Charleston News

Zoe’s off to Charleston for the Emanuel 9 Rally for Unity. Joan Baez will be there to perform “The President Sang Amazing Grace” and Zoe will be part of her entourage. Alas, I can’t be there given my recent surgery, but it will be amazing.

The video is also being screened in New York:

Additionally, the official music video for “The President Sang Amazing Grace” will be screened ahead of most shows at New York’s IFC Center beginning tomorrow, Friday, June 22, through next Thursday, June 28 (excluding first shows of the day, midnight screenings, screenings with in-person appearances or specialty one-off screenings).

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A Country of Mass Child Abuse

This is what unified Republican control has taken us.

There’s all sorts of contours to the horror show (claiming that child abuse is following the rule of law while claiming Trump is above the law comes to mind) but the brute fact is they are torturing kids. By free choice.

This is where we are.

Voting Matters!

As I recover from hand surgery, here’s another blast from the Monkeyfist Past. Alas, PA got rid of the big mechanicals.

My taste for irony sometimes finds a bit of unexpected sweetness in bitter experience or a dash of salt in singularly bland events. So it was today as I voted for the first time in Maryland in our pathetic midterm elections. I could discern no Greens on my ballot, so I voted mechanically for Democrats and those with female looking names. I don’t think my vote made any difference, much less a difference I even marginally care about. [Ed note: current me grew up and is very happy voting straight Democrat.]

It’s not clear that I even got that smidgin of personal satisfaction stemming from my childhood training in “civil virtue” — Yay, I’m a good citizen! I’m part of the process! The founders did not fight and die in vain! — On the other hand, while I don’t think I would have felt guilt at failing that taught duty, I probably would have felt odd at not feeling guilt. I guess I feel a gray satisfaction in acting in conformance with my old internalized standards, even if the motive forces have shifted. This is part of aging, I suspect; I will try to look forward to the next erosion of character.

One thing that used to perk me up for voting was playing with the voting machines. In Pennsylvania, we had voting machines as nature intended: big, hulking, industrial slabs of iron with big, heavy mechanical levers and an institutional green curtain wrapping around round like a hospital privacy screen. These things were big enough — as anyone who’s fairly adventurous or who’s seen Pecker knows — to have sex in. When you voted in one of these booths you knew you were in the rust belt and that US democracy was part and parcel of the Industrial Revolution.

In North Carolina I used little forms and felt pens: somewhat like the SAT, except with no ability to erase and no chance of a decent grade. We voters would fill out our ballots at little fold-out stands with mini-drapes — stands clearly meant to be folded up and stacked in the back of a station wagon or SUV. The ballots then got fed into a cooler-sized box which would slurp and flash a red LCD tally of slurps. I don’t know if scanning occured in these boxes, and I really didn’t care. Even more than the general character of North Carolina politics, this procedure made voting a bit hard to take seriously.

So now I live in Maryland, working in a Semantic Web research lab. As befits my post-industrial, information-age work, Maryland has touch-screen, computer-based voting machines. Though they, like North Carolina, have the little fold up stands; you’d think that the proximity to DC would inspire people to be a bit inspiring, what with all the monuments. The ‘puter-based machines did perk me up a little, as I still have a few habits left from my techno-toy influenced youth. The machines ran ugly Windows apps but seemed otherwise reasonable until the very last screen. It presented a scrolling window with an overview of my selection, a big blue button on the left for revisiting my choices, and a big green button smack dab underneath the down arrow on the scroll bar reading “CAST BALLOT”.

To add to the moment, there was a faint, pastel, small line of text along the top, which said something like “Be careful when scrolling down not to accidentally cast your ballot”.

Windows programming in embedded systems must be even harder than I thought if they couldn’t have switched the buttons or simply moved the button to the center of the screen where there was plenty of space, or put a confirmation screen between the review screen and the act of casting your ballot.

Surgery Day!

About 1.3 years after my first, failed, surgery on my right hand, we’re about to go again! Yay?

Of course, I didn’t sleep at all. That’s my way. It’s a bad, stupid way, but we don’t pick a lot of the way we are.

Last time, I was the only person to take before pictures. I bet I’ll be the only one again!

This gives you a rough idea. It’s a mess. The position you see is about the position I have. There’s very little range of motion.

I’m told that I may or may not end up with replacement knuckles. This squicks me the FUCK out.

So, exciting.

Last time I went in thinking I was going to have general anesthesia but ended up with a nerve block. Here’s hoping for a nerve block.

The worst outcome for me is no improvement. Well or a lifetime of searing pain. Or both!

The worst outcome for everyone else is that I lose the hand and end up with a hook. I would be such a pain in the ass with a hook.

We’ll see how this affects the blogging. Interruption for medical reasons is ok!

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth is, by far, without question, it’s not even close, the best US holiday. It was grass roots, celebrates the emancipation of black folks in the US, and it has a cool name.

Things can get better. Them getting better isn’t inevitable and there might be backsliding, but they can get better.

It’s a shame that the Republican Party has become a force for untrammelled evil. It’s their shame. The rest of us have the shame of failing to crush that evil, or at least trammel it more.

We don’t have to accept kids in cages…again.

Juneteenth tells us that we can fight and win and make the world better.

So, happy Juneteenth. Let’s hope we don’t need another war to turn things around.

Sunday Baking: Failed Clafoutis, Open Blueberry Pie, and Soon to be Gooseberry and Strawberry Pie

I didn’t think clafoutis could fail, but it did:

You can’t really see it in these photos but the butter separated out. I was blotting it off with paper towels. It was edible in the end but still rather sad.

I made my first blueberry pie of the season:

The filling is precooked but mildly so the blueberries stay whole. It’s amazing.

Zoe picked some early gooseberries so I’m making a galette like thing. It’s getting late so here’s the berries macerating:

Here it is ready for the oven:

And I think in needed a bit more pinching:

There’s some oven cleaning in my future.

We had a pretty good blueberry Chelsea bun from the borough market:

Not as amazing as the miso blueberry one though!

I don’t usually like cream donuts, but this cherry-mascarpone donut from SIOP shop was fabulous. The cheese was tart and it had giant juicy cherries: