Archive for the ‘Plague’ Category

Welfare check

May 11, 2020

Herself chats with her mom jailhouse style,
on the phone, through a pane of glass.

We swung by the Dark Tower yesterday, bearing gifts.

Herself the Elder had requested huevos rancheros for Mothers Day. So we ordered up the takeout from Weck’s and ran it on by.

“You’re spoiled!” exclaimed a staffer. Dern tootin’. As spoiled as one can be in an assisted-living facility under lockdown in plague time, anyway.

Ain’t nothin’ a couple sacks of mulch and a cat statue can’t fix.

Afterward we continued a ongoing backyard-cleanup project. I’m a lifelong asthmatic with a personal, portable plague of allergies, the most severe of which is to yardwork.

But the space was starting to look like a tumbledown Tinkertoy tower of rusty playground equipment, a bullet-riddled ’63 Rambler American on blocks, and a three-legged pit bull with bowel issues would actually constitute improvements.

So, yeah. Yardwork.

Up north, where the yards are 35 acres, my man Hal forwards a Colorado Public Broadcasting piece about how gig workers there — including him — are getting the runaround from the plague-jiggered unemployment system, such as it is.

“This is exactly what happened to me when I applied,” he said. “I apparently need to call there. But of course cannot get through.”

Well, you can always get through here, bub. What’s going on out there in Greater Dogpatch? Are you digging holes and filling them in again? Redistributing wealth? Fetching takeout to shut-ins? As the Year of the Plague drags on toward Memorial Day, we want to hear how our readers are getting by. Wag your tales in comments.

Masque of the Red … Revolution?

May 7, 2020

¡Viva la huelga!

I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.

Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.

How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?

Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.

The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:

By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.

Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.

• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.

Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.

• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.

• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.

Chalk up another walk

May 5, 2020

Flowers and honeybees and ladybugs, o my.

Mondays used to be running days. No más, no más, as Roberto Duran once said.

These days, I walk. It may be slow, but at least it takes a lot of time.

The view to the east.

Yesterday I marched south along the Linear Trail to Piedra Lisa Park and the Menaul trailhead, then came home via Foothills Trails 401 and 365. Three and a half miles in a little over an hour, with stops for snaps.

Before getting onto the trail proper I noticed the chalk artists had been keeping busy, shifting from sidewalks to walls. More power to their tiny arms.

Once on the trails north of Menaul, it became apparent that I was very much not alone. Happily, you can see company coming a long ways off out there, so I changed course as necessary to maintain the proper socialist distancing. Arroyos are good. Mostly I’m the only guy who seems to like walking the arroyos.

We’re still limited to outings “necessary for health, safety, and welfare,” and I consider that mine are. We’re talking an hour to 90 minutes tops. It’s a small price for society to pay to keep me off the roof and the Marlin .357 lever-action in its case.

Plus I am in The Media™. So there, pffffbbblllffffhh.

Also, if I feel a sneeze coming on while I’m out there prowling the arroyos — it is allergy season — I dig a cathole and bury it. No medals, please; you know what a selfless, modest Man of the People® I am.

Bleach Blankety-Blanket Bingo

April 27, 2020

Great Caesar’s Ghost, is it all superhero movies?
And where the hell is our Superman?

Being on lockdown is like watching a bad movie.

Sure, it sucks. But if you bail early, you might miss something.

Or catch something.

Why not just lean back, put your feet up, and enjoy (hating) the show? The credits will roll soon enough. And we know who’s not getting a best-director Oscar for this hot mess.

Pass the popcorn. Say, is it just me, or does this soda taste like bleach?

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another doctor-recommended, hospital-tested, clinically proven episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: Acoustic considerations (Herself doing paying work right next to my “studio”) dictated that I change locations (to her wallk-in closet) and return to the Shure Beta 87A mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder for this one, instead of recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was in GarageBand, with an assist from Miss Mia Sopaipilla, whose stylings on the keyboard while I stepped away from the desk for a moment rendered the original voiceover … interesting. The intro music is a compilation of GB loops, assembled by Your Humble Narrator. Howling courtesy The Colorado Sun, because I forgot to record our local howlers last night. Singing Italians via The Guardian. Angry crowd from the YouTube Audio Library, as is “An Army of None,” by The Whole Other. And Freesound.org contributed the hum (adamamazing), the comic rimshot (deleted_user_7146007), and the film projector (filip_stefanowski ),

Stay away

April 25, 2020

Blech!

April 24, 2020

Maybe what we need is a Maglite/Clorox death ray. Let’s ask the aliens for the loan of one next time they pop round to butt-probe a hillbilly.

“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute — one minute — and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” he asked. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Jesus, this guy is dumb. Dumber than a bag of sunsplashed hammers. Dumber than a sack of freshly bleached hair. A few French fries short of a Happy Meal.

Sure thing, Dr. Demento. Let’s all mainline some Clorox, with tactical flashlights up our keisters. You go first.

Turn turtle

April 23, 2020

The Turtle plays the old shell game. Original photo by Susan Walsh | AP

“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available … My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of. Or perhaps they might consider marrying into a wealthy maritime shipping family.” — Mitch McConnell on borrowing to assist state and local governments.*

* Except for that last sentence, which he’s never gonna say out loud the way he did when he was looking for a rich woman to marry.

The New Abnormal

April 18, 2020

Some folks think they’re getting the business.

The American attention span, ordinarily measured in nanoseconds, is fraying around its all-too-short edges as the walls start closing in on the homebound.

Relief payments have gone walkabout. The SBA ran out of money to loan. And almost no unemployment aid has made it to the self-employed.

Is patience a luxury we can’t afford, or a necessity we can’t live without?

For some folks, it’s just one more thing that they’ve run out of, like beer, beans, and buttwipe. But Your Humble Narrator still has a personal stash, and if you can bear about six more minutes of social distancing, he’ll let you have a little taste.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another socially distant episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic and Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. The trail-walking portion was recorded on a Tascam DR-10L. Editing was as usual, using GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Easy Day” by Kevin MacLeod, taken from the YouTube audio library, as was the angry crowd. The squeaky bike is from jamesrodavidson at Freesound.org. The yappi corgis are likewise from the YouTube. The Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote are, of course, from the glory days of animation at Warner Bros. And the centurion calls us weird from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”

’Faced

April 14, 2020

I have a nose for this sort of thing, it appears.

The body may be confined, yet the mind wanders, as it will.

And a few minutes ago it wandered past a pile of old cycling caps and went, “Hmmmm. …”

Yes, that is a 100 percent cotton Schwinn cycling cap buttressed by a Princeton Tec headlamp strap.

I may not be the first to think of this, but surely I won’t be the last.

Three weeks in … when?

April 14, 2020

Apparently not. …

Surprise, surprise — the Tour de France will be postponed, at the very least.

On Monday, according to The Guardian, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would be extending France’s lockdown until May 11, and that no large public events would be allowed before July 11.

Le Tour had been scheduled to kick off June 26 in Nice.

Now, according to CyclingTips, the Spanish newspaper MARCA reports that the Tour could get shifted to August, with the Vuelta a España in September and the Giro d’Italia in October.

That would be a rough ol’ nine weeks, no? Looks like this is not the year to resurrect Live Update Guy.