These are your only options

Shouldn’t you be allowed to vote for whoever you want?

I remember the anger at the people who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000.  I get it.  I voted for Al Gore, I loved Al Gore, Al Gore is like my dream politician (boring experienced intellectual veteran centrist conservationist globalist).  But the people who voted for Nader get to vote for Nader!  Al Gore didn’t earn their vote.  They don’t owe Al Gore a rotten fig.  You can’t be mad at the people who voted for someone else for not cynically falling into line to vote for an establishment centrist they didn’t prefer.

Same deal with Susan Sarandon!  She can vote for whomever she wants, cool for her for having interesting choices.  You’re gonna blame her for Trump?  Blame the woman who had an absolute slam dunk layup election on her hands, who had many advantages, enormous amounts of money, her husband was a very popular President of the United States two Presidents ago, for failing to convince enough voters to vote for her.

Dr. Jill Biden, in New Hampshire, says:

You have to swallow a little bit and say, ok, I personally like so and so better, but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.

If you check out the video you can also see Joe Biden’s first campaign ad, which highlights how “all the polls agree” Joe Biden is the best candidate to beat Trump.

Quit your thinkin’, voter, this one’s been decided for you.  Who’re you gonna believe, your judgment or some polls we pulled together?

The whole premise of the Biden campaign makes me sick.  This is a guy who was a weak, confused candidate who couldn’t stop himself from making stuff up and plagiarizing not just speeches but the family histories of other politicians when he was in his prime!  And now he is… guess how old Joe Biden is.

Did you guess 72?  74?

Joe Biden is seventy-six years old!  He will be seventy-eight if he takes the oath of office in Jan 2021.  Eighty-two at the end of his first term.

What has Joe Biden done with his life?  I get that he was Obama’s pretend best friend, but really, who is a person who in Joe Biden’s thirty-eight some years of public life he really helped?  Uplifted?

(skimming his Wikipedia page)

OK I guess he did stand up for Delaware’s chicken farmers, Delaware’s banks, and in many ways benefitted the people of Delaware (by getting them federal taxpayer money). He was an advocate for Delaware, a state with a population of about one-quarter of the city of Los Angeles.

Where has he been on the big issues?  He voted against the “good” Iraq War, the one we won, and for the bad one, the one that was a stupid, deceitful, horrible disaster from start to… finish?  I guess it’s over?  For us?

(Oh no wait we still have five thousand troops there.)

Joe Biden is sometimes said to know a lot about foreign policy but he was exactly wrong on the biggest American disaster of my lifetime.

Biden has said, “I consider the Violence Against Women Act the single most significant legislation that I’ve crafted during my 35-year tenure in the Senate.”[119]

OK, well that is cool, but didn’t the same bill also eliminate higher education for inmates and create new death penalty offenses?

The argument I hear for Joe Biden is that white Rust Belt working class men, who are alleged to have cost Hillary Clinton the election in Wisconsin, Ohio, etc,  like him.  Well, I don’t know if that’s true, I am not a white Rust Belt working class man.

I do think that:

1) the group credited with “swinging” the last election is never the group credited with swinging the next one

2) it’s not my job as a voter to put myself in the hypothetical mindset of some possible swing voter in another state and attempt to pander to their whims in order to take out the current whim-panderer.

It’s my job to choose the candidate who I try and suss out has the best character, judgment, and policy understandings and preferences to be the President of the United States.

For a campaign to suggest anything else, to suggest five months before the first primary/caucus that voters should shut up and get in line, that this is your only option, is so insulting I can scarcely believe it.

We try not to be all negative at Helytimes, so in the interest of saying something nice about Joe Biden he does have a great smile.


The evils of private planes

from Wikipedia, Boeing 727

Once I was told a story about a world famous celebrity.  This celebrity, the story went, was in a new-ish religion.  This celebrity had some sexual desires and proclivities that he was ashamed of.  Maybe the religion made him feel bad about it.  But in the theology of this religion, what you did at say 30,000 feet of altitude wasn’t technically on Earth or something and thus was bound by different rules, or maybe no rules at all.  So the celebrity would fly up in a plane and fulfill these desires up there between here and space.

Whether that story is true I dunno.  It wasn’t told to me very reliably.  Pure gossip and alleged.  But doesn’t it ring kind of true?  Mythologically if not actually?

There’s something evil about private planes.

What plane did Jeffrey Epstein even have?  I went looking for a photo of it, and couldn’t find one I felt came from a reliable source.  Christopher Maag, writing in the North Jersey Record (is that a good newspaper? I don’t know!):

His planes, which ranged from a Cessna to a Gulf Stream jet to a Boeing 727, recorded at least 730 flights to and from Teterboro between 1995 and 2013, according to flight logs contained in documents unsealed last week by a federal court in a lawsuit brought by one of Epstein’s alleged victims against one of his close associates.

Look for a photo of Epstein’s plane, if you have idle Internet time.  See if you find one that you’re pretty confident is a confirmed, legit photo of his plane.

Making sense of his flight logs is beyond my expertise.

Did Epstein own these planes outright?  Did he pay the bills on the gas and stuff?  The hanger?  He had a 727?

Gladwell, Malcolm: Writer.

“I was invited to the TED conference in maybe 2000 (I can’t remember), and they promised to buy me a plane ticket to California,” Gladwell says now. “Then at the last minute they said, ‘We found you a ride on a private plane instead.’ As I recall, there were maybe two dozen TED conferencegoers onboard. I don’t remember much else, except being slightly baffled as to who this Epstein guy was and why we were all on his plane.”

You and me both, buddy!  From NY Mag’s roundup of everyone who knew this guy.

found this here at the Museum of Flying, kind of hard to find a photo of the Caroline, and I can’t figure out who took this one

When John Kennedy was running for President his father Joe Kennedy bought a plane.  Other candidates had chartered planes, but unless I’m mistaken he was the first candidate to own his own plane.

The President has use of a plane, Air Force One.  Supposedly JFK helped pick the colors.

Cecil Stoughton photo of Air Force One in 1962 from the JFK Library.

But it’s not his (her) plane.  It’s our plane, the people’s plane.  Once you leave office, it’s not yours any more.

For eight years Bill Clinton had Air Force One.  But then he left office, and he wasn’t rich enough to buy his own plane.  What was he supposed to do, fly commercial?  Of course not!  He called his friends who were rich enough to have private planes, and got rides from them.

Some of these guys were bad guys.

That level where you have a private plane.  Where you can fly anywhere you want, any time you want.  

You can be kinda rich, where you’re not really worried about money, you can eat fancy dinners and live somewhere you like*. Then let’s say you get twenty million more dollars.  Might feel very nice, maybe you buy a fancier house, or worry even less about money, or start a small foundation or take care of more people around you or something.  But have you really jumped a level?

I don’t know, I don’t have $20 million dollars, but I don’t think so.  What if after the twenty million you get ten million more?  Is anything improved?

But then there’s the private plane.

That plane isn’t just comfort, it’s power.  It’s access, it’s freedom, it’s being on another level.  Above it all.

What will people do to get to that level?  To stay there?

Who is that important that they need a private plane?  No one.  Richard Branson loves it, Warren Buffett admits he likes his (he doesn’t own it, I believe Berkshire does).  No doubt it saves them time and hassle, no doubt they can get to deals quicker and the power compounds.  And if you believe in capitalism don’t you believe you should be able to buy what you can afford, the market has determined efficiency, and what’s better than freedom, etc.

But isn’t there something a little obscene about private planes?  Everyone wants to fly in them, but everyone knows there’s something a little wrong about it.

From Politico:

“I’m not shocked that while thousands of volunteers braved the heat and cold to knock on doors until their fingers bled in a desperate effort to stop Donald Trump, his Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders would only deign to leave his plush D.C. office or his brand new second home on the lake if he was flown around on a cushy private jet like a billionaire master of the universe,” said Zac Petkanas, who was the director of rapid response for the Clinton campaign.

The gall.

Radical proposal: in the wake of the Epstein case, the FAA and Congress should look into banning private planes.  Everyone can fly commercial for awhile.  (Exception if you are yourself at the controls as pilot.)

 

 


Sandwich I’m still thinking about

BBQ Beef:

When you are at Craig’s you are on the Arkansas Pie Trail:


Delta

ruins of Windsor Plantation

Found myself, for the second time in two years, driving Highway 61 through the Mississippi Delta.  I don’t feel like I intended this, exactly.  Once was good.  But there I was again.

This map by Raven Maps was a breakthrough in understanding the Delta, what makes this region freakish and weird and unique.  The Delta is low-lying bottomland.  Thinking of the Mississippi in this area as a line on a map is inaccurate, it’s more like a periodically swelling and retreating wetland, like the Amazon or the Nile.  Floods are frequent, vegetation grows thick, the soil is rich and good for growing cotton.  That is the curse, blessing and history of the Delta.  This year Highway 61 was almost flooded below Vicksburg.

The river from the bluffs at Natchez

The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg. The Peabody is the Paris Ritz, the Cairo Shepheard’s, the London Savoy of this section. If you stand near its fountain in the middle of the lobby, where ducks waddle and turtles drowse, ultimately you will see everybody who is anybody in the Delta and many who are on the make.

So said David Cohn in his famous essay of 1935.

It’s been awhile since I was at The Peabody.

Dave Cohn was Jewish.  Shelby Foote had a Jewish grandfather.  The Delta was diverse.

So says Shelby.  On the Delta fondness for canned beans:

from:

Here’s something North Mississippi Hill Country man Faulkner had to say about people in this region:

Q: Well, in the swamp, three of the men that lived in the swamp did have names – Tine and Toto and Theule, and I wonder if those names had any type of significance or were supposed to be any type of literary allusion.  They’re rather colorful names, I think.

A: No, I don’t think so.  They were names, you might say, indigenous to that almost unhuman class of people which live between the Mississippi River and the levee.  They belong to no state, they belong to no nation.  They – they’re not citizens of anything, and sometimes they behave like they don’t even belong to the human race.

Q: You have had experience with these people?

A: Yes.  Yes, I remember once one of them was going to take me hunting.  He invited me to come and stay with his kinfolks – whatever kin they were I never did know – a shanty boat in the river, and I remember the next morning for breakfast we had a bought chocolate cake and a cold possum and corn whiskey.  They had given me the best they had.  I was company.  They had given me the best food they had.

The Delta is a ghost town.  In 2013 The Economist reported

Between 2000 and 2010 16 Delta counties lost between 10% and 38% of their population. Since 1940, 12 of those counties have lost between 50% of 75% of their people.

Another Economist piece from the same era has a great graphic of this:

“You can’t out-poor the Delta,” says Christopher Masingill, joint head of the Delta Regional Authority, a development agency. In parts of it, he says, people have a lower life expectancy than in Tanzania; other areas do not yet have proper sanitation.

Everywhere you see abandoned buildings, rotting shacks, collapsing farmhouses.  This gives the place a spooky quality.  It’s like coming across the shedding shell of a cicada.  There are signs of a once-rich life that is gone.

Here’s an amazing post about the sunken ruins of the plantation of Jefferson Davis.

Every town that still exists along the river of the Delta is on high ground or a bluff.  Natchez, Port Gibson, Vicksburg.  Once beneath these towns there were great temporary floating communities of keelboats, canoes.  But the river has flooded and receded and changed its course many times.  Charting the historical geography of these towns is confusing.   Whole towns have disappeared, or been swallowed.

Brunswick Landing, of which nothing remains.

The first time I ever thought about the Mississippi Delta was when I came across this R. Crumb cartoon about Charley Patton, who was from Sunflower County.

Something like 2,000 people lived and worked at Dockery Plantation.  It’s worth noting that this plantation was started after slavery, it was begun in 1895.

At the time, much of the Delta area was still a wilderness of cypress and gum trees, roamed by panthers and wolves and plagued with mosquitoes. The land was gradually cleared and drained for cotton cultivation, which encouraged an influx of black labourers.

In a way, the blues era, say 1900-1940 or so, was a kind of boomtime in the Delta.  The blues can be presented as a music of misery and pain but what if it was also a music of prosperity?  Music for Saturday night on payday, music for when recording first reached communities exploding with energy?  Music from the last period of big employment before mechanization took the labor out of cotton?  How much did the Sears mail order catalog help create the Delta blues?

We stopped at Hopson Commissary in Clarksdale, once the commissary of the Hopson plantation.  (Once did someone run to get cigarettes from there?)  Here was the first fully mechanized cotton harvest – where the boomtime peaked, and ended.  If you left Mississippi around this time, you probably left on the train from Clarksdale.

 

If in Clarksdale I can also recommend staying at The Delta Bohemian guest house.  We were company and they gave us their best.

you may need this number

Here’s something weird we saw, near Natchez:

A topic of controversy.

We listened to multiple podcasts about Robert Johnson selling his soul at the crossroads, that whole bit.  The interesting part of the story (to me) is that, according to the memories of those who knew him, Robert Johnson did somehow, suddenly, get way better at the guitar.  I like this take the best:

Some scholars have argued that the devil in these songs may refer not only to the Christian figure of Satan but also to the African trickster god Legba, himself associated with crossroads. Folklorist Harry M. Hyatt wrote that, during his research in the South from 1935 to 1939, when African-Americans born in the 19th or early 20th century said they or anyone else had “sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads,” they had a different meaning in mind. Hyatt claimed there was evidence indicating African religious retentions surrounding Legba and the making of a “deal” (not selling the soul in the same sense as in the Faustian tradition cited by Graves) with the so-called devil at the crossroads.

Does everybody in the music business sell their soul to the Devil, one way or another?

Is there something vaguely embarrassing about white obsession with old blues? I get the yearning to connect to a past that sounds like it’s almost disappeared, where just the barest, rawest trace echoes through time.  But doesn’t all this come a little too close to taking a twisted pleasure in misery?  And is there something a little gloves-on, safe remove about focusing on music from eighty years ago, when presumably somewhere out there real life people are creating vital music, right now?

I dunno, maybe there’s something cool and powerful about how lonely nerds and collectors somewhere and like tourists from Belgium connecting to the sounds of desperate emotion from long dead agricultural workers.

My favorite of the old blues songs is Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground.  Blind Willie Johnson wasn’t even from the Delta though, he was from Pendleton, Texas.

 


Plans are worthless, but planning is everything

During a speech in November 1957 Eisenhower employed the saying again. He told an anecdote about the maps used during U.S. military training. Maps of the Alsace-Lorraine area of Europe were used during instruction before World War I, but educational reformers decided that the location was not relevant to American forces. So the maps were switched to a new location within the U.S. for planning exercises. A few years later the military was deployed and fighting in the Alsace-Lorraine: 2

I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.

so says Quote Investigator.  Eisenhower’s speech can be found here.  Nixon picked up the quote in

I remember learning at the Nixon library about Nixon’s writing routine when he wrote this book in a house in Apple Valley, CA:

He used a Dictaphone or wrote longhand, working in seclusion, according to Esquire Magazine.
For breakfast, he ate a bowl of Grape Nuts and drank a can of orange juice. He wrote until noon, then paused for a ham sandwich.

Believe I first heard Eisenhower’s quote from Jeff Melvoin at a WGA showrunner training like mini-camp.  I’ve found it profound.

One time a female Uber driver told me the secret to winning over women is “plan ahead.”

A brief skim of Eisenhower images on NARA.GOV leads us to this gem

General Eisenhower’s dog, Telek, poses for photographers on top of desk. [65-658]


Top Of The Rock

Purging some books from my collection.

This one no longer sparks joy.  Perhaps because the cover itself is too busy, and also summons up a specific 90s period that now feels almost grotesque?

I got a lot out of this book.  What an era – when the most popular TV show really was the funniest.  On Frasier:

What a great, brilliant innovation.  It really gave Frasier a different, quieter feel than some of the other shows of the era.

How about this story about Clooney on the first day of E.R.:

 


Busy

Noticed something about myself, but maybe it’s true for you, too.  I am most productive when I am a certain level of “busy.”

When I have absolutely nothing to do, like zero, I rarely get anything done.

There’s a level of overwhelmedment where I am also useless.

But at just the right level of medium busy, my machinery hums and I get a lot done.

Surely there’s meaning in this!

(Image found by doing a search on NARA.gov for “busy.”

Original Caption: Older Citizens, Retired Persons and Those Unable to Care for Themselves Physically Are Cared for in Two Community Centers. This Man Lives at the Highland Manor Retirement Home, Keeping Busy with “Old Country” Crafts. New Ulm Is a County Seat Trading Center of 13,000 in a Farming Area of South Central Minnesota. It Was Founded in 1854 by a German Immigrant Land Company That Encouraged Its Kinsmen to Emigrate From Europe.

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-15875

 

Photographer: Schulke, Flip, 1930-2008

 

Subjects:

New Ulm (Brown county, Minnesota, United States) inhabited place

Environmental Protection Agency

Project DOCUMERICA

 

Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=558325

)