Crappy Album Covers #332 — Hair wearing their humans

The Continental’s (sic) album depicts a female that can’t seem to do a thing with her hair.

No information exists on this album or the artists.

Svenne and Lotta had a hit with Bang-A-Boomerang before ABBA took off with it in 1975. Apparently, Benny and Bjorn wrote it, with Svenne and Lotta entering it into a singing competition. Their hit was overshadowed by ABBA’s version, and they faded out of existence, but remained for a while as a national talent in Sweden.

The 1969 Psychedelic/Glam band known as Wild Thing list their places of origin as, depending on which way the wind blows, either Hudson, Massachusetts or Norfolk, Virginia. Their sound was typical of the more progessive sounds during that time. This is the cover of their 7″ single Old Lady, backed with Next To Me.

Local story of the year: the Chair Girl

One meme: Chair throws girl: Chairgirl!

“Balcony Becky” is how she is known to some people, except that her first name is Marcella, and the 45th-floor balcony belonging to an AirBnB listing at Maple Leaf Square is only a bit player in her video. She claims to be an exchange student from Brazil, but seems more like an escort from someplace more local.

This has given rise to several memes, and along with it criminal charges of reckless endangerment or something along those lines. Later photos appear to have her with much more plastic surgery and breast enhancement, which tells us pretty much how her counselling went.

In the old days (before 2005!), all you needed to do to get censured by future employers was to post a picture of yourself doing something immoral or stupid somewhere searchable; or a video of yourself on YouTube. To make the newspapers, radio and TV, you still had to do something truly ridiculous or heinous. Marcella has, in the age of Instagram and Twitter, overcome the meme barrier to enter the major media, thus amplifying the number of hateful messages sent to her.

Last I heard, at some point before or after Marcella’s guilty plea, her lawyer was trying to get her dental school to reverse the expulsion, but she remains expelled. I would say that the school was rightfully afraid of becoming known as “the dental school where the Chair Girl attended.” She was training to be a dental assistant, while modelling to help pay bills.

End of the year in review: A review of the reviews

It is because I subscribe to the Times that I have commented so much about them as of late. In my mind, I serve as the latter-day incarnation of LOOT magazine from the early 1990s. Lies Of Our Times was a critique of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times. It had an unfortunate radical-sounding name. However, the critiques were scholarly, and it taught me, before I became influenced by FAIR magazine and Noam Chomsky, how to read newspapers or magazines in a way that revealed their subtext.

The end-of-year/end-of-decade reviews are not so much a way to remind us what had gone on in the past, as it is a way to show by way of a yardstick the success to which the propaganda system which is the major media, have made it possible for the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us and conquer us.

After a solid three years of anti-Trump vitriol, the New York Times now characterizes us as “divided”, “mistrustful”, and so on, in their opinion pieces. Of course, this would not be successful had it not been for Trump’s incessant tweeting, Trump’s rallies and Fox News. The Times probably blames Trump and the Republicans; Trump blames “the fake news”, of which the New York Times is one of several targets.

I know the media would say that Trump would say outrageous thing to “stay true to his base”, or to “play to his base”. It is never stated who “the base” are, exactly. Without doing much of a survey here, I would say it’s a solid guess that anyone who would benefit from his promises would be his base. Rich people obviously. But there are also the poor white people in the southern and midwestern states that the press likes to mention so often. And middle-aged white men. I think they mean bigots and people of low literacy. Yes, the people the paper of record mentions do happen to be largely working-class and have been abandoned by the Democrats for several decades now. They have become so desparate, that they now cling to a billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth — just the kind of person the working class would normally despise, just because he seems to rankle the Democrats, and speak of the working class in terms that raise them slightly above the level of a doormat.

As an asside, yes, the Democrats abandoned the working class. This leaves the Democrats with nothing really to stand for. The Republicans have now shown the Democrats up on this very point by showing us all that “the party of the rich” can also command support of the working class, whose needs they will promptly ignore but for advocacy at rallies and election speeches. It is hard to see for all of the fireworks, but the Republicans being against “anything Democrat”, paired with the Democrats now fighting over what their party stands for, now lays bare the idea that for the past 40 years or so the Dems have stood for nothing, but have only appeared to stand for the working class. As of late, the charade has been revealed in the Dems uneasiness with the Green New Deal and other enhancements to working class and minorities such as raising the minimum wage, championed by Ocasio-Cortez and her like. Since the mid-seventies, America has been pretty much a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state. All the Republicans are guilty of is revealing to all of us the truth about this reality. Republicans have waged an all-out war on the poor from the start. In recent years, they have tried to undermine or tear apart the Affordable Health Care Act; and have on several occasions sought to turn away refugees and immigrants, and sending children and toddlers of these immigrants to concentration camps. The border wall is the most visible example, though largely only symbolic. No one is a friend of the working class in any true sense, but both parties need their vote.

In this light, the major media’s job apparently, seems to have been to preside over assessing how successful divide and conquer has been to guarantee allegiance to parties that are really essentially alike. Expect a lot of this from the major media in the coming week or month, under the ruse of “reflecting us back to ourselves”. We know what that reflection will look like: we are divided. This is thanks to the efforts of Fox News to cheerlead the Republican party, and of CNN and the Times to cheerlead the Democrats. A discourse of basic facts counts for little these days, when we are disputing what the facts are.

Tampering with Freedom of the Press

I have tried to hold off on writing about the latest kerfuffle regarding Donald Trump being cut out of the CBC televised version of the 1992 film Home Alone 2 during the time that Trump was still a private citizen, and not at all in politics. It is predictable, and right out of the Daily Stormer playbook that the Trump family would exaggerate this entirely out of proportion as a political slight against Trump.

This has now migrated from the CBC News desks to the New York Times, and what is newsworthy to me is that these big-money media organs found it newsworthy. This is man-baby syndrome at its worst. And the major media reports on the man-baby every time the man-baby coos, belches, spits up, bawls, throws a tantrum or tweets.

The thing is, we already know that Trump has a screw loose, so can we just get past that and have more journalistic efforts concentrated on normal tragedies like wars, homelessness and global warming?

Watching and listening to the Trump impeachment debates

Last night, I listened to the debate over the Trump impeachment vote; the 30 seconds given to each member to speak their mind forced everyone to not express anything unique or interesting. It forced concision. And among lawyers and lawmakers that may not be a bad thing, but to listen to hours of speeches last evening it was clear that all the Republicans and Democrats sounded the same, and listed out the same talking points, as if they all had “the memo” from their party brass. It was only toward the end when we heard the party brass themselves speak that some utterances that were in more detail as to the learned opinions of the leadership of the House of Representatives.

Sometimes, speaking at length is just verbal diarrhea. But that is the only time we get to hear an individual’s thought process. In 30 seconds, it is really easy for a Republican to say “there is no evidence against the President”, since that already used up a couple of those seconds. A few more of these sweeping sensatioanlist statements, and their time is already up.

Another use of the 30 second rule is that if you say something truly absurd, you don’t need to elaborate. You drop your verbal bombshell and just leave your nonsense hanging in the air. Like when one of the nameless, faceless speakers stated that Jesus was given more rights by Pontius Pilate than Trump was given by the Democrats. It had the effect of a crazy Trump tweet. There is no journalist asking the person questions, so the statement is disconnected, taken as it is. The beauty of crazy statements made to “the speaker” or of tweets made in social media, is that no one is there to question you, your grasp of reality, or ask for details. Who cares if Pontius Pilate consigned Jesus to carry his own cross, endure public scorn, and suffered 40 lashes, only to have nails driven through his feet and hands to the wooden cross at the end? What kind of numb-nut would say that Trump had it worse? It is great copy for those who don’t care about the Bible.

Would a more accurate comparison be to compare Trump’s public speaking appearance at a Michigan stadium yesterday (same day he was being impeached) to the Nuremburg rallies, and the propaganda against the Democrats as being like the Reichstag fire? Actually, it is close: the New York Times has compared it with Castro rallying his followers after the government did the same thing to him one year. The Nazi comparisons I’ve made as an example are kind of extreme too, and would only rankle die-hard Republicans. Those views don’t teach us much nor advance any discussion regarding articles of impeachment based on evidence. In fact they do the opposite, in inhibiting clarity of thought and in discouraging honest and open debate and discussion.

The shrinking family

Shrkinking families have a long history. The terminology of “the nuclear family” is long gone, but ever more present. “Nuclear families” were referred to as families consisting only of parents and children living in the same dwelling. This was in contrast to “extended families”, once called “families” in an earlier time, which consisted of children, parents, and grandparents living in the same dwelling. The now-universal expectation that adult children must leave their families and seek their own independent living has only become the norm since World War II, after we have all experienced great increases in living standards since then, and could afford to move out.

The prosperity came at a price, not measured in dollars. I think that with the shrinking family, there was also a shrinking in our connectedness as a society in general. The term “atomization” in reference to the separation of individuals from each other became a popular term, popularized by Emile Durkheim near the end of the 19th century, has now become the cornerstone of sociology. In addition to atomie, he also coined “anomie”, which is the opposite where you blend in so much with society that you lose your individuality. Both extremes can be bad for us and our mental and social health. But our close association with each other, when it is healthy, is self-affirming and life-affirming in no way that a motivational poster or book ever could be.

The main force in today’s culture are clearly the ones driving us apart. This time, not just from our families, but from each other. Atomization has been raised an order of magnitude in our culture. Along with that, we have become easier targets for society’s more totalitarian forces. The internet is one medium that separates us, and it is common these days to see a couple enter a restaurant, be shown to their seats, given their menus, order, and then promptly get on their cell phones to check their messages, remaining that way until the food arrives, and even beyond that. You start to think what the point is in dating anymore, when one or both people are not speaking to each other, opting instead to check their facebook accounts for lolcat videos instead.

OK, so it may not be lolcat videos — perhaps it is something of greater import, such as messages from your boss. Whatever it is, it can wait. I believe at that moment, no matter who or where you are, the most important thing at that moment should be chatting with your date, and being attentive to the person in front of you. This inattentiveness adds up over time in lost connections with actual human beings whom you see face-to-face, and relationships don’t strengthen, and feelings of alientation become stronger. The greatest beneficiaries of social media use are the social media companies.

I digress. But text messages from your boss that “can’t wait” is a recent phenomenon which has extended the workplace’s control over the worker to hours outside of work. This segues into another atomizing force: extended work hours, which have become commonplace in society.

This last atomizing force, in my opinion, makes it more difficult for individuals to consider families as an option, let alone marriage. The importance of career over marriage, once an individual decision not chosen by many individuals, appears to be largely an employer-driven decision and a means of worker enslavement. The cost of this was to make employment, even self-employment all-encompassing, making families less and less of an attractive option to the point where we live in an urbanized culture with a significant increase in single person dwellings, increasing with each generation. That means for most of us, the single driving force in shaping our social perceptions becomes less to do with neighbours and family and more to do with media, especially corporate media.

And the best way out of atomization are social contact, discussing your concerns and feelings with others, and in forming social groups, visiting relatives, parents, sisters and brothers. The only group that becomes stronger are the corporate structures that rely on increased atomization to keep us from forming groups and — God forbid — making demands.

It is understood immediately how capitalism pollutes the natural environment around us, and our world has been replete with examples of polluted rivers and lakes over several decades, with new issues piling up with each year. Now, it is becoming clear that capitalism also pollutes the human condition, our psyches. They drive us from our natural, social selves, to alone, lonely, and confused people who are easier to control and scare into obedience.

The rising, delerious popularity of Eldred, Saskatchewan

Periodically, I do some standard Google searches, but I distinctly recall the “Eldred, Saskachewan” search string to come up fairly dry. Maybe a few applicable search results and some data-driven gazeteers here and there. There was also that 2016 video that comes up.

There was also the “Roadside Thoughts” website which appears to be a script/data-driven website with template pages and not a whole lot of special attention given to the communities they devote pages to. To their credit, while they are very thin on insightful information, at least for a time, it was something. There is another website attempting to do “Eldred Geneology“, but short on detail; an “Eldred map” with no map (not that I would expect to see one), but a applet advertising Trivago trips to Prince Albert, about 105 km away by highway.

And above, the hourly forecast for Eldred for the next 30 or so hours, provided apparently by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. It has a link to weather radar, presumably for Eldred, but it doesn’t succeed in giving any radar. But of course, The Weather Network has Eldred weather for the next 7 days, and it has radar if you just have to have that Eldred Weather Radar “fix”.

Also, Eldred is also given a footnote in Wikipedia, as a former town within the Regional Municipality of Spiritwood #496. It was mentioned because it was a town where the Big River branch of the CN Rail passed through.

All of this recent attention is not bad for a town that hasn’t existed since about 1959.

You can’t go back to the Garden

You may not be able to get back to the garden, but you can buy your merch here!

It is difficult to get into the reasons why the 50th anniversary of Woodstock was cancelled this year, but it was set to go on the 16th of August. For that, you have to avoid the major networks and newspapers, and that means CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail, CNN and the New York Times. The major media is not that much invested in the politicking and intrigue underlying the music business.

It is so much better to give a detailed read of the trade publications themselves, because, they can’t get it wrong, or be vague if a little more research or a few more interviews would give the story more flesh. What Billboard and Variety magazines provide is a much more sobering read about the ill-fated concert. I even got quite an education just from reading the comment section of Billboard, which is more than I could say for the journalists in the major media who are trying to make a living on stories like this.

It is a story of organizers getting screwed by promoters, venue changes when the old one couldn’t be secured, a lack of planning (apparently, very little thought to security or how to manage vehicle traffic into or out of a concert which had a target attendance of over 160,000).

Billboard is where I learned that, as a condition of performing at a large venue such as a theatre or stadium, many performers have a “radius clause” imposed on them, meaning that they could not have any concerts within a certain radius of the venue they signed up for. If these performers were performing, say in Virginia, or any place along the middle part of the American Eastern Seaboard, they had to cancel their Woodstock appearance when it was announced that Woodstock was being moved from Bethel, New York to Maryland.

Alas, it was not to be, and seven hours ago, the organizers cancelled Woodstock’s 50th anniversary altogether.

Woodstock 50 was to have among its lineup, original acts such as Santana, Canned Heat, David Crosbie, Melanie, John Sebastian, John Fogerty, Country Joe MacDonald and Hot Tuna (two members of Hot Tuna are from what used to be Jefferson Airplane); and a big name from “classic rock”: Robert Plant; and then a lot of “cool” modern performers, such as Pussy Riot, The Black Keys, and Brandi Carlile. It is not clear that Miley Cyrus fit the general theme of a concert like Woodstock 50, and many thought that by admitting her and some others, that organizers had diverged from the peace/love/positive vibe that they should have been conveying.

This is a parody by Christopher Guest for the National Lampoon in the early 1970s.

Suspicious youtube channels

I have been noticing over the past years, a couple of suspicious YouTube channels. For the past number of years, a number of fairly lefty videocasts, such as the news/comedy program Redacted Tonight seems to have “RT” as the provider of these rather polished video shows. “RT” is the video network Russia Today, based in Moscow, with offices and studios in Washington, DC. While the views expressed on Redacted Tonight fell within a certain tolerance a few decades ago, the views nowadays would be considered to be on the “far left”. I stop short of saying “radical left”, since this phrase is often uttered with an insufficient understanding of the word “radical”, and I don’t feel it applies to this program.

Below, host Lee Camp speaks on behalf of himself and the other creators of Redacted Tonight in a video posted last year as to the reasons why they chose RT as the vehicle for their comedy programs:

In his rather unusual way, Lee Camp has a point. No other major commercial media outlet would fund or support programming that would utter content that is critical of the military, corporate America, or their agenda. This would make us into aware participants of democracy, which goes agains what corporate America wants. They want us to be consumers. We can “vote” with our dollars for various products, not that the anticompetitive practices we have come to tolerate even provide us with a worthwhile choice between products.

Well, there are a lot of outlets that can provide the same thing as as what Camp claims RT is doing, and there is no reason why Camp and company could not start their own YouTube channel. However, it might mean that they would have to forego the flashy trappings of the RT studio. Because, that is what it means to be an alternative voice. Alternative voices are usually not well-funded, and don’t consist of a wall of multiple monitors, and a staff of layout artists, animators, cameramen, and sound engineers. Redacted Tonight would be considered small-budget for major media, but for “alternative voices”, such professional team efforts would be out of reach financially.

The question then becomes, how is programming from people such as Lee Camp benefitting Russia Today? Why would the Russians want to cause us to question our corporations and military? While I have watched enough of Redacted to form an opinion of whether they are disinforming us (it’s not obvious if it is), it is still consistent with the Russian penchant for sowing societal division through social media. However, it is barely perceptible by YouTube standards, since their videos typically garner not much more than 60,000 views, hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment. They do have over 200,000 subscribers as of this viewing. To put that in perspective, one of my faviourite “math nerd” channels, 3Blue1Brown, has close to 2 million subscribers.

I wouldn’t normally feel this was that much worth writing about if it were not for the fact that there is another channel from another oligarchic nation. This time, China. CGTN is the China Global Television Network. They too have an American outlet, CGTN America, which is also in Washington DC. Of the few news videos I watched, I would characterize CGTN as more like the BBC in its reporting of foreign (American) stories, with not a whole lot of comedy competitive with Stephen Colbert, let alone Redacted Tonight.

An attempt to re-think the block editor

Due to some plugin problems, I deleted nearly all plugins now and am cautiously rebuilding the site. This is now another chance to check out the features of the block editor.

I had complained that there were toolbar problems with the editor that support groups have construed to be a problem with plugin conflicts. So, I now have a chance to, without plugins (except akismet), see how the editor is really supposed to behave. And the absence of plugins makes a positive difference.

Below is a video I have embedded from YouTube to show as a proof of concept that you tube plugins can be loaded with only the native code. It is one of my more recent videos.

In the coming weeks, I will be attempting to restore functionality to the website. Note that there are certain articles which have missing images. There are several images that need replacing, but most of the images have already been restored, especially for the old articles.

Notes on Free Speech — Only for some?

I have been conflicted over the idea that, in the name of free dialogue and advancing discussion of topics of social and political import, that some university campuses have banned certain speakers from talking at their campus. Of course, this has been going on for decades.

Most people (such as I) react incredulously to such totalitarian measures, and dismiss this as academics having their heads in the clouds to the point that they have become out of touch with the meaning of their own rhetoric (is it possible to advocate free speech while banning people from speaking?). But so too, I have had the experience of people (on a personal level) whose dialog is toxic to frank discussion.

Related image
From: XKCD Comics (https://xkcd.com/261/). Under the Creative Commons license v 2.5 (Attribution-Non-commercial-Generic). These comics may be copied and shared but not sold.

There is the kind of rhetoric that is intended to shut down open discussion of issues. It ranges from hate speech to science discussions to discussions about sex. We have banned free speech over several internet media, the most famous kind of banning has to do with “Godwin’s Law”, which unfortunately specifically targets references or comparisons with Adolf Hitler. I think the spirit of the intent of forum moderators invoking it was (or should be) to ban speech which is designed to intimidate others from expressing themselves, that is, creating a toxic environment designed to shut down opposition rather than enable them to fully express themselves and be heard. Views are not shared, because sharing views is no longer safe.

 

Quote of the day – found on these here Interwebs

I was not a fan of Big Bang Theory (as I don’t watch a whole lot of TV), so I found this end card to one of their episodes, which apparently flashed for a couple of seconds. The quote is below, if you can’t read the image.

“Don’t be fooled. Big daddy can’t save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves. Within our own ingenuity and determined effort. ‘Make America great again’ is a bumper sticker for victimhood,” Lorre writes, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan. “But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system’s rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won’t let us join your club? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own club. You won’t let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own school. You won’t let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we’ll earn it our way. You won’t give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.”

— Chuck Lorrie (Big Bang Theory)

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Title translation: life, according to spam email

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Translation: these are subject lines of emails i have received recently

Yeah, this will be difficult reading. These email subject lines were actually fed through the “L337 Speak Converter” at www.brenz.net. Consider this to be a test of your “Leet” (L337) translation skillz 🙂

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Electability

There has been, in recent elections, a new word that adds to the rhetoric of the role of the media in telling us what to think and helping to shape the outcomes of elections, whether wittingly or unwittingly. “Electability” is a subjective term, taken, I suppose, to mean that the platform and views held by the candidate have what the media deems to be a dose of reality and pragmatism. So, no dreamers, no idealists, definitely no socialists, but no fascists either (although Trump comes close to the latter).

Isn’t the concept of “electability” just another way of deciding an election before the ballots are cast? Why do discussions like this even exist, if it were not for the promotion of one candidate over another? Not sure why Biden is being picked on, I am not partial to him, myself; but I think that some things need to be left to the minds of the voters, and not tell them what to think. I shouldn’t care about “electable”; I should only care if a candidate shares my views and supports policies that affect “me”.

Electability, in the context of the 2020 American elections, begins to sound too much like being careful not to upstage Trump and for the Democrats to return to the role of Greek Chorus to Trump’s every new outrageous distraction.

Why I am glad I don’t have cable TV

In the early nineties, Bruce Springsteen had a hit with the song “57 Channels and Nothing On”. It was the precursor to the same feeling we felt over the “500 channel universe” we experience today.

I have no cable by choice. I can afford to put it in, but apart from educational channels and the news station, I really have little to no interest in what passes for entertainment, and, frankly, no time to sit down and watch what appears to be mostly pointless programming spread out over hundreds of television stations. Here is a small list of programming explaining why I feel this way.

  • My 600-lb life (and related TV shows)
    • A century and a half ago, we locked up anyone who was a freak in a cage and charged admission for patrons to pass by, point, and either express shock, or laugh at them. I see this programming is kind of like that.
    • Ah, the life and escapades of the morbidly obese. I am doubtful that any show that depicts the private hell of individuals (whatever the problem is), when it is presented as “reality TV”, is helpful to the individual whose problem is being flaunted for TV ratings, nor is it helpful to anyone watching the show who shares the same problem, as that is not effectively the reason this show is being broadcast. Shows like this are effectively human suffering, served up as lighthearted entertainment.
  • Faux News
    • From pie charts that add up to more than 100 per cent, to unapologetic right-wing bias, the secret to Faux News high ratings is sensationalism and incendiary reporting.
    • And when it isn’t racist, it is merely cheerleading for Republicans and very nearly their every wrong move. It is a more socially-acceptable version of InfoWars (or is it In-Faux-Wars?).
  • The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  • Real Housewives
    • Real housewives? What does that mean? Purportedly married but dressed as if they are single and hot to trot, this is now a franchise of blondes, brunettes and redheads who more or less look and dress alike, and are nowadays from all parts of the United States, ready to make you feel like you don’t belong. Face it, you don’t look like them, you can’t afford to dress like them, you also probably can’t afford the houses they live in. They are not real in any sense that matters to most viewers.
    • The franchise consists of “Real Housewives of ” <fill in the name of an American city>. Every time I think I have a complete list of cities, I always find one more not in my list. The last one I found was “Atlanta”. Atlanta was notable because most of the ladies were black. I doubt that you are going to hear about racial inequality in a way that broadens or enhances the discussion. They dressed and appeared to live more lavishly than any woman of colour I know.
    • These are the stories of domesticated dramas. Whether it is about unmarried people on the make, or married women (who cares about married men?), don’t expect too many challenges to traditional stereotypes, or to the norms of sexual roles we have all come to accept. Wake me up if there are any surprises, since I don’t expect any. You might expect surprises that are there for shock value, such as the guy finding out that she was a he, or whatever.
  • Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo
    • Time to clear the room
  • 'American Pickers' Season 2 premiere on History Channel ...History Channel
    • There is not much actual history on this channel
  • Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire/Multi-Millionaire/etc.
    • And this is because, indeed, the only thing on a woman’s mind is marrying for money.
    • Notice how I am writing as if it is understood that the millionaire is a man, and that the ones chasing him are women; not the other way around.
    • There is some scientific basis supporting the fact that, in nearly all cultures, women tend to choose a man who is financially secure for their husband, and this is even independent of culture worldwide. In addition, the reverse is true far less often.
  • Dr. Pimple Popper
    • About the only doctor Americans can afford without the Affordable Healthcare programme.
    • Again, it’s the kind of programme which makes you question what you are doing with your spare time. And the depressing reality is that the 500 channel universe is filled with such vapidity and emptiness, that there is probably nothing else on.
  • Project Blue Book
    • This is one of the reasons that anyone who likes history has found to their disappointment that the History Channel no longer discusses anything about history. Project Blue Book is about UFOs.
  • Pawn Stars. You Could Learn A Thing Or Two.Pawn Stars
  • Rust Valley Restorers
  • The Antique Road Show
    • Pawn Stars and Rust Valley Restorers are both on the History Channel, and The Antique Road Show is on PBS. The Antique Road Show gives a better history education.
    • One line you will never hear on the Antique Road Show, regarding something like a curious object bought at a garage sale for $100: “Why does this say ‘Made in Taiwan?'”. Or, regarding an heirloom passed down for several generations: “I don’t know what it is. Well, at least it has sentimental value. Have a nice day.”
  • Lego City
    • It’s pretty bad when we mistrust the imaginations of children with toys so much that toy companies feel the need to sponsor cartoons which depict a universe made of toys from one manufacturer.
    • I suppose that nowadays the idea of children playing with toys from different manufacturers is now regarded as an anti-competitive practice.
  • The “W” Channel
    • used to be “women’s network”
    • of 58 titles listed in their annual lineup of shows and movies, 42 cover the themes of marriage and romance
    • Feminist? One show if you count “Ms. Matched” — still a marriage theme, because that’s all women think about, apparently, especially in this small-screen movie. I think only the “Ms.” in the title makes it appear feminist.
  • Much
    • Was “Much Music”, but is now minus most of its music videos.

The indices of Harper’s Magazine

I have been a fan of Harper’s Magazine since the 1980s. In particular, I loved the Readings section, as well as the factoids list (with citations) known as Harper’s Index, near the front of each issue. Here are 100 factoids I’ve researched from over the years, dates not important, but they have been taken from issues since 2000. I have favoured factoids that are not dated, but that was difficult as many good ones with dates crept in. The URL for Harper’s magazine is http://harpers.org, and is available on some newsstands, but not as many these days as in days previous.

  • Cost to produce Safeguard, the only U.S. ground-based long-range missile shield ever deployed: $23,500,000,000
  • Number of days in the 1970s that the system was operational before it was abandoned as inadequate: 135
  • Pounds of fuel required to maintain this year’s 11,500 Olympic torches: 2,029
  • Ratio of the amount of energy generated by 1 gallon of ethanol to the amount of energy required to produce it : 1:0.9
  • Number of times Colin Powell said, “I don’t recall” or, “I can’t recall” during his 1987 Iran-Contra testimony: 56
  • Percentage of global economic activity accounted for by the world’s 200 largest corporations: 27.5
  • Percentage of the world’s population that these corporations employ: 0.8
  • Minimum number of mentally retarded Americans who have been executed by the justice system since 1976 : 35
  • Estimated chance that a U.S. prisoner is mentally retarded: 1 in 14
  • Days after Time named George W. Bush 2000’s man of the year that Russians named Vladimir Lenin man of the century: 4
  • Places by which Russia’s ranking in the U.N.’s Human Development Index of living standards has fallen since 1990 : 31
  • Rank of the United States and Britain among nations whose residents are most likely to be obese: 1,2
  • Rank of Hungary: 3
  • Ratio of the number of pardons George W. Bush has issued turkeys to those he has issued human beings: 2:1
  • Ratio of the average life span of a commercially bred turkey to that of a wild one: 1:7
  • Year in which Disney’s Mickey Mouse copyright will expire if the Supreme Court reverses a 1998 extension this winter (2002): 2003
  • Minutes that a Massachusetts surgeon left a patient with an open incision while he went to deposit a check: 35
  • Percentage change since 1990 (to 2003) in the number of U.S. schoolchildren labeled “disabled” : +37
  • Chances that a U.S. adult does not want to live to be 120 under any circumstances: 2 in 3
  • Chance that an American adult believes that “politics and government are too complicated to understand” : 1 in 3
  • Chance that an American who was home-schooled feels this way: 1 in 25
  • Acreage of a Christian nudist colony under development in Florida (in 2004): 240
  • Percentage of the 13,129 varieties of dirt in the United States that are endangered: 4
  • Years in prison to which two ex-Pentagon officials were sentenced last year for taking bribes of money and prostitutes: 24
  • Number of years a North Carolina man has been in prison for stealing a television: 33
  • Rank, on the Turkish bestseller list in March (2005), of a thriller depicting a U.S. invasion of Turkey: 1
  • Rank of Mein Kampf: 2
  • Average percentage by which the power of the male heart declines between the ages of 18 and 75 : 20
  • Average percentage by which the female heart does: 0
  • Amount a Chinese online gamer made last year (in 2004) by selling a virtual sword he had borrowed from a friend: $850
  • Months later that the friend retaliated by stabbing him to death with a real knife: 6
  • Number of beetles that right-wing entomologists have named after Bush Administration officials: 3
  • Number of times that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is referenced by name in the Bible and the Koran, respectively: 19,34
  • Number of “Wal-ocaust” T-shirts sold by a Georgia man before Wal-Mart ordered him to cease and desist: 1
  • Ratio, in the United States, of the number of Wal-Mart employees to the number of high school teachers: 1:1
  • Portion of states where the projected climate in 2100 will not be able to sustain their official tree or flower: 3/5
  • Number of words spoken by Clarence Thomas during Supreme Court oral arguments since February 2006 (until Aug 2007): 132
  • Number by Samuel Alito, the Justice who spoke the second-fewest words: 14,404
  • Percentage of single U.S. women in their twenties who are “very” or “extremely” willing to marry for money: 61
  • Percentage of women in their thirties who are : 74
  • Percentage change since 1985 (to 2009) in the number of U.S. newspapers with reporters covering Congress : –72
  • Percentage of six- to nine-year-old American girls (in 2009) who wear lipstick or lip gloss : 46
  • Number of poppyseed bagels that could be made with Afghanistan’s annual poppy harvest : 357,000,00
  • Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire : 60
  • Number of U.S. states that have more pigs than people : 3
  • Minimum number of birds that die from crashing into New York City windows each year : 100,000
  • Number of Bentleys purchased in Russia in 2000 and in 2010, respectively : 0, 113
  • Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead : 1/4
  • Average minutes more exercise per week that a heavy drinker gets than a non-drinker : 21
  • Portion of the total U.S. corn crop that goes to make ethanol : 2/5
  • Projected worldwide surplus of low-skill workers by 2020 : 93,000,000
  • Projected worldwide deficit of high- and medium-skill workers by that time : 85,000,000
  • Rank of China among global beer producers by volume : 1
  • Rank of the United States : 2
  • Percentage change since 1988 (to 2012) in U.S. teen-pregnancy rates : –36
  • In abstinence rates among white teens : +31
  • Among black teens : +56
  • Portion of Americans who don’t walk for at least ten continuous minutes at any point in an average week : 2/5
  • Percentage of American cats that are overweight : 58
  • Percentage of men in dual-income marriages who said they struggled with work-family conflict in 1977 : 35
  • Who say they do today (2013): 60.
  • Average annual cost of detaining an inmate at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay : $900,000
  • At a supermax prison in the United States : $65,000
  • Portion of all online advertising that is never seen by a human being : 1/2
  • Percentage of U.S. children in 1960 who lived in households headed by heterosexuals in their first marriage : 73
  • Who do today (2015) : 46
  • Estimated minimum gallons of water used annually to produce Coca-Cola products : 8,000,000,000,000
  • Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing : 1:1
  • Years in prison to which a New Mexico man was sentenced last year (in 2015) for shooting children with a semen-filled squirt gun : 18
  • Estimated number of people who will be driven into extreme poverty by 2030 because of climate change : 100,000,000
  • Percentage of the world’s civilian-owned firearms that are owned by Americans : 48
  • Number of Americans aged 60 and older who have outstanding student loans : 2,800,000
  • Portion of those borrowers who have taken on debt to pay for a child or grandchild’s education : 3/4
  • Percentage of children’s toys available in Sweden that contain banned chemicals : 15
  • Of sex toys available in Sweden : 2
  • Average number of people who die in avalanches in the United States each year : 27
  • Number of FBI confidential informants (in 2017) who worked for Best Buy’s Geek Squad between 2008 and 2012 : 8
  • Rank of Nebraska among states with the least liked state flags : 1
  • Number of days in January that the flag at the state capitol flew upside down before anyone noticed : 7
  • Number of US states in which fluorescent pink is a legal color for hunting apparel : 6
  • Chance an American has taken an “active shooter” preparedness class : 1 in 10
  • Percentage of US “active shooters” from 2000 to 2016 who were killed by police : 21
  • Who were killed by armed civilians : 1
  • Number of universities in which half of all the US tenured and tenure-track history professors are trained : 8
  • Number of the twenty largest German companies that are headquartered in the former East Germany : 0
  • Rank of Germany in consumption of nonalcoholic beer : 2
  • Of Iran : 1
  • Portion of Hawaii’s drinking water that comes from underground wells : 9/10
  • Gallons of raw sewage that leak into the ground from Hawaii cesspools each day : 53,000,000
  • Percentage change since 2009 in reports of human waste on San Francisco streets (in 2018): +391
  • Chance that a given day is a public holiday in Cambodia : 1 in 13
  • Rank of Disneyland among the happiest places on earth, according to Disneyland : 1
  • Percentage of Disneyland employees who worry about being evicted from their homes : 56
  • Number of dead people Americans have elected to Congress : 6
  • Factor by which a millennial is more likely than a baby boomer to claim they have a food allergy : 2
  • Number of states that allow roadkill to be salvaged for food : 31
  • Rank of Arabic among France’s most spoken languages : 2
  • Factor by which graduate students are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than the general population : 6
  • Percentage of Americans aged 18 to 34 who say they’d like to live forever : 24
  • Of Americans over 55 : 13

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #331: Rednecks and plain folks

colouche Michel Gerard Joseph Colucci (1944-1986), best known as Colouche, was a French comedian. Apparently, as part of his satire, he once ran for French President back in 1980, with support from the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. One campaign slogan went: “Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be doubled over into four” (the idiom “ĂŞtre pliĂ© en quatre,” can be translated as “doubled over laughing.”) At the time, he was up against François Mitterrand, who was very un-amused.
Eddie Brumley The problem with this concept, is that it is over-done, since a Googling of “Jesus sightings at Wal-Mart” yield over 400,000 hits.  Some are links to video blogs, or more traditional blogs where His likeness shows up on a Wal-Mart receipt. Rick Leland has even written a “Jesus at Wal-Mart” trilogy, on sale now at GoodReads, stretching the meme to its ultimate 750-page futility (a rough page total of the three books).The answer to the perennial question “What would Jesus do?”, according to these consistent, and persistent findings by many and sundry people, is that He would shop at Wal-Mart. And if Jesus had His way, Wal-Mart would be renamed Jesus Christ Superstore. That wasn’t exactly my image of Him, but I guess we must respect each other’s freedom of religion.

The website eddiebrumley.com is inactive, and other information on Brumley is very hard to obtain at the time of this writing.

Don Youngblood This was the fourth album by Rockabilly artist and Cincinnati native Don Youngblood. He had a fan club headquartered in Indiana. He sings and plays piano, and for the life of me, I can’t find the year of this album, although I saw a vinyl copy on sale at Amazon for around 12 bucks.

Brumley, I found Jesus at a Wal-Mart. To put the correct sense on this tune, Brumley was witnessed to at Wal-Mart. It is not far-fetched to say that Brumley’s near-empty kitchen pantry needed divine intervention, and that’s kind of what he is singing about:

Coverage by the failing New York Times (and nearly everyone else)

While I sip on my Covfefe, I find that the New York Times has already declared that Trump will lose the 2020 race. To be sure, Trump’s popularity is tanking, but that’s also what the press said before the 2016 race. I don’t consider this fake news, just premature news.

Like in the 2016 election, I wonder if this prognostication of Trump’s 2020 demise, albeit based on very real unpopularity, is still premature. I notice that there are not a whole lot of Republican opportunists sensing a vacuum and denouncing Trump to take the leadership for themselves. Why is that happening? I am sensing that Republicans, despite some rumblings, are getting a different message, and are still throwing their support behind Trump despite, as the Times reports, the lowest polling for a sitting president in 70 years or so.

Also, why aren’t more notable opponents running for the leadership of the Democrats?

A whole lot of the media coverage smells funny surrounding Trump, according to an analysis by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). For example, has anyone read any media reports as to why the figure $5.7 billion is touted as being needed to build the wall/slats/barrier/whatchamacallit along the Tex-Mex border? Why that amount? How are they spending it? Where did that number come from, outside of Trump’s declaration-by-fiat that that is what it will cost? Why was that figure unchanged after Trump changed the material from concrete to steel slats? The media appears silent on all of this. These are not minor questions, these are at the heart of the reason for the longest government shutdown in American history.

For those of us who read this news, it would be a good question to ponder: how does this premature prognostication help the far right?

Exactly how valuable to the Republicans is this “base” they like to appeal to so much? Why is this “base” not being abandoned without a second thought?

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #330: All folked up with mistaken identities

Yes, indeedie … This is the 330th CAC article, collect them all! More to follow. I will try to make these once per week:

The person in this picture does not want to be folked with. Channeling The Clash, the album has all of the visual cues of the London Calling album. Except the guitar, of course.

Not a whole lot of info exists on this incarnation of Emerald. Emerald appears as both a folk group and a metal group. The metal group appears online in some detail but this album doesn’t exist in the discographies I have seen for the “metal” group called Emerald.

That being said, this 2006 album is still for sale on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and all the other usual suspects.

Alvis Wayne (1937-2013) seems to be a victim of mixed identities. Someone asks him his name, he says “Alvis”, and the other responds “Oh, hi, Elvis!”; and then he has to correct them, and he finds himself all but handing out a pronunciation key: “That’s Alvis, with an ‘A’.” The other responds with “Elvis isn’t spelled with an ‘A’, what are you talking about?” Facepalm.

Apparently, this Texan hit it big in the UK, and his singles and albums were in high demand. His most recent LP, “Proud of My Rockabilly”, was released in 2001.

The Currie Brothers didn’t get Emerald’s memo. Instead, they are folking around with their accordions. Another victim of mistaken identity, there is currently another band in central Ontario that goes by the same name, also a folk band.

The Hot Stuff LP has been out for some 42 years now. I see a copy currently on e-Bay for about $25.00. Around the 1970s, Jim and Tom Currie won the Scottish Championship for accordion. According to Discogs, recordings of these two exist as late as 2015.

 

 

Blogging about blogging: Block editor in wordpress

WordPress, written in PHP, is the lingua franca of the blogging world.

This is a mini-review about the new block editor in WordPress. The block editor is a new feature with this full-version upgrade in the WordPress blogging environment. Block editing is thought of in such grand terms by the WordPress programmers, that they have called it Gutenberg, after the first printing press. It replaces a more conventional editor, which has not posed me a problem in the past, and thus I see this editor as an attempt to fix things that were never broken.

When I write a blog article, my subject matter takes clear precedence over the tools I use. I do not wish to spend hours learning new ways of creating articles (which were already being created with the “old” tools and posing no problem) when really I ought to be concentrating on my writing. I am sure my audience, and most audiences, don’t care about what tools I used to edit an article; they just want to do a bit of reading and browsing.

My use of the editor caused many things to break from its first use. I had lengthy articles turn into a pea soup of words and images where the structure was broken. This, apparently, is due to a broken plugin I have somewhere, or something like that, I was told by a forum moderator. I disabled some plugins, and tried to get in with the “new mindset” that this new block editor is supposed to encourage. I look on with suspicion things which cause features to break which were not previously a problem.

In this new environment, all articles are thought of in terms of entities called “blocks”. As I understand it, a paragraph, a section of text, an image and a video, can all be separate blocks. Each block can be moved about, and edited separately. This is not well-implemented, as I had encountered toolbars pushing text out of the way, changing the visual quality from the way that it would end up when you read it. Toolbars would also have buttons turn up in strange places, and sometimes, I was not given the option to edit the code to add such formatting as text color, since the button allowing it was missing. In other cases, I would get multiple toolbars (toolbars would not disappear when I left a block), some HTML code would not be properly parsed, and instead bare HTML code would be shown in visual mode. Sometimes it would correct itself after some jiggery-pokery with the mouse and some buttons on the toolbar, but overall I found it tiresome, and symptomatic of a system that has not been well thought-out.

As a result, I have done what many bloggers have done, and disabled Gutenberg and gone back to the conventional editor that was there before. This feature, however, is a plugin, rather than part of the codebase. The plugin has a simple enough name: “Disable Gutenberg”.

I have never considered other blogging platforms, since Worpdress does the job so well, but I have heard more than once that other platforms have arisen that have newfangled ways to put a blog article together, such as Medium and Ghost. This apparently caused the world’s largest blogging platform (WordPress) to fear for its dominanace, and, consequently they needed to cobble together some new tools that would make it relevant to new bloggers deciding on what platform to use. The bug in the old code is not rooted in the code itself, but in the insecurity of the coders who program the platform. To anyone who is already blogging using WordPress, this is irrelevant. We don’t care about Medium or Ghost, we only care about writing our articles. It also on principle, should be irrelevant to most of the coders, who are largely volunteers on a huge open source project, and are mostly unpaid. I believe WordPress makes their money from owners of web servers who act as host to WordPress blogging environments such as GoDaddy, and I would imagine they don’t want to lose those accounts. So the rest of us who chose WordPress are made to suffer for a conflict that does not really involve us.