Replies, but no answers, Drew Ferguson edition

Guys, I would never suggest our congresscritters are evil and lying when Occam’s Razor offers us the simplest solution: they have no way to respond to constituents in this day and age when everything is automated.

However.

Here are the two recent blog posts that I asked my congresscritters to respond to, to take a clear stance in support of (which is the default position) or in opposition to the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response)’s recent actions.

  1. Trump threatens to kill Democrats; GA congresscritters okay with that.

  2. Trump extorts Michigan; GA congresscritters OK with that

Here are two emails I just received from Rep. Drew “Who?” Ferguson:

And…

There was more blah blah about all the stuff that the (Democratic-led) House of Representatives did.

So here’s your challenge: exactly what message from me was Rep. Ferguson replying?

As far as I can tell, Rep. Ferguson’s positions on my two blog posts (and ResistBot messages to him) remain the default: He supports the idea of killing Trump’s political opponents; and it’s fine with him for the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) to extort states who do not kiss his ass.

New Cocktail: Cedar & Sorghum

I’m not wild about the name. As you will see, I could also name it the Cedar & Sassafras. Or I could find another gemstone/crystal to name it after, like the Smoky Topaz, the Smoky Quartz, and the Jasper. Time will tell. In the meantime, here’s the new cocktail, which I am wild about.

Quick background: Years ago I made a stab at mixing my own bitters, choosing to create tinctures of all the ingredients and mix proportionately with those (as opposed to dumping all the herbs, etc., into a jar and not being able to adjust anything).

Yesterday, while musing about clearing out two decades of software installation disks, I came across the jar of cedar shavings, still soaking away. Hm, I thought, and began to experiment. (ABORTIVE ATTEMPT)

Manhattan + 1/4 oz of the cedar stuff was astringent. (GESTALT)

I modified. (SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION)

Cedar & Sorghum

  • 2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 barspoon cedar tincture
  • 1 barspoon bourbon-barrel maple syrup
  • 2 dashes WoodfordReserve Sassafras & Sorghum bitters

Stir over ice, strain into glass. Garnish with orange peel.

To make the cedar tincture, find “cedar papers,” the kind used for grilling. Break up 3–4 of them into chips and place in a jar. Add vodka, let steep for a week or so, until it’s a dark amber color. Strain and filter. You’re not going to need a lot.

The drink is good: the woodiness and astringency of the cedar is still there, but doesn’t overwhelm your palate on the aftertaste. The maple syrup mellows the overall front of the drink while still contributing to the woodiness. The bitters bolster the flavor of the syrup and provide one more layer to the drink.

Enjoy!

Trump threatens to kill Democrats; GA congresscritters okay with that.

And here we are.

Here’s a good article on the naked authoritarianism of Trumpism. It is worth your time to read it, especially given yesterday’s events.

There’s an organization called Cowboys for Trump, and it’s about what you’d expect. Its founder is a Arizona politician named Couy Griffin, and on Tuesday he was videoed making a speech. He tweeted it himself, and the first line in the video is, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Here’s the link.

And here’s the screenshot in case it’s taken down. (It’s been up since Tuesday, and Griffin is claiming that he didn’t mean literally killing his political opponents.)

By late last night, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) retweeted it.

I hied myself to Resistbot and wrote my congresscritters: Sen. David “Not the Chicken Guy” Perdue, Sen. Kelly “Inside Trader” Loeffler, and Rep. Drew “Who?” Ferguson.

Arizonan Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, was videoed saying “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” He claims it was taken “out of context,” but he said what he said. Moreover, he tweeted the video himself. Moreover, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) retweeted the video.

I will be blogging about your response to this at dalelyles.com. I will presume you support Griffin’s statement unless I hear a denunciation from you.

This is not free speech. It is not metaphorical. It is a murderous threat coming from someone to whom the phrase “Boogaloo” is not unknown. Your silence tells the nation that you are completely on board with this authoritarian movement and support killing your political opposition.

Anything less than a denunciation from you is a “Heil, Trump!”

We see you.

I now await their non-responses, but I’m not getting my hopes up. The truth is, they’re all Nazis.

Fund your schools, you cowards

I was minding my own business, swimming through the hellsite known as Twitter, when someone tweeted about a media specialist in Hampton, GA, begging for bucks on DonorsChoose.org so that her Title I students could each get a book to read over the summer to get a headstart on the Helen Ruffin Reading thing that many schools do.

Sure, I thought, and I headed over to chip in a little. While there, I decided to see if anyone in Newnan had asked for help.

Oh yes.

So I chipped in there, too.

Here’s the thing, though: WHY ARE TEACHERS HAVING TO BEG FOR BUCKS FOR BASIC CLASSROOM ITEMS?

Every time some conservative grotesquerie rants about being taxed and about overreaching gubmint, I remind them that this is the result. Oddly, it does not abash them. Instead, they froth at the mouth and say that this is RIGHT AND JUST because this way people support our children’s needs voluntarily.

To which I reply: screw you. Screw you and your privileged life that had your education handed to you both by well-funded schools and comfortable middle-class parents. (And if that was not the case for you, then SCREW YOU EVEN MORE: you should know better.)

Yes, the government should take your money (in taxes) to fund our nation’s schools. They should tax the rich more. (And if you don’t understand how marginal tax rates work, go educate yourself. And if you’re feeling sorry for the poor billionaires, disabuse yourself of that ignorance, too.)

No teacher should ever have to buy pencils or headphones or books, and no teacher should ever have to beg for others to do so. We as a nation should be paying for all of it.

All. Of. It.

Pro tip: Do not go to donorschoose.org and poke around. It will drive your blood pressure through the roof.

Trump extorts Michigan; GA congresscritters OK with that

Click-bait hed, but bear with me here.

This morning, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) tweeted these two tweets:

Notice that he tags his budget director and chief of staff: put this on the agenda.

As usual, the president (who is impeached and has botched the pandemic response) is wrong about nearly every aspect. Lying or stupid? Probably both.

Here’s the Michigan Secretary of State responding:

Benson — a Republican — wasn’t having any of it. She notes that they didn’t send out ballots, they sent out absentee ballot applications. Not only that, but Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved, via referendum, voting by mail, so it was hardly “illegal.”

The main point, though, is that Trump’s response is simply “Stop giving [all] people the opportunity to vote, or I will cut off funding allocated to you by Congress.”

In other words, “Nice state ya got there, be a shame if somethin should happen to it.”

Trump is extorting the state of Michigan.

So I thought I’d check in with my congresscritters: Sen. David Perdue, Sen. Kelly “Inside Trading Spaces” Loeffler, and Rep. What’s-His-Name Ferguson. Here’s what I sent via Resistbot:

Good morning.
The president (who is impeach ed and has botched the pandemic response) tweeted this message to Michigan this morning:
“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!..”
1. He’s wrong about the ballots: Michigan SOS Jocelyn Benson sent applications for absentee ballots to their voters.
2. The people of Michigan voted overwhelmingly by referendum to allow voting by mail.
3. Trump is explicitly extorting Michigan: either stop the voting by mail or lose funding.
I have to assume that you approve of this straight up quid pro quo, since you have approved of every other move made by Trump, and that’s what I will be telling readers of my blog. If you don’t, please reach out to me and tell me so pointblank.
Cheers.

Done and done.  I will update this space if any of the critters respond with anything other than a form email. (Perdue’s automated server has already replied with his BS blah-blah.)

UPDATE, 5/22/20: Loeffler auto-punts, doesn’t answer the question. Status: We must still assume she supports Trump’s extortion.

UPDATE: Others are already on this: https://www.vox.com/2020/5/20/21264821/trump-michigan-nevada-funding-cares-act-unconstitutional

A parable

The people came to a wise man and asked, “Tell us, who is good?”

The wise man said:

There were three men, each of whom was building a fire.

The first man has enough wood to build his fire, plus enough to keep it going until bedtime. His fire starts slowly, but soon it is crackling merrily. He is sure to be warm.

Sometimes the flame is high and hot; other times it flickers and is warm. The man makes adjustments as needed, moving logs and adding more to keep the fire going.

He knows that eventually it will be bedtime — should he add an other log to keep it warm, or should he let it die down? He knows there is an end to the fire and to the evening.

The second man has a very large woodpile, enough for months of fires. He uses lighter fluid to start his fire — his father gave him that — so his fire starts explosively, high and hot, and he expects it to stay that way.

He adds logs to the fire constantly, piling on even when the logs beneath have barely started to burn. He will always have more logs.

The third man, alas, has only two or three logs and not very much to start his fire with —some twigs, perhaps some cardboard. His fire starts slowly, oh so slowly, and it never becomes what you would call high or hot. In any case, it will not burn for very long.

The wise man turned to the people and asked — “Which of these men is good?”

A message for my county commissioner

Personal to Coweta County commissioner Al Smith, who said re: a request for a “farm distillery ordinance”, and I quote,

“Since Coweta County is considered a dry county, why would we want this? If we don’t have this now and we never had it, why would we want this?”

and

“People are getting enough alcohol as it is. I don’t see how anybody is being restricted from getting whatever they want.”

If I have ever heard a more reductive “If’n it wuz good enough for my Pappy, it’s good enough for all y’all,” I don’t remember it. Jebus H. Cthulhu, even those of us who grew up here know that Coweta County is not what it was even ten years ago, much less back when you had a flat stomach.

Do you really think that the quality of life in our community is enhanced by this dog-in-the-manger approach to governance? Do you really think that it’s the best interest of our citizenry to make them drive twenty minutes in any direction to stock their home bar?

Or do you live conveniently near the county line, where of course there is a liquor store right over that line, sucking Coweta County’s revenue straight down its gullet?

And how is it even possible that, in the home of Walking Dead and Alan Jackson and Murder in Coweta County, you do not understand the importance of tourism to our bottom line?

I can’t even. And from a Democrat, too.

Tell you what—you come sit out in my labyrinth with me and let me serve you a cocktail and let’s talk about this. If I’m an hour late, it’s because I had to run out and get a bottle of whiskey.

Signed,

An unamused constituent

A thought experiment re: Great America

I have a thought experiment for those whose hats proclaim their dissatisfaction with the way our nation has changed.

Let’s pretend for a second that the Great America you want to force us to return to is not the one where women stayed at home instead of having careers, people of color were simply “colored people,” and LGBTQIA folk were still hidden in the DSM-I.

No, let’s assume for the purposes of this experiment that you are yearning for the stressful yet amazing days of World War II, when the whole nation pulled together to defeat an insidious enemy — on two fronts no less.

Remember how it was?

  • Uncertainty over the outcome
  • The risk of certain death for “our boys” over there
  • Rationing at home
    • (Read an interesting comment the other day about the author realizing that we didn’t necessarily ration because of scarcity but to make sure that the few didn’t hoard; in other words, everyone was limited, but no one went without.)
  • Curtailment of freedom of movement: gas rationing, blackouts, etc.
  • “Victory” gardens/scrap metal drives/War Bonds

In other words, it was a massive Communal Effort that I daresay people griped about at the time but accepted for the greater good. We were Americans, by god, and we would get through this together. America was GREAT.

Okay, I’m sure you already see the parallels I’m trying to draw here. We are again confronted with a massive threat to our nation, and here’s the thought experiment: who is trying to get you to pull together, to self-sacrifice to help save our nation, to remember that you are part of a greater good — and who is telling you don’t need to do that, to go about your business, ignore healthcare issues and warnings, and otherwise carry on with your life as if nothing’s wrong?

And which one are you doing?

Make America Great Again, indeed.

Day 5 of the Captivity: Cleaning out the electronics drawer

It is Day 5 in our COVID-19 self-isolation. I have cleaned off my desk, my drafting table, and one large pile by my drafting table. It is time now to ::dramatic music stinger:: clean out the electronics drawer.

I will liveblog this for your entertainment.

10:08 am

We begin.

This drawer has been the repository for lots and lots of stuff. As you will see as we go through it, the deepest layers are practically pre-Internet.

10:14 am

Here’s the drawer in full panoply on my drafting table.

Right off the bat you can see my dilemma. This is my old iPad 2 that used to provide the music out in the labyrinth.

However, it can no longer be updated, nor will it allow items like Pandora to be updated.  What am I to do with this thing? It doesn’t need to stay in the drawer, and that’s the #1 decision being made today. Into the LATER box it goes for eventual resale/recycling.

10:28 am

Here’s the keyboard/stand that went with the iPad.

Still useful? Probably. So here’s a pro tip about cleaning out a repository like this: touch everything once, make a decision, then put it in the appropriate pile. Since this requires some testing to make a final decision, I’m starting a TEST pile.

The first layer is the most recent and consists of obvious KEEP items.

My new projector.

Our external CD drive. (Thanks, Apple.)

My rangefinder that I use to estimate distances when laying out the burn.

10:49 am

No, it’s not taking me this long to clean out the drawer. It’s taking me this long to document it, edit the photos, upload them, and then comment. APPRECIATE MY LABOR HERE, PEOPLE.

We’re still in the KEEP layer.

Headsets.

These look like random flotsam, but they’re actually part of a kit that I kind of have to go with the projector. I’ve learned from the past: show up with all the cables and connectors.

Okay, this one’s a puzzler. It has flotsam from last summer’s trip to Grand Canyon: room key for our cabin at Bright Angel Lodge; emergency diarrhea medication; a car USB plug; and what appear to be prior flotsam from aforesaid projector kit: plug covers and a ¿remote control case? No matter. This is the new projector baggie.

Another headset. This one is wireless/Bluetooth. I bought it back when I was composing more than I am now, so that I would not annoy the rest of the house with my repetitive ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS and yet not have to deal with the cord while pivoting from the computer to the piano keyboard. You may imagine my annoyance when I discovered it did not work with Finale.

USB microphone, still handy for online meetings.

Same with the USB speaker.

Now we’re getting into the weird layers.

A body cam, unopened. I think this came from my late father-in-law’s stash of electronics. Into the TEST pile it goes.

11:30 am

This is a keyboard cover for the MacBook Pro for those times I have it out in the labyrinth. Still useful, of course. KEEP.

I think this is a hard drive, but whose is it and what is on it? Into the TEST pile.

I have an hypothesis and it is mine and I made it up and here goes: all those missing socks were just the larval forms of charging cables. Their DNA is finally triggered after enough runs through the wash, and they disapparate into a drawer. This is the only sane explanation.

I mean, this connector was at least two MacBook Pros ago.

And what did this go to? LATER, in case the device is still lurking somewhere.

It doesn’t matter that this isn’t in focus. Why aren’t these in baggies/bags/boxes with their devices?

Finally, I know what this is.

I’ll just put it with the other audio cables…

…or maybe not. Into the projector travel baggie it goes.

A Wacom tablet, very useful.

Need to TEST it, though; these things are notorious for slipping behind the current technology. The reason I own it is that my original Wacom no longer worked with the laptop.

Solar-charged charger. Still useful.

These USB chargers, on the other hand, were useful once, but their ability to charge is limited to one charge. Perhaps to put in my shoulder bag when traveling, but certainly not to take to a burn. I’ll need to TEST first (and find their charging chords).

This, on the other hand, is a nice heavy-duty charger I bought for burns. Definitely a KEEP.

But now we’re down to the lower levels indeed. Lunch break.

1:31 pm

And we’re back, starting a very slow exploration of the chthonic layers of the electronics drawer.

An iPod Nano. Into the LATER box (for certain recycling).

Accoutrements for the aforementioned Wacom tablet that died. The tablet itself is in another pile—another day, another post.

 

Ah, but then there are treasures.

What is that, you ask? It’s We Three Kings, and if you’re really good I’ll make you a copy for your holiday enjoyment.

I think the font is Papyrus, and that just about sums up the quality of this wonderful work of #CorroborativeEvidence.

Tucked away in the back was a definite KEEP: the cassette tape converter I bought to convert Aces & Eights, another beautiful lump of #CorroborativeEvidence. Now I can use it to make a quality transfer of We Three Kings.

How does one end up with so many fossils?

Part of it is my impulse to make sure I have enough charging cables for every device in my life such that I never have to go looking for one: one in the car, one in the study, one for the labyrinth, one in the kitchen, and one in the den. What? You don’t do this? Huh, weird.

I don’t even know what this is. The label says RAVPOWER, and it seems to be some kind of adapter, but I have no clue what it goes to. UPDATE: it goes with the heavy-duty charger shown above.

Here’s a major point to make: if I don’t know what it is and I haven’t needed it for three years or more—why am I keeping it? Keeping it out for TESTING, but let’s face it, it’s a useless bit.

Remotes. These were all for software that controls presentations.

The outer ends are Apple products that I’m pretty sure do not work any longer. The middle one I think goes to the projector. NO, I DON’T KNOW WHY IT’S NOT IN THE BOX WITH THE PROJECTOR LEAVE ME ALONE. The others… I’ll have to see if they still work, and if their dongles are in my laptop case.

A digital camera.

Pretty sure my phone does a better job now. Still, it’s nice enough. Does anyone want it?

The Assistant Assistive Feline™, aka Cecil the Pest, is being as helpful as he usually is.

Ah, something useful! A vacuum for your electronics—I definitely need to slip some new batteries into this one and see if it works.

No clue. I mean, it’s an audio adapter, but I don’t know where/when I would have used it.

Software and receipts from the MacBook Pro before this one. (FWIW, I am on Filemaker Pro 17; the company now has 18 and other mutations available.) This goes straight into the trash.

2:33 pm

The last — and strangest — layer.

This is truly flotsam from long past. For example: this is a case for an architect’s scale which now lives in my actual desk drawer along with two others.

Why do I own architect scales? Because, O children, we used to have to draw our set designs and working drawings by hand. That’s why I have a drafting table in the first place. Somewhere in my study are a clip-on lamp and a device that clamped onto the drafting table and slid up and down providing a ready horizontal line (with an attachment that did angles).

What’s left of a drafting kit; the other compass, etc., are on my desk.

Drafting triangles: 45°, 30°/60°. As I said, my German attachment let me do all kinds of angles, so these are truly what I started out in college with. (One day I’ll show you my original drafting board and the canvas tote I designed and made to carry it all in.) These are KEEP because who throws away stuff like this? (The masking tape was to elevate them just enough so that ink wouldn’t bleed under them.)

“Drafting dots.” These were a lazy way to tape your drawings down without permanent damage to them. They seem to be still okay, so I’m keeping them to use with mini-art projects.

Ah, this is a blast from the past. You see, children, working drawings — and here the current members of Newnan Theatre Company are saying “the what now?” — for sets came in a certain order, and this was my cheat sheet for that order. I think this might have been from one of the big Feydeau farces we did back in the 1970s.

More pre-computer stuff: ink.

Remember, these have been sitting untouched for decades in the back of this drawer. Observe:

See how the pigment has completely settled? Decades do that to you.

And what’s this?

I think it’s to apply gold leaf. It still sounds as if there’s fluid in there when I shake it. More exploration is required.

Here’s something from the modern era, a toolkit for you to get into your MacBook laptop and repair/upgrade it. Okay, so it’s not that modern.

And here are a couple of memory cards. TRASH.

A memory card from a camera, I guess. No clue as to what’s on it and no way to find out. TRASH.

You may well ask, am I not seized with fear that I am tossing some beloved memorabilia? Yes, I am, but the logical part of my brain says that I would never have stored anything important on a memory card without making sure I had it in more accessible formats.

Ah, I’ve been looking for this multi-use adapter. Into the projector box it goes.

OF COURSE I BOUGHT ANOTHER ONE IN THE MEANTIME.

A power adapter from a couple of laptops ago.

An audio adapter. Over to the cable corner, which I’ll get to before long I’m sure.

Here’s a fun thing:

This is a Box Rivet Remover. What’s a Box Rivet? Go look. I used to use them to create Reading Caves. I think I have a box in the basement somewhere. Anyway, you use this to pry the little devices apart for reuse.

Memorabilia. A nametag I made for one of those occasions when either the State Board of Education or poobahs from the DOE came to visit GHP and we would have a luncheon for them to chat with students and faculty.

I forget who made this for me. I’m thinking it was back at East Coweta High.

And this one. Mercy.

1990 was the 20th anniversary of my going to GHP as an art major, so despite the fact that I had a two-year-old at home, I thought it was important for me to leave my wife to deal with the child and household for seven weeks. It is truly a miracle I am still a) married; and b) alive.

BTW, if you’re a math nerd, you’ve already figured out that yes, this year is the 50th anniversary of my life-changing summer.

These three cards are safely tucked away in the back of the drawer for my heirs and assigns to find and deal with.

These cassettes must have come in a set, because although I may have had an interest in actors learning British accents, I don’t think I would have cared about the others.

Speaking of two-year-olds, won’t my 32-year-old child be excited to know I’ve uncovered this:

I think this was the choral program we went to and were stunned when he stepped up to the mic for a solo — he had not bothered to mention that to us.

I do wonder what’s on this tape.

I will keep it to find out.

Do people still use these?

They’re white-out tape dispensers. I bought them in bulk back in 2001/2002 when I was translating Marriage of Figaro; I just took the Schirmer vocal score and taped over the Italian/German and wrote in my lyrics by hand. Kept me on track/meter, and then I could just photocopy the results.  (I still have all of that, btw, if your musical group would like to stage Figaro. We had a blast doing it.)

A rock.

It’s probably linked in spirit to this last corner:

Some mechanical pencil leads, and definite flotsam:

These are bits and pieces I’ve picked up here and yon, because these things can become part of art. Especially now that I’ve uncovered them and put them with the incomplete art project where they most definitely fit in.

There were several buttons in there; these two jumped out at me.

Both are meant to be snarky, but the first one has a different resonance at the moment: I don’t need half the stuff that was in this drawer. Clear it out. Let it go.

Et voilá:

Tidy, uncluttered, everything necessary, and room for items that previously could not fit. Not a bad way to spend a day in Captivity.

3:12 pm

Still to come on another day:

  • The TEST pile
  • Converting We Three Kings and Christmas in Our Town to mp3s
  • Tracking down a video camera to see what’s on the Hi-8 cassette
  • Double-checking all the cables with the electronics that are still hiding all over the place; I have hard drives that I don’t think I can even hook up to the computer at this point
  • Cleaning up the cable corner

On the other hand…

Screw it, I’m blogging about the Current Administration anyway.

Eventually, sooner rather than later, Congress is going to want to investigate why our nation was so ill-prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as why we bungled what we did do.

At that point, you can expect the Republicans/Fox News to start screaming about “politicizing the situation” and “another impeachment hoax” and “election-year showboating.”

It’s a given that the pandemic response was completely borked, so one of two things is true: either 1) this president (who is impeached) and his administration were incompetent at their task of keeping the nation as safe as possible; or 2) they deliberately slow-walked everything so as not hurt the president (who is impeached)’s re-election campaign.[1]

So here’s my preemptive question to the howler monkeys:

Don’t you think that incompetence and/or venality should be investigated? And if found to be true, shouldn’t we want to do something about the man in the office?

I think we all know what their answer will be. I just want to hear them answer it out loud and on the record.

—————

[1] It is entirely possible — even probable — that both are true.