30.12.20

LIKE A KIDNEY STONE, 2020 WILL PASS.

Dave Barry's 2020 recap is up, and he's bringing it.
To set the stage: Back in mid-December, the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment, after which Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, handed out souvenir signing pens. Everyone expected that Pelosi would then send the articles to the Senate. But as of early January the Senate has not received them. People are wondering if Pelosi, what with her various official duties and hairdresser appointments, simply forgot to send the articles. Or maybe she tried to send them, but because of a bureaucratic snafu they wound up at a different federal entity, such as the Coast Guard.

Eventually, however, the articles arrive at the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch “The Undertaker” McConnell promises that the impeachment issue will receive full and fair consideration. He is of course joking, but this is not obvious, because even when Mitch is in a jovial mood he looks like a man passing a kidney stone the size of the Hope Diamond.
Who else had "presidential impeachment" as the next-to-the-bottom story of 2020, because the bottom story was ...
In international news, the big story is a U.S. targeted drone strike, ordered by Trump, which kills Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, thereby triggering World War III and forcing the U.S. to reinstate the military draft, at least on Twitter. Iran responds —

this is a good indicator of what kind of year it will be — by shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.
Those were the good times, indeed.  Go, read, enjoy.  See you next year, whenever that is.

HAVE YOURSELF AN ETIOLATED CHRISTMAS.

The usual background music at Cold Spring Shops headquarters during the Festive Season is the Music Choice seasonal rotation, although that sometimes turns into a drinking game: have I heard the whole loop today, or not?

This season, the lineup has turned over, considerably.  Perhaps, as a way of recognizing the younger viewers, it makes sense to draw from the recent efforts of the pop-tarts, although most of those new offerings are about unrequited love, or unfilled requisitions made of Santa Claus.  "Not a single worthwhile song" among them, according to Addison Del Mastro.  Will the current era of "deprivation and tragedy," which is nowhere near the fifteen years of Depression and War, inspire some creative thinking?

Not yet: at least one performer decided that the "turkey and some mistletoe" had to become "holly and some mistletoe" in "The Christmas Song."  Quaking shepherds and redeeming grace are gone from "Silent Night."  Elephants, boats, and kiddie cars don't come to town any more.  (Yes, I've groused about those things before.  I did find a use for a Dixieland cover of "Good King Wenceslas."  Deal with it.)

To make room, a few tunes had to be relegated to the grooveyard of forgotten hits.  "Baby, It's Cold Outside," has gone.  That doesn't surprise me.  Is "Let It Snow" soon to go, with that "Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, Since we've no place to go?"  On the other hand, I don't miss "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" or the Jackson Five cover of "I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus."

But Lou Rawls's "Christmas Is The Time?"  Why, Santa, why?


I suppose "We must not forget those less fortunate than us" would harsh that mellow, wishing after a shiny new convertible.

Also missing: Nat King Cole's "Mrs Santa Claus."


Can't have all that unpaid labor singing a merry, merry Christmas song, can we?

Burl Ives's "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" has also gone missing.


The version he performs leaves out several even grimmer stanzas of the Longfellow poem.

For now, the Ives version of "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" remains in the rotation, although its association with the animated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer might mean that it, too, will be caught up in the latest cultural to-and-froings (is Rudolph about conformity, or about celebrating non-conformity?)  At least I've been spared one of the contemporary re-makes of "Rudolph" in which the reindeer uses his new-found respect to push back: you say you love me, and yesterday you called me names.  (The other deer promise to be nicer next time.)

But why even bother asking Santa for that shiny new convertible?


I've long not been a fan of the automobile-as-Christmas present, and the advertisements have only become more obnoxious over the years.  To the child of Depression babies, a practical present is a toothbrush in your stocking, or a J.C. Penney gift box containing some underclothing, or perhaps a dress shirt a little too large, so the recipient will not outgrow it before next Christmas.

Perhaps what Buick are doing here is validating the singles and solos among their potential buyers, or perhaps it's a sly reference to social distancing, which more than a few people are prone to do even if there's not a shutdown on.  Now if somebody would validate their desire for work-life balance, that would be just fine.

28.12.20

THE ETERNAL HEADACHE.

I'm not a fan of India Pale Ale, nor is The Babylon Bee, and they're back with a report from Hell.
A shocking new report has been released which reveals that Hell does, in fact, serve beer, but unfortunately they only serve super-hoppy IPAs that taste like soap.

Longtime sinner and atheist Erick Bowser, who authored the report, died last week wearing an "I hope they serve beer in Hell" T-shirt. Bowser remained hopeful after his death, but he soon came to realize the only beer they had on draught in Hell was of the IPA variety.

Bowser arrived in Hell last Friday around 8 pm Hell Standard Time. He greeted Satan with a smile, stopped at a casino to make a few bets, and then headed to the nearest bar. Bowser reported that the joint was just like any other bar he'd been to. It smelled of urine, looked like someone had dragged several dead bodies across the floor, and was full of the nastiest kind of people.
Unfortunately, the dearly departed never had a chance to enjoy real beer in life.
"I looked at the tap list and it was really long," Bowser explained. "So naturally I was super excited. I saw Racer 5, Sculpin, Two Hearted, HopDevil, Hopsecutioner, Hop Hunter, and about 14 other beers featuring the word 'hop' in one way or another. But they were all IPAs. EVERY LAST ONE!" Bowser began to cry, but only because he had taken a sip of his Two Hearted Ale. "It was the worst day of my afterlife," he pouted.

Bowser eventually confirmed that every bar in Hell had the exact same beer menu. None of them served Bud Light, Coors, or even Colt 45. He was devastated and completely regretted being an atheist.
At the risk of picking yet another theological fight, if St. Peter has a few kegs of Bud Light or Miller Lite behind the Pearly Gates, can we still truthfully sing "In Heaven, there is no beer?"

THE INSURGENCY COMES TO ILLINOIS.

The rumblings have been there since Hallowe'en.
We’ve lived with and dealt with this virus for almost 8 months. It’s not going away tomorrow and we can’t simply shut everything down and wait for it to burn out. Because that may not happen — ever. (Have you met Influenza? Shingles? The common cold?)

Moreover, given the survival rate, it’s hard to argue with those making the calculus to preserve their livelihoods.
Americans don't get ruled.  That's true in DeKalb itself.
Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant staff wrote in a Tuesday social media post they made the decision to reopen their dining rooms while also implementing extra safety precautions to ensure a safe workplace and dining experience.

“If you’re comfortable, we welcome you to safely sit and dine with us throughout our three dining rooms that we are only keeping at 10% capacity, so everyone has plenty of room to be socially distanced,” staff wrote in the post. “We respect your decision on however you would like to join us and appreciate everyone’s understanding while we do all we can to support our employees.”
We'll be watching. Despite a few recent construction projects downtown, there is a lot of empty retail space in DeKalb, and between Illinois being a tax hell, the demographics crushing Northern Illinois University (the administration there is doubling down on wokeness), and the continued foolish mitigations, it's likely there will be much more space available.

A PHARISEE WITH A CONSCIENCE?

Apparently, house arrest advocate Deborah Birx, M.D., decided that contorting herself to excuse a Thanksgiving outing was something better left to circus acrobats.
Birx said her parents have “become deeply depressed, as I’m sure many elderly have, as they’ve not been able to see their sons, their granddaughters . . . My parents haven’t seen their surviving son for over a year. These are all very difficult things.”

Birx is describing is the state of affairs for just about all families in the U.S. for much of the year. If she thinks it’s okay for her family to gather two households and three generations under one roof, it ought to be okay for everyone else, too. “These are all very difficult things” for every family, not just the Birx family.

Her difficulty grasping why people were so upset left even mild-mannered commentators such as The Blaze’s Leon Wolf fuming.

If Birx had been the first figure to violate the protocols about mixing households, perhaps the public might have shrugged it off after a bad news cycle. But Birx received grief because the public is tired of state and local governments restricting their activities and fed up with governors and mayors who casually violate their own edicts. People have by and large followed the rules and restrictions and edicts for nine months, and they’re now being asked to give up gathering with family for Christmas — and they’re largely ignoring the edicts. Birx ably served her country when America needed her, but her violation of the rules, and insistence that her family deserves an exemption because it’s been such a difficult time, suggest it’s probably the right choice for her to move on to a new chapter in her life.
It's long past time for the shutdown theater to end.

THE ANGEL DID SAY, TO CERTAIN RICH SHEPHERDS?

Because of changes to the Cold Spring Shops cable service, it's no longer possible to watch the Midnight Mass from Rome first and then dip into the Chicago services.  Thus I don't know what sort of sermon points might have been issued by Rome.  Chicago offered a part-virtual, part pre-recorded event with a few live congregants.  But the notion of shepherds as living on the margins of society persists.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep asking the same sorts of questions that got my fourteenth great-grandfather tossed from the Anglican Communion.  Luke 2 starts with a mention of Caesar and the governor of Syria, and the heavenly host appears to shepherds abiding their flocks.  Perhaps I shouldn't tilt with a Cardinal Archbishop, but if the shepherds are indeed tending their flocks, they're wealthy by the standards of the era, and Caesar ought keep an inventory of the sheep along with that tax enrollment.


On the other hand, if the shepherds are early day-serfs, they might not own the sheep, but they'd better be properly compensated to not engage in a little pilferage.  The shepherds might even be Philistines or Egyptians: the text doesn't stipulate that these shepherds are also of the lineage of David.  (But heck, David made the Great Architect of the Universe a shepherd, didn't he?  Isn't the sinner as if a sheep gone astray?)  And did the special smell of the pasture attach to the shepherds, and the shepherds alone?  The social construction of smelling clean is still what, fifteen centuries in the future?

On the other hand, that did give the cardinal an opportunity to tell a story about the current pope, when he was still an examining officer in Argentina.  Apparently, to earn his frock, a novice priest had to care for a lamb that had been rejected by its dam, and as pope and cardinal tell the story, everywhere the novice went, the pasture preceded him by five minutes.  That story adds versimilitude to one Christmas classic, though: Clarence, Angel, Second Class had to earn his wings, and that was something like seventy years in the making.

TOO CLEVER BY HALF.

The evening after Christmas was for working on the railroad, and for some reason the news radio station was covering a pro football game, the Las Vegas (formerly Oakland) Raiders hosting the Miami, this year far from undefeated, Dolphins.  As those games were on pay-per-view television, why not listen in?  The fun came in the final minute.  "The Raiders milked the clock, did not take a touchdown and kicked a field goal with 19 seconds to go to give the defense a chance and it still did not work."

Apparently, the received wisdom in pro football these days is that playing for the final-second field goal is preferable to scoring a touchdown and giving the other team the better part of a minute or more to go for a touchdown, which means having to go the length of the field rather than simply getting into field goal range.  Thus the Raiders, trailing by two after a Dolphin field goal, started with a touchback and just under three minutes to go.  A pass interference by Miami put Oakland, er, Las Vegas, at the Miami 22 with two minutes twenty to play.  The fun began at just under two minutes, when another Miami miscue, this time, lining up in the neutral zone, led to a first and goal at the eight.  The Dolphins were willing to concede the touchdown to get the ball back: Raider runner gives himself up after two yards, Dolphin time out; Raider runner gives himself up after another yard or so, Raider time out; Raider quarterback takes a knee, Raider time out; Daniel Carlson, who had missed an extra point earlier, kicks a field goal, nineteen seconds to play.

The subsequent kickoff was a touchback, then replacement quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard man of all things, completes a long pass to the Raider 41 while a Raider defender is clinging to his face mask (not the Fauci type, the helmet component): ball on Raider 26.  One incomplete pass later, it's Jason Sanders kicking a 44 yard field goal for the win.  Go figure.  There's likely some second guessing in Las Vegas today about not taking the gift touchdown and trusting the defense to protect the goal line.

GOVERNOR PRITZKER TRAILS BY 9,057.

The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts 396,048 infections and 8,279 deaths.
The latest report from Illinois counts 937,909 infections and 17,336 deaths.

Conditions in Illinois are such that a transition to a full reopening is in order.  In the past decade, a quarter million people have packed up and left.  "Maybe losing congressional representation and power will get through to state leaders?"  That rising death toll suggests they're not listening.

23.12.20

MARKING OFF.

The vintage trains are back, in a manner suitable to restrictions on passenger trains.  There's a look at the contemporary trains as well.


The non-derailing feature on those Lionel remote switches was not working dependably enough to showcase them in the video. So it goes when those have mostly been in storage for nearly fifty years.

Thanks to all the people doing genuine work in transportation and logistics delivering Christmas.

Thank you for looking in.  Perhaps there will be more posts between Christmas and the New Year.

THE TASK OF ASSIMILATION AND AMERICANIZATION IS STILL WITH US.

A century ago, here's how the Wise Experts viewed the new arrivals to these United States.
The influx of new immigrants led to apocalyptic predictions about the impending doom awaiting America — foreigners would impose their inferior biology, peculiar religious practices, and substandard ways of living onto this country, lowering an elevated civilization. Many held that they were not white, rather members of a lower biological order. The kinder view held they were simply culturally inferior — dirty, less intelligent, criminal-prone — but could assimilate.

Not being considered white led to new immigrant misery. Economist Robert F. Forester wrote in 1924, “in a country where the distinction between white man and black is intended as a distinction of value … it is no compliment to the Italian to deny him his whiteness, but that actually happens with considerable frequency.”

Greeks, for example, fretted about being mistaken for Puerto Ricans, mulattoes or Mexicans. J.D. Ross, an Alabama politician, dubbed himself the “white man’s candidate” and campaigned on Greek disenfranchisement. In Utah, Greek and Italian copper miners were classified as “nonwhite.” White workers in Steelton, Pennsylvania, refused to take “hunky jobs” — jobs traditionally held by Hungarians — even during the poor economy of 1908, preferring unemployment.
The lot of freedmen and people of Latin American extraction was even worse, which is the story line the essayist pursues.  His story, while accurate, is incomplete.  The War to End All Wars took place.


Morale poster, preserved in Muskegon.

After the War, middle-school age students might have read James W. Foley's "Yanks" in E. C. Hartwell, M.A., M.Pd.'s Story Hour Readings, Sixth Year.
O'Leary, from Chicago, and a first-class fightin' man,
For his father was from Kerry, where the gentle art began:
Sergeant Dennis P. O'Leary, from somewhere on Archie Road,
Dodgin' shells and smellin' powder while the battle ebbed and flowed.

And the captain says: 'O'Leary, from your fightin' company
Pick a dozen fightin' Yankees and come skirmishin' with me;
Pick a dozen fightin' devils, and I know it's you who can.'
And O'Leary, he saluted like a first-class fightin' man.

O'Leary's eye was piercin' and O'Leary's voice was clear:
'Dimitri Georgoupoulos!' And Dimitri answered 'Here!'
Then 'Vladimir Slaminsky! Step three paces to the front,
For we're wantin' you to join us in a little Heinie hunt!'

'Garibaldi Ravioli!' Garibaldi was to share;
And 'Ole Axel Kettleson!' and 'Thomas Scalp-the-Bear!'
Who was Choctaw by inheritance, bred in the blood and bones,
But set down in army records by the name of Thomas Jones.

'Van Winkle Schuyler Stuyvesant!' Van Winkle was a bud
From the ancient tree of Stuyvesant and had it in his blood;
'Don Miguel de Colombo!' Don Miguel's next of kin
Were across the Rio Grande when Don Miguel went in.

'Ulysses Grant O'Sheridan!' Ulysses' sire, you see,
Had been at Appomattox near the famous apple-tree;
And 'Patrick Michael Casey!' Patrick Michael, you can tell,
Was a fightin' man by nature with three fightin' names as well.

'Joe Wheeler Lee!' And Joseph had a pair of fightin' eyes;
And his granddad was a Johnny, as perhaps you might surmise;
Then 'Robert Bruce MacPherson!' And the Yankee squad was done
With 'Isaac Abie Cohen!' once a lightweight champion.

Then O'Leary paced 'em forward and, says he: 'You Yanks, fall in!'
And he marched 'em to the captain. 'Let the skirmishin' begin.'
Says he, 'The Yanks are comin', and you beat 'em if you can!'
And saluted like a soldier and first-class fightin' man!
Not the kind of thing the serious student of symbolism, or the structure of rhyme, would spend a lot of time on.  Some of the references are jarring to contemporary sensibilities, as well, but how many of today's sixth graders can pick up all of the allusions to what was relatively recent history at the time?

The poem comes with one study question, "This is a ballad of the Great War.  It is intended to show that all nationalities are American, and all helped make up our army.  How many nationalities are represented?  List them."  (My sixth grade self would have been tempted to respond, "One, American.")

In the preface, Mr Hartwell has a passage reading, "CITIZENSHIP. This means more than the passing phase of so-called Americanization. It means a genuine love of country, a reverence for our pioneer fathers, a respect for law, order, and truth.  ... If it can help teachers to make clean, upright, and loyal citizens of our great Republic, it will not have been made in vain."

That is not too far from the Undefeated essay's concluding paragraphs.
I believe we will witness a moment of racial triumph in the future, and elation will overwhelm those longing for a racially fair-minded America. The next “whitelash,” however, can only be prevented if whites conclude that joining with nonwhite peoples of similar socioeconomic standing will bring them closer to happiness than seeking to protect white privilege.
To some extent, that's already happening.


I repeat, because repeat I must, "[G]ive these kids an America to buy into, and an America that buys into these kids, and we'll be OK."

CHINA'S ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM BACKFIRES.

Ever since the Wuhan coronavirus started running rampant, the Chinese and Australian governments have been in a slanging match.
China is expected to slap restrictions on other Australian exports on top of beef and barley as it revs up its global campaign to silence those critical of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

China's state-controlled media and trade experts on Wednesday warned that key Australian exports including iron ore and [liquified natural gas] are not immune to the growing trade hostilities between the two countries. The hawkish Global Times newspaper suggested China could buy commodities from other countries such as Brazil.
Because the expression "trading for mutual gain" means just that, Australian pundits calling for calm are making a valid point asking the Poms to cool it.
Calls to boycott Chinese goods and businesses are “downright silly’ and could seriously backfire on Australia as they would have no impact on the Asian powerhouse, experts have said.

China tightened the screws on Australian exporters on Wednesday when lamb was added to a long list of Australian products sanctioned by Beijing, with cotton expected to be next.

In response, residents and businesses began to discuss boycotting Chinese-made products, in calls that have only grown louder.

But University of Sydney Business School professor Hans Hendrischke says Australia is a small trading partner and no boycott could harm China – it could only harm us.
The sting is in the tail.
“Otherwise, it would have no economic impact on China because there is total asymmetry, they being our primary client … and we are one of their global clients, and a small one for that matter, for all the standard goods they export across the world.

“If we bought less Chinese goods it wouldn’t make a difference because of the lack of balance … because we are totally exposed.”
China is a "primary client," as the professor has it, for Australia's coal, and they'd better hope Santa Claus has been keeping track of just how naughty the Chinese government has been.  " Millions of Chinese are suffering severe power supply problems, brownouts and blackouts. According to media reports the problems have been caused by fuel shortages, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s embargo of Australian coal imports."  So it goes when a warlord attempts to save face.
In 2018 Northern China suffered severe heating shortages in the middle of a bitterly cold winter, thanks to Xi Jinping decreeing that everyone should switch from coal to natural gas. Nobody checked whether there were sufficient gas supplies to service the converted heating appliances.
Technocracy is always like that.  But Australian coal capitalists, or is it Australian environmental criminals, are being taught a lesson.

COMMON SENSE REPUBLICANS IN ILLINOIS.

Rick Moran's representative in Congress is mine.
Despite [president Donald] Trump’s popularity in his district — he beat [Joe} Biden by 16 points — [Adam] Kinzinger cruised to winning his 6th term by getting 64 percent of the vote.

Kinzinger opposed most of Trump’s challenges to the election, telling the president “Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue.” But recently, Kinzinger looked beyond Trump at what the Republican Party could be in opposing Joe Biden and the Democrats.

“We have two different directions to go as Republicans,” Kinzinger said in an interview. “And I’m on the direction of, let’s get back to our roots and explain what conservatism is, so we can actually win the generation we’re gonna need to stay relevant.”

Despite rumors of Kinzinger contemplating taking on Senator Tammy Duckworth or Governor J.B. Pritzker, he insists he has no designs on higher office.
Mr Moran lives in Algonquin, to the northeast, and Cold Spring Shops headquarters are on the southwest side of DeKalb.  Part of DeKalb is in a different congressional district, in which incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood narrowly defeated dairyman Jim Oberweis, a perennial candidate who experimented with a Trumpian schtick before Trump.  Thinking like a politician gerrymandering congressional districts has always been beyond my capabilities.

Perhaps, though, keeping a sensible sort of Republicanism in my district has its own rewards.  Recall how the attempt to impeach and remove Bill Clinton because of a sex scandal backfired on then speaker Newt Gingrich?  His successor as speaker was J. Dennis Hastert, who seemed like a sensible sort of Republican who did the usual Washington pork-barrelling thing seemingly to the benefit of Northern Illinois University, until the proverbial pictures of a wrestling coach with little boys came to light.

If we can have the influence, and the development of a new generation of pragmatists, without the scandal, let it be so.

21.12.20

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

The clouds parted long enough last night to provide a good look at Jupiter aligned with Saturn.


That's to show the houses across the pond all blinged out.  Here's a closer look.


I'll let others argue over whether a conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, or Jupiter with Venus, or Jupiter aligning with Mars, is the Bethlehem Star.  Or maybe it was Jupiter in Aries, and the hippies messed it up and thought Aries was Ares.

It's clouding over to the west of Cold Spring Shops headquarters right now.  So much for the occultation itself.

NO HONEYMOON FOR THE COOT.

Norman Solomon's reasons.  "On the verge of 2021, populist anger and despair are unabated. And, as economic disasters worsen at macro and individual levels, more widespread populist rage is predictable. Only progressive populism offers an appealing alternative to the toxic pseudo-populism of the Trumpist Republican Party."  Find that common cause, Militant Normals.

ADVANTAGE, CHEVROLET.

The federal government's terminally blinkered senior public health officials are at it again.  First, Anthony "Schnickel Fritz" Fauci, M.D. urged people to be cautious about gathering for Christmas.  "You don’t have to cancel Christmas this year — just keep gatherings small, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday."  It's not about "cancelling Christmas," but it sure looks like "cancelling Christmas."
He encouraged people to “stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household.”

“This cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we’re already in a very difficult situation, and we’re going to make it worse, if we don’t do something about it,” he added
That might be, although it's hard to square all this talk about travel causing infections with continuing mass-casualty events in the rest homes.  It isn't helping, either, when his colleague, Deborah "Scarf Queen" Birx, M.D., is twisting herself into all sorts of pretzels over ... venturing out to prepare a dacha for sale.  First, there was a large family gathering at the dacha.
The day after Thanksgiving, she traveled to one of her vacation properties on Fenwick Island in Delaware. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. Birx, her husband Paige Reffe, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were present.
"One of her vacation properties."  Political economy of Democrat lockdowns, anyone?  Then comes the rationalization.
She insisted the purpose of the roughly 50-hour visit was to deal with the winterization of the property before a potential sale — something she says she previously hadn't had time to do because of her busy schedule.

“I did not go to Delaware for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving,” Birx said in her statement, adding that her family shared a meal together while in Delaware.

Birx said that everyone on her Delaware trip belongs to her “immediate household," even as she acknowledged they live in two different homes. She initially called the Potomac home a “3 generation household (formerly 4 generations).”
Busy schedule. That's rich.

I've seen the following Chevrolet commercial multiple times, particularly during the football games.


Note, "Wherever you go this holiday." Not "If you go."  Just go.

A Town Hall columnist is more forceful.
I'd rather risk the astronomically low risk of death from COVID-19 and see my children for Christmas than risk the misery, loneliness and depression that comes from isolation and lockdowns.

That's the missing ingredient Fauci doesn't get. American patriots like me love running our businesses. We love God. We love family. We love Christmas. And we love freedom and personal responsibility. All of that is so important to us we'd rather risk illness, or a tiny risk of death, than close our businesses, stop working, give up our freedom or cancel holidays with our families.
That's the tame part.

I suspect, though, that Festive Season travel will be close to regular volumes, and from Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific.

GIVEN THE CHOICE, I THINK I'D TAKE THE SEASICK CROCODILE.

It's the Festive Season, which means time for assorted malcontents to air their grievances.  You can count on sources like Huffington Post to provide a forum.  "The world is thwarting my efforts to create a space for my daughter where people of color are front and center."  What's her gripe?
Last year, at age 4, my daughter was indignant when we brought out the brown Santa we’d had since her first Christmas.

“Santa is white,” she insisted, amazed at our ignorance and our refusal to acknowledge such a clear truth.

“Why do you think Santa is white?” I asked.

“Because he
is,” she answered. For weeks, she pointed out examples of white Santas, from the movie “The Polar Express” to the local sit-on-Santa’s-lap events. “See?” she’d say petulantly. “I told you Santa is white.”

My wife and I are devoted to surrounding our daughter with positive images of brown and Black people. My wife is a sociologist, and I’m a onetime literary historian. She’s Black and Jewish, and I’m Puerto Rican and Irish. Our daughter is Native American and African American. Professionally and personally, we know something about race in the U.S., and have read extensively about the best way to help our kid deal with racism.
If that's the best this power couple can come up with, that kid is in for a rough time. Santa Claus has plenty of helpers, and here's one who deserves a shout-out.
By day, Titus Hopper earns respect as a school principal. But on weekends during the holiday season, he transforms into someone much more magical.

With his bright red robes and a gleaming gold title belt, Hopper has, for the last two years, turned himself into Hop, the Black Santa Claus. He wants to share a ho-ho-ho and a Merry Christmas with as many young people as he can this time of year."There is a diversity in how people like to celebrate Christmas. But no matter how you celebrate, everybody believes in happiness and smiles, and happiness and smiles are what is needed this year," said Hopper, principal of fifth- and sixth-graders at Shelby Intermediate School.

Hopper began playing Hop in 2019. Well before the Christmas season, he and his wife Michelle attended a photoshoot aimed at raising awareness for child loss and infertility. While at the shoot, Hopper said photographer Charmeika Bias saw his bushy white beard and asked him if he'd like to be Santa.
Good. Does anybody know the complexion of Bishop Nicholas of Myra, anyway?  But somebody has to write the annual sermon to the woke about those evil department stores.
Still, American cultural institutions are slowly defeating us. Despite recent corporate pledges to the idea that Black lives matter, simple changes like better representation of diversity on store shelves haven’t happened.

More than 65 years after the Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education made the “doll test” famous, I still can’t walk into a superstore and find BIPOC really represented in toys.

My daughter’s instance on Santa’s whiteness is disturbing for what it represents: that the world is thwarting my efforts to create a space for my daughter where people of color are front and center. Our culture continues to insist that BIPOC are secondary ― and, all too often, completely invisible.

It’s not just Santa. When we go to the store to buy a Chelsea doll, we can only find the white, blonde version. The Polly Pocket toys on the shelf come with the two white characters included; their Black friend Shani is available only in a jungle-themed house. Shopping is painful year-round, but especially during the holiday season.
How sad it is to be that adoptive toddler, she's getting termites in her soul from her two mommies.  Maybe she'll figure out how to type "Black Santa" into a search engine.

THE QUARANTINES HAVE SERVED THEIR PURPOSE.

Milwaukee sports pundit Greg Matzek thinks it's silly to stage a college football playoff game in an empty stadium.
If Los Angeles county won’t allow spectators at sporting events, the event should be moved to a stadium in a state that will. Instead of hoping COVID restrictions are eased, the college football playoff committee should force the action.

In many cases, players have been on campus since June with limited ability to interact face-to-face with family. Players will not be allowed to travel home for Christmas.

What sense does it make loading a plane full of kids and flying them out to California to play in an empty stadium. None. Especially considering the other semi-final location, New Orleans, will have fans in attendance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Rose Bowl…from Las Vegas.
Close.  "In another by-product of wrongheadedness by (likely) these same, public health officials, news broke late Saturday night that the iconic Rose Bowl would not be held in Pasadena…nor anywhere in the Golden State this year. It’s instead moving east to Texas."

Good.  Now to persuade the exiles from California not to bring their stupid politics with them.

The college playoff this year is ... strange.  Notre Dame might get to play a third game with Clemson, and Ohio State got in on a technicality.

THE HUMORLESS, PETTIFOGGING PENCIL-NECK PLAYACTING AT BEING WISCONSIN'S GOVERNOR.

That's lockdown disaster Tony Evers (D-Public Instruction), who in ordinary times must appease his pagan base by referring to a decorated tree in the Capitol rotunda as a holiday tree.  This year, he used his own lockdowns as an excuse to not put up a tree, as the children who would contribute decorations were confined to quarters.  Assembly Republicans have set up not one, but two, trees.  The pettifogging pencil-neck had them both removed.  It would be funny were it not so sad.  James Wigderson's article came out after the first tree was removed.  "After this was written, Governor Tony Evers took down the Christmas tree again. If only he would show this much efficiency in getting people their unemployment benefits."  We have dependable therapeutics for many people, and two, maybe three, vaccines in circulation.  These humorless governors playing at dictator deserve to be undermined with mockery.  Like this.  "After that, we presume he fired Bob Cratchit from the Department of Workforce Development Unemployment Benefits call center and told Tiny Tim there is no Santa Claus." The pencil-neck is up for re-election in 2022. Turf him out.

EVERYBODY IN WISCONSIN KNOWS WHAT THE STANDARD IS.

Yup.  "Aaron Rodgers may be the league MVP, but to win in December and January at Lambeau Field may still mean channeling the Lombardi team."  Yes, new coach Matt LaFleur is at 23 wins to six losses, and two straight division championships, and there is unfinished business.

GOVERNOR PRITZKER TRAILS BY 8,414.

The geographic area and population of Illinois are both similar to those in Sweden, and there are similarities of the Chicago and Stockholm metropolitan areas.  But  Springfield politicians are hazardous to your health.  Governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) continues to micromanage and destroy local businesses.

A service called Worldometers has been keeping track of coronavirus infections and deaths, disaggregated in a number of ways.

The latest report from Sweden counts 367,120 infections and 7,993 deaths.
The latest report from Illinois counts 900,370 infections and 16,407 deaths.

Conditions in Illinois are such that a transition to a full reopening is in order.  Certainly, the performance of the unemployment insurance offices (who are tasked with getting the payroll protection payments to furloughed employees) has been terrible.  "These unemployed workers must demand more from the state or get rid of the officials who created this disaster."


20.12.20

IV. ADVENT.

The first Festive Season at Cold Spring Shops's current headquarters.


There will be a video, in a similar theme, in the next few days.  The meditation from last year is more relevant than ever.  "What lessons do the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin provide about the nature of the permanent government, or the deep state if you will?"  They might have culled all the two-year-olds to eliminate a prophet, but would they have quarantined the healthy?

DEAD RAIL COMES TO THE SEA WALL?

There is enough of the route of the Cornish Riviera electrified for Hitachi and Eversholt Rail to roll out a tri-power long-distance passenger train.
The 36 longer, faster trains – with their iconic sleek design – have already transformed journeys for passengers in south west England, since their introduction by GWR in August 2018. Now the partnership between Hitachi, the train builder and maintainer, and Eversholt Rail, the trains’ owner, will develop a plan to install batteries on a modern Intercity Express Train. The trial will demonstrate that the innovation meets passenger service and safety standards.

The line between the South West and London is only partially electrified, with the majority of the 300 mile journey requiring diesel power. The partnership is looking at batteries replacing a diesel engine as a power source on an existing Hitachi-built five-carriage train – currently known as a bi-mode for its ability to switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power.

Adding a battery creates an electric-diesel-battery hybrid train (tri-mode). On non-electrified sections of the route, the batteries will supplement the power of the engines to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions by more than 20%. Whereas when travelling in and out of stations and surrounding urban areas, the train would rely on battery power only. This has the benefit of improving air quality and dramatically reduce noise levels, creating a more pleasant environment for passengers and people living nearby.

[Great Western's] Intercity Express Train fleet currently calls at 15 non-electrified stations on its journey between Penzance and London, all of which could benefit from trains running on battery-only power.
That will mean the end of the Inter City 125 diesel trains (that Elton John sang about?) which went into service before there was an Amfleet. These successors will probably have to run on diesel into Cornwall.  They do have enough range to go to and from Oxford on batteries.

It's been going on ninety years since the idea of a tri-power locomotive hit the rails.  Battery capacity has always been a constraint, particularly in heavy switching or freight service.  The idea of wireless latter-day interurbans going beyond the catenary (as Milwaukee's Hop does along its route in places) appeals.  But if one of the features of these trains is a quiet arrival and departure from the station, won't it be wise to equip them with bells?

REALITY IS SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE.

I created the "process worship" classification for posts mostly to mock people who were so obsessed with formalities that they neglected reality. "It may take the failure of one or more of the New Deal or Great Society or Hope and Change constructions to trigger the emergence."  That's long before anybody expected quarantining the healthy in order to ... who knows what?

That's not the same thing, though, as treating all formal procedure as an irritant.  Here's Kevin Williamson, with that clarity.
Our systemic stability has relied upon the patriotism and prudence of state and local officials, state courts, the federal courts, and the Supreme Court, including the three justices appointed by Trump, none of whom would take up his fantastical nonsense.

Republicans are not alone in this. The Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump, a project that preceded its pretext, was very much of a piece with Trump’s refusal to concede his defeat. The formal rules allowed for the Democrats to do what they did, but their actions were destructive, cynical, and self-serving nonetheless. That mad crusade, too, ultimately was contained by constitutional process.
Problem is, the more material I get to mock, the more material to mock I will have.
In the end, it will be impossible to maintain a rules-based civil order if Americans do not believe the rules to be legitimate or feel bound by them. We are in need of refreshing the habits of citizenship, without which we will in the end cease being citizens and become subjects.
Deconstruct that at your peril.

THE AXE REMAINS IN MADISON.

The powers-that-be of the Big Ten decided to allow a few of the rivalry games that had not been played account fears of the Wuhan coronavirus to be played, only after the conference title game.  That scheduling preserved the conference title games in the order the cartel approved, with the expectation that the couch potatoes would tune in Clemson - Notre Dame in preference to the longest running college football rivalry.  Hard pass.  The Axe game ought to be the last regular season game.


Associated Press photograph by Andy Manis, retrieved from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Note that the axe itself is violating social distancing protocols.  When I wrote about it being quarantined in Madison, I was not aware that Officialdom Itself had issued a ukase keeping the trophy cases off limits to slow the spread.  Fortunately, an enterprising Badger decided that some traditions had more force than ukases.

Wisconsin have continued a recent streak of securing the Axe.  The overall series, though, is very close.

19.12.20

SCHNITZELBANK ALONG WITH MITCH.

Mitch Miller's rendition of "Must Be Santa" is in the form of ein Schnitzelbank, even if the words and objects are all in English.


Therefore, we can continue our Karneval countdown in a seasonably suitable manner.

Frohe Weihnachten, Prosit!

SEASONAL RAILROAD READING.

It's time for the seasonal movies of the American High to return to television, preferably in black and white; twenty-inch cathode ray tube television optional.  One of those is White Christmas, which is a reunion of the men who won the War.  There's a bit of train riding involved.
Soon Rosemary and Vera join them for a nightcap, everyone breaking into the song “Snow,” accompanied by Kaye’s rhythmic “choo-choo” sounds. It’s corny, but these people know how to sing close, jazzy harmonies. And you can’t do better than composer Irving Berlin.

At this point a couple of establishing scenes appear, and they’re both howlers. You probably know them: the evening train out of Florida is played by a Santa Fe San Diegan racing down the California coast (the Pacific Ocean standing in for the Atlantic), and the morning arrival in Vermont by a Southern Pacific train in the mountains. Director Michael Curtiz hardly could have chosen scenes that were more wrong.
The use of California passenger trains is common in movies: although a lot of the North by Northwest train action took place on the New York Central, and the most dramatic parts of It Happened to Jane took place on the New Haven (standing in for Cape Ann, Maine; anything can happen in a cartoon, and there was a steam locomotive and some fallow track available in Connecticut) in both pictures Southern Pacific get into the act, if you know where to look.

To ferroequinologist Kevin Keefe, though, working out a real-life American High itinerary is all in the spirit of train rides past.
I decided the nightclub scene at Novello’s unfolded on Florida’s east coast, always a draw for New Yorkers, so I’m going with Hollywood (what else?), a beach town 17 miles north of Miami. That gave me two railroads to choose from, either Seaboard Air Line or Atlantic Coast Line.

I went with ACL and its train 76, the Havana Special, an evening run out of Miami over Florida East Coast that stopped at Hollywood at 10:28 p.m., just about the time our stars got on the train to head north. Under normal circumstances, Bing and company might have chosen ACL’s more prestigious East Coast Champion, but its daytime carding out of Miami doesn’t jibe with what happens onscreen. Same thing with SAL’s Silver Meteor, whose northbound schedule wouldn’t allow the connection I want in New York for Vermont.
Back in the day, the Seaboard trains called inland, where the Amtrak service and Miami's commuter trains run today, whilst the Coast Line trains were on Florida East Coast, current home to the Brightline trains (if the rest of Florida is generally under sensible quarantine, why aren't those trains running?)  Seaboard Coast Line, now an operating unit of CSX Transportation, is a merger of those two carriers.

There's a bit more in the article about how the movie is still a cartoon.  Noting that the lounge car came on at Jacksonville in the wee hours is too much humbug for Christmas week.  Then you've got a problem getting through Manhattan.
The beautiful thing about using the Havana Special is that, assuming it ran on time, you could make a convenient connection via taxi with Central Vermont train 66-77, departing Grand Central at 8:30 a.m. on a New Haven-Boston & Maine routing to meet train 307, the Ambassador, a joint operation with B&M, at White River Junction, Vt. In 1954, steam still ruled CV passenger service, so I’d like to think our stars might have taken a moment to use the stop at White River Junction to check out the big 4-8-2 being coupled to their train before departing at 3:20 p.m.
Problem is, our heroes are being roused from their sleeper on a Vermont morning, and the premise of the movie is they're all short on funds, which rules out overnighting in New York and riding the Montrealer (or the Mount Royal, if you really want to have some fun, although that had come off by 1954) onward.  Anything can happen in a cartoon.  Unfortunately, getting there by rail is no longer the possibility it once was.  "But the movie is a reminder of how passenger trains remained a part of daily life in 1954." 

WE ARE NOT INCOMPETENT CHILDREN.

Alyssa Ahlgren (via Power Line) offers wisdom for a time of official foolishness.  "False binaries are the death of reason and the death of discussion." They are also particularly popular with power-grabbing politicians.  "If the government is allowed to use every single increased risk factor as an excuse to grab power, we will no longer live in a country based on principles of freedom."  There was a lot of public disregard of the 55 mph speed limit, and a lot of law enforcement not enforcing it too seriously, before Congress finally took that mandate away.  So let it be with the ukases of dictatorial governors.

18.12.20

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE.

One week until Christmas.


Enjoy.

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEMOCRAT LOCKDOWNS.

The following illustration comes close to capturing it.

Yes, the comparison is with socialism, Venezuelan style, and yet, there is enough of these contrasts in the social distancing with Chinese characteristics we've been subjected to for nine months.

The upper panel might have -- I downloaded this image in August 2019, long before anyone even contemplated a pandemic for Christmas -- had the welfare-dependent boroughs of the big cities of the United States in mind.  Last night, Mike "Dirty Jobs" Rowe made an on-point observation: "Non-essential is today's Deplorable."  Thus, owners and employees of enterprises the dictatorial governors deemed non-essential get to experience the same reality as the hard-core welfare dependents, even though the responses of those populations to being shut down is different.  It's also possible, as Jeffrey Tucker suggests, that the nachalstvo are treating the essential workers as human shields.  "We are hurling ourselves in fits and starts toward a new system of castes, created in the name of disease mitigation."

That's hyperbolic, but trust the science.
Some people or most people have to take the risk of getting sick and acquiring immunity in order to move a virus from the status of epidemic or pandemic to become endemic; that is, predictably manageable. By the time the pathogen reaches the ruling class, it becomes less life-threatening. The lower classes in this system operate as the tonsils or kidneys in the human body: taking on the disease to protect the rest of the body and finally to expel it.
The lockdown theater? Eleanor Roosevelt rolling bandages.
The ruling class designated the working classes and the poor as the groups that would need to get out there, work in the factories, warehouses, fields, and packing plants, and to deliver our groceries and supplies to our front door. We called these people “essential” but we really meant: they will build immunity for us while we wait in our apartments and hide from the disease until the infection rate falls and it is safe for us to go out.

As an homage to the new unclean, and in consideration of the nice things they are doing for us, we will pretend to participate in their plight through perfunctory performances of disease mitigation. We will dress down. We will avoid revelry. And we will wear a mask in public. Very conveniently for the professional class, these little performances are also consistent with the underlying motivation of staying away from the bug and letting others grapple with gaining immunity.

The poor and the working class are the new unclean, while the professional class enjoys the luxury of waiting the pandemic out, interacting only with disease-free laptops. The Zoom call is the 21st century equivalent of the manor estate on the hill, a way to interact with others while avoiding the virus to which the people who keep the goods and services flowing must necessarily be exposed. These attitudes and behaviors are elitist and ultimately selfish, even vicious.
Thus the bottom panel.  "Only Democrats can take the best economy in American history, turning it into the worst poverty in decades."

But the lockdowns, and the presidential election that followed, failed to demoralize the Deplorables.
The machinations worked, but at a high price: According to a McLaughlin poll, enough Joe Biden voters say they would have changed their votes had they known of the Hunter Biden scandal that they would have produced a solid Trump win. The impression of tech-media-corporate underhandedness will long endure.

So the Deplorables are still around, and they’re still angry. And as long as they’re still around, and still angry, the Democrats can’t actually get what they want.

Trump was elected, remember, because in 2016, the elites had ­already lost their mojo. In the mid-20th century, elites brought us antibiotics, jet planes and trips to the moon. In more recent years, they’ve brought us failed wars, a failed health care reform with a lousy nonfunctioning website and economic policies that benefited the rich at the expense of the middle and working classes.
Social distancing with Chinese characteristics, ditto.  "The fun is going to be in the populists of left and right finding common causes."

A QUARTER MILLENNIUM OF BEETHOVEN.

The shutdowns put a stop to the Avalon Quartet's live performances of the entire quartet cycle, with premieres of new bagatelles they commissioned for the occasion.  Perhaps we will have an opportunity to resume in-person listening sometime this decade.  Instead of writing blog posts, your Superintendent spun a few platters (OK, CDs and tapes, sue me) and relaxed.

There's nothing like a milestone birthday, though, to bring out the silly.  Start with Vox (of course) complaining about how more challenging music meant talking during the concert was O.U.T.  As Anna Russell used to crack wise, "I'm NOT making this up, you know."
The Fifth’s four-note opening theme occurs and recurs in variations throughout the symphony, slowly shifting from minor to major keys and mirroring Beethoven’s experience with deafness. The Fifth’s creative rule-breaking — subverting the classical sonata form in the first movement, for example — requires close listening to fully grasp.

In Mozart’s day, each movement in a symphony was self-contained, like a collection of short stories. Beethoven’s Fifth acted more like a novel, asking audiences to follow a single story that unfolded over an entire four-movement symphony. New norms of concert behavior developed in turn. Sitzfleisch, or “sitting still,” became the ultimate desideratum for showing one’s understanding of the new language of classical music. Over time, these norms crystallized into a set of etiquette rules (e.g., “don’t clap mid-piece”) to enhance the new listening experience.
Pedant's note: perhaps it was Beethoven's deafness that made it easier for him to subvert the dominant paradigm.  He was also born too soon.  More powerful instruments led to a different set of norms, e.g. "clap at the end of each riff" in jazz or rock, with those electric guitars.  Just more grist for the critical studies mill.
Though concert etiquette that evolved in response to the Fifth may have had the goal of venerating the music, it can also act as a source of gatekeeping. “Polite society” first emerged as a set of cultural standards developed during the mid-18th century as bourgeois class signifiers. In Beethoven’s time, new social etiquette extended into the concert hall.

Today, some aspects of classical culture are still about policing who’s in and who’s out. When you walk into a standard concert hall, there’s an established set of conventions and etiquette (“don’t cough!”; “don’t cheer!”; “dress appropriately!”) that can feel as much about demonstrating belonging as appreciating the music.
Institutions evolve to conserve on transaction costs, what's the big deal?
[Modern audiences (the nyekulturny among them: scroll through)] want more Beethoven and the other great white European composers, like Brahms and Mahler, who followed in his footsteps because they love it.

Indeed, without these white male immortals, orchestras like the NY Philharmonic, which were already struggling before the COVID shutdowns, would have even more trouble filling seats.

The attempt to cancel Beethoven ought to be a wake-up call for the music world and even those who aren’t classical fans: The war on Western civilization will leave nothing sacred untouched. If Beethoven can be canceled, nothing is safe.
Did you know, dear reader, that even saying Beethoven, without specifying that it's Ludwig Van, is also oppressive?
The habitual, two-tiered way we talk about classical composers is ubiquitous. For instance, coverage of an early October livestream by the Louisville Orchestra praised the ensemble’s performance of a “Beethoven” symphony, and the debut of a composition memorializing Breonna Taylor by “Davóne Tines” and “Igee Dieudonné.” But ubiquity doesn’t make something right. It’s time we paid attention to the inequity inherent in how we talk about composers, and it’s time for the divided naming convention to change.
The essay offers a useful suggestion, namely, that there are composers other than those in the standard repertoire who make use of standard compositional techniques (phrases, sequences, what have you.)  Fine, fair enough, but musicologists really ought to learn some price theory.  "Mouthfuls of full names became truncated to terse sets of universally recognized syllables: Mozart. Beethoven. Bach."  Whatever.  One might as well drill people to understand that the proper mononym is Leonardo, not da Vinci.  Do we retrospectively have to edit all the Peanuts strips with Schroeder, too?

Finally, Micah Mattix found some recommended reading about Beethoven, er, Ludwig Van.  (If you're having Clockwork Orange flashbacks right about now, good.)

Just insert a tape or disk or drop the needle or stream and give thanks we have the music.

MODEL RAILROADING IS FUN.

Sometimes, you can create in miniature something that never quite made it to the rails.


Well, hey, why not?  Makes me humble about my model-building skills, as this craftsman built ten of these, which were based off plans for a concept locomotive in a project that got far enough along for a Chesapeake and Ohio Kanawha to be put back into steam hauling coal trains in early 1985.  (Short back-story: dependence on foreign oil was still a thing we were supposed to Care About.)  In the past twenty years, I have been working on one model of another concept locomotive that probably shouldn't have been built.

That HO-scale model has been sold.  But as I peruse the advertisement, I see an O Scale Boston and Maine P-2 on offer ...

IT'S A SHAME THAT SOMEBODY HAS TO POINT THIS OUT.

A professor from an immigrant family has had enough with the question-begging of the Diversity Weenies at the University of Calgary.
Since Critical Race Theory and its myriad offshoots are based on the claim that racism is like an invisible gas that surrounds us—all the more pernicious for it being undetectable to all but expert anti-racists—its precepts are unfalsifiable. Amazingly, this is happening at a university whose scholars purport to honour the scientific method.
He notes that the behavior of the university's administrators, who are terminally stupid people, is that being terminally stupid in a woke way is a good career move.  Shout hurrah, clap your hands.

17.12.20

LET'S HOPE LIFE IMITATES ART.

Ed Schuster's flagship store building still stands, if no longer as a department store.  There's money available in Milwaukee (some of it coming from a recent pooling of resources by the Most Valuable Player wealthy Brewers, Bucks and Packers) to convert the building into a business incubator with housing upstairs where the bedding and toy departments once were.

All of that might be good news for residents of the North Side, uphill from Schlitz where Historic Third Street becomes the Martin Luther King Boulevard.  What I want to focus on is the architect's rendering.

Engberg Anderson rendering retrieved from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Note, please, the streetcar.  That Schusters was not the Schusters where the streetcar bends the corner around, rather it was near where the 20-North car line crossed the 19 cross country (which once ran from near Shorewood to the exurbs of West Allis) car line.  Never mind that:  first let's restore a few of the car lines.  We can talk about the Christmas parade train another day.

IT IS TIME TO LIFT THE LOCKDOWNS IN ILLINOIS.

Here is a chart illustrating the various phases of closure or reopening that dictatorial governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Florida) imposed on Illinois during the early spread of Wuhan coronavirus.


As of today, all eleven regions of Illinois are subject to Tier 3 mitigations, which are regulatory takings destroying eateries in DeKalb and around the state.  "A Chili’s on one corner, with a T.G.I. Friday’s or an Applebee’s on the others, and a Walgreen’s for your medicine nearby, just like those see-one-see-'em-all corners in the boring lands outside Chicago."

Look closely at that chart, dear reader.  The first vaccine is being administered in Illinois.  The second vaccine is likely to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration tomorrow.  There are plenty of ventilators and a number of new therapies are available for people suffering frank symptoms.

It is therefore the governor's responsibility to issue a new statement, envisioning the transition to Phase 5 within two months or so.  If the governor does not do so, it is the responsibility of the state legislature to go into session and enact such a plan, preferably by a veto-proof margin.  If the governor fails to comply, it is the responsibility of the state legislature to impeach and remove J. B. Pritzker.  All Rod Blagojevich did was attempt to sell Barack Obama's senate seat.  No bars or restaurants were harmed in that transaction, nor were any Obama loyalists driven to suicide, or to overdosing on Chinese opioids.

CALLS FOR VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY COME FROM THE LEFT.

It has long been a complaint of traditional conservatives and militant Normals that the reification of diversity by ascriptive categories in higher education tends to reduce viewpoint diversity and reduce the learning that goes on.

Incoming president(*) Joe Biden has been ticking all the diversity boxes as he identifies future department secretaries.  Here's how Eric London characterizes those appointments.  "Joe Biden’s cabinet: A rainbow coalition of imperialist reaction"  That's on the World Socialist Web Site, where traditional Bolshevik jargon, rather than coastal elite woke-speak is the order of the day.
The corporate media and Democratic Party are celebrating Joe Biden’s incoming cabinet as “the most diverse in US history,” proclaiming that the appointment of women, African Americans and Latinos to key cabinet positions is a sign of tremendous social progress.

In reality, Biden’s rainbow coalition of imperialist reaction encapsulates and exposes the right-wing essence of identity politics.

Nowhere is the excitement more palpable than in the editorial offices of the New York Times, a leading proponent of racial and gender politics, which gushed that the president-elect has “signaled his intention to draw from a diverse cross section of America in building his cabinet.”

The Times writes: “Unlike President Trump’s cabinet, which is more white and male than any in nearly 40 years, Mr. Biden’s list of likely top advisers promises to reflect 21st-century sensibilities.” It cites statements by Biden aides claiming the incoming cabinet “will look like America.”

Whatever the skin color of the cabinet members, the Biden administration will not think like America. The population is demanding massive social change to address the deadly pandemic and unprecedented levels of inequality and social desperation.
Common Dreams participants are less obligated to hew to the Trotskyist line of the day, and yet, they are making similar claims.  Here's Brett Wilkins, yesterday.
"As the Biden administration takes shape, the Beltway insider consensus is that the path to achieving bipartisanship runs through installing corporate-friendly officials in key posts," said David Segal, the progressive Rhode Island politician who in 2010 founded Demand Progress with the late hacktivist Aaron Swartz.

"But our polling shows what is common sense outside of the Beltway," Segal added. "The D.C. insiders are dead wrong. People across party lines want an administration that is run by people who care about the public interest—not by corporate executives, lobbyists, and consultants."
Balph Eubank and Wesley Mouch must have coöperated to write the column. "Other leading progressives have been imploring Biden to fill his remaining cabinet picks with leaders who will prioritize human need over corporate greed." I suppose that is less harsh than the Trotskyite line. "The nominees are not pioneers of their race or gender, they are social criminals." Doesn't matter: none of corporatist technocracy, social democracy with set-asides for protected status, or full-on communism will work.  Even getting control of the high cabinet posts is cause for identity politics faction fighting.  "Black Progressives Denounce Claims They Want Wall Street Insiders in Biden Cabinet." I've got plenty of popcorn.  That column came out while the legacy media were still sitting on the Hunter Biden, Chinese stooge story.  It's really the tilting at the Church of Intersectionality's core catechism that amuses me.
Jeff Hauser, director of government watchdog Revolving Door Project, told Politico that Biden could easily find diverse, qualified cabinet appointees outside Wall Street board rooms and executive suites.

"To say that we would have to have people who are currently working in private equity or Wall Street or the banking industry to take up senior economic jobs is absurd," Hauser said. "You can come up with a very rich set of potential appointees of color without taking on people who are currently and very recently closely identified with high finance."
Apparently, under the logic of intersectionality, being in the intersection of black and banker gives a person a different identity than being in the intersection of black and some (any?) other occupation. That's for another post, though.  Good old viewpoint diversity is enough for me, dear reader.  And watching the self-styled progressives grapple with their intersectionality priors is going to be amusing.
Although Politico reported early Friday that "a critical mass of GOP senators said in interviews that Biden has the right to his Cabinet, indicating he may be able to staff his administration largely to his liking," progressives are alarmed by some potential picks.

People on the "Persons of Interest" page include Jason Bordoff, who "rarely sees a fossil fuel project he doesn't support," former BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, "a steadfast ally of Wall Street and corporate America throughout her time in politics, selling out pensioners to hedge funds, slashing social services, and making enemies of labor unions."

The page also shines a spotlight on Ernest Moniz—who served as energy secretary during the Obama administration—as well as Heather Zichal, Steve Ricchetti, Bruce Reed, Tony James, Mark Gitenstein, and Brian Deese. Progressives and climate-focused groups have called on Biden to exclude Moniz and former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota from his transition team or administration due in part to their ties to the fossil fuel industry.
To the extent that Senate Democrats can engage in pink-on-red fratricide, it's probably easier for Senator McConnell to just let the Democrat caucus turn on each other. To the extent that the corporatist and communist factions that argue with, then vote for, Democrats spar, the liberties of the people are safe. I'll let Mr London have the last word about the nominees. "Then there are the white men, whose own records are no more and no less criminal than those of their female and minority counterparts." In militant Normal speak, that says the flawed content of the nominees' characters is more important than the color of the package each comes in.