June Rambling: Hal Holbrook; Marimba Queens

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) voted for marriage equality at its General Assembly this month. “Ministers will be allowed to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.”

On the other hand, Freedom and Faith Coalition’s Road to Majority conference had an Obama figurine in the urinal.

CBS News Sunday Morning did a piece, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children. The ever-interesting Dustbury on Gender Confirmation Surgery.

Writer Jay Lake worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian… to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. “Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence. ‘You can’t just download Facebook content into an archive.’”

A cartoon from 2008, and still apt: A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States.

Mark Evanier on O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia.
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Y is for the Young brothers of AC/DC

acdchighwaytohellGot all the way to Y before I found a family band for which I actually own none of their albums: the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. I have a dearth of 1970s/1980s hard rock. Still it would be difficult for me to be totally oblivious to them, if only because of the schtick of Angus’ schoolboy pants.

LISTEN to:
You Shook Me All Night Long.
Back in Black, which is one of the most recognized hooks in rock music. Continue reading

The Mississippi US Senate runoff: a poster child for Instant Runoff Voting

LADYVOTING_000As you may know, there was a Republican primary for the US Senate seat between long-time incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel on June 3.

Chris McDaniel 155,040 49.5 %
Thad Cochran 153,654 49.0 INCUMBENT
Thomas Carey 4,789 1.5

The Democrats also had their primary for the seat. You probably didn’t know that because a Democrat is highly unlikely to win in the general election in November:
Travis Childers 62,545 74.2%
Bill Marcy 10,134 12.0
William Compton 8,261 9.8
Jonathan Rawl 3,399 4.0

Mississippi election law requires a candidate to win a majority of the vote to be nominated, and McDaniel barely missed the threshold. This meant a runoff election for June 24.

Runoff elections are particularly expensive because 37 of the 40 Senate run-off elections since 1980 have seen decreases in turnout from the initial primary, “reflecting the difficulty in getting voters to care about a primary election two times in a row.”

This, however, was a different beast. The race had “become a proving ground for some Tea Party groups… On top of that, add the deliberate effort by Cochran’s camp to turn out more black voters, mixing up the expected voter pool. That makes predicting turnout tough.” As it turns out, there was a much HIGHER turnout for the runoff.

Cochran * 191,508 50.9%
McDaniel 184,815 49.1

From the Ballotopedia: “Mississippi is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Voters do not have to register with a party, but they must intend to support the party nominations if they vote in the primary election.” One aspect is that voters in the Democratic primary June 3 ought not to have been able to also vote in the Republican runoff on June 24. McDaniel supporters have suggested that’s exactly what happened.

All of this could have been avoided if Mississippi had instituted Instant Runoff Voting:

Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish, but can vote without fear that ranking less favored candidates will harm the chances of their most preferred candidates. First choices are then tabulated. If more than two candidates receive votes, a series of runoffs are simulated, using voters’ preferences as indicated on their ballot.
The candidate who receives the fewest first choice rankings is eliminated. All ballots are then retabulated, with each ballot counting as one vote for each voter’s highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated.

In the Mississippi GOP scenario, after the June 3 primary, Thomas Carey’s votes would have been distributed to Cochran and McDaniel, based on who was Carey voters’ second choice. Majority would have been reached. There would have been no need for the June 24 runoff, and no chance for the Democratic party supporters to vote in the Republican primary without foregoing their opportunity to vote in their OWN primary.

IRV is being used in a number US jurisdictions, sometimes only for overseas ballots, but sometimes more extensively. Several locales internationally use it as well.

I’d love to see IRV implemented in New York State. Even though New York does not have runoffs, it’s often been the case that a candidate has been elected with less than a majority of the vote. The The governor’s race this fall would be a real reflection of the Green Party support, since people would not feel that their vote was being “thrown away” on a candidate who could not win. Of course, it can’t happen that soon, but it’s still worth considering.

The chili incident

This happened last month, and someone who knows that I blog said, “That’ll show up in your blog.” It had not occurred to me, frankly. But since I do the Ask Roger Anything feature, I’ll give it a go.

There’s a cafeteria in the building where I work in Corporate (frickin’) Woods. The staff is generally friendly, and the food is at least adequate, most of the time. I was not interested in the featured meal, or a sandwich. But I opted for the chili, which they don’t always have, and which I’ve enjoyed in the past. There was some shredded cheese in a bowl next to the vat of chili, and I added a soupcon of it on top.

What I couldn’t find, though Continue reading

Fans of Andy Warhol: ABC Wednesday, Round 15 is a comin’

abc15Seven years ago, Denise Nesbitt from England created ABC Wednesday. It was brilliant in its simplicity. People, literally from around the world, post an item – pictures, poems, essays – that in someway describe each letter of the alphabet, in turn. I’ve been participating since the letter K in Round 5, my Keating Five post.

Denise recruited a team of her followers to do some of the intro writing and visiting, which eventually included me, because doing it all was too exhausting. Two years ago – that long, already? Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 123: Reading is Fundamental

One evening when she had no homework, the Daughter complained, “I understand why you’re limiting me watching television. That’s all right! But reading?”

I was so pleased. I was only “limiting” her reading because she had to go to bed, and get up in the morning. In fact, because of my lax parenting, I had to wake her, as she had fallen asleep, reading some Roald Dahl tome.

Often, her bedroom door is closed in the morning Continue reading

Why the 70th birthday; and why did they rig the student election?

Way back in 2012, Uthacleana asked:

What’s this “Turning 70” meme you’re promoting, Roger? Doesn’t anyone just turn 59 anymore?! ;-p

(I should note that he. and I, turned 59 that year.)
madein1944
I started doing the 70th birthday thing because the Beatles (Ringo and John by then; Paul and George followed) were all turning the big seven-oh. Other folks I admired were heading towards a milestone. I noted at the time too that three score and ten was noted in the Bible as well (Psalm 90:10).

But it occurred to me only recently that it is also Continue reading

X is for X; yes, that’s the name of the band

X-Beyond_and_Back-_The_X_AnthologyHello there, ABC Wednesday people.

Sometimes I’ve introduced you to bands I’m surprised you don’t know (The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac). Sometimes, it’s groups I doubt you know (the Roches). Today, I’m sharing a band I very much doubt you know. And when better to do so than on the most difficult letter of the round. The name of the band is X. Just the letter X. And yes, I have those first four albums, on vinyl, all of which were produced by The Doors’ keyboard player, Ray Manzarek.

From the Wikipedia: “X is an American punk rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1977. Established among the first wave of American punk, the original members are vocalist Exene Cervenka, vocalist/bassist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer DJ Bonebrake.” The family band connection: Exene and John were married from 1980 to 1985.

“The band released seven studio albums from 1980 to 1993. After a period of inactivity during the mid to late 1990s, X reunited in the early 2000s, and currently tours.”

“X achieved limited mainstream success but influenced various genres of music, including punk rock and folk rock. In 2003, X’s first two studio albums, Los Angeles and Wild Gift, were ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as being among the 500 greatest albums of all time.”
Here is Los Angeles And here is Los Angeles (again).

“1981’s Wild Gift, broadened the band’s profile when it was named “Record of the Year” by Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Village Voice.
Here is Wild Gift.

My long-time friend Karen, who’s in the music business, once told me that John Doe was “like us.” By this, I believe she meant that he was not a pretentious jerk, like some of the people she has worked with.

“X then signed to Elektra in 1982 to release Under the Big Black Sun, which marked a slight departure from their trademark sound. While still fast and loud, the album’s country leanings were evolving and its raw punk sound was channeling raw guitar power chords. The album was heavily influenced by the death of Exene Cervenka’s elder sister Mirielle (Mary) in an automobile accident in 1980.”
Here is Under the Big Black Sun, which is Exene’s favorite album.

“1983 saw the release of the More Fun in the New World album. X slightly redefined their sound with this release, making it somewhat more polished, eclectic and radio-ready than in previous albums. With the sound moving away from punk rock, the band’s rockabilly influence became even more noticeable.”
Here is More Fun in the New World.

“A side project of some of the band members was Poor Little Critter on the Road in 1985, under the name The Knitters: X minus Zoom, plus Dave Alvin (of The Blasters) on guitar and Johnny Ray Bartel (of The Red Devils) on double bass.” Dave Alvin taught Exene how to play guitar, and was briefly in X..
LISTEN to Someone Like You – the Knitters.
Walkin’ Cane – the Knitters
And for good measure: LISTEN to I’m Shakin’ – The Blasters from their eponymous album I also own; in fact I probably bought the LP for this song.

My collection of X ends here save for Shoot Out the Lights (LISTEN), a cut on a collection of Richard Thompson covers. Though I DO have one John Doe and two Exene solo CDs.

A couple more LISTENS:
Burning House of Love – X
Burning House of Love- Knitters (2005)

I’m going to guess that, of the four albums, most of you may find the last one more accessible, and the first less so. Or not.

 
 
 

***
ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Cheney and Iraq

Cheney
Charlie Rose’s PBS show was on one night a couple weeks ago, and Thomas Friedman was on, talking about this climate change movie he was involved with; I taped to watch the next night. One sentence jumped out at me. In the places where Arab Spring seemed to have worked, notably Tunisia, it involved an understanding that there needed to be a sharing of power.

Then I started watching the NBC Nightly News, and the foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, was back in Baghdad, Iraq. He explained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Continue reading