February rambling: obituary pirates

strong men always fall

Posted by Jessica Wilson to Star Trek Wholesome Posting

He Died in a Tragic Accident. Why Did the Internet Say He Was Murdered? Within a day of the death of Matthew Sachman, 19, on New York City subway tracks, so-called obituary pirates had flooded search results with false information.

Judge clears names of 2 men convicted in Times Square murder after they spent years in prison and The Juror Who Found Herself Guilty. I’m always pained by these stories of innocent people being in jail for decades before being exonerated.

Gazan Lives Matter

Cory Doctorow: How I Got Scammed

Sam Waterston to Leave ‘Law and Order’ After 20 Seasons

50 Best ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Guest Stars, Ranked

Anti-Racism Resources

I gave blood at the Albany High School on January 31. It was my 178th time. My time: 5 minutes, 17 seconds. Booyah!

Kelly goes marbles

Mel-O-Toons: Cheap cartoons for weekday enjoyment

Now I Know: When New York Choked the Artichoke Trade and When Milwaukee Went to War Over Bridges and Math and the Missing Planet and Why Did This Rabbit Drive a Car?

NOT ME: A SCOTTISH commercial cleaning firm has announced its acquisition of an English rival, adding a further 100 staff to its growing UK team. Founded in 1988 by its Chairman Roger Green, Spotless now operates over 1,700 contracts across the UK, providing a full range of cleaning services for blue chip companies, retail outlets, industrial leaders, and premier commercial premises.


Chuck Miller: The surgeries aren’t done yet; Panic at the hospital; Waiting on an NPO; This blog post was almost written from beyond the grave. Get better, Chuck!

About Biden’s Age and Memory

King Charles Diagnosed With Cancer, Buckingham Palace Say. The Royal Line of British Succession

Seiji Ozawa, Captivating Conductor, Is Dead at 88. He led the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 years, toured widely, and helped dispel prejudices about East Asian classical musicians. I saw him on television several times, at least once in person, probably at Tanglewood. 

Chita Rivera, revered and pioneering Tony-winning dancer and singer, dies at 91

Carl Weathers, Apollo Creed in “Rocky,” dies at 76

Amelia Earhart’s long-lost plane was possibly spotted in the Pacific by an exploration team

The retribution presidency

2024: What Kind of Society Will America Be?


djt Calls for ‘All Willing States’ to Deploy National Guard Troops to Texas. Kareem: “This is not a drill: Donald Trump has become the most destructive force to American democracy. To support him after all that’s happened, after all he’s said and done, is to denounce America and everything it stands for. That’s not hyperbole or liberal posturing. It’s merely acknowledging the facts.”


From Maggie Haberman, New York Times: “A vindictive Trump second term is now a frequent point of discussion. But [John] Bolton already got a close-up look at Trump’s nature — and how his anger can boil over. He spent 17 months in the administration and left in 2019.

“The new edition of Bolton’s book focuses on several examples, especially the case of Ellen Knight, a National Security Council official who cleared Bolton’s original edition for publication and was then dismissed from the [National Security Council].

“Knight told a federal judge that senior White House lawyers pressured her to falsely claim that Bolton’s book contained classified information. She was reinstated under President Biden.”


djt says he’d let Russia do ‘whatever the hell they want’ to NATO countries that don’t pay enough. Republicans say it was just fine.


Heather Cox Richardson: “What I’m saying is… if former president Donald Trump or a Trump-like figure… is elected president or takes the presidency in 2024, we will lose American democracy for our lifetimes. Not forever, because strong men always fall. It’s the nature of authoritarian movements.”[She’s more optimistic than I.]


Federal Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Claim of Absolute Immunity. The ruling answered a question that an appeals court had never addressed: Can former presidents escape being held accountable by the criminal justice system for things they did while in office?


Where has Tracy Chapman been? Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

The Genius Of Stevie Wonder

The War and Treaty: Lover’s Game

1712 Overture – PDQ Bach

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

Victoria Monét: On My Mama

Coverville 1475: The Harry Styles Cover Story

Jelly Roll: Son Of A Sinner

J. Eric Smith’s Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Buggy Jive and D.O.A. 

Laufey – From The Start

Gracie Abrams: Difficult


Boxing Day 2023

my ever-present past

in process

Boxing Day 2023 was intriguing.

The doorbell rang around 7:30 a.m. It was a guy from the City of Albany’s Department of General Services. He and his colleagues would trim the branches from the trees in the neighborhood. A branch of our neighbor’s tree was leaning heavily on the power lines in front of our house.

Were any of the cars on your side of the street ours? No, our car was across the street. Even though I’m car blind – I don’t recognize vehicles well – I could identify our next-door neighbor’s from an item he placed in front of the car so people were less likely to run into it while parking.

They spent over an hour trimming one tree. It had a lot of problematic branches, and they had to cut them into smaller parts. Then they put those branches in in the mulcher.

I suspect they picked that week to do our street because there is an elementary school on the block, and many teachers park on the street. Too many people grumble about government employees, but I was quite pleased with these.

Book review intro

I stopped at the bank to get cash. I had to wait because a bank employee showed a young woman how to use the ATM. 

Then, I took the bus to the Albany Public Library’s Washington Avenue branch to meet the author, Michael Sinclair. He has written a series of 1920s mysteries centered in Albany or Schenectady, NY.  

Interestingly, his presentation was much more about Albany’s history, complete with many photos, and less about the books.

My past converges

After the talk, I talked to a reference librarian who’s often at the desk when I’m there on Tuesday afternoons. Michael Sinclair thanked her for some technical assistance, mentioned that he had graduated from UAlbany’s library school in 2003 and that the APL librarian had attended a decade earlier. 

I asked her, “When did you graduate?” “1992.” I graduated in 1992. She asked who I knew from there then.  I mentioned two future NY SBDC colleagues and my ex-wife. “She was married to this guy who was in the program.” I shook my head and said, “That was ME!” 

Okay, so that was weird. Then she said, “And you used to go out with” this woman I dated off-and-on from 1978 to 1983. How did she know THAT? She used to work for said girlfriend at her office at UAlbany, and I would go there occasionally. So the librarian and I used to talk 40 years ago! She said I had a big ‘fro at the time; I didn’t think so, but it was an occasionally scruffy mess.


As I’m standing at the reference desk, we hear one person yelling at another. And it got weird. I won’t talk much about it here because no great harm occurred, though it was unsettling to the library staff and me. Oh, and I was wearing a Santa hat at the time. The police arrived after one of the two had departed. 

I went home, and then my wife and I went to the movies, which I wrote about separately.  

How was YOUR Boxing Day 2023? Mine didn’t involve boxing, but it came close.

1972: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

Ban The Box

convicted of a criminal offenseAs I indicated last week, my diaries for this segment of 1972 are, alas, gone. I did write about the incident a decade ago, but of course, the details get a bit fuzzy over the passage of time.

What has become more clear in the years subsequent is that I was very lucky. The district attorney wanted us to be charged with a misdemeanor after the IBM demonstration. That is to say, a crime. The judge decided that we would be charged with a violation. The significance of this has probably been enormous.

When I’ve applied for a job, for a loan, for graduate school, and who knows what else, there has often been The Question. “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Fortunately, the answer has always been, honestly, no.

Who knows what the consequences would have been if the judge had not been, openly, sympathetic to our actions. And since we essentially had merely crossed a property line, there were no bad outcomes. Certainly, no one was harmed, and no property was damaged. I wonder now about the hundreds of folks in upstate New York, not to mention thousands upon thousands of people nationwide who have criminal records because of acts of conscience.

Ban the box

In part, this is why I have long been a supporter of what has been called Ban The Box. “Ban-the-box laws received their name because they ban the criminal history box on initial hiring documents. The goal of the ban-the-box movement is to promote job opportunities for persons with criminal records by limiting when an employer can conduct a background check during the hiring process and encouraging employers to take a holistic approach when assessing an applicant’s fit for a position.

From the National Employment Law Project (NELP): “Nationwide, 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what is widely known as “ban the box”… These policies provide applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process.” The link has a number of resources.

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. https://sketchplanations.com/the-bs-asymmetry-principle. 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

Give someone the third degree


The Third Degree (1919)

Here’s a curiosity of the language. To give someone the third degree is an American idiom.

It “means to interrogate them ruthlessly, to grill them without mercy, perhaps with threats or bodily harm. The idiom to give someone the third degree came into use around the turn of the twentieth century in the United States to describe interrogations by some police departments. The origin of the idiom is uncertain.

“Some credit Washington D.C. police chief Richard H. Sylvester, claiming that he divided police procedures into the first degree or arrest, second degree or transportation to jail, and third-degree or interrogation. A much more plausible explanation is the link with Freemasonry, in which the Third Degree level of Master Mason is achieved by undergoing a rigorous examination by the elders of the lodge.”

Likewise, when it comes to burns, the higher number, the more severe. First-degree burns (superficial burns)… cause pain and reddening of the epidermis… Second-degree burns… affect the epidermis and the dermis… They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.

“Third-degree burns go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. They result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb. Fourth-degree burns… can affect your muscles and bones. Nerve endings are also damaged or destroyed, so there’s no feeling in the burned area.” That was, BTW, a painful recitation.

It’s different for crimes

The third degree notwithstanding, crimes are regarded differently. I was aware of this from the time when I was arrested in May 1972 for fourth-degree criminal trespass at an antiwar demonstration, I discovered that it wasn’t even a crime – felony or misdemeanor –  but a violation, similar to a traffic citation.

The issue came up in a discussion over the third-degree murder charge, among others, George Chauvin is facing in the death of George Floyd. By the logic of the first two examples, third-degree should be the most serious. But, as someone who’s been watching legal shows since the original Perry Mason, I knew this is not the case.

From Wikipedia: “In most US jurisdictions there is a hierarchy of acts, known collectively as homicide, of which first-degree murder and felony murder are the most serious, followed by second-degree murder and, in a few states, third-degree murder, followed by voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter which are not as serious…”

So someone might be given the third degree over a first-degree murder charge, and both would be serious. But WHY is this different? I DON’T KNOW. Explain this to me if you can!

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