9/11 and Oil

Reader Stephen Coquet is not the first to point this out:


After the first shock, when we were all one, when the whole free world was one with us, I was optimistic. I thought we might have as much as three weeks before politicians started making political hay out of it. We didn't even get three days. Soon GWB was beating the war drums for war with Iraq, even though the attack came from nineteen Saudis, many with close ties to the Saudi royal family. But we went to war with Iraq. Because, are you really going to do that to people who have dined at your table, and whose tables you have dined at? And all that oil!


Which made me want to slightly modify a quote by Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his (oil) depends on his not understanding it.”

Heart Warmer

From my UPI chat group, this heartwarmer from Ron Cohen:

Daughter Zen got her initial COVID vaccination today in Israel. She is considered a critical health care worker.

A certified chaplain, she works a day or two a week at the hospital in Tzfat. She tours the whole hospital and sings to patients, accompanying herself with a variety of stringed instruments — guitar, ukulele, etc. Her visits are eagerly awaited by the patients — the highlight of the week for many.

Her specialty is singing to tiny newborns in the preemie ward. Even though they are separated by glass windows, the many monitors hooked onto their tiny bodies confirm they are involuntary responding. (Her singing improves their vital signs)

She always has intended her music to be palliative and comforting. As so many of my friends are well aware, I am very, very proud of her.

(Listen to a song she composed and performed for a cancer patient)

This and That

Kevin Sullivan wrote: Your [brain] meme made me recall a conversation I had during a management and leadership seminar. A participant (seemingly unaware of the Peter Principle) remarked managers must be good leaders because “Cream rises.” My comeback was, “So does bullshit. We've known since Archimedes ₋  the space they take up is greater than the mass of their contents!”

Hitler Movie Meme… Again
Yes, it’s a meme:
Hitler's "Downfall" Parodies | Know Your Meme. There have been hundreds of them over 14 years. Still, there’s room for one more: Counting the Vote. Thanks for the link, John Kavazanjian.

How Tall was Goliath?
Daniel Dern: While/after reading this (How Tall was Goliath), am I the only one who wondered "So how tall was Goliath in Smoots?"[Ed. Note: MIT Inside Joke. Answer: 1.5 using the most popular interpretation of Goliath’s Biblical height]

Sucker for a Survey
I just took a survey from the Bay Area CBT Center. Here’s what you can learn: “The following questionnaire will help you determine which schemas are most relevant for you in relationships. Schemas are core beliefs or stories that we have developed about ourselves and others in relationships. When we are unaware of these stories, we are more likely to engage in behaviors that create a self-fulfilling prophecy and reinforce these beliefs”

Alito An Honest Man?
I had this exchange with a lawyer friend of mine:
   Me: “I’m curious if you have an opinion on why Alito turned out to be an honest man.” (He declined to let Trump stop the certification of Pennsylvania’s results)
   Lawyer: “It would have been really hard to get that one wrong. I’m not sure that makes him honest.”
Simultaneous Ending
Wouldn't it be nice if both people in a relationship realized it was over at the same time? This has never happened to me or anyone I've known. Has it ever happened to you?  Email me your story

Covid Research

I did a brief on this last week, and on sober reconsideration, decided it was worth more than that. Steve Kirsch was sports editor of The Tech, and despite that has gone on to quite a career as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, with his own panel of expert scientific advisors. Best of all, he’s a guy who doesn’t get up in the morning without checking the best available science. You can look him up. He was interviewed on KCBS-AM (find it here, search for Covid Research). The whole interview is a good read; I recommend it. But as a content creator, I don’t like to reprint whole articles unless they seem in imminent danger of disappearing.


As the world awaits a corona virusvaccine in anticipation of returning to a "normal life," scientists are still seeking funding to find the most effective ways to treat the virus with existing drugs.

Steve Kirsch is the founder of COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund (CETF) [CLICK AND DONATE] and wanted to look at what's being done, and not being done, by talking to researchers he's helped fund over the years to try and find a way to treat the virus early as someone who faces multiple risk factors himself.

Kirsch said CETF needs $17 million more to test the eight different approaches it has identified for treatment.

---------end excerpt-----------

One listener donated $200,000 after hearing the interview. There’s a stretch goal. If you donate more than $200,000 let me know!

Federal Troops: Not The Same

As far as I know, I only have one Southern reader, and I doubt he will make the false claim I have heard, but can’t find on the Internet, that Northerners are being hypocritical—again—by objecting to uninvited federal troops when the same thing happened in the South in the 60s.

Not the same thing. That deployment was to protect rights, not destroy them. For the specifics, check this detailed opinion piece. Enforcing federal court orders is different than using the excuse of protecting federal property to allow unmarked militarized federal agents to arrest unarmed peaceful protestors and throw them into unmarked cars.

And, if you think a big old load of horseshit would make your breakfast go down easier today, check out the DHS unbelievable load of crap about the Waffen-SS… sorry… federal agents crushing protest in my home town of Portland, Oregon.

Trump’s lickspittles claim the troops have unique identifiers. I can’t find them on the Internet, protestors can’t find them anywhere on the masked gunmen who have invaded an American city. I found a single reference to “TZ1” as a unique identifier. I assume they all wear the same number for purposes of economy. TZ1=Enemy of the People.

Dan Rather on Facebook

Let me just say I agree with every word he says.

I sit locked in a self-imposed isolation as a deadly virus surges outside. Time frames for returning to any hope of a faint echo of normalcy stretch into the many months or years. This distant horizon strikes particularly deep for those of us at a certain age and stage of life. Our nation is adrift amidst rocky shoals with cruel incompetence as our captain and enabling cravenness as the first mate.

What a perilous time to live.

I know I am extremely fortunate. Neither the roof over my head nor the food on my table are in doubt. I have the privilege of protecting myself and my loved ones more than many. We don't work in meat processing plants, or distribution warehouses, or even in hospitals. I strive to keep habits and schedules, but hours bleed and to-do lists go unchecked.

What a moment to contemplate the future.

The basic tenets of decency, truthfulness, and compassion are torn across our political divide. We see scientists denigrated and charlatans exalted. We see the rule of law and the norms of our democracy debased for personal gain. We see our allies bullied and our adversaries coddled.

What a time to be an American.

But that's just it. It is a time to be an American, to contemplate our future, and to live. We have had very dark days in the past. We have had deep, systemic injustices. We have faced daunting odds. And women and men of courage, of ingenuity, of resolve have stood up time and time again. They have said some version of, "we will not abide." It is our duty to not abide either.

From the streets, to newsrooms, to online social and political activism, I see countless millions of Americans who are not abiding. We are living through damage, loss, and sadness that could have been avoided. Much trauma lies ahead. But I know most of my fellow citizens agree that this shall not be us.

I desperately wished this was not our lot. I wish so many things. I wish the hospital wards were empty. I wish kids were having a summer and could go to school safely. I wish small businesses weren't closing. Heck, I wish I was at a baseball game trying to not have the mustard drip on my pants. That's not where we are.

We must be true to ourselves to recognize that much of what we are seeing now was not only the product of the last few months or even the last three-plus years. We have big problems, wherever we look. But we see them now. And we must do the hard work to fix them, not only through the ballot box but through the energy of our hearts and power of our imaginations. Whatever despair I might feel is tempered with a hope that is growing within me. I will not abide, and I believe most Americans will not abide either. Courage.

The SF Chronicle on Covid

The Chronicle coverage of Covid has been detailed and first rate. This is much to my surprise, as I always considered the newspaper to be a newsprint comic book. I loved the fact that it was family owned for four generations and feared for its future when Hearst took over. Imagine my surprise when it actually became a better newspaper.

The Mercury News is OK, but I think the Chronicle has been untouchable on Covid, especially Covid in California. Good coverage of the TickTock that anyone can get as well as admirable enterprise coverage.

This and That

I have collected a lot of string since last I posted. In July, when the shape of the future was dimmer, I received this email from my friend John Ruley. I guess I am violating Godwin’s law, but it does provide some historical perspective:

On your Brexit Correction - according to William Shirer, in Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Chapters 6 and 7), Hitler was first appointed as chancellor after the Nazis failed to win a clear majority in the 1932 elections - but after he became chancellor, in what Shirer calls "the last relatively free election Germany was to have" - received 44% of the total vote, which while not a majority far outpaced that of competing parties. Hitler formed a coalition with the nationalist party, and that gave him the majority he needed to pass the "enabling laws" that gave him absolute power, among other things outlawing all other political parties, including his erstwhile nationalist allies. So, while Hitler was not personally brought to power in a free election, he in fact gained power legally - as he often said - as a result of free elections. Strange, but true!

 Long-time reader Stephen Coquet (one of the few who came to this column organically, rather than through pre-existing friendship with me) suggested this article about Hillary’s email server, back when it still might have done some good if placed before a wider readership. I feel like I let our side down. He also sent me this article from the Guardian about Baltimore police surveillance, and added,

The key statement is, “Police spokesperson TJ Smith insisted that the privately funded agreement between Persistent Surveillance Systems and city police 'was not a secret surveillance program.' " They just thought better if they didn’t tell anyone.

Dan Grobstein mentioned something I had vaguely heard about: A hip, cuddly and cunningly sadistic musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray movie has opened in London. It is scheduled for the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway starting on April 17, 2017 Dan also passed along Ang Lee Is Embracing a Faster Film Format. Can Theaters Keep Up? There are exactly two U.S. theaters showing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at 120 fps; one is the Cinerama Dome in LA, where I plan to see it soon. The other is in New York City. Dan also tipped me to the race to preserve old celluloid

 Kevin Sullivan has a book tip:

Looking at your book list, I was reminded by your love of film that I recently enjoyed reading - a) "Adventures in the Screen Trade" by William Goldman, and then for fun, the actual book by him of "The Princess Bride". Both were informative and enjoyable.

This from my friend and former colleague Jerry Pournelle (the article is behind the paywall)

"I have ordered the book, but the review is itself informative and interesting."

We’re All Cord Cutters Now
At one chain, the top 100 movie titles accounted for 85% of the DVDs rented in-store. But online, the top titles make up only 35% of rentals.
By Frank Rose
Sept. 6, 2016 7:18 p.m. ET

Does the internet pose a threat to established entertainment companies? Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang lead a class at Carnegie Mellon University in which a student recently put that question to a visiting executive. He pooh-poohed the idea: “The original players in this industry have been around for the last 100 years, and there’s a reason for that.” As co-heads of CMU’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics, Messrs. Smith and Telang aim to counter this line of thought, and in “Streaming, Sharing, Stealing” they do just that, explaining gently yet firmly exactly how the internet threatens established ways and what can and cannot be done about it. Their book should be required for anyone who wishes to believe that nothing much has changed.

That such thinking still exists, at a time when Apple and Alphabet (that is, Google) are by far the world’s most valuable corporations, is testament to the power of self-delusion. Whether in music or movies or television or books, digital technology has given artists the tools to strike out on their own, enabled audiences to avoid paying for anything they don’t want to pay for and denied media companies the ability to control audience behavior. No longer can executives in New York or Los Angeles force music fans to buy an entire album instead of a single song; or movie buffs to line up at the box office for something they’d rather watch at home free; or television audiences to rush home and endure a barrage of ads in order to see their favorite shows.