Friday, July 30, 2021


 Honestly, at this point it's like socialism. MAGA Americans have no idea what it is, but they've been told by Fox News they should hate and fear it, so 

I mean...


Thursday, July 29, 2021

One of My Favorite Poems


A Voice from Under the Table

Richard Wilbur

(From The Kenyon Review, Winter 1954, Vol. 16, No. 1)

 How shall the wine be drunk, or the woman known?

I take this world for better or for worse,
But seeing rose carafes conceive the sun
My thirst conceives a fierier universe:
And then I toast the birds in the burning trees
That chant their holy lucid drunkenness;
I swallowed all the phosphorus of the seas
Before I fell into this low distress.

You upright people all remember how
Love drove you first to the woods, and there you heard
The loose-mouthed wind complaining Thou and Thou;
My gawky limbs were shuddered by the word.
Most of it since was nothing but charades
To spell that hankering out and make an end,
But the softest hands against my shoulder-blades
Only increased the crying of the wind.

For this the goddess rose from the midland sea
And stood above the famous wine-dark wave,
To ease our drouth with clearer mystery
And be a South to all our flights of love.
And down by the selfsame water I have seen
A blazing girl with skin like polished stone
Splashing until a far-out breast of green
Arose and with a rose contagion shone.

“A myrtle-shoot in hand, she danced; her hair
Cast on her back and shoulders a moving shade.”
Was it some hovering light that showed her fair?
Was it of chafing dark that light was made?
Perhaps it was Archilochus’ fantasy,
Or that his saying sublimed the thing he said.
All true enough; and true as well that she
Was beautiful, and danced, and is now dead.

Helen was no such high discarnate thought
As men in dry symposia pursue,
But was as bitterly fugitive, not to be caught
By what men’s arms in love or fight could do.
Groan in your cell; rape Troy with sword and flame;
The end of thirst exceeds experience.
A devil told me it was all the same
Whether to fail by spirit or by sense.

God keep me a damned food, nor charitably
Receive me into his shapely resignations.
I am a sort of martyr, as you see,
A horizontal monument to patience.
The calves of waitresses parade about
My helpless head upon this sodden floor.
Well, I am down again, but not yet out.
O sweet frustrations, I shall be back for more.




I mean, look at this bullshit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

This One Trick!

 I'm working on my budget, trying to make sure we can get to the end of September (which is when I next get paid), and I had an epiphany: we just need to stop eating.

If we just quit eating, we'll have plenty of money.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Arkansas Covid -19

 I'm sure this is just fake news, though. Or all the people in the ICUs have comorbities. Or they're old and would have died anyway. Or whatever absolute batshit the MAGA crowd are spewing at the moment.

Meanwhile, our legislature, working to protect freedom or something, has made it illegal for any state-run facility to require masks. That includes schools. It's also made it illegal for any public place -- including hospitals -- to require their employees to get vaccines, or to penalize those who refuse.

If this was just killing these whining, ignorant losers who have swallowed every bit of propaganda put out by Fox News and QAnon -- if it was only their lives they were risking -- that would be one thing. But these heaps of garbage are also risking the lives of the immunocompromised, some of them my students, many of them children.

What is it that the Far-Right say about that? Well, those people are weak, and we should let them die.

Eugenicists at heart. Or they would be, if they had hearts.

ETA: Bet you can guess who this vile loser voted for:

Monday, July 26, 2021

UGH More July

Last night we had a nice thunderstorm, which dropped a ton of rain.

Today walking outside is like walking into a steambath. Except with blistering sunshine. 

Tomorrow, the high will be over 100 degrees, as will the next day, and the next.

Heat Dome over central US, which is to say over ME


I spend some time every day browsing my calander and counting down the days until summer is FINALLY OVER. Which means end of September, here. So nine more weeks as of today.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Solid Truth


What I'm Watching

I finally watched On the Basis of Sex, as I noted a few posts ago. And Dr. Skull and I have been watching Rake, which is an Australian TV show about barrister, as well as life, politics, and sex in Sydney. (You can watch it on Netflix.) 

It's funny, and also appalling. The main character, Cleaver Greene, is an enormous jerk, who also happens to be brilliant in court. The supporting characters are great, though if I were any one of them I would have ditched him much, much, much sooner. Good writing and acting. Also, occasionally it gives us a look at the US through Australian eyes.

Shows/movies I have tried to watch and given up on after less than 20 minutes:


The Lovely Bones

The I-Land


Some of them were too stupid, and some too boring. The Lovely Bones made me queasy. YMMV. We have finished watching Rake, and may try Ted Lasso next -- I hear good things about it.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Re My MAGA at the Lab

 Apparently this is a new bit of performance art from the Trumpists?

Imagine having a life this pathetic. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

RBG: The Film

 I finally got around to watching On the Basis of Sex, the biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsberg's early career. As a piece of biography, or a lecture on women's history, it's fine. As a bit of dramatic art, meh.

I mean, it's okay, and the final scene in the courtroom does what it's supposed to; also the history of how Ginsberg gets to her arguments in Moritz v. Commissionar is also (as far as I noticed) accurate. But frankly, it ends right where the most interesting part of the story begins.

It's also interesting that everything the State was arguing in Moritz  was not wrong -- making women and men equal under the law has, indeed, led to women having careers, an increase in divorce, and so on. A different world was, indeed, created. Our economic system has yet to catch up to that new reality, sadly.

I suppose it's worth watching for anyone who has no concept of what the status of women used to be, previous in 1970. 

I could have done with less focus on Mr. Ginsberg too. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Arkansas July


Aw, jeez, it's going to be 100 degrees next week.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Trump's America

So this morning I had to go have blood work done. This is due to the cancer I had a billion years ago -- I'm on medication for it to this day, and every six months they need to draw blood to make sure my liver and kidneys are still happy and my thyroid levels are nominal. It's annoying, but better than being dead, at least so far.

ANYWAY. The mask order has been lifted here, which if you've had a look at new cases in Arkansas, that's pretty hilarious, and totally to be expected. Also our state legislature has just passed yet another ridiculous law, saying that no workplace in Arkansas, not even hospitals, can require its workers to be vaccinated. This has empowered our Trumpists, who see the law as evidence that their militant ignorance is justified.

ANYWAY. The medical building where the lab is located has a strict masking policy -- no one can come in without a mask. Most people seem fine with this. (I'm fine with it, even though I'm fully vaccinated, which means technically I shouldn't need a mask anymore.)

But about ten minutes after I arrived this morning, a Trumpist arrived, maskless. The lab tech pointed out the sign. The Trumpist argued, saying the masks do nothing, saying she didn't "have" to wear a mask, saying it was her body, her choice -- all the Trumpist arguments. The tech tried to explain that this was a medical building, that people came in here who had lowered immune systems, and that policy was --

"Shut up!" the Trumpist snapped at her. "You shut up and let me talk!"

The tech shut the door in her face and left.

"Rude bitch," the Trumpist said, and other unpleasant things, looking around at us as if waiting for agreement, or applause, or who know what. We all gave her stony stares, and she huffed and stomped away.

Meanwhile, did you see Trump's bizarre interview

Saturday, July 17, 2021

What I'm Reading Now


Nigh Vo, The Beautiful and the Chosen

Do you want to read the Great Gatsby told from Jordan's point of view? And with magic? Also gayness? This book is for you!

It's wonderfully written, as is the original, but Nick is bisexual, sleeping with both Gatsby and Jordan, and Jordan is an adopted Vietnamese sorcerer, and Gatsby has made a deal with the devil, which is how he got his immense wealth; he's also (like the original) not quite what he seems. I re-read the original recently, checking in as I do every few years to see if I hate it as much as I did in high school. (I do.) I recommend reading this one back to back with that one, so you can get all the Easter Eggs.

A lot of fun, and very much worth a read, even if you don't like fantasy.

Laurie King, Castle Shade

This is another in the Mary Russell series, about the adolescent Sherlock Holmes befriends in his old age and makes into his apprentice (and later marries). It's all right, though not the best in the series. Sherlock and Russell go to Roumania and deal with what might be vampires (but isn't) causing a ruckus around a castle owned by Marie of Roumania. I like these books a lot, but this one, I have to admit, feels like King is just going through the motions. Start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice

William Patterson, Robert Heinlein

This biography of Heinlein (the dean of science fiction) got mixed reviews when it debuted, back 2010 (first volume) and 2014 (second volume) and I can see why. It's not bad, exactly, but it's clearly an apology which ignores facts Patterson thinks might show Heinlein's feet of clay. 

It's also appallingly biased, not just toward Heinlein (who never makes a mistake or acts badly, at least according to Patterson), but against anyone to the left of Reagan -- I lost count of the number of times Patterson went off on rants against "Leftists" in America and their idiocy. This wasn't Patterson talking about what Heinlein had said; this was Patterson's own opinions, inserted into the text. This, for instance, in the second volume: 

...there had been imbedded in Roosevelt's New Deal the seeds of this current Leftist that was softening the brains of otherwise bright and well-intentioned people...(116).

Patterson also attacked Alexei Panshin, who dared to write critically about Heinlein, and accepts without blinking the weird conspiracy theory about Roosevelt conspiring to create the attack on Pearl Harbor. There's also a lot of slagging on other countries for not being as pure and perfect as (Patterson's imaginary) USA. And about fifty other things.

Not recommended unless you're a Heinlein completist.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Goldwater to Reagan to Trump

 I've been reading William Patterson's biography of Heinlein, which I'll talk about in an upcoming "What am I reading" post; but I've just gotten to the section where Heinlein campaigns for Barry Goldwater, apparently because Lyndon Johnson was an anathema to Heinlien's new political views.

I'm not precisely a fan of Johnson, though I'll note he did sign the Civil Rights Act in 1964, at great political cost to him due to angering the Southern Republicans (formerly the Dixiecrat Democrats, these legislators had switched parties in outrage over the support of the Democratic party for civil rights). 

Goldwater himself was pro-civil rights, but he was also very much a Republican. The Southern Republicans backed him, despite his pro-civil-rights record, mainly due to his opposition to FDR's New Deal, and his outspoken determination to do whatever necessary to take down the USSR -- and whatever necessary included nuclear attacks. Famously, he said in his speech accepting the nomination, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

I can see why Heinlein supported him, in other words: like many in those days, he was terrified that the USSR would attack the US with nuclear weapons. Many, many people then believed such a war would be survivable (spoilers: it would not), but Heinlien was convinced that the Russians would then invade and occupy the country. (What country? The nuclear slag that had been a country?) He was making plans, in fact, to become a guerilla fighter in this struggle against the Russian invaders. 

Goldwater's stated willingness to use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union seemed, to Heinlein and some others, precisely the sort of saber-rattling the US needed to keep the USSR in check. To most of the US at that point in history, it seemed unhinged. We'd just come close to nuclear war in the Cuban Missle Crisis; no one wanted a repeat.

I have a personal memory of the Goldwater/Johnson campaign, just a short snippet. I would have been three years old, but I remember riding in the backseat of our car (a Dodge Lancer) listening to my father tease my mother, insisting he was going to vote for Goldwater, and her scoffing that he wasn't going to do any such thing.

Goldwater -- and this is another reason Heinlein probably supported him -- called for massive cuts in social spending, as well as shifting government programs to the private sector. The TVA, for instance, he wanted taken over by a private business.

But in most respects, he was what we would call a center-right liberal today: he opposed the war in Vietnam, for instance; he repudiated the KKK when they came out in support of him; he insisted on desegregating the Senate cafeteria, bringing his African American assistant in to dine with him.

But he also endorsing using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, opposed legeslatin to outlaw poll taxes, and argued for cutting government spending to the bone. He voted against the Civil Rights Act, because he didn't believe the Federal government should intervene in how states governed themselves (the "states rights"today's Republicans believe in, so long as the states are doing things they agree with); and he argued that government intervention in things like poverty were creating a "moral decay" which would destroy the country.

Goldwater was defeated in a landslide: in 1964, the American public repudiated and were revulsed by his center-right platform.

Sadly, his more extreme views lived on, and both infected and created the current American conservative movement.

Our nation has indeed changed since 1964 -- not to its benefit. In 1964, the American people rejected Goldwater as too extreme, and far too removed from factual reality. In 2016, the American people elected Donald Trump, whose entire unhinged brand was an extremism entirely removed from factual reality.

That's not a change for the better, to put it mildly.

(The famous anti-Goldwater commercial:



Tuesday, July 13, 2021

July in Arkansas

 Good news at last.

Though by "colder," they seem to mean 88 instead of 98. But hey, I'll take it. My power bill was $241 this month.