing it; it’s not onerous – 15 minutes max to set up before service, 10 minutes afterward to clean up, and the serving is during the service I’m at anyway.

Occasionally, one IS the best person to resolve a particular issue. This happened to me in the autumn of 2023, when I brokered a resolution of an impasse, and I really was the only living person able to do so. But these are fairly rare situations for most of us.

In general, my default is to say NO, and then I try to juggle the other to-do things in my mind. Sometimes, I change my mind and say yes.

A recent vlogcast by John Green impressed me. He has been posting weekly on YouTube, barring illness or technical difficulties, since January 2007. He admitted that he wasn’t feeling it a few times a year but posted anyway. In 2024, if he’s not feeling it, he won’t do one.

Just say no. It’s easier said than done for many of us, especially when we see ourselves as “good” people. Just say NO, not always, but now and then.

1983 #1 songs with an Arthurian twist

Weekend Diversion

I am going to list the 1983 #1 songs. But this post will have an Arthurian twist. , the AmeriNZ, who I may have mentioned once or twice in this blog, is the reason.

He wrote in April:   “As last year was winding down, I wanted to come up with some blog posts I could easily prepare in advance, hopefully increasing my overall output. The first thing I thought of was reviving ‘Weekend Diversion’ posts, but how?…

“I’ve done posts about older music many times, and I suddenly realised that this year I could focus on the Number One pop songs of 1983.

“The thing about 1983 isn’t (merely) that it was 40 years ago, it’s that it was my first full year living in Chicago, and it’s when I established what my life would be up until 1995 when I met Nigel and moved to New Zealand. 1983 was a very significant year for me.”

I remember 1983 exceedingly well too, in no small part because it was the year FantaCo artist Raoul Vezina died in November.

“The idea for these posts is loosely based on a series of posts Roger Green did as artists turned 70. Like his posts, these wouldn’t necessarily be every week because pop songs are often Number One for weeks in a row. Even so, the specific dates are fixed, so I could do the posts well in advance. As a bonus, the Number One dates for 1983 are all Sundays this year—almost like it was planned.

“That’s when it all fell apart: I completely forgot all about it. In fact, I only remembered it because I ran across some links I saved at the end of last year, but that means I’m already behind schedule.”

The songs

But he got caught up. His first post includes Maneater , which I wrote about in my 1982 post.It went to #1 for four weeks beginning on 12/18/82 so was #1 for two weeks in EACH year.

The hyperlink to the title will be the link to the song. The hyperlink to the artist will be the link to Arthur’s commentary. As he finishes up the year, I’ll come back and add those last half-dozen connections.

Every Breath You TakeThe Police, eight weeks at #1, gold record

Billie JeanMichael Jackson, seven weeks at #1, platinum record. MTV made Michael Jackson, and Michael Jackson made MTV.

Flashdance… What A FeelingIrene Cara, six weeks at #1, gold record

Say Say SayPaul McCartney, six weeks at #1, platinum record. That friendship fractured.

All Night Long (All Night) – Lionel Richie, four weeks at #1, gold record

Total Eclipse of the HeartBonnie Tyler, four weeks at #1, gold record

Down UnderMen At Work, four weeks at #1, gold record

Beat ItMichael Jackson, three weeks at #1, platinum record

Islands In The StreamKenny Rogers with Dolly Parton, three weeks at #1, platinum record

Baby, Come To MePatti Austin with James Ingram, two weeks at #1, gold record

ManiacMichael Sembello, two weeks at #1

A single week at #1

Let’s DanceDavid Bowie, gold record

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics, gold record

Tell Her About ItBilly Joel

AfricaToto,  gold record

Come On EileenDexys Midnight Runners


Recent Supreme Court rulings

rogue court

I wanted to write about recent Supreme Court rulings, some of which I found both disturbing and frankly baffling.  Baffling because the justification for taking up at least some of the cases at all were specious. The words weren’t coming, so I have purloined others.
Arthur noted the case that “involved a fundamentalist ‘christian’ web designer who thought one day she might like to create wedding websites, but her religious views compelled her to refuse to create a website for a same-gender couple, in the event she ever started providing such services, of course, and if a theoretical same-gender couple ever tried to hire her services. While the supposed ‘injury’ to her was entirely hypothetical, she sued the State of Colorado, anyway—well, the ultra-far-right ‘Alliance Defending [sic] Freedom [lol]’ sued on her behalf.
Worse, “it emerged that, allegedly, someone named ‘Stewart’ had contacted her through her website’s contact form to try to hire her web services for his marriage to his ‘husband’. The problem was, the whole thing was faked by someone…. He also had no idea his name and details had been used in a Supreme Court case.” The guy, I’ve read, is mortified by this.
And lower courts had passed on the case, but the Supremes took it on. 
The ruling allows for violations of well-established public accommodation laws. Specifically, advocates in Massachusetts and elsewhere fear the effect of the  ruling. Will some business owners have the right not to serve customers based on personal or religious beliefs? 
See also the People for the American Way (PFAW) analysis.
Student loan forgiveness
This piece by the new Civil Rights Movement (NCRM) suggests that CJ John Roberts was intellectually dishonest in his opinion. In her dissent, Elana Kagan said as much. “From the first page to the last, today’s opinion departs from the demands of judicial restraint. At the behest of a party that has suffered no injury, the majority decides a contested public policy issue properly belonging to the politically accountable branches and the people they represent.”
Teresa M. Hanafin addresses some of the questions Boston Globe readers s have asked. “Many of those folks, relieved of that debt, would have helped give the already robust economy a boost: They’d have been able to buy houses, pay down other debt, start small businesses, rely less on other social service programs. It even helps with their mental health.
“Asking why today’s students should get debt relief when yesterday’s students didn’t is a question that could be asked about any social program. Do you think that elders nearing the end of their lives when Social Security was introduced in 1935 demanded that it be squashed because it hadn’t been enacted when they were 65? Should we stop giving food stamps to single mothers simply because most of us don’t need them? 
“I’m sorry, but that question is so typically American: If I can’t have it, then neither can you. Oddly, conservatives have that attitude only when it comes to poor and marginalized people; they’re fine with social welfare benefits such as tax cuts for wealthy households and corporations and subsidies for fossil fuel companies…”
See also this PFAW piece.
College Affirmative Action
From PFAW: “Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a powerful dissent, joined by Kagan and Jackson. As she has in the past, she pointed out that the far-right justices’ assumptions around race are not based on reality: “

[T]he Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter. 

From Common CauseCommon Cause: ‘With Let-Them-Eat-Cake Obliviousness,’ Supreme Court Ends Affirmative Action for Colleges. “Sotomayor wrote that ‘the court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.'”
Some interesting responses have emerged. lawsuit Uses SCOTUS Affirmative Action Ruling to Go After Legacy Admissions. “’Harvard’s practice of giving a leg-up to the children of wealthy donors and alumni…must end,’ said one advocate.” 
Another fix: With End of Affirmative Action, a Push for a New Tool: Adversity Scores
The broader issue
The Weekly Sift covers these cases but also the broader context of a court bent on  overturning precedent, disrespecting lower courts, and ahistoric rules of interpretation.
Arthur: “The court’s far-right Republican majority is doing the one thing that Republicans have long pretended was an unpardonable sin: They’re legislating from the bench.” 
Vanity Fair also has taken the wider view: America Has a Supreme Court Problem. “Hillary Clinton tried warning us. Now, what do you do with a rogue Court?”  In other words, she told you so.
“A year ago, in their joint Dobbs dissent, justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and former justiceStephen Breyer wrote that the ruling ‘breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed to promote constancy in the law…. It places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the Court’s legitimacy.’” 
Did anyone REALLY believe the anti-abortion activists would leave the issue to the states? At least some Republican candidates are looking for a federal restriction. 
From NCRM:Well-known political expert, author, journalist, and CEO David Rothkopf is blasting conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court after their disastrous rulings…, warning the Court is now a ‘threat to democracy’ and suggesting some justices should be ‘considered’ for impeachment.”  Specifically, Justices Alito and Thomas. 
The “conservative” response
I’m always monitoring some of the rightwing media.  The Daily Signal wrote a piece called To Gain Power, the Left Seeks to Destroy the Supreme Court, which I shan’t link to. The piece bashes Pelosi, the Squad (AOC, et al.).
It seems, in a linked Tweet to suggest that there WASN’T a  “stolen Supreme Court seat.” Obama wasn’t allowed by the Senate to replace  Antonin Scalia (d. Feb 13, 2016) but djt could replace RBG (d. Sept 18, 2020).
Perhaps off-topic, or maybe not:  “Do you remember America?”

Cheese and Onions

All You Need Is Cash

This post was birthed by one blog post, one discussion about cheese and onions, and one television show.

The blog post is by Arthur. He wrote about three songs that went to #1 in 1983. He notes, “The idea for these posts is loosely based on a series of posts Roger Green did as artists turned 70.” Knowingly or not, it also parallels me noting the #1 hits in various years ending in 3 in 2023; I’ll tackle 1983 in September.

Arthur picked three songs. Maneater by Hall and Oates he likes more than I. I much prefer the previous three #1s by the duo, Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, and I Can’t Go For That.

On the other hand, we find the lyrics of Africa by Toto insipid. Yet I like the song, especially when done by others. Here are  42 covers of the piece.

Arthur discusses the stupid copyright claim launched against Men at Work’s Down Under. As luck would have it, I discussed this back in 2010. I wrote that I didn’t think the “swipe” of the song Kookaburra “was substantial enough to be a copyright violation.” Now, Led Zeppelin, for instance, did some heavy lifting of songs, mainly from blues artists, most of whom were black.

The Rutles

My wife prepared some pizza using a prepackaged thin crust with tomato sauce, cheese, and onions. I said, “Cheese and Onions, just like the Rutles song.” She didn’t know what I was talking about.

Back in 1978, in the Saturday Night Live timeslot, there was a faux documentary of a fake rock band called All You Need Is Cash.

As IMDb noted, the film “follows their career from their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg’s infamous Rat-Keller to their amazing worldwide success. A parody of Beatlemania and the many serious documentaries made about the Beatles.” The Wikipedia page details the Rutles phenomenon.

There was a soundtrack of 14 songs which I bought on vinyl. I loved it. And I didn’t think they violated copyright on the LP collection. For instance, Cheese and Onions was a mashup of Across the Universe, Sexy Sadie, Mind Games, Across the Universe, and A Day In The Life, complete with the antithesis of the latter’s extended ending.

I particularly enjoyed Love Life. While rooted in All You Need Is Love, I thought it was different enough, with the reprise of Hold My Hand replacing She Loves You.

Get Up and Go, in the movie, not on the LP, but present on the 20-song CD John Lennon said was too much on the nose compared with Get Back, and I totally agree.

Nevertheless, despite having received Lennon’s and Harrison’s blessing for the project… Neil Innes “was forced by ATV Music to credit some of the songs to Lennon–McCartney–Innes.”

This is…

A recent Final JEOPARDY category was the 20th CENTURY EPONYMS. The clue: A 1940 headline about this included “failure,” “liability when it came to offense,” & “stout hearts no match for tanks.”

Much of the JEOPARDY fandom thought this was impossible. For one thing, many didn’t know what an eponym was. I’ve learned that since I used to read record reviews and saw an artist’s “eponymous first album.”

Others thought one would have studied European history to get it. I remember the answer from high school world history.

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

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