Monday, January 24, 2022

DINOs, Food Trucks, and Meat Loaf

I’m becoming alarmed by the extent that the blame for inaction on much-needed legislation is being laid on Biden and the Democrats. Whether it’s TV news or newspapers, all the headlines/top stories involve “Democratic failures.” There’s barely a nod to the 50 Republican Senators who are intransigent as ever. Regardless of what the party hierarchy wants, there are rules, most of which revolve around numbers, which are just not in the Democrats’ favor.

They would be, if not for two DINOs who have been bought and paid for by the 1% of the country who don’t want any grand plans coming to pass that would put a dent in their quarterly earnings.

Manchin, a coal-man from the get-go, has played the game with moving goalposts. Every time they meet one of his demands, he finds a different reason to vote no. This tells me his “no” is predetermined and he’s just trying to make it look good.

Sinema is going with just plain NO, without offering any ideas of what it might take to turn her to YES, or even what her objections are. It’s just NO, which is also a hallmark of a predetermined vote.

When every Senator is required to vote together, any straying from that derails the whole process and there’s nothing Biden or Schumer can do about it.

Rather than blaming Democrats in general and bellyaching about the gridlock, the Sane Middle needs to join with the rest of the Democrats and vote in more Democratic senators, so that these two clowns won’t hold up the works any longer. And make sure any prospective new senators go on the record regarding their intentions toward Build Back Better and Voting Reform, lest we end up with another DINO surprise.

There is no benefit to having Democrats openly grousing about their own party. Things may not be going as expected, but if the Republicans come to power again, we’ll be salivating over the prospects of things going back to the way they are now.

It’s clear that Republicans are only interested in propping up the upper class with tax cuts, stripping government regulations that protect us and the planet, and cementing their own places at the altar of power.

All Republicans have to go on is distorting what Democrats actually want.

There’s no question that the GOP pushes these fake arguments… I’ve written about every point on this list. Since the media has been derelict in pointing out the fallacies, we have to do it ourselves. “Owning the Libs” has been elevated to their primary tenet. Actual governing doesn’t even make a cameo appearance on their list of priorities. (I would say “Party Platform,” but they never bothered to create one for the last election.)

And now, this:

I think this is an excellent idea. If people are too wrapped up in their own selfish versions of freedom to get themselves vaxxed and provide proof, they deserve to eat out in the parking lot with the rest of the rats and leave the decent people to eat in peace.

RIP

It was a very blue weekend at Chateau de Bluz, as I woke up Friday morning to the news that one of my musical idols, Meat Loaf, went on to the great beyond. Initial reports declined to list a cause of death, although TMZ said it was COVID, which was parroted by other outlets later on.

I’m aware that Meat was a Trumper and anti-vaxxer and that had puzzled me. I thought he was entirely too nice a guy to be Republican. It’s probably the byproduct of being Texan and also appearing on Celebrity Apprentice. I remember watching when TFG mentioned that he may run for president and Meat said he’d vote for him.

I was like, “No, Meat, don’t do it! It’s a trap!” I hoped that he was just practicing the toadying that is required to have a long stay on that show. Non-ass-kissers always washed out quickly.

But regardless of all that, I’m devastated. I’ve been a fan of Meat Loaf since early in my college days. And when I say a fan, I don’t mean I like his two albums that got radio play. Check this out:

I have all* of his CDS, plus a bunch on LP as well. OK, his last couple I could do without I’ve always enjoyed his main body of work, including the ones in between the Bats out of Hell. I especially liked his follow-up to Bat Out of Hell, called Dead Ringer. The title track was a rockin’ duet with Cher, of all people. I figured they were trying to recreate the vibe from Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.

*I’m aware that he released an album of duets prior to Bat Out of Hell, called “Stoney and Meat Loaf,” but that’s not worth counting.

Meat Loaf is my nominee for Greatest Rock Singer Ever.  Geez, I must have worn out 2 or 3 copies of the Bat Out of Hell cassette over the years.  When I was driving to and from college and the weather turned bad, I used to think, “If I’m going to kill myself smashing up this car, I at least want to go out to some great music.”  Could there possibly be better car crash music than the song “Bat Out of Hell?”

Anyway, when the snow fell, I’d crank up the Bat and somehow I’d always make it home.  I soon began to consider that tape to be my good luck charm.  When the weather got bad, I knew The Loaf would get me home. I always wanted to tell him that, but the one time I got to meet him, I chickened out.

As a wedding gift (for my first marriage back in 1993, when I worked at the home office of a major music retailer) my co-workers gave me two tickets to see Meat Loaf in Boston, in a warm-up show at the Orpheum Theatre, prior to his three-year world tour for Bat Out of Hell II.  Backstage passes were included.  I was thrilled... I was gonna get to meet The Loaf!

But the crowd of people amassed to see him after the show was considerable and I didn’t want to take up his time with a long-ass story, so I kept it to compliments and pleasantries and settled for a picture with him and a couple of autographed albums. But he seemed genuinely glad to meet every single person.  You never got a sense that he was thinking, “I can’t believe I have to do this.”  He loved meeting his fans. He was a complete professional and a consummate showman. The full story of meeting Meat can be found here.

If I had to pick one album as my all-time favorite, this is it.  “Bat Out of Hell” is practically perfect.  It’s got brain-stinging guitar, flawless harmonies, wicked lyrics and a sly sense of humor, hooks a mile wide, and a complete wall of sound.  The Loaf had a voice that could both blow apart a cinderblock or tickle you under the chin like a feather.  When he brings a song to a climax, you feel the earth move.

I first obtained the LP when I joined Columbia Record Club, back in the late 70s.  I got it primarily for “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights,” or “that one with the baseball rap” as I knew it then.  I didn’t know anything else on the album.

I put the needle down, lay down on the floor with the lyric on the inner sleeve and my head between the speakers, and soaked it all in.  It damn near fried my brain right there.  It had power and fury, desperation and escape, living fast and dying too young.  It was a masterpiece.  And the end… holy shit, on that last “Like a bat out of HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLL,” he hits that note so freakin’ hard, and just holds it longer than any human should be able to do.  That was a life-changing event for me, right there.

To see Meat Loaf in concert is like going to a rock opera.  Everything is over the top, and oftentimes, acted out as a stage play.  When I saw him in Boston doing small warm-up shows before his Bat Out of Hell 2 tour, he did this thing where he got the audience to do this whole call and response bit, without speaking a single word.  He just used gestures and facial expressions to communicate and it worked like a charm.  That was when I realized why he’s been so popular all over the world.  No language barrier.

I saw an interview he did back in the 80s, on a talk show that comedian David Brenner had, and was talking about an album he recorded in Germany.  Brenner asked him, “What did they call you in Germany, ‘Herr Loaf?

He answered, “They mostly called me MEEEEEAT!  Like, ‘You vill sing now MEEEEEAT!’”

I love that Meat was game for anything. Did you ever see that movie “Sausage Party?” (It was an animated movie featuring Seth Rogan, about how the food comes to life after hours in a grocery store. It’s extremely filthy and just as hilarious.) Anyway, one of the food characters was a package of meatloaf, which they gave the face of Meat Loaf, including the use of his own traditional font and frilly tuxedo shirt. No way he didn’t sign off on that, which makes him a good egg in my book.

He also has a hilarious song included on a South Park album, a duet with “Chef” (Isaac Hayes) called “Tonight is Right for Love (with Meredith Baxter-Birney).” The first part is a soul love ballad done by Hayes. Then it abruptly changes into a total Meat Loaf parody song, which Meat performs in a racing stream of images of fire, torture, demons, and death. Meat really had to be a good sport to participate in that one. 

How Meat Loaf isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is beyond me. The guy has been a touring dynamo for decades, selling zillions of albums and packing arenas. I think maybe the top brass at Rolling Stone had it in for him or something. As far as I’m concerned, he should have been inducted 25 years from the day that Bat was released.

If there is an afterlife, I hope he can get together with Jim Steinman again. Maybe start up a new band. I’m sure they won’t be lacking available talent.



Monday, January 17, 2022

A Lack of Hospital-ity

After a lull during the holiday season, I’m finding my conservative friends are dipping their toes back into the meme world. It’s a good thing because I was getting bored without a regular supply of dumb shit to debunk.

I’m sorry, this meme seems a little desperate, a little insecure, a little…

I think the problem I have with this meme is that there are two versions of the word “authority” in play here.

A parent having authority over their kid? I’m all for that. And no one else is really trying to deprive that. BUT, “being” an authority? Sorry, no. There’s nothing about being a parent that imparts specialized knowledge or wisdom upon you. Kids get sent to school to learn specific things which have been exhaustively vetted. Students have no need to participate in a daily demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.


If you want the authority to teach your kids whatever cockamamie ideas you’ve ingested, home school them. You don’t get to insist that others teach the version of reality to which you ascribe.

If you want to use home remedies that no medical experts have approved, well, no one’s stopping you. Peace be with your children’s souls and enjoy the three hots and a cot when you’re in jail after their death. Or in a less serious version of this story, I hope you can afford to pay for their ongoing trauma therapy.

Next case:

Oh, so now you want socialized medicine? (No, I know you don’t really care about eliminating medical debt, you just don’t want anyone getting off the hook for their student loans.)

This is just one more piece of the Republican war on education. As I’ve said many times over, the last thing the Republican establishment wants is an educated populace. They want people pliable, obedient, and willing to eat up whatever version of reality they’re pitching that week.

The last thing they want is a voter base with critical thinking skills that might get in the way of whatever boondoggle they’re trying to sell. They want their emotional appeals to do their jobs without getting messy things like logic or context involved. Hence the endless pleas for more kids to go to trade schools and pushback on anything resembling student loan relief.

Don’t get me wrong, eliminating the medical debt for cancer patients is a wonderful idea. But why stop there? There are a plethora of diseases and maladies that create crushing medical bills. The issue isn’t just cancer, it’s everything. We’re the only developed country with a for-profit medical system and it shows it by also being the most expensive. And the Powers That Be (AMA, Big Pharma, insurance companies) will fight tooth and nail against any of that changing because that would derail their gravy train.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had an up-close view of how things are going in hospitals and it did NOT give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

My mom took a fall Christmas night that entailed an ambulance ride to the hospital and a 2-week stay. She suffered a deep cut on the head, three cracked ribs, and a kidney laceration. Sweetpea and I followed the ambulance there but when we arrived (about 3 AM), only one of us could go into the lobby. So she had to wait outside on a bench while I tried to find out where they took her. And of course, they couldn’t tell me because she was still being processed through the ER, and didn’t know where she was going to end up. All I could do was call back in the morning and see where she was.

This meant leaving my mom alone there, with no idea where she was or where her kids were. It was not a comforting situation.

I got there the next day, as soon as visiting hours arrived, to find her in an ER observation area awaiting transport to a room. At least I could go with her for that. And thus began a 2-week span of daily hospital visits in which my sister, brother, and I took turns staying with her from noon till 8:00 PM and advocating for her. And believe me, there was a lot of advocating necessary.

I will say without reservation that the nurses were wonderful, pretty much each one I worked with. They all did the best they could do given the stressful circumstances. It was obvious that the place was understaffed. There just weren’t enough bodies on hand to give timely care.

There were two things that needed tending to. The first was pain medication. I’ve heard that busted ribs are excruciating to bear… it hurts to even breathe. And consider that my mom is about 5-foot-nothing and 100 pounds. There’s not a lot of meat on her bones to insulate her from pain-causing jostling. So there were times that regardless of the medicine “schedule,” Mom needed some additional help to relieve the pain.

Sure, they give you the Call Button, and the desk usually answers right away, but that’s where the breakdown comes… getting word to the people who are supposed to come help.

This was especially an issue with the second recurring need, which was getting help to the bathroom. Now, to some degree, I or one of my siblings could help her move around. The problem was that she was tethered to the bed by various wires and IVs. It was a full-on excavation just to get her out of bed.

So, when it was time to “go,” she’d buzz for help, get assured it was coming, and then have to wait for 30-90 goddamned minutes! And when the nurse or tech would arrive, it was always the same story: “Oh, nobody told me.

We talked to the head nurse and anyone else we could get to listen but that never changed. They’d always say, “Just call for help,” and it would never arrive in a reasonable time. And note, they had her on softeners and prune juice to get things moving (because the pain killers can be binding. So these two things were working at cross purposes.

Eventually, we just started moving her ourselves, if not to the full bathroom then to the portable pot that we could put by the bed. They didn’t like that at all, but at that point, I didn’t care.

If you don’t want to clean up the mess, then get your asses in here when she has to go!”

The plan was to move her to a rehab floor for physical therapy, as soon as her vitals stabilized. By the second Friday, she was ready to go. The prior day they contacted her insurance company for approval of PT but no one had heard anything back. That afternoon, a doctor told me, “If we don’t hear from them by 2:00, then we probably won’t until Monday.” That meant they wanted her to stay in the hospital for two more days, not for a medical reason, but because they couldn’t get an answer from Insurance.

I let them know that this wouldn’t be happening. There’s no way we were letting her stay for another weekend in the hospital, suffering personal indignities that go with it, and risking COVID infection with every breath. They could set up PT sessions for home, which was fine with them. We got Mom home that Friday (a week ago).

And one last insult… they lost her driver’s license. Upon request, I handed it to the EMT from the rig that picked her up and no one has seen it since. The hospital says they don’t have it and never got it. The EMT house says they gave it to them in the ER and hospitals lose these things all the time. Just one more clusterfuck, where everyone points the finger at someone else. Good thing Mom’s driving days are over.

I haven’t seen a bill yet but I know it’s going to be a doozy. And to think, they wanted us (or the insurance company) to pay for two more days in a private hospital room, just to wait for a phone call. I bet if she wasn’t insured, they’d have hustled her out post-haste. All I could think was that this is another reason why medical bills are so high. It’s bad enough being forced to pay them to provide pills you have already, or for food that never gets eaten (or often, was never even asked for).

So Mom is recovering at home and making great strides. She had her first PT session this afternoon and a regimen of exercises that should help her regain her strength. She’s fortunate that she had family members that were here for her. There are so many that don’t. I feel bad for those who have to go through a hospital stay alone. It’s already trying just being under hospital care, let alone trying to understand what’s happening and what’s to be expected.

And I feel even worse for the poor souls who languish in hospital corridors or ER areas because unvaccinated COVID patients are occupying all the rooms. To that end, Maryland is in a lot better shape than other parts of the country because over 90% of our state has had at least one vaccination. The hospitals are hoppin’, but they’re not overwhelmed like they were in early 2020, when they were using hotels as hospital overflow.

I’m thankful for the wonderful nurses who did their level best to care for my mom. But they really need to look at their processes and procedures because that shit is just not working.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Old Pictures, Old Ways

 I come from a family of picture-takers. When I was a kid, whenever we visited our relatives, finding and paging through their phono albums was a common activity.

When I was staying with my Mom back in September, after my father passed, I had the chance to go through some old, familiar albums that I hadn’t seen in years. For some of the albums, I just took cell phone shots of the pictures, just because there were so many I wanted and no time to set up for a long scanning session. These albums covered specific periods, from places we lived to ones dedicated to weddings.

Then I got to borrow a couple albums from my sister, which covered our family’s earliest days. One covered the time from my parents' wedding in 1960, through 1964, by which time my brother and I had been born. The other covered 1965-1968, capturing my sister’s birth and the fallout of two boys having a little girl in the house. Those, I had the time to remove from their photo album pockets and scan properly.

Between those earliest albums to the ones Mom had, it was interesting just seeing the development of photographic technology. Some of those earliest shots of my parents’ honeymoon were on old black and white paper, with the edges all wiggly, rather than straight-edged.

Mom and Dad on their honeymoon, looking all cute, like the Champion Poconos Rowing Team.

Others had holes punched across the top like it was torn off a stack of other pictures.

Dad, still on honeymoon, after winning the award for the best-looking guy wearing his new wife’s clothes. (No I’m not posting the pictures of THAT.)

A lot of the color had faded from the 60s shots, and the 70s pix had that bright “70s” look. And I especially appreciated the ones with the white border and the dates stamped on them. That removed the inaccuracy of a fading memory from the equation, (allowing, of course, for the time gap between the activity photographed and when the film was actually taken in for development.) Plus, it was the perfect place for a caption.

And of course, it was fun watching my siblings and me growing up page by page. But I was usually more interested in the background objects…

Remember that swing-set? Look at that old TV! Oh God, the cuckoo clock!

And then there were the anachronisms that stood out so starkly from how we live today, starting with the ever-present cigarettes in people's hands. I can still remember my Grandpa’s retirement parties, (there were several because he kept going back to work, probably just to have more parties), that took place in their basement. There was singing, playing instruments, and general high times, conducted by grownups in dress shirts and ties, or party dresses.

That’s my grandpa on guitar.

The rest of the band. Grandpa and the harmonica guy used to like to secretly turn down the other one’s amp.

I wanted desperately to go down there and enjoy the revelry, but the smoke was so thick, it burned my little eyes. Oh, the misery that was me! Now that I think of it, it was probably a conscious decision to create an effective kid repellent, so the adults could get their party on in peace.

Another thing I noticed is how parents used to really dress their kids up for a day with the extended family. Hats were a big thing and I don't mean ball caps… I was 4 years old and walked around wearing a sport coat and fedora like I was a miniature Frank Sinatra.

I look like I just got done coaching the 1965 Chicago Blackhawks.

The other thing that stood out was the apparent lack of basic safety protocols that would result in calls to Child Protection Services if done today. For example, consider this happy picture of my brother (R) and me (L):

What was the thought process behind this carefully arranged shot? I figure it must have been something like, “Hey, let’s put the boys up on the edge of this 4-foot stone wall, right on the ends of the railings. No way they’ll fall off and break their necks. And let the little one keep holding that stick, which surely won’t get jammed through his eye when he falls. And the big one? He’s got a hat on, which is almost as good as a helmet. Besides, that bush will break his fall. Can’t coddle these kids now, can we? OK, everybody smile!” 

The freakin’ 60s…

Same deal with this picture of me and my cousins a few years earlier, up on the same 4-foot wall.

Maybe they were counting on us cushioning each other’s falls. Or maybe my dad, (far right) thought he could dive in and catch us, like Roberto Clemente going after a short pop fly. I think maybe he wanted to bump me off so he could have my little truck all to himself. And speaking of Dad...

More Dad Stories

When we held the remembrance event for Dad, my Uncle Joe, who lives in California, sent a few words for his son to read on his behalf, which included this brief story:

I’m a lifelong car guy. Jim was not. Jim’s first car was a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. 4-door sedan. The coolest thing about it was that it was a stick, but instead of 3-on-the-tree, it was a floor shift, which I thought was supremely cool.

Now my first car was a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle. The coolest thing about my car, besides that it was a convertible, was that it was not only stick, it was a 4-speed! When I bragged about that to Jim, he was not only unimpressed he said, “Why would anyone want to shift an extra gear?? It makes no sense!”

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Dating Across the Aisle

In early December, an article on AXIOS came out talking about a survey that said that, among other things, 71% of Democratic college students wouldn’t date someone who voted Republican.

That set off a firestorm of commentary that I meant to jump in on but got diverted by something shiny. Luckily I jotted down a reminder.

While the survey was aimed at young people, my old ass also agrees with them. I don’t see how I could be in a relationship with someone I disagreed with down to a molecular level. It wasn’t always that way.

In years past, I certainly would have considered dating a Republican, assuming she had other desirable traits and assets. (Make of that as you will.) I’d have just tried to avoid the subject of politics. That was a lot easier to do when I was a young man in the 80s and somewhat less-young man in the 90s. Maybe that was because I was heavily focused on my job and often had little time for much else. And I probably would have gotten with the Devil herself, if she was nice to me.

Back then, the parties had differences but it wasn’t to the point that it is now, where one party is trying to deal with reality and another is living in an authoritarian fantasyland.

I could not date or marry someone now if we weren’t politically aligned because the differences are so stark. It’s not a matter of views on budget planning or foreign affairs, but basic human values. Someone who supports Republican efforts in suppressing voting among their foes, demonizing anyone who didn’t have the good luck to be born here (and White), cheering on law enforcement abuses on people of color, forcing women to bear children against their will, kowtowing to the richest among us to the detriment of everyone else, and denying basic, proven, scientific principles of inoculation, social distancing, and mask-wearing in the midst of a modern-day Plague, would have such a vastly different set of values that I just couldn’t ignore them. What am I going to do, hold down the fort while she storms the Capitol in search of the Vice President?

I require a mate that is against racism and sexism, for basic human rights to live without persecution, for people being able to love whoever they please, for the choice to reproduce residing with the prospective mother, for a fair and democratic election process. Sure, a lot of Republicans would SAY they agree with some of those things, but they support a party that campaigns and governs in ways that say in the opposite.

Being friends with those of the other party is trickier. In my case, I do have some staunch Republican friends. The thing is, I’ve been friends with them for over 40 years, long before our political view ripened. We’re kind of stuck with each other now, so we usually agree not to talk politics. And when we stray that way, it gets ugly fast. Having some Republican friends does pay off for me, though, when they post their memes on Facebook that I can harvest and disassemble.

But now, if I was at some kind of stereotypical cocktail party full of strangers to me and there were guys or gals around that were identifiably Republican, you’d find me on the other side of the room. I’d keep myself occupied by examining the host’s music collection.

Unless, of course, it was full of rap and techno, in which case I’d have to just ease on out the door.

More Dad Stories

Dad passed away in September so I’ve been telling a few stories at the end of my posts. This is from a post from 2012:

Dad laid another great story on me, from back in his traveling days. He was out in Boston, taking in another baseball game at Fenway with his friend Frank “The Lob.”  They were sitting in the lower bowl, about halfway between first base and the outfield wall.

A big power-hitter named George Cooper was up at bat and smashed a screaming line drive right in Dad’s direction. With beer in hand, he quickly leaned over, in classic “kiss your ass goodbye” position, and the ball just grazed his back and landed under the seats behind him. Out of danger, Dad popped back up, un-spilled beer still firmly in hand, and received a nice round of applause from his section.

You know how you can drop a cat from any angle and it will land on its feet?  My family is like that with drinks. I think we are genetically programmed to do a front handspring and not spill a drop of our drink.

Evolution is a wonderful thing.

A Bit of Reflection

2021 was a really shitty year for my family and I. If you’ve been following along, I lost a cousin in March, my father in September, and my sister’s husband last month. I thought 2020 was bad but 2021 came along and said, “Hold my beer.” And there’s still chaos rolling around the House of Bluz over the last couple of weeks, so it’s not over yet. (This is why I couldn’t get a post out last night. My apologies, if you were looking for it.)

One thing I’ve been glad about is being able to write for you. It feels like I’ve been at it a long time. I’m just finishing up my 13th year with this blog. I know there are others who have been at it longer, but damn… THIRTEEN YEARS. Sometimes I look at my “Archive” in wonderment. It seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote those first posts. It took me at least a year to settle on a consistent format or style. Trial and error, I guess.

And it’s funny because you can see several different stages, just from posting frequency.

2009: First year and hot right out of the block. I started posting in February but never told anyone about it for another month. I wanted to have some material to page through for early adopters. I needn’t have worried. It was a ghost town.

2010-2011: Started to learn what I was doing and then got hooked in with a Pittsburgh blogging community. I went to “Pittsburgh Podcamp” in September of 2010 and posted constantly, with great enthusiasm. We held a couple of blogger meetups over the next few years and I got to meet some wonderful people.

2012-2014: The pace started to get to me, so I slowed down to three posts per week, usually Tuesday, Thursday, and one on the weekend.

2015-present: I really started to feel the stress for subject material. I’d already told all my best stories and felt like everything else in the news had already been done to death. I’d expressed my views on all the major issues several times over and struggled for new angles. Nothing interesting was going on in my personal life to write about. Almost all the bloggers I first fell in with had closed up shop so I was left on my own. I ended up cutting down to one post per week and I‘ve been able to maintain that schedule consistently since then. I’ll tell you, the Trump years were great for subject material. There were so many opportunities to get pissed off!

In 2018, I made contact with Infidel 753’s blog and ended up benefiting greatly from his weekly link round-up. I had been seriously considering shuttering the site but then a new influx of readers helped me keep going. (Thanks, buddy!)

So thank you for hanging around and taking my bullshit into consideration. I hope to see you back throughout the year. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Year-End Debunkery

Let’s clean out the old pipeline so we can start the year with fresh idiocy to debunk! These will be quick takes because there’s a pot of chili on the stove and I’m feeling every bit of it.

You wouldn’t risk “Facebook Jail” if you weren’t posting verifiable bullshit. Post things that are true and not harmful and destructive and you’ll be unfettered by Facebook’s shackles. Do better.

This looks like a Christmas wish list from the Koch Brothers. Wipes out most of the areas for taxations on businesses, while leaving taxes as is for the rest of the country. How very Scroogean.

Just remember no taxes means no roads, schools, libraries, fire departments, police departments, national defense, immigration agencies, food inspectors, occupational safety enforcement or a wealth of other community essentials. Your guns won’t get you any of these things.


While this looks to most like a benign kind of “don’t worry be happy” message, I see it as similar to the previous meme in that it is a total benefit to the 1%. “Little Things” for the Little People. It’s an attempt by the rich to keep you happy with your meager possessions and surroundings and get you to stop jockeying for a livable wage or affordable insurance. Don’t buy into it.

This is a headline clip from my Yahoo home page and it’s the best news I’ve heard this month! Now we can easily identify the idiots who won’t get vaxxed. We can see them coming and then stay out of their orbit. Get this information to a MAGA rally ASAP! The red hats can come off but the blue will remain. Plus, we can aggravate them further by saying, “and I thought I was a dyed-blue Democrat…”

Meme Dump

Here are some of the memes I’ve meant to run but either never had the opportunity or forgot about when the subject came up. 













I think this last one is one of the more powerful editorial cartoons from this year.

I hope you’ve had a joyous holiday season and look forward to a better 2022. I, for one, will be thrilled to put 2021 in my rearview mirror. Thank you for stopping by this year and thank you to those who have posted links to this site. Your time and attention are greatly appreciated, as well as indispensable.

See you in 2022.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Electric Car Hysteria

 I can see from the topic’s recurrence in Facebook memes that the conservative Powers That Be don’t want their minions getting cozy with the idea of electric cars anytime soon. You can also tell by the weakness of the arguments that they’re counting on them taking things at face value and not digging too deeply into the subject. This one is typical:

You’d think that the right-wing bearers of toxic masculinity would love to have the heaviest battery around. If the fossil fuel industry wasn’t trying so hard to kill them, the car companies would be touting them right now.

Don’t mess around with those pencil-neck batteries! Get’cher 2022 Ford F-350 with the heaviest battery on the planet! You’ll never get stuck in mud or snow again! [Spoken quickly in disclaimer-speak] “EPA rating 2.5 miles/gallon. Mileage may vary.”

The thing is, since I harvested that meme, battery sizes have already come down considerably (IF they were ever truly 1000 lbs) and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to downsize. That’s how tech works… over time everything eventually becomes smaller, lighter, and cheaper.

And do you want to talk about displacing raw materials? How much earth do you think has been moved in search of coal and oil? Please. If they were worried about natural resources they would have demanded limitations on drilling and fracking years ago. They use this argument because they know that liberals care about natural resources and they recognize a good scare tactic when they see one.

But this is another method of the right: the “All or Nothing” ploy. If driving an electric car won’t fix everything, then forget it and do nothing. Notice how there is never an alternative plan to fight climate change, just an endless list of things they claim won’t work, (electric cars, wind farms, solar energy) which just so happens to be things they don’t want to do. The only plan is to remain status quo, which coincidentally, is exactly what the coal and oil companies want to do.

And then there’s just the plain old deception and misinformation.

The grand assumption is that the battery will drain away and leave you stranded and freezing. However it is a false assumption, and one the authors know their intended audience will grasp onto nonetheless. Here’s the valid information:



Not only will the battery not die out on you, (assuming you didn’t get into the jam with the battery on “E”), it will likely last longer than a gas-powered car. You can get stranded with your gas tank on E as well as your electric car battery.

When I first saw this meme, someone chimed in with a comment about someone charging their car with a gas-powered generator. (Har har, stoopid libs...)

This is a call back to another meme that purported to show someone doing just that. Of course, they never mention that the picture isn’t even from the US, it’s from somewhere in eastern Europe or something, probably from one of those places where you see the pictures of people precariously stacking one ladder on top of another, or riding around on a bicycle with a sheep on the handlebars. Suffice to say, it has nothing to do with the contemporary argument for which it’s being used. Yet there it is.

Deep down, the fossil fuel industries know that a day of reckoning will come when their products will no longer be acceptable. What they’re doing now is trying to make That Day as far down the road as they can push it, so as to continue to reap the waterfall of profits they currently enjoy. So they put out misinformation like this to sway the minds of those who cling to rose-colored memories of how life used to be.

Now, all that said, I have issues with electric car-hood myself. In my job, I manage a fleet of cars for our company. I’m keenly aware of the pros and cons of going electric. In order for a company like mine to adopt such technology, there’s some more work to be done in the field.

There are two things that the e-car industry will have to tackle before they see wider corporate adoption.

1)      There must be far more charging stations available. I see a smattering around town now, including in one of my office building’s parking garages. But they’re set up in the swank part of town. (As if any part of Baltimore can really be considered “swank.”) When people are on a multi-day business trip to visit various company locations, they won’t be able to use their home station. These people are going to have to count on being able to get a charge when they need one.

I can see our people whose turf is contained within a metro area being able to go electric. But for our other folks out in places like Montana and the Great Plains, whose locations can be hundreds of miles away from each other, finding a charge may be a prohibitive issue. At least for now.

2)      Charging time will need to come way down. People who work on the road cannot wait around for an hour or more to charge up their cars. They need to get it close to the time it takes to fill up a car with gas, or at least in the same ballpark.

I should also mention that the purchase price needs to come down too. Maybe individuals can make their money back in gasoline savings, but that takes time. Companies like mine usually replace their leased cars every 3 years or so, which limits the time available to lower the lifecycle costs. We’ll have to run the numbers when the time comes.

Until these changes take place, I don’t see wide-scale adoption on the corporate level. Although the use of hybrids may be an effective bridge. When I see the cost of hybrids come down, then it may be time for me to broach the subject with management.

More “Dad” Stories

Back in 2013, I wrote a post about getting splinters and shots, the banes of kid existence. Here’s a bit from it that featured “Doctor Dad”:

I quickly learned to rue the moment I got a splinter because I knew my Dad would have to take it out.  And he didn't consider it “extrication” as much as “exploratory surgery,” with nothing but a straight pin.

First, he had to run the end of the pin through the flame from a match, to “disinfect” it.  I think it was really to make sure I was properly terrified.  Then he’d use it to start digging around in my finger until he couldn't hold my hand down securely, from all my wiggling and howling.  After much crying and moaning and swearing and straining, he’d come up with the splinter on the end of the pin.  (Although a few times, I think he just pushed it down far enough so I couldn't see it anymore.)  Afterward, he’d apply some alcohol… not to me, to himself, in the form of Jack Daniels.

I remember one evening, when I was 5 or 6, I got a splinter from playing around near this rough railroad tie-looking plank that bordered our garden.  I came in and we did the whole Splinter Removal Dance, which took about 20 minutes.  (Not including the Jack.)  I went back outside to continue what I was doing and immediately got another splinter.

That one didn't go over very well.  I think there was considerably less delicacy used in the second extraction than there was with the first.  He might have even used an old corkscrew, I’m not sure.  I can’t say I blame him, but on the bright side, it was an early lesson wherein the little Bluzdude learned about the insanity of repeating the same action and expecting a different result.

Eventually, we managed to procure a pair of tweezers, so Dad could retire the straight-pin.  I’m not sure that was better, though, because often the splinter still had to be dug out, and the dullish edges of the tweezers were ineffective unless the nub was exposed.

Before long, I stopped telling anyone I had a splinter, and just went for the tweezers myself.  At least I could regulate how hard to push, and therefore the pain.  It’s hard to properly judge a kid’s actual pain when they scream before you even stick it in.

Of course, Dad had to get the last word in, in Comments:



 

 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Toxic Shock

The notion of toxic masculinity has been resurfacing in the news of late. Last week it was the ammosexual family of Rep Thomas Massie, posing for a traditional Christmas card picture in front of the tree, along with enough military hardware to annex Ukraine.

“Everyone say, Compensating!

This is one family where I bet no one ever wanted to bring home a bad report card* or spill their muscle milk. “Jeff, you didn’t finish your meat. Go out there and give me 20 headshots from 250 yards.”

*Bad report card meaning a grade the parents can’t argue or bully into a passing mark.

Back in October, before Rep. Madison Cawthorne was calling women “earthen vessels” meant for child delivery, he gave a speech where he called for women to “raise their boys as monsters,” while decrying the loss of masculinity. This coming from a guy in a wheelchair, it seems like an especially blatant attempt to compensate for his own limitations.

They are trying to de-masculate the young men in our country because they don’t want people who are going to stand up,” says the man who is permanently seated.

It’s no wonder this guy seems to be in a race with Louis Gohmert for “Dumbest Man in Congress.”

Whether it’s political or social, I see toxic masculinity as the source of a plethora of problems that plague our society. Its footprints are everywhere there’s evil and it all has to do with the male ego, with the notion that a man is entitled to anything he wants and if denied, is within his rights to take it by force. Hence the familiar examples:

·        Men who beat or kill women who try to leave them. Or stalk them, threaten them, interfere in their work or career, post revenge porn, and generally make their life miserable. It’s a shot to the ego, so man must make her pay.

·        Woman won’t date/sleep with him, she gets the same treatment as one who tries to leave. Must be a lesbian.

·        Same with road rage, feeling the need to make someone pay for the effrontery of trying to merge in front of him. “No one gets in front of me, they must be taught a lesson.” Even when so "wronged" in traffic, is it so hard just to vent it and forget it, and just go on with your life?

·        Men who are answerable to no one because they know everything. “If I don’t already know it, it’s not worth knowing.” This comes along with the dismissal of any experts of their field. We’ve just had a president with this trait. It would be unmanly and therefore forbidden, to acknowledge that someone else knows more than him about anything.

·        That includes the aversion to doctors and medicine in general because it would be a threat to their masculinity to be sick or ailing in any way. “I have no need for doctors because I’m too strong and fit to be sick. Nothing is wrong with me, ever.” The last president thought this as well.

No one can tell me what to do. No doctors, no lawyers, no wimmen, that’s for damned sure.”

·        Hence the Vax aversions, which by accepting a shot would mean that their own immune system is in some way inadequate or flawed. Or they have to appear to obey some pencil-neck in authority. Neither perception can be allowed to happen.  That’s all this “Liberty” crap is about… It’s a 5-year old yelling at his mother, “You can’t tell me what to do.”

·        Excessive love of high-powered weaponry, as demonstrated in the pic above. It’s not a matter of having a gun or two around the house for protection, it’s having to strap on an AR-15 just to go down to Costco. “Gotta let people know I can’t be trifled* with!” These guys have to have the biggest guns and the biggest trucks, just to make up for the rampant dick fear. If they can even see it anymore over their bellies.

*I apologize, none of these guys would ever use a word like “trifled,” unless it meant shooting someone with three rifles.

·        Obsession with the military and especially law enforcement. They love to laud the police department. You’d think that would be taboo, to recognize outside authority, but this is different because the police are loaded with the same kind of guys and they recognize their own. Rednecks with guns are basically immune to the police unless they go and do something in public that can’t be covered up. (And even then, it’s iffy.)

·        They never back down, never apologize or admit it when wrong. These things go hand in hand. “I’m never wrong, so what’s there to apologize for?” Along with that is the absolute refusal to compromise. “It’s my way or the highway.” Then when nothing gets done, it’s the other party’s fault. “Why should I give ground when I’m right?

*    Gangland mentality is rife with the same issues. There's no dis too small to avoid payback because ego won't allow it. You can't be seen as a pussy so signs of disrespect are avenged by killing the other guy, along with his family, or burning down their house.

·        Persecution of gays in any way possible. They hate gay men for being “sissies” and gay women for turning their backs on men. The whole idea makes them crazy so they’ll back anything from beating the crap out of them, to denying them basic human rights, to not serving them in establishments, to being unable to enjoy a simple TV show, if “one of those people” is on it.

·        A complete lack of empathy toward anyone else. “You got problems? Tough shit. Man up and shut up.”

While this kind of behavior is not limited to one political party, it still reads like the official Republican Platform. Or at least their operations handbook. It’s the kind of behavior that’s appealing to people with limited intelligence and reasoning skills, because it’s completely without nuance, along with being highly satisfying. I mean, who doesn’t want to be right all the time, or be the toughest, manliest, proudest mug on the block? Maybe it’s just “fake it till you make it” gone horribly awry.

Maybe someone can describe for me how any of these symptoms make the world a better place? Granted, that’s a moot question because these people aren’t interested in a better world for anyone else, just themselves and their destructive clones.

Is it really too much to be kind or considerate? Can we never put ourselves in someone else's shoes and consider what it's like to be them? Is empathy really such a sign of weakness? Is a reasoned response so painful that it paves the way to thinking with one's nutsack and just blowing up anyone or anything that dares cross you? There are far too many men for whom it is, an alarming number of which have gone into politics.

In Other News…

I have another “Dad Story” in mind but it’s too long to go with this post. Instead, let me tell you about something else.

I got my COVID booster shot last Friday. There were no side effects to report except a sore arm, much like the last two times. In fact, I also took this opportunity to get a Shingles shot as well. (The first of two.) But it was funny because the shot administrator tried to talk me out of getting both shots at once.

I said, “But it’s right there on your website, asking if we want any other shots while we’re here!”

He went on with a long explanation about types of shots and consequences, loaded with medical jargon and disclaimers. I figured, I hadn’t had any ill effects from shots so far, why worry now? So I had him do them both anyway.

I don’t think that was toxic masculinity, was it? I think it was more like stubbornness and reluctance to change plans.

I was hoping to get both shots in one arm, so I could still sleep comfortably on the other, but no, I had to get one in each. But the arm with the shingles shot was much less sore than the other, so I still got my beauty sleep. And like I said, no side effects at all.

And Lastly…

I see pictures like this on Facebook, usually with the caption that it looks like Jesus. On our dog, I think it looks more like Kenny from South Park.


  

Monday, December 6, 2021

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby, and Then Went Back

 I was appalled last week when listening to the Supreme Court arguments on the Mississippi abortion law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Expert court watchers (like the ones that inhabit my blogroll) believe that based on the justice’s questioning, the court is planning on upending or neutering Roe Vs Wade.

I am in disbelief that we find ourselves, as a country, litigating what should be a basic human right: the autonomy over one’s body. Conservatives are perfectly content with turning sentient humans into nothing more than incubators for the state, at the behest of religious zealots who can’t abide by other people’s decisions or beliefs with which they disagree.

It appeared that several justices were looking for an angle, any angle, to use to clear the way for abortion bans. Kavanaugh thinks it should go back to the states, which I’m sure he’d decide the opposite way if the issue was establishing gun laws. Republicans only want laws going back to Republican states. After this decision, guns will have more rights than women.

Amy Barrett Coney seems to be supporting the point that babies being more easily given up for adoption eliminates the need for abortion at all. She pointed out how many towns have hospitals or firehouses where you can anonymously drop off your unwanted baby and it will be cared for.

It seems we’ve come to the point where a joke from Young Frankenstein is about to become the lynchpin of a court case that dehumanizes half the humans in this country.

This whole theory just breezes by the fact that women in more than half the country will be required by law to gestate a baby that will push their body every which way, cause sickness and discomfort, tear apart their lady parts, cost a fortune, and require time away from work. I don’t see anyone looking to provide free prenatal care to unwilling mothers, or any kind of paid stay-at-home-and-grow-a-child benefits. Seriously, adoption really isn’t that simple, until the very end. It’s like reading only the last chapter and going, “War and Peace really wasn’t that long; I knocked it out in an hour.”

Last Friday, Rep. Madison Cawthorne (R-NC17) referred to women as “earthen vessels,” while likening unborn babies to Polaroid pictures. 

The dude ought to leave the metaphors alone before someone puts an earthen vessel upside his head. Here’s more of his pious bullshit:

You have a Polaroid camera and you snap a beautiful picture, and a great photo prints out the front. You hold it and shake it, waiting for the picture to appear, but suddenly someone walks by and snatches your photo, ripping it to shreds. You’re stunned. You cry, ‘Why did you destroy my picture?’ The person replies, ‘Oh, it wasn’t a picture. It wasn’t fully developed yet.’ All of us in this room realize how asinine that reasoning is.”

The gap in logic is breathtaking. The problem with this analogy is that he has it turned inside out. What this law is proposing goes like this: “I just took a Polaroid picture and while it’s developing, I decide I don’t really want it after all (for any number of personal reasons) and before I can tear it up, some panel of strangers decides I have to keep the picture because they want me to have it for… (garbled, incoherent religious reasons). And I have to pass this picture out of a bodily orifice that isn’t well designed for such a journey. They don’t want the picture. They won’t pay for the film or framing. They don’t care if I give it away, but they will force me to keep it until it tears my body apart.”

There’s your analogy, Madison. Talk about asinine.

I know court arguments are very formal, even ritualized. It’s all case law and precedent and legal eagle mumbo jumbo in Latin. But with this case, I don’t understand how Sotomayor and Kagan can refrain from making it personal. If I were either of those two, I’d question the counsel from Mississippi in such a personal and direct manner, he’d want to run back to Biloxi and forget all about his quest to force his religious dogma on the unwilling rest of the country.

If it were me (as a female justice), I’d be like, “So explain to me why, if I were 30 years younger and pregnant, your government would seek to preempt my own judgment regarding my child-bearing decisions? On what grounds do you strip away my own will to decide how to use my body? Why is your religious perspective more important than mine, when it comes to what I do? Are you saying the entire country has to adhere to one specific religion, that being yours? And yes, it’s a completely religious argument. The moment a human “life” begins is subject to great moral and philosophical debate. Are you saying that a thimble full of merging cells has more rights than a sentient, thinking, breathing human being? By whose authority? God’s? Whose God?

“The Constitution may not refer to abortion but it very prominently says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ In fact, one of my favorite blogs says that right at the top. If you take religion out of the picture, where do you get the authority to force me to deliver a baby? Believe me, when you can shoot a grapefruit out of your willy, then come see me about making women give birth against their will.”

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that the only way for the right to choose (and vote, and love) as you please is to retake state and local governments. If the new conservative Court is going to apply the will of the few to the fate of the many, we have to change laws from the ground up. State legislatures put these onerous laws in place, they can also encode protections. Those may be subject to SCOTUS rejections, but they can still repeal the original restrictions. No court can find that they must enact a law. As citizens, we need to demand that our state legislatures reflect our will and our numbers.

Republicans know this too, or they wouldn’t be working so feverishly to gerrymander and erect barriers to voting freely.

I hope this issue lights the fire under those who have taken Roe Vs Wade for granted and moves them to look hard at their state representation. We have to ensure that government reflects the will of the people, not the will of a small subset of religious zealots.

No Dad Story Today

Usually, this is where I’d tell another story about my father but it’s not really the right time. Last week, our family suffered another tragedy with the loss of my sister’s husband, Scotty, after a year-long battle with leukemia.

Scott was one of my brother’s best friends back in high school, and then dated our younger sister for a year or two. As it goes with most high school romances they broke up and went their separate ways, eventually marrying other people. But 20 years later, they both found themselves divorced and missing each other, and thus began the 2nd half of their romance. They married in the early 2000s and have been inseparable ever since.

And I only mention this because of the subject of the rest of this post, but one year for Halloween one carried an oar, the other wore hip waders, and they went out as Roe Vs Wade.

Scotty and Bluz Sister fought this thing hard but ultimately, the cancer won. It is truly a bitch.

I thought last year was bad but this year has reallllllly sucked. 2022 has GOT to be better, right? Right?