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 Thoughts

… an irritating stretch of minutes… dog poop in the living room… confusion about whether a file should be deleted or not… deleted, recovered, deleted again… computer choking and delaying in the process…

… J is coming to visit… love J but getting tired of entertaining getting in way of other productive work… ready to be a hermit for a while…

HCR meter… back on the voting rights broken record… at least some senators resistant to filibuster alteration are starting to say it may be necessary… the gerrymandering appears to be really bad, as expected… congress needs to step in… Republicans need to be kicked to the curb… my humble opinion…

… had a bad day yesterday with aftereffects of alcohol the night before… didn’t really drink that much and only wine, and yet, i had headache and general malaise all day long… no alcohol last night, no signs of suffering today…

… harvested tarragon yesterday… put it in the drying rack… with sage, oregano and thyme… clips and protective fabric arrived for the planter tanks… now i need the hoops which come today… just in time… need to get them installed today as temps drop into the 20’s tonight…

… wondering about planting some garlic… i think i may try it… i have one tank cleared and almost ready to go…

… made the most delicious pork chops last night… locally raised meat from Nature’s Pantry freezer section… cooked to perfection with the pre-salting (at least an hour up to several hours in the refrigerator liberally salted all over)…

… i had a dream with S and B in it… we were in some small town at something like a diner… i was bragging about my pork chops to them (accomplished chefs and restaurant owners)… S got sick to their stomach (not over my pork chops)… tried to find a bowl for them to puke in, but couldn’t, so brought paper towels… when i return, everything seems normal and happy… can’t find the expected mess… then i woke up…

HCR Meter

… from, Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson…

Today the Washington Post published a long report about the events before, during, and after January 6, compiled by a team of more than 25 reporters and additional staff who reviewed video and court transcripts, followed social media posts, and interviewed more than 230 people. The report lays the blame for January 6 on Trump and warns that we are in a fight for the survival of democracy.1

… and…

The Washington Post suggests that they made that calculation in the immediate aftermath of January 6 because Trump continued to command his base and they worried about being primaried from the right if they didn’t support Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. And so they acquitted him in his second impeachment trial and supported the “audits” of state election results that had already been proved secure.

But that leaves a circle to be squared.

Winning a primary by staking out turf as a Trump supporter would mean losing in the general election… unless state legislatures fixed elections so that Republicans would win, no matter who the Republican candidate happened to be.2

… the next three years are “all hands on deck”…

… sign up for her newsletter here


  1. Richardson, Heather Cox, Letters from an American, October 31, 2021: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/october-31-2021 [return]
  2. Ibid [return]

First Thoughts

HCR meter, hopeful… making the case that the Biden administration is fundamentally changing the way government works, rebuilding hard infrastructure, establishing soft infrastructure funding that will be consequential… interestingly, she points to the way the news media (liberal included) is making the story all about the “dysfunctional” Dems by reporting breathlessly on the intransigence of Sinema and Manchin, while ignoring the dysfunction of the Republican Party, which refuses to be engaged in the process in any way… Republicans, she points out, are spending the majority of their time waging culture wars that they believe will make their base passionate enough to return them to power one last time… and it will be one last time… i believe that if the current iteration of Republicans is allowed back in, they won’t leave… likewise, it will be a Democratic era if the Dems are able to hold on, which they will do in a more legitimate way, by making sure all people can vote… this depends largely on the passage of voting rights legislation, which relies on Sinema and Manchin agreeing to, at minimum, a carveout in the filibuster that would permit a simple majority to pass whatever bill it is that moves forward… so, yay for infrastructure and to returning the government to being “of the people, by the people and for the people”… it is important to do things for the people… but the peril is clear, the solution is clear, the outcome is not…

… nice dinner party last night with K and D, except H dominated the conversation, focusing on herself and making it hard for the rest of us to participate… i get it though, i think she is desperate for direct human contact… beyond that, it was nice to spend some time with K and D… and!… they bought two of my photographs!… it’s been a good year on the photo sales front… to the point where i will report the activity as income on this year’s taxes… it also reminds me that i need to get back to getting work in front of the public… loosely, i am planning to do that in the new year… starting with an application for a NYSFA grant… very competitive, probably won’t get it, but it is free to apply and as they say, “you gotta be in it to win it”…

… Fiona escaped the yard yesterday… H was in the back garden, planting bulbs… one minute she was there, the next minute Chas was trying to tell her she had escaped… i had thought i had the various under-the-fence routes plugged, but apparently not… this morning i went out with the dogs and i think i found the hole… will plug it up today… it isn’t a very large hole but she doesn’t need much… it seems anything she can get her nose through she can go through…

In Defense of Democracy

this letter, written by Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey C. Isaac, and William Kristol was published simultaneously by The Bulwark and the New Republic on the 27th of October, 2021… it is extraordinary to be living in a time in the United States of America, when conservative and liberal thought leaders see the need to come together and speak out in defense of Democracy… it’s as if, and i don’t think this comparison is remotely overblown, we are living in the ramp up to Nazi Germany…

… it was clear that the defeat of 45 and his departure from the power of the presidency was not going to be the end of the story… this is the conservative white patriarchy’s last best chance to put themselves permanently in control, and they are not going to let it slip by without a Herculean effort to do so…

… the saddest part is the way ordinary people have become manipulated puppets, embracing every fear the radical right is offering… allowing themselves to be turned to hatred of their fellow man and woman…

… federal voting rights legislation is desperately needed at this point… nothing else will matter if it isn’t accomplished… there is no gain in infrastructure, soft or hard, that is worth the loss of Democracy… this is not being taken seriously enough by the Democrats on Capitol Hill… it is an all hands on deck emergency… will they wake up in time?… i grow more afraid by the day…

… i wonder where H and I will go, what we can do, if the country turns to authoritarianism?… we will certainly not be on the long end of that stick… i fear it will leave us impoverished and tossed away in what should be the prime of our old age…

First Thoughts

… lots swimming around in my brain this morning… watched Derek Jarman’s The Garden last night… Senate Republicans blocked discussion on a pared down voting rights bill authored by Manchin who had claimed he could get ten Republicans to back it… that, since learning how to season and care for my cast iron pans, they have become my most used and loved pans in the kitchen… how well my Jelly Comb vertical mouse works and how all neck and shoulder pain in my mousing arm side has disappeared… that i will start the journals of Denton Welch this morning… that i had no alcohol last night and feel better this morning, though not as wonderful as the day on Block Island when i had no alcohol and drank sumac-aide, i was euphoric on that day, so i wonder, is sumac a tonic?…

… so, back to the top, The Garden, a strange and wonderful film… about repression of gays, especially by the church… about relentlessly invasive modern society… about capitalism’s relentless presence… the imagery, oh the imagery, so inspiring… so damn good… i had only an inkling of what the movie would be like from Modern Nature… knew that Tilda Swinton was in it… didn’t realize that Jarman himself appears in numerous places… the film concocted as a set of dreams… the landscapes of Dungeness spectacularly bleak and desert like, and in the shadow of a nuclear power plant… did he buy the cottage because it would make a fantastic filming location?…

… as for voting rights… ahhh the filibuster, whither the filibuster?… we are up against a wall, the moment when the country decides whether it is white, male patriarchal, or a multiarchy?… the numbers are on the side of the multiarchy, the power balance presently skewed in favor of patriarchy… what will be the outcome?… disaster, from my point of view, if the filibuster is not amended for arguably the most important historical moment of my longish life…

… cast iron pans, what a difference proper seasoning and maintenance makes!… i had always tried to take good care of them, but i finally learned how… past the basic seasoning routine (a thin application of grape seed oil, one hour in a 500 degree oven, repeat several times), learning to rinse with hot water, even soak briefly, has been transformative… then drying, heating up and application of a thin coat of oil before storing… that’s it… my pans are mostly non-stick and when they do stick, cleanup is easy… long live cast iron pans!… and they do, properly cared for…

… another piece of equipment that is working well is my Jelly Comb vertical mouse… i have been through so many input devices… this is the one that works and i love it!…

… the journals of Denton Welch… read the short bio on the cover flaps… somewhat sad but amazing figure… a bad accident when he was 20 partially paralyzed him and left him in continuous until his death 13 years later… reputedly a prolific and brilliant writer… he trended homosexual…

… about no alcohol… always feel better the next day… when will i be able to profit from that knowledge?…

… must see if i can buy sumac commercially… and i can… powdered for use in cooking, as tea, loose or in bags… the latter is expensive… i am going to check the health food stores for the tea, will order the ground version from Spice House…

… the horn of a freight train in the distance… Fiona exhales a deep breath while sleeping on the bed near by…

HCR Meter

… a pivotal moment?… the Freedom to Vote Act will be voted on by the Senate… this is the measure Manchin says he can get ten republican senators to vote for, thus passing the legislation without tanking the filibuster… there is no sign those ten votes will materialize…

… HCR tells us the fate of democracy hangs in the balance… either some form of voting rights legislation passes, or there will be, effectively, a one party system “that, at best, will look much like the American South did between 1876 and 1964”1

… that we are here at all is amazing to me… if we don’t get voting rights legislation, if we become a minority ruled oligarchy or authoritarian country, i will have no desire to live here but may not have much choice… i also think our retired life might be threatened as there were rumblings of doing away with Social Security entirely at the end of 45’s administration…

… we’d be in a pickle, though, hopefully, by then, our mortgage will be paid off…

First Thoughts

… HCR meter… do or die… the moment has arrived when voting rights legislation must be passed or the current gerrymandered redistricting will be locked in and the Dems are likely to loose control of house and Senate in 2022 and likely as well to loose control of the Presidency in 2024… according to most liberal pundits, this would be a disaster for democracy… all eyes on Washington and the Dems this week… in particular, Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema…

… my weight has been steadily climbing… two factors… not enough exercise, too many carbs… must reverse the trend…

… my left foot seems to have rounded a corner… standing on it while working in the kitchen did not cause pain yesterday… i can still feel some residual discomfort, but i think it is nearly healed… i will try a longer beach walk this AM… M and i continue to have micro text exchanges… they seem to be settling in to life on their own nicely…

… much hand ringing over H’s M… trying to figure out how to be sure she gets to the doctor for x-ray and consultation… H will not be easy to live with if this is not well set up on our departure… the current plan is to get them off the island to P’s house on Sunday… L will then pick them up and get them to the doctor on Wednesday… how they get back to BI will be up to them… we haven’t told M yet that we were unable to postpone our car reservation on the ferry so it will be Sunday… hopefully that won’t be a problem…

… looked up the recipe for rose hip jam… had forgotten how involved it is… well, gonna do it anyway… will gather the supplies today…

… looking forward to getting home… lots of house and yard maintenance work awaits and it is a bit of a drag living in a house that needs so much attention, but it is home and i look forward to being home which i have barely been for the past month…

… checked the weather and tide level… today will be the day to walk the length of the beach at Mohegan bluffs… haven’t done that yet… looking forward to it…

… feeling good today, in spite of two beers and a couple glasses of wine… made swordfish last night, my best iteration of the pan roasted swordfish recipe that is always so successful…

Fish, Seafood

Prep Time: 1 hour (mostly waiting)

Cook Time: 25 minutes | Servings: Yield 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/8 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

½ garlic clove, grated

¼ teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns, plus more for sprinkling

¼ teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel

½ tablespoon olive oil

2 1-inch-thick swordfish steaks (about 6 ounces each)

Directions:

An hour before cooking:

Salt swordfish steaks on both sides. Cover and refridgerate.

Soften/melt butter in microwave. Add parsley, garlic, ½ teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns, and lemon peel in small bowl. Stir together and let sit. Butter should begin to re-solidify.

15 minutes prior to cooking:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pull swordfish steaks out of refridgerator to allow to warm up.

To cook:

Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle swordfish with ground mixed peppercorns. Add swordfish to skillet. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn swordfish over and transfer to oven. Roast until just cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer swordfish to plates. Add seasoned butter to same skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until melted and bubbling. Pour butter sauce over swordfish and serve. Source

First Thoughts

… beginning to look forward to getting home… miss H and the dogs… getting a little bored… M seems as though they will go on… a little sad… a little lacking in motivation… but otherwise ok… doing some future planning…

HCR meter neutral to pointing downwards… about the voting rights landscape… about whether the multicultural majority will control the next many decades, or the mostly white minority will… the filibuster stands in the way of the former and so far, Dems have been unwilling to change it…

… have started reading a book on Issa haikus dealing with animals… i thought, when i bought it, that it was focused on animal symbology, and it does get into that, but the main focus is demonstrating Issa’s attitude towards animals, which was more or less a Buddhist attitude, and making an argument that he believed in the fair treatment of animals as that might be meant in our time, not his… i don’t know that i see the purpose of making such a case in a scholarly treatment of the poet… Buddhist belief systems generally treat all life forms as fellow travelers in the universe… as part of the web of life… i suppose i prefer the web of life view in general, even as i consider machine intelligence, and what might be evolving in the entire life/consciousness/thought system… having just finished George Dyson’s Analogia, which makes the case that machines and the coding that runs them will, have(?), reached the point of self determination and self reproduction, but not without needing us as a sublayer of their existence… this is perhaps the more benign way it could go, if indeed it is going that way… human beings not at the top of the intelligence chain, but necessary to it and therefore guaranteed a place in it going forward… i need to pick up Ken Wilbur’s book and read it again… i think it dovetails with the Dyson ideas… one question remains, however… this whole human machine thing maintains the possibility of self annihilation… how will this machine/human complex avoid destroying itself?… is violence an unavoidable part of all cultural thought systems?…

First Thoughts

… in bed at 9:30, up at 4:30, about 7 hours… not bad, woke up once…

… yesterday we bagged up all D’s clothing and sorted through their things… each of us taking what fit, what we wanted, which in my case is not much as little fit and D’s tastes were more conservative than mine… R got sad and had to go off by themselves for a while… i found it more interesting than sad… D had a lot of clothes… two big closets… and everything was new or showed negligible amounts of wear… i wear things pretty much till they wear out… i have two or three pairs of pants, maybe four… D had at least 20 pairs of jeans, two or three times that amount of shirts, a number of belts equal to the number of jeans… some jeans had their particular belts installed in the loops, ready to be put on… today we haul it all off to Good Will…

… lots of texting with H… big rains in Beacon… the remnants of Ida passing through… H has been experiencing many frustrations since i left and said they are depressed… they are depressed a lot lately it seems to me… i hope it lifts…

HCR meter pointing hard down… about laws being signed into existence in Texas that will likely make it impossible for women to get an abortion and will set up “vigilante” citizens as the enforcers… what could go wrong with that?… another law legalizes concealed carry of weapons without a permit… another law limits voting rights and permits partisan patrolling of voting stations where voters can now be intimidated by gun toting zealots… what could go wrong with that?… even worse, the Supreme court has refused to knock down these strategies… has refused to even hear arguments on them… has refused even to issue justice opinions on them… they are largely being carried out on the “shadow” docket… so now we have another thing the Biden/Harris administration must deal with in the next year and two months… we are a country in decline, and radical conservatives are a circling band of hyenas… i am thinking i will boycot Texas unless sanity gets restored there…

First Thoughts

… 24 hours without having to run the AC, OMG, feels so good…

HCR Meter pointing downward… about the need for voting rights legislation… about the need to overcome resistance to eliminating the filibuster… about the idea(fact) that there will almost certainly be a radically conservative president in 2024 if it is not… i find it hard to believe that Democrats will allow themselves to be forever out of power, or that the consequences are really that dire… but here we are… at present they are poised to fritter away an opportunity to keep the U.S. for the people…

… day two since dad passing… feeling OK… looking forward to seeing Mom, brother and sister on Monday… not looking forward to traveling… not looking forward to being in Florida where the virus is raging…

… H comes home today… we will have about 20 hours together before i have to climb on a plane and fly to Florida… be gone for almost 2 weeks… return on the 10th… a week later we get to go to Block Island, enjoy my niece’s wedding celebration and then relax and reflect on the challenging couple of months we have had…

First Thoughts

… HCR meter pointing downwards… discussion of conservative extremism as evidenced by policies against mask and vaccine mandates… it’s really bleak and threatening… at present, the only remedy appears to be some form of federal voting rights legislation which the Senate can’t pass without making a change in the filibuster… several moderate Democrats Senators have said they will not vote to change the filibuster… what’s most depressing and frightening is that both sides view the current situation as an existential threat… this is the kind of thing that has already and will continue to lead to bloodshed…

… no alcohol last night, in at 9:30 PM, up at 4:00 AM… 6.5 hours of sleep… yup, that seems about right…

… finished The Essential Haiku yesterday, started Conscious, by Annaka Harris… i read a Brain Pickings post about it a couple of days ago and decided to buy it… i am 25 pages into it and was thinking that the development of ideas about consciousness in the book seemed a bit confused and unsound… i know that the book is heading towards presenting the concept of panpsychism, because of the Brain Pickings post and because there is a chapter labeled “Beyond Panpsychism” about ¾ of the way through the book… an embrace of panpsychism would undercut some of the reasoning in the parts i have read so far, which flits around the trickiness of deciding when matter becomes “conscious”… the dividing lines are not clear and where we presently draw them doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny… so i am thinking the author is confused and muddled but it occurs to me that they are setting us up to introduce panpsychism as the resolution of the muddle… so i think i know why they are proceeding the way they are… at my present rate of reading, i will be done with the book in a few days…

… K comes today to continue with the weeding an mulching of the garden… i have done some work on the other side of the garden and it looks like we will be close to complete by the time H gets home…

… i am looking forward to driving down to Florida and back… the time spent there will be emotionally fraught as J will be frail and continuing on the path of heart failure, and C will be stressed out and sad, and my own emotions will be complex because of my poor relationship with J… so i focus on the three days of travel at either end… time to process… the possibilities of some minor adventures…

… i am feeling a little anxious about my skin exam next week, though i am not presently concerned about any skin anomalies… will be glad to have that past me…

… Chas to the vet yesterday… he’s gained a large amount of weight, 8 lbs according to the vet’s record… we decided to do a blood panel that included thyroid indicators… we’ve had several dogs in the pat with thyroid issues… fortunately, that is easy to treat… the visit cost nearly $470… we used to be able to get out of there for around $200… both Chas and Fiona got vaccinated for Bordetella, aka, Kennel Cough, yesterday… apparently it is going around… the vet says they have seen doggie patients at the rate of 1 per day that have it… it sounds like there is a cluster in one family in Beacon or Beacon vicinity…

First Thoughts

a long post from Heather Cox Richardson, the history of voting rights, the prospects for new legislation to protect rights… some hope that legislation will be formulated and passed, some hope that the Democrats will meet the dire situation… if they fail to pass legislation, the country is heading down the road of authoritarianism…

… curious movie last night… Test Pattern… about sexual assault, a young woman with a boyfriend goes out with a friend, gets drugged and raped… the drugs made her appear to be willing… though she was not… the bulk of the movie centers on her boyfriends insistence that she go to a hospital and have a rape kit administered, and where it gets interesting, the boyfriend is borderline controlling and possessive… it’s more important to him that she do it than to her… that she is black and he white adds further complexities to the situation… the movie is inconclusive about her and her relationship at the end… it’s interesting, critics seem to have loved the movie, audiences not so much, and i get that… intellectually i appreciate the movie, emotionally, i didn’t really connect…

… i decided yesterday to lay out a plan of what i thought i wanted to accomplish for the day, and then write down what i actually did… it was a mixed bag… things got done, things i had been intending to do, or needed to do, but not everything i planned…

First Thoughts

… a better night for sleep…

… a new electric shaver arriving today, why am i excited?…

… it strikes me that what i wrote about the shaver could become a micro poem…

… the birds are singing… do i hear a cardinal?…

… last night, Heather Cox Richardson wrote about John Lewis and the voting rights act of 1965 and the wholesale attack by Republicans on voting rights, passing restrictive laws which disproportionately affect minorities negatively… it’s an old story, dating back well before the 1965 voting rights act to the Jim Crow south… some, too many, white people want power over everybody and everything else… democracy is not a tool they can successfully use to maintain that power, so they narrow the path to voting which they know will peel away more minority voters than white voters…

… ahh… the cardinal is singing outside my window…

… i have been working on de-googling my self… i have switched to duckduckgo as a search engine… i am working on leaving gmail having set up a new ProtonMail account… i have switched to a new feed reader, Reeder, can i import my feeds from Feedly?… only by installing them as a service… well, at least i am holding google at arm’s length?…

… H up early…

… we finally had some thunder storms yesterday which broke the heat a little bit… maybe some work can be done in the garden today…

03 Voting Rights

… an epic battle is playing out, the likes of which we have not seen since the Civil War… at least, it seems that way to me… there are gaps in my knowledge of history…

… the battle is about who gets to vote and the shape of government in the US will be strongly impacted depending on which side we land on… enfranchising a limited, mostly white, segment of the population or as much of the population as possible… that is, how much of a democracy will our democracy be?…

… at present, the limit the franchise contingent has the upper hand… the coming month or two are critical…

… a vote was held in the Senate this week on whether to startdebate on S1 (For The People Act)… Republicans successfully filibustered…

… congress will recess and reconvene in the middle of July… all eyes will be on whether the Democrats can modify the filibuster rule to allow voting rights legislation to be passed…

03 For The People

this morning’s Heather Cox Richardson post suggests there is movement on the voting rights front… Senator Joe Manchin has made some proposals on voting rights, which were backed by Stacey Abrams… he has also indicated a willingness to modify the rules of the filibuster, only 55 senators would be needed to pass legislation and 60 senators would be required to keep a filibuster going… meanwhile, a Republican running for office in Florida appears to have threatened to hire a Russian hit squad to eliminate his opponent in the primary… hmmm…

04 Democrats and Voting Rights

this article by Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic echos my feelings about the current state of Biden/Harris focus on voting rights… i consider this the defining issue of the next two to four years, because if power is handed back to the current Republican Party, i believe the game is lost…