Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Way Forward

Regular readers are accustomed to me identifying a problem, then wasting about a thousand words complaining about it, and then not offering any solutions, finishing up with a “good luck!” I had an epiphany this morning. For a change, I have a suggestion about how we can move forward. You're not going to like it.

We are now quite familiar with what does not work. We have watched the people in charge (hereinafter, “TPIC,” TM Frederick Ceely, 2019) rob us all blind and weaken or close-off our constitutional freedoms continuously for about fifty years now. I've been over all of that ground many times. During the 1970s, we were preoccupied with the crash of the dollar, “terrified by” might be a better phrase, which made it hard to see the brewing political storm that was mostly behind the scenes at that point. During the 1980s, Teflon Ron raised our taxes while dramatically lowering taxes for TPIC. He also put the country disastrously in debt. During the 1990s, many of us hoped that Bill Clinton would put us back on track as a leading western democracy that was fiscally responsible and responsive to people's needs. He turned out to be a mixed blessing; it was one step forward and two steps back. As productivity shot through the metaphoric roof, real wages were stagnant while jobs disappeared and prices rose dramatically. He did balance the budget, but he did it partly on the backs of working people. The year 2000 will go down in history as the beginning of the end of American democracy. Congress entered a period of gridlock from which it has never emerged; the Supreme Court proved that it had been thoroughly politicized; and W. Bush coasted to whatever hell his handlers had in store for us. The national debt returned to a zoom-climb while Bush returned to Reagan's pattern of cutting taxes for TPIC while raising them for the rest of us. By the time Barack Obama was elected, there was no longer a functioning government in the United States.

Then the real catastrophe struck. Demons flooded out of every crack in the earth and grabbed every lever of power in the country. We now have a shell of a government that has little interest in governing and no interest at all in the welfare of the people, except TPIC. We have no Constitution that we can turn to in this emergency. Most of the countries in the world, including America, have abandoned reason in favor of one mania or another, a catalog of doom that includes, but is not limited to, greed, religion, racial “purity,” historical grievances, pure hatred, judgmentalism (moral or otherwise), or self-interest. Or it may be some combination of these things. Or it may manifest itself as pure stupidity, not apparently moored to anything in particular. All over the world, huge swaths of the earth are now governed by political entities that never give two consecutive thoughts to the general welfare of the ordinary working families that make up the great majority of the people under their jurisdiction. No, they are consumed instead by other thoughts all together, generally thoughts of money, and how they can personally get their hands on it. All of this is transpiring against the horrific background of momentous climate changes that will soon, without doubt, ceremony, or recourse, end our so-called civilization as we have known it for the last twelve thousand years.

The way forward? Didn't someone say that there might be a way forward? Yes, that was me. I remember my promise. Today's epiphany was the realization that we no longer have recourse to any solutions that are based in traditional politics.

I, like many people, have spent much of the last fifty years longing for our government to change direction. We could see that it was all going to hell. Some of us remember the tail end of forty years of government favoring the interests, security, and well being of regular working Americans. That would be from about 1930 to about 1970. (Insert standard disclaimer about minorities and homosexuals not sharing in the benefits.) We hoped, as things began to go off the rails, that our democratic institutions, using our Constitution and our political parties, would begin again to put the interests of regular people first. I longed for it until the presidential election of 2000. I increasingly feared for it for more than a decade afterwards. Now I have despaired of ever seeing it arise from the ashes of our traditional politics. That ship has sailed.

What's left? Well, revolution, of course! The people whose interests I want to see being served must themselves do something. They must take action. They must use force. But Mr. Fred, what kind of force are you talking about?

Americans are terrified of revolution. This is, in a way, odd, because the country itself was founded by a revolutionary cabal and wrested by force from a colonial power. The United States was conceived and brought forth into the world in a bloody revolution. Please let the record show clearly that I am not suggesting that we try that again. The circumstances that allowed it to happen in the late 18th Century no longer exist. The colonial power had long been at war with another large European colonial power, and that made life difficult for them and provided an ally for us. There was also the fact that three thousand miles of ocean needed to be crossed in sailing ships before the colonial power could so much as punch us in the nose. No, we won't be shooting our way out of this one, boys and girls.

Revolutions come in many styles and varieties. Shooting up the place is out of the question, and asking TPIC nicely has yielded no results. We need to find an effective strategy somewhere in the middle.

The job before us is huge, and so must our effort be huge. I'm talking about large peaceful demonstrations. Better perhaps to call it a large but unpredictable pattern of repeating demonstrations. Something along the line of flash-mobs, let's say. Enough to keep the issues that are important to us in the news at all times. Oh, I recall that the news is a wholly owned subsidiary now of TPIC, so let's say “in people's eyes” at all times. This could be accomplished in the real world, in traffic centers everywhere on an almost constant basis, or in the digital world.

Super-demonstrations would be part of the strategy, but not all of it. Hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating for the last couple of years. The reporting of it all in the corporate media has been light and condescending. Something needs to change about that.

There needs to be a focused statement and purpose for it all. It must be ONE revolution. Not a march for women over here, and for trans-people over here, and for fast-food workers over there. ONE revolution, to restore our government to the service of the ordinary working people of the United States. ONE revolution with clearly stated goals that the vast majority of Americans can support. ONE revolution that can keep the pressure on indefinitely.

One serious problem that arises immediately will be how to keep TPIC from killing it in its cradle. I suggest keeping it all very simple and unfocused; keeping it “leaderless,” so there are no particularly important people to arrest or co-opt; keeping it so simple that anyone can be a leader, locally, where it should all be focused anyway; keeping it free of any hierarchy at all, so that when one person is arrested there are many other people in that locale who can take their place.

Make no mistake, this will get a lot of people arrested, and imprisoned. I suggest that individual families nominate someone in their family who can take the hit without being destroyed by it. That's for the more serious arrests, where prison time may be considerable. For simpler arrests, like illegal assembly, or failure to disperse, or interfering with police business, I would suggest that the more arrests are made, the better. The more people who are sentenced to ninety days, or community service, the better. Get millions of people arrested, tens of millions. Let them fill up football stadiums with people arrested for demanding their government back. Let them build concentration camps. If the message has been kept simple and appealing, if the demands are reasonable and obviously good for everyone, the arrests will only bring in more Americans sympathetic to the cause.

The revolution must not be AGAINST anyone, not against the government, not against the rich. The revolution must be FOR everyone. What is demanded must only be things that will benefit everyone. They should even benefit the descendants of TPIC. Get money out of politics; restore some kind of one man one vote equality; institute a decent and fair tax system that allows the rich to profit from their ideas and hard work while providing the government with the money that it needs to maintain infrastructure and look after people who struggle to look after themselves; take profit out of the health care business. And doesn't it go without saying by now: begin an emergency program to mitigate the effects of climate change?

This post is just one man's idea of a way to begin. I start with the proposition that it is immoral to simply give up. I say this, even though giving up is obviously the only sensible thing to do. Just give up and hope for the best. So many people today are trying desperately to hold on to what they've got, waiting for their money to run out with no clear idea of what they'll do then. I'm one of them. If this is America that we're talking about, something like half of those people have guns. (I do not.) For the gun-crowd, when the money runs out, and they're still in their late sixties with no job prospects, that's a toss-up between them committing suicide and shooting up some library or something. People joke about it. “Yeah, I guess when the money runs out I'll go to Norway on a tourist visa and rob a bank. The prison cells up there are a lot nicer than my trailer.” There are alternatives! We must acknowledge that income security, health care security, education security, job security, and retirement security are important to everyone. Security for everyone enhances everyone's security. No one in our government now seems to care about those things. In fact, they are actively trying to make things more difficult for us. We have a right to those things. Don't listen when TPIC tell you that no one has a right to anything “for nothing,” that you worked hard for what you have and now people want to take it from you! TPIC want you to believe all of that so that they can continue to pick your pockets.

I'm saying that we can no longer expect any help from our democratic institutions. They have failed. There will be no help coming from the Democrats, or any upcoming elections, and certainly no help coming from the Republicans. I am also saying that we cannot just give up. We need to unite and fight this peaceful revolution together. I mean together, not as lefties or conservatives, not as workers, not as men, or women, or trannies, or Boomers, or Millennials. Together, united. We need to put our asses on the line and fight for what we all believe is right.(People who know me are laughing at that last bit. I live in Thailand, and believe me when I tell you that I will not be doing any demonstrating outside the American Embassy. So all of this is cheap-talk, I suppose.)

I was in high school when I watched Martin Luther King fight for equal rights for the former slaves. The Constitution, in its amendments, gave them all of the rights to freedom that are enjoyed by any American. As of one hundred years later, neither the Federal government nor any of the state governments had ever seen fit to allow the former slaves to enjoy those rights. They had to fight for them, and they did so peacefully, with great nobility, and with quite a bit of success. We are in an analogous situation. Greed and corruption have totally taken over our government, and our so-called representatives no longer sees fit to allow us to enjoy our rights as citizens. The Constitution has been torn up; our government officials worry only about feathering their own nests; and TPIC like everything just the way it is. All of this while our prosperity and the climate of the earth itself continue to degrade. What further sign from God are we waiting for?

That's your choice, really. Revolution, or despair. Accept the end, or fight for a new beginning. It's up to you.

I have grandchildren, and I will confess that considering their futures was my greatest motivation in writing this thing down.

DISCLAIMER: None of the above advises anyone to break any law at all, no Federal law and no law of any of the United States. None of the above is critical of any particular law, not directly and not by implication. None of the above advises or condones the use of violence, in any way, shape, or form, against any individual person, any business entity of an form, or any government building, office, or other manifestation of government, Federal or local, literal or figurative. The writer has not consulted with any individual or organization prior to the publication of this blog post.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Nils Lofgren - Goin' Back - The Old Grey Whistle Test

This is superb. Nils, mea maxima culpa, babe. I never paid attention. I even thought that you were dead! It's been my loss over the years, obviously. This is wonderful. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Spin Easy Time!: Miharu Koshi and Haruomi Hosono - Swing Slow (1996...

This is a recent post, but the arrival of additional information has caused me to add a substantial amendment. There's much more fascination here than I realized.

Spin Easy Time!: Miharu Koshi and Haruomi Hosono - Swing Slow (1996...: This is a very Japanese record. I don't think that it could have arisen from any other musical culture. I have come to believe that th...

Shoo Rah - Chris Kenner

Instant Records, 1967. 

Surprises In English Vocabulary

Many English words do not mean what we think they mean. I am including myself in the “we.” Many of us suffer from misapprehensions. Strange shifts may appear upon closer examination, and the shifts may be moving through the language slowly by dint of daily usage, or misusage, as the case may be.

Enervate.” To enervate means, “to cause to feel drained of energy.” From the Latin, enervare (to weaken, specifically to weaken by extraction of the sinews). I've been misusing this word forever, thinking that it meant the opposite of its true meaning. I thought that it meant to energize someone or something, to add energy. Note to English learners: we are all English learners. If we keep paying attention, we continue to learn until death overtakes us.

Nonplussed.” This one I've always gotten right, but the word is now in a strange state of flux. It means, “surprised and confused.” For example, “Larry was nonplussed when the lights came on and everybody yelled Happy Birthday!” You may recall, as I do, that the word has frequently been used incorrectly over the years to mean the opposite. Nonplussed often appears when the intended meaning is that someone took a surprising event very casually, as though they expected it to happen, or were in on the joke. This opposite meaning is now simultaneously correct.

My Oxford Concise gives the original meaning to the word, so “surprised and confused” is still the preferred usage. There is now a note, however, to the effect that in “North American informal usage,” nonplussed means “unperturbed.” I do not possess the type of mind that can immediately call up a list of words that can simultaneously be taken to have opposite meanings. If you can think of some, I'd love to hear about it.

English must be watched like a naughty teenager hanging around the liquor cabinet. There is a generous layer of mischief close to the surface of English. This, I believe, is a good thing. If English were easy, it would not be so much fun.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Miharu Koshi and Haruomi Hosono - Swing Slow (1996) FULL ALBUM

This is a very Japanese record. I don't think that it could have arisen from any other musical culture. I have come to believe that there is something in the way that the Japanese language orders the information to be conveyed that lends itself to the arrangement of sound into music. As the Japanese language is unique among languages, Japanese music has an unmistakable Japaneseness to it. 

What does this sound like? Well, maybe it sounds like some kind of minimalist Shibuyakai music. There are aspects of it that reminded me of the great Cornelius. Or, it might be unique. You tell me! 

I have reminded myself that in August I posted a stand-alone song by Haruomi, a surreal version of the Carpenters hit, "Close to You," rendered as "Close to Me." ("Just like me, they long to be, close to me . . .") I have also discovered that Haruomi has been turning out cutting edge material since 1970, was a founding member of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and remains alive and sufficiently healthy to be touring Europe as we speak. 

Long ago I wondered about old age and whether it would become necessary at some point to look further afield to find new things to be fascinated by. I was thinking of extreme measures, like taking on an intense interest in opera music. Luckily, such extreme steps are not required. The world is full of things that we already love, but have not yet discovered. They are related to things that we know and love, but only as aspects hitherto hidden from us. This is a lucky break, and I am very grateful. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Goin' Back - Dusty Springfield ( Some more images of Blackburn Lancashi...

This is a Goffin/ King number and I believe that Dusty's version, this version, was the first. The year was 1966. The only reason that I can think of for including old photos from "Blackburn Lancashire" (no punctuation) would be those four thousand holes mentioned by the Beatles in their particularly pretentious song, "A Day in the Life."  

Welcome To Whatever This Is

We all grew up in the United States of America. At least that's what we were told, and most of us believed it. I certainly believed it. There was a lot of evidence, after all. Maps, etc., history books. We were raised on the American myths, Thanksgiving; cowboys and Indians; westward expansion; building the railroads; Freedom (with a capital F); the Constitution; the “Melting Pot;” one man, one vote; fair-play; equality before the law. We bought it. In fact, most of us bought it hook, line, and sinker. Those were innocent times, and now it seems that it was just some kind of weird political Tilt-a-Whirl ride. It is becoming obvious that everything that we were taught was wrong. Reality is appearing out of the mist, and what we are seeing is disturbing.

I live in an advanced developing country where most of the streets bear all of the same defining characteristics of streets in any of the world's most developed countries. There are lines separating the lanes, lines of different colors, solid lines, broken lines. There are all of the usual signs, and stop signs are in the universal form of red hexagons bearing the word, “stop!,” or in this case, “yut!” There are traffic lights that change from green, to yellow, and to red, including many in the form of colored arrows. There are also the usual rules about who may drive, at what age, etc., and the process is regulated and licensed. Car insurance is mandatory, as in most advanced countries. The difference here is that all of these rules and regulations are mere suggestions, and drivers feel free to ignore them whenever it seems expedient to do so. It seems chaotic at first, but one gets used to it. All that is required is that a driver must always assume that all of the other drivers are going to do anything that makes their driving experience easier, regardless of the traffic laws. This value-set seems to have infected American politics. Something has dramatically changed.

Here again I am not just talking about the fantastic and wonderful Donald Trump. As I have said before, he's just the canary in the coal mine. The more important bit, the deadly poisonous gas in this analogy, is our current crop of venal, hypocritical elected officials. The Republicans are more directly the cause of the shift that we are seeing, but they are joined in their guilt by most of the Democrats. The real brains of the outfit may be easily identified. Just follow the money! Who has almost all of it by now? Yes, the investment class. To refer to them so may be sarcasm or it may be an attempt to be polite. Perhaps their most apt description is, “the oligarchs.” “Galtian Overlords” also works. I usually just call them the “super-rich,” whom I consider to be anyone having so much money that they could never possibly spend it all. They, whatever you call them, are the new masters of the political entity formerly known as the United States of America.

The United States was a house of cards held up by gravity and supported by a critical mass of participants who were in tacit agreement over the norms and traditions that were to be followed at the risk of losing everything. Our problem today is that not enough of the participants believe any longer in those norms and traditions. We've had politics as total war since the Reagan days. Do whatever you want if you can get away with it, and keep pushing to make sure that you exploit every advantage. It's been pretty bloody. Now that the Supreme Court has a safe majority on the winning side, the battle is over. The war is won.

Reports of the demise of the Republican Party are premature.

Like the traffic in my adopted country, it has now become obvious that all of the rules, regulations, laws, conventions, and traditions of the United States have been mere suggestions all along. All it has taken was for a well-knit group of ruthless, heartless, selfish bastards to ignore the entire legal framework of the United States and simply do whatever suits their best interests.

No, of course congress is not required to hold hearings just because the president has nominated someone to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court! No, of course the Senate will not be required to hold a trial on the matter if the House, in due course, sends them articles of impeachment! No, of course the Executive Branch is under no obligation to cooperate with a lawful impeachment process!

We, all of us, have allowed this to happen over the last fifty years. Think tanks, big-money, and the Republican Party have brought us to this point, slowly but surely, and most Americans, including most of the Democrats, have just gone along for the ride. Now, after almost three years of Trump, the Republicans have succeeded in dismantling the Federal regulatory agencies; incarcerating vast numbers of suspected Democratic voters (i.e. Negroes); emptying out the State Department; impoverishing the country with a vast tax cut that made the rich much richer and Federal and local state governments much poorer; throwing out pesky regulations of industry and the environment; filling ambassadorships with the most crass, unsuitable cronies, if at all; militarizing our regular local police forces and filling the country with truly frightening Federal police in large numbers; criminalizing everything; Gerrymandering most of the safe Republican districts in the whole country; stacking the Supreme Court; stripping us of one Constitutional right after another; and hypnotizing a substantial portion of the population into liking it.

The Supreme Court! The real laughs will begin when cases revolving around either Trump's impeachment or election shenanigans start arriving at the Supreme Court. I've been warning people about the Supreme Court for about thirty years now, twelve of those years right here on this blog. The Constitution is whatever they say it is. Buckle up, Buttercup. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

So, what do you think? Is it time to come up with a new name for our completely reformed country? Should we stick with a “reinterpreted” Constitution, institute a vast amendment process, or just shit-can the whole thing and start over? So many new, exciting questions. Even if it may turn out to be just so much rearranging of the deck-chairs on the Titanic. One of the more dubious features of our new power-elite is their rejection of advice from the scientific community. Oh, they believe the advice, make no mistake about that. Many of them have good educations, and they know facts when they see them. They agree, secretly, with climate change, for instance, but they reject it publicly, because to do otherwise would cost them money. They know that they will need that extra money some day to protect their own families from the effects of climate change. There's a circular-logic going on there, but I think that the real dynamic is the race for the money itself. Those super-big-shots are in a competition with each other. Whoever has the most billions wins! (Extra credit if your company owns a colony on Mars.)

I'd suggest keeping our Constitution, because they're all ignoring it now anyway and keeping it offers good optics. It allows the illusion that we're still the good old U S of A. For a name I like the Republic of Freedomland. Then we could all call ourselves “Republicans” with a straight face. We should keep the two political party thing, but new names are in order. How about “Lincoln Republicans” and “Liberal Republicans?” Everyone could hate the Liberal Republicans, who would be allowed to pretend to fight to restore some of the social freedoms that we now take for granted, even as we are losing them. This is a work in progress, so I'm not sure where the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis fit in.

I miss the old America, even with its many imperfections. It was a pretty good place, all in all. This new thing, whatever we call it, is a poor substitute. It'll be a dirtier and poorer police-state, and everything will be more expensive. All of that is true already, so you can't disagree.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The CRAMPS - 'What's Inside A Girl?' - 7" 1986

So, the 1980s were good for something. Make a note. The Cramps were never the "greatest" anything, or close to the "best" at anything, but they always made sure to put the "fun" in "funtastic." And they always sounded good doing it. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble & Jaki Liebezeit - Mystery R.P.S. (No. 8)

There is a world close by, where neither Trump, nor Hannity, nor Moscow Mitch, not Tomi Lahren, nor Takeshi 69, nor Justin Beiber, nor Mark Zuckerberg, nor even Freud or Jesus, can bother you. A safe space. It's an easy trip. Go there now! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Baby Boomer Privilege (Or, I Worked Hard!!!)

All age groups are present on my Facebook friends list, although I will admit that the geezer end of the spectrum is better represented. The anecdotal evidence of my own FB feed is full of memes shouting, “I worked hard!” Or, “We worked hard for everything that we have! Nothing was given to us!” It is most often my fellow Baby Boomers that are passing these things around. I see a distinctly selective memory pattern at work here.

The subject of Baby Boomers most often comes up on this blog when I feel like objecting to us being blamed for every damn thing that has gone wrong with America in the last fifty or sixty years. To read the click-bait about those greedy-ass Baby Boomers, you'd think that we have been totally in charge of the world since we were grammar school students. I hate that shit; it's totally unfair. Today, however, I'm turning the j'accuse lens back on us. It is simply wrong for us to forget or deny the many advantages that we have had over not only generations that came before, but also over generations that have come after us.

For people my age to say that, “we worked hard for everything!” is a truism. We did work hard. Everybody in America must work hard. It has always been thus, since those first ill-fated settlements in the early 17th Century. America is a tough town. If you don't work hard, you are left to die by the roadside. But for Baby Boomers to suggest that we did not enjoy huge benefits from having been born in our narrow range of birth-years would be disingenuous.

For some Baby Boomers to suggest, as some do, that, “nobody ever gave me anything,” would be a colossal self-delusion. The government, and historical circumstances, gave us tons of stuff. We entered the work force with close to a living wage. Everything from cars and houses to a day at Disneyland was very affordable. We were all given free Blue-Cross/ Blue-Shield medical insurance policies with almost any job, easily transferable to the next job because it was the same insurance company. We were given free university educations. We were given meaningful interest on savings at the bank. Those of us who were seriously injured in our generation's stupid, meaningless war were pretty well taken care of, with high-quality health care and meaningful financial compensation that enabled the sufferers to live well on the benefits. No, my fellow Baby Boomers. We did very well when it came to free stuff.

It's harder to pin-down the financial demographic for the “I worked hard!” group. Most seem to be retired Baby Boomers whose apparent prosperity may be fraying a bit around the edges.

And who are these people getting “free stuff?” The chorus repeating this refrain seems to take its cue from certain so-called “conservative” political interests. The beneficiaries of the mysterious “free stuff” turn out to be identifiable groups of low-income Democratic voters. Minorities, immigrants, the usual suspects. Double-dippers get special attention. Groups like “Somali (black; Muslim) immigrants” will receive special mention, especially if they vote one of their own into the House of Representatives. Remember “Obama phones?” That was a good one. I'm sure that every reader has seen all of the memes on Facebook about how, “illegal immigrants get free medical care and $4,000 per month while our veterans are homeless!” It is very sad that many of my age-mates seem to believe every word of this complete bullshit. In truth, illegal immigrants just keep their heads down and work hard! Duh!!! If they ask for “free stuff,” all they'll get is a free trip over the southern border, minus their possessions. Here's a news flash: illegal immigrants pay taxes, including Social Security, but they get zero benefits. All of that money subsidizes Social Security payments to Baby Boomers! Y'all should really be more appreciative.

Many older Americans, including many Baby Boomers, are also fond of complaining about Millennials. Are Millennials also in the “free stuff” club? That would not jive with my observations. Don't let those fashionable young people drinking Starbuck's coffee fool you. Those people work for tech companies and their high salaries are driving up your rent if you live anywhere near them. Most Millennials can barely make ends meet. They double and triple up in over-priced apartments and work two or three jobs in the gig economy. They live without health insurance, hoping against hope that they don't come down with something expensive. I'll bet that they are, as a group, very careful crossing the street. They are one broken arm away from living under a bridge.

The patience of these long-suffering young people reminds me of the centuries of brotherly tolerance exhibited by American blacks. Both groups have suffered, and continue to suffer, the insufferable with quiet dignity. I am humbly grateful for their forbearance.

And speaking of grateful, wake up, Baby Boomers! We should all offer sincere thanks to God or to fate for hitting the chronological lottery! When we were starting out in life, we had the world served up to us on a half-shell. We had advantages that today's young people can only dream of. Now we have huge TVs and Netflix, and the time to enjoy them. And hey, here's a helpful tip: the Internet is good for many things other than joining in today's Two-Minute-Hate. Back away from the Hate Hillary memes. Go to the websites of famous museums and look at some famous paintings. Read poetry. Take a virtual tour of Kuala Lumpur and discover that much of this big, wide, wonderful planet has joined the First World since the last time you checked. Learn some history. Find some new music to love. What the hell, go nuts and study a foreign language! Learn a few hundred Chinese characters and impress your friends by reading a Chinese language Menu! The Internet is like having a good library on your desk, and we all have monitors as big as Dallas these days so it all looks great.

And leave those poor immigrants alone. If you read a bit about why they take those extreme risks that they do to get to America, first you'd hang your head in shame, because America is responsible for a lot of their misery, and then you'd take it easier on them, and maybe even do something to help them. They're not getting any free stuff, and they're not riding on your coattails. All they want is a chance to bus your table and pick your damn strawberries, for crying out loud.

I for one am very happy to have been born in the post-war Baby Boom. I am grateful for all of the advantages that I benefited from. For a while there I was fully occupied with raising my boys and trying to make a living, but for the last thirty years I've been trying to make repayments on my good fortune in life. I've been working on my compassion skills. I can't tell anybody what to do, but it's worth thinking about.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Clever Girl--No Drum and Bass in the Jazz Room (Full Album)

Okay, raise your hand if you've ever heard of Math Rock? Nope, me neither. Buzzfeed thinks that there is such a thing, and that Clever Girl are an example of it. 

Whatever it is, it all sounds very fresh and new. It's got echos of things in it, sure, echos of Prog Rock from the 1970s, maybe? A bit of Yes sometimes? But with horns. Is it Jazz? I'll bet that this style is popular in Japan. It's precise and surprising at the same time. It sounds very nice to me. I like Clever Girl. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019


Chris Kenner, the mark of quality! 

This is a first hearing for me. "We're goin' to kick down windows, knock down doors, bake a cake and light Mary Joes!" What could he be talking about? 

The piano solo beginning at 1:20 is really remarkable. The fellow goes out on a limb and stays there for a while. Chris Kenner always delivers. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

The End Of The World, Again

I’ve said it before, and I’m not afraid to say it again. I was strangely at ease with the idea of the end of the world as a youngster. The end under which we lived in constant danger was Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD!). It was very real, since there were several tens of thousands of nukes locked (in launch positions) and loaded (ready to fire at a moment’s notice) at any given time. On missiles; carried on planes; loaded on submarines. Multiple warheads! All at the mercy of those ancient Cobol punch-card computers, in control panels with vacuum tubes in them, and at the mercy of human beings, whom, let’s face it, tend to be accident prone. A nuclear exchange of that magnitude would probably scrape the planet clean of almost all life. Probably even the roaches and the ants, gone. Pigeons? Definitely gone. Rats? Forget it, gone. Fish? Maybe something left at extreme depths, but even that’s a maybe.

As catastrophes go, total nuclear destruction at that level would have been the most egalitarian catastrophe in the history of the earth. The fatality rate would be one hundred percent of ninety-plus percent of the species on the earth. Indulgences would not be sold! There would be no paying someone to take your place among the dead! Prayers would not be answered! I still don’t think that it was a strange thing for me to be drawn to. We all must die sometime, and the personal death of one individual is such a lonely, banal thing. I was completely okay with dying along with every one of my fellow human beings, over the course of a couple of days. There’s not a drop of, “why me, Lord?” in that. We’ll all go together when we go. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m also on record as being much more threatened by the slow-motion death of most living things that we are now in the beginning stages of. I would much prefer the deaths of 100% of humankind almost instantly to the deaths of only 50% of us over the course of one hundred years.

Yes, I am talking about climate change, so if any of you dear readers are Breitbart fans hoping for a “Liberal policies will cause the end of the world!” fix, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

We are already witnessing massive die-offs in the animal kingdom, whether land-based, marine, or airborne. We are already seeing delighted, enthusiastic responses from the invisible kingdom of the bacteria and the viruses. We are already seeing formerly fertile swaths of land drying out and sending millions of the former farmer-inhabitants running for more food-secure locations. We are at the same time watching hitherto unheard-of amounts of rain washing out farms in other countries, including our own, and leaving devastating floods in their wake.

(Interesting language, English. Wake, as in from a boat that has recently passed this way, or wake, as in a memorial for the dead, or wake, as in wake up! Which I wish our slow-witted statesmen would do, wake up and smell the coffee. This problem is real.)

People are missing the message here. They hear about temperatures going up by what seems like a measly few degrees, and all they can do is laugh and say, “big deal!” They’re not scientists, hell, they’re not even people who read anything beyond photo captions on the phony hit pieces that are posted to Facebook by Russian bots. They have no idea that those few degrees are almost always given in Celsius, so roughly double it for Fahrenheit, nor do they have any idea of what that inconsequential seeming difference can due in terms of real-world effects. It doesn’t mean that your summer days will top out at 98 degrees instead of 95, no, not at all. Those are averages! Your summer day may go up from 95 degrees to well over 100. There may be more days over 100 in a row than ever before. Your winter temperatures will go down accordingly. What had bottomed out around 20 degrees Fahrenheit may now go down below zero. The average of these extremes will be going up by a “few” degrees. The entire life-cycle of the flora and fauna of your city or your state will change. You will have bugs that you’ve never seen before that used to stop at Georgia. You may see tree die-offs in your forested areas due to invasive pests, or simply from the lower overnight temperatures in the winter. And that’s only the beginning. The real fun starts when young children or old people in your family start to die from newly ascendant diseases. (Don’t forget! While all of this is going on, all of our pharmaceutical companies are concentrating on pills for male erections or everyone’s depression/ anxiety. Those are the long-term profit drugs, after all. Who needs antibiotics? And forget cancer drugs. We’ve got plenty of those to sell you already. They don’t work, but while you’re “fighting cancer,” the drug companies and the medical providers make a fortune.) 

Oh, it will be getting lively before too long. Food items disappearing, and prices for many items sailing up into the stratosphere. Hunger-driven migrations will make the mostly war-driven migrations that we see today look mild. Climate change is already driving people to leave Africa and try desperately to get into Europe. Take a look at the fire-maps and the desertification-maps of central Africa and you’ll see why. This is all happening already. And this is only the beginning.

One could be forgiven to wonder why no one in authority seems to care about this. No one in America, anyway. The ruling class in a few countries believe their scientists to the extent that they will make small concessions to alleviate the problem and give it lip-service in international forums. In America, we have Democrats, who provide some similar lip-service but at least admit that man-made climate change is actually happening, and Republicans, who deny the whole thing, claim to believe that there is great disagreement among the scientists, and insanely push laws that will definitely accelerate the degradation of our biosphere. Right now, the United States is firmly in the “part of the problem” group of nations.

It was somewhat heartening to see a lot of mostly young people demonstrating openly last week, demanding that their elected officials wake the fuck up and start to do something to help us remain alive. I’m guessing that this outpouring of youthful energy will generate some additional lip-service from government officials, a few cries of “here-here!!!” from the scientific community, and maybe even the formation of a committee or two.

The bad news is that the basic problems militating against anything really being done are related to the nature of money. Money wins most arguments these days.

First, there is the fact that budget items that MUST be paid for this year always take precedence over budget items that SHOULD be paid for this year. In America, the MUST list even included every penny of the huge, bloated, useless military budget. Then there’s what’s left of some social programs and loads of other things. I predict that protecting Saudi Arabia from Iran will take precedence over the contingent existential threat to the island nation of Tuvalu that is just one likely effect of climate change.

Second, there is the fact that our super-rich citizens, and even our merely very rich citizens, and even our only slightly rich elected officials, obviously believe that although climate change is real, and many people will be “inconvenienced,” they will ride it out just fine! They are not threatened by higher food prices, or the need for more expensive medical care. They stupidly fail to take the threat seriously, thinking that their money will protect them.

Third, and for America most important, is the fact that many of our largest, richest corporations depend on the use and sale of things that by their very nature exacerbate the climate change problem. Fossil fuels, etc. Corporations, as I now believe, have no real existence of their own, being only a false-front for those rich people that I mentioned in item number two. Those people want their money streams to continue to flow, and they believe themselves immune to the problems that they are causing. They ensure that our greedy elected officials will maintain the status quo by paying them off with a small fraction of the money that the current system allows them to keep. (The politicians are a bunch of saps, another favorite topic of mine.)

My expectations for solutions to all of these interrelated problems are low. My guess is: Slow Motion End of the World, here we come! Maybe some precipitous degradation of our food supply, or a sudden world-wide health crisis, or some other unambiguous sign from God, will get our response mechanisms into gear. I’ll let the optimists answer that “maybe.” I have depressed you enough already.  

Percy Mayfield, Woman get way back

This is a nice demo for a great song by Percy. The full version is on a CD of mine of Percy's Specialty Records output. 

I love Percy, both as a songwriter and as a performer. You hear it said so often today that "everything is on YouTube now," but it's not true. This is the only version of this song on YouTube, unless some young Dark YouTube hackmeister could find one that I missed. It's a shame. Because there sure is a lot of crap on YouTube. 

This demo is fun, though. It's historically significant! 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Up In The Air

Another successful take off and landing. I don't take them for granted anymore. As routine as air travel has become all over this world of ours, it's best to be grateful whenever one experiences the absence of bad fortune. Touchdown! Thanks for that.

Statistically, as they say, flying is safer than driving around a big city, safer, even, than crossing the damn street, but there's always the odd chance that we could catch a pair of egrets, one in each engine, right at some highly sensitive moment soon after wheels-up. These modern jet engines just spit out small birds, but an egret is pretty substantial, bigger than a duck, although probably smaller than a goose. I see egrets around every airport that I routinely fly in and out of. They hang around the rice fields, and airports here are usually surrounded by rice fields. Those are nice and flat, and not the worst places to make an emergency landing. You'd be amazed at the quantity and the variety of the aquatic life that call a rice field home. That's what attracts the egrets: lunch. I see egrets in the air and on the ground, every time. The point is, shit happens, and sometimes it happens to you. So be grateful when it doesn't.

I've done a lot of flying in my life, so I'm accustomed to the excitement of it. I know, those middle six or eight hours of a long flight can get a little dull, but anytime you take a moment to think about where you are, much less consider the physics that are involved, it gets exciting all over again. Almost nothing ever goes wrong, however, during that dull middle section of the flight. All of the terrible things happen at take off or landing. I've done a couple of hundred take offs and landings. That's not enough to make me think that I'm pushing my luck. I'll probably be fine.

The champion fliers in my family are my father and one of my cousins. Those guys spent their entire careers up in the air. Several decades each, every week, week in, week out. In fact, before he retired, I called my cousin “Mr. Up in the Air,” after that nice George Clooney movie. On this recent flight I ball-parked the number of take offs and landings for each of them, and the total number of air-miles. They come out in something like a tie, or maybe my father was half-a-million miles ahead. In round numbers, each of them had taken off and landed about five thousand times, for a total of about five million air-miles. Those are conservative estimates.

Not a lot of close calls to report. Neither one of them. Or maybe they just weren't noticing anymore. A couple of funny stories, but no near death experiences. I had a close call myself, but it didn't make too much of an impression on me at the time. I was only ten-years-old, and I only knew that something was happening because all of the adults on the plane seemed very nervous. One lady, who had been drinking, kept smiling at me and saying, “now don't you worry! Don't worry about a thing!” I can clearly remember her wide eyes and heavily made up face, and the Highball on her breath. I just smiled back and said okay. That was on a Douglas DC-6, a very nice plane with four Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasps pulling it along. Great engine, used ten years earlier to power the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the Vought F4U Corsair, and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, among others. Great engine, unless you let some new kid gap all seventy-two spark plugs right before take off and he fucks it all up. Eighteen cylinders times four engines, that's a lot of fucked up spark plugs. The plane was vibrating like an out of balance washing machine. They turned it around after a half-hour or so and landed it back in Tampa. I'm sure that somebody got yelled at.

It's a fact of life. We should be thankful if we fly. Flying on a regular basis is a sure sign that one is relatively prosperous. Any job that sends you flying places is likely to be a pretty good job. I fly for my job, although not with the frequency, or over the distances, that my father and my cousin experienced. I'm grateful for my job, and I'm grateful for my relative prosperity. Let the record show, your honor, that in spite of my tendency to complain, I have appreciated my good fortune to the greatest extent that my capacities allow.

Johnny ''Guitar'' Watson You Can't Take It With You

"You didn't bring nothing with you, and you can't take nothing away . . ." 

Johnny makes a good point. Perhaps we should give today the attention that it deserves. 

Because, ". . . tomorrow might be [our] day." 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Mr. Fred's New Amazon Adventure

(Spoiler Alert! This post is actually about the book that I just put up on Amazon.)

It’s a good thing that there are so many reasons not to write, because the world is chock full of unread books already. You can go ahead and write another one if you care to, please feel free! No one is likely to notice anyway, and the work of writing a book is torture. If you think it will make you feel better, however, go ahead and write a book. If you find the act of writing relaxing, or amusing, go ahead, write to your heart’s content. At least writing is a safe, quiet way for you to channel that persistent urge to harm yourself.

Or, don’t. Don’t write a book. No one will notice that either. People by the millions don’t write books on a daily basis.

Some people feel compelled to write. They feel like they are so full of wonderful stories that they must write them down for others to enjoy. They are afraid that they will burst if they keep all of that great writing bottled up inside. Others feel a strong impulse to write as a way of assuaging the morbid fear of death that most of us feel, more or less. We feel it, whether we acknowledge it or not, because we know it’s there waiting for us. It’s like that man standing behind us on the subway who may or may not be reading the newspaper that he’s holding, folded so compactly, and carefully. Probably displaying today's obituaries. How did he get on the subway carrying that scythe, anyway?

Then there are those people who are so diffident that they can hardly leave the house, much less hold down a job. Such delicate flowers often get the idea that writing may be their best shot at making a living. You can do it alone, locked in a room, it’s perfect. You can write sad stories about lonely people, because after all, they do say, “write what you know about,” or you can describe the fascinating adventures of cowboys. It’s up to you! You’re the writer; you’re the boss! Writing turns out to be an awful way to try to make money. That much should be obvious to anyone, without needing to try it out just to make sure. The only deader end than writing is fine-art painting, mostly because the overhead is much higher. All of those art supplies are expensive.

I have always had a feeling of familiarity with the printed page. I remember pouring over printed pages at a very early age, long before school. Long before my sister was born, which happened when I was four. Long before I could read. I had seen the adults spending what seemed like a long time quietly staring at these pages, so I thought that I’d try staring at them. It was like looking into my future. All of the adults seemed to be able to discern patterns on these pages, they must be doing something. I was a confident sort, so I naturally assumed that I would soon be able to do what they were doing. I set out to learn to do it, and in fairly short order I had it figured out. These were words, just like the spoken words but these were made up of symbols. The pages delivered a variety of things, like entertainment, often with photos or comics attached, or information, everything from stories about pirates to the listing of programs that would appear on the television. It was all very wonderful. I thought so then and I still believe it. I’m a reader.

How about writing?

I don’t remember giving it a thought until I was thirteen, probably a thirteen-year-old high school freshman. Underage to purchase adult magazines, I became adept at quietly smuggling them out of the many candy stores in town. The magazines were quite a challenge. The ones that I was most after were on the top row, so it was hard to disguise the required grab as some other motion. You had to time it just right, unobtrusively waiting until the shop owner was beginning some action that would take his attention in another direction for the required time. You couldn’t be staring at him either, you had to be a regular spy about it. The move was to reach for the middle rack, pick up a magazine, like a car magazine or something, and smoothly continue the motion upwards and fit a good “men’s magazine” behind the car mag. Then simply hold them both with great nonchalance and start leafing through the car magazine. When a good opportunity presented itself, you reached up with the car mag in your left hand and replaced it on the shelf, while with your right hand you were placing the men’s magazine under your shirt and tucking it into your pants. I was a natural. I never got caught.

Much easier to lift were paperback books. All of the angles were better. You could place yourself with the rack between you and the owner; the product was easier to handle and stash away. They were no challenge at all. I took books that I liked, like Dr. Fu Manchu books. I took and read “Junkie,” by William Burroughs, which opened my eyes about a few things, I can tell you. And I helped myself to any pornographic novels on the rack, although they were so awful that I stopped taking them unless they contained nude drawings by Frank Frazetta. I wish that I still had a couple of those, because I’m sure they go for good money over on the e-bay.

Reading the text of one in my room, I realized that someone had been paid to write it. “Paid too much,” was my first thought. I allowed myself the comforting thought that if I was ever really hard up for money as an adult, I could write these things. I’ve never been ambitious, so I did not immediately assume that I could write more sophisticated subject matter.

Never been ambitious! That’s putting it mildly. My major ambition has always been to be left alone. I grew up in a jungle, surrounded by fangs and claws. Left to my own devices, I would prefer to do nothing, because doing anything at all opens the door to criticism, censorship, mockery, humiliation, or worse. Life, regrettably, requires us to do things almost constantly, so doing nothing is almost never an option. Now, having achieved old age, I find that it is easier for me to expose myself to the dangers of the public gaze. Three decades of public speaking and writing for the court and for my classes have toughened me up a bit. And who cares at this stage of the game? How terrible could the results be? Whatever happens, it won’t last too long. And nothing at all matters anyway. Fuck it, release your words into the stream of commerce. One of the rules of luck is putting yourself in the places where luck may run into you. You never know what will happen.

There is now a book on Amazon that I wrote and self-published. It is drawn from the pages of this blog. This first effort at self-publishing is called, “Political Rants: Lefty Vitriol in the age of Obama and Trump.” It’s got a very attractive cover that I got from a “pre-made covers” website. It consists of a selection of my highly opinionated blog posts about politics. There are two more books on the way. One is made up of posts on general topics; the other is posts on the subject of myself. I was looking back over the twelve-year history of Spin Easy Time one day and I found that I was quite pleased with a lot of it. I also noticed that the writing had gotten a lot smoother as time went on. I began to wonder if it might be readable as a book, or books, and I finally decided that it probably was.

I did this under my own name, in spite of the dangers. When one has reached my age, one has been sufficiently humiliated by life not to care much about humiliation anymore.

Having begun, the odds are good that I will continue. I may tackle other non-fiction material that has never appeared on the blog. There are subjects that I have touched on, but not explored in detail. I might even go nuts and finish a novel that I started about ten years ago. I got about half-way through a first draft and became discouraged by the unlikelihood of ever getting it published. That, of course, is no longer a problem. You just self-publish on Amazon and the others. After that it’s a matter of marketing. I’ve got the time, and I enjoy the process. If I break even, I’ll be happy. Happy to get some additional readers! Sure, I’m a validation whore, I admit it. That’s pretty mild stuff in the spectrum of vices, so I think my place in heaven is safe.

The above song by Rockpile is from their 1980 LP, “Seconds of Pleasure.” Dave Edmonds and Nick Lowe fronted the band. This song is by Nick Lowe. Dave and Nick remain alive as of this writing. Dave is seventy-five; Nick is a few months younger than me at seventy. I hope that they are both doing well, and I wish them the best of luck in what I call, “The Place of Bad Roads,” where many of us now live. If you really want to have a rocking good time, listen to Mr. Edmonds’ LP, “Girl Talk.” It’s a barn-burner.

Listen while you read my book!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Beach Boys [Pet Sounds] - Sloop John B (Stereo Remaster)

Just as a reference point, the Beach Boys' version. 

Pet Sounds was released in May, 1966. This is the LP that scared Paul McCartney into raising his game. It reminded him that the Beatles weren't the only game in town. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sloop John B by Blind Blake Higgs

An issue of first impression. Good song. Interesting song choice for the Beach Boys to cover. 

Time's Not Waiting For Dieter

Time ain't waiting for Dieter, that's for sure.

Time didn't wait for Eddie and Ernie either. They bounced around under that name in the 1960s, and tried to make a living at least into the 1970s, but they were so obscure that even the dates of their deaths are vague. It doesn't look like they made it much past age sixty. This cut was their biggest hit on the R&B charts. I doubt if they ever made much of a dent on Billboards list. There is no justice in music.

One thing that they got right, “all time will do is make you old.” Jeez-Louise, my friend Dieter is finding that out the hard way. I saw his Thai wife pushing him around our old condo in a wheelchair the other day. Poor guy is wasting away, too weak to be heard from more than a few inches away. He's German, and like most of his Landsmen he keeps his own counsel on most things. He's not giving up the details of his current ailments. Whatever it is, it's winning. Gone by Christmas is my guess.

It's a shame, too. He's a good guy, a late-in-life divorce victim like me. Thailand is a great brier patch for guys like us. We lived in the same condo building for seven years, and we always got along. Arms length, in the German style, but very friendly. My German sounds great, but it's weak. Dieter had the knack for speaking slowly and using a simplified vocabulary. He could understand me fine, my accent is first class. He was retired; he had been a Panzer Offizier in the modern German Army. He was a big, bear-like Faust of a man who could put you in the hospital by shaking your hand. (I developed a technique for self protection. When he stretched out his hand, I grabbed it hard by the fingers. He couldn't get a grip, and I was spared.)

Now he's getting his ass kicked by diabetes, or lupus, or something, God only knows, but it's one of those sudden collapse kind of things. Losing weight, losing teeth, got the bags attached, skin getting blotchy. So yeah, gone by Christmas.

But how about that Eddie and Ernie! Everything that I've heard by them is great, all the way great, no half-steppin. Music is a tough business. This life business gets pretty rough, too, unless you're lucky enough to die in a teenage car crash.

Too cynical? Up to you. If you believe that any of this has any meaning at all, go for it! Me, I doubt it. I'm with Anne Frank on this one: “everything that we've done comes to nothing.”

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Bad Situation Made Worse

On July 28th I posted one called The Awful Math of Aging in America. That should only be the worst part of it! The math is an awful cross to bear, but the social and political aspects of the problem are even more horrible to consider.

Pop Quiz! What year was it the first time you heard about any married couple getting divorced after thirty or forty years of marriage? That would be people around sixty-years-old getting divorced. Does anyone remember that happening at all in the 1960s? 1970s? How about the 1980s? Anyone? Maybe someone is thinking of an instance in the 1990s. By the 2000s, you did hear about it from time to time. I'm suggesting that it is a recent development. The trend is accelerating, around the world.

My own ex-wife kicked me out in 2007, and rendered her permanent judgment on the matter in 2008. Hit the road, Jack! Make your own long range plans. I was just short of sixty. That's a bit late to begin planning for retirement. “We” had a perfectly good retirement plan. “I” have not been so lucky.

It seems to me that there are fewer inhibitions on family and friends these days when it comes to rejecting people who had become accustomed to being close to them. Perhaps one was accustomed to sharing a budget, property ownership, retirement plans, parenting duties, and a bed with someone that they loved. Perhaps it was a valued friendship full of shared memories and quality conversation time. On thin or no pretext people feel very free now to just cut you loose. There have been many observations about alienation in our society for a long time now, but these breaks are more like rejections, or even betrayals.

The danger for me is always separating the personal from the societal. Abandonment has always been my White Whale, my Moby-Dick, and it is possible that I have only succeeded in my hunt for more of it. Sorry to bother you if that is the case.

So much for the social, how about the political?

Most of the countries in our preposterous new world are not cooperating with us in the least. We mere individual citizens, I mean, we without whom our countries could not have prospered at all. We who turned the screws and moved the freight and paid our taxes and taught the children and built the things and created the art and fixed whatever was broken. We get no consideration at all these days, unless there are huge bank accounts or some celebrity to recommend us. Most of the countries of the earth are busy reducing or eliminating any advantages that they once believed wise to provide us with. America is at the forefront of this tightwad revolution. The weasels who have discovered how to turn nothing at all into money have made sure that the only real money is the money in their own bank accounts. Those money hoarders are so numerous and so rich now that there is a huge surfeit of money chasing the limited quantity of goods and services. As a result, most of the goods and services have been priced out of the reach of most citizens. A large and growing majority of Americans are hard pressed to afford things that were very recently commonplace in the lives of ordinary people, things like ball games and concerts, vacations, and adequate medical care. It's enough to make you cry. It's enough to make me cry anyway.

The world around us is changing so fast that there is a lack of permanence to every aspect of life on earth, in whatever country you wish to examine. You may search around for a port in this storm, you may already have done so, and you may find a place that seems suitable and make the necessary investments to make new connections. Learning the language; working to offer some benefit to your new home; investing time and money; becoming a good neighbor; playing by the rules. The harsh reality is that you can trust cultures to offer sufficient continuity and honor your efforts, even value them, even appreciate you personally, but you cannot trust governments. Cultures operate on very long time continuums. Governments flash by like telephone poles viewed from a moving train.

A bit of free advice: never knowingly play cards with anyone who can do card tricks. Sometimes, however, you have no choice.

We are stuck in a card game with entities that are adept at bottom-dealing, deck-stacking, and card manipulation. They call the game, and deal the cards. They even make the rules. We, poor fools, must only try to play the cards that they deal to us. This is true around the world. All we can do about it is exercise great care in picking a table to play at. Beyond that it's all hoping that the worst doesn't happen.

Dear reader, I wish the best for you. May your family and friends remain constant in their affections. May you comfortably pay all of your bills and have enough left for a pizza once in a while. May you get all of the help that you need, and may you need as little help as possible. Me? I'm just the nervous type. I'll be fine! Probably.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Fortunate Son by Pere Ubu

Nice to see Ubu still doing quality work. They've been at it almost fifty years now, counting precursor bands. I had a strange look on my face listening to this one. I didn't look, but I could feel it. I think that I can still feel it. And I think the brother's right. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Bar-Kays - Give Everybody Some

From the same Bat time, same Bat channel. (See post below.) Volt 154.

Jean & The Darlings - How Can You Mistreat The One You Love

Welcome to deep (Stax) Volt (Enterprise)! Volt 151, from June, 1967. That's an outfit with a catalog that is deep and wide. Things changed after 1968, when Atlantic records was sold and Stax/ Volt/ Enterprise reformed around a new distribution deal. I could mention that Otis died around this time, but that would be too sad. 

There were a lot of great records after the break from Atlantic, but the feel was different. The Emotions, the Dramatics, the Staple Singers, I'll let the musicologists explain it. For me, the material from the Atlantic years is part of the high-water mark for Soul music. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Trump Purchase: Greenland!

He'll probably want to change the name. 

Many of us like to complain about Trump, and we sometimes lose sight of his inherent power to amuse us. El Presidente can be a funny dude. Usually this is unintentional, but the comedic effect is just as real. Take a movie like “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” for instance. No one set out to make that movie funny, but it is nevertheless pure comedy gold.

Similarly, there is zero possibility that Trump is trying to make us laugh by wearing that silly thing on his head every day, and yet, every day, it gets a chuckle out of me. (No, I do not mean the MAGA hats.) When Trump opens his mouth, there is no telling what will come out. His utterances range from jaw-droppingly ignorant to totally ridiculous. No kidding, that's about the range of it. Funny stuff, though, either way.

Trump went full boffo this morning with a proposal that the United States enter into negotiations with Denmark about them selling us Greenland. It reminds me of that old Margaret Cho joke, “does anyone in the audience want a vagina? I've got one I'm not using.” It also reminds me of a joke that many of us had a chance to tell back in the old days. “I just flew back from Europe, and the weather was clear enough to give us a good look at Iceland and Greenland. It's some kind of joke: Iceland is mostly green and Greenland is covered in snow.” The joke is now on us, of course, because the ice and snow that once covered Greenland is disappearing faster than rats escaping from a sinking ship. This has suddenly gotten Trump's nose open. He's a very bold businessman, after all, especially with other people's money. Ordinary people will look on with mild bemusement at Greenland losing its sense of irony, but the great billionaire sees a wonderful opportunity. It's the last such undeveloped lot in the world! Greenland becoming green creates an awful lot of prime real estate! Really, an awful lot. 835,000 square miles of it.

That comes to 535,000,000 acres! Trump obviously expects the Danes to sell cheap. His whole team believes the Danes to be a bunch of stupid hippies who go through life making one socialist mistake after another. Let's make 'em an offer! Throw it on the wall and see if it sticks!

Trump claims to be a tough negotiator, and I'm sure that he is. “Let's see,” as he makes that ridiculous tough-guy face, “we bought Alaska for seven point two million, and that was almost 600,000 square miles, figure some inflation, how about $50,000,000?” The Danes do not appear to be as desperate as the Tsar was back in 1867, so they'll probably hold out for a lot longer than he did. How much is Greenland worth, anyway?

Let's consider Iowa, that's a nice flat place with a lot of good farmland. Thirty-seven million acres total, and twenty-eight million of them are devoted to agriculture. The low-end estimate for Iowa farmland is $4,000 per acre . . . that comes to $112,000,000,000 (one hundred and twelve billion dollars). You can have the rest of the state free. There are fifteen times the number of acres in Greenland when compared to Iowa, 535,000,000 compared to 37,000,000. So you can scale up the estimate.

Nobody is expecting Greenland to be as fertile as Iowa, although it might be. The Vikings seemed to like it when they were there. The growing season will be shorter, even without the ice and snow all the time. So there are negatives. There are also enhancements, as you might expect. Look at that extensive coastline! New opportunities for tourism and trade. With glaciers that thick, I doubt if there has been a comprehensive survey of the natural resources, but I think that it is safe to say that Greenland offers much more in the way of valuable resources than Iowa. This thing is not going to be cheap.

Assuming that only twenty percent of Greenland turns into decent farmland, that comes to 107,000,000 acres. At a value of 75% of the low-end price for farmland in Iowa ($3,000 per acre), that comes to $321,000,000,000 (Three hundred and twenty-one billion dollars). Another portion of the land will no doubt be good for grazing sheep or something, so tack on another $50,000,000,000 (fifty billion dollars). Then you've still got eighty percent of the land to fool around with, and a lot of that is coastline. The resource profile will probably be similar to the rest of the northern edge of the world, which is resource-rich. That would be Alaska, Canada, and Russia. (And I guess little bits of Norway, Sweden, and Finland.) So if I'm the Danes, I'm looking for two trillion dollars in cold, hard cash. ($2,000,000,000,000.) It would probably be higher if I did some more research. That's a bargain, too. That's less than we spent on useless Middle Eastern wars that only made us look bad with nothing to show for our blood and treasure. It's a lot less than we spent to dig our way out of that George W. Bush economic collapse thing. Two trillion, that's my take-it-or-leave-it price. You snooze, you lose. I'm smiling for six or seven minutes and then I'm looking at my watch, putting some phone numbers on the table, and walking out the door. You know where to reach me.

No exclusive rights for any particular purchaser, either. Maybe the Russians or the Chinese are interested. They might want to start a bidding war. Who else could afford it? Cash on the barrel head; serious buyers only. Let's not make a list of the untrustworthy ones, although we know who they are.

Yeah, that El Presidente Trumpo, he's a hoot. Make 'em an offer! Let's make a deal! He's a regular laugh a minute. How much do you think the Mexicans will take for Baja California? We could always use more of California.

haruomi hosono - close to you

Or, in this case, "Close to Me." 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Vocabulary Alert: Flaccid

Down this column a ways is a post from August 11th that has the word “flaccid” in the title. Coincidentally, I read an article in Harper's Magazine yesterday about the degeneration of the English language. It was brought to my attention that we are all saying flaccid wrong, or maybe our way is no longer wrong. Things are changing so fast that it's hard to tell anymore.

I have always understood the word to be “flasid,” and I have always pronounced it “flasid.” I'm pretty sure that I have always heard the word pronounced “flasid.” The writer of the article, however, has a much greater license than me to have an opinion about the proper pronunciation of English, and she said that the word is actually, “flaksid.” Recall that this was in Harper's Magazine, and they have a lot of credibility in such matters. She did allow that “flasid” was becoming an acceptable alternative. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I consulted my big-as-a-house Oxford Concise Dictionary. It's a good one, with full etymological information. The Oxford is a United Kingdom publication, but they are scrupulous about setting forth the British and the American versions where there are differences. Sure enough, the pronunciation guidance was given as, “flasid, flaksid.” No geographical separation, just a simple pair of alternative pronunciations. I don't think that I've ever heard it pronounced “flaksid,” but I wouldn't be surprised if there were people in England who would do it.

People who had undergone the old-fashioned classical education in England, especially. I took two years of Latin in high school, but honestly I did not pay that much attention. Flaccid comes to us via the Latin word flaccus, meaning flabby. The Romans applied the hard “c” to Latin, but for all I know the double “cc” was pronounced “ks.” That would explain “flaksid,” working backwards.

Even so, “flasid” was the first suggested pronunciation ten years ago, so I guess we're okay to say it that way. That's a relief.