Saturday, October 31, 2020

Plague Books: Stark Sixties

Richard Stark's Parker:The Hunter, Adapted and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, IDW Publishing, 2009

Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit, Adapted and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, IDW Publishing, 2010

Richard Stark's Parker: The Score, Adapted and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, IDW Publishing, 2012

Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground, Adapted and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, IDW Publishing, 2013

Provenance: Loaned from Stan! Brown.

Review: Real good. Lemme give you the backstory.

Author Donald Westlake wrote under a wide variety of pen names to match his various styles and markets, and one of the most successful was Richard Stark, who penned a long-running series about Parker (no other name given, may not even be his real name), a successful career criminal. Parker specializes in large scale heists, then lives well off the proceeds for a few months, until the bank account drops and he goes back for another score. He ties not to kill innocents (there is a lot of knocking people on the head and tying them up), but needless to say, he ends up killing a lot of not-so-innocents. The books have been wildly popular and turned into various movies over the years.

Artist Darwyn Cooke, who passed on in 2016, has a distinctive and unique style. I always connect him with New Frontier, a DC series from 2004 but set in DC's "Silver Age" of the early 60's. In both instances he has a clean, open style and an incredibly dynamic handle on action. When Stan! lent me the books, I did not expect to see how much he translated the novels into wordless action sequences where every beat landed and carried the reader from one panel to the next.

Back to Parker of the moment. He's the guy you're rooting for, in part because the people he is up against are so much worse. He's ice-cold and callous on the job so he can relax later. In his stories, Parker is on the job, and then gets betrayed, and then gets revenge. That's the basic plot of  both The Hunter (the first of the books by Stark) and The Outfit. When I read The Hunter, it tickled a memory of an old movie with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickenson.. Point Blank. And yep, it is based on the novel. 

 In many ways, Parker is kinfolk to the Continental Op, who lives on the other side of the lawful divide. Parker lives in that twilight world of crime, where everyone is a little bit crooked, and a lot of the crooks don't even think of what they do is criminal. Maybe they drop off a briefcase. Maybe they make a call. Maybe they wait by the track for someone to make a call. They are cogs in the greater machine. They don't do well, but they get by.

And then someone gets greedy, or stupid, or crazy and it all goes to hell. In The Hunter, one of Parker's confederates betrays the rest of the crew and leaves Parker for dead - he gets revenge. In The Outfit, someone sells Parker out to help himself, and Parker brings down the entire organization on the other side. In The Score, Parker puts together a crew of people on a chancy job against a mining operation in a box canyon. In Slayground, an armored car job goes casters up and Parker is trapped in an shut-down amusement park as gunmen hunt him. Slayground also has a short backup story - The 7th, which collapses an entire novel down into a double-handful of pages without losing much of the plot. 

And Cooke is brilliant in the art. His command of the medium is perfect as wordless panels show as opposed to tell. He works with the black and white medium with its long shadows and silhouettes and makes it sing. And he gets down into the weeds of the procedure of the crimes and counter-crimes and he explains it all, summarizing the challenges and opportunities, laying out how things are supposed to go and how Parker crashes the party. His character's best weapons are knowledge and understanding of the human condition - he can kill without remorse but also knows how to calm down his targets.

Cooke also situates the work squarely in the 60s, with Esso stations and road maps and cars with big fins, Tiki decor and night clubs and risque matchbook covers. Angular clothing for the men and soft tight-fitting curves for the women. This is lightyears away from New Frontier in its darkness and brutality, but has that same openness of line and sense of hope that the Kennedy era spawned. 

Cooke passed on in 2016, so there will only be these four volumes, but that will be enough. It is strong enough to make me look for the old Stark novels themselves when I can get into the used book stores again. Or even dig up a Lee Marvin movie.

More later, 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Plague Book: Baker Street Boys

 The Final Solution, A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon. HarperCollins 2004

Provenance: From the collection of John (Sacnoth) Rateliff. John notes within the book when and where he purchased the book, and when he read it. IN this case, it was purchased from Borders' Books on February 5 on 2005 and finished the next day, when it was raining..

Review: Short novel, but for me it proved to be a long read.

I think this slender book can be entered as evidence into the argument of the difference between Literary Fiction and Popular Fiction. Chabon has set up his shop in this borderland, with tales that sound like Genre Fiction. The Yiddish Policeman's Union is Alt-World SF, Gentlemen of the Road is Historical Fantasy, Yet I won't dare to say he elevates the genre so much as applies Literary Fiction techniques to what might otherwise be popular fare.

Here the story is a Sherlock Holmes story. Holmes is never identified as anything other than the old man or the detective, retired and tending to his bees. It is in the heart of WWII and the ancient detective comes up on a young boy, a mute refugee from Europe, who has a grey parrot. The parrot recites numbers in German. No one knows what the numbers mean, but it could be important, which in turn kicks off a number of other things, including the theft of said parrot and a murder. 

Chabon's style is ... ornate, bordering on baroque in places - thickly layered and crossing back on itself, so I am often reading a single paragraph as second or third time to figure out what I missed. His pacing, as in Gentlemen of the Road, is a stone skipped across a lake surface - each chapter involves a direct change of scene, time, and often narrator, and it takes a while for the mental gears to catch and the reader to understand what it going on. 

From the genre side, the author plays fair with the reader - the clues are presented in a fashion that when the reveal is made, it does note require knowledge the characters might know but was denied to the reader. From the literary side, the tale is much more about in interior lives of the characters - the detective, the police, the inhabitants of the house where the young mute boy resides, even the parrot itself Even the curiosity of the the parrot is not revealed to the characters inhabiting the book, but the reader is rewarded with a hint of what is truly going on. Holmes does not solve that particular mystery, but it is not one he is charged with solving.

The illustrations, by Jay Ryan, are good, weaving the text itself into the art. I've noticed this with a number of short books - is interior art a value-added for such short volumes, to make up for the lake of tonnage in the page count itself?

It does occur to me that I have been more successful listening to Chabon's books on audio than actually reading them. The text does flow if read by someone who knows what is going on, though I still need to back up occaisionally in case my mind wanders and I miss something.

More later, 

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Political Desk: The Jeff Recommends

So, this has been a marathon. How did we do? 

Well, the pledge of "No Republicans" was pretty easy to adhere to, in that some of the Republican candidates were SO BADSOME that such a choice would be easy even in normal years. But the fact that the state and managed some really choppy times of late and come out mostly whole has shown that the folk in charge at least have a clue. And it would be a good thing that expand that out to the rest of the nation. Here's the summary:

Referendum Measure No/ 90 - Approved

Advisory Vote No 32 - Approved
Advisory Vote No 33 - Approved
Advisory Vote No 34 - Approved
Advisory Vote No 35 - Approved

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8212  - Approved 

harter Amendment No 1 - Inquests - Yes
Charter Amendment No 2 - Disposition of Real Property for Affordable Housing- Yes
Charter Amendment No.3 - References to Citizens - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 4 - Office of Law Enforcement Oversight - Subpoena Authority - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 5 - Making the King County Sheriff an Appointed Position - No
Charter Amendment No. 6 - Structure and Duties of the Department of Public Safety - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 7 - Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Family Caregiver, Military, or Veteran Status - Yes

Proposition No. 1
Harborview Medical Center Health and Safety Improvement Bonds - Approved. 

President and Vice President of the United States: Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris
United States Representative Congressional District No. 9 - Adam Smith

Governor: Jay Inslee
Lt. Governor: Markos Liias
Secretary of State: Gael Tarleton
State Treasurer: Mike Pellicciotti
State Auditor: Pat (Patrice) McCarthy
Attourney General : Bob Ferguson
Commissioner of Public Lands: Hilary Franz
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Chris Reykdal
Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator: Bob Hasegawa
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Postion No. 1: Zack Hudgins
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Postion No. 2: Steve Berquist

State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 3 - Raquel Montoya-Lewis
State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 6 - G. Helen Whitener

Superior Court Judge Position No. 12 - Andrea Robertson
Superior Court Judge Position No. 30 - Doug North

So, if you haven't voted, go vote now. Vote like it matters, because it does. See you after the 3rd.

More later

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Political Desk: Judges

In Washington State, we elect our Judges. I'm good with that, and it is part of the direct democacy that works for us. And I say this fully admitting that a LOT of positions don'r even have two candidates in them. I will only cover those that have compeititve races here.

When I recommend Judges, I keep a tab open to, which does a nifty job aggregating the important endorsements for the various positions. Unless the candidate in question has other black marks against them, I tend to listen to it. It has served me well, and should work for your locality.

State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 3 - Raquel Montoya-Lewis
State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 6 - G. Helen Whitener

Superior Court Judge Position No. 12 -  Andrea Robertson
Superior Court Judge Position No. 30 - Doug North, though his opponent, Carolyn Ladd, also gets extremely high marks. This is a toss-up, but I give it to Judge North based on his experience. 

Finally, we sum up.

More later, 

The Political Desk: State Legislature

Ah, now we are down in the weeds. These are the folks we are sending to Olympia for part of the year to sort things out. Even if you are voting in Washington, you might not know these folks. They are pretty good, and gives me hope for politicians. 

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator: Bob Hasegawa
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Postion No. 1: Zack Hudgins
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Postion No. 2: Steve Berquist

Bob Hasegawa has no opposition this time. Congratulations, Bob Hasegawa!

Zack Hudgins versus newcomer David Hackney. I'll be honest, both are good, and this is one of those races where we will get fine service regardless. I go back and forth on this, but ultimately  I will go with Zack Hudgins - he's been sending out newsletters.

Steve Berquist is a teacher who went to Olympia because they were slack on teachers in the State House. And he's done a good job. Let's keep him.

That's it for our State Legislators, at least the ones I can elect. 

More later, 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Political Desk: State Level Offices

So the entire state executive branch goes up for re-election every four years. A lot of this we've covered back in the primaries, so this is more of an update.

Governor: Jay Inslee
Lt. Governor: Markos Liias
Secretary of State: Gael Tarleton
State Treasurer: Mike Pellicciotti
State Auditor: Pat (Patrice) McCarthy
Attourney General : Bob Ferguson
Commissioner of Public Lands: Hilary Franz
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Chris Reykdal
Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler

Governor: If we put responsibility of the reacting to the current national crisis upon the President, it only makes sense to put state challenges on the Governor. And Inslee has been up to the task. At the start of the year, we were the epicenter of the pandemic, with minimal help from the Federal Level (there were exceptions, like the Army Corps of Engineers). Inslee went with the science, and we now are not even in the top half of states measuring by per capita. So, good job, there (though the numbers are creeping up again). His opponent is a short-term small town sheriff who doesn't believe in enforcing laws he doesn't like, and has Fox News as a podium for it. Yeah, let's go with the grown-up - Jay Inslee.

Lieutenant Governor is between two Democrats, both with experience and capability. Markos Liias is more activist as opposed to conciliatory, and I'm in for that. A former GOP candidate for Governor is running as a write-in, hope the Dems split the vote neatly enough for him to squeeze in. It is a tough sell, particularly since this Republican is already in trouble for lending personal money for his own campaign, then taking it back after he lost. 

Secretary of State is the one office that I regret my "No Republicans" stance. The incumbent is capable, competent, and no fan of the current administrations' War on Democracy. Her opponent, Gael Tarleton, is actually pretty good as well, writing bills on cyber-security and election protection, so she is a reasonable choice. This is one of those situations where you really have a choice between two good candidates, we will be well served with either. But go with Gael Tarleton.

Fun Trivia Fact: The State GOP gripes about not having a Republican Governor since 1985, but we have not had a Democratic SoS since 1964.

State Treasurer: We currently have a Republican State Treasurer because of a split primary ballot resulting in two GOPs running against each other in the general election four years ago. This time there is a choice. The incumbent Republican has been relatively inert, despite federal threats to deny the state funding because the White House doesn't like our politics. Let's get a little more progressive - Vote for Mike Pellicciotti 

State Auditor: So we DID have a big scandal this year, with crooks ripping off the State Unemployment Bureau in the opening act of the Pandemic. Who spearheaded tracking the money down and getting a good chunk of it back? Incumbent Pat (Patrice) McCarthy. So yeah, let's keep her.

Attorney General: We have a superstar in Bob Ferguson, who has been an activist in resisting the utter stupidity of the Federal Executive Branch of the Federal Government. He's been on his toes working as "the people's lawyer" for everything from Eyeman's poltical scams to credit card fraud to Facebook to being 22-0 (so far) against Trump. Yeah, Let's keep him as well.

Commissioner of Public Lands: Are we still on fire? Not so  much? Let's keep Hilary Franz. She has a strong balance between commercial forestry needs and the environment, and has worked hard to reduce the impact of wildfires. She's done a good job.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: The incumbent is Chris Reykdal. He has had his hands full recently (pandemic, online teaching, you know, the usual), but has been up to the task. And he's carrying the responsibility (and brunt) of Ref 90 to make sure your kids aren't getting all their sexual health education off the Internet. So let's keep him as well.

Insurance Commissioner: I always feel bad about this, because I get down to this level and just say that Mike Kreidler has done a good job for twenty years and you should vote for him. Because he has and you should.

That's the State of the State - More later, 

The Political Desk: The Feds

 So, at the Federal Level : Joseph R. Biden for President and Kamala D. Harris for Veep. Because D'uh.

Let's see if I can frame this without referring to the occupant currently squatting in the White House. Joe Biden would make a good president. Period. Now, usually comes the caveats about how he would not be my first choice, or that some of stands have been incorrect, well-intentioned,but wrong, or about how he's a little bit boring. But actually, I think he would a good job, and that's what I'm looking for. 

Biden is an experienced legislator with a long track record. He plays well with others, and is willing to reach across the aisle to those who disagree with him (some see this as a weakness, but I say it is a requirement). He not only believes in what he says, he is willing to listen and sometimes change his mind. I don't agree with all his positions, but I do trust opposing views will at least get a fair hearing. 

He has also been in the White House before, knows how it operates, and where Obama hid the keys for the liquor cabinet. He was an engaged, active Vice President who worked with his administration to get things done. So he's done the tutorial.

In the period of the campaign season itself, he has navigated the pitfalls of the campaign amazingly well. His former Democratic opponents endorse him, and endorse him heartily. He has pulled together the various wings and factions of the Democrats into a generally consistent whole. The Democratic showcase of the convention was a showcase of unity. At the best of times, the Democratic Big Tent resembles a rugby scrum more than a processional, but has he has provided leadership to pull it all together. 

His choice of Veep has been inspired as well. Kamala Harris is Shroedinger's Vice President - Both the top cop of California as Attorney General and to the left of Bernie Sanders in her voting record in the Senate, she has confounded detractors on both sides. She's been strong and resolute and capable, unlike a couple of the spare tires on the GOP side over the past few elections. 

In the debates and town halls, Biden has been resolute, calm, and almost incredibly patient in the face of national meltdowns. He has weathered all sorts of personal attacks and came out of it. Pseudo-scandals have brewed up and evaporated time and again. There may be something he has done out there somewhere, but compared to the present admin, he's practically a paladin.

Endorsements? A bunch. Most of them are the usual suspects, but there are a lot of former members of the current administration who think he'd be the better choice. A lot of folk who are now retired and no longer have to kneel before their political masters. And people who don't normally endorse, like Scientific America, or USA Today. The other side? Rosanne Barr, the Klan, and the Taliban (though to be fair, they rejected the Taliban's endorsement).

And Biden  has plans. Plans he has actually shared with people. He actually has a platform, which it sounds like he has read. He's let other people read those plans. And they have said "Yep, These are plans". Surprisingly good plans. 

Lastly, and this is a person thing - he comes across as nice. One of the Trump flunkies compared him to Mr. Rogers in a negative way, inadvertently kissing off any chance for the GOP to take the Pittsburgh area. I don't buy that, no more than the Onion portrayal of the man as wearing denim shorts while hand-washing his Trans-Am behind the White House. But even I have to admit he comes across as a caring, reasonable human being.

Let's end the chaos. We need someone who can lead us out of this mess. I think we need Joe Fixit. He's going to have a huge to-do list should he win, and I think he and his vice president are up for it.

More la... Oh, hang on, there is another Federal Level to look at.

Congressional District Number 9 - Adam Smith is the incumbent, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, and has been doing the job for a while. He deserves to go back. His opponent is a conservative talk show host who lost to him several times already. Not a lot to say here, so let's go with Adam Smith.

NOW we say, More later.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Political Desk: King County Measures

Not content with just giving us advisory votes, the ballot has seven Charter Amendments (changes to the King County Charter, our operating system) and a Bond Proposition. These are the nuts and bolts of local government, and while I mock the Advisory Votes, these have real weight. Five of the Amendments are pretty tame (And don't even have people arguing against them in the Voter's Guide), but two are doozies.

Charter Amendment No 1 - Inquests - Yes
Charter Amendment No 2 - Disposition of Real Property for Affordable Housing- Yes
Charter Amendment No.3 - References to Citizens - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 4 - Office of Law Enforcement Oversight - Subpoena Authority - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 5 - Making the King County Sheriff an Appointed Position - No
Charter Amendment No. 6 - Structure and Duties of the Department of Public Safety - Yes
Charter Amendment No. 7 - Prohibiting Descrimination on the Basis of Family Caregiver, Military, or Veteran Status - Yes

Proposition No. 1
Harborview Medical Center Health and Safety Improvement Bonds - Approved. 

Charter Amendment No. 1 - We have to have a inquest if the police are involved in someone's death. We have to make sure the deceased's family has adequate representation. What, we don't have that already? - Yes

Charter Amendment No. 2 - Remove restrictions on letting the county sell real estate for less than fair market value IF the property will be used for affordable housing. - I can see how this might be gamed, and needs proper oversight, but Yes.

Charter Amendment No 3 - Change to replace the word Citizen" in the preamble with "public", "member of the public", or "resident". - OK, that makes sense. Yes.

Charter Amendment No. 4 - Lets the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) Subpoena people in investigations - Sure.

Charter Amendment No. 5 - Making the King County Sheriff an Appointed Position - No. Here's where I break with the other amendments. I don't think we are well-served by going back to an appointed position, as an elected position tends to make the position a) local and b) more responsive to the citizens./public/residents than one whose primary task it keep the Council happy. King County has bounced back and forth on this a couple times - Elected until 1968, then appointed until 1996, and now elected again. Both have strengths and weaknesses. One weakness of the current system is when the current Sheriff retires/leaves mid-term, their replacement then runs as an incumbent, which sort of defeats the entire idea of fresh elections (and happens a LOT). But I don't think the appointed position has done us any great favors in the past, so this may not be the solution people are looking for.

Charter Amendment No. 6 - Changes to the Structure and Duties of the Department of Public Safety. On the other hand, I am good with the County Council setting up the structure of the Department of Public Safety. I am not a fan of defunding the police - if anything, they need more training and applicable resources, but a good solid re-org would be to everyone's advantage - sending non-police matters to other agencies, for example, as opposed to piling it on other police responsibilities - So, Yes

Charter Amendment No,. 7 Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Family Caregiver, Military or Veteran status. The county can't discriminate against people who are in the above categories, even they were discharged from the military for being gay. Again, we don't have this already? Yeah.

And finally - 

Proposition No. 1 - Harborview Medical Center Health and Safety Improvement Bonds. Yep, we're in a pandemic. Approved.

More later,

The Political Desk: State Measures

This year, is a bit odd (I know, it's 2020 - EVERYTHING is odd). But this year is PARTICULARLY odd in that a lot of people who read this blog (both of you), have already voted. The turnout for early voting nationally has been incredible, despite blatant attempts at vote suppression. Washington State, with its complete mail-in ballots, has usually had the jump on the rest of the nation with its habits, but it is in the middle of the pack. And, among the people I pay attention to on Facebook, people are spinning their ballots around fast. I just got mine, and they have a message on the envvelope recommending mailing your ballot in the Friday before election day (because the Feds are messing with the Post Office).

So I'm going through the ballot in order, and summarizing as opposed to going into excruciating detail here, just to get through everything. And we are starting out with the boring part, as listed on my ballot - State Measures. Here's the head's up: Approve all this stuff.

Referendum Measure No/ 90 - Approved

Advisory Vote No 32 - Maintained
Advisory Vote No 33 - Maintained
Advisory Vote No 34 - Maintained
Advisory Vote No 35 - Maintained

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8212  - Approved

Intrigued? Let me go into detail.

Ref 90 is the probably the flashiest measure on the ballot this year, because it about sex. Education. Sex education. I would require districts to adopt a uniform, age appropriate sexual health education. Like 28 other states have already. Like parts of Washington have already. Should be a no-brainer (and yeah, the State Government is charged with the education of its citizens), but it has the fundie undies in a twist. Apparently, they feel that informing kids will result in perverted twister in the classrooms and the pop-up kama sutra in their book bags. They are incensed that the state government passed this law, and are using the Referendum system to try to overturn it (which is their right, even though they are wrong).

I am surprisingly in favor of not having stupid kids, and with giving them a better view of sex than what they get on the Internet. So yeah, Approved.

The Advisory Votes 32-35 are just filler.They are literally votes that don't matter. They exist because of a measure passed by initiative maven/gadfly Tim Eyeman that was not entirely thrown out of court. As a result, the state is obligated to ask your approval whenever approval of a new tax (with very broad definitions of what a new tax is). However, they are under no obligation to DO anything about it. It is sort of like a poll - You still hate taxes? That's nice. Anyway:

Advisory Vote 32 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5323 adds a small tax on carryout plastic bags. Yes, this is how down in the weeds you can get.  Maintained

Advisory Vote 33 (Substitute Senate Bill 5628) is a tax on heavy equipment rentals - Maintained

Advisory Vote 34 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6492) increased B&O taxes on certain businesses while reducing surcharges. What certain businesses? Big computer companies (I had to dig for this - increases the B&O tax a tiny bit on businesses making over $100 billion a year). - Maintained!

Advisory Vote 35 (Engrossed Senate Bill 6690) raised B&O taxes on manufacturers of commercial airplanes. Which is to say, Boeing,This one is interesting in that Boeing SUPPORTS this tax, because it offsets other bennies the state gives it that WTO thinks are illegal - Maintained.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments - Are changes to the state constitution. They DO have weight as opposed to the Advisory votes.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No 8212 - Raising funds for long-term care for the elderly. Since I am planning, some time in the far future, to be elderly, I think this is a good thing. - Approved.

So that's it for the boring order of business, now on to ... what's that? We still have to do the COUNTY Amendments and propositions.

Fine. More later,

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Political Desk Opens: All The Marbles

Every election I do this - go through the ballot and make recommendations. Have done so for years, for an audience that is fives if not tens of people. But it helps me sort a few things out and do some research. Other people's recommendations are at the bottom of this entry. 

But spoilers: No Republicans.

Sorry folks, I’m just about done with the Republican Party. Every year I find worthy, experienced candidates from the GOP side, and common-sense initiatives supported by conservative causes. Not so much in recent years and not so much this time.
Starting at the top, if you still support the infected, immoral, incompetent, impeached, incumbent you have just not been paying much attention for the past four years, or you just don't care. There has been just so much wrong with executive branch - the lack of planning as the pandemic has hit us, the corruption, the indictments, the graft, the sexual assaults, the raw, ever-growing, angry insanity. There’s much, much more and much, much worse, but I’m keeping it to one paragraph. Four years ago I something to the effect that I would not let him work the grill at a fast food joint. Now I wouldn’t let him in the building.

And it rolls all the way downhill. The Republican-held Senate has its own cast of miscreants, and has been completely inert on any legislation that doesn’t put money into the pockets of rich people and corporations. The latest is denying Covid relief while pushing through the latest underqualified Supreme Court justice. 300-some bipartisan bills from the House have not even had a hearing, let alone a vote. Enough.

So yeah, no Republicans.Clear 'em out and get some people who want to do the job in there.

I’d like to say that things are better for the GOP here in blue Washington, but the nutters are in control of the party here as well. We have a GOP candidate for Governor is a small town sherriff who aches to be a conservative media star, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate now running a write-in for Lt. Governor, and the conservatives rallying around the idea of keeping kids stupid.

And those in the party that are not outright crazy are enablers to this horrorshow. They may not be racists, or fascists, or criminals, but they decided those things aren’t deal-breakers. And I understand. I still consider myself a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but I haven’t seen a game since Willie Stargell retired. I check them in the standing about once a week (yep, they still suck), but that's about it. Habit is something comprehensible, but take a good hard look at what you’re supporting.

So, from me, I’m just done with Republicans.

I’m not alone. A lot of Republicans are done with Republicans. I have never seen so many groups have that traditionally been supportive of the GOP backing away cautiously. Military folk. Wall Street, Retirees. People who work for Republicans. Even traditional Republicans have had it. The most vocal gang - The Lincoln Project, is a bunch of old-time GOP backers who have been tearing into the present administration with abandon for destroying their party. The conservatives have always been better at slinging mud at their opponents, and this group, the mean girls table of the GOP, has been nastily effective in ways that the lefties and progressives have not.

But what about the other guys making recommendations?. The Stranger's recommendations can be trusted to be progressive (in fact, they are bashing a lot of candidates they are supporting for being less-than-left to their tastes), but even the stolid, stodgy Seattle Times has skewed solidly blue this time, I always point folk to VotingForJudges for a good read on the few competitive judge races. The Progressive are here. The Muni League looks like it folded up its tents back in 2017. And my friend and youtuber Sig Trent walks through his ballot for Pierce County. As others show up I will pass them along here as well.

So Let’s hit this thing and make it happen.

But remember, No Republicans.

More later,

Friday, October 16, 2020

Life in the Time of Virus - Changes

Office in a Small City, 1953

The world is frozen. The world is always in motion.

Month Seven has passed and change is in the offing. Still working from home, but I have changed positions. Crucible has been “sunset” (cancelled) and now I am working on a new project for Amazon, of which I cannot speak.

However, this has resulted in several changes. For the past 6 months I have been camped out in the basement library with two laptops and my personal monitor. My desk has been an old oak table purchased from Milt’s Woodshed in Walworth (Milt’s a character, yaknow), and my chair has been a straight-backed dining room chair. The table is littered with piles of games and vinyl record albums, and my monitor has been perched on a couple boxes of the Dominion game. And that’s OK, because I thought this was a temporary measure and we would be back in the office soon.

But there may no longer be an office for a cancelled project, and when my new team heard about the strength of my computers, the feeling was that I needed some real firepower. So I have a new desk chair, desk, laptop and tower, along with sundry additional things. I took down the drafting table I had in the corner of my personal office (I try to keep church and state separate as much as possible), and installed myself there, which will be warmer during the coming winter months. But it has been a weird feeling, sort of a permanent shift for me.

Oh. Also, got a haircut, finally.

We have recovered from the smoky days of previous month, and slipped effortlessly into fall, which in Seattle terms means rain, windstorms, and the occasional clap of thunder. The birds disappeared during the worst of the smoke, but seem to have returned, though I don’t know if they are the originals or migratory versions that are passing through. In any event, the hummingbirds are now at the feeder, and chickadees battle over the fountain.

The outer world continues. The Lovely Bride is wrapping up tax extensions from last year, already extended by the government once. Spot shortages continue – the latest is caffeine-free diet soda and shower cleaner. Also rubbing alcohol, which people are turning into hand sanitizer and shower cleaner. The Lovely B has gone to vodka for her mix. Which is OK, since I haven’t picked up any ginger beer lately.

I actually got sick the other week. It was probably a reaction to a shingles vaccine (I had gotten a flu shot at the same time - why not go for two?), and it left me achy and congested for a few days. The Lovely Bride had some back spasms and is now doing physical therapy. But I have been stunned to discover that there is more out there than just the virus. But at the same time, this has been the longest time without some cold, flu, or other physical illness. 

Not so for everyone in the outside. And we humans like stories, and stories of hubris are particularly appealing. The guy who swears there in no monster getting eaten by the monster - that's a story that resonates. And those who oppose masks, social distancing, and other measures while trying to live a life from before the coronovirus, who then come down with it in droves is that sort of story. And you know, despite the nature of such stories, I feel empathy for these folk, even though they will likely survive it (through the very actions they despised before) but learn nothing from the experience. Perhaps.

And so we row on.It is grey and cool and fall is starting roll in. But at least the birds are back.

More later.