I am unable to fathom how the Republican Party of my youth, the die-hard anti-Soviet party of Ronald Reagan and George Shultz, has transformed into the Party of Putin. Not all of the current Republicans are on Team Putin instead of Team America, but there are so many! How did this happen? When did this happen? Did it occur because of Trump, or was it again a case of Trump just saying loudly what many said quietly?
I am also sort of surprised that Rupert Murdoch is part of this collective. I’d have assumed that Murdoch, by virtue of his age, and Paleolithic Republican status, would also be anti-Russia, but assumptions would be wrong. Tucker Carlson,Laura Ingraham and others are consistently celebrating Putin on Murdoch’s propaganda channel.
What can Putin’s end game even be? If he installs a puppet government in Ukraine, how can anyone take it seriously? The Ukrainian people are not going to consider the Revolution of Dignity as an aberration, nor will they view Putin puppet Yanukovych as their legitimate leader.
Brief note: was meddling in my WordPress Dashboard today, and noticed that the Jetpack plugin wasn’t activated anymore. Tried to reinstall, and was told by WordPress that I couldn’t install Jetpack because the folder already exists.
Hmmm…probably related to the Auto-Update feature, but who knows?
updated to add, logged in via FTP, deleted Jetpack, and reinstalled. No idea what caused the error, but doesn’t matter, chartreuse is my jam…
As an update to my vinyl LP project, previously mentioned, I’m approaching the end of my first phase. As of tonight, I have added 581 LPs to my Delicious Library 3 catalog, with maybe another 75 LPs to go, or close to that number. I haven’t counted them. Not a huge collection obviously, but one that is important to me.
I’m still compelled to add new physical media to my shared space, but luckily, Covid-19 has stopped me from visiting local record stores and paying their rent by buying everything interesting. So far, only Discogs, and Ernie’s Millions Of Records have benefited from my renewed interest in vinyl.
By now, my routine is fairly well polished, and occurs in roughly this order. The analog universe has its own rules.
1. Pull an LP off the shelf. Take it out of the plastic sleeve, if it has one. If it doesn’t1, give it one. Take a photo with my iPhone2 of the cover, back cover, and any interesting details, including the inner sleeve, or inner gatefold, or the vinyl label. If the LP doesn’t have a good inner sleeve, replace it.
2. Look at the etched runout markings. If I have my reading glasses on, I will note those and search Discogs for the proper edition. If I can’t make them out, I will guess based on year of purchase3 or on other unique identifiers on the spine or cover. Some LPs have had hundreds of pressings, thus I will admit that I am not always successful, some of my Discogs IDs are no doubt incorrect. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I have yet to look up an LP that was not listed at Discogs fwiw. I have only had to contribute 2 or 3 additions/corrections, a great ratio. Crowd-sourced data and the “old school” internet is good when it works!
3. Look up the LP in the Delicious Library 3 interface. This is often harder than it could be, especially for older LPs. It works well when there is a barcode on the LP, a barcode that still exists, that is. About 20% of the barcode lookups fail because the LP is not in Amazon.com’s database. Also, the Delicious Library 3 text search bar is ludicrously small, and once you type, “vinyl”, you can only see the next couple of words. Better to copy and paste from the Discogs site, but of course I don’t always remember to do this. Besides, the Amazon 3rd Party Marketplace is hit/miss with titles. A large percentage of my library doesn’t have a barcode – I’m guessing late ’80s was when the barcode became standard on album covers.
If this process works well, the Amazon lookup populates my Delicious Library catalog with accurate info about title, artist, label, release date, current retail value, and even nice artwork. If the process works partially, I still save myself some typing, but I may have to use my own photo of cover art, correct label info, and so forth. I would estimate I’ve had to hand-type about 50 LPs so far.
Because I’m sorta nutty, I then copy track info, and other credits from Discogs into the Delicious Library entry. Not nutty, maybe a better epithet is data enthusiast. I don’t always care, but sometimes I’m curious who the guest guitarist was on the 3rd track, or who wrote this song on Side 2, yadda yadda…
4. Look at the physical disc, make sure it isn’t warped, or has big scratches visible on the vinyl. I’ve been lucky and only ten or less of these LPs have been too physically damaged to play. I’ve always tried to take good care of my LPs, but ya know, other humans live on this planet. Plus the universe tends towards entropy.
5. Put the LP into my Record Washer MKII. This is a crucial step, but I didn’t always use it early on in my process. I do now though, with a bath of distilled water and a capful of Spin-Clean Washer Fluid4. I try to switch out the bath every week, or when it begins to smell a bit “off”. While I spin the LP 3 times counter-clockwise, I cogitate; when I subsequently spin the LP 3 times clockwise, I count down in my best Casey Kasem voice, “3, 2, 1, play…”
6. I have about 7 or 8 microfiber cloths that I use in a rotation to clean the MKII solution and schmutz off the LP. I prefer to do this during the day so I can stand by my office window and use natural light to ascertain if there are finger smudges or whatever that I can remove. If I didn’t like the album art photo I took previously, I’ll try again.
7. The best part! Playing the damn thing! Drop the needle down, and dance where appropriate! Or play air guitar! or air bass! Whatever! To be truthful, not every record demands full attention from my ears. Sometimes I’ll be working on other records, preparing them with the above mentioned steps until they are ready to play. In other words, at any time, there are several LPs in each of the above steps. For instance, right now I have 8 LPs that are ready to play as soon as I queue them up, another 10 that still need to be cleaned and dried, another 20 or so that I haven’t looked up in Discogs.com yet, plus those other ~75 that I haven’t even started on.
8. Depending upon circumstances, I may research the album at Wikipedia and/or Allmusic.com to get a feel for critical response. Depending upon the artist, there can be quite a lot of history about a particular album. Most of these albums I acquired before the public internet even existed, I might not have realized what a particular artist was all about, or why a song swerves in this particular way, or who knows what weirdness I’ll stumble upon on the internet. Factoids are a certain kind of brain candy.
What’s next? After I finish my journey through all these albums, I plan to alphabetize them. I haven’t yet decided to do a straight ABC alphabetization, or a genre/alpha sort.5 I might need a couple more shelves actually.
Next I want to digitize the albums I don’t have already in my music library. I’m a bit leery of this step; I tried to digitize a John Lee Hooker LP and it sounded like absolute shit. Not sure if my needle was bad, the LP itself was too worn6 or other factors. I will try again though, there is too much gold on these shelves.
something like 20% didn’t have an outer plastic sleeve, or was corroded in some way [↩]
I took this photo in the Cook County Forest Preserve somewhere in 2015, and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 22nd, 2021.
I like some aspect of all three versions, and instead of discarding 2 of the three, decided to publish all three as a sort of triptych. If and when I print them, I’d like to make a 3d triangle sculpture, and hang it on a thread so it can rotate.
These are the thumbnails, but the image is better when bigger, imo.1
The original version of the photograph. I especially like the golden reflections of tree trunks in the pond. Also the faint reds of the leaves at the bottom right.
The tinted version speaks a different emotional language, achieved by using cross-processing2 of Ektar film. Maybe I’d use this as my LP album cover, when I release that sometime in the future.
The black and white version, using Fuji Neopan 16003 is more stark, yet beautiful because of it. There aren’t quite enough visual clues to ascertain exactly what this is a photo of until the viewer studies it for a moment.
The Dean of Rock Critics™, Robert Christgau, writes about a subject near and dear to my heart, namely can we separate the artist from the art?
A little while back in the introduction to your resurfacing of an old piece about Biz Markie, you wrote that you were boycotting Van Morrison. I’ve felt similarly disappointed and disgusted by him of late. (Same goes for Eric Clapton.) Short of him renouncing things he’s said—which seems unlikely—is there anything that would bring you back to his music? I have so much love for so much of his work, and I’m tempted to justify continuing to listen with the belief that the man singing “Into the Mystic” or “Everyone” is not the old crank talking harmful nonsense today. But that leap can feel awfully forced on some days. Should I be making it at all? Does it make an ethical difference if I’m listening to CDs and albums I’ve already bought and not listening to streams? I.E., not putting more money in his pocket. I guess I’m just curious to know more about how you draw—and might redraw—your lines in a case like Van’s. — David Marchese, Brooklyn
Ever read Barney Hoskyns’s excellent Small Town Talk, about the Woodstock “scene”? Van’s not a major player there, but he gets what I presume is his due, which left me with no doubt that he’s long if not always been a major prick. When I read it back in 2018 this did not stop me from listening to Moondance or Into the Music or “Jackie Wilson Said.” Nor has the ignorant, reactionary, racist-to-anti-Semitic blather he and his homeboy Clapton have been spewing during the pandemic turned me off their music (though the only Clapton I actively like is half a century old) because, yes, the music has its own reality. You could even say that the guy who’s making the music is not the prick—that he inhabits or creates some other reality when he sings and plays. So my boycott is about Morrison’s current Latest Record Project, which Greil Marcus did review and thought sounded pretty good until it approached the Protocols of the Elders of Zion part. But Greil’s a big big Van fan, where I’ve merely found some value in his ceaseless recent output. So it’s easy enough for me to say fuck that shit.
Speaking for myself, mostly I can distinguish the music (or other art) as a different entity from the artist who created the art. I always think of Ezra Pound’s fascist leanings, and his poems. Jimmy Page and David Bowie both had a sexual relationship with the same teenaged girl. John Lennon beat his wife. The film Chinatown remains great, despite the ickiness of the rapist Roman Polanski. George Orwell ratted out alleged communist-sympathizers. And so on, there is a long list of people behaving badly who are artists of note.
I rationalize listening to Van Morrison’s back catalog (some of which is pretty great) by not streaming or purchasing any of his newer work. I actually have all the Van Morrison albums I need (though I think my brother borrowed a few of my Van Morrison vinyl LPs), and Eric Clapton hasn’t made good music in decades, imo.
I took this photo on August 6th, 2021, and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 12th, 2021.
ƒ/1.8 at 1/160
35.0 mm prime lens
I think this was embedded in a church wall, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was a former priest’s apartment? I cannot recall. Somewhere in the Gold Coast, probably on Dearborn, if memory serves.
Is the face a Christ? Seems like it could be, though the broken nose reminds me of the Egyptian sculptures, and the conspiracy that the noses were broken off because they were African, or other reasons.
I liked the inherent decay of the sculpture1 and the expression of this man. So seriously sad.
I was listening to my vinyl collection; tonight I played Bob Dylan’s often disparaged album, Street-Legal, which I happen to think is pretty good. By the way, Jerry Garcia recorded a good cover of Señor (Tales of Yankee Power), as did Willie Nelson with Calexico, if you are keeping track.
Senor, senor, do you know where she is hidin’? How long are we gonna be ridin’? How long must I keep my eyes glued to the door? Will there be any comfort there, senor?
This seemed appropriate for a Christ embedded on a stone wall…
I’ve been ruminating about the new draconian Texas anti-abortion law we discussed recently. I’m deeply disturbed by it, and its potential for damage to young mothers & fathers. Not every act of fornication should result in progeny1 which is the long term plan of these Christian Taliban zealots.
Birth control should be free as well, I expect the Christian Taliban to start exerting pressure on this next.
Quoting from Lawrence Tribe:
If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue the provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll also be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.)
I have not yet made the time to read S.B. 8 closely, but can reports be made anonymously? If so, every liberal minded person in the entire world should file a report naming some conservative woman, or the wife and daughters of a conservative man.
If reports cannot be made anonymously, there still must be a concerted effort to gum up the works, to throw a wrench in the gears so that the machinery of repression cannot move freely. Brave and dedicated women2 could claim to have abortions, whether or not they did, and report each other. If hundreds of thousands or even millions of women are being investigated by Ken Paxton’s Uterus Police™, they won’t be able to process them all.
We cannot let this madness continue.
Planned Parenthood could use your donation too:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new abortion ban into law
Sometimes referred to as the “heartbeat bill,” SB 8 is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the U.S. It would ban abortion in Texas at approximately six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — with no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, incest, and fetal anomaly diagnoses. For people with a regular menstrual cycle, that’s just two weeks after a missed period.
Abortion is still safe and legal throughout Texas and in all 50 states. Our health centers are open for patients to get the care they need, including medication and surgical abortion. Texas’ new abortion ban (SB 8) 8 is set to go into effect September 1, 2021, but we are now in court to challenge this extreme law.
Maybe the lawsuits will nip this vile legislative cruelty before it spreads across the nation, but we need a Plan B too…
and yes, speaking from personal experience, I am glad I came of age in a time after Roe v. Wade was settled law but before this current crop of zealots became powerful enough to impose their will on a reluctant public [↩]
The article that appeared online on Feb. 9 began with a seemingly innocuous question about the legal definition of vaccines. Then over its next 3,400 words, it declared coronavirus vaccines were “a medical fraud” and said the injections did not prevent infections, provide immunity or stop transmission of the disease.
Instead, the article claimed, the shots “alter your genetic coding, turning you into a viral protein factory that has no off-switch.”
Its assertions were easily disprovable. No matter. Over the next few hours, the article was translated from English into Spanish and Polish. It appeared on dozens of blogs and was picked up by anti-vaccination activists, who repeated the false claims online. The article also made its way to Facebook, where it reached 400,000 people, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool.
The entire effort traced back to one person: Joseph Mercola.
Dr. Mercola, 67, an osteopathic physician in Cape Coral, Fla., has long been a subject of criticism and government regulatory actions for his promotion of unproven or unapproved treatments. But most recently, he has become the chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, according to researchers.
The activity has earned Dr. Mercola, a natural health proponent with an Everyman demeanor, the dubious distinction of the top spot in the “Disinformation Dozen,” a list of 12 people responsible for sharing 65 percent of all anti-vaccine messaging on social media, said the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. Others on the list include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime anti-vaccine activist, and Erin Elizabeth, the founder of the website Health Nut News, who is also Dr. Mercola’s girlfriend.
“Mercola is the pioneer of the anti-vaccine movement,” said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories. “He’s a master of capitalizing on periods of uncertainty, like the pandemic, to grow his movement.”
Some high-profile media figures have promoted skepticism of the vaccines, notably Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham of Fox News, though other Fox personalities have urged viewers to get the shots. Now, Dr. Mercola and others in the “Disinformation Dozen” are in the spotlight as vaccinations in the United States slow, just as the highly infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence in coronavirus cases. More than 97 percent of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the end of the Trump Presidency, Republicans have been ratcheting up the doom-and-gloom quotient in their rhetoric. By this spring, they settled on a narrative of permanent crisis—to be blamed on President Biden, of course. There was the Biden Border Crisis. The Crime Crisis. The Inflation Crisis and its corollary, the High-Gas-Price Crisis. The Critical-Race-Theory Crisis. Even, this week, the Ben & Jerry’s-Is-Mean-to-Israel Crisis. America under Biden, to hear them tell it, has become a hellscape of disasters. In June, the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, issued a letter to his colleagues. “Our country is in crisis,” he declared. “Republicans stand against the impending malaise and stand for a greatness that we reached just a few years ago.” The one crisis that Republicans have tended not to mention is the actual one—that is, the pandemic. When Republican politicians have focussed on covid in recent months, it’s often been to give Donald Trump credit for the vaccines, while simultaneously accusing the Biden Administration of forcing those same vaccines on unwilling Americans.
So it was more than a bit surprising to see some Republicans this week kinda, sorta, maybe embrace a different message. The Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, the House’s No. 2 Republican, posed for a photo of himself getting a vaccine shot, many months after he was eligible, and urged others to do the same. “Get the vaccine,” Scalise said, at a press conference on Thursday. “I have high confidence in it. I got it myself.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor who was never on board with his party’s vaccine denialists and anti-maskers, warned, during his own press conference: either get vaccinated or get ready for more lockdowns. “This is not complicated,” McConnell said. Fox News, which, along with Facebook, has been among the country’s premier platforms for vaccine disinformation in recent months, started promoting a new get-vaccinated public-service announcement. Its prime-time star, the Trump confidant Sean Hannity, stared straight into the camera on Monday night and said, “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.”
I dunno, can you really trust a Republican to do the right thing for humanity? Even once? For instance, Sean Hannity has already denied he told anyone to get vaccinated because, paraphrased since I’m not interested in looking at his face this morning, “I never told anyone to get vaccinated because I’m not a health care professional”.
The cynical answer to this conservative flip-flop is that1 some GOP political consultant did the math and wrote a warning memo to members of the party who are able to read. If thousands, or millions of conservatives die then some close “purple” Congressional districts will vote Democratic members into office, not to mention Fox News ratings will tumble if their viewers are on respirators or in funeral parlors and unable to control the remote.
The real question is will this new pro-vaccine message penetrate the conservative base’s consciousness? Honestly, the base has to be pretty gullible and easy to lead if they believed in nonsense like Obama is from Kenya, and Jade Helm, and that Hillary Clinton & Bill Gates has a secret pedophile ring in the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant, and whatever the gazillion other ridiculous conspiracies were. So maybe they will quickly forget months of these same talking heads arguing the exact opposite? Freedom!
But influential falsehood spreaders like Tucker Carlson and Joseph Mercola haven’t switched yet, thus I’m not sure what Brittany Johnson2 of Little Rock, AR will do – will she continue sharing fake news about 5G cell towers and mRNA on Facebook? Or will she get a vaccine before she is hospitalized? Is she still going to mindlessly chant, “lock her up” at the next Trump rally? Or tell people that keys stick to her forehead?
Only time and hospital bed availability numbers will tell…
For the faithful and/or lazy who still get periodic email from this humble blog, I guess we’ll have to find other means of distribution, as Feedburner1 is deprecating certain features, including the email-of-new-posts feature.
Starting in July, we are transitioning FeedBurner onto a more stable, modern infrastructure. This will keep the product up and running for all users, but it also means that we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including email subscriptions, at that time.
What FeedBurner users can expect
For many users, no action is required. All existing feeds will continue to serve uninterrupted, and you can continue to create new accounts and burn new feeds. Core feed management functionality will continue to be supported, such as the ability to change the URL, source feed, title, and podcast metadata of your feed. Basic analytics on feed requests and the ability to create enclosure tags for MP3 files will also continue to be supported.
So what is changing? We are turning down most non-core feed management features that help you optimize and publicize your feed, e.g. email subscriptions, Browser Friendly, and Password Protector.
I’m not sure what I’ll do to replace this functionality. Or when. I suspect there are other tools I can use, but I don’t know what they are, yet.
To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised that Google is keeping Feedburner at all!
My cousin drove to Toronto to spend the summer with his mom, and stopped in to visit for a few days. He was kind enough to bring up 5 crates of LPs that I had never managed to cart back with me from Austin. I have always collected music since I was a teen, and didn’t start buying CDs until the mid 1990s. In Austin during my interminable college years, there was a glut of quality, used LPs available at the record shops (probably as students passed through, or replaced vinyl with CDs), I bought several a week for a long time. As far as obsessive behavior goes, not a bad one…
I’ve been methodically playing each record, adding them to my Delicious Library database, looking up information in Wikipedia, Allmusic, and Discogs, and in general immersing my ears and brain into this time capsule from 1993. I have an audio-technica AT-LP120 USB turntable; my plan is that once I go through the 600 or so LPs once, I’ll start digitizing the ones that are unusual, or I don’t have CD versions of, or that are simply unavailable currently. My tastes in music are basically the same as then, which is way to say I haven’t found any horrible, cringe records, yet. Lots of blues, music from various African regions, Brazilian, classic rock, European classical, Indie & Alternative rock, jazz, and so on.
I initially have been working on the box of “A-C”, and “H-J”, loosely alphabetized by a prior self, and altered by other people’s explorations no doubt.
Playing an LP is a different mindset: deciding what to listen to, opening the album up, choosing a side to play, queuing up, holding the cover sleeve, reading liner notes, admiring the art, yadda yadda. An analog modality.
In 1992, there was no MSNBC or Fox News, no Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. Also, there weren’t many, if any, mainstream news organizations online. The Times didn’t start online publication until 1996, and then it was not the truly transformative force it would become.
I’ve been ruminating about 1992 lately1 – it was different from the current era in so many ways. Every paper I wrote for school was either long hand or on a typewriter. Nobody I knew owned a computer, nor a cellphone. Film cameras were the only kind of camera people owned. We had never heard of text messages, or websites, the list goes on and on. Such a radical shift in such a short period of time. Mostly for the better, but not always.
Texas is trying to destroy America in many ways currently, but their tactics regarding women’s health autonomy is especially troublesome.
Lawrence Tribe & Stephen Vladeck write:
Not only has Texas banned virtually all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, a point at which many women do not even know they’re pregnant; it has also provided for enforcement of that ban by private citizens. If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue the provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll also be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.) The law, known as S.B. 8, effectively enlists the citizenry to act as an anti-abortion Stasi.
All of that would be problematic enough, but enlisting private citizens to enforce the restriction makes it very difficult, procedurally, to challenge the bill’s constitutionality in court. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Austin last week tries to get around those roadblocks. We believe that it should succeed. But if it fails, not only would that leave the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country impervious to constitutional challenge; it would also encourage other states to follow Texas’ lead on abortion, as well as on every other contested question of social policy.
California could shift to private enforcement of its gun control regulations, never mind the Second Amendment implications of such restrictions. Vermont could shift to private enforcement of its environmental regulations, never mind the federal pre-emption implications. And the list goes on.
In the abstract, allowing citizens to help enforce the law is nothing new. Many states have so-called citizen suit or private attorney general provisions that allow people to help enforce a range of laws and rules governing consumer and environmental protection, government transparency and more. The federal government authorizes citizens to help bring certain fraud claims on behalf of the United States — and allows those citizens to share in any damages that the government receives. The critical point in both of those contexts is that citizens are supplementing government enforcement.
The Texas law, by contrast, leaves private enforcement as the only mechanism for enforcing the broad restrictions on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. It specifically precludes the state’s attorney general or any other state official from initiating enforcement. Under this new law, private enforcement supplants government enforcement rather than supplements it. If this seems like a strange move, it is. And it appears to be a deeply cynical one, serving no purpose other than to make the abortion ban difficult to challenge in court.