2021: ’22? You’d better be better!

J. Eric Smith

clinical_trials
Clinical trials, courtesy of https://xkcd.com/2530/

The rest of the annual quiz from Kelly. BTW, ’22? You’d better be better!

Where did most of your money go?

Books, music, medical stuff, takeout food.

What did you get really excited about?

GETTING THE VACCINE. Eating out. Going to the movies, though I didn’t do so often. Being the point person for the Literary Legends, Lydia Davis and Gene Mirabelli. The choir meeting again. Doing research in Binghamton.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Clearly sadder.

Thinner or fatter?

Back to where I was a couple of years ago, alas. A function, in part, of being sadder.

Richer or poorer?

A little poorer, but not appreciably problematic.

The rain

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading, singing, sleeping.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Going to ZOOM meetings, figuring out my new insurance coverage

How did you spend Christmas?

Opening presents, watching the church service on Facebook, eating dinner with my MIL, playing a lot of Xmas CDs

Did you fall in love in 2021?

Sure

How many one-night stands?

Same as last year. And the year before that. And the year before that…

What was your favorite TV program?

CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, Finding Your Roots. I have an extremely low capacity for watching TV right now, except for, of all things, Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2001-2011), which I mostly missed when it originally aired. JEOPARDY I still watch but don’t love it as much.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nah.

What was the best book you read?

Er…

The park

What did you want and get?

A COVID shot, or three.

What did you want and not get?

Liberation from the limiting effects of COVID.

What were your favorite films of this year?

Summer of Soul (the ONLY one of these I saw in a theater), Promising Young Woman, Another RoundWolfwalkers, Small Axe: Mangrove (if it’s a movie), One Night in Miami, Sound of Metal,  The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

What did you do on your birthday?

I went to adult education and church online. Talked with my sisters on ZOOM. Had cake. I don’t much remember beyond that.

And other things

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?

Wearing shoes as infrequently as possible.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Possibly Isabel Wilkerson whose book Caste I bought but did not read.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The dissipation of truth, not just in government, but online.

Who did you miss?

Other than the deceased, I’ve actually managed to see many people in my neck of the woods (FINALLY!) in recent months, because I missed them all!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021

Writing about it is a pain. Not writing about it is worse.

I was quite touched by what J. Eric Smith kindly wrote about me in his blog, which he’s been writing since before the word blog was created.  I am, I’ve read, “a super-long-time daily blogger of refined tastes and interests, many of which closely align with my own. Roger also brings his formidable librarian skills to organizing his information, and that’s a noticeably great thing in the mostly mucky mire of poorly-curated online experience.”

That sort of helps me when I fear that I absolutely have not a single thing more to say before I finally have a Eureka moment again.

Now, why am I thinking of a song by the Cowsills (#2 for two weeks pop in 1967)? I have no idea. As noted: ’22? You’d better be better!

December rambling: slowest rate

Nell Stokes, Rebecca Jade, Literary Legends, public domain

Photo taken by Wayne
Photo was taken by Wayne

U.S. Population Grew 0.1% in 2021, Slowest Rate Since Founding of the Nation and  Net International Migration at Lowest Levels in Decades

What State of Matter is Fire?

Frequency Illusion? What’s the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Black mothers turning to doulas in light of the nation’s horrifying maternal death rates

Two Texas teens dressed as Klansmen tased their Black classmate

Solomon Northup’s “A Slave’s Christmas” 

Wreck of last US slave ship mostly intact on the coast

NEA Guide for Racial Justice in Education

Missouri Cop Pulls Over School Bus Driver For Wearing A Mask

147 New York dams are ‘unsound’ and potentially dangerous Thousands of dams have not been inspected in more than 20 years

The departed

Hidden Pentagon records reveal patterns of failure in deadly airstrikes 

Desmond Tutu, a cleric who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa,  dies at 90. “A moral beacon in a deeply troubled land, Tutu managed to irritate the African National Congress government that took power after South Africa’s first all-race elections, as much as he had riled the apartheid regime that had previously oppressed the country’s Black majority.”

Joan Didion, Literary Titan, Dies at 87;  Jon Avnet on Making ‘Up Close and Personal’ With Her

 TCM Remembrance of performers past

This Year, Hollywood’s China Relationship Finally Unraveled

After his performance in The Music Man, Hugh Jackman touts Broadway understudies, standbys, and swings. The role of Marion Paroo, the female lead, was supposed to be played by Sutton Foster, who tested positive for COVID. The role was covered by a swing named Kathy Voytko, who also covered seven other smaller roles in the production.

Flying from Honolulu to Buffalo just before Christmas

I Stopped Caring About My Kids’ School Grades. You Should, Too.

“She could never love me!” Comic books and disability cliches 

Chuck’s best blog moments of 2021, which includes me!

The Awakening – Albany’s first movie (1914)

See the movie short:  Seasoned Greetings (1933 Vitaphone). Lita Grey Chaplin w/ 7 Yr Old Sammy Davis Jr

Now I Know: A Brick That Broke The Glass Ceiling and The Amazing Spider-Man Coincidence and When It Feels Good to Pay More

Inspiring Quotes: If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror. – Shane Koyczan

Nominate the next Literary Legend!

Each year, the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library select a new outstanding person of letters to be honored as our Literary Legend. The FFAPL invites the public to nominate writers for the selection committee to consider.

Nominations must be received by January 9, 2022, for consideration by this year’s Selection Committee. The Literary Legends Selection Committee includes members of the FFAPL board, past Gala Chairpersons, and APL librarians.

Sound Treasures Enter the Public Domain

On January 1, 2022, 400,000 pre-1923 sound recordings will enter the public domain, thanks to a new U.S. law, the Music Modernization Act. To celebrate, you may attend a virtual event on January 20, “A Celebration of Sound.”

And it’s not just music! On January 1st, children’s classic Winnie the Pooh, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Rudolph Valentino in The Son of the Sheik, in addition to musical recordings such as Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, and thousands more will all be free for creative reuse and sharing.

MUSIC
Hendrix.Nesmith.Tork
Hendrix.Nesmith.Tork found on Facebook

Am I Enough. Words: Nell Stokes. Vocals: CJay Philip, Nell’s daughter. Musical arrangement: Gail Sparlin. Piano: Larry Finke.

You Should Be Dancing – Dee Gees, who look a little like the Foo Fighters

Coverville 1382: Cover Stories for Patti Smith, Dido, and Britney Spears

New York State of Mind – NYCNext

Losing My Mind -Imelda Staunton, in a 2017 production of Follies by the National Theater

Tainted Love – Broken Peach 

Songbird -MonaLisa Twins

Dream On – Ann Wilson, live 

Stand By Me – Playing For Change

Mary, Mary, written by Michael Nesmith (30 Dec 1942-10 Dec 2021): Butterfield Blues Band Band, The Monkees 

It’s still Christmastide

Dave Koz and Friends // The Greatest Hits of Christmas – LIVESTREAM VIRTUAL CONCERT Recorded 12/12/20. With Jonathan Butler, Peter White, Kenny Lattimore, Michael Lington, Brian Simpson, and REBECCA JADE!

Have a sultry, soulful Christmas!

River – Joni Mitchell, Her first official video

J. Eric Smith –  Ten Songs You Need to Hear: Crimbo Version

December rambling: Tread carefully

new Rebecca Jade music!

road-to-xmas-board-game
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/11/19/road-to-xmas-board-game/

Spotlighting The Black And Missing Foundation’s Commitment To Locating Missing Persons Of Color

Hillary Clinton was right about the “deplorables” — and about the end of Roe v. Wade. Still hate Hillary’s guts? Fine. But let’s admit that she saw all this coming — and way before the rise of Trump

The Roe v Wade Death Watch

But the Cancer Was “Indolent” — Doctors: Tread carefully when offering patients an optimistic outlook

What Is a Surgeon ‘Supposed’ to Look Like?

Instead of Travel Bans, Let’s Defeat Omicron Variant With Global Vaccination

Horse-paste enthusiasts are threatening hospital workers.

Dr. Oz Has A Long History Of Promoting Quack Treatments

Alden Global Capital, which has gutted newsrooms, desires to acquire
Lee Enterprises, the owner of the Glens Falls Post-Star as well as the Buffalo News and the Auburn Citizen

Awareness

Barbados Bids Farewell to British Monarchy as It Becomes a Republic. It is actually the only country I’ve ever been in besides Canada and Mexico.

The End Game (dealing with Stuff)

Louis Vuitton Designer Virgil Abloh Dead From Cancer At Age 41. Abloh “chose to endure his battle privately” and underwent “numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.”

How to Identify What You Enjoy. Arthur C. Brooks and Lori Gottlieb discuss the importance of fun and the cultural distortion of emotions as “good” or “bad”

College Students Write Children’s Book About Their Inclusive Friendship, Raise Awareness for Down Syndrome

Anne Rice, the gothic novelist who wrote ‘Interview with the Vampire,’ dies at age 80

Ken Levine remembers Shari Lewis, interviewing her daughter Mallory

Cara Williams, RIP

The Best of Trevor’s Accents – Between The Scenes | The Daily Show

Why younger people say ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome.’

The Automat

The history of the blinking cursor 

Themself or themselves as a singular form? I’m leaning toward the former; cf yourself and yourselves.

A snowflake photo

 The history of paintings of dogs playing poker 

BobDole

I never voted for the longtime Republican Senate leader. He was elected to the House in 1960 and the Senate in 1974. He became Senate majority leader briefly in 1980s, then in 1994.

Gerald Ford picked him as his Vice-Presidential partner in 1976, but they lost to Carter/Mondale. He was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for president in 1996 against the incumbent Bill Clinton.

But I didn’t find him loathful. His right arm was left permanently paralyzed from World War II, and that gave him some perspective, to help veterans and those with disabilities. He is the first “real” person, as opposed to an actor, to promote pills for erectile dysfunction. (So THAT was what ED was.)

Redlining, continued

In response to a post of mine about redlining, Bankrate wrote to me. “Although housing discrimination is an illegal practice, its impact remains in mortgage and lending practices. Our experts created a guide explaining the lasting effects of housing discrimination, how it impacts the mortgage industry, and how to combat these issues.” Here’s the link

Subsequently, I read this.  To prove lowball appraisal, Black couple ‘white-washes’ home—value rises by nearly $500K. The CBS News story referred to a 2018 Brookings report: The devaluation of assets in Black neighborhoods – The case of residential property.

Also, When a Hyundai is also the family home 

The Racial Gap in Financial Literacy

Now I Know

The Road With a Toad-Away Zone and It’s Better to Be Afraid Than Embarrassed? and The Best Reason for a Delayed Flight? and Giving the Train a Slip and The Horse Hide

MUSIC

What’s It Gonna Be – REBECCA JADE: link and video

Jimmy Fallon, Ariana Grande, and Megan Thee Stallion release pro-booster It Was A Masked Christmas 

November Woods by Arnold Bax 

Mary Of Silence  · Mazzy Star

Batman TV show theme sans the word “bat”

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury and the Blockheads, because
1. Sondheim would love that rhyme that’s spelled differently:
In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro
2. Someone is “in the wild”, but “in the wilds of” a place. Why IS that?

Michael Nesmith — considerably more than a Monkee — dies at 78; a loose salute

 The Sting Interview by Rick Beato

Salon satire: Deleted scenes from “The Beatles: Get Back” we’ll never see

Nov. rambling: down the rabbit hole

ancient board games

too-on-point
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/11/12/too-on-point/

Does the red pill have an antidote? Why do previously reasonable people go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, and what can be done to bring them back?

The vaccine tore her family apart. Could a death bring them back together?

Pharmaceutical messianism and the COVID-19 pandemic

Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for the new COVID variant, omicron

Trump believed his press secretary when she told him he’d win ‘because’ of COVID

Nations Fiddle While the Earth Burns (and Floods)

Time’s Up– IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, AND WE KNOW IT

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Union Busting and The Power Grid 

 Wealthy Americans get paid leave. Shouldn’t the rest?

The scary rise of private intelligence companies 

What your smart devices know (and share) about you

 Public-Private Partnerships Are Quietly Hollowing Out Our Public Libraries 

Parents are scrambling after schools suddenly cancel class over staffing and burnout. (It’s happened at least twice in Albany this fall.)

To Catch a Turtle Thief: Blowing the Lid Off an International Smuggling Operation

An Extraordinary 500-Year-Old Shipwreck Is Rewriting the History of the Age of Discovery

Land Back and The Third Reconstruction: A Truth Commission with the Shinnecock Nation 

Can a Doughnut Heal Our World?

Culture

etymologyAn Indigenous chef is putting her heritage on the menu with landmark restaurant 

French dictionary adds non-binary pronoun

Sesame Street debuts Asian-American muppet

Lee Elder, first Black golfer to play in Masters, dies at age 87

How to wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person

The link to Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library book talks 

Some People Can Literally See Time 

Your 2 Step Guide To Creating Mindfulness Gratitude Practice

Ancient Board Games, even more ancient than I am

Ken Levine’s 250th podcast: For Those Who Love Lucy

David Brickman and Stanley Tucci are not the same person

RIP, laugh track 

The Love Boat video shows every single guest in alphabetical order.

Now I Know:  What Does the Fox Spray? and How Ben Franklin Killed the Competition and The Boy Who Shared His Wish and  The Somewhat-Fake Sausage That Saved Lives

Heart-pulling Christmas commercials

MUSIC

How Great Thou Art, performed by Carla Fisk

A Pile Of Dust – Voces8

Fanny Mendelssohn 

Peter Sprague Plays Miles Davis

Romanian Rhapsody #2 by Georges Enescu

Come A Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans

Barnyard Boogie – From Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume

Overture to Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

Future Past (Visualizer) – Duran Duran

Symphony No. 3 by Aram Khachaturian

J. Eric Smith: Be Thankful for What You’ve Got

Latke Recipe – the Maccabeats

Coverville 1379: Cover Stories for Lorde and Taylor (Swift) and 1380: Covering the 2021 Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – Carpenters

Death of the Times Union community blogs

Information without the Bun

times unionI got this intriguing email from Casey Seiler, the editor of the Times Union, the local (Albany, NY) newspaper, a couple of weeks ago. “Nothing urgent, but please give me a ring if you have a few minutes — cell is … Thanks.”

He’d never contacted me before, so I was most curious. The purpose of the contact was to tell me that the entire page of community blogs located on the TU website would be going away on Friday, February 5.

The Community Blogs started early this century, in 2006, I’m told. But even before that, I had been participating in a program of community websites hosted by the TU. I was creating the ones for my then-church, Trinity UMC, plus Albany United Methodist Society, the FOCUS churches, and one of the other member churches of FOCUS. Since I left Trinity in 2000, this would have been in the late 1990s.

Mike Huber, who had been running the community websites became the majordomo for the blogs. Since I had started this blog in 2005, he knew that I could create content with sufficient frequency. He nagged me regularly, and in January 2008, I finally capitulated.

But what to write? I didn’t want to necessarily replicate this blog. So I tended to post things that were Albany-centric and/or ephemeral. Say an event at my church or offered by the Albany Public Library.

Information without the Bun
ROGER_GREEN_3
Courtesy of the Times Union

There were definite upsides. I could plug events important to me. Occasionally, on the front of the B section of the print newspaper, the TU would print a pull quote from my post. I’d generally learn about this before I saw it. “Oh, you’re in the paper again.” While mildly ego-boosting, it was occasionally frustrating that some people didn’t recognize that it was only a small part of what I wrote.

And the bigger the platform, the more chances for the blog trolls. I’ve seldom experienced this on rogerogreen.com, but a fair amount on Information without the Bun, an obtuse referral to me being a librarian and eating hamburgers. Even when the content was exactly the same, the nasties would always come from the TU audience.

Still, it was fine. I’d write something a couple of times a week. And the newspaper seemed to care about their unpaid community bloggers by sponsoring an occasional event. I remember one at the College of Saint Rose maybe a decade ago where there were short videos of each of us. They created bios of us for the print version of the paper.

The interesting thing was that the agreement read that the TU wouldn’t edit what the bloggers wrote, as long as what we posted wasn’t libelous or profane.

Herder of cats

Then… stuff started happening. J. Eric Smith, who has been blogging since the word was invented, had made what seems to be a reasonable request to keep political mads out of his blog space. It could have jammed him up at work. He explains this in a series of posts here. He ended up leaving in 2010.

In January 2017, Mike Huber, herder of cats, left the Times Union. I’m left to wonder how events of that year would have otherwise played out.

Chuck Miller had a clearly marked April Fools post in 2017 involving Kellyanne Conway which got pulled down, despite eight previous 1 April posts, at least one of which had been picked up by Washington Post. He departed, but he subsequently was always the instigator of promoting local bloggers on his site, and meetups, at the Gateway Diner, a pizza joint, and even at Ken Screven’s lovely apartment.

#Metoo

I was most infuriated when Heather Fazio’s post about sexual assault from October 2017 was deemed too graphic. Or was it libelous? The narrative kept shifting. Chuck and I both reposted Heather’s words: my version is here. Chuck quoted her response to the TU here, and you should read the comments.

I even complained about Heather’s treatment on my Times Union blog, because I could. The headline, I believe was, “Rex: you’ve got a lot of ‘splain’ to do.” Rex being Rex Smith, then editor of the paper, and a guy I actually liked the few times I’ve met him. But this was a crappy decision which he felt obligated to defend. Heather, of course, left, and she too has her own blog.

Yet this conspiratorial flake – whose name had fortunately been exorcised from my brain, Donna something, I think – kept writing absurd post after post for months until even she crossed the line. She was actually brought on board to provide a more conservative position, which I endorsed, but she was a true wingnut.

By then, I had really lost my TU blogging mojo, even as the newspaper abandoned the community bloggers. Periodically, I would literally forget I still had the page, and my recent spotty posting there was proof.

The long goodbye

What seems to have been the last straw from the Times Union’s POV was the Lale Davidson post about Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). The member of Congress “demanded the Times Union retract what she called a ‘heinous and wildly inappropriate’ blog post. Apparently, the work of fiction pushed a button, not about Stefanik’s absurd challenge of the 2020 election, but her being described as “childless.”

As TU blogger Lawrence White wrote: “I think most people had no idea this was going on. The blog in question does not have a vast readership and nothing had been posted on any of the social media sites I frequent. Clearly, the sting of the original piece would have gone away with only a handful of people even reading it if Ms. Stefanik had let it slide, or dealt with it in a more private manner.”

When Casey Seiler called me to tell me the TU had put the kibosh on the community blog pages, he noted this story. Last spring, one of the bloggers had “swerved from their totally innocuous chosen topic to instead use his platform to spread the looniest conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19 that you can possibly imagine. We shut it down immediately.”

So the TU community blogs are dead. Actually, it’s been dying for a while. Of the 80 or so blogs on the page as of January 30, including the staffers’ pages, about a quarter had not been updated in over a year. It seems as though the TU stopped caring about the blogs, and maybe vice versa. While I feel a little wistful, the demise was no surprise.

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