April rambling: when democracies fall

Sporadic Acts of Journalism

History shows there are no “one-day” dictatorships. When democracies fall, they typically fall completely.

A Different Take on Retro Conservative Fantasy

Mike Johnson Is No Hero

Anita Hill on Harvey Weinstein Reversal: “Our Movement Will Persist”

John Oliver Confesses to “Sporadic Acts of Journalism.” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Medicaid and UFOs and Executions

Republicans Scramble to Contain Their Abortion Disaster.  William Claude Jones (c. 1815 – March 3, 1884) was an American politician, poet, fabulist, and “pursuer of nubile females,” who authored the 1864 Arizona abortion bill.

The Manhattan case against djt is strong but The Supreme Court is breaking America’s faith in the law

Census Bureau: Wealth by Race of Householder

The endless quest to replace alcohol

On the Romance of Old Maps

The Cloud under the Sea (Internet Cables)

Williams-Sonoma Will Pay Record $3.17 Million Civil Penalty for Violating FTC Made in USA Order

The Average Body Temperature Is Not 98.6 Degrees

Linear, streaming, AVOD, and beyond: What do common TV terms mean?

Updated charity ratings from Charity Watch

fillyjonk and the brick

16 Fascinating Historical Artifacts Stored In The Library of Congress

Step into the chilling world of CBS Radio Mystery Theater—with nearly 1400 episodes from 1974 to 1982, guaranteed to give you goosebumps, hosted by the commanding voices of E.G. Marshall and Tammy Grimes

Fantastic Trina Robbins remembrance by Andrew Farago
Kelly does a quiz
Now I Know: The Wife, Husband, and Ex-Husband Nuclear Family and The Environmental Intervention That Backfired

Spiegel im spiegel (Mirror in the mirror) by Arvo Pärt and how he tintinnabulates

Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas

Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Fairport Convention

St. Vincent – Broken Man

Coverville 1484: The Soul Asylum Cover Story and 1485: The Cure Cover Story V

Deep Field by Eric Whitacre

Margo Guryan: Moon Ride (1956)

Peter Sprague Plays You Won’t See Me and Serrado, each featuring Allison Adams Tucker

Chappell Roan – Good Luck, Babe!

Against All Odds – Phil Collins

The Analogues – The Beatles tribute – Salle Pleyel – ARTE Concert

Arthur’s Law and Taylor Swift

I can say my jeans are long, but I can’t say …

March rambling: 2008 again?

amateur sleuths

Everything Everywhere All at OnceIs it 2008 again, or not? (bank failures)

US Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) makes his DC entrance

New Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR) Signs Law Gutting Child Labor Protections for Minors Under 16 Years Old

Defiant Woman at the Center of New York’s First Abortion Battle – in the 1840s

How to Make the Hybrid Model Work for Women

The HistoryMakers: Documenting Black history through first-person accounts | 60 Minutes

My City by James Weldon Johnson

The Destruction of Negro Communities and the Birth of the African American

Mapped: Which Countries Get the Most Paid Vacation Days?

Indonesia unveils the construction site of a new capital city, Nusantara.  Jakarta is experiencing overpopulation, infrastructure problems, and chronic flooding. The current capital is quickly sinking into the Java Sea, and parts of the city could be entirely submerged by 2050. But the new “project may lead to substantial rainforest deforestation, threaten endangered species’ habitats, put Indigenous peoples’ homes at risk, and more.”

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Colon Club calls attention to the disease.

Why are nurses quitting? Ask the nurse no hospital will hire.

Idaho Murders: As a Small Town Grapples With Sinister Rumors, Media’s True-Crime Obsession Grows and The Case the Internet got wrong: A new investigation sheds light on Lindsay Buziak’s unsolved murder, revealing a vast web of misinformation. These are as much about the rush to judgment by amateur sleuths as the crimes themselves.

Worst Civil Engineering Failure in US History – March 12, 1928: St. Francis Dam Disaster
And more

John Cleese was confronted with three men who kinda looked and/or kinda sounded like his character, Basil Fawlty. He had to guess which one did the impersonation professionally.

Chaim Topol, Tevye the Milkman in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ Dies at 87

Robert Blake, the Combustible Star of ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Baretta,’ Dies at 89

Marvel Working to Find ‘Quantumania’ Leaker. It’ll probably be more successful than SCOTUS was. 
My friend Fred Hembeck asks Mark Evanier about Tiny Tim

Is the Beyond Burger Healthy?

Hey, Stewart’s, $5 / 2 = what??

Now I Know: The Dark History of Groomsmen and Baseball’s Strangest Trade and When Space and Physics Don’t Mix and Why Beer Comes in Brown (or Green) Bottles

I’m happy about the results of the Academy Awards, although I did not watch the program. It’s been my experience that people who saw EEAAO in the cinema, as I did, enjoyed it FAR more than those who watched it at home.

To me, it’s all one big, continual story. The Big Lie about the 2020 election, including the allegations about rigged voting machines.The January 6, 2021 insurrection.   Dominion voting machine’s defamation case against Fox News and the information that came out during the trial’s discovery phase.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy gave Fox News exclusive access to raw footage of Jan 6. Tucker Carlson, one of the verified liars in the Dominion discovery, had footage of Jan 6 edited to suggest that the insurrection was just a sightseeing event, a claim so absurd that the White House and Senate Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Thom Tillis rebuked Carlson.

Check out pieces by Jake Tapper, Bill Maher, Seth Meyers, Drezner’s World, and possibly most comprehensively, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


In honor of ME: Adagio and Allegro for Piano and Horn by Robert Schumann, Opus 70!

And this: Sir Roger Norrington Eroica/Happy Birthday surprise from the SWR Symphonieorchester

Afro-American Symphony by William Grant Still

Casablanca suite by Max Steiner

Coverville 1433: The Rihanna Cover Story and  1434: Cover Stories for Nik Kershaw and Nina Simone, and 1435: Album Cover: Dark Side of the Moon’s 50th Anniversary

Wayne Shorter, 1923-2023

Guitarist David Lindley: 1944—2023

K-Chuck Radio: The joy and sadness of Yvonne Barrett

Classical Composer Reaction – Analysis of This is America (Childish Gambino) | The Daily Doug Ep. 542. (Doug Helvering)

Make Way For Tomorrow dance number- Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, and Phil Silvers (!)

Carpenters with Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Julien Neel

It’s not Lou Reed … and it’s not Jefferson Airplane, either.

Mr. Ma answers all the cello questions you never knew you had!

Burt Bacharach’s Clever Key Changes – David Bennett Piano

Ten classical music songs you know, but you may not know their names

“We’re willing to sacrifice our egos for the good of the band” – interview with  Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran.

Please keep voting for the niece Rebecca Jade for the San Diego Music Awards daily in categories 20, 21, 25, 26, and 27. Also, vote for Peter Sprague in category 4, which RJ sang on.

People born the same month as I

Russ Feingold, Elaine Chao, the late Louie Anderson

Chaka KhanHere are some people born the same month as I was. The crux of the matter is that all this year, I’ve been briefly mentioning folks born in 1953, and I will continue to do so. But these ones are my fellow Marchians. Martians? Whatever.

Chaka Khan (23rd):  She was born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago. I first knew her as the vocalist for the band Rufus, who had hits such as Once You Get Started in the mid-70s. As a solo artist, I’m Every Woman (#21 pop, #1 for three weeks RB in 1978), written by Ashford and Simpson; and I Feel For You (#3 pop for three weeks, #1 for three weeks RB in 1984, gold record, Grammy winner), penned by Prince.

Also check out I’ll Be Good To You (#18 pop, #1 for two weeks RB in 1990, Grammy winner) from from the great Back On The Block album by Quincy Jones; this track features Ray Charles and Chaka on a song written by and originally performed by The Brothers Johnson.

But my FAVORITE song of hers has to be the Rufus track Tell Me Something Good (#3 pop for three weeks, #3 RB in 1974, gold record, Grammy winner), written by Stevie Wonder.

She’s been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seven times, four times with Rufus, and thrice as a solo artist.

My endorsement

Russ Feingold (2nd) served as a United States Senator (D-WI) from 1993 to 2011. He “cosponsored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act)… Russ was the only Senator to vote against the initial enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act during the first vote on the legislation and was well-known for his opposition to the Iraq War and as the Senate’s leading opponent of the death penalty. “

He is now the President of the American Constitution Society. And in 2005 (!), I wrote in this blog that he was my preferred candidate for President in 2008.

Armen Keteyian (6th) is a reporter on both the hard news and the sports beats.  “An 11-time Emmy award winner, he has spent 30 years as a network television correspondent for World News Tonight, CBS Sports and News,… and 60 Minutes. He has also authored or co-authored 10 books.”

More music

Jimmy Iovine (11th) co-founded Interscope Records, co-produced the Oscar-winning film 8 Mile that starred Eminem, and scads more. I know him as a producer for albums by Patti Smith, Meat Loaf, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dire Straits, Stevie Nicks, U2, Pretenders, and many others.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.

Carl Hiassen (12th) “was born and raised in a bizarre place called Florida, where he still lives. His books have been described as savagely funny, riotous, and cathartic. Oddly, they are beloved even by readers who’ve never set foot in the Sunshine State.”

Louie Anderson (24th) was a ubitiquitous comedic presence on television. In a show called Baskets (2016-2019), which I never saw, he played the mother figure and won an Emmy. He was on a lot of game shows, including a particularly lame one called Funny You Should Ask (2017-2019); he did not look well.  Louie Anderson died on January 21, 2022. His website is still up so you can still buy his books, but I can’t find a mention of his passing.

Elaine Chao (26th) was Secretary of Labor (2001-2009) in the George W. Bush administration, making her the first Asian-American to serve in a Presidential cabinet. Then she was Secretary of Transportation (2017-2021). She had been the target of racist verbal taunts by her former boss, Trump. Her husband since 1993, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has not responded publicly to the comments. But now she has.

From politics to library science

carrying petitions

library scienceHe blinded me with science! From politics to library science, that is.

Armen Boyajian is a pretty good jazz violinist. He graduated from Binghamton Central High School the same year that I did, but he’s better preserved. He left a lengthy comment on this post, only part of which I will quote here.

I didn’t know you were a Political Science major, Roger. I was also, first, an undergrad at U of Rochester… Then off to SUNY Binghamton for MA in Public Policy. Thought I was going to become a policy wonk at Urban Institute or somewhere like that – but wound up in the nonprofit world as a fundraiser and a jazz musician. I really had no desire to go into politics but was interested in the process… What prompted you to switch from politics to library science?

Armen, I was always interested in politics. I used to read the op/ed pages of the local newspapers by the time I was ten. Also, my father and many other people I knew were involved with the civil rights and/or antiwar movements.

I got involved in student government (General Organization) at BCHS and was president of G.O. The first political campaign I had anything to do with involved blowing up balloons for Bill Burns’ unsuccessful attempt to become mayor in 1969 (?); he lost to Al Libous.

New Paltz

I went to SUNY New Paltz as a poli sci major and joined the New Paltz Democratic Club. In 1974, Howard Robison (R-Owego) declined to run again in the vast Congressional District that ran from Ithaca to Binghamton to Woodstock and New Paltz. Three of the four candidates came to the NPDC and pitched us. Though most members backed the lawyer from Woodstock, a few of us supported the district attorney from Ithaca named Matt McHugh.

I carried petitions for him and got over 125 signatures. While McHugh lost the portion of Ulster County in the CD, he won New Paltz. Then he ran in the general election against Al Libous and won. I made some phone bank calls for McHugh and the Assembly candidate, Maurice Hinchey. They both won.

Some poli sci friends of mine got me to run for Student Government Association. In a crooked election, which I wrote about here, I won. But I dropped out of college for reasons.

The next year, there was a vacancy in the SGA, and I was appointed to that position. Unfortunately, though I was oblivious to it, there was much chicanery with the bookkeeping, with thousands of dollars missing. (In my area that year, which was Education, including WNPC and the Oracle newspaper, my audited books were off by 79 cents.)

Grad school #1

I went to SUNY Albany to get an MA in Public Administration in 1979. That didn’t work for me for some reasons, not the least of which is that the students there were ruthless. They would hide materials or even remove pages from books.

The kicker, though, was one course in which we were given a real-world problem to try to solve. Then the actual person who took on the issue came to class to explain how they resolved it. As often as not, there WAS no suitable resolution.

At the same time, I had an internship at the Albany Housing Authority. I did have some successes – notably recommending merging the janitorial services, which had been divided into ones funded by the state and federal, which worked more efficiently. Nevertheless, it was often disheartening.

So when I took a summer job at a comic book store, I stayed for 8.5 years. After an awful year at Empire Blue Cross and a stint as a Census enumerator, I went back to grad school kicking and screaming. But truth be told, I have always had the librarian inclination since I was a page at the Binghamton Public Library when I was in high school. Or, more likely, long before that. And these were cooperative, not competitive, students. Much more my vibe.

I did carry political petitions thrice in the 21st century, one for a Common Council candidate I liked and the others for a school board candidate and a judge, both of whom I knew personally, and they all won.

There it is: how I started off as a poli sci major and ended up as a librarian. BTW, the poli sci did come in handy as I was able to ascertain which agency I should contact to get certain information.

Sunday Stealing: Extraordinary Penpals

Donny Hathaway

extraordinary penpalsHere’s another Sunday Stealing from the League of Extraordinary Penpals

Have you ever written to a celebrity? Did they respond?

I don’t know that I’ve ever written to any celebrity directly except to some comic book creator types who I have gotten to know. I did write to Paul Simon’s label once to complain that the six-minute version of Boy In The Bubble should have been on the expanded version of Graceland, but there’s no reason to think that Paul himself ever read it.

Do you read letters immediately or wait until you are ready to reply?

What are “letters”? Oh yeah, I remember letters. Usually wait, although if I think I’ll let it slip through the cracks, I’ll try to push it up in my queue.

My preferences when it comes to reading

Sufficient light (a growing requirement), probably on the sofa because it’s the only place, other than my office (and I want not even to see the computer, lest I be tempted to check it out), that provides comfort and sufficient illumination. The television must not be on. Music can be, but it should not have words, which is to say mostly classical or jazz.

Invisible pain

What I’m least likely to change my mind about?

Things that are true over time. An example: my wife had some medical issues involving her left leg. She has not been to church in over a month. I recommended that she take her cane to church today. This is because when someone does not appear hurt/injured, others perceive that he or she is better physically than they might be.

I believe this to be true because my wife and I have a friend who has experienced severe pain over time. They have told us that because they don’t LOOK unwell that others believe they are faking or malingering. Having a crutch or sling or wheelchair or visible bandages – and my wife has bandages under her clothes – is a sign that “something is wrong.”

Whether my wife will take the advice, IDK.

 The topics I would get wrong during trivia

Car models, flower varieties, and actors who became famous in the 21st century.

What I’m hopeful about right now?

That my wife will continue to heal

Philosophies I’ve learned/embraced from others

A Unitarian once told me that “we create our own theology,” and I think that’s true. I may believe something uplifting from the Gospel according to Matthew, but I don’t feel obliged to explain some dreadful verses from Leviticus.

What makes home feel like home?

Music and books.

Talents and skills I like to cultivate

Getting around via mass transit, keeping up with political events

More music

What makes my heart race?

Music, for sure. There is music that will make me cry with joy or cry with melancholy. Take one example: Gone Away by Roberta Flack. It really doesn’t get going until the second verse. It’s described here: The late, great Donny Hathaway “lifted that fleeting horn melody from his own ‘I Believe to My Soul’ and used it to anchor the chorus and closing section.” In the right mood, the song can make me weep.

What power means to me

The ability to turn on my computer, my CD player, my cellphone…

One of my comfort hobbies

Playing with my Hess trucks.

Last time I was pleasantly surprised

When my wife started changing her own bandages this week

How was my October 2022?

Busy and exhausted, as noted here and here and here and especially here,  plus another post I haven’t put out yet.

Those who inspire my growth

Almost anyone who has a rational point of view. Of course, I get to define what I think is rational.

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