… i read Heather Cox Richardson and get the overwhelming impression that democracy is crumbling and there is little we can do about it… its not a good start to the day…

Heather Cox Richardson post this morning is largely about voting rights… Biden and Harris went to Georgia and made a speech vowing to protect voting rights and urging legislators everywhere to stand up for Democracy… the Senate is the roadblock… the filibuster is the roadblock… Senators Manchin and Sinema and possibly a few others are the roadblock… all the news analysis is suggesting that Manchin and Sinema will not budge… i am presently skeptical about whether Democrats are going to be able to do anything… but, as Rachel Maddow might say… watch this space…

First notes…

228.8 lbs

… the weight loss trend comes to a halt… most likely water weight gain which is cyclical…

… Chas got me up extra early this AM… i think he had to go to the bathroom… i feel certain a nap will be necessary today… i can’t keep running on six hours of sleep every night… i feel a bit numbed, drained, not my usual ready to read and pay attention self… i did just rough out a number of Haiku…

… Heather Cox Richardson writing about January 6… it disturbs me that main stream media is openly discussing the possibility that Democracy won’t survive… 45 has grown stronger, not weaker… a sizable portion of the population is fine with autocracy… is maneuvering to impose minority will on the majority, a patriarchal, mostly white minority… the civil war all over again… the thought occurs to me… if the multiarchy ascends and runs the show, won’t the exploitation of minorities and people in general be challenged?… is this a sign that market capitalism can’t survive without slavery of one kind or another?… why, as E. F. Schumacher speculated, shouldn’t an economy be constructed around the principle of making every life better, allowing every individual to grow to their full and natural potential… why should people be forced into work that does not fulfill them or make them better human beings?…

… i have had the idea to do a piece on texts that give me the hint of a different way to do things… i want to post it… just, these writings point to a different way of looking at things, a different way of living… i am not clear yet on what they add up to, but they certainly point to something… i will share it and keep updating it… my great conundrum is this… how can a new way of looking at and doing things come about when the dominant world order is so… dominating… i imagine one needs to construct a hybrid that is able to operate on its own core principles but which plugs into the bigger system as required for it not to become an isolated utopia destined to collapse under the weight of its ideals… a pragmatic way of being based on some core principles… an alternative way of living that seeks to mitigate market capitalist exploitation… Braiding Sweetgrass, Buddhist Economics, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are three texts that come to mind as offering an alternative path… my plan is to re-read these texts and see how my ideas might solidify…

First notes...

226.6 lbs

… five days of weight loss… three while pursuing the No S diet approach… also meals low in refined carbs like pasta…

… it is the one year anniversary of the riot at the Capital Building… the facts available point to it as an insurrection and are beginning to detail a planned overthrow of the government… that planning continues and it is uncertain what, if anything , will be done to counter the efforts happening around the country to suppress the vote and rig the voting system… the most likely action is one flying under the radar screen, mostly… a reform of the Electoral Count Act of 1887… 45’s attempt to seize power in a way that would have the pale varnish of legitimacy was built around weaknesses in the ECA… the lack of clarity on the powers of the VP to certify being one of them… there appear to be bi-partisan efforts to shore it up… the most widely publicized efforts are a number of voting rights bills that have passed the house but are stalled in the Senate with no Republican support… some change in the filibuster rules will be required to pass any voting rights act which, at the present moment, seems unlikely… i have given up hoping on that one… and then there is the work of the January 6 Commission… it appears they will be able to demonstrate conspiracy to overthrow the government but the question is, can they do it compellingly enough to shift the narrative?… and, if so, will it shift enough?… time will tell…

… in all of this, Liz Cheny continues to be my hero for the stand she is taking… she is attempting to take down 45 and his cronies before the rabid conservatives of her state vote her out of office… she appears to be one of the few Republicans with …a spine…

… yesterday i spent much of the day trying to free the castor wheels of my office chair… so much animal and human hair was logged in them that they have become immobile and are scratching the finish of the floor in my studio… i was only able to return three of five to fully spinning order… i found replacement castors on Amazon and ordered a set with rubberized wheels designed for hard floor surfaces… if i had known when i started where i would end, i would have jumped to the end…

… we watched Matrix Resurrection last night… or, rather, H watched it and i slept through the bulk of it… alcohol has been doing me in for the last many nights… slow down on that and i might make it through an evening’s worth of viewing… my sense of it was that it wasn’t as good as the first three…

… news, via Heather Cox Richardson, that citizens are revolting in Kazakhstan… Russia and Belarus have agreed to send “peacekeeping” troops to assist… the people are fighting the corruption and poor service of their government, which is authoritarian… there appears to be worry that the protests will spread to Russia and Belarus… the internet has been shut down and there are reports of clashes between government security forces and citizens with casualties…

… ordered a cast iron pot/pan to replace the last non-stick coated pan i have in the kitchen… i am looking forward to its arrival… i am hoping to be able to make Persian rice with Tadigh in it… one needs a good non-stick surface to do that… cast iron can be mostly non-stick, but usually not completely… the advice is to use extra oil when making the tadigh… i used gift card money sent by R to purchase it… i also bought traction devices for my shoes… i had to curtail my walk yesterday because the sidewalks were slick…

… i don’t expect to be encumbered by any household tasks today… hopefully just photo editing, reading, writing then cooking will be the order of the day…

… this morning i lay in bed and tried to count my breaths up to ten… its remarkably hard to do… after about half an hour i managed it and then got out of bed… the usual routine… put water on to boil, grind coffee beans, feed the cat, take meds, let the dogs down and out… because Fiona is a clever and determined escape artist i have been escorting her out into the brisk darkness and watching her closely… i have all the holes in the fence repaired, but we have thought this so many times only to learn she has found and exploited a new weakness apparent to her but not us… it was fun to watch her sniffing along the ground, following the trails of night critters across or under the leaf litter… we all came back in and i gave them treats, which is what they are up for anyway… then they went back to bed and i prepared my coffee and came up to start the writing/reading part of my day…

HCR meter

… the big news is that January 6 committee may be considering criminal referral of 45 to the DC Federal courts… they are not compelled to take it up, but…

… the 45 admin’s involvement in creating the riot on January 6th is getting clearer… if anything is proven i fervently hope there will be consequences…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 20, 2021

… about the betrayal of Joe Manchin… makes a compelling case for an economy centered around ordinary people and how BBB would have helped create that… it notes that Goldman Sachs downgraded economic growth projections by 1% upon news of Manchin’s betrayal… there is more to this than meets the eye though… it sounds like someone in the administration really pissed him off and he is having a temper tantrum… he has also, from what i see, left the door open for a reformulation of the bill into something more to his liking… i suspect we haven’t seen the end of BBB… politics is complicated, there are always steps back and steps forward…

What i read…

Heather Cox Richardson, December 15, 2021… about the January 6 commission and the noose tightening around the administration of 45… about the build back better spending bill and Manchin’s insistence that the price tag come in under 1.75 trillion over ten years… about a defense budget with 25 billion more than 46 asked for for a single year… there is money for new technologies while preserving money for old technologies that provide jobs to constituents…

Senator Manchin, Keep Holding Out on Build Back Better, the Editors, National Review… Manchin is the lynchpin of Build Back Better… Heather Cox Richardson reports above that he will accept a bill with a 1.75 trillion price tag over ten years… this article tries to hold him to a statement early on that said 1.5 trillion was his limit… i suspect something will get passed in the end…

Sinema Doubles Down on Filibuster Defense amid Democrats’ Pivot to Voting Bill, Caroline Downey, National Review… apparently Sinema remains a know on filibuster busting… a spokesman for Sineam:

“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” LaBombard told Politico. He said that there’s a risk that the measure gets “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states extended nationwide.”

DeSantis Introduces Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Public Schools, Private Company Staff Trainings… Caroline Downey, National Review… my understanding is that Critical Race Theory is not taught in any K-12 school anywhere… that it is taught at the college level only and mostly in law schools… this article suggests that DeSantis’ bill would not only ban something that isn’t happening from K-12 programs, but reaches up to the college level and into the training programs of private companies… that would be a huge overreach that is suspect would not hold up in the courts… so, is he proposing it without expectation of it passing just to check off a box on his expected run for President?…

Are the Parents of the Michigan School Shooter Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter? Jacob Sullum, Reason.com… this article argues that they may have been negligent, but that their actions, or lack thereof, do not rise to Involuntary Manslaughter… i suspect the author is correct on this point and so, this case becomes an argument for tighter gun control laws…

The Attempted Republican Coup Should Be the Democrats’ Leading Message. A. B. Stoddard, The Bulwark.… i agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed in this article and have for some time… the threat to Democracy is the number one issue that needs to be dealt with…

The events of January 6 were clearly planned and coordinated to some extent—to what extent we have yet to learn. And the same is true of the post-coup cover-up.

Republicans must be made to answer for these facts at the next election. For two reasons: If they are not made to answer for it in 2022, then they never will be. And if aiding and abetting a coup doesn’t prove to be a political liability, then such attacks will be incentivized in the future.

‘West Side Story’ and the American Melting Pot. Christian Thrailkill, The Bulwark… a glowing review of the new movie by Spielberg, though i already knew i wanted to see it… this was one of my favorite films growing up as i have always beens a sucker for stories of romance against the odds… accomplishments of any kind against the odds really…

Aleksei Navalny: The Man vs. The Symbol. Benjamin Parker, The Bulwark… this article is interesting… heroes are rarely pure as the driven snow, often, far from it… we work with the heroes we have is the point of the article… it also gets me thinking about any kind of accomplished individual that has broken ground in new or courageous or new and courageous territory… humans are imperfect creatures, to say the least, and society moves forward none the less, often carried by heroes with major flaws…

Does it degrade the thoughts of Navalny’s fans, employees, and followers to support such a man? It’s tempting, especially for Americans, to argue that racism and xenophobia ruin even the most vigorous advocacy for human and civil rights. But Russia has no equivalent of the 1619 Project. They went through a period of iconoclasm in the 1990s, tearing down Lenins and Stalins all over—and then they stopped.

Perhaps one day, Russians will have the luxury of arguing over whether to dismantle statues of Navalny for his manifestations of bigotry. But that luxury is, at this point, so far in the future that it is hard to even imagine. It would mean that democracy in Russia is so entrenched, so stable, so unthreatened that it would no longer need reminders of his sacrifice. Perhaps before we worry about whether or not a man such as Nalvany deserves statues, we ought to get to a place where erecting a statue to him is an option.

Where’s the beef? Brent Orrell, The Bulwark… it strikes me as significant that this article is published in The Bulwark, a conservative leaning publication created at the beginning of the Trump Administration by conservative journalists who could not abide Trumpism and still can’t… there are some particularly interesting acknowledgements in the article:

Over many decades, the American economy has depended on a seemingly endless supply of workers (documented and not) willing to work for the sometimes parsimonious wages on offer in our advanced, globally-integrated, highly competitive, and skills-biased economy. If employees didn’t like conditions, well, there was always someone else anxious to take the work. Just five years ago, McDonalds had 50,000 applications lined up for 13,000 jobs.

… note the in parenthesis part about workers, documented and not… i have long thought there was conservative hypocrisy on the issue of immigration and that their protestations of loose border policies had more to do with ensuring an undocumented (and therefore cheap) flow of workers into the country… that is how it looks to me anyway… sure, we need well controlled borders and immigration policy is a mess… but part of the reason for the mess is our unacknowledged dependence on undocumented labor… again, my opinion…

But it goes beyond just working conditions and into less tangible, but no less real, issues with how the people who do this work are viewed and treated. Meatpacking jobs were (and are) disproportionately held by undocumented, refugee, and other immigrant workers in mainly conservative, rural states that left workers exposed to employer and government pressures and community indifference during the opening chapters of the COVID crisis. (emphasis added) The status of these workers as essential “outsiders” aggravated long-standing problems in an industry that had come to take access to a continuous flow of cheap labor as part of its business model.

… and then there is this:

We didn’t get here overnight. As one meat processing plant manager commented to NPR a few years ago, “Workers are really cheaper than machines. Machines have to be maintained. They have to be taken good care of. And that’s not really true of workers. As long as there is a steady supply, workers are relatively inexpensive (emphasis added)”, a quote that summarizes the situation better than anything else could. No doubt the market will eventually bring wages and working conditions into balance with supply and demand. For now, we know the answer to the age-old question, “Where’s the beef?”

… inflation has become a big worry… as we are mostly on fixed income at this point, i am certainly not a fan of it… but to the extent it is about better wages, working conditions for workers, and a rational immigration policy, i am happy to learn to live with higher prices for the goods i purchase…

Beginning the day…

… wake up at 2:00 AM for the bathroom… sleep fitfully, if at all, until 3:30 AM… i get up, Fiona hops off the bed, we leave the bedroom together… i weigh myself, 230.0 lbs, get dressed, follow Fiona downstairs… fill the kettle and put it on the stove… Fiona wants to go out, but because i now have to supervise her, she has to wait… clean the coffee pot, grind the coffee, take my medications, retrieve the cat food dish, clean it out, open a tin of cat food, dump it in the dish, return the dish to its stand at the top of the basement stairs… i go upstairs to get Chas… we return downstairs… the dogs and i go out the back door to the back garden… i follow Fiona to the way back, observe her peeing, we return to the back door where Chas is waiting… treats for the dogs when we come back in… then i go out the front door to put the garbage out to the street… on the way the smell of poop… when i return i flip the living room lights on and sure enough, a small pile on the rug by the gas fireplace… the coffee water is boiling, i turn it off and pour water over the coffee grounds then go to clean up the poop… while waiting for the coffee i read Heather Cox Richardson and find it at least not so depressing… apparently Biden has organized considerable financial pressure to be applied to Russia if Putin decides to invade Ukraine… Tucker Carlson is complaining that the Biden Admin is overreacting and that Russia is just beefing up defense of its borders… there was a time when few in positions of power and influence would support Russia, but Carlson has proven to be enameled of oligarchies and dictatorships… i imagine he wants to be dictator himself one day… there is a selfish streak in to much of the American population i have thought to myself… we emphasize individual liberty over the common good… it’s biting us in the ass right now… various actors in the previous administration are in a variety of phases of being cornered into testimony… will it all be done in time to make a difference?…

What i read today…

Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, December 07, 2021… the heroism and death of Messman Doris Miller, a black man, in WW II… he was on board the U.S.S. West Virginia in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked… he survived the sinking of the West Virginia but later perished when the U.S.S. Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese Torpedo, November 24, 1943…

I hear a lot these days about how American democracy is doomed and the reactionaries will win. Maybe. But the beauty of our system is that it gives us people like Doris Miller. Even better, it makes us people like Doris Miller.

In Defense—God Help Us—of Lauren Boebert, Chris True… i read the article and understand the point being made, but on the fence about whether i agree… my great frustration is that individuals that “no decent person … should give the time of day” get the time of day, get traction, take cover behind the protections of the system they are working towards dismantling… it puts those of us who want to stop them at a great disadvantage… we may be at a place where lines have to be drawn… on the other hand, it is a slippery slope…

No decent person should give Lauren Boebert the time of day. Congresswoman Boebert, however, is a different story. Congresswoman Boebert is representing over 700,000 people and those 700,000 people deserve the same representation in Congress as everyone else, even if that makes Democrats feel unsafe. Sticking to your principles often does._  International Court of Justice Rules Azerbaijan Must Stop Destroying Armenian Cultural Heritage in Artsakh, Yelena Ambartsumian… the ICJ apparently has the authority to refer its decisions to the UN Security Council which has the authority to do something about it… i am in sympathy based on what the article tells me, but wonder how straightforward the issue really is… last night Rachel Maddow’s opening monologue talked about the taking down of monuments to war heroes of the Confederacy… would the Confederacy, such as it exists today, have the right to appeal to the ICJ for relief?…

… a cartoon by Guy Richards Smit in Hyperallergic… last week, on Deadline Washington, Donny Deutsch lamented that the people he talked to in his crowd (he’s pretty wealthy) weren’t particularly concerned with whether democracy survives or not…

The Power of the Dog Is a Different Kind of Western Film, Ela Bittencourt, Hyperallergic…

In Jane Campion’s elegant adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel The Power of the Dog, nature is an instrument of both wonder and violence.

The audacity of the original book comes from Savage combining a heated sibling rivalry, an illicit love story, the Western myths of male virility, and a murder mystery all within its slim pages.

How Marisol, “the True Trailblazer,” Paved the Way for Andy Warhol, Karen Chernick… “Behind every great man there’s a great woman.”… Marisol was quite well recognized at the time, so, not living in the shadows… but… an interesting exhibition…

Marisol, “Andy” (1962–63) (Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, image © Acquavella LLC (1962-63), © 2021 Estate of Marisol / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance, Leonard Barkan, review by Lauren Moya Ford, Hyperallergic… for art lover epicureans… there don’t appear to be recipes, but i suppose we can find our own…

… this image from the book catches my attention in particular… so many layers to dig through…

Joos van Cleve, “The Holy Family” (c. 1512-13) (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

New Study on NFTs Deflates the “Democratic” Potential for the Medium, Jasmine Liu, Hyperallergic… yesterday i upgraded my micro.com subscription to premium to take advantage of the new email signup feature and begin posting short videos which i call video stills… i was ambivalent about doing this because i have viewed these video stills as ideal for the NFTA world… it is interesting to see that the market is shaping up to be a reflection of the physical art world system of value creation and art distribution, where there are taste makers serving as intermediaries advising the well to do on their art purchases… i struggle with this system because it is exploitative and elitist and a direct reflection of the power structure in which art is created… artists don’t often make out well trying to participate in this system… i don’t have to make money from my art at present, so i don’t have to participate in the system if i don’t want to, and lately, i don’t want to… right now, i create my art and offer it for free on a platform that isn’t profiting from my free content…

Beginning the day… i wake at 2:30 AM… stay in bed… get up at 3:30 AM… Fiona comes with me… i weigh myself, 230.8 lbs, get dressed, go down stairs, let Fiona out, fill the kettle, put it on the stove, take my meds and vitamins, feed the cat, let Fiona in, read HCR, which depresses me… she’s struggling with the idea that the game may be lost already, democracy may be on its way out… she is trying to have hope… i make the coffee, put a little cold water into my thermal mug, add a pinch of cinnamon, add a little agave, pour coffee into the mug, screw the top on, return to my studio/dressing room upstairs… Fiona is waiting for me on the studio bed… i start to settle down but Chas whines… i let him out of the bedroom where H is sleeping… Chas, Fiona and i return downstairs… i let them out… i read an article in The Bulwark arguing that Lauren Boebert should not be stripped of her committee assignments because of her Islamophobic comments aimed at representative Ilhan Omar… i am on the fence as to whether i agree or not… the author argues we should deplore and ignore citizen Boebert but we should not block congressperson Boebert from representing her 700K constituents… the dogs come back in, i give them and the cat treats, the dogs and i return upstairs… i let the dogs into the bedroom where H is sleeping and return to my desk… i spend the first 45 minutes organizing my journal… i have been reading through it at the rate of two weeks per day, which should have me finished by the end of the year…

First thoughts…

… morning did not start well… very depressing post from Heather Cox Richardson, stopping just short of saying Democracy is dead in the United States… the urgency to protect Democracy that should be there, just isn’t… she quotes someone or writes that we need to imagine what actions are needed in a break the glass emergency… Democrats are faltering in a crucial moment… will they kill the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation?…

… and then there is this image from Representative Thomas Massie, ®KY:

… in what world, on what planet, is this an acceptable way to celebrate this Christmas Holiday?… i am not Christian, but i always thought this holiday was about peace and good will towards humankind?… no more…

… the best i have been able to do on break the glass planning is to consider how i might leave the country… immigrate just over the border to Canada, or something…

… i calmly think, ok, there is one voter in my life that i might have a chance to turn… how many of us turning one voter away from the authoritarian march would it take to halt the march?… not that many… so… i must try… but how to do it?… it largely consists in turning that person away from Fox News… i wonder if i can have a conversation with them that asks the question, what are you afraid of?…

What i read today…

  • Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, December 5, 2021… HCR sounding the alarm about failing democracy in this country in the most strident way to date…
    • The problem is this: “Democrats…need to win every single election from here to prevent the destruction of democracy, while Republicans only need to win one. And the American system is set up so that Republicans will win sooner or later, whether fairly or by cheating.” Atkins urges the American people to “start thinking about and planning for what ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here. Conservatives are guaranteed to make every attempt to turn America into the next Russia or Hungary. It will take coordinated, overlapping solidarity among both regular people and elites across various institutions to stop it.”1
  • The Plague Legends… Emily Urquhart writes about plague legends and the early days of the pandemic… she captures well the feelings so many of us had and the struggle to preserve sanity and well being…
  • Ron DeSantis and His State Guard Aren’t Happening in a Vacuum
    • Again: Political grandstanding is the most innocent possible explanation. But not the only possible explanation. DeSantis’s private force cannot reasonably be viewed in isolation from the other challenges Republican governors and legislatures have been raising—not only with their National Guards, but by probing every possible weak point in the Constitution when it comes to vaccines, voting, vote counting, and more.2
  • Winter Trees as a Portal to Aliveness, Maria Popova, The Marginalian
    • In winter, we are prone to regard our trees as cold, bare, and dreary; and we bid them wait until they are again clothed in verdure before we may accord to them comradeship. However, it is during this winter resting time that the tree stands revealed to the uttermost, ready to give its most intimate confidences to those who love it. It is indeed a superficial acquaintance that depends upon the garb worn for half the year; and to those who know them, the trees display even more individuality in the winter than in the summer. The summer is the tree’s period of reticence, when, behind its mysterious veil of green, it is so busy with its own life processes that it has no time for confidences, and may only now and then fling us a friendly greeting.3
  • Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man
    • That’s who I am. I am the generic he, as in, “If anybody needs an abortion he will have to go to another state,” or “A writer knows which side his bread is buttered on.” That’s me, the writer, him. I am a man. Not maybe a first-rate man. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I may be in fact a kind of second-rate or imitation man, a Pretend-a-Him. As a him, I am to a genuine male him as a microwaved fish stick is to a whole grilled Chinook salmon.4

What I Read Today…

  • Letters from an American, December 02, 2021: the government got funded last night and Heather Cox Richardson explains why that strengthens our hand on the international stage…
  • Ridley Scott’s Dyspeptic Disposition: a review of Ridley Scott’s film making career… a promise that Raised by Wolves will be released winter 2022…
  • my journal entries from weeks 5 & 6 of 2021… i am trying to review my journal for the year… two weeks a day should get me through the entire 2021 journal by Christmas… certainly before the new year… i am making sure everything is tagged so that i can filter content into significant people, reading and thought trends… in weeks 5 and 6 i continue to make my way through Simone de Beauvoir’s _The Second Sex_…
  • Dinaya Waeyaert Come Closer: i read the review, written by Brad Feuerhelm and glean that it is a photobook about two women who love each other… one is the photographer… it is a book about intimacy which BF’s hyper-intellectual style barely is able to crack into… i go to the photographer’s website which has a full presentation of the project, opening with a short film… it is a beautiful testament of one young human being’s love of (obsession with?) another young human being, with it’s all enveloping sexual attraction, action and reaction bubble… how well i remember those days in my own relationship with H… this appears to be a beautifully done project… i put it on my to get list…
  • A Conversation With 10x10 Photobooks: in which i am reminded of a book i would like to own, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, which Colberg points out was in part put together to address the dearth of women in The Photobook: A History, volumes 1 and 2, which i own copies of… what they saw is also on my to get list…

First Thoughts

231.2

…HCR meter, depressing… the white patriarchy is winning… what can we do about it?… voting rights legislation would help… abortion rights legislation would help… none of that seems set to happen…

… i keep thinking about M… i keep thinking that they generally only watch Fox news and that because of that they have a very narrow view of the situation… they are only being told bits and pieces of the story with an overall picture painted that just isn’t what anyone would call truth… to some degree all news outlets offer up partial truths… they may be very factual in the stories they write, but story selection is another matter… there is no way to have an intelligent conversation with anyone about social and political issues if both parties aren’t taking in multiple sources of information… and who has time?… i barely have time and i have no job in the traditional sense… i will, rather than having political conversations, challenge M to get their information more broadly… then maybe we can have a conversation…

… i resent all this crap going on at this time in my life… but who gets to choose the crap that may or may not be going on during their lifetimes… what i am tasked with coping with pales in comparison to what many around the globe cope with…

… oral arguments on a case that challenges Roe v. Wade were heard by the Supreme Court yesterday… it seems likely that the law in question will be allowed to stand and that the standard for when the right to an abortion kicks in will become “undue burden” as opposed to setting the age of viability as the current court decisions in place do… so, undue burden will become that point at which a majority of women will recognize they are pregnant and are able to abort should they choose… in the case before the court, this rolls fetal age back to fifteen weeks, a little over three months… this is the point by which most women in the state of (Mississippi?, Missouri?) obtain an abortion… honestly, if this is the compromise we reach and even this Supreme Court upholds the right to an abortion, then i think we are as well off on the issue as we will be under the current juridical situation…

… it is still possible that Roe v. Wade will be completely undone, but it doesn’t sound like it to me… and then a string of cases from states across the country will refine the new conditions and the law will be settled at this level…

First Thoughts

… i have switched back to Firefox as browser after discovering that Safari didn’t play nice with many websites… a shame… both on the Safari and websites ends… at any rate, i will now have to update passwords in the Firefox environment as i was switching over to keychain… sigh… it is so hard to maintain a unified browsing and password environment…

HCR meter about the booming economy (inflation not withstanding) and the January 6 commission… also about the news failing to celebrate the economy… two different spins on the future of inflation… HCR maintains that Jerome Powell told congress inflation would abate as supply chain issues got worked out… the news indicated that testimony was given to congress saying the opposite… i don’t remember if it was Powell or another economic official… the January 6 news is that there is evidence of 45 communicating with the “command center” at the Willard Hotel and January 5… and finally, news that Mark Meadows is starting to cooperate… will anything in the way of accountability ever come of it?…

… not feeling great this AM… sleep a little fitful… i am not rested…

… first day of December… i bought H a Tim Burton Nightmare Before Christmas Advent Calendar… she was pleased… now to work on everyone else’s gifts… i have ideas, just have to execute…

… did a course on optimizing SEO on Square Space websites… we have done probably 70% of what can be done… for some of what remains to be done, it isn’t clear that we should do it… in any case, with a little further tweaking i will be able to tell J that we are fully optimized…

… uploaded the Beached Stones series to my portfolio website… i submitted this series to Shots Magazine for their Earthly Delights call… i wonder how much of what gets published will be nudes, especially female nudes, thought the call for entries had a male nude… Earthly Delights references Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, a tryptic painted between 1510 and 1515… the tryptic is thought by some art historians to be a warning against lust, suggesting that hell awaits those who loose control of themselves… my submission references female genitalia with photographs of stones on the beach around which ocean waves have eroded the sand in suggestive ways, at least to my mind… so my entry is both a reference to lust and configured from earthly materials… it is perfect really, but i have been disappointed by the editors before…

Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymous Bosch

First Thoughts

Recently, Salon columnist Chauncey DeVega conducted an interview with Miles Taylor, the chief of staff to Trump’s Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who published a New York Times op-ed in 2018 as “Anonymous” claiming that he was part of a resistance movement in the Trump White House. Taylor told DeVega that Republican congresspeople are worried they will be attacked if they cross Trump. “I’m talking about former Cabinet secretaries, sitting members of Congress and others who personally confessed to me, ‘I don’t think I can join you in rising up against this guy because I’ve got to worry about my family’s safety.’” Taylor said. “I didn’t anticipate how much I was going to hear that as a response. They would say to me, “Look, I’ve got kids and this is too crazy right now.”1

HCR meter turned decidedly downward… the only thing that matters right now is passing voting rights legislation which, as far as she and i can tell, is on the back burner… the day is rapidly approaching beyond which it will be too late… that the Democrats can’t get their shit together to do the one thing that will preserve democracy and make anything else they want to do possible is utterly tragic… Rome is burning and even they are fiddling…

… i keep thinking about M’s belief that the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection… it makes me so angry because i know how uninformed they are about what is going down in the country because i know they principally watch Fox news… i am in despair about it because i love them and because they are representative of the damage Fox news has done in this country…

… i also marvel at this country’s inability to hold anyone significant accountable for misdeeds… it is beyond comprehension that our system should be so weak as to be incapable in this regard… was it ever strong enough?… or did it depend on the good will of it’s citizens to keep the rails up… and now they are divided and unable to do so…

… signs of the growing threat of authoritarian/fascist rule… a patriotic and militaristic mural painted on the side of a county building to honor veterans on veterans day… this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony opened with the National Anthem and closed with God Bless America… neither of these things have happened before during the 15 years we have lived here… my perception is they are happening now because of the growing threat from the right…

… i really dislike starting the day with these thoughts and feelings churning around in my mind… i would prefer something more optimistic…


  1. Richardson, Heather Cox, Letters from an American, November 29, 2021 [return]

First Thoughts

… happy to be back to routine… that first hot cup of coffee in the morning… cat, dogs, and then the quiet of the house… bliss…

… HCR meter, justice?… remembering Boss Tweed and his inevitable fall into disgrace… a few contemporary characters being brought to justice?… bankruptcy?… i suppose she is offering some hope… i have been gloomy about the prospects for life as we have known it continuing… the fascists are winning right now and it boggles my mind that they are… most of the news personalities couch their assessment in hope and optimism that the fascist juggernaut will get turned around… maybe that is what HCR’s post is about, signs that it might get turned around… i don’t feel the optimism because the individuals that matter in this are not being brought to justice, not suffering consequences and are buttressing their position for the midterm and and 2024 elections…

… the Democrats could do something about it, but so far have been unable to because of a couple of senators unwilling to part with the filibuster in a meaningful way… there is time, but not much… i am not optimistic…

… i have begun to figure out how we might leave the country if the worst happens… my most recent idea is to live just over the Canadian border where we could get to medical facilities in the US… research is needed…

… thanksgiving tomorrow… as usual, we have been relegated to the cheeses… it saddens me that i am never able to cook for TG… but, family is priceless… i won’t be able to drink alcohol as we will have to drive back… we are planning to bring the dogs and let them stay in the car… it will be cold though…

… the first snow predicted on Monday… winter is here…

… frustration with my photography… with not being able to make anything more out of it than a huge collection of images made day after day after day… i lack the conditions to pull them together into something… at least i tell myself that… what i really need is a way to focus them into presentations… for a while i was doing image poems… small sets of related images… should i try that again?… i think too of the model of Museum Bhavan, Dayanita Singh… as i write the preceding i look up the proper spelling of Bhavan, and then find my way to her website which hasn’t been updated in some time… she talks about her process, how, the museums came about, developing over time to what they have become… something like them is what i need to be doing… i decide i should read everything i can find about Ms. Singh and the Museum Bhavan project… it is the model for what i should be doing…

First Thoughts

… and so begins the day of purging… hardest part of a colonoscopy… the dreaded prep… perhaps the silver lining being that i will head into turkey day with some room to spare, ha, ha…

… i have the Gregorian chants going this AM… and i did my morning stretches which i had gotten out of the habit of…

… sleep last night was fitful… awake at midnight, awake at 1 AM, awake at 3 AM up at 4 AM…

… i am a little anxious, about the prep, about getting to the procedure, about what the procedure might reveal… each one of these things the necessary journey through the portal of having it done, hopefully for 5 years, at least for 3 years…

… HCR meter, broken but very necessary to be played again and again, record… Democracy is under threat… the struggle between the mostly white patriarchy and the rising multiarchy is real… and it is far from determined which will win… by 2024 we could be heading into autocracy or, worse, fascism… this is not the system i wanted to spend my old age in… and i shouldn’t forget the threat of war on the eastern front, Ukraine… will Putin attack?… will NATO assist Ukraine?… interesting times will continue… are we heading towards a blood letting?…

… i have decided the extra money i have accumulated will be spent to whatever degree it needs to be on making a nice Christmas… i am gathering ideas for gifts, planning ahead… i will work on a new computer in the new year…

… back to the political situation… i saw what all this was years ago… i saw the desperation of the patriarchy to secure control before their numbers were insufficient to do so… i knew the struggle would be very difficult but i had optimism that in the end they would not succeed… we should know that in the pretty near future… at this point, it all hinges on voting rights legislation… the infrastructure bills will be helpful in making people feel better about their economic lives… this is important, but not determinative by itself… it needs the assistance of voting rights legislation which requires that Manchin, Sinema and any other moderate democrat attached to the filibuster be willing to do a carve out, at minimum, on voting rights… my perception being that if this does not happen the game is lost…

First Thoughts

… frustrating morning… weight way up… computer crashed last night and needs to be rebooted… the rebooting takes time… is so slow… a new computer soon…

… a dog pooped in the living room, not sure which… one was lingering, eating the poop surreptitiously… life’s continuous chaotic mess, everything trying to fall apart and cover itself in dust… we, resisting the chaotic tide with varying degrees of success until we can’t anymore… our houses and things miss us when we are gone, but they quickly fall into the hands of new chaos resisters with new visions of the sea walls to be erected against the tidal flow…

… while waiting for my computer to boot up i start reading Shifting the Silence, by Etel Annan… i read some paragraphs yesterday and loved them… today, i read those same paragraphs and some beyond and it doesn’t really make sense… too dependent on what might be thought common knowledge but isn’t… personal reveries that seem pretty when read but don’t make sense when i try to unpack them… i come across a paragraph that someone has underlined, maybe several someones have underlined and i think… this reads like it sits on the edge of profound, but i can’t really make out its meaning… if there is a secret being shared, i have no idea what it is…

… i have to admit to myself that i may not be in a receptive frame of mind given the morning’s frustrations and disappointments… i should save if for later but then the “Creative Cloud Helper” needs to repair itself… i assume it is because Lightroom crashed last night trying to back up the catalog… i need a new computer capable of finishing the task… will J pay me soon?…

… i give up on Creative Cloud Helper… taking forever to load, on reloading it wants to repair itself again… it’s such a messed up program unit, why can’t they sort it out?… the problem it has is well known… there ought to be a way to permanently resolve it…

… it is already 6:20 and i feel i have made little progress in the normal morning rituals… sidetracked by technology that should work better but isn’t…

… HCR meter… it’s a wash… lots to celebrate in the House’s passage of the Build Back Better bill… though there will now be a process in the Senate and who knows if it will survive… the indicators suggest that it has been worked out to be largely palatable to the Senate Democrat moderates, so maybe… but then she talks about the Rittenhouse acquittal, which the right is trumpeting and which liberal pundits believe will lead to rifle toting thugs at any sort of demonstration, especially those by black people, brown people, women, etc… she raises the specter of the Civil War… everything in the news media i follow suggests that some kind of civil war is coming… Democrats are trying to head it off with money in peoples pockets, new roads and bridges, broadband for all… hoping enough people will feel enough better about things that they will turn away from the conspiracy theories, especially the lie that the election was stollen… 45’s own niece called him the most dangerous man on earth… well, the most dangerous to the country… for a while he had his finger on the triggers of nuclear Armageddon… but it was clear that he would be back, and if not him, some one of a horrible group of individuals who would burn it all down and claim what was left for themselves… remake it in the image of white men as it was meant, according to them, to be… liberals accused of reigning down marxism on the people with their efforts to spend money to make those peoples lives better!… and the people believing it!… three card monty with the hopes, dreams and fears of the people…

… i have only read two dozen paragraphs of Etel Adnan and already i write like she does… i am a mimic… i noticed this a long time ago as i spent time in places with accents different to mine… the south, Great Britain… i adjust myself to what i hear and read apparently… when i was reading haiku, i made micro poems daily… no longer reading them, i have lost the knack… now it’s a kind of prose poetry that amounts to a continuum of reverie about?… a long life coming to a close… this is the territory i am heading into… it seems unfair to be heading into it at a time when things could devolve into complete chaos… do we have the energy and resilience to survive?… do we want to?… shouldn’t we have been allowed to mellow out in our golden years?…

First thoughts:

… Fiona spay day… a little nervous… will be glad to have it over with… then on to the recovery and getting myself mentally and physically ready for a colonoscopy… a year overdue… a major step forward in the doctoring that needs doing…

… speaking of things intestinal… clearly had a bug yesterday of the sort that makes me pretty unhappy, not because of unfortunate bowl movements, but because of an all over achey feeling that really wears me down… a malevolent organism on the march… i feel better this AM… i also re-started my probiotic supplement this AM… the subscription came undone due to some rearrangement of my prime account at Amazon…

… colonoscopy, then thanksgiving next week…

… an edge of frustration that few people read what i write… i tell myself that isn’t the point… writing every day and publishing everyday is the point… a product of the now… every day… when i review it… i like what i have done… so, keep doing it…

… part of me thinks that my writing should be dense with profound understanding… that is not the point unless profound understanding is composed of the minutia of my life… that’s what this blog is about… the day in and day out record of some of what i pay attention to… an intentional recording…

… as i read Denton Welch’s journals, i find profound understanding largely absent… it is a detailed and well written account of what was important to him and much of it is pretty self centered… there is the occasional passage that dives a little more deeply into the broad human condition…

… is my writing as self centered?… it is to some degree but, i like to think, also big picture focused to some degree…

… i read a forecast in The Economist that indicated the most likely result of the midterms will be a Republican controlled house, Democrat controlled Senate… short of disaster… all the big stuff needs to get done in the next year…

… HCR meter mostly about the infrastructure package (a BFD) and how far right extremists are seeking to punish any republican that voted for it… there were 13 in the house who did… it is being portrayed as the another step in a socialist takeover of the country… one hopes the benefits will become apparent by the midterms and perhaps the house will stay under Democratic leadership… a fellow can dream…

First Thoughts

… up at 5 AM… an hour later than i like… this jams me up on the things i like to do prior to heading out for a walk…

… there is research that suggests there are heart benefits to going to bed between 10 and 11… i have been trying that but i am not sure it is working for me… i had been going to bed between 9 and 10 with the desire to be up by 4 AM… this gives me a good amount of time to write and read in the morning… so maybe that is my rhythm… i’ve always been early to bed and early to rise…

… an exhausting day devoted to errands for the household… i have been very frustrated with the way activities that are not photography, reading and writing are intruding an hours devoted to those things… it has been a real struggle lately to keep that from happening… today, J will claim a certain amount of my time… tomorrow, a friend for dinner, which will require an early start on dinner prep… sigh… there are times when i’d like to take off to a cabin in the woods and hibernate… i’m quite good at being alone…

HCR meter, ominous rumblings in Europe… Russia threatening Ukraine… Russia and Belarus pumping immigrants into Poland in an effort to inflame right wing dissidents and destabilize the region…

… i was thinking about the benefits of having lived in a pretty stable country… there have been times of unrest, but generally speaking, the average citizen could go about their business and depend on the world around them to behave pretty much the way it did the day before… there are so many people around the world for whom that isn’t true… what must be the loss in human product and accomplishment?… are we heading into a time where the world will twist and turn in ways we can’t possibly predict?… where faith in anything is impossible?…

… Cape Malay Pickled Fish for dinner last night… two days of marination in pickling juices… it was tasty… not clear that i would go to the trouble again… maybe…

… i did a search for recipes for CMPF and discovered a bunch of them… it appears i used the only recipe (from Martha Stewart), that fries the fish after marinating in the pickling juices for a couple of days… every other recipe cooks the fish before marinating… hmmm… i now have to cook this again…

First Thoughts

… this morning it starts to feel like the downhill race to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year… the middle of Week 46, less than seven weeks to go…

HCR meter encouraging… the case for holding 45 accountable is being built, slowly, steadily… the Trumpublicans get crazier and crazier… Representative Gosar only the latest iteration of bat shit crazy with his tweeted anime wherein he decapitates(?) AOC… there is justifiable outrage… all the Trumpers in congress care about is disciplining the 13 congress men and women who voted for the infrastructure bill, a broadly popular bill that their states all desperately need… absolute loyalty to the party is all they care about… it is a necessary condition for authoritarian rule… this quote from Liz Cheney is amazing:

 “In this time of testing, will we do our duty? Will we do what we must? Will we defend our Constitution? Will we stand for truth? Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics? Or will we look away from the danger, ignore the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?” she said. “There is no gray area when it comes to that question. When it comes to this moment, there is no middle ground.”1

… i am in love with Liz Cheney… a politician with strong integrity… i suspect i disagree with most of her politics, but on the issue of where we are and what we need to do she is bang on…

… i continue to struggle with refining what i am doing photographically… struggle is probably too strong a word… i am evolving and refining what i am doing…

… oh my, did i finally turn off autocapitalize?… it seems i did!… so exciting… no more having to escape capitalization!…

… back to what sort of photographer am i?… i have begun to center on the iPhone as my camera of daily choice… easier, lighter, and damn, image quality is getting so good!… this, coupled with the very easy workflow of native camera app to Ulysses to Micro.blog has pushed me in the direction of publishing photos as i go, without editing, without careful selection of images to include… photography (and writing) of-the-now… i am publishing photographs in color, some of which i later import into Lightroom, turn to black and white and edit more careful in general… i have decided to be increasingly selective with that group, while maintaining a broader selection on the iPhone photo app… in color… part of me wanted to share color photographs with the Salon last night… instead i prepared a selection of images in black and white from the past ten days… i did not present them as there were an abundance of photographers wanting to show their work, but i reviewed that set several times and i feel good about it…

… so, the practice is evolving as both an of-the-now practice and one that then filters the of-the-now body of work into a more considered body of work with a focused and edited sensibility to it… this is the body that will coalesce into portfolios, book projects, photo poems…

… H wound up in a much better mood yesterday afternoon and evening… they went for a walk with Chas, an idea they sneered at when i suggested it in the morning… “it’s boring, my back hurts” they told me… they did the dishes while i was Zooming with my Salon buddies… i have this nagging question about yesterday morning… did they, for some reason, conscious or not, feel the need to torpedo my good mood and high spirits?… they did an excellent job of it… i can’t help but wonder…

… on the alcohol front… last couple of nights i have limited myself to beer… this seems to be working out… no mildly debilitating effects the morning after… for some reason, perhaps its volume of liquid, i am not as prone to overdoing it with beer… and last night’s meal was kielbasa roasted on a bed of onion, red pepper and red cabbage, glazed with peach preserve and mustard, served with mashed potatoes… beer was a perfect accompaniment, though Corona might not have been the perfect beer for the meal…


  1. Via Letters from and American, November 09, 2021, Heather Cox Richardson. [return]

First Thoughts

… frustration and irritation yesterday… too many intrusions on time set aside for writing and photographing… too much to do to acquire groceries, cook meals, maintain house and yard… too little help from H… i am determined to hold my creative time sacred and inviolable…

… and, on the creative front… i am moving towards something new yet old, something i know the broad outlines of, if not the specifics… i am continuously refining it… making clearer what i am doing… the major elements of it are the Notes On Attention Paid blog, the concentration on the phone camera as principle camera… the development of a new workflow centered on the smartphone, Micro.blog, Ulysses, a writing, walking and reading practice… working against that system is my weakening eyesight… what i really want to do is edit on the iPhone exclusively, but it is difficult with my aging eyes… i have grown tired of the cumbersome Lightroom… i have begun thinking that editing photographs to the nth degree is a waste of my time in the system of make and post possible with the camera phone… i have all of this camera equipment that i no longer seem to need… this new way of producing and delivering is, interestingly, allowing me to bring to fruition what has been at the core of my effort all along… a daily cataloging of observation… nothing more… nothing less… and it is rendered on the www… the complex of tools has finally fallen into place for a seamless and efficient workflow…

HCR meter, the shit show that is the Republican Party… generally it is a race to see whether they implode or seize control of the government for the rest of my life… Big Bird is a villain for promoting vaccinations for children which they have done since the 70’s… conservatives are currently dying from COVID at more than three times the rate of liberals… the result of conservative anti vaccination stance… i wonder if it will have any impact on elections?… conservatives are already dealing with a minority of the population for support… justice department announces indictments on ransome ware criminals and seize their ill gotten gains… it is one year until the midterm elections and there is so much to do… will voting rights ever become a priority?…

Heather Cox Richardson Meter: What Republicans Mean by Socialism

… AKA, HCR meter…

… in this morning’s post, HCR reports that Republicans immediately intensified the branding of Democrats as Socialists upon the passage of the bi-partisan infrastructure bill… she points out, as she has several times in the past, that what Republicans mean by Socialism has little to do with Socialism as a governing system which the American people, Republicans and Democrats, have never come close to endorsing…

… what Republicans actually mean by “Socialism” is anything that, in their opinion, redistributes wealth through taxation to benefit those without wealth… this dates back to the post civil war era when, initially white southerns, but eventually white northerners too, reacted to former slaves, now free men (women don’t get the right to vote for another 53 years) having the right to vote, which they did in large numbers, electing numerous African American legislators who promptly pursued the interests of their communities by getting money allocated for roads, schools, etc… find her more complete rendering of the history of Socialism branding here

First Thoughts

… coffee made… dogs let out and treated… Gregorian chants cranked up…

… i had two modest cocktails last night… went to bed feeling a little headachy… woke up feeling the same… it appears i don’t tolerate alcohol anymore… at least, not very much of it… a good thing?…

… we watched Dune last night… wonderful film though it ends abruptly… it ends the way the premier of a new series might end, with a clear promise there will be more… the story is far from told to completion and i think i now understand why it simultaneously appeared on HBO… because it is going to be a series… the next Game of Thrones?…

… it reminded me of the sci-fi series Raised By Wolves… Dune had very similar vibes in the way the story played out and the cinematography…

… we enjoyed J’s visit yesterday… they seem generally ok, though i got the feeling there is struggling going on there… they put a good face on it… but… they have a new car… a CRV… they are leasing… they have half the income we do and we stretch a bit to afford ours… hmmm…

… well below freezing last night… the last components of my freeze protection system for the planter tanks arrived… hoping it’s not too late for the rosemary… trying to see if i can overwinter it…

… been feeling a little like i am catching a cold… have been spending time in cafe’s as the cold weather arrives… trying to see where my winter get warm quarters will be… Kitchen and Coffee gets too busy too early… still not comfortable with indoor environments with numbers of people…

HCR meter this morning upbeat… unemployment report way better than expected… half a million new jobs, unemployment rate down to 4.6, a number the Congressional Budget Office projected wouldn’t be reached until the end of 2023… and, the hard infrastructure bill passed congress last night and will go to President Biden to be signed into law… a handful of Republicans even voted for it… the soft infrastructure bill is still being negotiated… moderates have promised progressives in writing that they will work with them towards the passage of the reconciliation package… before congress breaks for the holidays?…

… and what about voting rights?… the elephant in the room… something has got to be done about voting rights…

… i find my way to an opinion piece on Politico by Charles Sykes… it discusses the domination of the Democratic Party infrastructure by mostly white, college educated, people… he accuses the party of having shifted too far to the left under their influence and of being out of touch with the more centrist working class voters who outnumber the college educated by a 2-1 margin… i get a little bit of that vibe from H, who accuses just about everyone on the right of being racist and homophobic… Sykes reminds me that echo chambers can skew one’s understanding of reality…