Sandy Hook + 5 years = idiotic NRA-backed bill

After twenty first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, gun control advocates felt that it was the perfect time to get something done on that front. If Congress won’t respond to the deaths of six- and seven-year-olds, what WILL change them?

But nothing much happened. Professor Charles Collier wrote: “In other words, less gun violence proves that gun control is not needed; more gun violence proves that gun control is not working. In either case, the proper response remains laissez-faire.”

In fact, there is a bill with broad support in the US House of Representatives, tacking on a poison pill to the ‘Fix NICS’ Act, designed to “improve the gun-sale background check system simply by helping ensure that the staffs of federal agencies and states complete a couple more keystrokes and mouse clicks every day and submit more records into the system” The addition is dreadful:

“‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’ would force states to allow people to carry concealed guns in public even if they are domestic abusers, have other dangerous histories, or lack even the most basic safety training to carry concealed guns in public. [It] would leave local police powerless to stop people with dangerous histories from carrying guns.

“‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’ would gut our gun laws because it would force each state to accept the concealed carry standards of every other state — even states that have weaker standards, or worse, no standards at all. And it would not establish a national standard for who is allowed to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public.”

I can easily imagine even a supposed “good guy with a gun” getting shot and killed by law enforcement in the midst of an act of violence.

This I understand: List of mass shootings placed inside nativity scene at Dedham [MA] church. “Pastor Stephen Josoma said the goal is to get people talking about what more can be done to bring peace on earth.”

There is a Sandy Hook Promise channel on YouTube that might provide ideas on addressing the apparently intractable debate over gun violence and gun control.

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50 Best Computer-Animated Movies

When I’m weary, I take a list, in this case, Rotten Tomatoes’ 50 BEST COMPUTER ANIMATED MOVIES. Not incidentally, many of the ones I saw, I viewed BEFORE I had a child. Links to my reviews in this blog.

50. HAPPY FEET (2006)
49. THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011) -I’ve read some of the books
48. ICE AGE (2002)
47. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (2016) – The Daughter expressed interest in seeing this, but it just didn’t happen.
46. SURF’S UP (2007) – I don’t even remember the existence of this film

45. MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (2012)
*44. DR. SEUSS’ HORTON HEARS A WHO! (2008) – saw this first on commercial TV, i.e., with commercials, which diminishes its impact
43. THE GOOD DINOSAUR (2015)
42. MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN (2014) – I SO loved these characters as a child that I actively avoided this
*41. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013) – saw this with a bunch of elementary school children, which made it occasionally difficult to hear

40. KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011)
39. THE BOOK OF LIFE (2014) – I don’t remember the ads
*38. BRAVE (2012) – I think I liked this more than most because Merida didn’t look like every other Disney princess
37. DESPICABLE ME (2010) – my late friend Norman had gotten free passes to see this at the evil Crossgates mall, so the Daughter and I went there. But the movie made her nervous, and we left about a half hour in. Specifically, after one of the girls goes into an iron maiden and her juice box gets punctured. the Daughter has seen the whole film subsequently, and I’ve seen the ending, but not the middle.
36. PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) – I’ve seen bits and pieces, but not the whole thing

35. SAUSAGE PARTY (2016) – it looked rather stupid in the ads
*34. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (2009) – saw this at an elementary school. I somewhat related to the main character
33. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS) (2017) – my niece in Charlotte was a big fan of the books when she was young
*32. WRECK-IT RALPH (2012) – I loved the references that the Daughter could not have gotten
31. KUNG FU PANDA 3 (2016)

30. RANGO (2011) it was nominated for an Oscar, and I had meant to see it
29. KUNG FU PANDA (2008) – I guess I should see these
28. THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015) – I saw this heavily advertised, but my affection for the early TV specials kept me away, I suppose
*27. SHREK (2001) – I enjoyed its mildly anti-Disney message
*26. SHREK 2 (2004)

*25. TANGLED (2010) – I loved the look
24. BOLT (2008)
23. THE LITTLE PRINCE (2016) – I’ll have to look for this
22. ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) – the Daughter watched the series on PBS religiously for a time, and i grew fond of it; I may have to seek this out
*21. A BUG’S LIFE (1998) in the one trivia contest I’ve participated in, in 2017, one of the questions was the type of insect John Ratzenberger, who’s in EVERY Pixar film, played. I had no idea. (He voiced P.T. Flea )

*20. BIG HERO 6 (2014) – the Daughter declared that this movie, which the family saw together, is one of her favorite films
*19. FROZEN (2013) – I MAY have ODed on this film
18. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014)
*17. ANTZ (1998) – I saw this at almost the same time as A Bug’s Life, and I think they blur together in the mind
96%
*16. MONSTERS, INC. (2001) – I saw this in an elementary school, well after its release
96%

15. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017) – I may may yet see this
*14. THE INCREDIBLES (2004) – I love this movie, especially the office drone parts
13. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010)
*12. RATATOUILLE (2007) – once I got over the idea of a rat preparing food…
*11. MOANA (2016) – this IS a lovely film, and I was probably too harsh in seeing it as another Disney formula film

*10. FINDING DORY (2016) – there are parts of this film near the end I find surprisingly moving
*9. THE LEGO MOVIE (2014) – I saw this movie on my birthday for free – I liked this a lot
*8. WALL-E (2008) – I grew to like it
*7. TOY STORY (1995) – at the time, I was just awestruck by the Pixar method
*6. FINDING NEMO (2003) – I still remember the Daughter watching this upstairs at a Christmas party with other kids, and how upset she was when Nemo was trying to escape the dentist’s aquarium

*5. UP (2009) – that first 10 minutes of flashback is incredibly affecting
*4. ZOOTOPIA (2016) – I loved this, a lot; much more complex than I would expected
*3. TOY STORY 2 (1999) – When Somebody Loved Me STILL makes me cry
*2. TOY STORY 3 (2010) – seeing the incinerator scene in the theater was quite intense
*1. INSIDE OUT (2015) – another moving story

26 out of 50, but 17 out of the top 20, and all of the top 12.

Why W and K for US radio and TV stations?

One of those mundane questions I’ve long wondered about, but never bothered to look up, is why virtually all the radio and television stations in the US start with either the letter W or K

From https://www.primermagazine.com/2010/field-manual/know-it-all-w%E2%80%99s-and-k%E2%80%99s-the-history-of-radio-and-television-call-letters Primer Magazine: “In 1912, several countries attended a conference centered on the subject of ‘International Radiotelegraphs.’ One of the biggest things to come out of this gathering was the assignment of certain letters to certain countries, to identify their radio signals – America was given W, K, N, and A (fun fact: Canada got ‘C’ and Mexico got ‘X’).”

But why those particular letters has seemingly been lost. (A for America?)

“While N and A were chosen for American military radio stations, W and K were designated specifically for commercial use. Stations were allowed to choose the letters that followed the K or the W, and the combination was allowed to be three or four letters in length.”

Initially, the K stations were to the east and the W stations were to the west. Thus one can find early stations such as KDKA out of Pittsburgh, PA, established in 1920. By 1926, the Federal Communications Commission codified the idea of having four letters, but stations with three didn’t need to change.

From http://earlyradiohistory.us/kwtrivia.htm Warly Radio History:

“The original K/W boundary ran north from the Texas-New Mexico border, so at first stations along the Gulf of Mexico and northward were assigned W calls. It was only in late January, 1923 that the K/W boundary was shifted east to the current boundary of the Mississippi River. With this change, K’s were assigned to most new stations west of the Mississippi; however, existing W stations located west of the Mississippi were allowed to keep their now non-standard calls.”

This page has more information on the topic than most mortals would want to know, such as the K/W exceptions and other trivia. For instance, some break the rules by owner requests -examples: WACO in Waco, Texas; WMT (Waterloo [Iowa] Morning Tribune).

The page was compiled on 1 January 2017, so it’s quite recent.

For ABC Wednesday

Trivial metadata surrounding music

A friend of mine wrote this about my wife: “[She] likes music but isn’t obsessed with the trivial metadata surrounding it — you know, she knows a song when she hears it but might not know the title or artist, or underlying themes, or what studio it was recorded in, or if the band’s usual drummer was replaced by someone else for some reason on that particular song — that sort of thing doesn’t interest her. ”

My wife is like that. And so are some folks who read my blog who DON’T know who Holland-Dozier-Holland are, or Barry and Greenwich, or Doc Pomus, or even George Martin when I mention them here, all of whom are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They know Carole King from the album Tapestry, but Gerry Goffin, or Mann and Weil, not so much unless they happened to have seen Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

What I realized is that my friend, and much of the crew who worked at FantaCo, and the director of my library, and Dustbury, and Chuck Miller, and I are the anomalies. We’re the outliers who used to read the liner notes of albums to find out who wrote each song, who produced the tracks, even each song’s running time. We discovered that the person who wrote X also both wrote AND produced Y.

I’ll bet some of them used to read the side panels of cereal boxes. I know I did: thiamine, niacin…

I tended to surround myself with like-minded people and fooled myself into believing that almost everyone is like that. Then I post something on, say ABC Wednesday, and folks know the tunes but not the names.

I get the comeuppance I need. I’m the weirdo who knows Classical Gas by Mason Williams is exactly three minutes, designed to accompany some video on The Smothers Brothers TV show, without looking it up. But not everyone’s brain is filled with such musical trivia. And that, I suppose, is a good thing.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Man Who Invented Christmas

I’m a big fan of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – I’ve seen countless iterations – so it was inevitable that the family would go to the Spectrum Theatre on a Sunday afternoon to see The Man Who Invented Christmas.

The noted author (Dan Stevens) had experienced some great success with Oliver Twist. But he was reeling from three flops and a more expensive lifestyle than he could suddenly afford. Nicking an idea from Tara (Anna Murphy), one of the house staff, he decides to create a Christmas story.

But how does one write the tale, find an illustrator and self-publish it in about eight weeks? Especially with interruptions such as an unexpected visit from his estranged father (Jonathan Pryce) and mother?

Worse, the characters, notably Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) but eventually the others as well, fail to go in the direction the writer wants them to go, the ingrates!

Will Dickens deal with his own issues, which are testing the patience of even his most fervent supporters, his wife ( Morfydd Clark) and best friend (Ian McNeice)?

We enjoyedthe movie, unconcerned how true to the facts it might have been. So did most of the critics; 80% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. One negative review, though, seemed to miss the essence of the story, which I would tell you about, but dare not, lest it serve as spoiler.

Did Dickens really pluck names for his characters from people he met, a construct that one critic found too convenient? I have no idea. But I do recall that Ken Levine, who used to write for MASH, would come up with names for characters based on people he knew and even the players on the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

If you’re a Dickens fan, or a writer of fiction, I believe you will enjoy The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Music throwback: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Somehow I missed the controversy over the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside that was apparently raging on social media last Advent. It’s back in full force this year, having shown up in at least two Facebook threads, and I wasn’t even looking.

More than one person I’ve seen refer to it as the “Christmas rape song.” First off, it’s not about Christmas at all. The weather is obviously unpleasant, but it has no more to do with the holiday than “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

The song was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and performed in the 1949 movie Neptune’s Daughter by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, with the guy in pursuit, two people who are IN LOVE, not contending for dominance. In the same film, Betty Garrett is wooing Red Skelton.

Some of the defenders of the song suggest considering the time period. Is it about sex? Possibly, but not necessarily. Perhaps he was being a gentleman by offering his place for her to stay warm into the morning. Her concerns may have been about what people would think about a single woman staying at his place.

But if the original is sweet and consenting, can the many cover versions be seen in the same light?

The specific lyric “what’s in this drink” is also a current concern, given the fact that there have been numerous cases of men (usually) lacing the drinks of women (most often), for the purposes of sex. Many women have reported that Bill Cosby was notorious for doing that sort of thing. But the phrase was, and arguably is, a common joke, justifying one’s goofy behavior, even when one is consuming nothing stronger than grape juice.

In the 2010 Listening While Feminist post, In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, “The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go.”

As for the drink: “The phrase generally referred to someone saying or doing something they thought they wouldn’t in normal circumstances; it’s a nod to the idea that alcohol is ‘making’ them do something unusual. But the joke is almost always that there is nothing in the drink. The drink is the excuse. The drink is the shield someone gets to hold up in front of them to protect from criticism.”

See also the 2016 Vox article: Why “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” became an annual controversy about date rape and consent.

Listen to Baby, It’s Cold Outside, from Neptune’s Daughter.

Here today – “I am holding back the tears no more”

December 1963.

The relationship among the Beatles is a very popular topic on the Quora website. Someone asked: If John Lennon were still alive, would he and Paul McCartney have patched up their differences?

It’s a reasonable question, given the number of post-breakup fight songs that were released by all four of the ex-Fabs, none quite as nasty as Lennon’s How Do You Sleep?, “an answer to Paul McCartney’s ‘Too Many People’ and a direct attack on his old friend.” It even features a slide guitar part played by George Harrison.

As all the respondents noted in one way or another, before he died, John had already resolved his relationship with Paul.

To a similar question, a writer notes: “It’s easy to see how Paul feels about John. Every time he sings “Here Today”, he wells up with tears. There was a lot of love between those two. Brothers always.”

Well, not every time; I’ve seen McCartney get through the song dry-eyed. But in this 2015 interview, around the time of what would have been John’s 75th birthday, Paul notes how he is surprised how affected he can sometimes become, singing the song he wrote back in 1981 about his late friend.

I remember that shortly after Lennon was murdered in 1980, someone put a microphone in front of McCartney’s face and asked him how he was feeling. Paul uttered something like, “It’s a real drag, man.” And he was criticized in some circles.

Stick a mic in front of any grieving person and one is like to find a lack of eloquence. That’s something I’ve been sharply aware of when reporters stalk out people after tragedy.

Listen to Here Today

Only tangentially related:

Coverville 1194: The 14th Annual All-Beatles Thanksgiving Cover Show

Ringo Starr does NOT support Roy Moore’s campaign – reference to “You’re Sixteen”

Labor woes: How it all began in America

Did John Anderson create Ronald Reagan?

John Anderson, a moderate Republican congressman back in the day when there still were moderate Republicans, ran for President in 1980 against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, the Democrat, and the Republican standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan. Of course, the former actor and California governor beat the former peanut farmer and Georgia governor by over 8.4 million votes cast.

Reagan also won an absolute majority of the voters (50.75%) to 41.01% for Carter. Anderson, who died recently, received 6.61% of the ballots. And 1.63% of the people, including, BTW, me, voted for someone else. So those who oppose the Electoral College – the system where all electoral votes go to each state winner – should be satisfied with the results, right?

But under the EC rules, was John Anderson really a spoiler, as some have suggested? 270 electoral votes are needed to be elected.

States won by Carter: DC-3, GA-12, HI-4, MD-10, MN-10, RI-4, WV-6 = 49 electoral votes.

States won by Reagan with more than 50% of the vote: AK-3, AZ-6, CA-45, CO-7, FL-17, ID-4, IN-13, IA-8, IA-8, KS-7, LA-10, MO-12, MT-4, NE-5, NV-3, NH-4, NJ-17, NM-4, ND-3, OH-25, OK-8, SD-4, TX-26, UT-4, VA-12, WY-3 = 263 electoral votes.

So if you add the states where the difference between Reagan votes and Carter votes is greater than the Anderson votes, the Republican easily hits 270. In Alabama, for instance, Reagan bat Carter 48.75% to 47.45%, a difference of only 1.3%. But Anderson only managed to scrape up 1.23% of the votes, with others garnering 2.57%. 9 electoral votes to the Republican anyway.

Anderson did very well in the Pacific Northwest, getting 9.51% of the vote in Oregon and 10.62% in Washington. Yet the difference between Reagan and Carter was 9.66% and 12.34% respectively, meaning those 6 and 9 electoral votes were destined for the GOP column.

Even Illinois, Anderson’s home state, fell into that column. Reagan, who grew up in the Land of Lincoln, got 49.65% of the vote compared with Carter’s 41.72%. Anderson’s 7.3% is less than the 7.93% of the major party candidates. 26 electoral votes solid for the Gipper.

This is not to say Anderson wasn’t a spoiler in some states. In New York, Reagan beat Carter by 2.67% but Anderson got 7.54% of the votes. AR, CT, DE, KY, ME, MA, MI, MS, NC, TN, VT, and WI theoretically COULD have gone to Carter if it weren’t for Anderson. It would not have mattered to the outcome.

“Yes, Virginia” – say what?

I was looking for suitable material for the work blog and came across a piece called “Yes, Virginia, Online Shopping Is Going to Get Hotter This Season.”

What I discovered was that our intern, an undergraduate student, had NO idea what the “yes, Virginia” reference meant. And I checked with another young adult and got the same blank response. Yes, I know this is a small sampling.

Talking to our interns has been useful. They know a LOT of things I’m only dimly aware of, but are oblivious to others. Watching JEOPARDY! sometimes has the same effect, as I miss the references to movies of 2017, but nail the questions that all three contestants in their twenties to forties fail to ring in on.

As I thought on it, I should not have been surprised by the pop cultural divide. I mean, “yes, Virginia” was a reference to something that happened over a century ago. With SO much information out there, this type of cultural diffusion was inevitable.

Still, I was, to my surprise, slightly sad. Not to romanticize it overly, but it felt as though another bit of a shared bit of the common culture was fading away. And the headline writer of the article was unaware of it.

As many of you DO know, Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and “the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897.

“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”

The response, in part:

“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”

Women of the news unite


Watching CBS News This Morning on Monday, December 4, Norah O’Connell and Gayle King were joined for the week by frequent contributor Bianna Golodryga, who was the chief reporter in the announcement of the suspension, and later firing, of that program’s Charlie Rose in November 2017, and also detailed the firing a week later of NBC’s TODAY show anchor Matt Lauer. Both men subsequently apologized for sexually inappropriate behavior.

The first story on the 4 December news was about the Mueller probe into Russian interference in US politics, as reported by Margaret Brennan, who shares the White House beat with chief White House correspondent Major Garrett. Then justice correspondent Paula Reid reported on a guy removed from that investigation.

Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes spoke about the tax bill the Senate passed, with reporter Juliana Goldman noting what was necessary to be reconciled between the House and Senate versions. Business analyst Jill Schlesinger broke down the possible impact of the legislation.

Jericka Duncan reported on the possible CVS/Aetna merger. After the local news break, Meg Oliver talked about the return of a runaway teen to her family.

There wasn’t a single male reporter until about 40 minutes in, when Ben Tracy, foreign correspondent, described preparations in case of a war with North Korea. I’m not sure this was just a happy accident.

With the two high-visibility men brought down by complaints of sexual impropriety, I wonder if CBS News was making a statement about how capable their women on-air talent is.

CNN noticed that It’s all women this week on ‘Today’ and ‘CBS This Morning’.

I had watched The TODAY show on NBC way back in the days of Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters in the late 1960s; to Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, the current host of CBS News Sunday Morning; to Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric.

I didn’t quit watching until Ann Curry, promoted from being the long-time newsreader, was forced out in 2012, with what was generally understood to be the acquiescence of Lauer, who, at 20 years was the longest-serving TODAY host ever. He won’t get paid rest of $20 million contract after NBC fired him.

Curry, meanwhile, is getting a new gig on PBS. And speaking of PBS, it announced ‘Amanpour’ as interim replacement for Charlie Rose on its late night schedule, Christiane Amanpour’s existing program on CNN International.

Who might replace Lauer on TODAY’s first two hours? It’s unlikely to be Megyn Kell, now on the show’s third hour, who came over from FOX News, another network rocked by a sexual harassment scandal against former host Bill O’Reilly, and earlier, the former Fox News chairman, the late Roger Ailes.

It is likely that model of older, established male and younger, generally pretty, female co-host is going to get shaken up on the morning news programs. Of course, some folks will complain about the “feminiazation” of the time slot, which early on was, with the exception of the “weather girl”, “men’s work.”