Friday, December 30, 2022

A Transition Of Significance

 There are two non-government institutions that currently exist that have been of any consequence to the world.

One of them has been around for quite a while - founded in 1843 - The Economist.

The other, founded 140 years later, PBS News Hour (originally, The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour) founded in 1983.

Tonight, the anchor desk has passed from Judy to Amana and Geoff.

Steady hands will keep the ship sailing straight.

We are so lucky.

Watch tonight's edition.


Tennessee Sunrise

 My son sent me this image this morning.

He pointed out that we may have great sunsets out here west, but, back there where he is, sunrise is equally glorious.


I pointed out that out here sunrise is accompanied with the cry "how high's the water, mama?"


There are more, but this one tells the tale.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

A World Event That, I Hope, Points The Future

 Pele was of the world.

The outpouring of love that has occurred in the last few hours is the kind of thing that I have always wished for my country and for the world.

Underpinning that wish has always been - not a belief, but a CERTAINTY, bolstered by an ethereal feeling of personal rightness, that America for starters, and the world soon after, will find its place in the universe when we all agree in our hearts to live and love as one.

We will fight and disagree - we won't stop being humans - but the disagreements and fights will always be based on the mutually agreed to fact that we are one, not black, white, yellow, red, brown or mixed.

Because we are mixed.

Either currently or imminently.

And we all are and will be the better for that.

The outpouring of love that has occurred in the last few hours is the kind of thing that I have always wished for my country and for the world.

If Tom Brady had died the BBC would have said in closing "oh by the way".

Tonight, the BBC NewsHour was the Pele NewHour.

He was Brazilian, not British.

Pele was of the world.

And the world is vastly better for that fact.


A republican Lied? What A Shock!

 George Santos.

Actually, he didn't lie, he turned over his resume to that AI thing we've been hearing so much about.

And fed it truth social as a data stream.

From Raw Story; is that - Raw Story - really something?

Yes: © Raw Story

"George Santos' lies put Kevin McCarthy in 'no-win situation' as he tries to wrangle votes for House speaker"

"Kevin McCarthy's leadership bid may depend on seating congressman-elect George Santos in spite of his admission to fabricating much of his background.

"So far only one Republican has publicly called for an investigation into the New York Republican, although others have privately said he would likely face probes, but McCarthy and other GOP leaders have remained silent about Santos admittedly lying about his education, work history and religious faith, reported Politico."

Going to be interesting to watch the spineless one squirm.

And listening to the tortured obfuscation from the rest of the fascist party of america.

But even if Santos did lie, why would anyone be put off?

He is, after all - he has said so far, but things can change, I guess - a republican.

So as 2023 dawns we can look forward to Squirmy Kevin sweating blood like Jesus in Gethsemane, the House of Representatives shelving legislative activity for the duration of the then current session in favor of investigations: Hillary Clinton's Server, the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Hunter Biden's laptop, Bill Clinton's underwear, whether Bennie Thompson is a racist and myriad other priority look-intos of great importance to all us 'Mericans.

 Meanwhile Ol' Mitch and the Boys over in the Senate are rubbing their hands in glee as one more step on the road to serfdom is taken by all of us waiting for a real American Legislature to emerge and address the needs of most of us.

Sounds like reality TV to me.

How nice.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Here Is What Forbes Says About Aid To Ukraine

 Here is an extract from a larger article.

It sounds as if we are getting maximum value out of old stuff we have already paid for and were not going to use; it was just sitting around waiting for a garage sale.

By Craig Hooper

"The list of American security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s “unprovoked and brutal invasion” is impressive. What is more impressive is that $21.9 billion in U.S. military aid has been dominated by largely second-string gear, comprised of unpopular or lower-tech systems that were, in many cases, on the way to the scrapyard.

"As Congress gears up to constrain the Biden Administration’s relative largesse, it is worth emphasizing that the aid, to date, is neither excessive nor threatening to U.S. national security.

"In fact, U.S. military support to Ukraine has cost less than what Congress is paying to procure two Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In total, taxpayers will put some $26 billion into the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). In comparison to these troubled flattops, the $21.9 billion for Ukraine appears to be a far more effective return on investment.

"Aid to Ukraine has, in effect, shattered the Russian military, exposing it as little more than a paper tiger. The war has helped destroy Russia’s once-burgeoning arms bazaar, ruining Russian efforts to destabilize strategic regions. Enabling the fight has bolstered Ukraine’s commitment to their nation, critical for advancing society-building and anti-corruption efforts there. Facilitating Ukraine’s resistance may even end the kleptocratic reign of Vladimir Putin, paving the way for a more just—if not more democratic—society in Russia itself.

"The war served a good proving ground for modern conflict, forcing the U.S. to recognize old “big war” conflict models it had eschewed for decades. The war has also reinforced the value of basic, boring old consumables, items the U.S. often ignores in the constant pursuit of the newest and shiniest technology—like the pricey Ford Class carrier.

"In all, the $21.9 billion has been very well spent. Had America held back the support, and just let Russia roll over Ukraine, America would have spent far more in keeping Russia from suborning the rest of Europe."

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Monday, December 26, 2022

A Very Important Award

Many vied for this award, but one person stood out.

He specialized in war crimes, murder, rape and terrorism: bombing maternity wards, apartment buildings, railroad stations, markets, shopping malls, churches, dams, aqueducts, electric grids, farmland and crops.

He is so good at war crimes and pointless, indiscriminate destruction, he is on the short list for the 2023 Adolph Hitler Award for Genocide and Sadism.





Sunday, December 25, 2022

The R.F. Trio

​For reasons that I don't understand this page recently disappeared.

It was only because I had sent an email to one of Dave's daughters to let her know I had posted this, and I decided to check the link that I discovered the problem.

Two Songs From The Trio






Saturday, December 24, 2022

Truly Do

 In the early spring of 1973, I sat for an extended period of time one evening in Doug Peters' living room.

Doug had a good reel to reel Sony with two excellent microphones.

Doug was a great sound engineer.

So, we just started recording, with an occasional break for a sip of beer.

Otherwise, we just let it rip from a recording viewpoint.

That tape became a Valentines gift for my then fiancé, my now wife of soon to be forty-nine years.

This link will let you play one of those songs.

There may be more over time, now that I have figured out how to post audio.

Truly Do




Thursday, December 22, 2022

Cosmic Musings - Irrational Bullshit

 This is the preface of a book I just finished writing.

I won't waste any money on self-publishing this one.

********************************************************************

Einstein said that E = mc2.

There are a bunch of things this equation says and a lot more that it implies.

Mainly, though, it says that there is a huge amount of energy trapped in mass and light.

There was a time, we are told, when there was nothing and nothing was everything, all trapped in a nothing called a singularity.

In due course the singularity achieved its destiny: it became everything.

An uncontrolled variable generated by this occurrence was where everything was.

At the point of nothing becoming everything, everything was very close to where it had just previously been nothing.

Not exactly, but close.

But that was a fleeting condition.

The energy released by nothing becoming everything brought a new condition into being: speed.

Speed drove newly minted everything from wherever it had just not been to where it was about to be, and would continue to be for …

For what?

We call it time.

Time came into being as a byproduct of nothing becoming everything.

It was the measure of – something – but it could be described by knowing where everything was then and where everything was now.

Then and now were words not known before the singularity had become everything.

Then and now are words that let humans sense a thing called time.

Since, once sensed, humans figured out how to represent it with a thing called a clock.

But you can’t see time with a clock.

You can only show the effects of its existence: clicks and clangs.

Those are not time; they are just a way of indicating that something we really don’t understand and really can’t describe does in fact exist.

That’s strange.

But not as strange as light.

Light is a wave.

But it is made up of particles.

And it’s really, really fast.

And that speed is the upper limit of speed.

So why is energy equal to a given mass times the speed of light squared?

Speed of light times speed of light is exponentially faster than the speed of light.

So how does that work?

Kinda like the horror that most of human-kind have for the concept of a godless universe.

When one admits the mayhem meted out by humankind over our tenure on earth under the banner “Deus Vult”,or “Gott Mit Uns” it becomes hard to say that we need a supreme being to bring out our kinder, gentler selves.

All we need is the will to treat others as we would be treated.

And then there is that quantum thing.

Einstein said something like "at the outer edges of my equations things get squirrely” - or something to that effect.

He was talking about the fact that things can be, simultaneously, in more than one place at the same time.

Remember, however, that time is pretty slippery, so that observation, if true, may not mean a whole lot.

These shards of brightly colored glass from the great question jar of the cosmos that I just dropped on the concrete and cosmic floor of conjecture are the pieces from which I have created the mosaic of the story about to be told. 

 Cinq is one of the main characters in the story.




The Taliban's Four Reasons Why They Stopped Women Going To University

Today the Taliban told the world why they are forbidding women to go to university. 

When I heard the four reasons, I was brought up short.

They were:

1. Women are to be inseminated.

2. Women are to be inseminated.

3. Women are to be inseminated.

4. The Taliban can't figure out how to get close enough to a woman to inseminate her.

(The actual Arabic word was not "women"; it was "woman").

I've got a million of em.




Friday, December 16, 2022

MOAB For The Upcoming Russian Offensive

 I had this to say back in March.

A while back I published a post that suggested that the United States has a conventional weapon that, if given to the Ukrainians might be very helpful in dealing with the Russians.

Now that the Russians have formed a forty-mile-long string of military vehicles and tanks the time has come to deploy it.

Forty miles of slow-moving things that apparently are intermittently running out of fuel is as classic a form of a sitting duck as it is possible to imagine.

We have a conventional bomb that has a yield of 11 tons of TNT; some call it MOAB - the mother of all bombs.

They can be delivered by C-130 aircraft.

It would seem to me that ten C-130/MOABs should be given to the Ukrainians ASAP. 

220,000 pounds of TNT, artfully delivered over forty miles of trucks and tanks, probably would slow the Russians down a little.

********************************************

My suggestion was ignored.

The forty-mile-wide gaggle of russians was allowed to molder in its own juice. 

After moldering for a while, that gaggle withdrew to safer places, where they have been licking their moldering wounds.

Now they are thinking about sending another, big, big, gaggle back to take Kiev.

If I were running things, I would look at that as an opportunity to finish off the russians once and for all.

If they want to present themselves in prime target mode again, we in the West ought to thank them with a fleet of MOAB armed C130s, flying and dropping round the clock.

The only difference between nuclear and conventional is, how big are your conventionals, and how many planes have you got?

Our national legislature just approved an annual expenditure of almost a trillion dollars for "defense".

We better have a lot of MOABs and C130s in that expenditure.

*******************************************



The Worst Is Yet To Come

 As a progressively senile donnie the dildo hawks his NFT trading cards and disappears in a rapidly descending pink and gold trumped up sunset, everybody is turning to Ron De Santis for a trump of a different flavor.

De Santis has a couple hundred million dollars for campaigning, so, from republican circles comes a sigh of relief as the descent of donnie and the ascent of ronnie is beginning to be accepted as an accomplished fact.

Look out, though.

Marjorie Taylor Greene fits the silhouette of an-up-from-the-bowels-of-hell MAGGOT much better than ronnie.

THE BASE loves that shit.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Extrapolating Einstein

 In 1915 Albert Einstein published the General Theory of relativity - an update to the limited theory, published ten years earlier.

That little episode was only the then most recent example of a human phenomenon.

As a race and as a species we come up with great ideas, that, at inception, are missioned for some advantageous contribution to our race.

The lever could move weights of a magnitude that no human or group of humans could move.

Big things resulted: the pyramids - perhaps - for example.

But it was not long before a thing called a catapult was hurling flaming tar over city walls into unprotected and unexpecting populations.

Flint was used for scrapers, bird points, and heavy-duty game killers: food became more plentiful.

But the game points were a good way to kill fellow humans; and kill they did, en masse.

Bronze was a mix of copper and tin.

When it was discovered, manufacturing tools (the "manu" being accurately tied to its base-word meaning - hand) exploded, as did human prosperity and its associated fecundity, associated with making a lot of stuff cheaply.

But mass production - relatively speaking - of warfare points became possible; empires, and their associated human populations began to be toted up and written down as gone in a massive war game count of death and destruction.

Gun powder was invented for fireworks.

But it was not long before someone figured out that if you put a projectile in a tube and loaded a charge of gun powder behind it you had a weapon substantially more lethal than either a flint or a bronze point designed for human destruction.

Which brings me back to Einstein.

His General Theory has been summed up: E = MC squared.

Buried in that equation, but obvious to anyone worth his or her salt in those days was the fact that, if you could disassemble an atom - of something to be determined - you could create a big burst of energy.

That could have generated a rush to create some sort of perpetual motion machine - something to run the turbines of our electric grid for example.

But it produced a bomb that killed a lot of Japanese and maimed myriad others.

Today I heard an NPR show about human embryos in a test tube.

Not a new thing.

But, when added to the preceding thoughts, a disquieting thing.

Being able to do that makes parenthood for many, many people, who, for various reasons could not be possible; that is a good thing.

But how long will it be - applying the "buts" outlined above - before test tube babies will begin to resemble Hitler's super race?

Just askin'.

Then there's CRSPIR.

That's a cut and paste gene technology that allows humans now and humans future to be re-engineered.

It has had a lot of success in improving the human condition.

It has ridden certain people of sickle cell anemia, for example.

But, again applying the rule of precedents, how long will it be before we all are blonde, six feet or more in height and are singing Deutschland uber Alles?

Just askin'.

Or, related to CRSPIR, what earthly reason do we have to believe that cloning humans has not already occurred, let alone believing that such a thing will never happen?

Just askin'.

I'm not comfortable with the answers I get to that, or any of my other questions.

Our track record history to date seems to me to be grim.

Friday, December 9, 2022

The Plot May Be Thickening

 Early Sunday morning I made the following post.

"The news this morning tells of a significant power outage in North Carolina.

The outage is being characterized as "vandalism": unruly and disgruntled individuals randomly blowing up substations; "boys will be boys" and all that sort of thing.

It looks to me more like the first of, what I assume, will be many more practice feints preparatory to some ultimate country-wide coordinated thrust to break our nation into several smaller militarized zones under militia control.

After executing some large number of follow-on test thrusts against the nation's infrastructure during 2023, "Operation Restore the Donald" is scheduled to depart the practice round and become a full-scale insurgency in early 2024.

We will know the bell has been rung when the republicans follow donnie's dictate and terminate the Constitution". 

I don't know whether y'all have noticed but, as coverage of what might have been a one off, but isn't, continues to increase, it sounds as if the word "feint" was pretty well chosen.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Vandals Or Proud Boys Etc.?

 The news this morning tells of a significant power outage in North Carolina.

The outage is being characterized as "vandalism": unruly and disgruntled individuals randomly blowing up substations; "boys will be boys" and all that sort of thing.

It looks to me more like the first of, what I assume, will be many more practice feints preparatory to some ultimate country-wide coordinated thrust to break our nation into several smaller militarized zones under militia control.

After executing some large number of follow-on test thrusts against the nation's infrastructure during 2023, "Operation Restore the Donald" is scheduled to depart the practice round and become a full-scale insurgency in early 2024.

We will know the bell has been rung when the republicans follow donnie's dictate and terminate the Constitution. 


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Tacos Japanese Style

 Back in 2017 I posted a about my ZIP Code - at the time the most diverse in America.

I guess I felt the urge to say what I said in that post because of the recent election of klansman trump to the presidency.

Everything that I have ever believed about America was in that post: her exciting prospects, her first ever in human history prospects for a multi-everything, diverse democracy, the great amalgamation. 

The election of a psychotic racist as our president had brought me up short.

And, in the face of that horror, I had needed to lay out my feelings in that post.

Last night, having just returned from a month in Paris, I began to get hungry.

On the way home from the airport I had bought the makings for any kind of Mexican food that might occur to me to be on the menu.

After a month of great French cuisine, I was ready for some real 'Merican food.

So I had corn tortillas.

Therefore, when I began to have a strong craving for tacos, I put some cooking oil in my favorite cast iron skillet, turned on the gas and reached in the drawer for a pair of Evenflo tongs dating back to the dawn of my adult life.

Over the years,those tongs had turned out to be more useful in making tacos shells than feeding infants.

Infants grow up and move on; tacos stay the course.

To my chagrin and dismay, the tongs were nowhere to be found.

I guessed they were on Lopez.

The oil was up to temperature, and I really wanted tacos for dinner.

How was I going to make taco shells with no implement?

Plyers?

A fork?

Aha, I heard myself say to no one in particular.

 Chop sticks.

And they worked swimmingly.

I couldn't help but concatenate that little culinary episode with the blog post referenced, above: Mexican food made using a Japanese implement in the Amalgamated States of America.

How appropriate.



Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cassoulet: The Right Way

​This is what I am having for dinner tonight. 

I’m at la Citrouille my favorite restaurant. 

Anywhere.

La Citrouille is in Paris.

Their cassoulet is so full of confit du canard it quacks. 




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Apparently donnie Is Into Little Boys

 As near as I can tell the kid that came to dinner at donnie's the other day is about as serious a political thinker as most of the young women who keep trying to follow me on Instagram.

I assume that the main difference is that his profile is nowhere near as titillating as theirs.

He's 24 years old and offers a never-ending stream of inane hate to build his brand.

It's somewhere between classic teen-age influencer shit and a childish tantrum.

It's not bad enough that the (apparently) morons in the mainstream press rise to his bait and report on - including, and especially useful to him, his name - as if he were some kind of serious thinker.

What's really ridiculous though is that the only currently declared candidate for the 2024 presidential election thinks there is some there there.


Monday, November 28, 2022

China Fooled Us; Maybe The Chinese People Are Tired Of Being Fooled

 In 2000 the US House of Representatives voted to normalize trade relations with China.

That was de-facto endorsement of China joining the World Trade Association.

Removing all the barriers then in place to China becoming a major economic power was thought to be the secret sauce that would create an economic environment in which China would inevitably migrate to western style democratic norms.

Democracy follows in the path of Capitalist Prosperity, doesn't it?

23 years on, China is on the brink of being the largest economy in the world.

And the recently concluded Communist Party Congress which effectively extended Xi Jinping's dictatorship for life showed how misguided those hopes and beliefs had been.

The people have no say in what happens.

Xi Jinping has sole power in the land.

It turned out that China's plan for using the prosperity generated by WTO membership was that, if vast masses of Chinese citizens could be lifted out of poverty to middle class prosperity, they would do what they were told.

Not prosperity and incipient democracy.

The People have, until recently done what they are told.

If the multiple reports of serious anti-government, anti Xi Jinping demonstrations are to be believed it may be that the people are emerging with a different point of view.

Apparently they want to keep their prosperity and also acquire a say in how things are being run.

If true, we're in for some interesting times.

Witchhunt Tales: A Corollary Of A Corollary

 I think this was originally from The Guardian.

The Excerpt is from HuffPost, Story by Josephine Harvey.

Ex-Prosecutor: Trump's Latest Move A 'Sign Of Desperation' As Probes Intensify

It's about donnie's recent assertion that, since Special Prosecutor Jack Smith's wife has been active in the Democratic Party, Mr. Smith is invalidated in his prosecutorial role.

From the referenced HufPost post comes this observation from ex-prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner:

"He explained: “So Trump alleges that if the prosecutor’s spouse is a Democrat, well then the prosecutor cannot go after ... corrupt or criminal Republican politicians because of the prosecutor’s spouse’s politics. That’s absurd.”

“And think about the corollary,” he continued. “Well, if the prosecutor’s spouse is a Democrat, then the prosecutor shouldn’t be allowed to go after Democrats either, because presumably, because of the prosecutor spouse’s politics, the prosecutor would go easy on Democrats.

“So if you take Trump’s argument to its logical conclusion, if a prosecutor’s spouse is political in any way ... the prosecutor cannot prosecute anybody who’s a Republican or a Democrat.”

That causes me to conjure a corollary to this corollary:

The ancient, sacred and revered legal process of trial by jury ceases to be possible: no unbiased jurors can be found.

So we can add that to donnie's accomplishments: a ham handed, ignorant, and, regrettably, partially successful attempt to dismantle Pax Americana, the giving the go-ahead to Iran to return full tilt to its nuclear weapons program, letting Kim Jong-Un make a fool of him before the international community and instigating a coup d'état. 

Pretty impressive credentials, for residence on Devil's Island; I'm pretty sure the French would be happy to provide a billet.

Maybe that can be an agenda item when President Macron make his imminent state visit.

Monday, November 21, 2022

French Food Goes Just So Far

 And then you need to have some good ol' 'Merican food.



Salmon Berries

 Having been in Paris for 21 days now I would have expected to have clogged this blog with Paris images and witty observations.

Unfortunately, day one, after walking not very many miles - 4, my Paris normal is 6 to 8 - I came down with an unruly and very painful Achilles tendon.

I have no idea why.

The net result of trying to cure the thing is that I have not walked Paris and therefore not taken any pictures.

Except a few from Pont Neuf.

So when this beautiful picture of one of my favorite Pacific Northwest plants appeared on screen saver I immediately decided to use it for a blog post.

I think it's called salmonberry because when it's the color of this image it looks just like salmon eggs.

When it's ripe it's blacker like a blackberry.

In a dark wood with shafts of sunlight these salmon egg-colored spots of color make the walk worthwhile.



Saturday, November 19, 2022

Speaking Of Dark Age Reign Of Terror ...

 I brought a long book to read while I was in Paris.

I've been reading it in my down time here.

Late last night I was awake, so I watched a movie on my iPhone.

The book is Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety.

The movie was The Grapes of Wrath.

I saw the movie when I was quite young.

I read the book when I was substantially younger than I am now.

In both cases, the works were of great enough meaning and substantial enough quality, that they have always been on my "get back to someday" list.

So, on this trip I have gotten back to them.

I had either forgotten, or more likely totally missed, what both of these brilliant works are about.

And that's because, until 2016 and since, I had never seen certain things before.

Or they had been so buried in the trappings of what I have always thought of as "my life" that I had just missed them.

How utterly repetitive is history, and how utterly fragile are its fleeting improvements of human condition.





A Matter Of Tenths Of Points

 I've been as guilty as anyone.

Congratulating America on, generally, rejecting a new dark age reign of terror.

Americans didn't vote for very many MAGGOTS.

And even in the MAGGOT-Winner community, some may be shams to the cause.

J.D. Vance comes to mind.

He seems too intellectual and too smart to really buy that shit.

But we shall see.

That notwithstanding, more than a few did win.

And for the many that lost, they mostly only lost by fractions of percents.

So, "the rest of us" may be celebrating way too prematurely.



Friday, November 18, 2022

Traumatic Brain Injury: The MAGGOT Effect

 I have been listening to Meghna Chakrabarti - On Point, NPR, KUOW Seattle as I cooked and consumed my dinner here in Paris.

KUOW is a worldwide phenomenon, you know.

I had salmon grilled rare with mushrooms in butter and lime sauce with a mache and tomato salad.

It was good.

Back about 12 years ago I posted about the first time I ever cooked that concoction.

I was in Paris then also.

It was better then.

Appetite - it turns out - is one of the early things to go.

But I wanted to talk about Meghna's show.

It was about the apparent brain injury that results from "intimate partner violence and abuse".

You know, things like slamming her head into the wall, or throwing her of the porch, or strangling her, or punching her into unconsciousness (the victim-pronoun is feminine because men do this stuff, not women; women in those types of relationships don the mantle of guilt for not pleasing their man; the men, it seems need coddling to keep their fragile egos intact).

Meghna asked the authority who she had on point how many women might be wandering around out there with brain injury from partner choking and slamming.

The answer was, best guess from data extrapolation, 31 million.

That answer caused me to go from appalled to analytic.

Politically analytic.

On the assumption that most or all of those brain damaged women had a trump voting abuser - a logical assumption, given donnie's body of work and his recorded public statements - I did a little math.

31 million times two is 62 million.

74 million voted for donnie in 2020.

Now I know where all but 12 million of those votes came from.




Monday, November 14, 2022

Two Guys On The Seine

 Earlier today I went over to Pont Neuf and took some pictures.

I have a good enough telephoto that I was able to spy on a couple people.

I thought these images were worth sharing.




Saturday, November 12, 2022

Noel's Birthday Part Two

 Yesterday I posted a brief history of several Delta Airlines reservations.

It was a story of how malfeasance meets incompetence.

If you want to know more here is the link

The upshot of the post was that a birthday party in Paris for me that my family and I had planned for most of this year had come gradually become not doable, thanks to Delta Airlines.

Ann Claire and Joe just wouldn't give up.

Somehow they got here - Paris - at about 1500 today, Paris time.

We had a few-hour long cocktail and conversation time in my apartment and then we went to Nagano Sushi on rue Mazarine - I highly recommend it if you are ever in Paris - and finished up the day with a fabulous dinner and equally fabulous service.

Tomorrow we are going to have my birthday dinner at la Citrouille.

Here is a picture from the apartment this afternoon.



Ann Claire And Joe En Route



 For those of you who have been following this saga, here is their flight status as of ten minutes or so ago.


Friday, November 11, 2022

Delta: A Farce Masquerading As An Airline

 Back in February 2022 it began to look as if international travel might be possible again after two years of pandemic shutdown.

That was good I thought.

That was good my wife thought.

That was good my daughter thought.

That was good my daughter-in-law and son thought.

Good, we all thought, because, for 20 or so years, until 2020 and 2021 - pandemic years - I had almost always spent at least a month in Paris, maybe more, but November for sure - 13 November being my birthday - and I wanted to re-commence that tradition, and the others of my family here mentioned, wanted to join with me on this my 80th birthday year.

They had been with me for that day in 2012 for 70 and they wanted to be there for the tenth anniversary of that fun occasion.

So, Delta airline reservations were made.

(My wife, daughter and I have a vestigial relationship with Delta from the IBM eighties, when Delta was not only the best airline, it was also a company worth working for).

My daughter and my wife made reservations on Delta: RDU to CDG, non-stop (our daughter lives in North Carolina and it seemed fun for my wife and our daughter to fly together).

To that end, I made a reservation for my wife: SEA to RDU non-stop, round trip, First Class.

My son and daughter in law made reservations on Delta appropriate to their circumstances as residents of the great state of Tennessee.

And we all sat back and savored the thought of our reunion in Paris in November and my birthday.

**********************************************************

It took a while for things to begin to unravel.

My wife and daughter were first.

They got a courteous email from Delta telling them that their non-stop to Paris had been changed to a two-flight connection and that the flight from RDU would arrive at the connection after their connecting flight had departed.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this might incur" Delta added with empathy.

At that point they - my wife and my daughter - decided that they had enough time to think about this and, more importantly, to figure out how one contacts Delta to fix such an obvious aberration, so they put in abeyance any action on the problem; who knew if you swatted that fly right away a new fly would probably replace it.

Delta still had their best people working for us: not too long after getting the "you're stranded in Boston" email my wife got an email saying she no longer had a non-stop reservation to and from Raleigh; she was going to experience the not at all non-stop pleasure of being routed on her return link to Seattle through Detroit on her way home.

After not too long my wife and daughter drew the obvious conclusion: there was no way in hell that they were going to Paris in November 2022.

We were all disappointed, but life goes on, until it doesn't, I guess.

The time, probably money, and irritation involved with unscrambling that Delta mess just weren't warranted.

That left my son and daughter in law with their Delta travel arrangements.

 I'm writing this instead of being at la Citrouille for dinner with Joe and Ann Claire tonight (we were planning a dress rehearsal for the 13th); they have been living in an airport bar in Boston for the last 24 hours, courtesy of the Delta extended-obfuscation-to-ultimate-cancellation gambit.

The final Delta Air Travel bricks of the Noel's birthday in Paris edifice began to turn to dust about 18 hours ago.

Joe texted me that their 4 hour layover had become a 7.5 hour layover.

The texts continued; the delays mounted; the repair part was on a plane to arrive at ...

Anyone who has ever flown knew at the outset of those delays what the final result would be.

Of course, Delta knew; they are in the business; they invented the rules of the game; and those rules specify that it is required to obfuscate until you summarily cancel.

Delta cancelled about 0400 Paris time.

Interminable lines queuing in front of unoccupied Delta "Service" Desks, and smart-phone-battery- draining waits on Delta customer service phone numbers ensued.  

The population of Boston temporarily grew by one Delta plane load.

And I'm writing this instead of enjoying a dinner at la Citrouille with the more travel persistent members of my family.

The good news is Hotels.com has their best people working on getting an exception to the no re-fund rule of the hotel across the street where I made reservations for Joe and Ann Claire and had to cancel because there be no Ann Claire and Joe.

I Wish Mitt Success With This

© Provided by Washington Examiner

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is asking the Republican Party to focus on helping the public instead of pursuing "pointless investigations."

Romney calls for the GOP to take the road 'less travelled by' should it control Congress

Romney calls for the GOP to take the road 'less travelled by' should it control Congress

The nation is still awaiting the results of several races of the 2022 midterm elections, which will determine which party will control the House and the Senate. The GOP ought to work with the opposing party to fix issues affecting people in the United States, including inflation and climate change, the Utah senator wrote in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal.

"Robert Frost and politics don’t really mix, but his famous allegory is apt: Two roads diverge before this potential GOP majority," Romney wrote. "The one 'less travelled by' would be to pass bills that would make things better for the American people. The more tempting and historically more frequented road would be to pursue pointless investigations, messaging bills, threats and government shutdowns. The road we choose could make 'all the difference.'"

Romney noted how exit polls stated that "inflation remains a top voter concern" and to address this, Congress needs to work on changes to "revenues, benefits and eligibility" without getting rid of any programs and without affecting near-retirees.

For climate change, the senator recommended working on reducing global emissions through funding technology research that can be used across the world and "slapping penalties on imports from prolific emitters."

****************************************************************

One of my dominant feelings during the 2012 presidential election was that Mitt Romney was a sad example of a decent Tom McCall/Mark Hatfield Republican trapped by the post 2010 Nutcase Rebellion - "take our country back".  

Apparently, he is fully out of that trap. 

He showed signs of being out of that trap when he voted trump "guilty". 

I hope there are enough like him in the ghost remnants of the GOP and the best of the current Democratic Party to come together and really take our country back.  

I further hope that this is the real beginning of the end to our long national nightmare - I had thought the election of 2020, at the time, had done that - ended the nightmare; but no; the rabbit kept boiling in the pot, and donnie has kept popping up out of that bathtub.

Maybe Mitt has shown the entrance to the path back.

I really hope so.


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Vive La Résistance

 After all of the gnashing of teeth, including mine - see my recent post of a Bill Maher video (with editorial comment, of course) - about the inevitable doom that would be subsequent to Mid-Terms 2022 it looks as if the American People have again done the unlikely.

As it seems to have turned out, my editorial comment that the then imminent election was "frozen in amber" was just plug wrong.

Yes, that asshole Ron Johnson has won again his seat in the Senate.

But what can one expect?

Assholes like McConnel, Cruz, and Rubio need company to contribute to their Constitutional function of balance of power.

republicans call it sphincter co-ordination.

All that notwithstanding, there seems to be emerging a really hopeful sign of life in what had been assumed to be a moribund body politic.

The republicans have only a few victories to crow about.

And those were known slam dunks.

So what seems to be unfolding as we count the votes?

What is unfolding is that there are more Americans out there than there are MAGGOTS.

You can't get the results that we seem to be getting without there being a lot more than an enthusiastic wave of Democrats.

Unlikely as it seemed a few days ago, the AMERICAN PEOPLE have spoken.

And they aren't MAGGOTS.






Hubris In The Valley

 Billions upon billions upon billions of billions.

Of dollars.

Various apparently brilliant tech knowledgeable individuals have spawned trillions of dollars in the last few years.

A lot of those dollars have, of course, been spent on fun stuff like yachts so big that the yacht needs a yacht for its dingy.

Or putting electric vehicles in orbit.

Fun stuff like that.

But some of those dollars must have been being spent on giving the world its various next big things.

Tell me that's true.

I need to think that to be the case as I look at all the things that Americans - forget the human race - can't have because there just isn't the money: health care, elder care, quality pre-school, pensions, housing.

There are probably a lot more.

I just can't think of them right now.

So, on the optimistic assumption that at least some of those trillions of dollars of financial fluff sloughed off the products and services have been and are being spent on paying people to bring into reality the essential goods and services that the human race hasn't yet identified as such - essential to their well-being and happiness - I get real nervous when I see one of those apparently brilliant tech knowledgeable individuals waking up one morning and firing 11,000 of his minions deployed in the creation of those goods and services.

If the 11,000 can all be eliminated in a quick text one November morning, is it because the goods and services to which they have been deployed are not so essential?

Are they in fact delusions of their tech knowledgeable master?

And is it true that all those dollars that could have been deployed to the betterment of the human condition have instead been pissed away on the metaverse?

And does that leave 11,000 decent people out on the tangible - not meta - street as the holidays loom?

Saturday, November 5, 2022

From Bernie: Counterpoint To Bill Maher

 At least it is counterpoint in the sense that Bernie seems to think that we have now a functioning government and that, election 2022 notwithstanding, we will have one in 2023 and beyond; all we need to do is vote the right people.

Since the wrong people being elected in 2022 seems to be most likely, Bernie must believe that there is a life for Democracy after 2022.

And, based on that belief he has some observations about our immediate present and what we might do to improve our near and long term future.

He's asking a great deal of us, but it can be boiled down to one imperative sentence: Learn the system; take on the system; give a shit - and vote.

He posted this on the Fox website of all places.

It's long, but well worth reading.

****************************************************

"Corporate greed is at a 70-year high and oil companies are buying back stock, not lowering prices

By Sen. Bernie Sanders

As we enter the final week of the midterm election, voters are expressing deep concern about the state of the economy and inflation. They should.

 Today, we live in an economy in which the billionaires are getting much richer while working families fall further behind. Unbelievably, while 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, we now have more income and wealth inequality than we have ever had in the history of our country – with three multi-billionaires owning more wealth than the bottom half of Americans. While employers squeeze workers and their unions for cuts to health care and other benefits, the CEOs of major corporations now make nearly 400 times more than their average employees – the largest employer-worker gap in our history.

 During this campaign, my Republican colleagues talk a lot about inflation, and they are right to do so. Over the last year, Americans have become sick and tired of paying outrageously high prices for food, gas, health care, prescription drugs, housing and other necessities.

 Unfortunately, most Republicans completely ignore the underlying causes of inflation and the few "solutions" they do offer would make a bad situation even worse.

 Yes. During this political season it is easy to blame President Joe Biden and Democrats for inflation. But that’s just not accurate.

 Let’s be clear. Inflation is not unique to America. It is an international crisis. In the European Union, inflation is nearly 11 percent. In Germany, it is 11.6 percent. In the United Kingdom it is 10.1 percent. In Ireland, it’s 9.6 percent. In America, it’s 8.2 percent, much too high, but lower than it is throughout much of Europe.

 The truth is that inflation is, to a significant extent, caused by the ongoing global pandemic, the break in international supply chains and the horrific war in Ukraine. But there is another major reason for inflation that too few people talk about. And that is the unprecedented level of corporate greed that we are now seeing.

 According to a recent study, nearly 54 percent of the rise in inflation is directly attributable to the astronomical increase in corporate profit margins. In America today, while the working class struggles to put food on the table, fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes, corporate profits are at a 70-year high.

 If you want to know why you are paying $4, $5, $6 for a gallon of gas, you should know that the profits of ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell skyrocketed by 169 percent so far this year to $125 billion. These four huge oil companies are spending over $73 billion not to reduce gas prices at the pump but to buy back their own stock and increase dividends to their wealthy stockholders.

 If you are wondering why you are paying 43 percent more for an airline ticket this year, you should know that profits are up 186 percent at American Airlines and 99 percent at United Airlines in the third quarter to nearly $1.5 billion. Yes. These are the same companies that received taxpayer assistance of more than $20 billion during the pandemic while cutting 6,400 jobs.

 If you are wondering why global food prices skyrocketed by over 33 percent last year and are expected to go up another 23 percent this year, you should know that billionaires in the global food and agri-business industry became $382 billion richer during the pandemic.

 If you are wondering why we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, you should know that Pfizer has increased its profits by 42 percent so far this year to $26.4 billion.

 Even though inflation is an international problem, my Republican colleagues want to blame rising prices on Democratic spending – especially the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021. Well, before you accept that argument, I urge you to remember where we were at that terrible and painful moment in American history.

 As the worst pandemic in modern history raged across the country, over 3,000 Americans were dying from COVID-19 every single day and millions, including many with inadequate health insurance, were getting sick. Doctors and nurses lacked adequate personal protective equipment and many hospitals, flooded with COVID-19 patients, were on the verge of collapse.

 Further, as a result of the pandemic, in early 2021 the United States was suffering its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Twenty-four million Americans were unemployed, under-employed or had given up looking for work. Hunger in America was at its highest level in decades. Millions of Americans were in danger of being evicted from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses all over the country were on the verge of going bankrupt.

 As the chairman of the Budget Committee, I apologize to no one for helping to pass this bill in the Senate – without one Republican vote. At a time of an unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan did exactly what a democratic government in a civilized society is supposed to do: respond to the needs of people living in fear and desperation.

 I apologize to no one that we provided every working class American and their children with a $1,400 direct payment to get them through the economic crisis they were experiencing.

 I apologize to no one that we extended unemployment benefits and provided an extra $300 a week to Americans who had lost their jobs.

 I apologize to no one that we expanded the Child Tax Credit that provided $300 a month per child to working families so that parents could raise their kids with a modicum of security.

 I apologize to no one that we prevented hospitals from closing their doors during the pandemic, fed the hungry, prevented evictions and foreclosures and made sure every American could receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free.

While Republicans continue to criticize the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that helped struggling working class families in a time of economic desperation, it is fair to ask what they are proposing to do if they gain control over the House and the Senate? And here’s the answer.

 Almost all of them, from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on down, want to provide billionaires a tax break worth up to $1.75 trillion by completely repealing the estate tax.

 The estate tax only applies to the wealthiest of the wealthy, the top one-tenth of one percent of American families who inherit over $25 million. In other words, 99.9% of Americans would not benefit at all from the repeal of the estate tax.

 If the estate tax was repealed, Elon Musk’s family would receive a tax break of up to $80 billion alone. Now, I don’t know who Musk’s kids are and I have nothing against them. I wish them well. But they don’t deserve a tax break of up to $83 billion.

 How would Republicans pay for this $1.75 trillion tax break to billionaires? They would pay for it by making massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This year, the 158-member Republican Study Committee in the House proposed cutting Medicare by $2.8 trillion and Social Security by $729 billion. An increasing number of Republicans have even threatened to default on our nation’s debt unless they are able to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare. How absurd is that?

 No. You don’t reduce inflation by giving tax breaks to billionaires and cutting benefits for the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor.

 You combat inflation by taking on corporate greed and passing a windfall profits tax. You combat inflation by taking on the power of the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the giant food companies and lowering the outrageously high costs of healthcare, prescription drugs, gas and groceries.

 As the longest serving Independent in congressional history, I’m not going to tell you that Democrats are perfect. Far from it. In a Senate evenly divided 50-50, there are at least two Democrats who have made it clear that they are more interested in protecting corporate interests than the needs of working-class families. That has got to change.

 Right now, more than any time in modern history, we need a Congress that has the courage to take on the wealthy campaign contributors, super-PACs, and lobbyists who work overtime in protecting the interests of billionaires and corporate interests. And that is precisely what Democrats must do if they expand their majority in the House and the Senate.


Bill Maher Gets Too Many Things Right

 Like describing the outlines of the trump plan to stay in office, no matter what the voters might say, long before election 2020. 

That fact makes me very worried about his observations about our imminent election.

They are especially worrisome because they are in line with the only conclusions that I have been able to draw about our future since November 2020. 

And remember, with the exception of a few undecided non-fascist leaning potential voters who may be stirred to vote between now and election day, this election is already frozen in amber.




Friday, November 4, 2022

First Post From Paris - This Trip

 A couple of evenings ago I found myself with an hour to fill before I went to la Citrouille for dinner.

Americans all hit the restaurants beginning at 1730 or so and are finished and gone by 1900 or so.

The local Parisians start filtering in about 2030 or so.

I like to slide in in the gap between 1900 and 2030, like 1945.

So, I get there ahead of the Parisians, but I'll be there for quite a while after they have come, and I can enjoy listening to them and watching them.

Maybe even, if I get lucky, I can strike up a conversation or two.

I'd much rather talk to a Parisian than a trump voter from Idaho Falls.

Therefore, there is often a pre-dinner time buffer needing filling with some activity or other; I usually choose a leisurely glass of wine.

Such was the case on the evening referenced.

I decided that I would go to The Mazarine; it's just a few paces from the entrance to my building and I always feel at home there.

The last few days I have been missing things: twice I have asked for a wine glass when one was sitting in front of me; I have no idea what that means, but it's probably not good.

That apparently happened in my pre-dinner stop for a glass of wine.

As I was leaving the place, I noticed that The Mazarine is next door.

I'm glad of that miscue, though.

I really like the place I was actually in, and I probably never would have gone into it except due to my recent habit of not seeing things.

The place is the total opposite of fancy. 

I suspect that there is a new genre: upscale trashy. 

It features a place that is quite old, quite clean, but beaten up. 

The clientele range from people who look like me, to my Parisian equivalent, to young people, young couples, old couples, mid age couples and one guy who bought in an eighteen-month-old enfant, planted l’enfant on the bar - until the bartender picked him up and cuddled him - they talked, the guy and the bartender, and then the guy took his kid and departed. 

My kind of place. 




Saturday, October 29, 2022

Hotel Metropol - Moscow

 I never would have thought that I would ever have wanted to go to Moscow.

But after finishing last night A Gentleman in Moscow I want to go there and stay in the Metropol.

It's too bad that I have said so many things critical of Putin the Diminished.

If not for that I would be looking for train tickets from Paris to Moscow.

Since I will be in Paris for the next 30 days, why not just add a month and thousands of miles?

I love train travel.

But Novichok on the doorknob is distasteful tourist attraction. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Follow On To My Initial Reaction To "A Gentleman In Moscow"

 Recently I posted a post about this book.

I tried to put it into the context of what I knew and what I had read so far to that point and what I had thought about those things.

And I tried to compare it to three other authors whose works are of high importance to me.

I had never heard of Amor Towel.

In fact, I was reading the book because my sister had said I should read it had and loaned her copy to me so I could.

Read it.

So now I have.

Read it.

And now that hopelessly vast deep and wide feeling of sad loss that always accompanies the completion of a really great book - now it's done, now it's gone - has beset me.

However.

In this case I have immediately gone into denial mode.

I have created a silver lining.

This email to my sister documents that state of denial and silver lining that I have created.

"I will never be able to thank you enough for loaning it to me. Let’s have lunch after I get back so I can return it. It screams to be a trilogy. I don’t think he could get it done with only a second book. I vote for George Clooney to play the Count in the movie - if the makeup folk can handle the 30 year old segment."