April rambling: when democracies fall

Sporadic Acts of Journalism

History shows there are no “one-day” dictatorships. When democracies fall, they typically fall completely.

A Different Take on Retro Conservative Fantasy

Mike Johnson Is No Hero

Anita Hill on Harvey Weinstein Reversal: “Our Movement Will Persist”

John Oliver Confesses to “Sporadic Acts of Journalism.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Medicaid and UFOs and Executions

Republicans Scramble to Contain Their Abortion Disaster.  William Claude Jones (c. 1815 – March 3, 1884) was an American politician, poet, fabulist, and “pursuer of nubile females,” who authored the 1864 Arizona abortion bill.

The Manhattan case against djt is strong but The Supreme Court is breaking America’s faith in the law

Census Bureau: Wealth by Race of Householder

The endless quest to replace alcohol

On the Romance of Old Maps

The Cloud under the Sea (Internet Cables)

Williams-Sonoma Will Pay Record $3.17 Million Civil Penalty for Violating FTC Made in USA Order

The Average Body Temperature Is Not 98.6 Degrees

Linear, streaming, AVOD, and beyond: What do common TV terms mean?

Updated charity ratings from Charity Watch

fillyjonk and the brick

16 Fascinating Historical Artifacts Stored In The Library of Congress

Step into the chilling world of CBS Radio Mystery Theater—with nearly 1400 episodes from 1974 to 1982, guaranteed to give you goosebumps, hosted by the commanding voices of E.G. Marshall and Tammy Grimes

Fantastic Trina Robbins remembrance by Andrew Farago
Kelly does a quiz
Now I Know: The Wife, Husband, and Ex-Husband Nuclear Family and The Environmental Intervention That Backfired

Spiegel im spiegel (Mirror in the mirror) by Arvo Pärt and how he tintinnabulates

Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Fairport Convention

St. Vincent – Broken Man

Coverville 1484: The Soul Asylum Cover Story and 1485: The Cure Cover Story V

Deep Field by Eric Whitacre

Margo Guryan: Moon Ride (1956)

Peter Sprague Plays You Won’t See Me and Serrado, each featuring Allison Adams Tucker

Chappell Roan – Good Luck, Babe!

Against All Odds – Phil Collins

The Analogues – The Beatles tribute – Salle Pleyel – ARTE Concert

Arthur’s Law and Taylor Swift

I can say my jeans are long, but I can’t say …

June rambling: quoting Hitler?

100 years of the Albany Public Library

Moms for Liberty’s Hamilton County (IN) chapter apologizes for quoting Hitler in newsletter

Southern Baptists say no to women pastors

Terrible news about the submersible. Still, but Behan Communications noted “the disparity in how the news covered that search vs. the attention given to the sinking of a packed migrant boat that one European official said may be ‘the worst tragedy ever’ in the Mediterranean.”

Sam Alito: yet another corrupt conservative justice

Global network of sadistic monkey torture exposed by BBC

The Story We’ve Been Told About Juneteenth Is Wrong. The real history is much messier—and more inspiring

SCOTUS Rejects Theory That Would Have Transformed American Elections. The 6-3 majority dismissed the “independent state legislature” theory, which would have given state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, dies at 92

Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, who wrote ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ dies at 99

Glenda Jackson: Oscar-winning actress and former Member of Parliament dies aged 87

The Federal Trade Commission filed a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit challenging a district court ruling that invalidated a key anti-discrimination rule in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).

A montage of clips from The Dick Van Dyke Show

Kelly does a quiz and closes tabs

Now I Know: A Tree* Grows* in Brooklyn* and The Invisible Eyelash Bugs That Can Trace Family Histories and The Language Designed to Protect the Nuts and The Norwegian With The Magical Beer Tap? and The Digital Version of Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater?

Albany Public Library

Join the Friends and Foundation of APL in celebrating 100 years of the Albany Public Library at the Centennial Celebration, which will take place on Saturday, October 21, 2023.” Honorary Committee Tickets can be purchased here. Regular Tickets can be purchased here

Tuesday book talks at noon at the Washington Avenue branch:
July 11 | Book Review | Black, Blind, & In Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity by David Paterson.  Reviewer:  Hon. Corey L. Ellis, president, Albany Common Council.
July 18 | Book Review | Engaging Students With Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen.  Reviewer:  Carol Green, MS-TESOL, retired teacher of English as a new language, and program director, The Wizard’s Wardrobe.
July 25 | Book Review | Hickstown from the Heart: A Family Memoir edited by Antoinette Joyner.  Reviewer:  Reverend Antonio Booth, MATS, co-pastor, Riverview Baptist Church, Coeymans and member, UHLS board.
Getting geeky

The U.S. Census Bureau: Data from the Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS), a survey that measures business conditions on an ongoing basis. Also, the United States’ median age increased by 0.2 years to 38.9 years between 2021 and 2022, according to Vintage 2022 Population Estimates. Median age is the age at which half of the population is older and half of the population is younger.

NYS population is declining, down by 2% from 2020 to 2022. The percent of the population age 65 or over increased from 16.9% in 2020 to 18.1% in 2022, and the median age increased from 39.2 in 2020 to 39.9 in 2022.

Math and reading test scores among US 13-year-olds declined significantly since 2019, according to figures released from the National Assessment of Education Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” Observers claim pandemic school closures likely accelerated what was already a decade-long downward trend in basic academic benchmarks.

The Global Liveability Index 2023. The Top 10 metros: Vienna, Austria;  Copenhagen, Denmark;  Melbourne and Sydney, Australia;  Vancouver, BC, Canada;  Zurich, Switzerland; Calgary, AB, Canada; Geneva, Switzerland; Toronto, ON, Canada; Osaka, Japan; Auckland, New Zealand

Citizen Archivist Missions. Click on a topic that interests you, and it will bring you right to those historical records in our Catalog.


When I read the guy is screwed, I am wary. Sure, as indictments pile up,  Senate GOP skeptics multiply as the man blows a gasket, even complaing that FOX News is “prejudiced” against him.  Check out the YouTube channel MeidasTouch

But he still could win the Republican nomination and even the election. Half as Many Republicans Call Jan. 6 an ‘Insurrection’ Compared to 2021. Garland’s Inaction on January 6 Gave Him Breathing Room. The RNC is stipulating that any one candidate who wants to be on the debate stage this summer must vow to support the eventual 2024 nominee—which could mean backing a convicted felon.

Moreover, 12 million Americans believe violence is justified to restore him to power (The Guardian), with folks such as as Kari Lake leading the charge. Stefanik and MTG want to  expunge his impeachments as though they never happened.

Andrew Coyne of the Toronto Globe and Mail, indicating that djt can’t win the federal case against him, worries that it makes him more dangerous. djt’s “response is not to cop a plea… It is to bring the whole U.S. justice system down around him… It is the reaction not of a criminal but of a revolutionary nihilist, someone who is not interested merely in breaking the law but dismantling it.”


Some folks running for President believe that djt deserves a pardon in order to “heal the country”. Since I expect that he will never acknowledge even a modicum of responsibility for his crimes, that’s a non-starter with me.

Matt Gaetz accused John Durham of being “part of the cover-up” when Durham’s 300-page final report that he submitted to the House Judiciary Committee acknowledged that Russian election interference in 2016 was real. Durham failed to validate the conspiracy theories exonerating djt or to “prove” the absurd fantasies of a Deep State conspiracy against 45. The facts just don’t matter.

Ultimately, what hit me is a video that Plastic Mancunian posted. It was James O’Brien’s evisceration of Boris Johnson; you don’t need to know the particulars of British government. Compare it with how djt not only survives but thrives, with the mainstream media’s inability to respond effectively to the lies of either bdj or djt.


Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? by composer John Adams

Randy Rainbow for President; Donald In The John with Boxes – Randy Rainbow

Do You Love Me? from  Fiddler on the Roof 

Coverville 1446: The Todd Rundgren Cover Story II

Hey Bulldog – Fanny

Green Tambourine– the Lemon Pipers

Ladies of the Canyon – Annie Lennox

Faninitza by Franz von Suppe

Wheels of a Dream – Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell from Ragtime

 FlyDrew Holcomb and the Neighbors 

Note: the photo is one I took in Paris in May 2023 on my cellphone, sticking my arm between an iron gate, and fearful that the device would slip from my hand.

May rambling: the future

Rock ’n’ roll is a spirit

From https://readtheplaque.com/plaque/the-toronto-recursive-history-project

Clarence Thomas has been bought by the worst people. Harlan Crow is Thomas’ minder. Keep track here.

The Great Simplification: What HS Leaders Need to Know About the Future of Energy with Nate Hagens

Does the US have a spending problem? And Members of Congress, legal scholars, and even the union representing federal workers are calling on the White House to answer the GOP’s economic hostage-taking with unilateral action to prevent a default, citing the 14th Amendment.

Laboratories of Autocracy

Tucker Carlson’s Text That Alarmed Fox Leaders: ‘It’s Not How White Men Fight’

January 6 was an insurrection.

Male supremacy is at the core of the hard right’s agenda

Iowa lawmakers pass legislation to roll back child labor protections

The already poor health care outcomes in the United States and how maternal mortality rates have been made worse by abortion bans. SCOTUS’s abortion ruling disproportionately affects Black people with low incomes in the Deep South

Hospitals Close While Execs Made Millions

Biden & The Border and Cryptocurrencies II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Guns. For the love of guns

Florida GOP legislators agree to shield DeSantis travel records

djt wrecks himself in the E. Jean Carroll video deposition – this helps explain the verdict

More Stories

2022 Voting and Registration Data from the US Census

The Crash of College Student Populations

What Writers Can Work on During the Strike (It’s Not Much). Also, a useful video

Illinois set to become the first state to end book bans

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2023

Black men killed in infamous Colfax Massacre commemorated on new monument

Climate Trouble Brewing for Coffee Drinkers

The Search for the Lost ‘Jeopardy!’ Tapes Is Over. The Mystery Behind Them Endures.

An Oral History of MTV News

Newton Minnow, Public TV Advocate and Former FCC Chief, Dies at 97

Bill Saluga, “You Can Call Me Ray” Comedian, Dies at 85

Eileen Saki, Rosie the Bar Owner on ‘MAS*H,’ Dies at 79

Now I Know: The Problem With Sudoku and The Customers You Wish You Didn’t Have, and The Canada/Philippines Garbage War of 2019 and The Uprising That Helped Create Washington D.C. and Neil And Buzz Almost Got Stuck and Google… Sheep View?

The Clearing of the Tabs


From the New York Times, something I truly believe about Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees: “Purists can debate whether or not any of these artists can be classified as ‘rock,’ but I prefer the more exciting definition Ice Cube put forth in his speech when he was inducted with the rap group N.W.A. in 2016. ‘Rock ’n’ roll is not an instrument; rock ’n’ roll is not even a style of music,’ he said. ‘Rock ’n’ roll is a spirit. Rock ’n’ roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life.’”

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor.

Gordon Lightfoot, the troubadour of Canada, is gone.

Coverville 1441: Tributes to Harry Belafonte and Gordon Lightfoot

Behind Harry Belafonte’s Artistry and Activism Was a Lonely Kid Longing for Connection

Variations on a Theme of Chopin by Rachmaninoff

4 Chord Song  – Axis Of Aweesome and the Ed Sheeran verdictt

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by George Szell.

Rachmaninoff: the many lives of Vocalise

Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell

The May 7 Sunday Stealing of Songs has a lot of eclectic choices by the dozen participants.

May the 4th

Greedy (1994) kid doing Jimmy Durante

Hobbit Drinking Song – Peter Hollens featuring Hank Green

Never Gonna Fall In Love Again – Eric Carmen

Library and data geek stuff

universal broadband

Suddenly, I had a whole bunch of data geek links. These involve sources I used, primarily when working as a business librarian. While at it, I figured I’d plug in some local library events.

ITEM: New York State is approaching universal broadband through both access and adoption—and recognizes that affordability is a crucial barrier to adoption.

Late last month, I attended a meeting hosted by the local United Way and other entities, including the Albany Public Library, as part of a “listening tour” to identify shortfalls in broadband access.

You can guess some folks affected- poor communities, rural communities, and the elderly.  The day I went to the meeting, I saw this story on  CBS News about teens helping seniors learn to use technology. This type of innovative partnership could be replicated across the country.

ITEM: Discovering the American Community Survey – A comprehensive guide to survey information, data access, analysis, and statistics for America’s most extensive survey. If you know the history of the Census, you may realize that the current decennial census asks very few questions. The ACS gathers some of that more detailed data formerly collected from the Census long form.

Also, the new and improved Census Business Builder? Version 5.1 is “A Powerful Tool to Help Guide Your Business Decisions.” I know one of the people who developed this free product.

More tools: These NYS GIS Clearinghouse: Discover free public data, maps, apps, and other resources

Atlas of Urban Areas in New York State

How Can You Help the Internet Archive? This site includes the Wayback Machine, a means to find defunct or changed websites

Local library info

The National Library Week Soiree is on Wednesday, April 26 at 6 pm at the Bach branch of the Albany Public Library, sponsored by the FFAPL:get tickets here.

Book reviews and author talks at the 161 Washington Avenue branch of the APL in the large auditorium Tuesdays at noon.

April 11 | A tribute to the late poet Charles Simic, who published over 60 books, won the Pulitzer Prize, & was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, by Gene Damm of FFAPL.
April 18 | Author Talk | Patricia A. Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R, scientist & clinician, discusses her  book, Managing Chronic Illness Using the Four-Phase Treatment Approach: A Mental Health Professional’s Guide to Helping Chronically Ill People.
April 25 | Book Review | Number One Is Walking:  My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions, a graphic autobiography by Steve Martin & Cartoonist Harry Bliss.  Reviewer:  John Rowen, former president, Friends of APL.
I want to plug Patricia Fennell’s talk, as she’s a buddy of mine.
More library stuff
May 2 | Book Review | Milkweed Smithereens by Bernadette Mayer.  Reviewer:  Bob Sharkey, poet & member of the board, Hudson Valley Writers Guild.  (Rescheduled from 14 March, when a snowstorm closed the library.)
May 9 | Book Review | Myth America:  Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies about Our Past , edited by Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer.  Reviewer:  John McGuire, PhD, attorney.
May 16 | Book Review | Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers.  Reviewer:  Carl Strock, author & prize-winning journalist.
May 23 | Author Talk | Israel Tsvaygenbaum, artist, discusses & reads from his memoir, My Secret Memory.
May 30 | Book Review | Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond.  Reviewer:  Anita Thayer, attorney.
June 6 | Book Review | The Quiet Zone:  Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence by Stephen Kurczy.  Reviewer:  David Guistina, “Morning Edition” anchor & senior producer, WAMC.
June 13 | Book Review | The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  Reviewer:  Andrea Nicolay, director, APL.
June 20 | Special Program | Dave Kibbe, an authority on Broadway musicals, will present From Oklahoma to the Austrian Alps: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
June 27 | Book Review | A Conspiracy of Mothers, a novel by Colleen Van Niekerk.  Reviewer:  Miki Conn, author, poet, artist, storyteller.


Three years of COVID

Only remotely interested in “remote”

Back in January, fillyjonk wrote about three years of COVID. The first case of COVID in the United States occurred in that month. But it didn’t really affect me until March 13.

I’ll back up to when I retired on June 30, 2019. my wife and daughter were home from school, but come fall, I had the run of the house. I’d read and write in the morning, exercise and clean in the afternoon. It was glorious. And after Christmas break, more wonderfulness.

My wife and I went to the cinema often. I saw Cheap Trick at the Palace Theater in February 2022.

The church production of Once on This Island occurred on Sunday, March 8th, with the afterparty the following evening. Choir met as usual on Thursday, March 12.

But the buzz was out that everything was going to shut down after Friday the 13th. At 4:30 pm, I rushed to the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library with my daughter. I WANTED to take out ten videos for me, but she wanted to get a few, so I checked out seven Marvel Cinematic Universe films I had not seen. Sure enough, the library was closed on Saturday and for months after that.

The annual hearts game at my abode occurred as scheduled for March 14; some people came, but others begged off, which I understood intellectually, if not emotionally.

School at home

After a week of figuring out what to do, school districts made laptops available to students, and remote learning began. My wife specifically was disappointed (too weak a word) when then-Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated that the spring break be canceled. The rest of that semester was a slog.

One thing I insisted on is that my wife teach in the old guest room. Otherwise, every time I went downstairs, I was in her classroom. In hindsight, it was a great decision, as she held her church session meetings and other private conversations there.

My daughter was engaged in school for about a month, then not so much.

Starting March 22, my church began having services online on Facebook, a feature that continues to this day. Early on, it was okay; better than nothing.

I was feeling very isolated. Starting in April, I started calling, on the telephone, people who I hadn’t spoken with for a while, some of them for years, even though they live in my metropolitan area. It was a worthwhile project. I completed two calls daily until Memorial Day, then one per day until August. By this point, I was also phoning people I used to see weekly at church.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law, Richard, was dying from lymphoma and passed on April 22; his funeral was 13 months later. His death led to weekly family Zoom meetings, which ended abruptly over political differences at the end of June.

I did start having regular ZOOM meetings with my sisters, which have continued.

New job

I had expressed interest in working on the 2020 Census in mid-2019. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that I learned I’d be trained to work, as I wrote about here. It was more difficult than it was 30 years earlier because it started later in the year. COVID did a number on this enumeration.

My wife, despite her trepidations, had to return to school in person and teach both online and classroom, which was way more work for her. My daughter opted to stay home to do school, which was probably a suboptimal decision.

Church was still remote, though some section leaders recorded music in an empty church on a Monday, and it was shown during the service. Specifically, some previous choir recordings were shared, especially on Christmas Eve. Watching myself sing instead of actually performing brought me to tears.

We watched a few events online. Frankly, though, way more offerings were available than I wanted to consume. I watched a few movies and plays, but most didn’t capture me.

2021: the vaccine!

When the vaccine became available, I wanted it yesterday. There were priority lists. My wife got her first shot in February 2021. I kept checking places for availability but found none that didn’t involve traveling hundreds of miles.

Finally, I logged onto the CVS website again on March 1 at 6 a.m., and Pfizer vaccines were available the next day! I got my first shot, then my second three weeks later. Minimal reactions other than a sore arm for a day.

So on April 6, my kindergarten friends Bill, Carol, Karen, and our friend Michael went to an outdoor restaurant. A sign of normalcy!

I went to a few movies in person, and maybe a half dozen people were there.

The library was quasi-open, and the FFAPL offered remote book reviews online or in the Bach branch garden. It was hard to hear outside because of the wind and, sometimes, the neighbors.

The church is back!

Finally, in June, the church began meeting again, masked, distanced, but in person! We had a coffee hour in the parking lot. Then in October, the choir started rehearsing, though we didn’t sing at service until late November. We did sing on Christmas Eve. I was so happy I probably wept.

But after the holidays, the surge put us back to red/orange, and the church went back to remote. I thought I’d be okay, knowing intellectually it wouldn’t last long, and it didn’t. But I did end up in my sad place for a time.

Since then, and possibly before that, I’ve been checking the COVID status of Albany County and nearby Rensselaer County, which have been in lockstep. I’ve also been obsessively reading related medical news, such as this: RSV Vaccine Succeeds in Phase III Trial of Older Adults.

Fortunately, we sang again in person by February 2022, though Black History Month adult education, which I was in charge of, was primarily remote.


In August 2022, my daughter, my wife, and I all got COVID, probably the Omicron variant. It wasn’t awful, but it was inconvenient.

That’s essentially it. I’m seeking to get past it all. I still refer to events as before or after COVID, and I usually have no idea what happened when after March 2020 unless I look it up. Heck, I probably forgot several things.

Still hate ZOOM, and I use the term generically, for meetings, especially events. My ability to focus in front of a screen with 13 or more rectangles is diminished.

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