June rambling: And They Lynched Him

1600 Black Lives Plaza

goofus and galliantMia Birdsong is the host of More Than Enough, a Nation podcast that uses the concept of universal basic income to start a conversation about dignity, deservedness, and the country America can and should be.

UMBERTO ECO: a practical guide for identifying fascists.

In Memoriam: Duane Ivan Todman.

Sudan: Anatomy of an internet shutdown.

People Who Tried New Quarantine Hobbies Tell Us How That All Worked Out.

Deciphering appliance error codes for washers, dryers, dishwashers, and ranges.

A Stroll Along State Street in Albany, New York, a stretch of road I know extremely well.

Kurt Thomas, U.S. gymnastics’ first world champion, dies at 64.

Triangles vs. Rectangles: What’s the Better Way to Cut a Sandwich? (it involves math)

She Gets Calls And Texts Meant For Elon Musk. Some Are Pretty Weird.

Ain’t it the troooth.

If you can’t find self-rising flour, just add 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt per cup of all-purpose flour.

Why Is It ‘Eleven, Twelve’ Instead of ‘Oneteen, Twoteen’?

Race in America

George Floyd’s Autopsy and the Structural Gaslighting of America.

The cascade of crises in black America.

The Mimetic Power of D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Mural.

Why The Small Protests In Small Towns Across America Matter.

The protests bring on a Me-Too reckoning and media reckoning on race.

This Is How It Feels To Be Racially Profiled.

From 2018, and still unfortunately relevant: Before You Call the Cops – The Tyler Merritt Project.

The Schomburg Center’s Black Liberation Reading List and Anti-racism books (NYT).

CNN/Sesame Street town hall on racism.

Lots of resources here and here.

What You Should Keep In Mind About COVID-19 If You’re Protesting.

Fox News apologizes for segment linking stock market gains to the deaths of unarmed Black men.

vlogbrothers.

Iowa Republicans Vote Out Rep. Steve King, the most overtly racist member of Congress.

Ella Jones Elected to Serve as Ferguson’s First Black Mayor.

The myth of the kindly General Lee.

#IMPOTUS

Blessed are the poorIf He Goes Even Lower, We’d Better Be Prepared.

The Regime Is Beginning to Topple.

History Will Judge the Complicit Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president.

Cockwomble (noun) – A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of his own wisdom and importance.

This is your America.

NYTimes Op-ed warns of a ‘vaccine’ October Surprise.

The unemployment rate is really 3% higher than claimed.

Lincoln Project ads: Leadership and Steps and Mattis.

An idea: buy a postcard, send it to Temporary Occupant, 1600 Black Lives Plaza, Washington, DC 20500 (ZIP Code should get it there), and send your message of disdain. (Postage is 35 cents, but hey, spend 20 cents more, slap that first-class stamp on it, and support the USPS.)

The Bunker Boy – Randy Rainbow.

Now I Know

The American Civil War of World War II and Giving a Word a Different Spin and They Called it “Massive Resistance” and A Step Too Far? and Cherries, Helicopters, and Hair Dryers and High Altitude Flatus Expulsion and It Doesn’t Stand for “Eradicating Dangerous Mosquitoes”.

MUSIC

And They Lynched Him On A Tree by William Grant Still.

Lift Every Voice, Karen Briggs violin rendition.

Rise Up – Andra Day.

EK Ellington, W Marsalis, O Wilson.

No One – Kevin Flournoy ft. Rebecca Jade.

Jungle Love – Morris Day and The Time.

People Get Ready.

Lizzo.

Coverville 1311: Cover Stories for Outkast, Lauryn Hill, and Jack Johnson.

Took The Children Away – Archie Roach.

Flivver Ten Million by Frederick Shepherd Converse, performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Let The Sunshine In from HAIR Virtual Corona Version | 2020.

Sound of Silence – Dana Winner.

21st Century Schizoid Man – Toyah & The Humans, A tribute to Bill Rieflin.

Smile – Voctave A Cappella Cover.

Once in a Lifetime – Kermit the Frog.

Mr. Ed Theme Song, in German.

Fighting digital divide: national defense

DARPA

digital divideAs a librarian, I’ve been hearing about the digital divide practically from the beginning of my career.

It is defined as “the growing gap between the underprivileged members of society, especially the poor, rural, elderly, and handicapped portion of the population who do not have access to computers or the internet; and the wealthy, middle-class, and young Americans living in urban and suburban areas who have access.” Three years ago, it was a quarter of the nation.

If we’ve learned nothing else from the COVID-19 experience, it is that When School Is Online, the Digital Divide Grows Greater. The problem has not improved greatly in recent years. Americans turned to technology during the COVID-19 outbreak. An outage would be a problem.

A highway is a highway

I’m wondering if the previous arguments have been off. People I know speak of the digital divide in terms such as “economic justice” or “fairness.” That might attract us liberals, but meh. They see underserved as one letter off from undeserved. We need to sell it as a Defense Initiative. Internet Force! Y’know, like Space Force.

And there’s a lot of history behind this. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded projects that “have provided significant technologies that influenced many non-military fields, such as computer networking and the basis for the modern Internet, and graphical user interfaces in information technology.”

There may be not enough money in the domestic budget for such an initiative. But there seems to always be money in the Defense budget. This is a national security issue. This will keep us safe in the next disaster. The interstate highway system was purportedly built, in part, “in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net [would] permit quick evacuation of target areas.” In the case of the next disaster, we need our people to have access to the information highway as well.

Spectrum “communications” cluster…

My calm demeanor had deteriorated

spectrumI had thought to “break away from the box” in the new decade. The sheer, and repeated, incompetence of Spectrum, part of Charter Communications, has made this mission-critical. And it started off so casually.

Thursday: I get home from the choir rehearsal. Deciding to watch JEOPARDY! before going to bed, I turn on the TV. Soon, the DVR flashes 10:41 several times and dies. OK, stuff happens.

Friday: Taking the disconnected DVR with me, I take the bus to Colonie Center. I go to the Spectrum store. Unable to discern how one gets into the queue, I ask a customer. He tells me I need to talk to the guy talking to someone in the corner. I’m seventh in the queue, and 15 minutes later, some other rep takes my old device and gives me a new one.

Interestingly, it doesn’t have the time on the front. “Do you WANT that? You can get Spectrum Mobile…?” Don’t try to upsell me. I just want to walk into the room and see the time. I was so annoyed, I went to the Christmas Tree store next door and bought a $5 analog clock.

When I get home, I think I’ve reconnected the wires correctly. Yet I get the message:

You’re in Limited Mode

“We’re sorry, your Spectrum receiver is in Limited Mode and some features may be temporarily available.” Actually, there are no features that are available.

“We’re working to resolve this issue, but please check your cables for a loose connection that could affect your service.” I think it’s my technological incompetence in play.

Friday evening: I call the help line for Spectrum. This is always a chore. The automated system wants to offer “help” even when I know it won’t solve the problem. When I finally talk to a real person, he tells me something useful. I was under the old Time Warner/Spectrum.net account. The DVR is for the newer Spectrum.com service. They gave me the wrong DVR. NOT my fault – yay! (40 minutes)

Saturday: I call the ordering department. This guy promises me a recurring monthly charge of $80 less what I’m paying for now. The package also offers a greater number of channels, what they call the Silver level. He also suggested AppleTV+ which I decided to try on our second TV. He needs a payment, though. I use my primary credit card.

(Sidebar: the charge was rejected on my Chase VISA because I don’t use it often enough. I’ll have to make some small charges with it.)

Later, I check the email confirmation. “The technician is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday” between 11 and 12. At an address in the 321 ZIP Code of Florida.

The great undo

Sunday: I call the ordering department again. I have to explain, in great detail, what has happened so far, a recurring theme. He has an email address and phone number for me. They are both incorrect. Essentially, he has to undo what the previous dude did.

This includes changing the service call from Florida to my Albany, NY address to Tuesday at 1 to 2 pm. He also notes that AppleTV+ would NOT be a good choice for me, and I get remove that. (100 minutes)

I get the email conformation, and the amount is far greater than what I had been told.

Monday: I call the billing department. The previous person had expressed admiration with my calm demeanor. By this point, however, that had deteriorated. The prices I had been quoted by the Saturday guy was for new customers only. What she could do was give me a $25 credit towards the Silver upgrade for the month, since I would not have taken it had I known the cost.

She also asked if I knew that I would be charged $50 for the installation on Tuesday. I did not. As I had asked for her supervisor, she said someone would call back in a couple hours. (40 minutes)

More than four hours on the phone later…

Tuesday: I receive a call back for the supervisor who deals with stuff when issues “escalate.” He apologized profusely, and agreed to waive the installation fee. It would not have applied if the Spectrum store had given me the right DVR box in the first place. He is also crediting the money I spent on Saturday, though it might take a few days. (25 minutes)

The technician showed up a few minutes after 2. He had gone to a house two doors down, then called me from his cell to see if I were home. He started fixing the cable, determining the box the store had given me was, in his word, “junk,” and switched it out. Then he replaced the modem so that it was four times faster. Why didn’t that happen before? Then back downstairs to finish with the cable.

After he left, I checked the channel choices. Far fewer than I had been promised. The local channels, C-SPAN a couple shopping channels, and TBS, pretty much. I went to the Spectrum website, found some instruction, rebooted the box, and suddenly I had the channels I desired.

In the next couple days, I got to see the shows on demand that I had recorded but had not watched, such as a 60 Minutes from the week prior, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Still, this was an organizational clusterf@(# at a level I do not believe I have ever experienced. My resolution in 2020 is to get a divorce from Spectrum and its alleged “communications” services.

April rambling: Unbreaking America

Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries? Two-thirds of the paintings, in total, are by women. This wasn’t because women of the era liked to paint fruit.

No Room!
“Looking Backward,” drawn by the brilliant Austrian-born Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (February 1, 1838 – February 19, 1894) for Puck magazine, January 11, 1893

First image of a black hole revealed.

Slave Owners’ Names Are on Dorms at a SUNY School. That’s Changing. New Paltz is my undergraduate alma mater.

Why There’s So Little Left of the Early Internet.

Anderson Cooper speaks the “language of loss”.

Amy Biancolli: talking to the darkness.

“I Had Nothing”: How Parole Perpetuates a Cycle of Incarceration and Instability.

You Are Probably a Victim of the Largest Theft of All Time.

TEDx: we all should be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Weekly Sift: Mueller by Gaslight.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: the sinister sides of World Wrestling Entertainment and the Mobile Home Industry.

Behind Bars, Co-Pays Are a Barrier to Basic Health Care.

The Death of an Adjunct Professor.

An aging population and a declining birthrate among the native-born population mean a shrinking workforce in many areas.

The Stephen Miller Presidency.

What an Empire Built on Nazi Collaboration Says About Our Economy.

Political Notebook: Politics last week and this week.

FTC Data Spotlight Shows Steep Rise in Complaints about Social Security Scams.

Unbreaking America: A NEW Short Film about Solving the Corruption Crisis.

New Zealand Parliament bans assault weapons.

“Men do not learn much from the lessons of history and that is the most important of all the lessons of history. “
– Aldous Huxley

The Persistence of Attachment.

What can an ice mummy teach us about heart disease?

Watch The World Turn.

The reason we bake at 350F.

5 Things to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Never Finish Anything.

Bless Your Heart doesn’t mean what you probably think it means.

Inside Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s Unconventional Marriage and ten minutes with Fosse.

Remembering William Goldman.

Re: Dwayne Wade: Now this is a proper sendoff

Minor League Baseball announces pace-of-play rules for 2019 and this is what Major League Baseball fandom looks like across the country.

Now I Know video: This Guy Tastes Ice Cream For a Living.

Now I Know: Who is Dr. Fill and why are these people afraid of him? and This idea to augment the postal service was a catastrophe and Why You Shouldn’t Carpool with Winnie the Pooh and especially Why Did the U.S. Government Pay for a Painting of Strawberries?

MUSIC

Religion – PJ Morton feat. Lecrae.

Faith – Business Casual.

Dead Boys -Sam Fender.

Live from New York, it’s Aubrey Logan.

Heaven Is a Place on Earth – KT Tunstall.

Video Killed The Radio Star – Walk off the Earth feat. Sarah Silverman

My Heart Will Go On – Big Daddy

Les chansons des roses – Morten Lauridsen.

You Get What You Give – Scary Pockets.

Africa – Robyn Adele Anderson.

Pencil Neck Geek – Don Blassie.

Coverville: 1257: A Cover Chain with Birthday Covers for Stan Ridgway, Katrina Leskanich, Norah Jones, Mandy Moore, and Brian Setzer

FUV ESSENTIALS: Richard Thompson.

Former Vice-President Al Gore turns 70

We’re seeing corporate, political, and societal mobilization against the climate crisis on a scale that would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago.

There’s a lot about Al Gore, 45th Vice-President of the United States, under Bill Clinton, that seems misunderstood to me.

It is suggested that he ran such a lousy campaign when he ran for President in 2000 that he lost his home state of Tennessee. But it is understood in some circles that
egregious intimidation and disenfranchisement of certain voters wasn’t limited to Florida.

The former college roommate of Tommy Lee Jones didn’t say he invented the Internet. The then-senator did create and introduce the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, which “led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure and the funding of the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

“The act built on prior US efforts of developing a national networking infrastructure, starting with the ARPANET in the 1960s, and the funding of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet) in the 1980s. The renewed effort became known in popular language as building the Information superhighway.”

“A spirited defense of Gore’s statement penned by Internet pioneers Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf (the latter often referred to as the ‘father of the Internet’) in 2000 noted that ‘Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development’ and that ‘No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution [to the Internet] over a longer period of time.'”

There was the kiss of his wife Tipper at the 2000 Democratic national convention. From all reports he wasn’t the wooden figure he had been portrayed.

“Claire Shipman of NBC speculated… the kiss sent a message. It signaled that Al Gore (unlike some presidents we know) is a faithful husband. Excellent point; imagine what would have happened if the Clintons had dared such a scene. Though some viewers were charmed by the Gore kiss and others squirmed, no one doubted that it was based on reality. There you have what really makes it seem odd. The kiss struck everyone as a political gesture based on truth, and nothing is rarer than that.”

Then there’s his wonky slide show presentation An Inconvenient Truth, which won the Academy Award in 2007 as Best Documentary, Feature.

Did any of this actually ‘save the world?’ “OK, you got us. Ten years after the movie’s release, climate change is still a growing threat and a polarizing issue, with record-breaking heat unable to stop skeptics from tossing snowballs on the Senate floor.

“But we’re also seeing corporate, political, and societal mobilization against the crisis on a scale that would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago, and there’s no question the film played a big part in getting us there.”

As Albert Arnold Gore Jr. said recently, “In 2017, Mother Nature certainly got our attention with a series of devastating extreme weather events. Our thoughts continue to be with the people of the US Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and California as they recover from the floods, powerful hurricanes, and wildfires made ever-more severe by our warming world.”