Friday, October 29, 2021

Terrifying Reading for Halloween

 Scary stories come in many sizes and sources. If you are following American politics and its impact on the rest of the world, there is enough to scare the wits out of you. Here are some of the writers and journalists I follow on a platform called Substack and their articles are truly terrifying in many cases. 

If you are not familiar with Substack, it is an American online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters. 

Substack—which allows writers to send digital newsletters directly to their readers and monetize their work by putting it behind a paywall—has been growing steadily ever since its launch in 2017. Substack now has more than 250,000 paying subscribers. Its top ten publishers collectively bring in $7 million in annualized revenue. While Substack takes a 10% cut of earnings and payment company Stripe takes another 3%, writers pocket the rest. 

Substack offers journalists a platform to say whatever they want, unencumbered by editors. The independent writers that join the platform own their own content, as well as their subscription lists. They also have no obligation to stay on the platform. They can leave at any time—and bring their subscribers with them. 

1. Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians. She previously taught history at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. HCR would be my first choice; a daily summary of important news with historical background and analysis, usually as positive and upbeat as she can make it... but not always. I am a paid subscriber but her daily articles are also available on Facebook. She is in the top 10 on Substack and justifiably so.

2. TCinLA from That's Another Fine Mess

TC (Thomas McKelvey Cleaver) has written a number of military histories of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam that expose the dark side of the politics of war. His is the only other writer I am a paid subscriber to though I think you can sign up for free but it doesn't cover all articles.

3. Thom Hartmann of The Hartmann Report

Thomas Hartmann is an American radio personality, author, former psychotherapist, businessman, and progressive political commentator. I am currently on a free subscription but is one I would pay for though @ $50 to $75 USD there is a limit.

4. Timothy Snyder from "Thinking about..."

Dr Timothy Snyder is a well known historian and author. He is currently doing a series of podcasts from his booklet "On Tyranny" and has written and lectured a great deal on Eastern and Central Europe and the Holocaust. I have an unpaid subscription to his podcasts.

5. Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as well as serving as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. He strongly supports Progressive Democrats such as AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. He is on Facebook and I also have an unpaid subscription.

6. Jeet Heer from The Time of Monsters

Jeet Heer is a Canadian author, comics critic, literary critic and journalist. He is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine and a former staff writer at The New Republic. About half articles and half podcasts. I have an unpaid subscription.

7. Spencer Ackerman from Forever Wars

Spencer Ackerman is an American journalist and writer. Focusing primarily on national security, he began his career at The New Republic in 2002 before writing for Wired, The Guardian and The Daily Beast. His columns tend to reflect the dark side of American politics of war. I have an unpaid subscription but would consider a paid one of necessary.

8. Greg Olear from PREVAIL by Greg Olear

Greg Olear is an American novelist, journalist, and author. His journalism includes political commentary and investigation; in 2018 he published the book Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia. I have an unpaid subscription.

9. Lucian K. Truscott IV from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Lucian King Truscott IV is an American writer and journalist. A former staff writer for The Village Voice, he is the author of several military-themed novels. I have an unpaid subscription.

10. Ruth Ben-Ghiat from Lucid

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an American historian and cultural critic. She is a scholar on fascism and authoritarian leaders. Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. I have an unpaid subscription.

11. Diane Francis on America

Diane Francis is a US-born Canadian journalist, author and editor-at-large for the National Post newspaper since 1998. She is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, specializing in Eurasia policy and political issues. She writes about power, money, tech, and white-collar crime in America. She is totally behind a paywall. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Indian Summer

 One of my favourite poems, which I memorized in elementary school in the 1950s is William Wilfred Campbell's Indian Summer. The last warm days in October before winter begins to set in.

Indian Summer

Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands,
And all the day the blue-jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands.

Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread,
And all the sumachs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.

Now by great marshes wrapt in mist,
Or past some river's mouth,
Throughout the long, still autumn day
Wild birds are flying south.

We are enjoying Indian Summer (Бабье лето Baba Leto in Russian) here in Zhovti Vody. We had a few days of 10C weather and one night of frost but now it is 20C in the daytime and 10C at night. The cats don't even come home at night. 

Tanya has gone to Kyiv for three days to visit Masha as her roomies have gone to Turkey on holiday. It is a risk as Covid is running wild in Ukraine. Two days ago people were lined up here for vaccinations as Pfizer was finally readily available. Waiting for Pfizer may have been a mistake as we have 40 new cases per day and lost 8 people in the past two weeks.

Yard work is pretty much done. Tanya has continually clipped and dug in her flowers. We cleaned off the last of the garden, hauled the dead plants to our compost pile in the abandoned garden next to us, and spread well rotted manure over some of the garden. We will hire our neighbour to rototill it next week. He has a big front wheel drive garden tractor.

Our walnut trees yielded well again. We cannot give them away and have a tub left from last year, a big wire basket and large cardboard box from this year and left lots on the ground. We raked the leaves into a long row one day and burned them the next. Of course we had a very strong wind on the third day and the rest of the leaves fell so I will rake them before Tanya gets home. She will do the burning.

Lucky and I will go for a walk today. It is too nice to be inside.

Fall colours on our street

Walnut leaves

The long view of the walnut leaves

Burning leaves. NW wind blew the smoke towards the pig fam 1 km away.
Tanya said it was their turn

We cleaned the driveway. The white sand is to refill Lucky's sandbox.
He love to dig in it and hide his toys, then 'find' them.

Yours truly in my 20 year old South African Stockman's hat.
A gift from my friend Wayne at 

Half of this year's crop of walnuts

Our neighbour trimmed low branches off the walnut trees.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Gentle Rant on Anti-Vaxxers

 It is quite frustrating for people who are vaccinated and try to follow the rules to keep others safe, to see so much energy wasted by people to avoid the vaccine, mask, and safe distancing. It is mucking up lives and the economy. 

An state rep from BareFlanks Alaska has been banned from flying Alaska Airlines for being obstreperous so she has been unable to get to Juneau to sit in the legislature. She now has Covid and is treating herself at home with Vicks Vapo Rub and Ivermectin.

A relative in the States, her husband, and husband's family, good Republican Jesus Christians all, have Covid. The parents are not young. I have not heard how they are doing. Or if their daughter has it.

UPDATE Oct 17: The father-in-law died two days ago. Mother-in-law and husband were hospitalized briefly but will recover. Relative had a mild case and is fine, daughter is worn out from looking after all of them. Dying for one's unbeliefs.

Tanya and I, being old, are taking any precautions we can. Last Oct we took a taxi to Dnipro to get a pneumonia vaccination and wouldn't even stop for my McDonald's fix. In November, Tanya purchased flu vaccine and administered it to both of us. In June we got both Pfizer shots. We still mask up in shops and such.

I should not feel too smug. I resisted a mumps vaccine for years as I was too lazy to go and get it. Reasoning? We had four kids and owned a wheelbarrow. When we sold the wheelbarrow, I went and got my shot.

Flu vaccine, the same. Resisted for years as I could not be bothered. Then I got the flu. Tanya and I were sick for two weeks a few years back. That's when we started looking for a vaccine source in Zhovti Vody. Hard to find then. Got my first shot in Canada in 2018 because I did not want anything to interfere with my scheduled surgeries and I wanted to go home. Since then it is available at some of our pharmacies but they do not inject it, just sell it. 

Too soon old and too late smart. Don't be like me. 

Do not spend any time doing "research". It's all been done. Avoid YouTube. It is the only place you will learn that more people have died from the vaccine than from Covid. No one knows anyone who has actually died. It is always "my mechanic's third cousin's aunt's daughter's boyfriend's sister knows someone. 

A former FB friend sent me a link to a video of a doctor addressing the Texas Senate. As If. 

There have been people who had reactions as to any vaccine. Of the millions of doses administered, the severe reactions are a very miniscule percentage compared to the sickness and deaths of the unvaccinated.

Get vaccinated, and mask up. Protect yourself and others who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Bitter Sweet Story of Kathy's Song

 Written by Paul Simon, sung by Art Garfunkel, Kathy's Song remains one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. When I study the lyrics, I am in awe of Paul Simon's use of words. I could listen to it for hours with the music washing over me like a warm sea. The story behind the song brings so much meaning and so much sadness.

Simon and Garfunkel's first album, Wednesday Morning 3 AM, was released in October 1964, and did not do well. Paul Simon went to England where he performed in folk clubs and pubs where he met Kathy Chitty, who worked at one of the clubs. They became passionate lovers and she became his muse. He wrote Homeward Bound in Widnes, Essex, while waiting for a train and longing for Kathy.

They returned to United States and toured by bus (listen to Paul Simon's America where she is mentioned twice). Back in UK, The Paul Simon Songbook, featuring Kathy with Paul on the album cover, was released in August 1965 and included Kathy's Song which he wrote when in New York while she was in England.

In the meantime, the producer of Wednesday Morning 3 AM took the song The Sound of Silence, reworked the music, and released it as a Single in 1965 and in 1966 it was at the top of the charts. Paul Simon and Kathy returned to America, where Simon and Garfunkel began recording the series of albums for which they are famous. When I was in University in the late 60s, you could not turn on the radio without hearing Simon and Garfunkel.

Fame, fortune and public attention overwhelmed the incredibly shy and sensitive Kathy. She and Paul had a very traumatic breakup and Kathy returned to England. 

Simon and Garfunkel released their last album, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, in 1971 and their on again-off again partnership was off. They reunited several times for concerts and tours the most famous of which was 1981's concert in the Park, but never recorded another album.

When I read of Paul Simon's subsequent marriages and deep depression, I wonder "what if..."

Kathy’s Song

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls
And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies
My mind's distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you're asleep
And kiss you when you start your day
And a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme
And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Simon
Kathy’s Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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