Author Archives: shapiroout

Assault On A Queen

Assault On A Queen Poster

I’m a sucker for a good “caper” movie. Give me protagonists with shady pasts who devise brilliant schemes to make themselves and their buddies rich and man that is just good old fashioned entertainment. This movie, ASSAULT ON A QUEEN, is a 1966…well…at best okay addition to the caper cannon. Sinatra just kinda walks through it, the plan has you wondering why they do things the way they do, never explains away nagging incongruities, and the two best acting performances are supplied by supporting characters (Franciosa and Conte). But in terms of audacious plans it’s hard to beat raising a sunken submarine, retrofitting it, and making it your get away vehicle for robbing an ocean liner at sea.

I’m sure by this point you’re probably thinking “okay where’s he going with this”. Patience. Just like a good caper movie you need all the backstory.

The film’s ocean liner is a real ship, the RMS Queen Mary. When used for the filming it was in it’s next to last year as a seafaring vessel. Soon after the filming was completed Cunard/White Star sold the Queen Mary to the City of Long Beach in southern California where it has been permanently moored for the past 54 years. It has functioned as a hotel, convention center, and general tourist attraction for all that time.

The city had leased the ship to a management company who agreed to run the facility and keep it in good shape. “Just send us the check each month” seemed to be the municipal attitude. But Grande Dames, especially those of the ocean going variety, need constant maintenance and upkeep. Constant maintenance and upkeep costs a lot of money. For as long as tourists paid their way onboard to see how the other half once traveled or conventioneers thought it was a hoot to stay on a ship instead of a Sheraton things were fine. For the last year and a half though the tourists haven’t been coming. Neither were the checks. And an independent inspection of the ship’s condition showed that it needed over a hundred million dollars just to get it back to a state that would keep it afloat for the next 25 years. It would be close to half a billion dollars to retrofit it to last another hundred years.

The management company, when informed of the repairs needed, basically said “New phone, who dis?” and declared bankruptcy, leaving the City of Long Beach holding the proverbial bag and forcing the city council to debate what to do with the ship. By the end of the debate I’m sure most of the council members were wondering why in hell their predecessors had come up with this cockamamie scheme.

Their options, according to the Daily Mail, came down to three:

Option 1: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 100 years 

It’s estimated that preserving the Queen Mary until 2120 could cost taxpayers between $200 million and $500 million. Extensive repairs and upgrades would need to take place on a dry dock and could take several years to complete.

Option 2: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 25 years

Experts say short-term preservation could cut immediate costs to the taxpayer. Marine engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol says taxpayers will fork out $150 million and $175 million to keep the boat viable as a tourist attraction until the late 2040s.

Option 3: Dismantle and/or sink the boat

It is estimated that either sinking or dismantling the boat could cost upwards of $105 million because metal from the 81,000 ton vessel would have to be transported to a scrap facility or moved further out into the ocean

First of all it’s a ship, not a boat. A ship can carry a boat. A boat can never carry a ship. End of naval semantics lesson.

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Kevin And Karen Can F*%K Themselves

Kevin Can F Himself

You know, for a nice Canadian gal she sure has a habit of picking titles that are potty mouthed

My new favorite TV show is called Kevin Can F*%K Himself. If you don’t know, the premise of the show is that that main character, Allison, lives in two different television realities. In the brightly lit multi-camera sitcom world she is the perpetually put upon wife of the titular man child character. Think Leah Remini in The King Of Queens. In the other darker single camera world she is a woman on the edge of a nervous, potentially homicidal, breakdown ready to do anything to escape the hell that her husband has made of her life. Think Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. The combination of the two is a phenomenal deconstruction of both styles. I’m particularly drawn to the point it makes about how situations perceived as benign one way are tragic in another.

Which brings me to vaccines. In particular, the COVID 19 vaccine.

Let me just begin by saying that if you are a Kevin or a Karen who still hasn’t gotten the vaccine, you can go f*#k yourself. I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t want to hear about how the FDA hasn’t fully approved it (this is an emergency dickwad and it was approved for emergency use so f**k you use it). I don’t want to hear about how you HEARD it might mess with your DNA (no more than that six pack of Coors before dinner every night does and probably a lot less). I don’t want to hear about how you’re just being cautious and once the science comes in you’ll decide from there (like you care about science or could even read a scientific report let alone understand it). And if you say but people who have been vaccinated have still tested positive for COVID I swear I will punch your lights out. Learn what that really means. If you want this pandemic to be over there is only one way for that to happen and it’s for everyone to get the vaccine.

So f*^k you if you haven’t gotten it.

We had it beat. We were starting to reopen, to get back to normal, to come out on the other side. All you had to do was get the jab, once for J&J, twice for the others. The first day I was eligible I made an appointment to get it. More importantly the wife (Cruella) made an appointment to get it as well. Put a pin in that point, we’ll come back to it after the jump.

On June 15 California declared that anyone who was vaccinated could go without a mask, not have to observe social distancing, and in general get back to life as we knew it. Last week many counties in California were forced to reintroduce those precautions because the Delta variant, which it has been shown the vaccine protects against, has spiked here and across the country. Who’s getting sick? Not those of us vaccinated. Only those who are not. In other words, those of us who did what we were asked to do, what we were pleaded with to do, now have to go back to Pandemic Days because little Karen Kouldn’t Kare with her degree in epidemiology from the University of Fox News has to be kept alive and well.

I’ll do it, cause I’m just that kind of community minded person, but Karen can go f##k herself.

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American Hero

Rockets in Huntsville Alabama

Rocket display in Huntsville, AL. Photo by J. Freshour

Earlier this year I wrote about my mother-in-law. Today is the day I will always associate with my father-in-law. Some thoughts on him, adapted from a piece I wrote a dozen years ago.

It’s July 20. Those of us old enough remember it as the day of one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. We can tell you where we were, who we were with, how we rejoiced. We celebrated Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins. Their voyage to the moon and back is legendary, the stuff of American heroes. Much has been written and spoken about them in the years since. They are the heroes of the the Space Race, the Cold War, and any other capitalize the two words phrase from the era between WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

That’s all well and good, but I’d like to talk about another American. His name was Jim Freshour and he didn’t go to the moon. Instead in the mid 1960’s he got to pack up and move from Sunnyvale California to Huntsville Alabama. The mid 1960’s. Huntsville Alabama. He didn’t go to the moon, he went to a whole new planet. And he took his family along with him.

Those of you my age or older may recall that Huntsville Alabama was dubbed “Rocket City USA” back then. From all over the country came young engineers and scientists to work on the absurd challenge a martyred president had put forth; to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade. And as if it weren’t crazy enough that all these over-educated, underpaid, slide rule gunslingers were plopped down in the middle of the segregated South, they ludicrously were led by a group of former Nazi bomb makers who had just a few years earlier been trying their best to bury London under a blitz of V2 rockets. The whole lot of them were met by a welcome wagon of race baiting, fifteen year olds in the sixth grade, tobacco chewing, George Wallace loving, reddest of redneck natives.

The Cold War meets Jim Crow. What a sight that must have been.

Jim did his job. Every morning he went off to work and every afternoon the ground around Huntsville would shake with the testing of the thunder he had created. Every evening he would come home and play with his children and avoid talking about what he had done at work all day. Like everyone else imported to Huntsville, Jim couldn’t talk about what he did. The constraints of national security made the merest whisper of what was said or done in the buildings behind the fencing on “that side” of town not simply local gossip, but a matter of national security, even treason.

Everyone knew what those rockets with their red glare were really about. Oh getting a man to the moon was the exciting tale to sell the public, but what we were really saying to our vodka swilling competitors across the ocean was “Don’t mess with us. If we can put one of these on the moon we can sure as hell land one in Moscow packed with a multiple kiloton nuclear surprise.”

It’s a beautiful day in Dr. Strangelove’s neighborhood.

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A Victim of FOFO

Prince George At Euro 2020 Final

I feel for ya kid. If my dad made me wear a suit and tie to a sporting event AND my team lost I’d be pissed too.

A few years ago a new acronym entered the lexicon- FOMO. It stands for Fear Of Missing Out, the notion that because via our phones we can see in real time events our friends and relations are engaging in we are somehow missing out on those events by not actually being there.

This past Sunday I became a victim of FOFO. Like FOMO, FOFO involves our relationship with technology and the toys that bring the tech to our fingertips. But FOFO isn’t about missing out on something, it’s about the active desire to not want to know something. FOFO stands for Fear Of Finding Out.

The particular event this relates to was the final of the Euro Cup Soccer Tournament between England (the good guys) and Italy (the less good guys). Out here on the Left Coast the match began at noon. I could not watch it then. There was business to attend to, business that would not be finished till well after the end of the game. No problem thought I. I would simply record the game, avoid any information about what happened in the game, and watch it in pure unadulterated sports ignorance bliss when I got home.

And that’s when I encountered FOFO.

It might not be a big deal here in the US of A, but the Euro Cup IS a big deal everywhere else in the world. While I had disabled all the alerts I have for sports stories and even went to the extent of disabling alerts from news organizations on the off chance a score would find it’s way to my binging phone, I so wanted to know nothing of the match in order to better enjoy it via tape delay that I took to not even looking at my phone the entire afternoon.

That’s a lot more difficult than you would think. I didn’t miss out on anything really important, but every time there was a vibration and a bing in my pocket (is that a bing in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?) I felt I had to ignore it on the oft chance it might contain information I didn’t want to know.

And suddenly I understood the Fox News viewer better than I ever have.

While I didn’t want to know who scored or what team was ahead, the Fox News viewer doesn’t want to get information from any other source on the oft chance he or she might have their preconceived notions of right and wrong challenged. Their FOFO is directly connected to their own self image or perhaps to the lack of same.

Their FOFO is so strong that their elected officials are taking them up on it. January 6th? Never heard of it. Did something happen that day? I just remember there being a lot more than usual tourists traipsing through the building. No big deal.

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The OTHER Recall Election

District Attorney Jill Ravitch

A popular Democratic politician takes the necessary steps to provide justice and safety to the people of the community and for their trouble takes not only heat from conservatives and know nothings but ends up having to contest a recall election.

Oh, did you think I’m talking about Gavin Newsom and the Half-Witted Recall?

No I’m talking about the OTHER recall that hits a bit closer to home for me.

Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney, faces a recall election this September. This even though her term would be over nine months later and she long ago announced she was not going to run for re-election.

So what heinous crime did she commit that requires the extraordinary enterprise of a recall election? Was she caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Was she allowing criminals to walk away Scot free? Was she in league with the forces of Satan?

None of the above. She did her job. She prosecuted a company for abandoning seniors living in a senior care facility the company ran during the 2017 Tubbs fires, leaving them with no way of getting out even though the area was under mandatory evacuation notices. That’s right, they left grandma to a raging firestorm. Residents of the facilities had to be rescued by loved ones and first responders. Fortunately none of the residents died. The county filed a civil suit against the company. I wish they had filed criminal charges for elder abuse, but the civil suit was the best they could do. The company, Oakmont Senior Living, eventually settled the county’s suit against them for a payment of $500,000.

Now you would think that kind of publicity is the kind you’d like to have just quietly fade into the mists of history. You’d like to think they’d take their licking and hire a good PR firm to smooth out the rough edges. You’d think that, but if you did you wouldn’t be Bill Gallaher, owner of Oakmont Senior Living and one of the larger developers in the county. He decided it wasn’t fair his company had to pay out half a million bucks just cause they left a bunch of old people to potentially die a gruesome death. Nope, he took a clue from the QAnon based recall efforts against Governor Newsom and started a recall petition against DA Ravitch.

According to state campaign financing records Gallaher has bankrolled the entire recall effort by himself. $750,000 or thereabouts. And how did he get Sonoma county voters to sign his petition? He had the petition peddlers tell potential signees that Ravitch needed to be recalled because she didn’t prosecute PG&E, the local power company, for their part in the Tubbs fires.

That is true, she didn’t. She didn’t because she and her office investigated PG&E’s culpability for that particular fire and found, unlike other fires, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. As someone I know who has greater insight into the world of law and courts once said, it ain’t what you know is true, it’s what you can prove.

Nevertheless the anger still seething within the public breast over the fires found it’s way into the fingertips of enough registered voters to get the recall on the ballot. And so this September the county will spend somewhere between $600,000 and $900,000 to administer an election that is only happening because of the spite of one man.   Continue reading

Jesus Was Born On The Fourth Of July

Hobby Lobby July 4 Ad

I’ve spent a good amount of my life in the retail sector.

My parents owned retail stores. I worked in them from the time I was old enough to make correct change. For many years I owned retail stores, a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. Or maybe I was just too lazy to learn another way of making a living. Whatever.

One thing I learned is that it’s bad business to discuss politics or religion with a customer. No matter if they hold the same beliefs as yourself or if they are diametrically opposed to your own beliefs, bringing up those subjects is a certain way to make sure their money never ends up putting food on your table.

I also learned never to congratulate a woman on her pregnancy till SHE mentioned it. That’s another story.

The point is that in retail you smile a lot, eat your personal feelings, and make the sale.

Which brings us to our topic for the day, Hobby Lobby and their insulting 4th of July advertisement.  

Now we all know Hobby Lobby is as Christian conservative as you can get. You have to be to take it all the way to the Supreme Court just to get out of paying for your female employees’ reproductive health care. But to state with such impunity that you believe the United States of America was founded to be a Christian nation and live under the dogma of the Protestant Christian Church, well that’s as meshuge as you can get.

As I have stated before I am an atheist. If you want to believe that is fine with me, but we both live in the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and nowhere in that sobriquet does it mention Jesus of Nazareth. Nor is he mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other of the founding documents. Do they mention god? Yes they do, especially that first amendment that says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. As a matter of fact it’s the first sentence in the first amendment. And god or a creator or a divine being is not mentioned at all in the main body of the Constitution. I guess the founding fathers really had a thing about wanting to make sure that government and church were kept apart.

Hobby Lobby’s ad wasn’t even a plea for bringing god into political discourse. If it was I’d dismiss it as a waste of some true believer’s money. What it was was a declaration that this particular form of worship, and only this form, is the founding principle of the USA.

Representative government, the will of the people, the enshrinement of liberty and freedom as the cornerstone tenets of the nation, all that goes out the window. According to them, America was founded to be a playground for the true Christian believers. Not even the original believers are good enough; Catholics need not apply. And Jews? I’m sure Hobby Lobby would approve of the answer I once got from a bible thumper when I mentioned Jesus was born Jewish. “Well sure, but then he got smart and converted”.

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A Rich Man’s War But A Poor Man’s Fight

A. Lincoln and Cabinet

I’m a Civil War buff.

No, I’m not one of those re-enactors who take a perfectly good summer weekend and ruin it by dressing in wool suits and running around playing good guy vs. bad guy (and take your choice which side is which).

As a matter of fact I’m not terribly interested in battles fought on muddy fields or “gallantly” charging men storming up a hill that will never be forgotten till after the test. I learned all that in both high school and college American history classes.

I’m more interested in what is so lightly if ever taught at any level of American education, the politics of the Civil War. Oh yeah, plenty is talked about the politics of the pre Civil War era, the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott decision, the election of 1860, but so little is taught of what was going on politically during the fighting. Movies like LINCOLN and GANGS OF NEW YORK have highlighted the political machinations behind the passage of the 13th Amendment or what led to the New York City Draft Riots, but as a rule the American educational system has chucked out the political portion of the narrative or at least kicked it down the road to only those truly interested in an Masters or PhD in 19th Century American History.

It’s a shame, because if they taught the politics at least on the high school level then this whole cult of The Lost Cause would go up in smoke.

I get amused when some Southern boy clutching the Stars and Bars flag goes on about how “they” are trying to cancel his heritage. I want to ask him, which heritage are you speaking of? Can you trace your lineage back to plantation owners? Well then your heritage is one of the certainty of the righteous belief in the concept of one group of people holding as property another. Do you still believe that?

And if your heritage search gets you only to a white planter living a subsistence existence on a small farm you might be interested to know that most of those folks not only were against leaving the union, they were against slavery. They thought it was unfair they had to compete with giant factory farms who didn’t have the debit line on their balance sheets for wages.

In fact it is estimated that somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of the white male heads of households (i.e. those who could vote) in the slave states held no slaves. Unfortunately it’s also shown that somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of those states’ legislators were slave owners. To ensure themselves of that proportion they rigged elections, making it hard if not impossible for poor whites to vote (sound familiar?) and if they did vote just plain out chucking any ballot not in their favor. This is where poll taxes and literacy tests first came about.  It’s also where the fine art of voter intimidation was perfected. Vote to stay in the Union and you might find yourself at the wrong end of the whipping post. Or the hanging tree.

Too bad there wasn’t a 19th Century equivalent of Stacey Abrams to help them out. So many of them, their sons, their brothers, and their friends could have been spared a horrible battlefield death.

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Doing What He Was Elected To Do

Marc Levine Assemblyman for CA10

We, by which I mean I, spend an inordinate amount of time here at First Draft excoriating national or wannabe national politicians for their various grandstanding moves and Sunday Morning talk show blather.  We, by which I mean I, never seem to talk about politicians doing the job they were elected to do.

Now yes politicians are elected for the most part to vote on enacting laws or to be our “leaders”, whatever that word might mean to you. But we are also supposed to elect politicians to help with more mundane everyday problems. The issue is that too often we forget about that last reason. Try and get a politician to help ME? They only want to help the big money donors. They only want me to remember them come election day, they’re not going to help ME with any personal problem.

But I’m here to tell you that political leaders can help you in your everyday life. One just did that for me.

Since the first days of shelter in place I’ve been on unemployment. All of my rather substantial work bookings for 2020 disappeared pretty much over night in late March and early April. Even though I got a job as an enumerator for the Census just as the bookings were drying up, that job ended up not beginning until mid August and ended in mid October. Thus I was four months without a paycheck.

I am fortunate to have other sources of income so the wife (Cruella) and I didn’t go hungry and we didn’t lose our house, but those bi-weekly checks from the Employment Development Department (EDD) went a long way to keeping us from the middle class’s greatest bête noir, dipping into savings.  Even when we both started work with the Census and our wages were greater than what we were getting via unemployment we kept the accounts going because we knew the Census job was ultimately a temp gig. Sure enough when it ended it was easy to get back to getting checks from the state.

I wanna stop at this point to say something about Unemployment Insurance. It IS an insurance policy. Workers pay into it on a paycheck by paycheck basis. In my case I not only paid into it for forty plus years, but for many of those years I paid into it twice per paycheck, once as the employee and once as the employer (yes, in case you didn’t know, your employer matches your contribution on a dollar for dollar basis). What it is NOT is an entitlement as some in the political sphere would have you believe. Whenever I hear things like that I want to respond “so when the house you’ve made insurance payments on for years burns down you’d be okay with the insurance company saying they’re not going to pay you because that would be an entitlement”? It’s the rainy day fund and in 2020 it was pouring.

By the way, it’s the same story for social security and disability. Insurance policies, not entitlements. Both.

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Welcome Home

Welcome Back to California

Some say the best part of going away is the coming home.

Well it’s certainly nice to be home. At least I know where everything is supposed to be and generally is unless of course I moved it before we left because “It’ll be so much easier to find it when we get home”.

When we left California there was still a pandemic going. When we got home…not so much. I mean it’s still going on everywhere else, but here in the Golden State it’s become as clothing optional as Baker Beach. And by clothing I mean masks. Masked up I walked out of our favorite coffee house with hot Joe to go on our way out of town, came back to find Safeway has only a few people wearing masks working there, no customers wearing them, and all social distancing signs, posters, stickers, and/or any related chazerai gone.

And I mean gone. Zero, nada, nilch, the big bagel.

Pandemic? What pandemic? Never heard of such a thing. Go on with your silly self.

The only Delta variant we know about is if DL345 JFK to SFO gets diverted to DFW and we need to XPD OTO ASAP.

Acronyms — just like words only more confusing.

I was expecting that there would be a gradual slide back to normal once the state fully “reopened”.  All the coverage I was able to read or watch on TV from afar seemed to indicate that was what was going on. Masks were still on faces, distances were still observed, and at least in the beginning things would slowly return to normal. It was going as expected so I stopped following reopening stories.

What a difference a week makes. And a state.

On our way back through Oregon it was still mass pandemic mode. Limited is still the working theme in the Beaver State, as in “we have limited seating for our limited menu and only during our limited operating hours”. But hey, Trump flags are still flying and nobody seems to be working so tell me again how this is working out for ya? It’s so bad the wife (Cruella), who had been yelling “HE LOST” at any Trump sign still up or flag still waving, had to stop it or risk losing her voice. And this in a state where Biden won with almost 60% of the vote.

But then again it’s a state whose travel industry is based on getting tourists to come up and become live bait to catch Bigfoot. Of course that might help explain their fascination with the Big Orange Julius Caesar Salad. Is it that much of a stretch to go from believing in Bigfoot to believing in The Big Lie? Both are conspiracy land creations designed to explain what to a simple mind is unexplainable. Both are promogulated by so called experts with little to no actual expertise.  And both are perpetrated by and for the enrichment of a select group of individuals. Kinda sounds like they go hand in hand.

Besides, have you ever seen a picture of Trump and Bigfoot together? As the QAnonuts say “do the research”.

Meanwhile here in California it looks like we’ve weathered germ warfare…er…I mean a once in a century naturally occurring viral explosion. Just in time to put bricks in our toilet tanks, low flow shower heads on in our showers, and watch as our lawns wither and die in the water parched summer heat. One natural disaster at a time is how we roll here in the best of all possible worlds.

“Well this living off the road is getting pretty old” Yeah Levon you got that right.

Shapiro Out

 

Notes From The COVID Road

West Coast Postcards

Random thoughts along the West Coast COVID trail

You know how in JAWS they wanted to kill the shark to save the summer holiday season for Amity Island? Well they blow the shark up (“Smile you son of a …”) and swim back to shore and…fade to black. We never find out if they saved the summer holiday season.

That’s kind of where we are right now with COVID, vaccinations, and the summer season. Some places have opened up fully for business, some partially, and some, well, it’s hard to say what they are doing. So in California the shark blows up and everyone comes flooding in. While on this trip I have booked four separate tour hosting gigs for groups coming from all over the country. Meanwhile in Washington the shark is blown up and people from Washington itself and neighboring states who are vaccinated are taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of what they’ve been missing for the past year and a half. Oregon? Best I can say is some people think the shark either wasn’t blown up or was never there at all. Others think everything’s fine. Totally depends on where you are and even from one town to another the rules change.

Asked the waiter at the restaurant last night if their business has been impacted by the ferry service closing between Victoria and Port Angeles. He hemmed and hawed, finally admitting that he doesn’t pay much attention to Canada since he can’t go there (hmm, that little scrap over the illegal substance conviction must have put a damper on his pro snowboarding career). But the town has definitely suffered since there is no ferry service from Victoria to Port Angeles because of Canada’s COVID border closure. That ferry normally carries hundreds of cars a day back and forth and suddenly it’s up and gone. What few waterfront bars and restaurants are still in business (lots of empty store fronts) were busy on a Father’s Day Sunday night, but only BECAUSE there were so relatively few left. On the other hand the hotels were jammed with Olympic National Park enthusiasts eager to get out in the fresh cool air and hike, bike, backpack, and otherwise take advantage of the beauty of nature.

Washington does have a more lenient attitude toward COVID precautions. Signs dot pretty much every retail and eating location that say in effect “All employees have been vaccinated so if you don’t want to wear a mask, we’re okay with that”. And almost as a thank you for their efforts, most people will wear a mask into the building and remove it at a designated point (at a table in a restaurant, once fully inside a retail establishment, etc.). And no one barks or demands compliance with government mandates.

In general it’s the small towns that seem to be doing better than the large cities we visited. I suppose if you don’t have a lot of businesses in the first place you have less businesses to lose. Seattle in particular has a horrible problem with drug addicts on the streets downtown because they have moved into the abandoned buildings large retailers (Macy’s, Ross) and small have abandoned. At one point we walked back from Pike Place Market to our hotel along Pike Street and watched no less than a dozen junkies lighting up crack and meth and shooting up heroin, all sitting in the doorways of these abandoned retail locations. With no one caring to push them away from their front doors, Superfly’s cliental are beginning to act like they own the street. That’s not good for what retail establishments still ply their trade down there and even worse for the city as a whole. Vibrant downtowns bring not just locals and tourists but a sense of a city moving forward. Frankly it made even me, urbanite from day one, feel uncomfortable and on edge. The response from the police and city officials? A shrug and the excuse “why arrest them, they’ll just be out and back in the same space in a matter of a few hours”. I understand this has been going on pre-COVID, but the pandemic has worsened the situation.

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A Postcard From Portland Oregon

Portland Oregon Postcard

Portlanders say it’s necessary to keep Portland weird.

Sorry gang, but that horse has left the barn, the door is closed, and the fat lady has sung. The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day.

Oh I’m not saying Portland isn’t quirky. Sure it’s got it’s quirks. Except those quirks are only quirks if you have been living in a cave for the past ten years. In fact those quirks aren’t even quirks anymore. Portland has gotten less quirky as the rest of the country has turned quirky into mainstream.

Donut shop with wild flavor combinations? That trend has taken over the deep fried sugar breakfast industry throughout the land. Voodoo Donuts might have done it first, but they have been copied to the point where it’s the expected, not the unusual. Civic artwork splashed across every formally blank wall in town? Um, have you seen the Windward Walls in Miami? Or the Arts District in Los Angeles? Or the Mission District in San Francisco? Or the one in, well you name the major American city, you’ll find it. Civic engagement in the age of COVID via taking the annual Rose Festival Parade and turning it into a stationary parade of people’s front porches decorated with what would have been the parade floats? Eh, well talk to New Orleans about this past year’s Mardi Gras.

Don’t get me wrong, Portland is a beautiful city with warm engaging people. They are the kind of people who will go out of their way to help a stranger in town find the best brewpub (Deschutes Brewing in the Pearl District) or let you know about the off the beaten path ramen joint (Kayo Ramen on North Williams). They take their eating and drinking seriously in this town. But it’s not anymore serious than any other big city has become.

We’ve homogenized “weirdness” to the point of sameness across the land. Portland is no more or no less weird these days than New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or any other urban mecca. It’s all a heady mix of coffee shops, vegan restaurants, non-traditional companies looking to shift the paradigm, etc.

OK the citizenry might have a few more tattoos but let’s face it, tattoos are soooo 2012 on the weirdness scale.

I really want to make this clear, I love Portland. What a wonderful livable city it is. Mile after mile of tree lined streets with single family houses on either side. It’s even quaint the way so many of the residential streets are barely wide enough for two cars to pass one another. Forget it if there are cars parked on the street, maybe one car can get through. And I love that the city has done it’s best to keep major chain retailers out and given room for the local guys to try and make a living. And the food scene is incredible. No matter what kind of food you want to eat there are probably a couple of restaurants serving it, complete with their own house brewed beer or locally sourced wine. And when push comes to shove, the Rose Garden in Washington Park is the place you go to shove the push out of your life for a few minutes.

But really how many pot stores do you need? I don’t mean the kind of pot you put a bird on. I mean the kind of pot that their state legalized back in 2015. There are streets where it’s literally one shop after another and arguments can be heard over which one is best. It may not be the way your town boogies, but it probably will be real soon.

Portland is not weird. Not the way they want to claim it to be.

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A Postcard From Ashland Oregon

Ashland Oregon Postcard

Greetings from balmy Ashland Oregon where the temps today will stretch all the way to the mid 70’s and the cloud cover will, well, cover the sky most of the day.

It’s an interesting change from Sonoma where the temps will hit the hundreds while we’re away. Ah, too bad. Along the drive it was astounding to see the change in topography as we sped north, from the arid brown of the Golden State to the lush green forests of the Beaver State. No jokes please, we’re woke around here.

This is our first stop as we wind our way through the PacNorWest ™. Five hours from home, it’s one of the longer drives we’ll be making. That’s a good thing as the wife (Cruella) was just about done with my bad jokes and choice of music. Apparently Gregorian chanting isn’t her thing. Go figure.

Ashland is of course home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since 1935 the Festival has presented a variety of plays both Shakespearian and modern in their five performance spaces. The most famous of the theaters is the Elizabethan outdoor stage, a model of Will’s own Globe theater. Fortunately the modern audience all get seats, no groundlings allowed. The season runs from early March to early November.

Of course COVID hit the Festival hard, cancelling the entire 2020 season and forcing a drastic cut down of the 2021 season. Usually 10-12 shows are done per season, this year there will only be two, a new musical called FANNIE about the life of civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer which will be presented in the outdoor theater starting July 1 (too late for this trip) and IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL a gender bending take on the Dicken’s classic opening in late November.

Actually the real reason we come to Ashland is to eat at this place:

Omar's Restaurant Ashland Oregon

This is Omar’s Steakhouse and with neon like that you just know it’s going to be good. And it has been for the last 75 years. A dry martini, a fine steak, some Dragonfly Tempranillo  wine, what more does a man need? A good story to go with? It’s got that too. Seems the man who started it was named Omer and that’s what the sign was supposed to say, but Noodnick Nate the Neon Man screwed up and old Omer didn’t want to offend so he just went with it.

We on the other hand just go with the mouth watering steaks and coma inducing desserts. This is old school eating. Bring your second stomach and be prepared to fill it.

steak at Omars

Coupe Denmark Sundae

Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, where “artsy” children are sent by their parents who have compromised in order to at least get them to go to college and not head up to Portland to live out their coffee house and poetry dreams. That and the fact you have a Shakespeare Disney World right next door might lead you to the conclusion the town is just a tad liberal. You would be correct. But it’s a small island of blue in a sea of Southern Oregon red.

The larger city nearby, Medford, for many years has been the home of Harry and David, the gift packaged fruit kings of the world. If you’ve ever opened your door to find a gift from your Aunt Gertrude containing fruits and nuts lovingly arranged in a reusable, if you use those sorts of things, gift basket it was probably from Harry and David. They are a huge company with 8000 employees but most of that is farmed out labor. They were purchased a few years ago by 1-800-Flowers and in the midst of the pandemic closed down all their stores, laid off all the store employees and went completely online. Complaints are up, mostly about the quality of the fruit and the customer service. The company’s response? Teach your Aunt Gertrude how to use a computer.

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Why We Travel

Mark Twain on Travel

During World War II the Antifa government of the United States commissioned their great factory of propaganda called Hollywood to produce a series of films called WHY WE FIGHT. These films were the product of the best and the brightest of American cinema; written by the Epstein brothers of CASABLANCA fame, scored by the dean of film music Alfred Newman, shot by the father of the documentary Robert Flahtery, and directed by three time Academy Award winner Frank Capra. They told in a simple and easy to understand style the reasons America was in the war. In fact they were so good the Feds decided the films, which were made for the troops, should be released to the general public.

I think we need the Biden Administration to underwrite a new series of films for our times. Maybe have them star all the Marvel superheroes, they’re popular. Call the series WHY WE TRAVEL. And then get people to travel.

63% of Americans don’t have a passport. Most say they don’t need one because they don’t see themselves leaving the country…ever. Some though say they don’t feel the government should be mandating “papers” for citizens. That might account for why 43% of Americans are against the idea of a vaccine passport. Of course most of them don’t have a driver’s license either. Sarcasm.

Personally I’ve held a passport for 40 years. My oldest ones are filled with entry and exit stamps from countries around the world, some that don’t even exist anymore, some where travel by Americans was limited. I’m actually peeved now when an immigration official doesn’t have one of the old “ker-thump” style hand stamps that rattle the desk with an imprimatur of official recognition. Hell, the Swiss don’t even stamp your passport at all, your comings and goings simply noted via barcode scan sent to a central computer deep inside an Alpine mountain.

Or some goatherder’s hut on top of the mountain. The Swiss, whatcha gonna do?

Travel broadens your horizons as the saying goes. As Sam/Mark says above, it’s hard to stay bigoted about someone once you’ve seen their home. Strongly held beliefs tend to wither away in the face of actual experience. Being in the Soviet Union in 1986 gave me greater understanding of Gorbachev’s Glasnost plans and why they had to be implemented. Walking the streets of Havana is truly the only way to understand the resilience of the Cuban people. Spending an hour in a pub in Belfast brings the knowledge that though tempered, The Troubles are far from over. Exploring the back alleys of the old city of Jerusalem made me realize that all this bloodshed, all these tears, all this drama, is over a bunch of rocks.

In that same vein I highly encourage anyone who is anti-immigration to spend some time in Central or South America. Or someone who is against socialized medicine to spend some time in any country that has it. Or anyone who can’t understand why African Americans don’t just do what the nice police officer who pulled them over for no reason says to do to spend some time in a third world country like the Philippines or Nigeria and learn what it truly means to have no power over a situation.

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A Postcard From The Unemployment Line

Help Wanted Sign

There’s been a lot of talk in the past months about how Americans don’t want to go back to work.

I say bunk.

Americans want to work. They need to work. Not just for the paycheck, but for the pride of accomplishment and the upward mobility it provides. It’s ingrained in our DNA, all those descendants of seekers who came from all over the world to this egalitarian utopia.

OK it’s not egalitarian, it’s not utopia, and there are just as many current immigrants these days as descendants but go with me on this.

Companies are complaining they can’t get people to work for them. Imagine that. For years companies molted workers every time the economy went the least bit south, disregarding years of service and the effect on not just the workers but their families and their communities, all so the company could show a healthy bottom line to the stock market.

And I say that as someone whose main source of income these days comes from the healthy bottom line those companies show the stock market.

It’s my main source of income since like so many others I am on that unemployment line, right behind the waitress from my favorite restaurant and the guy who used to work at the gas station. OK it’s no longer a physical line, it’s the cyber-line of the California Employment Development Department website. The line stretches over a million people long at the moment. The EDD is so overwhelmed that getting a straight answer has turned into many people’s full time employment. And not just those trying to get their accounts straightened out. A new industry has popped up to take advantage of the state’s fumbling response to an unprecedented need and a massive amount of fraud. For a fee someone will robo-call EDD for you till they get through then stay on hold till an actual human answers the call. Then they patch you in.

American ingenuity at it’s finest. Find a need and fill it as dentists and cement contractors say.

Meantime there is an enormous surge in post COVID hiring needs. The most ubiquitous sign in the state at the moment is “Help Wanted”. Conservatives are blaming the state government for this shortage of workers, saying the combination of unemployment insurance and extra money being doled out to keep people afloat is causing workers to not want to go back to work.

First of all let’s get this out of the way. No one is getting money just handed to them by the state. They are getting the benefit of the money they have invested in unemployment INSURANCE, money they had no say in it being taken. For me that is over 40 years of paycheck dings every week to pay for something that up until a year ago I never put a claim in on. I’ll also add that for over half of those 40 years I was an employer so I personally got dinged twice every week. This is the rainy day fund you were taught to have “just in case”.

Well for the past year the rain has been a deluge.

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The Friday Fishwrap

Herb Caen Column Heading

Once upon a time there was a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle (that was a newspaper) named Herb Caen. His column ran in the paper six days a week, but his Friday column was called the Friday Fishwrap. A convenient reminder that that morning’s paper would be used in the evening to wrap up and dispose of the remains of the no meat on Fridays throw aways. Thus he filled the column with throw away items, thoughts, flotsam and jetsam.

In his honor I’m going to try that today.

The Democrats missed an opportunity last week with the 1/6 investigation vote in the Senate. They should have let the Repugnicants filibuster, really filibuster, the Jimmy Stewart in MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON type filibuster, where all work in government comes to a stop. The public would have gotten a look at what the filibuster really is. Then the Dems could have gone on a media blitz tearing up the Repugnicants for bringing the federal government to that halt. It could have built a groundswell of support into a tsunami of criticism, the kind of criticism that would prevent the Repugs from trying to filibuster the For The People Act or the Infrastructure Plan.

On HBO Max right now is a film of the play OSLO. It’s about the back channel negotiations that led to the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993 between Israel and the PLO. The key takeaway from the film is that the Norwegians who acted as facilitators between the two parties insisted that each day when the meeting ended all the participants would then sit down and have dinner and drinks together and talk only of their families and friends. In other words humanizing each side to the other. If the Israelis and the Palestinians can do that, surely those of us on the left can have a meal with those on the right.

The San Jose rail system is still down, a week after the proverbial disgruntled worker killed nine. The reason? He had planted bombs at his house and bomb making materials were found in his locker at the yard. The VTA is taking no chances and methodically going through everything looking for explosive material. Maybe if they had combed his employment record as keenly as this, nine of his fellow workers would be alive today. Just saying.

The Army won’t investigate Herr Obermeister Flynn’s comments on the appropriateness of a “Myanmar style coup” here in the country all members of the armed forces swear an allegiance to protect. They say it’s because they never investigate retired officers. OK then, call him back to duty and court martial his ass for insubordination, treason, and any other crime you can think of that he’s committed.

There’s an old saying in politics: If you’ve got the votes, call the roll. Gavin Newsom has the votes to overcome this insipid recall vote so it looks like we will have the election in early September. Once that is finished, can we please talk about making it more difficult to qualify a recall vote? Ten percent of the electorate should not have the power to force a wasteful and unnecessary recall election.

More after the break

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A Postcard From the Family Reunion

Family Reunion Postcard

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a time for warm weather, barbeques, and family gatherings. As we come (hopefully) to the end of the COVID age I was able to indulge in all three this past weekend.

After the long winter of COVID, hot weather and full vaccinations brought my younger son and his fiancée up from their Los Angeles homestead. It was the first time the wife (Cruella) and I have actually held them in our arms in over 15 months. In a bit of symmetry, it was they who we were visiting when we got the word that shelter in place was about to be implemented and had to skedaddle out of LA and back to NorCal.

Thus they are, at least to my way of thinking, the Alpha and the Omega of the COVID era.

Knowing they were coming up I arranged to have as many of our extended family come to our house for a Sunday barbeque. My older son, my brother and his wife, his son and family, my brother in law, my sister in law, my other sister in law, a few other odds and ends brought our total to 17.

Seventeen people all in one place, blithely transitioning from the house to the porch, the backyard, and back again. No masks. No worries.

In other words, normal.

Though they talk and Zoom pretty consistently, my sons haven’t been physically in  the same place since Thanksgiving 2019. The elder’s plans to visit the younger in April of 2020 were of necessity scuttled. Get them together and it doesn’t matter that they already have the full picture of each other’s lives, all stories must be retold with the personal embellishment of a hug or a brotherly punch in the arm. And the soon to be sister-in-law got in on the action as well, adding a sarcastic jab or a roll of the eyes.

She’ll fit into the family just fine.

The two sides of the family hadn’t seen each other in nearly two years. All plans for any other get together were victims of the pandemic. Survival stories were in abundance, stories that I may have known from my side but Cruella’s family hadn’t heard or vice versa.

This is a pretty interesting group of folks. A lawyer, a judge, a retired doctor, a retired nurse, a marketing maven, a movie and TV props professional, two teachers, a computer guru, a hedge fund manager, a therapist, a travel and tourism professional, and your humble correspondent. Not to mention several kids ranging from 5 to 11. A house filled with noise and talk and gossip and music and kids running around and a table groaning with smoked meats and fresh salads, an ice chest filled with local wines and Russian River’s Pliny The Elder beer. And for dessert, freshly picked strawberries that the lawyer said eating one changed her life.

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Names In A List

Flowers at VTA Yard

I was going to write about something else till local events overrode that plan.

Once again the country faces yet again another (I can’t use enough synonyms for often) mass shooting. This one was a little closer to home which makes it no less sorrowful but much more impactful on those of us in NorCal.

This was the largest mass shooting in NorCal history, eclipsing the 101 California Massacre in 1993. I hate that we have names for these unimaginable events. I’m sick at heart for the families who lost a husband, son, brother, best friend in an act that was as horrible was it was preventable.

They were just heading into or finishing work, another day moving the citizens of San Jose around from place to place. The shooting was timed to catch the most people being there, shift change. Half of them not quite awake at 6AM, half of them dog tired at 6AM. Just working folk who never did harm to anyone, the kind of people politicians always say they are for. I’ll add in that the names of the men who didn’t get home yesterday are a perfect cross section of the cultural melting pot that San Jose is: White, Hispanic, Sikh, Arab.

It was an equal opportunity shooting.

Read anything you want about the shooter (and I will not name him, his name should be lost to the eddies of history) and you will not find a single person saying “Oh, he was such a quiet man” or “he was a nice guy”. Again and again he’s described in anti-social terms, from his ex-wife to his ex-girlfriend (who had a restraining order on him) to his neighbors. I half expected to hear someone saying “yeah, I pretty much expected something like this from him”.

An angry white male loner incapable of a sustained romantic relationship who views his co-workers as having somehow swindled him out of better jobs and who owned not one but two semi-automatic hand guns. Copy that description and hold on to it because it fits all 15 of the shooters behind this year’s mass shootings. And it will fit the next 15, and the 15 after that.

Don’t even give me your “thoughts and prayers” Repugnicants. Don’t give me your piety about the 2nd Amendment which once again I will take the opportunity to point out that unlike the 1st Amendment does NOT include the phrase “Congress shall make no law”.  This is exactly the time to enact tough restrictions on gun possession, purchase, and registration. You want to own a gun? Then you have to be willing to accept the following:

  1. A limit to the number of guns you can own
  2. Full background checks at the time of purchase (including mental health)
  3. A national database of gun ownership, location, and transfer
  4. No gun show sales, purchase only through authorized sellers
  5. An absolute ban on military style assault weapons
  6. Limitations on the amount and specifications of bullets
  7. Mandatory gun safety and training classes
  8. Bans on modifications to most weapons (can’t turn a semi into full automatic)
  9. All weapons to be confiscated upon the granting of restraining orders

I absolutely can not see how any of these interfere with any law abiding person’s 2nd Amendment rights. They aren’t perfect but they at least make it so that if you own a gun you are less likely to use it to randomly kill innocent people. Were they in place on Wednesday nine human beings would be at home with their families today instead of just being names on a list.

  • Paul Delacruz Megia, age 42
  • Taptejdeep Singh, age 36
  • Adrian Balleza, age 29
  • Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, age 35
  • Timothy Michael Romo, age 49
  • Michael Joseph Rudometkin, age 40
  • Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, age 63
  • Lars Kepler Lane, age 63
  • Alex Ward Fritch, age 49

We’ll end with a local band as would seem appropriate. This song is about how the most patriotic thing you can do is to lay down your arms.

Shapiro Out

A Postcard From Out Of The Past

A Postcard From Out Of The Past

Have you ever said something and wished you hadn’t?

If you’re married it’s probably a daily occurrence.

We’ve all done it. That cutting jab about the boss’s wife when she’s standing behind you at the office Christmas party. The letter to the editor excoriating the town council for a particular decision before realizing that policy is actually going to benefit yourself. The admiration for a band based on the only listenable song on an album.

Now-a-days we have Twitter to thank for being a repository of an entire lifetime’s supply of regrettable statements or opinions long since repudiated. With Twitter though even removing such thoughts doesn’t prevent them from reappearing years later. Someone somewhere will have cataloged and archived your appreciation for CATS The Movie.

A 22 year old Jewish woman named Emily Wilder finds herself pursed by the ghosts of Tweets past.  Ms. Wilder was a student at Stanford University where she wrote for the school newspaper, got good grades, put out an occasional Tweet filled with the passion that only a college student can exert, and also was a Middle East peace activist often taking the side of Palestinians. She was in particular involved in the Return The Birthright movement.

Birthright is a program by which young American Jews are given a free trip to Israel to experience the uniqueness of a country where they are in the majority. I always thought it was a great program till I found out that it’s major funder was Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Republican infamy and that once students arrive in Israel the program heavily slanted the experience away from anything having to do with those folks in Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank.

Returning to Ms. Wilder, a group of students calling themselves the Stanford College Republicans decided to go on a Twitter rant about her because, heaven forbid, she got a job with the Associated Press as a junior reporter. If we’re going to be honest calling her position reporting is a stretch. She was so far down the food chain microbes fed off her. Over a year removed from having graduated from Stanford, this group for some reason thought it was appropriate to rage against her.

Then again they seem to be one of those conservative college groups that feels no matter how much privilege they have it’s not enough. Here is the opening of their mission statement:

Against the backdrop of the pernicious leftist assault on our liberty and the moral fabric of our nation, challenging the left’s monopoly over American campus politics by exposing students to conservatism is crucial for the survival of conservatism in coming decades.

Um right, leftists are in control of Stanford. The Stanford that is home to Billionaire’s Corner where all the computer science buildings are. The Stanford that is home to the Hoover Institute. The Stanford whose endowment was doubled by demanding a cut of Google’s profits since the original search engine was developed using their computer network.

Yeah, it’s a real hot bed of liberalism.

Nevertheless an enraged group of incels, er, I mean, conservative students thought there was no way anyone with an activist pedigree could ever be impartial in her coverage of…um, hold on let me check what she was assigned to cover…oh yes, local Phoenix area goings on. That’s right, she wasn’t the AP Jerusalem bureau chief or even a reporter there or even a full fledged reporter anywhere but in the suburbs of the American southwest. She had about as much to do with AP’s coverage of the Middle East as the janitor in the chemistry building on campus.

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Fractured Fairy Tales

Fractured Fairy Tales Logo

 

I was a cartoon kid. I grew up on them, devoting endless Saturday mornings to the careful study of the various nuances of Underdog, Top Cat, or Yogi Bear. But far and away my absolute favorites were anything that came out of the Jay Ward factory. Bullwinkle and Rocky, Tom Slick, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman. I may not have understood every joke, in fact there were times I knew something was a joke but too “adult” for me, but I loved the way they just kept spitting them out.

One that I generally did get the jokes for was Fractured Fairy Tales. Take a story that even at the age of seven or eight I had heard a zillion times and put a funny modern twist on it. Add that great narration by Edward Everett Horton and I’d say I would be on the floor laughing but I was already on the floor and laughing.

I bring this up because whenever there is fighting between Israel and an Arab entity (be it country or terrorist group) as there has been the last two weeks inevitably there will be a wag out there opining that this is just two peoples fighting over which Middle Eastern desert sect wrote down the better/correct fairy tales.

Both sides fairy tales are fractured. As are so many of the fairy tales we tell.

Personally I’m an atheist. Where did the world come from? Don’t know, don’t care. I deal with what is, not what might be. I wish the rest of the people in the world saw things as I see them, I think we’d all be better off, but I’m willing to respect a person’s right to their own opinion. You want to believe in God, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, the Church of Bob, that’s your belief system and if it works for you then as the kids these days say, you do you.

Where I do have a problem is when you want to take your personal belief system and impose it on everyone else. I’m not in favor of universal excommunication of all religion, but if your religion says in effect “Only our fairytale is the correct way to live your life, follow or we will make your life worthless” then I’m going to have to say “With all due respect, bullshit”.

Throughout human history we have told these fractured fairy tales. Ancient civilizations were mostly structured by fairy tales. What is a king or royalty but a construct by which a fable is told that this person, by right of family or maybe because he pulled a sword from a stone, is to rule over the rest of the land. As humans have evolved many societies have done away with that particular fairy tale or at least turned it into a profitable center of entertainment.

Yeah, I’m looking at you QEII.

The fairy tales did serve a somewhat useful purpose back in the day. They taught children to not steal from their neighbors or to be careful of the wolf in the forest or to not judge a beast too quickly for he may be an enchanted prince (or at least a nice guy). They also gave hope in a time when many lives were frankly hopeless. Maybe your fairy godmother will get you to the ball or a handsome prince will wake you from a spell or that even an ugly ducking can turn into a beautiful swan.

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A Postcard From Your Census Taker

2020 Census Form

Question #1 was all that mattered. All else was elaboration.

Greetings!

So last year, 2020 in case you forgot, with nothing else to do because the pandemic had cancelled all my regular work and with a desire to do what small part I could to help our country, I agreed to work for the US Census Bureau as a Census Enumerator. That means I, like thousands of others across the country, would go out to the homes of people who had not sent back the Census form delivered to them in the mail or hadn’t gone online to the Census website to fill out the form and get the information needed.

From my experience I’ve got one thing to say about the results of the 2020 Census:

It’s wrong.

It’s wrong because there was no way this census, under these circumstances, could be right. The circumstances I mean were not just those emblematic of the pandemic but the ones that were deliberately installed in order to insure a miscounting of the American population.

And imagine that, the results come in and major blue states lost congressional seats while major red states gained seats. That is not the end result of migratory patterns of older citizens moving to warmer climes or younger ones moving to find new work opportunities. That is the end result of a deliberate misuse of the system by one political party in it’s never ending attempts to game the system in order to win elections and control the federal government.

The census should have been put off till the pandemic was over. Yes I know, the census is written into the Constitution and not doing it in 2020 might have brought on, well let’s call it a constitutional contretemps, I don’t think it would have qualified as a crisis. Here it is in black and white, figuratively and literally from Article One, Section Two:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting
of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight,
Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

If the timing would have been constitutionally suspect my reply would be that in the same paragraph enumerating the every ten years it also says to only count free persons, no Native Americans, and all other persons (in other words black slaves) as three fifths. The 14th amendment did away with the three fifths, but kept the no Native Americans. Yet we now count Native Americans because of a 1940 decision by the Census Bureau to include them. If the Bureau could do that in 1940 they certainly could have done away this one time with a dictate as to the count being every ten years.

I’d also point out that if we stuck to the one representative for every 30,000 people Congress would currently have nearly 11,000 members. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations alone would have 35 representatives.

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