Bingo!

May 13, 2020

“Learn Big Numbers as you Play.” Or not.

Thomas B. Edsall at The New York Times cranks out another keeper about the unholy combination of church and casino that is the Il Douche re-election campaign.

This dude alone is worth the price of a subscription to Mother Times. He throws a wide loop and brings ’em back alive.

A Democratic tech strategist describes the campaign website as a casino, “purposefully built to keep gamblers inside and at the table … trapping people inside an ecosystem of dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, and grievance politics. And it’s doing so while making the experience as fun and exciting as possible.”

In the nation’s “political churches,” meanwhile, a survey of hymn-singing white Protestants finds “clergy speech is driving up the religious significance” of Il Douche. In short, a strong plurality of respondents believe this gibbering gobshite was anointed by the Lord to be our Leader.

While elite “right wing media are having a profound effect on public opinion, serving to insulate Trump supporters,” the authors write, the process is also “built and sustained from the bottom up. That is, political churches, among Republicans especially, reinforce the argumentation that is also coming from above.”

I consider this another solid argument for taxing churches. Uncle Sugar gets a cut of what I earn for preaching my gospel. You want to play too, padre? Ante up, sucker, the pot’s light again.

A pearl of great price

May 12, 2020

Thirty years ago today.

Himself: “And to think they said it would never last.”

Herself: “That was us.”

• THIS JUST IN: Hey, whaddaya know: Three decades later, the clothes still fit!

And 50 percent of us is still hot!

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.

R.I.P., Little Richard

May 9, 2020

“A wop bop alu bop, a wop bam boom!”

Rolling Stone called it “what has to be considered the most inspired rock lyric ever recorded.” Some may disagree; it is a high bar to hop. But Little Richard was most definitely inspired, and one of a kind, a true trailblazer.

As Jim Dodge noted in “Not Fade Away”:

“Little Richard had returned to the Church, but because he was wearing lipstick and eye shadow the Church wasn’t sure what to do with him.”

Now he’s gone on ahead. That Big Band Beyond best have its game on. Wooooooo!

Bird feeders

May 8, 2020

The food chain in operation.

It seems our bird feeders are doing double duty. Not only do they feed seed to birds, they feed birds to birds.

This may be a peregrine falcon* camped out in a backyard pine, stripping the feathers and flesh from an unfortunate dove, no doubt a visitor to the feeders hanging from a maple tree by the picture window. Hal thinks so, anyway, and he’s more knowledgeable about these matters than I am.

“Whaddaya taking pictures for? You with the police?”

We’ve seen a Cooper’s hawk working the neighborhood, but this is our first glimpse of a peregrine on the job. I wanted to get closer for a better shot with the Sony RX100 III, but I didn’t want to interrupt his/her dinner. Maybe it’s time to get another DSLR, start putting this wobbly economy back on its uncertain feet.

Funny thing is, the neighbor kids had just been visiting (at a safe and sane socialist distance) and we were talking about the wildlife we’d seen recently, from bugs to bobcats to bullsnakes. We didn’t notice the feathers falling from the pine until mom had come to collect them for their own dinner.

* Or a sharp-shinned hawk. Or a Cooper’s hawk. Or a very small Hawkman looking for his own DC movie, which would puzzle me mightily, because DC movies mostly suck with malice aforethought, even more so than Marvel movies, which is a very high bar indeed where suckitude is concerned, and no self-respecting raptor would have anything to do with either of them.

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.

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

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.

The rearrangement

May 3, 2020

Living Room v.2.0: The Lockdown Edition.

I think the ol’ lockdown managed to crawl up everyone’s keister pretty much all simultaneous-like yesterday.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla blew a hairball on the living-room carpet, which is white, because of course it is. So we started moving the furniture off it in preparation for a thorough wash and brush-up, then abruptly decided: To hell with this giant white barf magnet.

This 14-by-12-foot beast came with the house when we bought it, as did the large brown leather sofa and green leather easy chair with ottoman that sat on it. And boom, just like that, we were sick of the lot of ’em.

We don’t get a lot of hummingbirds at our lone feeder, but we have a few regulars.

“Right, off you go!” we said.

The carpet got a good vacuuming and a spot-cleaning and a listing on Facebook Marketplace. Free to good home, etc. In no time at all a young woman whose sister was moving into a new apartment rolled by to collect it.

The large leather items got shifted to a largely unused area, across from the cat tower, facing the picture window, between the living room proper and the dining room.

The furniture that had been in that space — an American-made sofa and rocker we bought from a local outfit in Bibleburg, Hearthstone, sadly no longer with us — got moved into the living room, atop a much smaller patterned area rug pirated from the dining room.

Of course, there was much vacuuming, cleaning, dusting, critiquing, adjusting, more critiquing, readjusting, and what have you. Also, some discussion about feeding the leather bits to the insatiable maw of Facebook Marketplace as well.

Finally, there were cold beverages on the back patio, for us and for the hummingbirds.

After dinner the neighbors to the west called an ice-cream social, outdoors, in the cul-de-sac, featuring homemade chocolatey goodness. Most of the ’hood turned out for a treat, some casual gossip, and the nightly 8 p.m. howl, all with proper plague management, of course (bring your own spoon and chairs).

The ice-cream maker was hoping his amateur-league baseball might resume soon. Another neighbor was thinking about her son, a freshly minted Marine awaiting deployment. The new parents on the corner couldn’t make it, because infants could give a rat’s ass about ice-cream socials in the cul-de-sac, even if they knew what rats’ asses, ice-cream socials, and cul-de-sacs were. And a more experienced dad was dozing with his youngest in front of “PBS Kids.”

We were just happy to be there, and rid of that damn’ carpet. It’s the little things.

Socialist wheelism

May 2, 2020

Forward!

I actually shot this last May Day, but I don’t think I ever got around to using it for anything.

When Herself and I rode out yesterday for our own small International Workers Day parade, we were clad in red, but it was Mad Dog Media kit we were wearing, and I was aboard my red Steelman Eurocross, not the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

The People were out in force as well. With temps in the 80s, and there only being so many DIY home projects one can bear, we saw quite a few folks out and about, the highlight being a couple walking one Chihuahua and pushing the other in a baby stroller.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is relaxing some restrictions, allowing some retailers that had been closed to do business via curbside pickup and delivery; reopening state parks and golf courses; and allowing gun shops to resume operations via appointment only.

While short outings for grub and exercise are officially approved, the general stay-at-home order remains in effect through May 15, however. Socialist distancing remains a thing, as does masking. And while the GOP is raving that the gov’ is not doing enough to return New Mexico to Bidness As Usual®, the gov’ — who has been getting some ink for her work in response to the coronavirus crisis — says further steps depend on us continuing to tamp down the spread of The Bug.

“This public-health crisis has also become an economic crisis,” she said. “There’s great urgency to address both.”

Added Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase: “We have to move carefully. slowly, step by step.”

Sounds a lot like rehabbing a broken ankle, only a helluva lot harder. The trick is to lose the crutches without winding up flat on your back.