February Rambling: niece Rebecca Jade in a movie

autocorrectFrom Jeff Sharlet, who I knew long ago: Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia. In 2010, Jeff wrote about the American roots of Uganda’s anti-gay persecutions. He notes: “Centrist media sources dismissed my reporting as alarmist; The Economist assured us it would never pass. [This week], Ugandan President Museveni is signing the bill into law.”

There was no Jesse Owens at Sochi.

Arthur’s letter to straight people: why coming out matters; read the linked articles therein, too. (Watch that Dallas sportscaster on Ellen.)

So Dangerous He Needs a Soo-da-nim. Racist homophobes who comment on Sharp Little Pencil’s blog.
Continue reading

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Advent/Christmas stories and songs

Random FB pic

MUSIC:

Jaquandor has been offering Your Daily Dose of Christmas.

About.com’s Top 100 Christmas songs

The Bells of Christmas by Julie Andrews from a Firestone tire LP I still own.

Nat King Cole -The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Snow from White Christmas (Bing Crosby, et al).

The Dream Isaiah Saw, plus the backstory of the song, the lyrics and another rendition.

Tamale Christmas by Joe King Carrasco

SamuraiFrog’s contributions Continue reading

Malala, the government shutdown, and other things

I was quite moved watching Malala Yousafzai on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this past week. Malala is the teenager shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan, but survived, and has since set up a fund to support girls’ education. Here’s Part 1, the section that aired, but see Part 2 and Part 3 as well. If those links don’t work, try this one.

When you listen, you’ll note that what she’s advocating for is essentially a liberal arts education, wanting girls to think for themselves, radical in the environment from which she came. The group that shot her were pleased she didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize this week Jon Stewart may want to adopt her but she is reviled in her own hometown as not being Muslim enough or being a CIA plant.
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My job is funded by state and federal monies. Which is to say I’m still working, but if this partial government shutdown continues for a while Continue reading

August Rambling II: Smart is sexy and stupid is not


The New York Times’ prophetic 1983 warning about the NSA, which naturally leads to Glenn Greenwald killed the internet.

My Feelings About the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape in 10 GIFs.

Invisible Disabilities Day is October 24. I have this friend with rather constant neck pain, but she doesn’t LOOK sick, and therefore feels diminished by those who actually don’t believe her. Conversely, The Complexities of Giving: People with Disabilities as Help Objects.

Photos of the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Asylum. I backed the Kickstarter for this and wrote about it a couple years ago.

“Each week, TIME Magazine designs covers for four markets: the U.S., Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.” Often, America’s cover is quite, well – different. I had noticed this before. I don’t know that it’s “stunning,” but it IS telling.

The Peanuts gang meets The Smiths, in which This Charming Charlie masterfully blends Charles Schulz’ comics with lyrics by The Smiths. Continue reading

Like father, like daughter: to the E.R. again

The Daughter: STILL allergic

When we last saw our intrepid little family, the father of the household was getting a ride home from his overnight hospital stay Friday afternoon by his lovely wife. Saturday, he was still exhausted; he didn’t sleep well Thursday night, and Friday night’s rest was insufficient. He muddled through Saturday, doing a minimum of vacuuming and dish washing, and not much else.

Even Sunday morning, there was a sense of fatigue within him. But since almost everyone knew about the hospital incident, he wanted to show up to prove he was still among the living. Fortunately, all the songs the choir sang he had performed before.

At the coffee hour, somehow the Daughter had gotten permission (not from her father) to eat some coffee cake, despite being unclear about its origins. Apparently it’s one of those items that had that warning that it may be processed in a plant that used peanuts or nuts. She is allergic to peanuts, and peanuts and nuts are often processed in the same place.

Shortly after consuming it, she got every upset. Was it a belated sense of fear? Her father took her into a quiet room and tried to calm her down. She was OK for a bit, but by the time she got home, she had a stomachache, and eventually upchucked. This was actually a good thing; the first time she had an allergic reaction, when she was three, that was how her body responded. So the family thought it was in the clear.

A couple hours later, the Wife noticed, above the knees and below the neck hives over about 30% of The Daughter’s body. It itched greatly. After a call to the pediatrician, another trek to the E.R.

It’s much less busy Thursday at 8:40 a.m. than Sunday at 5:30 p.m. She got some Benedryl, stronger than the OTC we had given her. Then the family stopped at the McDonalds; the Wife seems to believe going inside is faster, an unproven premise, but staying in the car would have meant avoiding the most rude, vulgar-language customer; “Where’s my f@#$ing food?” , more than once, among other things.

The Daughter was asleep by the time the family got home. she got through dinner then was practically carried to bed; the Wife stayed home with her on Monday.

The lesson relearned – no food where peanuts or nuts are processed. I hadn’t heard the rule had changed…
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That evening,there was an ambulance in front of our house. It was actually called for our next door neighbor’s house. The father of one of the college kids had been drinking a couple bottles of beer with the guy when he was having some difficulties – I didn’t get the details. Turns out e had food poisoning; glad it wasn’t worse.

Book Review: The Complete Peanuts, 1950-1952

Unfortunately, for some contractual reason, the reruns of the Peanuts strip that appear in newspapers these days are limited to the 1960s or 1990s. I’ve pretty much stopped looking them. Now, if they were allowed to go back to the very beginnings of the strip, THEN I’d start reading them again.

The problem for the syndicator, from a purely marketing point of view, is that the characters were still evolving, not at all as familiar as some of them would become. The key characters in the early days Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 85: Peanut free

As some of you know, the daughter has a peanut allergy, discovered when she was given a peanut butter cookie shortly before she was three. Interestingly, she didn’t have the typical symptoms of swelling. Instead, she vomited – several times. And she has been tested about a year ago, and she is still allergic.

I’ve noted here in the past that there are basically two kinds of people, when it comes to food allergy safety; Continue reading

Roger Answers your Questions, Tom and Scott

I’m happy to get a question from Tom the Mayor, an old colleague of mine, a picture of whom I came across just last weekend.

What, if any, was your favorite comic strip or comic book when you were young? Mine was Dennis The Menace. It was the first comicbook I ever read.

By the time I was 10, I was reading both newspapers in Binghamton, NY, the Sun-Bulletin and the Evening (and Sunday) Press. I read all of them, except Prince Valiant. I had a particular affection for Peanuts and B.C. and The Wizard of Id. The latter two were by Johnny Hart, who was from the area (Endicott, specifically) and was involved in the community. I even had an Id book, “The peasants are revolting!” I also had a peculiar affection for Gil Thorp, this exceedingly earnest sport-related serial strip.

As for comic books, I read them. Early on, it was Archie, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, but all disposable to my mind. Later, mostly DC (Legion of Superheroes, Justice League of America, Superman) but I soon outgrew them, too. Superman being subjected, not just to green kryptonite, but to red, gold, aquamarine…it just got silly.

That’s why, when I went to college, and found this guy who would become my good friend, and he was reading comics, I thought it was weird, and that he was weird. (He WAS weird, actually; he used to hang off the edge of his desk like Snoopy hung off his doghouse roof.) But he was reading Marvels. So I re-entered reading comics very late, and I didn’t read DCs again (except for Green Lantern/Green Arrow and a couple of non-superhero books) until I worked at FantaCo.

Scott of the Scooter Chronicles, now gainfully employed, I’m happy to note, asks:

1. Do you have any interest in the World Cup?

It’s peculiar that I actually do, because I have no recollection of caring 4 or 8 or 12 years ago. I think it’s that the coverage, everything from ESPN to notifications from the New York Times to Twitter makes it feel as though it’s been covered better. BTW, Tegan tells an interesting story, only tangentally related.

2. Who do you think will win the AL and NL Pennant this year?

If the Yankees stay healthy, they can. Otherwise, it’ll be Texas or maybe Tampa; just not feeling it from the Central Division.

I’d like the Mets to win, but Philly or San Diego seem more likely. Again, not believing in the Central.

3. Who wins the World Series?

The American League team, probably.

4. Is there a novel that you have always meant to read, or feel you should read, but haven’t yet?

Lots and lots. About 2/3s of Billy Shakes, e.g. Then again, I’m more of a non-fiction guy, comic books notwithstanding, so it’s more ought to than want to. I miss my reading group at my old church which forced me to read outside of my comfort zone.

5. What was the craziest question you have been asked from one of these sessions?

Well, it probably came from you, Scott. Seriously, I keep hoping for a truly weird one that I can sidestep, but no, you folks are too nice. Maybe I should try it on my newspaper blog site. Some of those people in the general public are CRAZY.

6. What is your opinion on how BP and the government are handing the oil spill in the Gulf?

For one thing, I don’t understand how it became called an oil SPILL. When you drop a glass of water, the water spills – downward. Oops. This is more like a geyser. Yes, the oil geyser, that’s what I think I’ll call it.

As for the Obama Administration response, it tends to show how much in bed the government has been with the industries they are supposed to be regulating, hardly unique with these particular officials. We, or those of us who were actually paying attention, have known this all along. And, to be fair, so have those folks who believe there has been too much regulation; they just liked the results more. That’s how you get your Joe Bartons apologizing to “poor BP”.

But clearly, the ultimate fault was shoddy corner-cutting by BP. The judge who stopped the Obama administration’s six-month lockdown on new deep-sea drilling said that the federal government is acting as though this could happen again; that’s PRECISELY what worries me.

Yes, the governmental response to oil geyser has, until recently, been slow. They believed BP’s lies and seemingly had no way to verify the information independently. I’m not remembering; did the federal government give BP permission to use the dispersant? Because I’m convinced that has created a whole new problem below the surface, which may ultimately be most toxic for sea life.

Apropos of oil, why have we not heard very much about the oil disater in Nigeria going on right now?

7. Is there a piece of art (painting, sculpture, etc.) that you really admire?

I saw, I believe in Albany, but it could have been NYC or Boston, a version of Rodin’s The Thinker, which was one of the most sensual things I had ever experienced in my life. Two-dimensional photos do not do it justice, and I’m not convinced that even these three-dimensional online tours can capture it. Gotta see it in person, if possible.

If The Wife and I have Our Piece of Art, like couples have Our Song, it would be The Kiss by Klimt; it’s even on a coffee mug of ours.