Friday, July 31, 2015

Ronnie & The Daytonas - 'Little GTO'

Denise McCluggage

Change is the only constant.  Hanging on is the only sin.

The memory that I have of newsrooms is that they were places of motion.  It was rare to find in that sea of desks a person who wasn't just about to leave to interview someone or to observe some conflagration, or those returning from doing the same.  I suppose that's why the desks were rarely personalized, as we see now with cubicles.  A reporter's desk would hold her/his typewriter, an IBM Selectric, a drawer filled with Portage Professional Reporter's Notebooks waiting to be used, another for the filled notebooks [these were important to keep for future reference and for protection from libel suits] that were loosely "filed", and I seem to recall a third for the bottle of Four Roses or John Begg or some equally low-rent liquor.

This was true even in the 1980's as one of the fellows with whom I shared my Episcopal Church-owned apartment worked for the New York Times and was never, ever in the office.  The closest I think he ever came was the Blarney Stone across the street.  A couple of years ago I had the occasion to enter the newsroom of The Hartford Courant, in great anticipation of once again experiencing the frenetic electricity of reporters at work.  Instead, it was a cubicle zoo, with reporters sitting, sitting!, at their desks in front of quiet laptop screens performing their research through Internet search engines, quietly speaking to people via a thing in their ears [Bluetooth?] and drinking from Starbucks cups.  I was all at sea.

Now, while I've always had respect for reporters, the opposite is generally true of journalists.  Reporters get the story; journalists massage it.  In fact, many times these days, as most of those in the media would describe themselves as journalists rather than reporters, it seems that they're merely extensions of the public relations departments of political parties or corporations.  Stories are not necessarily the truth, but rather the journalist's point of view; a not-so-subtle change from the grand days or reporting

Even those who describe themselves as "participatory journalists" such as Hunter Thompson, George Plimpton, Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Robert Cristgau, and Joan Didion need to be regarded with a grain of salt.  Having lived next door to a "new journalist" has made me even more suspect when I read their works.  My neighbor crows in print about his sports car collection, but they rarely leave his garage and then only to travel about a third of a mile to the local market, generally at the speed of a riding mower.  I imagine similar postures exist with the other members of his writing fraternity.

That is, except for this week's personality, as she not only and without question participated in the stories that she wrote, but did so honestly and in full public view.  In addition, she was able to report the story without artificially inserting herself into the narrative.  That's quite a feat.

Perhaps this was because Denise McCluggage was truly interested in sports, especially that of auto racing, and not as a means for self-glory.  Born in 1927, and having wanted to be a reporter since childhood, McCluggage was covering a yacht race when she met the American godfather of sports cars and racing, Briggs Cunningham, who convinced her that the only truly exciting sport was auto racing. She agreed so whole-heartedly that not only did she become the first woman reporter to cover auto racing, but one of the first women to compete.

What made her participation sublime was that, in the days when drivers wore distinctive helmets so that the fans could identify them as they whizzed by the stands, her's was white with pink polka-dots.  You'd never catch Phil Hill or Dan Gurney in anything resembling a chapeau.

Since McCluggage had gotten her first driver's license in Kansas at the age of 14, she was already familiar with passenger cars.  Her first competitive sports car was not a large, heavy piece of Detroit steel, naturally, but a 1950 MG TC with which she began her racing life in small races and small tracks.

Rather elegant, isn't it?  And a little fragile looking, too.

By the time she was hired by a New York City daily paper's sports pages, she had the wherewithal to upgrade to a Jaguar and compete in the more serious, professional races.  In 1959, she would win her first race at Thompson Raceway in Connecticut.  Eventually, she would compete in the Sebring 12 Hour race where, in 1961, she would win her class in a Ferrari, and the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, winning her class in a...Ford Falcon [the most underrated American car in history; its engine and chassis were eventually covered by a snazzy body and called the Mustang]. 

Her career lasted until the late 1960's, driving cars for over a dozen different American and European racing marques and earning the respect of the other, mostly male, drivers in the sport.  Their regard for her is displayed in the photo at the header, where she is at ease with Juan Fangio, Stirling Moss, Pedro Rodriquez, and Innes Ireland.  All the while that she raced she also wrote articles on racing for the sporting press that are easily among the best of that wild, dangerous era of motor sports.

As her racing days concluded, McCluggage then took up skiing and organized the purchase and development of what is now known as the Hunter Mountain ski resort in New York.   She also wrote a well-received book, The Centered Skier, that combines skiing technique with elements of Zen philosophy that is still in use at some skiing schools in the USA.

She was one of the founders of what is now AutoWeek magazine, and remained one of its editors and columnists until her death earlier this year.

 There are a handful of collections of her columns for AutoWeek and other publications that bear numerous titles; By Brooks Too Broad For Leaping being the most popular.  In addition to her deft hand at the steering wheel and while heel-and-toeing her way through a corner at 100 mph, McCluggage was an able writer who could, with authority and lyricism, describe an event as visceral as an auto race with a vividity that captured the senses involved in the spectacle and the personalities attracted to its pursuit.  

This is why she was the first, and still only, reporter ever to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.  When asked, as she entered her ninth decade, if she would ever write her memoirs, she replied, "I don't do fiction."


Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Tree of Language [Click to Enlarge]

Update:  A much larger version may be found at this link.

Another Moral Panic Averted

Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high

It was never a real problem, merely a distraction presented on a slow news day.

How About We Just Agree That Our Culture Coming to Its End

University of New Hampshire Language Guide claims the word 'American' is 'problematic'

Personally, I think the word "problematic" is problematic.

Having Grown Up in the Age of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor, This is Rather Disappointing

Jon Stewart’s secret White House visits

"Speaking truth to power" has become "speak as a tool of power".   I'm sorry Millennials, there was a time when comedians were independent, truly counter-culture, and didn't require an audience of clapping seals to make them popular.  I'm sorry you missed those years.  No wonder laughter is all but banned on college campuses these days.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bugs Bunny Ep 92 Rabbit Of Seville -HD

Bugs Bunny Ep 147 What's Opera, Doc

Bugs Bunny... "Leopold!"

Bugs Bunny's square dance in 'Hillbilly Hare'

Earlier Postings Being Too Heavy, I Offer This Celebration of My Childhood Hero and Role Model

 On July 27, 1940, a legendary, world-renowned rabbit was born in Brooklyn, New York. (Actually, he was born in Hollywood, but you’d never know it from the accent.) He’s the wise-cracking, street-smart, self-assured star of the screen, Bugs Bunny. But he didn’t just appear out of nowhere.

Some of my favorite cinematic moments will appear above.

For Many, Many Reasons, as It Turns Out

How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?

Including this one:
The Cato Institute gives Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy an F grade for his economic policies that throttle investors and entrepreneurs.  Malloy “creates a more hostile climate for business, but then tries to compensate for the damage with tax incentives.”

#5 is No Surprise, Even Our Own Diocese Didn't Want to Stay There

These Are the Top 20 Cities Americans Are Ditching

"Virtue-Signalling" is the Latest Manifestation of Social Media

The most savage, bilious, self-righteous rants are from people living affluent self-pleasing lives in comfortable homes, doing lucky and rewarding jobs with like-minded friends. What they are doing (I risk losing a friend or two) is “virtue-signalling”: competing to seem compassionate. Few are notably open-handed: St Matthew would need a rewrite of Chapter 19. “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. So he went on Twitter instead and called Michael Gove a ‘vile reptilian evil tory scumbag’, and linked to a cartoon of Iain Duncan Smith stealing a paralysed woman’s wheelchair. And lo, he felt better and went for a £3.50 caramel macchiato with some mates from the BBC.”...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Land Of 1000 Dances by Wilson Pickett with Lyrics

The Voices on the Radio, Part Two: Bass, Billera, and Me

[We have written about the importance of local radio before, but there were a couple of other personalities that came to mind recently, whose influence I recall.]

It was on every Friday afternoon and we all would tune in.  In retrospect, the music that was offered was highly commercialized and a pale reflection of what was being played on FM radio at the time.  However, we were in junior high school and most of us had only AM radios in our homes and parents' cars at the time, so our aural journeys to the dark side of music were thwarted.

But, it hardly mattered.  From Windsor, Ontario across the lake from Detroit was a massive transmitter that broadcast CKLW to almost the entire Great Lakes region; the staff were responsible about mixing up the tracks so that listeners could hear junk like "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" [Dear God...] but also catch some Wilson Pickett or Archie Bell and the Drells [Yes, I can still dance the "Tighten Up", but only after my fourth Manhattan].

When CKLW was playing its block of Canadian "rock", as mandated by their government, it was then time to switch over to Cleveland's one, great AM radio offering, WIXY 1260, and its countdown of the top-selling singles of the week, the WIXY 60.

Such was the state of AM radio in those days that The Troggs and The Rolling Stones could share a list with Frank Sinatra and the Ray Coniff Singers.  Actually, this explains a lot about my musical tastes even in my near-dotage.

The WIXY 60 was often hosted by the affable Billy Bass [pronounced like the fish, not the instrument], a former jazz DJ familiar in the Midwestern market.  He didn't try to tell jokes, did not project a hammy persona, did not run at the mouth at every opportunity; the show was about the music, not him.  While he didn't seem to favor one type of music over another, I do remember that his voice would be a bit more excited whenever Wilson "Wicked" Pickett made the charts.  Really, who can blame him?

He was the perfect choice for the 60 and his style, I would find, would be the one that I would copy the next decade when I was sitting behind a couple of turntables.  However, on Sunday evenings, when the management of the station was neither in the office nor listening at home, Bass would indulge himself and us by playing the music we were really listening to on our home phonographs.  It was Billy Bass from whom I first heard Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Santana.  For that, I'm perpetually grateful.

He would leave to become, among other things, an artists and repertoire man for Chrysalis Records, aiding a number of groups to become recording artists, including Blondie, of whom we've written before.

Radio in those days wasn't limited to music, of course.  While in Cleveland there was always sports [and more sports], one could still find small stations so slight as to almost be between the decimals on the dial, where there were other delights for the active mind.

One such show was that of Jau Billera, one of the Cleveland's own beat poets and the host of a radio show that brought Cleveland poetry to a worldwide national city-wide "highly specialized" audience.

From a shopping center in one of the eastern suburbs, as unlikely a location for any kind of poetry as Billera and his microphone were jammed in a small, unused store front between a Sears and a J.C. Penneys, he would interview poets, let them read from their work, promote their slim volumes, and discuss the joys and vicissitudes of the lyrical life.  It made for a diverting Saturday afternoon listening, even if my Dad did think my choice of listening was "flaky".

Through Billera, I was introduced to d.a. levy, of whom we have written, Kent Taylor, Adelaide Simon, and Russell Atkins.  I appreciate that these are not household names, or even names generally familiar to students of literature, but they were important to those of us in Cleveland who enjoyed the possibilities of words and, as they were not limited by the constraints of the East and West Coast literary establishment, could be gloriously fun and experimental.  When you're a poet in Cleveland, there are no rules.

Billera would float about the area, even after the inevitable demise of his radio show.  In 1980, when I was teaching at a city high school, I was surprised to receive a phone call from him.  He was going from school to school offering poetry workshops and, as I was a 24-year-old department chairman looking for something innovative to do, scrounged 50 bucks from my $100 annual budget and enjoyed two hours of a sixties-era poet conversing with aficionados of the early form of Radical American Poetry, or Rap.  It was great.  As one of my best students noted, "Dang, that white man was dogged."  That was a compliment, just so you know.

Like too many artists, Billera had his demons and would take his own life just four years later.

I was no Billy Bass nor even a Jau Billera, although I did get published from time to time in the mimeographed poetry "journals" that flooded the streets in the counter-culture areas of Cleveland, but in 1974 I became, with some initial reluctance, a disk jockey.  I'd actually come to the station for a job collating sports reports for the on-air talent, but happened along the same day that one of the DJs quit/was fired, and they were desperate for someone to sit in for two hours.

The first time one hears one's voice through the headphones and knows that it's being heard by tens of thousands hundreds maybe a few dozen people is a daunting moment.  However, I persevered and, as I made to leave the studio, was caught by the station manager who said, "Kid, you're a natural."

Flattered, I responded with, "Well, I learned it all from Billy Bass."

He paused a moment, looked puzzled, and said, "Well, you can go fishing later; right now I want you to apply for an FCC license.  You've got a job, if you want it."

I did and, a month later, successfully took the test for my Third Class Federal Communications Commission Radiotelephone License and spent the next four years hosting the Midnight to 6 AM jazz show on Friday and Saturday nights, the Wednesday afternoon "acid rock" block, and producing recorded interviews with whatever luminaries, from musicians to authors to the fellow who prosecuted Charles Manson, passed through the area.  I've had a few jobs that were just plain fun, and this was certainly the best of them.

For fun, one may listen to a couple of recordings via The Cleveland Memory Project of Jau Billera's radio show at this link.

Fans of WIXY 1260AM maintain a website that streams the music, commercials, public service announcements, and bumpers from their ten years on the air.  If you desire some nostalgia, please listen to this link.  Right now, they're playing "Happy Organ" by Dave "Baby" Cortez.  It just doesn't get any better, does it?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pretty Much

NYT: Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?

Information for Contractors Working on Church Property

A week at a parish is busy, even in small towns, with people and groups coming and going.  So, any work that will take place for a week and will require closing buildings or the parking lot has to be scheduled with care so that no one is denied access unawares.  Thus, I offer the following:

1.  Churches are open every day, not just Sundays.
2.  Churches are open on Saturdays, too.
3.  And Sundays.  I thought most people realized this, but apparently not.
4.  More than 19 hours notice should be given when the contractor expects a parish's weekly schedule to be disrupted by several days' work.
5.  Once the schedule is presented by the contractor to the parish, and meetings, appointments, cleaning services, and parish staff have been re-scheduled, don't suddenly change the schedule.
6.  If you've changed the schedule once with little warning, don't change it a second time.
7.  If you change the schedule a second time with little warning, don't change it a third time with no warning.
8.  When the rector asks you what you need by way of information or access, don't reply "We're good" if, in fact, you aren't and then call the rector when he's a) in the middle of a meeting at diocesan house over an hour away or b) when he's scraping wax off of his surfboard when's he's 80 miles away and wearing a wetsuit.
9.  Remember that many, many parishes also include residences, so your work will not only have to be scheduled with a parish and it's congregation in mind, but also with the rector and his family.
10.  Remember that there are items of devotion in place throughout the property and not just in the "churchy" building.

Other than that, "we're good".

The Institute for Justice vs. New Jersey’s ‘headstone dealer cartel’

The Monument Builders Association of New Jersey—the lobbying arm of the headstone-dealer industry—convinced the state legislature to pass this law after losing a lawsuit last spring against the Archdiocese. In 2013, the Monument Builders sued the Archdiocese in state court, arguing that it was “unfair” for private religious cemeteries to sell headstones, but lost because it was not illegal for the Archdiocese to sell headstones to people being buried in its cemeteries. After that ruling, the Monument Builders ran to the legislature begging for the self-serving new law.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I Received This Charming Memo from the Head of London's Largest Mosque

Once the Caliphate is restored, Islam will outlaw:

Hey, I draw the line at "freemixing"!  [No, I don't know what that is, either.]

The Perfect Scientific Crime?

Science fraud has been in the news again lately, and it got me thinking about whether it would be possible to fake data with no chance of getting caught. Would it be possible to carry out the perfect scientific crime? How can we help make life more difficult for fraudsters?

21st Century Colleges are a Little Weird, Especially with the Summer Reading Lists

Especially popular this year are books centered on victimhood or identity struggles of various kinds. There may be good cause to learn about those topics, but when they become the dominant trend for summer reading programs over multiple years, one starts to wonder what really is the intent of these programs. Such consistent pounding away at similar themes, given the entire vast array of books from which to choose, suggests the programs are meant to introduce students to a certain worldview, and the reading program is just the convenient and seemingly scholarly way to do so.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grateful Dead - Sugar Magnolia

Bob Weir

I don't know if I discovered I had any talent. It was dogged persistence. I had to have the music.

I once picked up some extra cash not through industry, endeavor, or knowledge, but through a combination of ignorance and apathy.  It just goes to show, I guess.

As a musician, I'm limited and indifferent.  I can't really read music and I can't transpose without working quantum physics-like equations through my head.  As a child, I played the bagpipes without much success; as a young adolescent, I played the clarinet poorly.  I hated to practice and "Cadet Band" was my least favorite class in 7th grade.  When I discovered that girls liked guitarists, and I liked girls, the next instrumental choice was easy, but I still didn't really practice and never was much good.  As it turned out, girls didn't really care about that.

However, I performed pop music in high school, later played in the rhythm section in rock bands, experimented with some wandering jazz and blues, had the time of my life in the nightclubs of New York during the great days of New Wave, and even fiddled around with the bass with another collection of over-the-hill rockers when in my forties.  I've played with the 98 Decibel Freaks, the Zen Maniacs, Botch and The Clues, and the Son Five Blues Band.  In the '70's, I was the music director of a small radio station and hosted the six-hour midnight jazz show on weekends.  It was through that radio station that I wound up with this assignment.

There was a band coming to town, sponsored by my station, that had one of the other DJ's and one of the engineers rather excited.  I tended to ignore their excitements as they usually ran to things like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Iron City beer, and this time was no exception as it had to do with a band for which I never had that much use.  A particular musician needed a ride from the airport and had made an unusual stipulation.  Despite that the DJ and the engineer would have willingly killed the other for the chance to be the musician's driver, the station manager asked me to do so.

Not relishing spending three hours in the radio station's Chevy Malibu, half of that time with some acid casualty [I didn't have much regard for musicians outside of their performances; what they thought about life, politics, The War, etc. interested me about as much as similar "deep thoughts" do these days when opined by Hollywood people] I tried to beg off, but he sweetened the deal by giving me the next weekend off and an extra $20, so I agreed.

"Why, exactly, do you want me to do this?  The other guys are a lot more interested."
"His only request was that the driver not be a Deadhead.  At this place, that's only you."

It was true; I wasn't a Deadhead.  For those who don't know, Deadheads are the die-hard fans of the venerable rock group The Grateful Dead, the progenitor of what became known as "acid rock".  My fare was to be Bob Weir, one of The Grateful Dead's founding members who was fronting another group that was sponsored to perform.  So out-of-touch was I about "The Dead" that I didn't even recognize his name.

So, off I went through the absurd Pittsburgh traffic, much to the disgust of the other DJ and the engineer, both of whom wrote a list of questions for me to ask of Weir that I placed in the glove compartment and forgot.  If Weir wanted to be left alone and spend at least ninety minutes without having to recount the history of The Dead or interpret the lyrics in one of their impenetrable songs, that seemed reasonable.  I decided that, other than asking to which hotel he wanted to go [there were only two in our town: a Holiday Inn and a motor inn that catered to the anglers and deer hunters, so I probably didn't even need to ask that much] we would ride in silence, save for those moments when I was muttering at the Iron City-impaired Western Pennsylvania drivers.

As one could wait at the gate in those days, I stood at his plane's exit ramp holding up a piece of cardboard with his hastily scribbled name on it, and found myself standing before someone I wasn't quite prepared to meet.  Instead of some scruffy, mildly odoriferous, impaired, and unkempt rock guitarist, here was a guy who looked like one of my younger professors and possessed a disarming nature and smile.  After having worked with too many musicians at that point, Weir was a pleasant departure.

Instead of riding home in silence, and mostly at his urging, we spent the next hour and a half speaking of higher education, the expectations of college audiences, the poetry of Rimbaud, and the recent death of Steven Biko in South Africa; anything but The Grateful Dead and the answers to the questions locked, perhaps still, in the Chevy's glove compartment.

What was interesting was that Weir was really interested in ideas and the confluence of creative expression.  He knew art, literature, all forms of music, and, given some of his comments, had some true business savvy.  Despite the pose affected by many of the musicians of the '60's and '70's, that they were deeply spiritual and intellectual people, those whom I met during those years tended to be near-custodial in their intellect, save for their remarkable ability to score drugs in the middle of nowhere and be of mating interest to the college-age daughters of Pennsylvania dentists, bankers, and CPA's.

Weir was born in 1947, he would have been a mere thirty when we met, but was already regarded as one of the "old men" of rock and roll by that time, having been one of the founding members of The Grateful Dead.  Naturally, he was from San Francisco, what was once a city of lush artistic creativity. One night, while prowling about the city with another teenager, he happened upon Jerry Garcia at a music store waiting for his banjo students to show up.  I'm guessing that Garcia was somewhat impaired at the time as it was a holiday and none of his students were going to arrive.  At any rate, Weir and Garcia met, played together for a bit, realized that they should form a band like those fellows from Liverpool who had just been on TV, and began to make history.  It was New Year's Eve, 1963.

They went through various incarnations and styles of music, eventually developing their sound and final, most famous, band name.  The rest, as they say, is history.  However, there was one incident in 1968 that lead Weir to his particular place in the Olympus of pop music musicians.  After a few years, the band began to argue about this and that, as bands do, with most of the aggravation centering on Weir's guitar-playing, which was deemed not good enough for the evolving Dead.  Weir was summarily "laid off" from the ensemble.

To reclaim his role, Weir began consciously to work on his guitar technique, no longer trying to satisfy what he was taught as a teenager, but to develop his own "voice" on the instrument.   This lead to a style of playing that is now legendary, as it combined elements of slide guitar with rich chord progression.  Weir was permitted to rejoin the band and, with this new technique, make them a near-permanent fixture in the rock pantheon.

However, given that experience, he never again wanted to be wholly dependent on the whims of one band, one known for its occasional poor decisions, so Weir developed his own series of bands, with different names and styles, to fill the weeks when The Dead weren't on tour.  Ever the syncretist, Weir would work in influences from John Coltrane to Igor Stravinsky.

Through these bands and nowadays via his own, high-tech recording studio, Weir continues to influence contemporary music.  Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and celebrating the 50th anniversary this summer of The Grateful Dead in what is to be their final series of concerts, he is a quiet, but familiar and active, voice from American pop culture's most expansive period.

For me, though, he made the dull drive from Pittsburgh all the more interesting, and reminded me of how foolish it is to apply too fixed of a label to people.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

In Celebration of Ida Wells' Birthday, a Reminder of What Gun Ownership Means in the Black Community

Surveying the landscape in the summer of 1892, Ida B. Wells advised, that “the Winchester rifle deserved a place of honor in every Black home.” This was no empty rhetorical jab. She was advancing a considered personal security policy and specifically referencing two recent episodes where armed Blacks saved their neighbors from lynch mobs. 

By the way, Wells was a Republican, as was Harriet Tubman.  After all, Republicans brought emancipation; Democrats insisted on the maintenance of slavery.

Would Someone Please Tell the Pope?

World poverty has decreased this much in most of our lifetimes.  It's a staggering figure, unprecedented in history.

East Asia is separated from the rest of the world on the chart because, as one may see, its poverty rate was traditionally much higher than that of the rest of the world.  Please note that it is now lower than the rest of the world.

If you are wondering what has caused such a dramatic change, which has saved millions of lives, the issue is made of many different elements, from better crop management to advances in health care.  The one overiding element, though, is one that will trouble some of my colleagues, so I would ask that Episcopal clergy leave the room.

Okay, ready?  The common, life-saving and life-improving element in all of these economic changes and the advances that they engendered is...capitalism.

Cue the screaming.

[When you hear the term "liberation theology", I would relay what a liberation theologian of my acquaintance many years ago used as a definition for his school of thought: "We're just Marxists in vestments, that's all."  He meant that as a boast.]

It's Not Exactly the Cheapest Place to Live, Either

Connecticut Is Country's Most Expensive Place to Die: Officials

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

They're Often Rather Worse

Why aren't ethicists better people?

About Time They Figured This Out

Surfers: The Secret Weapon in Monitoring Coastline Health

Why Have I Never Thought of This?

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – A woman was arrested Sunday night after refusing to pay her dinner tab at a Myrtle Beach seafood restaurant because, as she explained to police, “Jesus” was going to cover the cost of her meal.

Gasp! This Would Mean that These Awards, and All of the Others Like Them, are not Honest.

According to a new report, Jenner's ESPY award originated as a pitch from her representatives to ESPN. Per RadarOnline, Jenner's camp suggested to the network that she receive the award and offered public relations plugs on her upcoming reality show in return.

I'm reminded of Claude Raines' character in Casablanca declaring that he was, "...shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here" right before being handed his winnings.

Hire Criminals to Reduce Crime. Brilliant!

East Baltimore anti-violence group work suspended after guns, drugs found in raid 

Although, it makes as much sense as any other anti-violence, anti-gun program.  Declare a space a "gun-free zone" and, abracadra, it is so.  Ditto with creating gun and drug laws to constrain people who are...outlaws.

They've Probably Been Following Govt Dietary Guidelines

One third of young US adults are too fat to join the military, report finds

As soon as I abandoned the government's food pyramid, with its over-emphasis on carbohydrates and its unscientific regard for transfats [they're good; no, they're bad] and eggs [they're bad; no, they're good], I lost eight pounds almost immediately without any other "lifestyle" changes.  Has the government ever been right about nutrition?

Most of these young people have been eating that diet in government schools and suffering diminished physical education and sports programs, having their recess play limited to doing little more than sitting around affirming one another's feelings so that no one will get hurt or the school system be sued.

If the military takes this into account and offers a "pre-basic training" fitness program for those interested, this will take care of itself.  Also, keep politicians and lunatic scientists with government grants away from any nutrition or dietary program.

Cure one or two people of blindness and you’re a saint; prevent blindness in millions and you’re Monsanto.

I myself first felt the pull of the Church in a very, very poor place — India, as it happens — that was at the time engaged in the humane project of making itself a considerably less poor place, largely by ignoring the advice of the Hindu versions of Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga. I am grateful to our clergy, and if my criticism herein seems unduly uncharitable to these princes of the Church, it is only because their backward views on capitalism are doing real, material, irreversible damage to the world and especially to the lives of poor people, who are most in need of what only capitalism has to offer. His Eminence may not entirely understand it, but the banks and boardrooms are full of men and women doing more in real terms for the least of these than he is — more, in fact, than he would even understand how to do — and what he proposes mainly is to stand in their way.
I have worked with a few very large, and rather wealthy, congregations during my career and, in one instance, reduced my flock to shock by urging caution when engaging in acts or ministries of social good.  The thing is, as I explained to them, ministry costs money and time and energy.  If the parish ministry, be it to the homeless, the hungry, or the otherwise disadvantaged, is to be realized, those organizing that ministry have to figure out how to pay for it.

Sometimes, and this is rare, the ministry itself is self-sufficient.  More often it needs to be subsidized through fund-raising events, although this can become exhausting over time, and from funds earned by another ministry or through specific endowments.  A ministry that does not take this into account is one that is bound to struggle and ultimately fail at its mission.  I regret that this is true, but it is reality.  Since church professionals have rarely started or managed a business, they are woefully ignorant in this regard.

For example, one parish where I worked had a gymnasium and basketball court [yes, that's right] that was not being used, so the well-intentioned in the parish turned it into a homeless shelter.  It was an abysmal failure as they did not take into account how many volunteers it would require, how much it would cost to clean up after a clientele notorious for its lack of sanitation, how to prevent violence among the clients, especially given that mental illness is common among the homeless, or how to cover the boost in insurance premiums.

There was also the matter of city and state regulation that stipulated, for example, that fire safety precautions be enforced [a fire drill for a collection of deranged street people is something to behold] and that a refrigerator of a certain size and style be available for their medications; medications that had to be monitored by the host facility.  All of this required not only tremendous time and energy, but considerable expense.  Paying for the ministry became more difficult when one of the most generous donors found a deposit of human waste in the pew that had been his families' familiar perch for at least three generations.

If the ministry doesn't pay for itself, and alienates those willing to cover the costs, it's no longer a viable ministry.  Good intentions only go so far.  Proclaiming the Gospel is far more physical than many suspect, and requires capital that too many clergy regard with disdain.

Hang on. "Experimental" Lab?

Florida fishermen find FOOT-LONG Asian tiger shrimp that escaped from 'experimental' lab

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Satire Requires a Deft Touch

Anything that agitates a campus bureaucrat who is obsessed with "triggering" issues is to be encouraged.  If one's argument is sound, one need not fear disagreement or seek to have it suppressed.  Christianity taught me that.
Along with a fellow College Republicans chapter member at Portland State University, we crafted the idea of petitioning the university to create a “murder-free zone” as a satire of gun-free zones.After all, if a gun-free zone by itself could prevent criminals from bringing weapons onto campus, then certainly a murder-free zone would stop all violent deaths on campus, not just those caused by firearms.

Helicopter Parents and the Kids Who Just Can't

Bloomberg Media:
Instead I'm worried that they aren't getting themselves into enough trouble. They seem so fragile. They can't read Ovid without a trigger warning and a pair of latex gloves, or go off to college without calling their parents to check in. Did no one ever take them aside and explain that college is for abandoning your parents, leaving them to worry about what you are doing with their money while you forget to call them for a month at a time? There is something truly terrifying about a generation of younger people that craves more adult intervention into their lives. Yet, that's what everyone from teachers to employers reports: a rising number of kids who seek to be tethered to their parents, and don't seem to know what to do unless Mom or Dad is hovering nearby.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Way to Go, Journalists

 Selleck being interviewed by a "journalist"

Official: Tom Selleck Accused of Stealing Water That He Had Already Paid For

It was just too good of a story to actually have to check the facts, wasn't it?  Plus, Selleck's politics are a bit conservative and he advocates for gun safety training, so he was deserving of a phony story based on an errant accusation.  We live in ugly times.

I cannot tell you how often the importance of accuracy was drilled into us when I was a young reporter.  As the old saying goes, "If your mother says she loves you, better check the facts."

Personally, I figured Higgins had something to do with it, or maybe it was one of T.C. and Rick's schemes.

[Yes, I have an odd fondness for Magnum P.I., perhaps because it was the first TV show to deal with post-Vietnam realities among veterans and to portray them in a positive light.  Until that point, Vietnam vets on TV shows were beginning to be stereotyped as crazed, maladjusted sociopaths, which was how they were being regarded in the media and on college campuses.  Oh, and in the Episcopal Church.  Then again, maybe it was the house on the beach, I don't know.]

Friday, July 10, 2015

Born to be wild - Steppenwolf

Graeme Obree

When you're depressed, everything becomes distorted.

I have worked through the years with a great number of parishioners who have suffered or continue to suffer from various forms of what is described, too broadly and pejoratively, as "mental illness".  This has included, but has not been limited to, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and depression.  I have seen others deal with beloved family members who suffer from such.  The toll it takes is tremendous, of course, and no less so when the suffering is with someone for whom we care.

There are transient forms of these illnesses, too, that can afflict us.  I find that even I, after a six month period when I experienced the sudden and unexpected death of my father and the very gradual, painful, and debilitating death of my mother; as well as the death of a beloved roue of an uncle and of my two most important mentors, found the grim hand of depression taking hold of my soul.

My exercise and nutrition routine, which I need to follow in order to keep pace with parish and school responsibilities, fell apart.  [I may feel no older than 36, but my rational mind reminds me that I am well over a generation beyond that birthday.]  My sleep became intermittent and inadequate; my interest in work and in life in general became stale.  The fact that this state came gradually and quietly into all aspects of my life with a terrible deliberation was perhaps its most frightening aspect.  Certainly, it has increased my empathy towards those who find themselves victims of what would have once been called a form of possession.

There were two things that drove out this particular demon, or series of demons, however.  While faith was and is always present, simple and sometimes silly games with my granddaughter helped considerably, as did the ability to once again plunge deeply into ocean water and feel the exercise of the familiar muscle memory along with the sights, sounds, and smell of the surf.

There are many people who have used physical activity to pull themselves away from depression, as well as trauma and other afflictions that are often left to the cruel passivity of pharmaceuticals to address.  [If interested in this subject, I would recommend this article from the Harvard Medical School.]  Perhaps the poster person for such would be our Friday subject, who suffered not just from depression, but bipolar disorder and a chronic desire for self-slaughter.

Graeme Obree, nicknamed "The Flying Scotsman", is a legend in the world of bicycle racing, known particularly for his attempts on the world speed record twenty years ago.  He is also the inventor of one of the most unique bicycles in his sport, particularly since it was built using, among other things, parts from a washing machine.

As often happens with those vexed with mental issues, Obree's teenage and young adult years were beset by multiple failures, drug use, and at least two suicide attempts.  He failed as the owner of a bicycle shop, was alienated from his family, and purposeless until he fixed upon a Quixotic goal.  For nearly a decade, the record for the fastest speed set on a bicycle was just short of 32 miles an hour.  As such tests of speed are generally performed in a velodrome with no other riders present and the cyclist competing only against a clock, remarkable concentration is permitted.  Anyone familiar with combating mental disorder will immediately see the advantages of this circumstance.

However, breaking the 32 mph barrier would require more than a trained and focused rider.  Both Obree's technique and his medium would have to be adjusted.  Obree had taken note of the physical stance of downhill skiers who tuck their elbows close to their bodies in order to encourage a more efficient aerodynamic profile and he wished too do the same on a bicycle, something that required a redesign of the handlebars.  Rather than the standard "inverted U" style common in racing and touring bikes, Obree fabricated a straight, and very short bar across the top of the frame.  The frame was adjusted so that his knees would not come in contact with it; the chain shortened to allow the most torque.  In one particularly inspired moment, Obree noted how well the bearings in a washing machine were manufactured and had them included in the bike's design.

At a high enough speed, [I could] tuck in my arms. And, above all, get in a very forward suposition on the bike, on the peak of the saddle. The Obree position isn't advantageous simply aerodynamically, it also allows, by pushing the point of pedalling towards the rear, to benefit from greater pressure while remaining in the saddle. You soon get an impression of speed, all the greater because you've got practically nothing [deux fois rien] between your hands. Two other things I noticed after a few hundred metres: I certainly didn't have the impression of turning 53 × 13, and the Obree position is no obstruction to breathing. But I wasn't pedalling at 55kmh, 100 turns of the pedals a minute, yet my arms already hurt.
With the bike, designed in his kitchen, built in a friend's workshop and now named "Old Faithful", Obree rented a velodrome in Norway for 24 hours.  His first attempt at the record was a failure.  Cramped and unsettled, Obree returned to his hotel room for a brief night of fitful sleep, and returned to the velodrome early the next morning, so early his support teammate overslept.  While it was unlikely, given his exhaustion and lack of sufficient recovery time, on July 16, 1993, he broke through the 32 mph barrier.

Obree earned the record, lost it to another cyclist shortly thereafter, and then regained it the next year.  When tedious international cycling bureaucrats, disturbed by innovation [What bureaucrat isn't?], banned Old Faithful for the usual nonsensical reasons, he designed another bike.  When that wasn't enough, they banned his riding position; he designed another.  Then they overreached by banning his already established records.  This was enough for the cycling community to begin to push back, eventually getting Obree's records restored and allowing for innovation to permit progress in the sport.

Obree would compete in a variety of bicycle competitions, winning an equal variety of medals, trophies, and championships.  He avoided the Tour de France, however, as it was understood that he would have to, like other competitors, dope himself.  [Don't be shocked; everyone knows this is done.]  Given his history, that would have been a poor choice.

His worst moment came the year after his initial victory over the speed record when his brother was killed in an automobile accident, initiating a depression spiral that resulted in his third suicide attempt.  While in the midst of hanging himself in his horse's stable, he was discovered at the very last minute by the local farmer's daughter who was happening by.

Again, he returned to the sheer physical pleasure of speed cycling, spinning his way to more records and victories and, ultimately, to his status as Scotland's champion of sport and mental health awareness.  As he noted in an interview a decade ago,

"It's all in the past....Carry on regardless. Carry on through thick and thin. Carry on until you're good enough to win." 

Marvelous advice, even if one's victory is simply over transient depression.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

That Darn Confederate Flag

On Monday, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) blew up a church in Mosul that was thousands of years old. In the process of demolishing the historic church, known as the Mother of Aid, the terrorists also killed four children.

[Pardon my insouciance, but while we argue about a piece of cloth that did nothing, Christians in the Middle East, and fair portions of our Christian heritage, are being destroyed.  This is far more serious to me that the correctness of "Dukes of Hazzard" re-runs.]

A Former Student Makes the News

And in a good way, too.

Oman Frame is a loving husband, proud father, and dedicated educator for the past nineteen years. He pursued a career in education because he firmly believes that through the passion and creativity he brings to the classroom, he can change the world one child at a time. While this goal may seem lofty, he goes to work each day with a smile on his face and a contagious love for his students. Oman attended the Hoosac School before matriculating at Hampton University, where he graduated with a degree in Sociology. His first job was in the municipal court system in Atlanta where, as a bailiff, he witnessed first-hand the havoc that a lack of education and opportunity created. After two years with the courts, during which time he began working with young people as a lacrosse coach, he realized that in order to effect the change he wanted to see in the world, he needed to go to the front line and get his hands dirty. Thus, an educator was born.

What? This is Against the Law?

Canadian Man Arrested After Flying Lawn Chair With Helium Balloons, Police Say

As Well It Should Be

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — It may be called "Billionaires' Beach," but the pristine views along one of Malibu's most exclusive coastlines are now easily accessible to anyone.

However, surfers have been finding a way in for a few decades now.  We're a wily bunch, don't you know?

Follow this link to see what it used to be like.

I Think This is One of the Signs of the Apocalypse

Shark falls from sky, lands in Virginia Beach family's backyard

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

After the earthquake(s): National Cathedral seeks funds to some kind of new life

From GetReligion:
Building and operating cathedrals has never been an easy or noncontroversial task. In recent years, several Episcopal Church dioceses have simply given up and closed the doors of their cathedral sanctuaries, often because of the decline of the congregations inside those buildings.
At the same time, far too many Episcopalians on the doctrinal left and the right have been lawyered up for decades, involved in lawsuits that are rooted in disputes about doctrine, but almost always end up focusing on property, buildings, trust funds and sacred assets.
It doesn't help if your cathedral is shaken by a literal earthquake, as well as the tremors of lawsuits and demographics.
Today's Fun Fact:  The current dean of the National Cathedral is the son of this guy; the one on the left.  No, really.

According to the Washington Post, No

Has there been one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook?

The newspaper also gives Sen. Chris Murphy the coveted "Four Pinocchios" for his recent speech.

The Sandy Hook murders were a horror.  I know this not just because of what was presented on the news but because I was one of those attempting to help in the aftermath.  I saw tarps placed over small bodies; I heard parents scream, SCREAM, when informed of their child's death.  I couldn't sleep for four nights afterwards.  Some days later, when at the school I serve as chaplain, I sat on a classroom floor with about 30 children of the same age as the victims, and it almost overwhelmed me.  It physically hurts to recall these things.

This is why I become especially disappointed, if not plain American-angered, when politicians and other "thought leaders" in our society present falsehoods in order to shore up their public support.  Perhaps this is unfair of me to think, but it appears that dead children are seen by them as just another form of political tool.  If you can't represent the people with the truth, Chris, then just sit down.

For too many, their greatest balm is being told what they want to hear and what they want to believe, whether or not it is the truth.  Religion is frequently accused of doing so, and sometimes that criticism is deserved, but what took Jesus to the cross, and to ultimate victory over crucifixion, was that he presented the truth to those in power, to those far outside of power, and to those in generations yet to come, regardless of whether or not it was what they wanted to hear.

No, the Gov is Wrong

I speak from some experience, as one of the jobs I worked to keep myself in college in Pennsylvania back in the 70's was as a driver for a state beer distributor.

Vetoing Liquor Privatization, Pennsylvania's Governor Says Competition Would Raise Prices 

I dislike to point out the obvious mental and moral weaknesses of my societal, wait, I do like it...but one of the challenges at our state operated beer distributor was that we bordered Ohio and people, including bar owners, would simply jump over the state line and purchase stock that was up to 40% cheaper and much more varied.  That was wildly against the law, of course, but there's a certain thrill to sneaking across border country farm roads in the middle of the night with a pickup truck full of Stroh's and Carling Black Label.

Naturally, not only did this take from the revenue expected by Pennsylvania, it required expensive monitoring by law enforcement.  The danger of being pulled over and cited by the Pa. state police was always a reality.

In fact, during my days at the monastery in Pennsylvania, which was literally a stone's throw from New York [no kidding, one could stand at the front door of the monastery and hit the "Welcome to New York" sign with a stone], we would purchase our sacramental wine from a liquor store in New York that was only five miles away rather drive fifteen to the official Pennsylvania store.

If you want to press Americans into becoming outlaws, simply constrain their freedom.

The Episcopal Church Chose to Let this One Go

Don’t Lose any Sleep Over United Church of Christ Divestment

Mainstream Protestant churches no longer have the social power they once did; they probably never will again.  Yet, there are those who still operate as if we did and it seems a rather sad chimera.  That's one of sins of old age, I guess.

This places the UCC in proper international context:
Third and finally, the UCC is small and getting smaller, presently accounting for four-tenths of one percent of the adult U.S. population. Between 2000 and 2010, the UCC lost over 300,000 members, an astronomical loss for a group that, in fall 2014, put its membership at less than a million. Of those who remain, 67% are 50 or over.

Home of the Brave

Insufficiently Independent to Hold an Independence Day Parade

Land of the Free

Michigan Woman Frisked, Jailed, For Not Renewing Dog License

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What? We're Only #47? C'Mon 50. More Taxes! More Regulations!

State rankings by fiscal conditions

This is Almost Enough to Make Me Once Again See a Broadway Play. Almost.

During a recent performance of Broadway's Hand to God, an audience member quietly made his way up on the stage of the hit comedy to plug his cell phone in to what he believed to be a working outlet. (Of course the outlet was fake - it's a theatrical set, dummy!)

"Demographic" Favoritism Seems to Go Hand in Hand with Fixed Rail

Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age

NYT:  “A majority of the athletes at the Senior Games didn’t begin serious training until quite late in life, including me,” she said. “We may have been athletes in high school or college. But then, for most of us, jobs and families and other commitments got in the way, at least for a while.” 

Few Senior Olympians returned to or began exercising and training regularly until they were middle-aged or older, she said.“So you can start any time,” she said. “It’s never too late.”

I think I should get back to training.  Two years ago, my "fitness age" was thirteen years younger than my chronological.  Yesterday, it was one year older.  Man, it's been a rough year.

Green Pope Goes Medieval on Planet

Some future historian, searching for the origins of a second Middle Ages, might fix on the summer of 2015 as its starting point. Here occurred the marriage of seemingly irreconcilable world views—that of the Catholic Church and official science—into one new green faith.

Newsflash: Real Literature Triggers Emotions

Ovid causes a self-centered student some discomfort to the extent that the student doesn't "feel" safe in the classroom.  What the student thinks is going to happen during a wheezing lecture about classic lit the opinion piece never states.  Perhaps the student will then be brutalized by Homer or Virgil.  Good Lord, the Old Testament alone would put the student in a coma.

If that weren't demented enough, this quotation caused me a moment of wonder:

The bottom-line is that students have a constitutional right to feel safe in the classroom, and their teachers are in no way adversaries on this. Call it a trigger warning or contextualizing, but opening a preemptive conversation about why something in the classroom is challenging and also why it matters will only serve to advance the interests of both students and professors. 

A constitutional right?  In whose constitution?  Is that one of those amendments that was left out of my copy?

I always wonder why an entire culture is expected to change in order to satisfy one person's pathology.  Wouldn't psychotherapy be more helpful?

Today's Episode of "Scottish Cuisine"

Awful sandwich served at Edinburgh Airport goes viral, prompts official response

Seriously, you should see the photo.

Hang On, This was in Exodus, Wasn't It?

Beach closed off after huge hole opens up shooting SNAILS into the sky 'like a geyser'

Saturday, July 4, 2015

[VIDEO] Americans Don’t Know Why We Celebrate 4th of July

One woman didn’t bat an eye when she was asked what year founding fathers Jesse Ventura and John Wilkes Booth wrote the Declaration of Independence. She said she thought it was sometime in the 1700s.

There will be at least one politician who will say that this means we need to spend more money on education.  Currently, the federal government alone spends $12,401 per student for education.  The cost per student has increased by approximately 11% over the last decade.  Still, those educated in the United States cannot answer simple questions about its founding.

Is the issue really money, or something deeper?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Miles Davis Nonet - Budo

Lee Konitz

As long as there are people trying to play music in a sincere way, there will be some jazz.

He was a good looking guy, a little inebriated but carrying it well in his athletic frame.  He was around thirty, had Gallic features, and was wearing chinos with a slightly worse-for-wear cotton dress shirt.  He wasn't wearing a tie, none of the young men in this place did, and he hadn't shaved for a day.  Still, given he was in the company of some rather strange, and also inebriated, men, he stood out.

Mainly it was because he was standing in front of the saxophonist who was on the stage and looking at him like he had just seen the face of God and lived.

As the dumb-struck man was a writer and in the midst of a colossal block that had prevented him from progressing on a novel that was, at that point, rather prosaic in its narrative style, he had gone with friends to Birdland, the famous jazz club, to forget about sentences, paragraphs, dialogue, and character development for a night of music, wine, mad dancing and wildness.  While not specifically looking for inspiration, the writer found it while listening to this week's person and, in so doing, would make literary history.

Lee Konitz is a jazz saxophonist; he plays the soprano, alto, and tenor saxes, although generally prefers the alto when he still performs, now at the age of 87.  While there are other musicians who have tragic childhood tales of daunting, even terrifying, experiences, Konitz was born in Chicago in 1927 to middle-class Austro/Russian emigres and raised to respect learning and labor.  Again, unlike a surprising number of other musicians, he could read music and transpose in his head, and was trained in composition and music theory.  He enjoyed the music of the big bands that he would hear on the radio, wanting nothing other than to compose and play with such organizations.  Because his favorite was Benny Goodman, he requested the gift of a clarinet from his parents.  Shortly afterwards, he would switch to the other woodwind and prove so adept that he was able to improvise even before he learned to match the fingering to the printed notes.

At the immediate conclusion of the Second World War, the teenage Konitz found himself performing with a variety of standard jazz bands, although he was becoming very attracted to the newness and freedom of the jumpier, improvisation-based jazz known as bebop that was being pioneered by many of the younger musicians, especially Charlie "Bird" Parker.  By 1947, he was playing compositions by the jazz great Gerry Mulligan and arrangements by Gil Evans.  After proving his chops with this formidable group, Konitz was asked by Miles Davis to sit in with his combo and attempt something radically new. 

From 1949 to 1950, Konitz, along with Mulligan, worked with Davis to record the songs that would eventually be included in 1957's Birth of the Cool, one of those albums that is always on the list of essentials.  As jazz, like sermons, is a form of proclamation, its product is best honed when played live before an audience, so both musician and listener form a moment of artistic Gestalt.  So, Davis, Konitz and their compatriots made the rounds of jazz clubs, becoming popular especially at New York's Village Vanguard, Blue Note, and, of course, Birdland.

Which brings us to that moment of wonder for the novelist and the saxophonist, where the interplay of horn and woodwinds brought him his moment of epiphany.

The novelist was Jack Kerouac and the manuscript which had been so vexing him would one day be entitled On The Road.  Of that moment in October of 1951, Kerouac would later write, "The tune they were playing was All the Things You Are . . . they slowed it down and dragged behind it at half tempo dinosaur proportions-changed the placing of the note in the middle of the harmony to an outer more precarious position where also its sense of not belonging was enhanced by the general atonality produced with everyone exteriorizing the tune's harmony."

Well, it meant something to him, anyway.

While Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman are all better-known, Konitz played with and outlasted them all; he was playing at the Blue Note just a couple of years ago.  Beyond his influence on Kerouac, Konitz also influenced three generations of musicians with his original compositions and imaginative takes on American standards.  In fact, he is now so well-regarded that a couple of young saxophonists recently told me that they no longer wish to play like Parker, but like Lee.  In fact, what they said to me was, "Charlie who?"

Here, enjoy some more, won't you?

Shark Bite, the Science

The other day I joked about how, sooner or later, someone would blame the recent shark attacks in North Carolina on warmer water from global cooling warming climate change disruption.  I should have said "sooner rather than later".

Check out #5 from National Geographic:

North Carolina’s “Perfect Storm” for Shark Attacks

However, in Australia, where it is now winter, there have been two attacks in two days:

Lennox Head shark attack: Surfer knocked off board day after bodyboarder mauled at Ballina 

Could it be that there is now a world-wide overpopulation of sharks in search of shrinking food sources, or that it's summer in the USA and, as I know from experience, reporters "pre-write" shark attack stories for the time of year when up to half the newsroom is on vacation?  Nah.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sorry, but I Have to Make Jerk Marinade Today

Since I'm now the patriarch of my family, my sister and her husband, my nephew and his girlfriend [with their dog, Carl], my niece and her dog [its name is "Smush-Face" or something], my other niece who lives in L.A., my hanai son and my beloved granddaughter will all be gathered at our house this weekend to feast on my personal recipe jerk chicken, some sweet potatoes grilled with lime and cilantro, a kale salad experience, and various other delights of the gastronome.  In addition, I will perfect my Brooklyn Dodger recipe many times over [it's like a Manhattan, only not sweet].

So, this will be Thursday's only posting, as I must prepare for the Medieval siege that begins this evening.  However, come Friday, we will once again have a person-of-the-week, this time with music.

I wish all a celebratory Fourth of July.  Half of my heritage came to this country in the 20th century, the other was here long, long before that; both have made fine use of the advantages of freedom.  As the founders of the United States noted in their early conversations: Vox populi, vox Dei.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Madonna [the pop tart, not the Blessed Virgin] = Pat Boone

Madonna is every bit as bad for rock and roll as Boone ever was. Rock and roll is supposed to be about creativity and pushing your limits, not only to break rules but also to discover ancient truths. As Pete Townshend of The Who once put it, it’s an art form in which you can sing about absolutely anything you want. This is the kind of freedom that has enabled the inspired performances of women like Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, and St. Vincent. This is not to say that rock and roll can’t be simple or crude or confrontational. But if you’re going to take that route, you better do it with some style, and you better be able to play.

Worse Than Shark Bite

Current Carries Deadly Jellyfishlike Man O' War to New Jersey Beaches

No, not South Jersey; and Surf City, at that.

As Well They Should. Never Mess with Surfer Food.

The New York Times told people to add peas to guacamole. People said nope.

The Problem May Be that the Animals are Peers, Too.

Peers discussing Eurostar's ban on animals on their trains were told that 68 ferrets had entered the UK last year under the terms of the European Union's Pet Travel Scheme.

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Daily Mail:  Email bombshells from Hillary's secret account show she didn't know when cabinet meetings were held, was dumbfounded by a fax machine and emailed aides to fetch her iced tea.

Shark Bite

Man bitten by shark in North Carolina is 7th victim this summer

It's only a matter of time before this is blamed on global cooling warming climate change disruption.

Nuns of Anarchy!

Katy Perry versus the nuns: It was all over mainstream media for days.And who could blame them? What a great story hook! Laughable, readable, and best of all, clickable!Um, yeah, we can still blame them, for reporting what ain't so.We'll start with the real story – which the media did report when they weren't getting all tabloid on us.