Monday Open Thread

Study for Eagle Head, Manchester, Massachusetts: Winslow Homer – 1869


Open thread. Talk about anything you like. I’ve always liked Winslow Homer’s work.

97 thoughts on “Monday Open Thread

  1. Doug Ross

    A moderated blog is like sending a letter to the editor in 1994, hoping the all powerful editor in chief blesses your thoughts as appropriate for consumption by the unwashed masses. All that remains here are the sad rantings of Trump hating trolls…

    Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been a dud on the international stage with video of him sleeping during a speech and rumors of an even more embarrassing “event” occurring during his meeting with the Pope. No, not the weird gift of a Sachel Paige baseball card to the pontiff. Something that ranks as #2.

    But, thankfully, all the student loans will be erased soon. And free college for everyone. And a public option for healthcare for all Americans. And a secure border without walls or children locked up. He’s just checking off those promises one by one. The guy who told us he could get it done has been checking all the todo list items one by one. Four more years! Four more years!

    1. Bryan Caskey Post author

      Our logistics are a little better than in 1994. At least we’re not using a system based on licking a stamp and giving it to a person. 🙂

      It’s now dependent on me checking in on the blog intermittently. What would be ideal is if I could get some sort of notification every time a comment is sent in.

    2. Bryan Caskey Post author

      Speaking of 1994, that was a great movie year.

      In no particular order:

      Schindler’s List
      Forrest Gump
      The Lion King
      The Client
      Pulp Fiction
      Mrs. Doubtfire
      The Pelican Brief
      Guarding Tess
      Quiz Show
      Jurassic Park
      The Shawshank Redemption
      Cool Runnings

      1. Brad Warthen

        I watched a few seconds of that, and the beginning cracked me up. The guy’s looking all serious and stern into the camera, and then he starts singing in that high, piping Mickey Mouse voice. It doesn’t fit.

        I knew the song, but I don’t think I’d seen the video before. It’s better without the video…

        1. Bill

          It’s all a game and I’m the sinner
          He’s the winner, we’re arm in arm
          No salute to a marcher’s boot
          That’s for beginners
          What’ll I do with you, you do with me
          (What’ll I do with you, you do with me)
          And legends of the untamed
          American west
          It’s the dance of gurus
          Collapsed in laughter
          We’ve had our followers and friends
          And the homeless man says
          “Yeah, I’m headed home”
          (Song Of The Year)

  2. Barry

    A few topics for today.

    (This info could change) – after threats of 10,000 NYPD officers quitting over the mandate, 34 were reported to be on unpaid leave today. This was hard news for the right wing NY Post who seemed predict an end to the world at least 3 times last week.

    The Good Liars interviewed a Virginia voter about the election. The video was interesting. The 60 year old something gentleman stated that Critical Race Theory was the most important issue in Virginia.

    The polite correspondent asked him if he could explain a bit about Critical Race Theory and what his concerns were about it. Not surprisingly, the gentleman had no idea and could not explain it at all stating “I’m not going to get into the specifics of it because I don’t have much knowledge on it but I don’t care for it.”

    Today – the news we were waiting on – Kellyanne “Alternative facts” Conway endorsed Nebraska gov candidate Charles Herbster. She cited 2 key and important reasons in her endorsement video: “He will fight Critical Race Theory in Nebraska” (where it’s never been taught and had no chance of being taught)- and “he loves President Trump.” That’s it. Those are the reasons for DC resident Conway’s endorsement in the Nebraska race.

    Oddly enough- the current GOP Governor- Pete Rickett’s opposes Herbster and put out a statement saying that Herbster decided to headquarter his business in Missouri, not Nebraska and his proposal to increase the sales tax is bad for Nebraska.

    Fox News has a shareholder meeting coming up and today released internal guidance that being vaccinated and having a mask are required to attend. Fox chose to have their meeting in California – the state that on air hosts attack constantly as being a place to avoid. (For those that follow such news in the tabloids, they will already know a lot of Fox on air talent that ridicule California on air- sure like to vacation in California with their families).

    Ron DeSantis, over the weekend, stated in a press conference “There will be no vaccine mandate for children in our schools. Decisions on vaccines belong to parents.”

    Florida mandates the following vaccines for childcare/daycare and public school
    Hep B

    DeSantis signed a bill in 2019 that extended the mandates for the above vaccines- taking the decision out of the hands of hundreds of thousands of Florida parents. This was done without fanfare, controversy, or even a mention beyond the published guideline extension.

    1. Bryan Caskey Post author

      “This was hard news for the right wing NY Post who seemed predict an end to the world at least 3 times last week.”

      Well that’s good. I’m not quite ready for the world to end. I need the Braves to win one more game first. 🙂

    2. Bryan Caskey Post author

      Virginia: You really think Youngkin had a chance to beat McAuliffe in reliably blue Virginia? I have my doubts, but it sounds like McAullife stirred up a hornet’s nest with his comments that parents shouldn’t be involved in schools. If he loses, it will be because what we teach our kids at school matters, and parents don’t like being told to stand aside.

      1. Barry

        McAuliffe stuck his foot in his mouth as he often does. But I agree with what he was trying to say.

        Michael Smerconish, on his radio show, discussed McAuliffe’s comments in depth the week after he made them in the debate. Michael agreed that McAuliffe’s comment was a mistake- but then asked his audience if they really wanted parents making decisions on what teachers should teach in a classroom.

        Michael correctly pointed out that elected school boards answerable to the local voters typically help drive local education decisions, and if they don’t, the local schools will be following state guidance in terms of standards to teach. School boards of course take the temperature of the local community but parents aren’t setting education policy for their local schools. That’s not how it works.

        My wife is a teacher. Given what I know about a lot of her teacher-parent after school conferences, having individual schools at the mercy of what individual parents in the local area would like teachers to teach could be a recipe for disaster.

      2. Ken

        “his comments that parents shouldn’t be involved in schools.”

        That misrepresents what McAuliff said. Quote: “”I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” And he’s correct, they shouldn’t. Because they are not qualified to tell teachers what to teach. They may offer input, but they should not define what teachers teach.

            1. Barry

              I think some folks live in such a bubble they really believe schools should be teaching exactly what they and their friends think they should be teaching.

              I mentioned this to my teacher wife and she simply commented “I guess if there were no state standards, we could just take a poll of parents every few weeks and teach whatever ideas they came up with at the time. But if parents want us to teach whatever they come up with, why don’t they just homeschool?”

              I really don’t want my wife having to teach that Trump was the greatest president in history, Oliver North was a hero and the best source of unbiased information is Breitbart, especially in an English class.

              My wife showed me a few of the emails she receives from parents. I was unable to decipher what several of them meant because of the poor sentence structure and experimental spelling effort.

          1. Barry

            One parent at a local school board meeting accused Jews of faking the Holocaust.

            I realize in some right wing circles, that’s a popular message.

            Plenty of parents are in no position to tell a teacher what to teach.

            1. Barry

              But it’s more than being riled up.

              A number of board members across the country have resigned because of death threats against them and their families.

              In some cases, the people screaming the loudest are running to replace them.

        1. Bryan Caskey Post author

          This is a really good point. I think this was just a lost messaging war in one state. I’d hammer this home in every state next year.

          1. Barry

            Fox News ran over 1,000 segments on how Critical Race Theory was taking over Virginia schools in the last 2 months. That was an outright lie of course. But it was by design.

            Even a Fox News host admitted today that people had confused the issue about it being taught in schools. She stopped short of admitting Fox had played a huge role though.

            This is the latest cultural war issue because of the ever increasing diversity of the country. They know saying they don’t like diversity won’t fly. So they have to attack it in other ways.

            Northern Virginia is an incredibly diverse area. Millions of school kids there and other places are not white. Many of them are going to want to learn a lot about people that look like them. There is nothing wrong with that. They deserve it. Their history heroes are not just going to be George Washington or some Revolutionary war figures.

            The nation is rapidly growing more diverse and a lot of folks don’t like that very much. In fact, some hate it. They’ll have to accept it or fight it in their own way.

            It’s why you see more and more conservatives fighting diversity and inclusion efforts in private companies. I’ve seen that personally. I’ve seen companies have internal celebrations focusing on diversity and the anger it’s created in some people.

            Many of these kids are going to want to focus ( no demand to focus) a lot of their time and energy studying about slavery, studying inequality, and the civil rights movement more in-depth than just MLK and Rosa Parks. We are already seeing it in a number of places in the country. It’s only going to increase.

            A lot of folks aren’t going to like that very much. So they are going to try to change the conversation by saying talking about such issues is wrong. It’s not a big surprise that the folks fighting this the hardest are conservative white men and women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s while many younger white people in their teens, 20s and 30s embrace it with open arms. That’s not just by accident.

            Ultimately, the folks fighting this inevitability are going to lose that battle.

            1. Ken

              Many Americans — esp. on the right — believe that America is so virtuous that there’s no call to give more than a cursory glance at its sins. I learned this from my Trump-loving neighbors several years ago after they’d gone to see Dinesh D’Souza’s “America, What Would the World Be Without Her?” Their takeway: America is so much better compared to the rest of the world that there’s no reason to learn about all the bad parts of its history.

              1. Doug Ross

                There’s a big difference between learning about historical events and being told those events are somehow related to a person’s present day thoughts and actions. Sorry, but I’m not going to suffer any white guilt over slavery from 150 years ago — 40 years before my first relative arrived in this country… or for segregation that occurred before I was born.

                Let’s live in the present – which is the most beneficial time in American history for any minority group. Teach history for what is was. If your guilty conscience makes you want to suffer white remorse and self loathing, be my guest.

              2. Barry

                In Evangelical Christianity, there is a phrase “American Christianity”

                It’s a term to describe the Americanization of Christianity where a freedom loving, gun toting, God fearing, socialist hating individual is the most Christian person of all and anyone not meeting that description is viewed as un-Christian – at best.

                Misinformation is also spreading fast in Evangelical Christianity.

                Recently, at the large McLean Bible Church in Virginia, a routine vote for “church elders” went off the tracks. Three men were nominated (by church members) to join the group of Church elders- a routine task each year in many such churches.

                Somehow, someway- a small group of church members started spreading the idea that these 3 men wanted to sell one of the church buildings to Muslims who would convert the church into a mosque. Never-mind that this idea was invented out of thin air (no one had even suggested such a thing- ever). It was invented to smear the men. There was never, ever any consideration- ever- to sell a church building. On the contrary, the church had recently completed a much anticipated renovation of the building to suit the needs of existing church services.

                The 3 elders were originally voted down, but in a follow up vote after some clarification by church leadership that no such plan was even being discussed, proposed, thought about, imagined, etc.. the 3 men were elected as elders. A small group of church members filed a lawsuit.

                Some members of the church reacted by doing the only Christian thing they could think of: They created a Facebook page attacking their pastor with all sorts of unsupported allegations.

                “When the Christian faith is politicized, churches become repositories not of grace but of grievances, places where tribal identities are reinforced, where fears are nurtured, and were aggression and nastiness are sacralized. The result is not only wounding the nation; it’s having a devastating impact on the Christian faith.

                How it is that evangelical Christianity has become, for too many, a political religion?” – Peter Wehner, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Trinity Forum fellow

    3. Barry

      Big news Tuesday night

      Schumer says Democrats reach deal on lowering prescription drug costs

      The proposed deal on prescription drugs would allow for direct government negotiation on the price of insulin and a smaller universe of drugs that are no longer protected from competition beginning in January 2022, and cap out of pocket prescription drug expenses for seniors at $2,000 annually.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I don’t know if I hold with this radical, democratic business of having an actual OPEN thread, with no suggestion as to what people should talk about. It’s not in keeping with the immemorial custom of the blog.

    It’s froward. Worse, it’s innovative. It’s indicative of something infused with enthusiasm.

    And finally, what’s wrong with the one with the sharks?

    1. Brad Warthen

      Anyway, it doesn’t meet the Jack Donaghy test:

      “The horse is one of only three appropriate subjects for a painting, along with ships with sails and men holding up swords while staring off into the distance.”

      OK. Now I’m going to have to come up with a Top Five List. Have we done paintings?

  4. Norm Ivey

    I also like Winslow Homer, and I cannot even hear his name with immediately picturing this postage stamp from 1962.

    I began collecting stamps when I was about 11 years old when my sister gave me an inexpensive starter kit as a Christmas gift. I don’t pursue the hobby much any more, but there are dozens of things I can point to and say, “I first learned about that on a postage stamp.” That’s especially true for history and art. There are many historic events commemorated on US stamps 0f the 1930s-1950s that I never did learn about in any history class.. The Flushing Remonstrance is one that stands out, and I can still remember the day I discovered that Cadillac was a real person who founded Detroit. And then in the 1960s and 70s when multi-color stamps became commonplace, artworks, rather than just the artists themselves began to be featured regularly. One of my favorites is the 1969 stamp honoring William Harnett.

    So that’s my contribution to the Open Thread.

  5. Bobby Amundson

    Transformative leadership requires risk. I am exploring my home, Western New York. I am buying an 1860s house and a restaurant, the Lumberyard, in Perry NY. I hike the many trails associated with transportation, many rail lines. My favorite is following the Genesee Valley Canal about 90 miles north to the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario. I was at this inland sea last night. The GVC goes North along the Genesee River to the Erie Canal in the Rochester NY area; “Letchworth” has three spectacular falls just roaring now because of heavy rains.

    I do find time to read many comments; I appreciate all y’all (youze guys?). I do wish there was more diversity. Like me, I think most of us are white, educated and “successful.” However, I chose to serve and protect; the military is just a part of that passion. I lied to children so they would tell us what happened (forensic interviews). I can’t say more …

    So thanks. Because of James Smith, Brad and I “sorta” know each other. As I try to explain to “students” who and what I am, I direct them to Kerouac, Kesey, Wolfe, Yeager (Yager’s Farm), The Right Stuff, Hunter S Thompson (Gonzo Journalism – Fear and Loathing!), Douglas Adams and 42. A good start!

    Chuck Yeager understood the Right Stuff – every day agility. I am working on Social Entrepreneurship in the Modern Mobile Economy. Honestly, I am so tired of the cynicism expressed by many of my contemporaries. Our children are ok, but many are dealing with adults that are not well. PERIOD. From now on, if I hear “those worthless kids are always on their phones” I will respond – “People in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones.”

    I most always have technology in my hands – I guess thanks Naval Aviation. I understand the military aviation transition from analog to digital; “bleeding” edge. Technology gives me the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and more and more often, how I want. I am finally simplifying down to one COOL flip phone, a rocking notebook, my Canon M-50, with my new “Exploder” XLT that can handle the technology. I think my toys are cool!

    I love when I find time to write; I am working on writing again using dictation. I am old enough to have had a secretary that took shorthand – why do I need to type, enter data?

    So, I am nearly 68. I work with youth that swear I am lying, that I am 15 years younger. Young at heart. Like hashtags are young at heart, so: #listentothechildren #listeningtothechildren #classof2022 #wewantbarneysbullet #unicornstrong.

    I graduated high school in 1972 – thanks Yogi (I am a Yankees Fan) because it does seem like Deja Vu all over again. Adults seemed absent in 1972, but we are ok. I aim to at least try to support our children.

  6. bud

    A few random thoughts:

    Higher gasoline prices are a good thing. This should speed up the rollout of electric vehicles.
    It’s good to see labor have a little clout. Higher wages are the end result. Big business has for too long has had too much control over the economy.
    I’ve become resigned to the repeal of Roe v Wade. But damn, this law in TX will have negative consequences that go far beyond the important issue of women’s health choices.
    The Republican Party has never been a sensible entity. But they are moving in a scary direction toward a full blown fascist party.
    The so called supply chain issue is an overblown “problem”.
    COVID is still a huge problem. Thousands of Americans are still dying every week. Any public employee refusing to get vaccinated should be dismissed with the words don’t let the door hit your sorry ass on the way out.

    1. Barry

      I agree on the vaccine mandate.

      Republican politicians have done everything they can to make it more difficult but the mandates are largely working fine for many sectors and many companies.

    2. Barry

      I also agree on the electric vehicles but I’m not sure higher gas prices will be needed.

      Almost every car company has stated they will be switching over to electric vehicles in the next 10-15 years. You are going to see a LOT more electric cars on the road in the next 5 years. I’m already seeing quite a few of them when I am out and about.

      My wife and I have already decided our next car will be an electric car. We’ve mentioned this to a few friends and have been surprised that many are considering the same thing.

      If we were in the car market, I’d get an electric car now except I bought my wife a nice SUV about 3 years ago that we like and probably will keep for another 4-5 years. But our next vehicle will be electric.

      What’s more telling is when I talk with my kids. I’ve bought 2 cars for my kids and they have already told me they want an electric car when they buy their first car. It’s like the only option they even care about.

        1. Barry

          That’s fair. However, how much do you drive each day?

          First, I have a company vehicle. But these days I work from home at least 2 days a week- usually Monday and Friday. So if I need to go on a long trip, we just take the company car.

          I actually sat down with my wife and tried to think of times where we’d drive more than 50-60 miles in a day. Neither one of us could come up with an example.

          My wife’s drive to work is 5 miles. 3 days a week she comes straight home. The other 2 days she’ll run a few errands- but these errands total are no more than 10-12 miles at the most. Actually most within 5 miles of her workplace.

          We do travel to the upstate periodically to see family. The totality of the 1 way trip is about 130 miles (this includes stopping for a soda or maybe a slight detour depending on which way we go). All well within the range – with many miles to spare- of any number of electric vehicles.

          A trip to Charleston? Less than 140 miles. Myrtle Beach? 145 miles. Charlotte? 90 miles. These are our normal, routine out of town trip locations- all within easy travel distance of any number of electric cars. All 3 of those locations have numerous charging stations available at any number of locations.

          When we do go, we stay overnight, or if we come back home the same day, we stay for at least 3/4’s of the day- plenty of time to charge up. But again, we only do this 4-5 times a year

          and we still have a gas vehicle at our disposal if needed.

          But there is no reason our daily drive can’t be an electric car.

          I have a friend that lives outside Columbia and drives downtown most work days. It’s a good 20 or so miles one way for him. He tells me he doesn’t even charge up his car every day. He can go a few days between charging up at his home overnight. He normally does charge up though each night. It’s a non issue for him too.

        2. bud

          Still a few issues with electrics. Charge times are coming down and since most charging is done at home at night this is a relatively minor problem. A bigger problem is the scarcity of public charging stations. That makes long trips problematic. For in town driving electrics are just as convenient as gas cars, perhaps more so. But they are still pricey to buy and insure. Will they ultimately prevail or go the way of diesel cars? Time will tell.

        3. Norm Ivey

          I love me some electric transportation. For many years I drove a Global Electric Motorcar (oversized gold cart) back and forth to work, but it was only a mile away. Eagerly awaiting the day my current internal combustion powered vehicle fails so I can justify purchasing electric.

          I still think the design of the Chevy Volt is one of the most affordable and sustainable designs. It’s a hybrid which uses battery power until the battery is drained, and then it switches to a gasoline generator to power the electric drive train. Converting gas to electric to mechanical is much more efficient that converting directly from gas to mechanical. I’ve mentioned it here before. It’s the same technology used by “diesel” train locomotives which are actually diesel-electric hybrids. The diesel powers a generator to produce electricity to drive the wheels. And we’ve been using that technology since the 1930s.

          1. Brad Warthen

            I love me some, too. Or would if I could afford it. Of course, with the infrastructure issues y’all mention, I’d still have to have something gas-powered to transport me when the magic device could not. Which is kind of like my current situation, in a way. I have a 2000 Ford Ranger that I drive most of the time, and a 1998 Volvo as a backup. And they run pretty well, but with vehicles that old, you frequently need a backup. (My wife drives a 2006 Buick — that’s our NEW car.)

            My first job was in high school, as a “groundskeeper” at the golf course at MacDill Air Force Base. Which is not the same as a “greenskeeper,” a higher-skilled position that involved taking care of the golf course itself. I just dealt with the area right around the clubhouse. Trimming hedges and stuff. But I also did things like keeping the canteen/bar clean, and cleaning the locker room, and other odd jobs. For instance, I cleaned General Davis’ clubs for him. You know, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first black general in the Air Force, which continued a family tradition, because his father had been the first black general in the Army. (I’m pretty sure I’ve told y’all about him before. How could I not have? He was an interesting guy…)

            But I digress. My point was to say that possibly my favorite part of the job was helping a greenskeeper take care of the golf carts. This didn’t involve much more than parking them in the shed and plugging them in to recharge — but when you’re a kid that age, driving anything around is fun. I wasn’t that great at it. One time I was playing around tailgating him as he drove another cart into the shed, and I rammed into the rear of his cart when he tapped the brake. He jerked his head around in fury, looked at me and demanded, “What the F__K?!?!?”

            I was horrified at what I had done — I could have hurt the guy, and he was a friend. But at the same time, being a word guy, I found it intriguing: No one had ever used that particular phrase to me before…

  7. Doug Ross

    Joe Biden has remarkably been able in six months to eliminate any and all political advantage Democrats had since he took office. Couldn’t deliver Virginia and made NJ a much closer race than expected.

    Not surprising since he’s been largely absent from public view except for staged events where he reads off teleprompters… he’s been a huge bust on COVID (will end up with close to or more deaths under his watch than Trump). Bungled the Afghanistan exit. Doesn’t have any idea what to do about inflation and supply chain issue…. And the one thing he claimed he could do — work with Congress to get things done — has been nothing but a failure. Can’t rein in the progressives, can’t control Sinema and Manchin… never even attempted to bargain with Republicans. All he’s got is his elderly counterparts Pelosi and Schumer to stumble around pretending they have some power. Democrats have blown the one chance they had for generational change by electing an older Gerald Ford 2.0.

    Democrats may get the two bills passed eventually but they will be D.O.A. with giveaways to rich property owners in blue states to get them back their precious local property tax deductions while giving pennies to all the progressive programs. Typical of a career politician like Biden.

    Get ready for flipping the Senate and House in a year.

    1. Phillip

      Of course he’s gonna end up with more Covid deaths on his watch than Trump: the pandemic only arrived in the US with 10 months to go in Trump’s term, whereas covid will be sticking around to at least some extent (thanks mostly to people in thrall to Trumpism) during all 4 years of Biden’s term. It would be some kind of miracle for there to be fewer Covid deaths during 48 months of a Biden term vs. 10 months of Trump’s remaining term. The real question is how many more people would be dead if Trump had been re-elected instead.

      1. Doug Ross

        Let’s see what the numbers are after one year. Joe made a big deal about getting 70% vaccinated by July 4. That pipe dream disappeared quickly. Now he just does mask theatre for the cameras. He also won’t push unions to mandate vaccines including the postal service. Can’t mess with his base.

        The big question is why we don’t have any cheap rapid testing by now. Trump gets credit for the vaccine being developed in record time (ten months( during his term. What has Biden done in nearly tenth months?

        1. Doug Ross

          As of October 6, there were 353k COVID deaths in 2021 compared to 352k in 2020. Biden took office in late January so by the end of November, more deaths will be on his watch. Maybe pandemics aren’t so easy to control.

          1. bud

            COVID deaths in 2021 are largely the consequence of terrible southern governors like Ron Deathsantis. Florida has passed New York in total COVID deaths. The northeastern states were hammered early on but through competent management of the crises their death tolls have dropped dramatically. The top 2 states are now MS and AL. LA, FL and SC will all be in the top 10 soon. This is absolutely not Joe Biden’s fault.

            1. Doug Ross

              I guess I missed the part where Joe Biden was President of the blue states. Seem to recall Trump getting all the blame for the deaths in New York that could have been prevented by Cuomo. Has anyone sunk further than him in record time? Media darling to Emmy winner to serial groper to incompetent governor…

              I’ll believe Biden is serious about vaccines when he applies the same mandate to every federal employee, government contractor, and union with zero exceptions. Hey, he could also make receiving government benefits like Social Security, Medicare, contingent on proof of vaccination status. Since the elderly are BY FAR at the greatest risk for COVID, that would make the most sense. But that would take some cojones that Joe doesn’t have.

            2. Barry

              Oh goodness, let’s not relive the greatest hits of Trump’s COVID disgraceful boondoggle

              ““You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” Feb 26, 2000 Donald Trump.

              “There isn’t a Coronavirus Second Wave coming.” – June 16, 2020 Mike Pence , right before a 2nd wave of COVID infections.

              1. Brad Warthen

                You know, I’ve lost track of the waves. I’m never sure which one we’re on. For instance, when it started early in 2020, I was already worried about the second wave that I’d heard was likely to come in the fall. And sure enough, we had a tsunami in the fall. But was that the second, third or fourth wave?

                And which one are we on now?

                Of course, I always say this, but this time I have a good case: Why don’t we use words instead of numbers? Instead of saying this is the fourth or fifth or 97th wave, let’s call it the “wave caused by people who refuse to get vaccinated?” That is an aid to understanding, while the numbers are not…

                1. Barry

                  The interesting thing about Trump is we know from Woodward’s interview with him that when he was telling Americans in Feb 2020 that we were “going to zero” cases real soon- he was saying a totally different thing to others.

                  So he was lying. No surprise there.

              2. Doug Ross

                Yeah, nobody (Fauci included) had a clue about COVID. No state had the right answer. Trump at least got a vaccine out during his term. Biden? Not so much. Even his “mandates” were months in the making. What was he waiting for? He literally had more than a year to prepare for day one in office and hasn’t done anything gamechanging.

                We saw governors of states go way too far with the lockdowns, closing schools that never should have been closed, people washing their groceries, wearing masks outside even by themselves… no one ever addressed the hospital bed shortages with any plan,, never heard a word from Fauci about the correlation of obesity and COVID deaths, rarely saw the data that showed it was a disease that mainly severely impacted the elderly and sick.

                It’s too bad people view COVID through a political lens.

  8. Bill

    Concentric Rings in Magnetic Levitation is an hour long composition by Michael Pisaro, written for three musicians playing live and pre-recorded piano, percussion, sine waves, tape machines, various objects and found sounds, and comprised of fourteen interdependently moving layers of musical material. This multifaceted work creates a world within a world, a semblance of a naturally occurring environment within a performance space, in which both aesthetic and emotive sound qualities are elegantly balanced, glacially moving through time.

    1. Ken

      Not bad. Though it’s pretty far out on the minimalistic end of the sound spectrum and sometimes drifts a bit toward New Agey meditational. But there’s a LOT of this sort of music/soundscape stuff available in the ambient/electronic/drone/tape loop/found sound category – by everybody from well-knows like Eno, to lesser-knowns like William Basinski (Disintegration Loops) and countless unknowns like, say, Jeff Sampson.

      Having watched someone disappear into dementia, I found this series of works by English composer Leyland Kirby to be moving. It’s an aural depiction of the debilitation of memory, personality and identity brought about by dementia:

        1. Ken

          Listenable. But these Wandelweiserers stretch sparseness to a whole new level of skimpiness. Not something I’d be likely to listen to more than once. A richer soundscape could be more engaging. Less isn’t always more. Sometimes it’s … just less.

          1. Bill

            You have to learn to focus on the silence, to adjust your listening threshold so that the dark, empty voids become the prime reason to dwell in this place. Concentration is required here and for much of this grand four-disc set Rowe and Tilbury perform in such a manner way beyond any doctrines of music being “…the space between the notes”. Here, the improvising duo have reduced down to the point where they seem to be playing the space itself.

            Enough Still Not To Know comes packaged as a black, impenetrable monolith. You hold this beautifully austere box in your hands and it seems to swallow up the air and light around it, becoming an absence of being yet weighty and dense with heavy vacuum. When you press play on ‘First Part’, you hear creaks and rubs, hisses and very occasional stuttered clusters of piano chords or shortwave fragments of charged electricity. It’s a bit like listening to movements in the shadows, phantom gestures which are hard to decipher and inscrutable in their intentions. But if you start to focus on the silence, then you realise that it is these passages which are the punctuation and marker points and not the direct conversation between Rowe and Tilbury.

            As part of AMM and multiple other improvising collectives of the past fifty years, these two players have worked to such an extent that one can only marvel at the level of expertise in their craft and how they listen and respond to each other. I once saw John Tilbury perform as part of a trio improvising a piece which took no account of the throbbing blare of urban nightlife pounding at the venue walls. Instead it only seemed to make him and his colleagues that evening more determined to reduce every motion to the tiniest detail, like focusing on breathing in a hurricane. We as the audience were welcome to join them in that space, but it was for us as individuals to decide whether to open up to that concentrated microcosm or allow the intrusive rhythm and grind of outside forces to overwhelm us.

            Its much the same listening here. Created in collaboration with visual artist Kjell Bjorgeengen for a video installation, this music was recorded over two days in a London studio. On listening the first few times, you may wish there were concrete visual evidence of what took place during these sessions as the music is initially so difficult to get a handle on. ‘First Part’ is the sparsest of the four discs, rumbles and scrapes which seem barely to exist. Then, Tilbury may suddenly produce a single note of unhesitating deliberation. The swathes of silence only seem to intensify with these rapid escalations which vanish as quickly as they appear. The ear searches for sound as the eye yearns for light, hoping for context in which to place these occurrences. But none is offered beyond what you may or may not hear, each of the four parts coming to an abrupt stop as if indicating that enough has been said for now.

            1. Bobby Amundson

              I spent a magical afternoon at Letchworth State Park (, a “roughly 17 miles long NYS Park, following the course of the Genesee River as it flows north through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls. It is located 35 miles southwest of Rochester and 60 miles southeast of Buffalo.”

              Wish I could share the music of the Upper Falls as the sunsets; I have it on my Canon M-50. Total eclipse in April 2024. I am buying …

            2. Ken

              Thanks for the tips.

              I have a high tolerance for odd music. I was dabbling into Ligeti and computer-generated music by middle school. I’ll listen to just about anything at least once. It doesn’t have to have a beat or a melody to be absorbing. But some of those things will only get one listen. And I certainly will never be found whistling a Schoenberg tune.

              It’s useful to know that this particular work was composed to accompany a video installation. Some pieces stand on their own, while others don’t. Stated another way, they may work as a kind of art installation, but not as works of music.

              With all due respect to John Cage, 4’33” is more a conceptual/sensory experiment than it is music. So, sure, the spaces between notes are important. They help lend structure to a work. But it’s not the pauses in, say, George Crumb’s “A Haunted Landscape” that I’m waiting for. It’s what leaps out at me from the gaps. Saying it’s the spaces between notes are what’s important is sort of like saying it’s the commas, colons, semi-colons or dashes that make Shakespeare great, not all those words. A glass may be beautiful to look at, but until it’s filled it won’t offer much satisfaction to the thirsty.

              Besides, music can be meditational without needing extended periods of silence.

              That being said, there’s definitely value to connecting with the world around us and learning to hear differently. That’ part of why I go hiking.

              1. Bill

                If they only get one listen,there’s no way you’re going to get most difficult music
                Took me an enormous time to get Cecil Taylor’s music but eventually did and it was worth it

                1. Ken

                  Thanks, but I really don’t need lessons in how to listen to and appreciate music. There’ve been instances when I’ve disliked a particular type of music at first but later come back to it as my tastes changed and developed. But I’m not going to force myself to repeatedly sit through something I’m “supposed” to like until I “learn” to like it. I already “get” some music that most people find pretty difficult to stomach.

        2. Phillip

          The funny thing about that record is that it made top ten records of that year lists in both the New Yorker and Boston Globe, which has a certain irony for me because never did I get so much praise for playing so few notes! (Thinking of the many recordings I made that took hundreds of hours of practice and more or less vanished into the vast classical music oblivion)—but of course “complexity” doesn’t equal profundity…Michael is a remarkable composer and that piece does indeed carry a certain power, if —-and this is an essential if—-you stay on the ride for the whole hour.

            1. Brad Warthen

              Anyway, congrats on the well-deserved recognition! Although I confess I wish you had received it for one of the pieces “that took hundreds of hours of practice…”

          1. Bill

            I saw Pisaro w/Stuart , et al , years ago and it was an Incredible concert
            Best I’d seen in Columbia since Duane Allman was alive,
            But nothing could top,Jack Wright(not many wanna take That ride,At All;)

            1. Bobby Amundson

              Saw Duane Allman live in 1973 (4?); almost got crushed like the kids last night. Closing act was ELP; Emerson and the flying piano. I was the Lucky Man; some thought they saw me naked sitting on some boulder. Maybe?


                  1. Bobby Amundson

                    11-11-11 and Veteran’s Day approaches. Think of us who have served and then let’s give Thanks later in the month. That will help me not feel a little bit off today.

            2. Ken

              ‘Fraid neither this one nor the other one above flip any of my switches.

              Some works are fun for the performers, not so much for the audience.

  9. Bill

    “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”

    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

  10. Bobby Amundson

    I hope everyone will listen to President Obama’s speech in Glasgow. He said cynics are too often cowards; I don’t think he softened the statement with “too often” as I did. He said it is ok to be angry; I am. So are many of our children and young adults.

    Cynicism seems to be the opposite of hope. Bill and I have never met, but in some ways we know each other. Music is the commonality. I am discovering new music, appreciating the “raw?” beauty of rural America.

    Young at heart! Listen and listening to the children.

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