Monday, May 31, 2021

The Long Weekend Bluz

I’m writing this Memorial Day afternoon, well into my second margarita, so please excuse me if this post doesn’t hit my usual bar for clarity and insight. But that’s not really a very high bar now, is it?

First I want to thank the families of those who served, fought, and died in defense of this country. Their family’s sacrifice is not forgotten. I’m doing that first because I have to be careful how I phrase it, because if I do like Kamala did and just wish everyone a happy Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be called a commie, military-hating, no-good foreigner.

You have to be super-careful if you’re a Democrat these days because everything you say and do is wrong, regardless that your accuser has done worse, just because you’re a Democrat. Because the Veep wished people a nice weekend, she’s being disrespectful, but when the former guy said that veterans were suckers and losers, he was taken out of context, or the reporting was wrong, or the leaker was a commie, or he didn’t really mean it, or something, something, Socialism! MAGA!

I saw another classic meme misdirection this weekend, one that comes around every Memorial Day like clockwork:

This is the Republican response to getting anything done for anyone… that we can’t do “X” because homeless vets, etc. The trouble with that logic is that the Republicans never do anything for veterans either. They had control of the presidency and both houses. Did they do anything for veterans? Nope. Nothing that wasn’t already in the works. Not that they didn’t TRY to take credit for it.

All the former guy ever did was sign a VA Mission bill, which allows veterans to have a private doctor if their wait time is 20 days or if their drive is 30 minutes. That’s it. No programs, no money spent. So spare me the dewy-eyed paeans to our veterans. Republicans are done with them as soon as they’ve served their purpose. They only care about using them as a lever against doing something for anyone else.


It looks like we dodged a bullet in Texas with their proposed gutting of voting rights, right down to allowing the legislature to overturn election results. It was the most fascist, anti-democracy, anti-American piece of legislation I’ve ever seen. It took the totality of Democratic lawmakers walking out to deny them a quorum to keep the bill from passing.

How much do you want to bet that the next order of business they take up is lowering the number for a quorum to however many Republicans are currently seated? Fucking maggots…


Sweetpea has been having a terrible time trying to order a pair of shoes online. She saw an ad on Facebook for some shoes that would help her sore feet so she took a shot and ordered them. When they eventually showed up, they were size 4.5. She ordered 7.5. The invoice showed the correct size. Seems like a simple matter of switching them out, right?

Nope, in their Pidgeon English emails, the company wanted her to measure her feet and provide pictures of the shoes not fitting.

We sent them this shot of the shoe she ordered lined up among her other 7.5s.

That wasn’t enough. They then wanted a picture of her foot on a ruler, because… whatever. Which we sent.

When they finally sent another package, they turned out too small as well. On the size tag, they had 7.5 written in with a marker. When we scrubbed that away, the tag said 6.5. It was infuriating.

And still, they wanted to argue about it, insisting that we send more pictures of her foot not fitting in the shoe and one with a ruler. I think this company may be run by foot fetishists. We resent the ruler shot from the last time. And she’s been very direct with what we see happening and what we expect. It’s obvious that they’re out of 7.5s but they have to send us something, so they try one ploy after another, always throwing up another hoop to jump through… anything to get us sick and tired of fighting about it; just giving up and letting them keep the $50.

Not gonna work though. At least we have the ace in the hole, of disputing the charge with the credit card company. But in the meantime, we’re being entertained by how they try to bob and weave and avoid admitting fault (or… gasp… either fulfilling the order correctly or providing a refund.)


We’re grilling out tonight and I was almost really excited about it. Sweetpea came home and said she found wild boar on sale, so I’m thinking, giant fire pit, raging fire and then red-hot coals, with a great beast on a spit.

Alas, she was talking ground boar, which wouldn’t look nearly as impressive on a spit. Not even if I molded it into the shape of a pig.

Director’s DVD Commentary: My apologies to my friend Infidel753, whose activism for meatlessness I respect, but cannot, myself, join. I acknowledge the horrors that go on in slaughterhouses, but remain secure in the knowledge that my food comes from wild hamburger tree groves, standing by vast, waving fields of bacon


Monday, May 24, 2021

Debunkery - The Gas Pains Edition

The conservative Facebook memes were even more lame than usual this weekend. Like this one:

Experimental drugs? For cryin’ out loud, the COVID vaccines have been tested out the wazoo. There’s nothing “experimental” about them. Granted, they are still evaluating data from those having taken the shot, but that’s what science is supposed to do. It’s always gathering more data, always refining conclusions.

Being approved for emergency use does not make it “experimental,” it’s just a sign of how seriously the situation was and how badly we needed relief. And so far, the data says it’s working.

Any peer pressure exerted is just a valiant attempt to get thick-headed people to give a care about their health, their family’s health, and that of anyone else they encounter. I know it runs counter to Republican “best practices,” but there are some problems that “rugged individualism” won’t solve. This is one of them. Now get your head out of Breitbart’s ass and get your shot. It’s not peyote, it’s a chance to resume a normal life.

Who the hell is “They?” There is no Democratic movement to replace “Mom” or “Mother” with “birthing people. What happened was a couple of Democratic congresswomen used the term on their own in an attempt to be more inclusive. That hardly constitutes a movement.

But of course, Fox “News” and the rest of the Republican talking heads have to jump on it to try to whip it up into something to be outraged about. President Biden hasn’t worn a tan suit yet, so I guess this will have to do.

This could be seen as merely a nostalgic look back to another time when it was less costly to buy gas. But the person who posted this also posts a variety of other dubious conservative memes and no doubt sees this as a knock on Biden. I’m treating it as such.

But yes, back in the “good old days” of seven months ago, people were housebound; no one was traveling or eating out, or going anywhere but the grocery store or the doctor’s office in their cars. Demand was down the drain so consequently, prices came down too.

As the effects of the vaccine take hold, demand is increasing, which causes prices to return to where they were. Plus we had that pipeline hack which panicked everyone for a week, allowing the oil companies to jack up the prices to capitalize on the panic. (It’s funny watching Republicans complain about how Biden hasn’t provided the kind of infrastructure that would prevent such a hack, all the while obstructing the massive and much-needed infrastructure bill.)

President Biden doesn’t control gas prices, nor does Congress or any sitting president*. It’s just what happens in a free market driven by supply and demand, the benefits of which Republicans tout at every turn.

*Unless they sign some loopy executive order like The Federal Gas Prices Must Rise Policy. Or start bombing the Middle East. But short of that, they have no role.

It’s a simple logical fallacy in which because B follows A, A must have caused B. In other words, gas prices were low, Biden was elected (7 months ago) and now gas prices are higher, so Biden must have caused it.

It’s the kind of argument you can make up out of anything. By the same reasoning, Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl caused gas prices to rise. But as much as I’d like another reason to hate Tom Brady, the argument is complete bullshit.

If conservatives want to sharpen their meme game, they should look at these two:

Logical, factual, and to the point.

It’s alarming the lengths the red states are going to now to crack down on reproductive rights, now that they see a favorable bench on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, I don’t see any way that a major change isn’t coming down the pike. It’s inevitable, given the way the former guy let the religious whackos sculpt his nominees. We won’t be able to look to SCOTUS for help in keeping the misogynistic wingnuts at bay. The only recourse is to elect rational people to local government seats who will vote to undo these hideous laws. People overwhelmingly favor the keeping of Roe Vs. Wade and the spirit it represents. Local governments need to reflect that. When it doesn’t, it’s our own fault.

Democrats need to participate in every election and vote for people whose values reflect our own. Only coming out every four years isn’t much of a help.

Meanwhile, Republicans in state government are busy creating laws to prevent us from doing that very thing. (And SCOTUS isn’t going to be much help with that either.) Through gerrymandering and the severe curtailment of mail-in voting and drop-boxes, assuming control over local election boards, creating veto power for themselves over election results and certification, and distributing voting machines in a partisan manner, they are ensuring there will be no more upsets like in 2020.

They’ve shown their hands. They have no more ideas on how to win hearts and minds, so they are left with rigging the voting process. These ploys are so clear and obvious, they can’t even pretend it’s about “election security.”

They want the process hard and the lines long so that working-class people don’t have the time or inclination to vote. And you watch… right about the time someone sets up a service to stand in line for other people, like seniors, they’ll come up with another law to forbid that… they can call it the “No Cut-sies “ Rule.

Our only response is to be more stubborn and more committed than they are and make voting our Holy Grail, stopping at nothing to get it done, every election, every year. Double-check our registrations, get there early, stand in the goddamned lines they create, and vote angry!

The inmates are trying desperately to run the asylum and we can’t let that happen.

And now just to end on a lighter note, there’s this:

If either of these clowns (on the right) come to trial, I’m getting the popcorn.

Monday, May 17, 2021


With spring charging into full bloom, it looks like we’re beginning to put the COVID in the rearview mirror here in Maryland, if not the rest of the country. I’ve been watching the daily numbers releases for the COVID stats since last year. Yesterday there were 369 new cases reported in Maryland. That’s at least a week’s worth of numbers coming in at under 1000, maybe more, since I’m going off memory from what I read in the paper every day. It took a long time to get under 1000 consistently. We had a dip a month or two ago, after which many counties relaxed their rules, which resulted in the numbers spiking back to over 1000 again.

But now, with the vaccines readily available and the big push going out to get people vaccinated, I think the lower numbers are taking hold. The testing positivity rate is at 2.25%, which has been creeping down since early this year.

As of yesterday, 83.14% of Marylanders have received at least one shot. The governor’s original target to remove statewide mask mandates was 70% fully vaccinated. (“Fully vaccinated,” meaning it’s been two weeks after receiving a second shot or the single J&J shot.) But then last weekend, he scrapped them anyway.

Baltimore City is keeping its mask mandates until more people have been vaccinated. I can’t blame them. Young Mayor Brandon Scott has not been messing around with the ‘Rona. He’s kept hardcore capacity limits and mask mandates for the city. And the results speak for themselves. Early last summer, according to the stats, Baltimore County and Baltimore City (these are two completely separate entities… the county wraps around the city), were about 200 apart, regarding COVID cases. The county then began pulling away and today has roughly 12,000 more cases than the city. This is with about 7% fewer city residents being vaccinated, compared to the county.

The difference was the enforcement of COVID protocols. Granted, downtown restaurants and bars took a major hit. Most of the ones around my office building closed for good. I hope that some of them get restarted under new management. It would be a shame if doing the right thing for public safety resulted in turning downtown into a ghost town for good. But you have to applaud the resulting decrease in the number of people catching the virus.

Of course, there are dark clouds to go with the silver lining.

Maryland is a distinctly “blue” state, with the populous center being heavily blue and the lighter-populated edges heavily “red.” As a resident of that heavy blue center, I should be sitting pretty.  But it’s a cryin’ shame there had to be a political difference.

I maintain that if the Former Guy could have lived up to the bare minimum expectations of a president, and just said, “Hey, take these precautions and stay healthy. We’ll help you out as best we can,” we would have had a fraction of the deaths we’ve already had and vax numbers would be much higher. We could have been at “herd immunity” months ago. But no. Because he was too vain and narcissistic to be seen wearing a mask, and had such a persecution complex, he made it into a political issue and so the country naturally fell back into its political tribalism. His people felt the obligation to back up whatever dumbass things he said because after all, he was their dumbass.

Hence, the Dems are getting vaccinated and the Repubs aren’t (as much). They’re loudly proclaiming how much they want things to go back to normal, yet taking actions that prevent that very thing. (Way to go, Ricky Schroeder. Now maybe you and Scott Baio can start a club. Call it C-FLOR… Child-stars For Living on a Respirator.)

I’d be fine with it if I thought they were going to die off from catching COVID, but I don’t see that happening. More likely, because enough others will be vaccinated for us to become at least close to herd immunity, it will just empower them to walk around going, “See? No vaccination and no masks and I’m fine.”

At which time we’ll have to shoot them, which is our gods-given right via the Second Amendment.

OK, it’s not that I’m seriously promoting the deaths of those with whom I have a philosophical difference, but if people are tap-dancing on a greased balcony railing, it’s hard to get worked up over it if they fall off.

Light My Fire

I had one particular activity in mind to do before these crisp spring nights turn in the miserable days of summer. Ever since I first visited (and eventually moved in with and married) Sweetpea, I’ve wanted to use her fire pit. There was one right in the backyard, with the remains of a single, charred log left in it. It was about 8” in diameter. I’ve been wanting to burn that up for four years now. It would just sit there, taunting me, like an unfinished project.

So, last Monday, after dinner and after dutifully dashing off my weekly blog post, all the elements came together: clear, cool weather and nothing compelling on TV. Sweetpea and I sat outside on the patio and I proceeded to rely on my old fire-tending practices to construct a nice little fire in the fire pit.

Obviously, I couldn’t just try to light the big log; I had to get a nice fire started with smaller pieces of wood.

I mentioned in a post back in March that our yellow lab has a habit of bringing back giant sticks from his morning walks.

I figured this was a perfect time to put them to some use. He wasn’t happy about it and kept trying to steal some from the pile I made as I broke them up. Fortunately, the thing with this dog is that he’s more interested in the stick acquisition than actually owning or playing with the sticks.

Initial stage

So, I got a little fire going and it was nice to sit around it like I used to do back when I was a kid in the country. (Or at least tending to our fireplace in the house.)

And you know how we guys are when we successfully build a fire. We’re very proud of ourselves.

“I have made fire!”

Granted, I had a lighter and newspaper, so I didn’t have to rub my hands raw trying to make a spark, but no matter.

Once I was sure I had a sufficient base, I dropped the big log in and tried to get it going. I never saw it really light up, but I did see smoke coming from inside it. I figured that was a good sign.

Now with log nemesis added.

By the end of the night, all the sticks were gone, leaving only the smoldering log behind. It was a bit smaller than when we started but I thought I could take a shot at it another night. As much as I love the smell of burning wood, I wasn’t too crazy about it all over my shirt. I definitely had to get a new one for bed, lest both Sweetpea and I make the sheets smell like a burning barrel.

Anyway, when I checked back the next morning, voila, the log was gone. Reduced to ashes overnight. Must have just smoldered away.

I was like, “Take THAT, Mr. Log… Your wooden qualities are no match for my incendiary capabilities! Now someone bring me their finest meats and cheeses!

Now I just have to wait for the dog to restock the woodpile so we can do it again.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Must Scrat Love

It was slim pickin’s this weekend, looking for memes to dissect from my conservative friends. It’s almost as if they’re embarrassed by the state of their party. Or maybe they’re a bit queasy about supporting known, provable, lies. But I was able to find a couple to work with.

Right off the bat, I would doubt the veracity of the initial statement. I don’t think those three have anywhere near that kind of wealth, especially the number of houses. I know there was a misleading charge about Bernie buying a lake house with campaign money, but that was false. (In reality, he inherited a house in Maine, which he would not be able to easily visit, so he sold it and used the proceeds to buy the lake house. Nothing about that is illegal, rare, or limited to the realms of the rich.)

But it’s true they held a town hall on income inequality… 3 years ago in 2018. So it’s not like this was a current event. But here’s the thing: even if it WAS true, that these three are worth $20 mil each (and that’s a big IF), what they’re fighting to accomplish will cost themselves money. And they’re OK with that because they’re interested in coming up with domestic policies that benefit the whole country, not just the upper crust.

Show me one Republican politician who supports an issue that will personally cost him or his big donors. I’ll wait...

Time’s up. Don't feel too bad; Republicans are all about protecting the “haves” against the “have-nots.” And they’re almost always “haves,” themselves. Or at least they plan to be shortly after they leave Congress and get jobs in big money “think tanks” and appear on Fox “News.”

As I’ve said often before, they just use the social issues like abortion and immigration to get bigots, fools, and prigs to vote for them, so they can get on with the financial fellatio of the rich.

Every big Democratic donor is acting against their own financial interest because Democrats want to tax the rich to provide a better life for everyone else. And they’re willing to take the hit to make that come to pass. So go ahead and attack the Dems who have money. It only goes to show that they care about the American citizens and each Republican is nothing more than a crazy little Scrat, scurrying around, trying to protect his own nut. Bag the elephant; this should be the GOP symbol:

Eliminate the ‘Death Tax!’”


Here’s a news flash: the courts would be able to do a far better job holding criminals responsible if they didn’t have so many police running around planting evidence, falsifying reports, and beating up handcuffed detainees.

There was a story I covered two years ago about how there are now over 300 Baltimore police officers on a list with the State’s Attorney’s office as non-credible witnesses, who cannot be put on the stand. Until that changes, the cops can arrest as many as they want, but they’ll end up right back on the street if they can’t be convicted.

You want to get criminals convicted? Make sure the cops follow the rules so they can testify without tainting the case with their own history of abuse and corruption.


If I may take a personal digression for a moment, I’d like to bid congratulations to my nephew, who yesterday graduated from Penn State. I am beyond proud of the young man. And geez, it seems like just last week when he was taking his first steps.

The dude is going to be totally set up for real life too; he’ll be walking into a job that will pay him a figure I never saw until I was 48 years old, (44 if you adjust for inflation.) Maybe if I’d taken economics instead of radio/communications I’d have done a little better in my early years.

But he’ll be able to live at home for a while and sock all that dough away. He should have quite a war chest when it comes time to move out on his own.

It’s funny though. When I heard about his job, (and got back up off the floor), I went and looked up my own wage history as provided by the Social Security Administration. (I used to get annual mailings from them, showing my taxable income for every year I worked. Now it’s all online.) That’s how I came up with that little factoid above.

My first full year after college, I made $10,800 ($27,390 in 2021 money.) With that, I was able to move out of the house and shack up with my girlfriend and another roommate. A year later, I made $11,440, which allowed me to get my own apartment after the girlfriend thing inevitably blew up. My rent for a 1-bedroom efficiency, less than a mile from my workplace, ran about $180/month. I was happy. I had what I needed and just loved being independent, with a place of my own. It was enough to keep me in food, wine, records, and the occasional piece of stereo equipment.

I don’t know what I would have done at that age with the kind of cash my nephew is going to have. I’m sure he’ll manage it carefully. He’s pretty level-headed. I just fear that he’ll miss out on one of the best financial teachers there is, which is living paycheck to paycheck. Not having much money is a great way to learn how to get good value for your buck and to learn the difference between what you need and what you want. It’s a skill that will pay off for the rest of one’s life.

It’s a shame that his last year of school was a mess. There were a lot of parties, football games and other social events that never came to be. Just walking around being a senior was a fond memory I had and it’s too bad his crowning year was kind of a downer.

But, he’ll no doubt make up for it in the year to come, just by being young, handsome, witty, and carrying some spending money. There are far worse scenarios that could come to pass.

The kid is fortunate that he had an ideal situation. He never needed student loans so he’s starting out debt-free. That’s a rare benefit these days. His family, myself included, will make sure he finds his way and builds a solid foundation from which to launch.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Waging War

Conservatives are trying everything to convince people that raising the minimum wage to $15 will summon the End of Days. Like here, for example:

This is kind of a chicken and egg thing… Did minimum wage make prices higher, or did high prices necessitate a rise in the minimum wage? I’m betting on the latter because for as long as I’ve been aware of California, I’ve heard that it was an expensive place to live. California should be the example of why there should be a higher minimum wage. Prices are so high a $7.50 wage just can cut it.

And that brings me to another problem with this meme… it’s not like California has one universal pricing system. There are vast differences in prices between places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, as opposed to Sacramento or Bakersfield. I presume it’s the same way in Kentucky, although you probably get a discount if you offer up an hour with your cousin, Fuzzy Mae.

OK, I can’t really poke fun at Kentucky. Here in Maryland, the most frequent discount is the five-fingered kind, which is often holding a gun. So who am I to cast aspersions? But I digress…

So I get that Republicans have to fight against any kind of living wage… it cuts into profits like all payroll does. But if they hadn’t fought so hard for so long that the current minimum wage hasn’t moved in over a decade, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big jolt now. Prices keep going up but wages, especially at the bottom, have not. It’s time to catch that up. But not without tales of woe coming from big business.

I say if they’re really so worried about having to raise prices to counteract higher wages, maybe some of those CEOs can pare back on their annual bonuses and stock options. (Not like that will ever happen.)

But wherever it comes from, most of the money paid out in wages will turn around and get spent, raising everyone’s boat.

Looking at other countries, whose minimum wages are far higher than ours, their prices are not that much higher, if at all. All the hype about soaring prices is just a scare tactic on the part of the rich, which they’ve sung every single time the minimum wage was raised in the past. And somehow, the businesses managed to keep on going and we kept on buying stuff. There was no economic crisis. It was then and is now, a ploy to keep things the same, with the owner class comfortable and the lower class scrambling to get by.

Personally, I’m willing to pay a little bit more for my meal or whatever if I know the owner is paying his workers a living wage. It’s just part of living in a thriving economy.

More Debunkery

Ahem… There would be no need for marketing campaigns if there wasn’t a significant portion of the populations laboring under the delusions that the vaccines are dangerous, COVID is a hoax, COVID is no worse than the flu, the seriousness is exaggerated, and the death numbers are artificially inflated. And that doesn’t even count the real wackadoo stuff like microchips being injected into us for malevolent tracking purposes or some jibber-jabber about 5G. If we’re ever going to obtain herd immunity, we’re going to have to reach some of these folks, hence the heavy messaging.

So here we are, hindered from getting back to normal because idiots won’t take the precautions that will get us back to normal, because they want it to be normal right now!

I don’t know what these people think the payoff would be if their delusions were to be true. Where does the profit come in from convincing people to get vaccinated? I think, like the fabled South Park underpants gnomes, they’re missing a key step.

Who benefits from a massive downturn in the economy? DoorDash and UberEats? Maybe they’re the brains behind the whole anti-vax operation? Maybe that’s their business model… Ravage the population with a virus, so they have to stay home and order delivery. Once they’re spoiled by food being brought to the door, they’ll forget that they had to overpay for it by $10. That’s just good old American entrepreneurship.

I also saw another meme that interested me, but I didn’t capture it because basically, I’ve addressed it before. It was one of those things where they have a list of all the stuff for which they say you need an ID and no one complains about it, and then there’s the Voter ID.

It’s funny how they’re so desperate to not be seen as racist while doing such blatantly racist things. The last time, I attacked this argument by disputing the things they said required IDs. But here’s a different reason why this is such an invalid point: They’re only addressing the small scale. It’s as if they’re describing a house as an object that’s 4” x 2” x 8”* because they’re only looking at one brick.

You have to pull out and see all the bricks to see what’s been built. So then when you factor in:

·        Requiring state-issued photo ID

·        Increasing the price of those IDs

·        Closing places that issue state-issued photo ID in urban areas.

·        Closing voting precincts in urban areas.

·        Reducing the number of voting machine present in urban areas.

·        Hiring “poll watchers” whose job it is to “challenge” any voters (people of color) they see fit

·        Reducing early voting hours

·        Reducing the number of drop boxes

·        Restricting the use of absentee ballots and reducing the time frame to get them submitted

·        Using all these things to create long lines and then forbidding people to bring food or water to those in line.

The only and obvious conclusion that these bricks make a wall and it’s placed directly between a certain segment of the population and the voting booth. They want to make it as difficult as possible, with the hopes that people won’t put themselves through it. It’s sad that this is the only way they see themselves winning again. No new ideas, just election manipulation. So don’t cry to me that it’s “just an ID.” It’s not. It’s just another brick in the wall.


*Dimensions are rounded up because I didn’t want to get into all the fractions. So please don’t rely on these numbers to calculate your bricking needs.