Aug. rambling: BS asymmetry principle

RIP, Don Everly, Nanci Griffith, Charlie Watts

asymetry principle
Also known as Brandolini’s Law, this is the simple observation that it’s far easier to produce and spread BS, misinformation, and nonsense than it is to refute it. The original images and associated explanatory text on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil?

Amid calls to #TaxTheChurches – what and how much do US religious organizations not pay the taxman?

A Harvard professor predicted COVID disinformation on the web. Here’s what may be coming next

FDA grants full approval to Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer, BioNTech

Jordan Klepper  debates anti-vaxxers and Recounts His Wild Experiences at Trump Rallies

This Physicist Discovered an Escape From Hawking’s Black Hole Paradox and Hubble captures an ‘Einstein Ring’

Malware Camouflaged As Code

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Ransomware and Opioids III:
The Sacklers

Kids Who Die by Langston Hughes (1902–1967)

For the First Time on Record, Rainfall Observed at Peak of Greenland Ice Sheet

How We Fix the Climate

The Southwest’s most important river is drying up

Census growth data for every city, county, district, and  state

Crime and other topics

That afternoon in 1978.

The Dresden Job jewel heist

White Ohio woman gets probation for $250K theft, while Black woman jailed for stealing $40K

A history of the Segway

My Physicalmental Illness – John Green

 Why People Who Brush Still Get Cavities

Gene Roddenberry would have been 100 years old

Not me:  Colleagues remember Professor Emeritus Roger Green

Strange towers and diverted disasters (Route 20A) 

Marvel and DC face backlash over pay: ‘They sent a thank you note and $5,000 – the movie made $1bn

How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare

 Stealing Books Before Release

America’s Best Convenience Stores, Ranked (Stewart’s is 3rd)

How to reheat and re-crisp French fries

Eight. Missouri and Tennessee Share the Most Borders With Other States

FULL 9TH INNING from Field of Dreams’ CRAZY final inning between White Sox and Yankees

Final Jeopardy! Season Finale 08/13/2021 | Matt Amodio Wins His 18th Game The JEOPARDY season returns on Sept 13

The Solution to Jeopardy’s Hosting Crisis


How to beat the “milk crate challenge” -The first time I’d heard about this. Since then, saw some kids doing this in ALB’s Washington Park.

 Last Week Tonight’s Masterpiece Gallery Tour

Uncopyrightable is the longest word we have that doesn’t contain any repeated letters.

Now I Know: A Back-Alley Way To Create a Successful Board Game and  You Actually Win Friends With Dirty Salad? and Maybe Adults Shouldn’t Play Kickball and Why Spaceships Need a Foot Bath and  When The Robber Hits the Road and How Horses Created Firehouse Poles


Bad Wolves: Rebecca Jade featuring Jason Mraz, Miki Vale and Veronica May, which won a San Diego Music Award

Mighty Quinn – Manfred Mann

RIP, Charlie Watts:  Paint It, Black – Rolling Stones; Honky Tonk Women – Rolling Stones; Slow Turning – John Hiatt (namecheck)

The Hymn of Jesus by Gustav Holst

RIP, Nancy GriffithFrom A DistanceDrive-In Movies and Dashboard LightsHeaven 

Coverville 1369: Cover Stories for The The and Tears For Fears and 1370: Tributes to The Everly Brothers and Nanci Griffith

Human -The Killers

Er Huang by Qigang Chen.

Novorossiysk Chimes (Flame of Eternal Glory) by Dimitri Shostakovich

Amy Biancolli writes about  The Tale of the Bow

The former Cuomosexuals


cuomosexualsMy daughter pointed out that after Andrew Cuomo agreed to resign as governor of New York, Trevor Noah was trending on Twitter. Otherwise, I never know what’s trending on Twitter.

The talk show host was being mocked for declaring himself one of the Cuomosexuals in 2020.

“’Never let Trevor Noah forget this,’” the rightwing pundits proclaim when including “a 2020 video of Noah praising the governor for ‘crushing it the most right now’ when it came to his pandemic response…

“While Noah changed his tune since news of the sexual assault allegations and nursing home scandal broke, even posting a celebratory tweet following Cuomo’s resignation, conservatives want to ensure Twitter does not forget the late-night hosts’ initial take.”

Fascinating, he said, in his best Mr. Spock voice

My takeaway here is that, according to these folks, one is not allowed to have an opinion about someone, then to change one’s mind when new circumstances arise or when additional information becomes available.

OK, got it. That is plain stupid. We’re supposed to feel about, say, Bill Cosby in 2018 as we did in 1988?

Many people were comforted by Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings. They felt that he was attempting to tell them the truth about the coronavirus infection rates, and the latest science, even when it was not particularly good news. This was in drastic contrast with the daily briefings in DC when whatever things Drs. Birx and Fauci et al. said were often countermanded and undermined by their boss.

There were LOTS of Cuomosexuals all over the country, notably the parodist Randy Rainbow. This is explained well in this New Yorker article.

I was recently reading an issue of the magazine The Week from June 2021. The experts suggested that the decline of COVID-19 was on track. No, they did not predict the level of vaccine resistance nor the speed of the delta variant – those two factors being related – so that now mask-wearing indoors is recommended, even among the vaccinated like me.

Changing their minds

It’s also OK to change one’s mind. Back in 2007, Kathy Hochul – pronounced HO-kul – “while serving as the Erie County clerk… threatened to arrest undocumented immigrants who applied for driver’s licenses.” But in recent years, the future New York State governor has supported “the state’s so-called Green Light law.”

Even as President, Barack Obama evolved on the issue of marriage equality. Initially, he opposed same-gender marriage, but his position evolved.

As a person growing up in the church, I’ve seen the changing roles of women, laypersons, and others. The church I attend now only had male ushers, dressed in a certain way, when I was born.

Frankly, people who believe that God, whoever They may be, never changes, so that we need to be doing the same thing, regardless of the needs of the people, make me damn angry.


My very first COVID-19 test

silent G

coronavirusFor several days last week, I felt like crap, to put it bluntly. My wife, who had been at her mother’s house, helping to get ready for my MIL’s move this week, called to ask that Thursday, “How are you feeling?”

“I’ve felt better. My sleep was interrupted a few times by coughing jags.”

“Any fever? Or other COVID symptoms?”

Now, THAT’S a tricky question. From the list I found:

Fever or chills – no fever, occasional chills
Cough – definitely
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – yes
Fatigue – definitely, because of above
Muscle or body aches – ditto
Headache – a little
New loss of taste or smell – I don’t know, I’m so stuffed up
Sore throat – definitely
Congestion or runny nose – yes, a lot
Nausea or vomiting – no, though I was coughing so hard I thought I would
Diarrhea – no

Could it be…?

The thing about the COVID is that it mimics other ailments. My daughter currently has a post-nasal drip. And we tend to experience similar symptoms around allergies.

Maybe it’s bronchitis, which I’ve had before. Maybe it’s the flu, though I was vaxxed for that last fall. Heck, it could be the reaction to the fires in the western US, the smoke from which is reaching new York State.

The weird thing about being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 is that I don’t know how vulnerable I still may be. I feel the pain of Mile High Comics proprietor Chuck Rozanski/Bettie Pages: “I am still working to recover from a dreadful flu-like illness that hit me over the weekend. While initially assumed to be a dreaded Covid-19 ‘breakthrough’ infection (I am fully vaccinated), it turns out that it is an entirely different virus. I will spare you most of the gory details except to mention that at one point that I slept for 28 hours in a single stretch.”

One of the primary issues I have – if it’s not TMI – is a lot of phlegm in my nose and chest. I happen to think that phlegm is one of the ugliest words in the English language; it’s the damn silent G.

The drive-through

Early on in the pandemic, it seemed that getting a COVID-19 test around here was difficult, limited to people who were clearly showing signs of infection. Now I could go to the nearest CVS that has a drive-through. Thursday, I made an appointment for Friday. It was a rather frustrating experience.

Primarily, it was that neither my wife, driving nor I, in the back seat, could hear a damn thing the technician was saying. The air conditioner outside of the building was Very Loud. “Oh, break the stick that’s in the tube? Oh, I see the place…” Saturday, I got the results. Negative. Which is good.

The answer is…

But what DO I have? Sunday morning, we went to the urgent care place. Given the fact that they only take walk-ins and I was fourth in line, it was a rather efficient operation. Ultimately, it was determined that I have a sinus infection. The physician assistant prescribed an antibiotic and Albuterol.

Actually, I had occasionally used an unused puffer during the week, I told the P.A. They asked if the drug had hit its expiration date; I shrugged. (Later, I noticed it ran out in Sept 2019, so I switched it out for one that ran out in March 2021, which is MUCH better.) They also said that most of the OTC cough medicine was a waste of money in that the condition is masked but not treated.

It’s quite fortunate I did not have COVID beyond, you know, not being too ill. My daughter has a summer job she would have to quit. Worse, my wife is one of only two teachers teaching 70 kids for four weeks in August. If I DID have COVID, they would have to quarantine, and there’s no redundancy in either of their jobs.

Openish in the liminal space

standing on the threshold between two realities

liminalI went to two events recently which made me feel more OK mentally than I’ve felt in a long, long, long while.

This is not to say that I hadn’t felt glimpses of this before. Eating lunch on April 6 with friends Carol, Karen, Bill – all of whom I’ve known since kindergarten. Also, Michael, who I only met 35 years ago. This was 13 days after my second vaccine shot, so I was still feeling tentative.

On May 1, I had a date day with my wife, seeing the tulips in Washington Park, visiting Peebles Park, and eating indoors for the first time in 15 months, which made me a tad wary.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library had a small reception for our Literary Legends for 2021 this month. The accomplished Lydia Davis signed my copy of her collected works back in 2013. I knew Gene Mirabelli 30 years ago as a mentor of other writers, in addition to his own prodigious output, and, remarkably, he looks about the same.

I got to chat with both and their families and later introduce the authors. This felt… normal. In another time, this might have been No Big Deal. But in light of the last 15 months, it felt like, to quote Joe Biden when the Affordable Care Act was passed nearly a dozen years ago, a BFD.

It helped that the day was PERFECT. Not hot and humid, or chilly and raw, or rainy, since the event was held in the garden of the Bach branch of the APL.

Then I had a delightful conversation with the two librarians, Christina and Deanna, about why I play my CDs in birthday order, which, because they are librarians, made sense to them. It’s SO good to be understood.


Then on Father’s Day, my wife and I attended church in person, as opposed to on Facebook. We were asked if we felt ill (ill and well sound the same with a mask) and were seated n socially-distanced “pods”. But it was in the building. No one could sing except the soloist; I discovered at least one other person besides me moving their arm as though they were singing the individual notes. Hearing Trevor on the organ in that space was a vast improvement over listening to it on the laptop.

In the sermon, the pastor used a word I had heard only on a single occasion before. The same pastor talked about liminal space.

From here: “The word ‘liminal’ comes from the Latin root, limen, which means ‘threshold.’ The liminal space is the ‘crossing over’ space – a space where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else.” An example would be “that time in the early morning when you are floating in and out of sleep.”

Or from here: “In certain spaces under certain circumstances, you’ll experience a feeling of things being slightly off. An altered reality, if you will.”

So we are in a liminal time. Not quite back to “normal”, as much as some folks want like to believe. Vaccine reluctance in some parts of the country could – strike that; probably will – bring on a surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19. We need to protect the children who haven’t had the opportunity to get the vaccine, which is why APL still requires masks indoors.

But we’re getting there.

Sunday Stealing: COVID edition


Sunday StealingBack in 2008-2011, I used to purloin quizzes for this blog from something called Sunday Stealing. I recently discovered that the site still exists.

And while there were some repetitive questions in the day, I obviously never did any COVID-related ones. Until now. There were actually three quizzes in 2020. While some are going to be dated, I thought I’d answer some of them. The first few are from March 2020.

2. How are you feeling about the Coronavirus?
As though God has a warped sense of humor.

5. Have you changed any of your personal habits due to the pandemic?
Until recently, I saw almost no one.

7. Do you think our politicians are doing enough to curb the crisis?
While I think the current ones are trying, the mixed results of the recent mask mandate rules are oddly unsatisfying. I’m good at being outdoors without a mask, but I’m not feeling comfortable in stores, even if the stores don’t require them.

8. Have you stockpiled anything because of the crisis?
No, and other people’s hoarding made me rather… grumpy.

13. Have any of your plans been upset by the outbreak?
Most of them.

16. Has the Coronavirus upset your mental health in any way?
Undoubtedly, in almost every way. I’m still not singing in the choir, e.g.

April 2020

1 – What is something you are doing due to the pandemic that you normally don’t do? After the pandemic will you continue to do this?
Possibly ZOOM with my sisters. They’re in NC and CA.

3- What is one of the first things you will do when the pandemic is over?
Even before it was all over, I went out to eat on April 6, after my second shot, with my friends Carol, Karen, Bill, and Michael. The former three I’ve known since kindergarten. And in a restaurant rather than takeout. I mean it was technically outdoors, but it had an overhang, so it FELT like indoors.

December 2020

1. Day 1 of serious isolation behavior.
Not going to church was huge.

2. First trip you had to cancel.
I was about to meet my friend, the aforementioned Carol (not to be confused with my spouse) in Binghamton in late March 2020. She was going to visit her mom. I was going to do research on my grandmother Agatha. That blew up. I’m planning to try again in September 2021.

3. Other trips canceled.
Uthaclena and I were going to see a concert with members of Jefferson Airplane and other related groups.

4. Last trip out of town before isolation.
Is Schenectady out of town? Then going to Proctors, but then staying overnight in January 2020.

5. Farthest from home since isolation.
Oneonta, my MIL’s house, about 70 miles.

6. Last Meal sitting in a restaurant before Isolation.
Almost certainly on Valentine’s Day, Sam’s Italian Restaurant?

7. How many books have you read?
Not many. A couple of graphic novels, We Return Fighting. Lots of magazines that had been accumulating.

8. First event you didn’t attend due to virus.
See above.

9. Date and event of last over 200-person event.
See next.

10. Last live music event. Cheap Trick, February 7. Unless you count the kids doing Once on this Island on March 8.

11. Things you are eating more of since isolation.
Wheat Thins.

12. Things you are eating less of since isolation.

13. What restaurants have you gotten take-out meals from?
Subway, all of the restaurants on the last block of Madison Ave, mostly pizza, Indian food, and bar food. Also Sam’s Italian, Caffe Italia.


14. Have you found yourself bored in isolation?
Not bored. Never bored. But frustrated and depressed.

15. Have you gained or lost weight?
Yes. Yo-yo.

16. Do you drink alcohol?

17. If so, more or less in isolation?
Although the IDEA of getting a little (or a lot) drunk was appealing in theory, it just didn’t happen. Some breakers in the psyche are still working.

18. What entertainments have you explored?
Movies online. Inferior to in-person, but that was the option at the time.

19. Gotten into anything new?
Not really.

20. Have you done crosswords? Board games? Jigsaw puzzles?
No, yes, no. But this was true pre-COVID.

21. Have you cleaned out some cabinet, drawer, closet, etc. thoroughly?
A few.

22. Are you spending about the same amount of money?
Generally less.

23. Done Zoom, Facetime, etc. meetups?
WAY too often.

24. Had a social occasion with a small group of people you consider safe?
There were a couple of people on my front porch last fall, distanced and usually masked.

25. Did you vote? In-Person? On Election Day?
Always. Yes. No, early.