The year 2020: “This hand is a foot”

Where’s my damn mask?

hand is a footUsually, I do this wrapup of the previous year. But the previous year was 2020. Like my grandfather, McKinley Green would say when we played gin rummy together, “This hand is a foot.” Meaning, “What the heck?” Or possibly something more graphic. So this going to take a while.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

1/1/2020 was way too long ago. I don’t remember.

And after 2020, I sure don’t intend to make plans for 2021, because do you know what plans do? They LAUGH! They mock! Then they say, “You have no control over these things!”

That said, I will finish the Raoul Vezina Wikipedia page. Unless I’m attacked by wild bears. Or oxen. Which I do not dismiss happening out of hand.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

I don’t believe so.

Did you attend any weddings?

I didn’t attend much of ANYTHING after mid-March, so no.

Did anyone close to you die?

My good friend from church Keith Barber. He beat cancer, only to succumb to some sort of respiratory infection. Since it was January, no one was looking for COVID in upstate New York. So I wonder…

My father-in-law Richard Powell, who died from lymphoma – NOT COVID – on Earth Day. I finally started watching some baseball in late October. There were some plays I knew we would have talked about, such as when the Atlanta Braves ran themselves out of Game 7 of the NLCS. And I missed sharing this with him.

Incidentally, while he was cremated, there still hasn’t been either a proper obituary or a service. Maybe in May 2021, on what would have been his birthday? Who knows?

What countries did you visit?

I might have visited Canada if they would have let us in. Heck, every time I went to a doctor’s office, they ask me if I’ve left the state. NYS was requiring people from many states to quarantine for a fortnight.

My passport expired in August 2020, which probably wouldn’t have happened in a NORMAL year. I do have the enhanced DMV thing, which is good for a few more years.

What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

[Respondent laughs uncontrollably.] I would like to be able to leave the house without thinking about whether I have a mask with me. I’d like to be able to go to church, and especially go to choir rehearsal. Going to the movies, concerts, and out to eat. Generally speaking, going to REAL events rather than ZOOM/YouTube/Facebook events.

Not seeing the body count of COVID victims anymore. Knowing the rules at the grocery store regarding the use of bags, which changed a half dozen times this year.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Working the Census, I expect. Figuring out how to be a Zoom host.

Actually, it was probably calling people on the telephone. Two people per day, every day, from the spring equinox to the summer solstice, then one/day until mid-August when I started working the Census.

What was your biggest failure?

No doubt falling behind on a volunteer project. Then when I got Mr. Dithered, and I was Dagwood Bumstead, I just shut down altogether.

What was the best thing you bought?

Medical supplies. A thermometer, which my wife ended up needing to use every day. I’m oddly fond of taking my blood pressure because it requires me to sit quietly for five minutes every day. Oh, and a Delxo 3 Step Ladder, which we use a lot.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Of course, a whole bunch of doctors, nurses, technicians, janitors, grocery store clerks, et al. working through a pandemic
People protesting, demanding justice. That would include my daughter.
The artists, writers who have documented this time.

Anthony Fauci
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris
Alexander S. Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill
John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers
Randy Rainbow, The Vlogbrothers
Kelly Sedinger, Arthur Schenck
Stacey Abrams, Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda
Rebecca Jade, Alexandria Green

John Lewis (RIP), Katie Porter, AOC, Paul Tonko, Pramila Jayapal, Lucy McBath

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RIP)

The Lincoln Project
Amy Roeder 

Those groups of people who figured out how to take food to restaurants, feed hungry people, and keep some businesses afloat
Firefighters, especially those battling the infernos in the western US
Isabel Wilkerson, Ibram Kendi, Bryan Stevenson, Alicia Garza, The Anti-Racism Task Force at my church
The National Basketball Association – the “bubble” worked!

I’m sure there are others

Enough of this. Well, until tomorrow.

Vote twice in June 2020: early, often

long waits at polling places are disruptive and disenfranchising

I got to vote twice in the month of June. Legally. Really! The first time was for the school budget (it passed – yay!), the school board, and the library trustees. That vote was scheduled for the middle of May but postponed because of the coronavirus.

Everyone was supposed to get a ballot by mail by the end of May. The documents were due at the local board of education office by June 9. But because some of the local districts were having trouble printing them out, the deadline was extended to June 16. And the really great thing is that there were 10,700 votes cast in Albany, thrice what the average turnout had been in the past five years.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Presidential primary in New York State was scheduled for the end of April but postponed over COVID-19. Then it was canceled because all of the candidates except Joe Biden had dropped out. However, the Presidential primary, now on June 23 – simultaneous with other ballot initiatives – “should still be held, with all qualifying candidates restored to the ballot, a federal judge ruled.”

I HATED the thought that I was going to be disenfranchised. And, not incidentally, we’ve seen a LOT of difficulties with the franchise in places such as Wisconsin and Georgia. The Brennan Center notes that “long waits at polling places are disruptive, disenfranchising, and all too common. Black and Latino voters are especially likely to endure them.”

With less than five months until Election Day, Is the U.S. ready? Kim Wehle, the author of What You Need to Know About Voting, says no. We should have more options for paper ballots. There are often fewer polling places, because of COVID-19, but also the powers that be are targeting minority communities with polling closures.

Here’s to you, EW

I HAVE to vote. People, especially black people, suffered and DIED for the opportunity to cast their ballot. I decided to vote, by mail, for Elizabeth Warren because that’s who I wanted to win. One could make the strategic case for Bernie, who I voted for four years ago.

But I had never voted for a woman for President in the primary. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm failed to get on the ballot in my Congressional district. Since then, I’ve voted for a bunch of guys who never got the nomination such as Fred Harris and Dennis Kucinich.

In the primary, I vote with my heart. In the general election, I vote with my head.

BTW, I don’t think Warren will be the Vice-Presidential nominee. She turned 71 yesterday. If she weren’t running with a guy who will be turning 78 seventeen days after the general election, I think she’d have a better chance. Also, they are both from the Northeast.

I like Stacie Abrams of Georgia. The reason she’s not currently in elected office is that the former secretary of state, Brian Kemp, now the governor, rigged the system. Someone (a black male) also made me wonder if sizism could play a role in whether to choose her.

Of the folks listed here, I’m guessing Kamala Harris or Val Demings or Tammy Duckworth or maybe Susan Rice. Meanwhile, read How To Read Polls In 2020.

Senator Elizabeth Warren turns 70

the trouble with “tough” women in politics

Elizabeth WarrenAs a candidate for President of the United States, Elizabeth Warren probably has a plan for that. The Guardian suggests she is the intellectual powerhouse of the Democratic party.

Recently, she’s been getting applause even in heart of MAGA country. I think that’s because the “liberal firebrand” had been a diehard conservative, for years a registered Republican.

Maybe that’s why her campaign is “on the rise”. “Voters are inspired by her personal story of struggle growing up in Oklahoma and how she connects that to her worldview of fighting for everyday people and challenging power.”

She tells about her dream for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Back in the 1970s, “our toaster oven had an on-off switch and that was it. At some point, someone had the bright idea of adding a timer and automatic shut-off. This simple change made it a whole lot harder for distracted mothers” – like her – “or anyone else, to leave it running until it set the kitchen on fire.

“Thirty years later, while working on an article about how the government could protect consumers from predatory financial companies, I thought about those old toaster ovens. By then, it was all but impossible to buy a toaster that had a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. A government agency monitored toasters for basic safety, just like government kept lead paint out of children’s toys and rat poison out of medicine.”

Elizabeth Warren has lots of ideas about education. Her student debt plan, formulated from grassroots pressure, is seen as an outsized economic boon for people of color. Try her new calculator to see how much of your student loan debt would be cancelled under her plan.

“Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a teacher… But that meant I’d need a college diploma. Our family didn’t have the money to pay for it.. But I got my second chance at a public commuter college that cost $50 a semester and opened a million doors for me.

“I got my degree and I got to live my dream: I became a teacher for students with special needs. My story was only possible because America invested in kids. That just isn’t true today.

“Betsy DeVos is the worst Secretary of Education we’ve seen. She and her team are up to their eyeballs in conflicts of interest. Instead of championing our students, they protect for-profit colleges that break the law and cheat them.”

And she has a plan to pay for things. An Ultra-Millionaire Tax in place for the 75,000 largest fortunes in the country would cover Universal Child Care and early education, do universal free public college, and cancel student loan debt for 42 million Americans. Even the 1% know they aren’t paying their fair share: a new poll shows 60% of millionaires support her idea.
Elizabeth Warren.obama
It seems she has two major impediments in her campaign. One is that she’s a woman of a certain age. Jill Filipovic wrote in the New York Times about age and the female politician: “They are seen as too young and inexperienced right up until they are branded too old and tedious. Elizabeth Warren… finds herself put in the same ‘old’ category as [Bernie] Sanders and Joe Biden, even though both men are nearly a decade older than she is. Men who are more or less the same age as Ms. Warren — John Hickenlooper (67), Jay Inslee (68) — are not lumped in with the white-hairs.”

The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic weighs in on why female 2020 presidential candidates such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren aren’t getting as much media coverage as their male counterparts.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 communications director talked to Vanity Fair about Warren, Harris and the Likability Quotient. She sees the trouble with “tough” women in politics, is that “The media unintentionally perpetuates male candidates’ advantages because they look and sound like candidates who have won in the past. And—shocker—they’re usually men.”

Rebecca Solnit writes Unconscious Bias is Running for President: On Elizabeth Warren and the False Problem of ‘Likeability’. She sees stories like this one – I Can’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Losing to These Guys – as articles that tie her to failure before the race has truly started.

The other topic of “controversy” is described by former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich: “Elizabeth Warren is one of the most talented politicians and policy leaders in America. We must not allow Trump or anyone else to ‘swift-boat’ her because she identified herself as an American Indian three decades ago.

“At worst, Warren may have stretched the bounds of the definition of whiteness. That’s understandable. She grew up in Oklahoma, a state created from Indian Territory. She probably witnessed the disrespect and occasional brutality that Native Americans were, and still are, subject to. Her own genetic test showed at least one Native American ancestor. She has stressed that she is not a member of a tribal nation.”

“She hasn’t insulted Native Americans by calling a leading politician ‘Pocahontas’ and joking about the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

“Warren got no career benefit from her self-designation. At every step of her exceptional rise in the legal profession, those responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman. The fact that she claimed Indian descent on a Texas bar form that was meant to be confidential is further evidence that her identification arose from sincere belief.”

One can agree or disagree with her positions on other specific issues, but that’ll have to be another post. Still, there’s reason to believe that she would make America great again. Guess who voters prefer in 2020 if the ‘perceived electability’ factor was removed.

Elizabeth Warren turns 70 on June 22, the same day as Meryl Streep.

August rambling #2: Fibonacci sequence music

Robert Mueller’s Indictment Song

A friend wrote: “Suddenly, it all makes perfect sense to me. Tubby all grown up=?”
Boston Globe, 22 August 2018: “It’s hard to come up with a satisfactory explanation that doesn’t end up with ‘because he got his hand caught in the cookie jar.'”

The drift towards autocracy continues

“That’s Obstruction of Justice”

How the National Enquirer helped DJT’s fixer keep scandals off the front page

‘Like a State Dinner’: Huge White House Event Honoring Evangelical Christians and he lied to them that he got rid of a law

The 47-page indictment against California Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret details a shocking list of improper uses of campaign funds and financial mismanagement. The Hunters are accused of spending $250,000 of campaign funds on expenses that no reasonable person would believe were legitimate campaign expenditures

Why peace doesn’t last without women

Trade: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Jared is to blame

Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development

Another deadly pandemic is coming — and the United States is not ready

Cancer: It’s Not Always What You Eat, But When You Eat It

Climate change will be deadlier, more destructive and costlier for California than previously believed, state warns

Life After Quitting; Five people on addiction, in their own words

America Soured on My Multiracial Family

Elizabeth Warren stakes out her message

Court Backs Activists Who Feed Homeless

The interwoven systems that shape our destiny even though we rarely pause to think about them

TV debate between William F. Buckley and Groucho Marx

When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life

While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey

Meet The People Who Spend Their Free Time Removing Fake Accounts From Facebook

Ken Levine interviews Peri Gilpin of Frasier, Part 1 and Part 2

A mouse walks into a bar

Jaquandor geeks out

Pulp Empire – “A Tarantino inspired Star Wars mashup and remix”

The insidious lure of nostalgia

Fonts of knowledge

Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?

Snapping dry spaghetti into just two pieces

Mean Hetty Green

Scrambled eggs in a microwave

Now I Know: Why Bird Poop is White

MUSIC

Music from the Fibonacci sequence

Robert Mueller’s Indictment Song -James Corden

René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War – Paul Simon (2018)

The Cedar and the Palm,”symphonic picture” Vasily Kalinnikov

Bobaflex – Hey You (Pink Floyd cover)

SEUNGRI – ‘WHERE R U FROM (Feat. MINO)’

A Pentatonix kind of day

Kaze no Torimichi (The Path of Wind) from From My Neighbor Totoro – Joe Hisaishi, adapted for chamber performance

Coverville 1229: The Madonna Cover Story III

The Mamas and the Papas “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”

overture to Les Horaces – Antonio Salieri

Inspecta – Jain

The evolution of Dragon’s “Young Years”

Do songs of the summer sound the same?

Inductee insights: Moody Blues

Dirty Prank Calls, Done For $250,000

Newly Released FBI Files Expose Red-Baiting of Woody Guthrie

August rambling #1: Jon Stewart, and Roz Chast

the root of all evil
Nuclear arsenals.

Thanks to Reliance on “Signature” Drone Strikes, US Military Doesn’t Know Who It’s Killing.

John Oliver: Subpar Sex Education in U.S. Schools. Plus: DC Statehood; stay for the song at the end.

Here are 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand.

Senator Elizabeth Warren to the GOP: This is 2015! Also, Jeb Bush’s Grandfather Was A Founding Member Of Today’s Planned Parenthood.

FactChecking the GOP Debate.

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

Children’s illustrator Mary Engelbreit is losing fans because of her anti-racist art. “There are no words to express how little I care if I lose every bigoted, racist, homophobic and/or sexist follower I have.”

Key & Peele: What if we were as crazy for teaching as we are for sports?

The Cop: Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people question whether justice was done.

Is this true? 2015 is the year the old internet finally died.

Michael Moore talks about his new movie.

Dealing with Diversity: Awesome Kid Graphic Novels.

David Brickman reviews Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at Norman Rockwell Museum.

Dan the Man writes about Her Eighth Triathlon. The Wife competes in what might be the last Pine Bush Triathlon, but she did not compete barefooted like some.
dailyshowfinale01
Jaquandor’s tools of the writing trade.

1000 Candles, 1000 Cranes by Small Potatoes.

Jon Stewart Started Small, Became Voice Of A Generation, and Exit, Stage Left. Also, from the last episode: Uncensored – Three Different Kinds of Bulls**t, and Our Moment of Zen.

Bob Crane, radio legend.

Cannabis discovered in tobacco pipes found in William Shakespeare’s garden

After Frank Gifford died last weekend, someone wrote, “Many happy memories sitting on the couch with my dad watching Gifford and the New York Giants on a Sunday afternoon.” True of my dad and me as well. Later, I watched him co-host Monday Night Football.

SamuraiFrog’s Weird Al rankings 20-16. I missed this: Weird Al gets Whiplashed.

From Bill Wyman, (correction) NOT the bassist for the Rolling Stones, All 74 Led Zeppelin Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best. And The ESQ&A: Keith Richards Explains Why Sgt. Pepper Was Rubbish.

One of the very first CDs I ever bought was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits, but this commercial for Farxiga, a Type 2 diabetes medicine, is wrecking my enjoyment of the song Walk of Life.

An escalator for a Slinky.

Muppets: Sesame Street on HBO. Plus Harvey Kneeslapper and Jungle Boogie and Cookie Monster in “Jurassic Cookie.” 1974: Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog visit Johnny Carson’s show. The new Muppet TV show is a top pick for the fall, even though Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up. Not to mention a PBS special, An overview of the highlights of Muppet creator Jim Henson’s life and career, which premieres Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at 8 p.m. ET. Check local listings.

K-Chuck Radio: Tony Burrows versus Joey Levine versus Ron Dante.

Dancing with the Renaissance Geek.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are being chased by Elmer Fudd and escape into paintings in a museum, from the 2003 movie Looney Tunes Back in Action.

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Arthur answers my questions about seeings things from the other side of the political and philosophical spectrum.

The near-twin is taking questions for Ask Gordon Anything through August 24.

I made Jacquandor’s brief trip ’round Blogistan, along with some other interesting pieces.

Dustbury notes The bigot on the front line.

Last Week at Trouble With Comics, plus this week’s edition.

Dustbury: Our fits grow ever hissier.