As the Whirled Turns

I am posdef a cat that is in horror of its trip to the vet, in horror of the very prospect of the veterinary. Nonetheless, on Wednesday it was my turn to keep an appointment made some six months earlier. Odin’s day indeed… But I shoved myself, squalling, into the cat-carrier and went.

For once I was running on time rather than early. The office tries to keep the patient density to a minimum so I was promptly escorted to an examining room where a nurse of some sort began with the basics, including the seasonal, senior citizen sized flue shot. The doctor was running late that day, however, so as the nurse was leaving, she asked if I’d like a bottle of water.

No thank you, I replied. I’m a geezer, after all, and we’re as bad as dogs when it comes to watering trees. I’m fine.

In truth, there was nothing particularly gruesome about this visit. It was not so much an examination as a negotiation: What medications would I continue, resume or cease taking? What diagnostic screening tests would I schedule? The doctor and I do not exactly have a unity of purpose. He wants to cure whatever ails me and whatever might someday ail me and whatever might be ailing me without my knowing that it ails me while I would simply prefer not to ail. Interventions that would have seemed perfectly sensible just a few decades ago now seem like maybe an unnecessarily speculative use of time and comfort and … money. But we came to something of an agreement and, on my way out, please stop at the lab for The Drawing of the Blood.

The lab has its own small waiting room though I was the lone patient waiting patiently (how else?) but not long. The phlebotomist, unfortunately, was having an off day so it was a bruising experience. But I got through it and the lab got its blood. And I refrained from making stupid vampire jokes.

My next stop was the immediate care clinic. No, not about the phlebotomist but for my fourth covid vaccination, this one of the new bivalent variety. The generic health care professional administering the vaccine used my right shoulder as my left was already preoccupied by that extra-strength flue shot. The generic health care professional was a delightful nerd, however, and we got to talking about vaccine dosage volumes and such.

But all good things must pass, it seems, and so I headed on home where, despite a cheerful voice mail from the pharmacy about my prescriptions being ready to be picked up, I decided I’d rather have soup: cream of tomato with sautéed onions, maize corns, carrots and potato dumplings… Not all from scratch; I’m not that good a cook nor that industrious. But it turned out well and that was good.

It was not especially cold outside yet I was chilled. The apartment didn’t help matters as management had yet to fire up the furnace.

With the two vaccinations, I was in fact mildly ill for the next 30 hours or so, not so much sick as simply unwell or maybe under the weather or perhaps an aching malaise. It was a fine occasion for a long hot bath and a somewhat early to bed.

Despite that, I did pick up the prescriptions the next day. The one mile walk to the pharmacy was done in slo-mo, it seemed… and sad, sad Touhy Park where now the homeless gather in larger numbers each year it seems and now the Park District has closed its field house there.

It seems entirely plausible that I might join them on that lawn where old man Touhy once had his manor, if not sooner from a World War III catastrophe or a flood of storm refugees then later as the good doctor continues to cure whatever it is that ails me.

How Much Was the Rent?

I could probably actually afford the rent for a place that size, not much larger.

Come along. Mind the police tape, though; it’s the scene of a tragedy.

dsc05997
Photo by Roman.

One egg, the size and color suggesting a Robin, so there should have been more and the end of July is far too late for just eggs in any case. My feeble forensics can find not a clue, Sherlock; the possibilities are numerous and multiply. Such a flock they are!

But I would favor a tale including shoddy construction on an unstable platform but there could well be more to it.

Like I said: I could probably afford a place like that.

Sun, Sand & Sales

It was a cold day some time in 1998 along a seemingly vacant beach in Loyola Park. A lonely vendor ventures, ever hopeful, into what would seem a market wasteland and…

1998-021
Loyola Park, 1998. Photo by Roman.

…he scores! Considering his small share of the sale price, he might have been better off eating his own merchandise, but he aspires to more than just feeding himself. Will he succeed with this pushcart? The odds are: He probably did not. But who knows? These customers appeared out of nowhere, after all. I suspect them of purchasing nostalgia as well as sweets. Sugar and childhood! How’s that for a sure thing?

Pity Ukraine:

So close to Russia… So far from God…

Pity may rank near the bottom of what Ukrainians need right now, but savvy readers might notice the above is derived from what Mexicans have been saying about Mexico and the United States. Some will be offended because the same savvy readers, being hip to the ways of polemics, will anticipate a tantrum of what-about-isms, so let’s get that out of the way: Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico… I could toss in Hawaii and more, but you should have gotten the idea. If not, you have homework to do. Some might say these offenses are ancient history… Surely there is a statute of limitations that has passed? Well then, need I mention “weapons of mass destruction” and two recent U.S. Presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who had no respect whatsoever for international institutions unless occasionally as a fig leaf to be discarded when convenient.

I do not present these as a means of deflecting or obfuscating: Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is wrong. And it is dangerous, at one extreme leading to World War III and at another extreme leading to the break-up of Russia and at another extreme an endless parade of resource wars and accelerating arms races, including nuclear weapons for all. But our own sins are worth remembering because beyond individual behavior, moral arguments are mostly just useful to entertain those who need to pass judgements, and maybe for morale and winning elections.

Sanctions will not save Ukraine and any meaningful outside intervention runs a very real risk of a wider war — though if the Russian military is stalemated for a while, the threat of such intervention might inspire diplomacy… maybe. I don’t know. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

(Belarus is already more or less a part of Russia through its 2000 “Union State” treaty with Russia. Lukashenko, however, had best watch his back as those Russian troops are likely to remain in Belarus for As Long As Necessary. Now smile!)

What I do know is that here in the States, the political left is screwed. Again. Just as after the 9/11 attack, there will be money for weapons and fear will veto much of anything else, not to mention the unfortunate tendency among some parts of the left to imagine imperialism to be a behavior manifest exclusively by United States. Ideologues know how to win arguments but not much else.

I really don’t want to get back to doing political activism. Would you care to do it for me? Please?

“Railroad Workers Barred from Striking”

While I still keep a wary eye on politics (broadly defined, not just elections), most of it just doesn’t seem that interesting (outside of immediate hazards) these days.*

But in this case, the story below had popped up on one or more of the news lists I follow out of a lifelong interest in trainspotting. Those accounts were rather sparse on the details. The account below, from the More Perfect Union YouTube channel, provides rather more detail…

…with maybe the “draconian” dial turned up a notch or so. Not that I’m complaining. The More Perfect Union website is worth a visit.


*Oh, yes: it is most certainly me and not politics that has changed. But since I’ve “retired” from activism, the details have changed enough that they begin to obscure rather than to inform.

Everything is Green Now

In case you’ve missed this…

Anthracite Unite

by Mitch Troutman

It’s happening again. A few months ago, Talon Energy announced it is building a bitcoin mining facility onto the Berwick nuclear power plant. Now, a bitcoin mining company has bought the coal-fired power plant in Nesquehoning, outside Jim Thorpe.

I knew this was happening in poorer countries and ignorantly assumed it wouldn’t happen here. Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) is anonymous, ultra-secure digital money that was intended to subvert government-controlled currencies like the dollar. Instead, it has become a high-stakes gambling market. Crypto’s backbone is a world-wide network of computers used to solve purposely-complex equations, called “mining”. Baked into its DNA is that every new transaction requires more computer power than the one before it. As of July, a single bitcoin transaction required enough electricity to power the average home for 2 months. These transactions happen 240,000 time every day.

The margins on bitcoin “mining” are…

View original post 552 more words

Networks Past and Present

Photo by Roman.

Tuesdays are my laundry days and so (as if I needed such a reason) here is another perspective on my laundry room. It also happens to be a room that includes at least three networks, maybe more depending on how you count them. The foreground is occupied by one of the past: the abandoned ends of three gas lines. The building does still use gas so there is no clue as to why these were abandoned. I find it picturesque in a rough and ready way.

Things change, after all. A few weeks ago, someone from management was showing two people some apartments, nothing unusual. In the courtyard I heard him say something like, “I’ve never managed a building with such a high proportion of common areas. The building really has great potential.”

They entered one of the entrances at that point, so there’s nothing more to be learned. But it seems to me a rather odd thing to say, particularly if one were showing the apartments to prospective rental tenants. I mean, “Stick with me kid; you ain’t seen nothing yet!” That’s a pretty weak pitch, one that pretty much rolls rather than flies across home plate.

But if this were part of a preliminary sales pitch for the building, it makes more sense. After all, in addition to the two garden apartments and machinery room and two laundry rooms, there’s room for a weight / exercise room, a bike storage room, a party room, maybe even an additional unit or two. Why, with those features, you could surely sell all the units of a hypothetical condo in a reasonable time, or if rental then maybe collect twice the rent. After all, you’re not just selling the accoutrements of a home but, more importantly, you’re selling a place on the pecking order, a place for the Karens of our country to feel more secure in the fearsome disorder of the world.

With any luck, I’ll be gone by then. But I’ve become such a peasant.

Democratizing the Economy

a presentation by Olof Palme.

The recording features a presentation at the December, 1980, Eurosocialism and America Conference by Olof Palme (1927 — 1986). At the time, Palme was a leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party. He was then between two of his stints (1969-1976 and 1982-1986) as Prime Minister of Sweden. At the time, the Swedish Social Democrats were attempting to implement the “Meidner Plan” which would have euthanized the rentier class essentially by buying it out over time.

The Eurosocialism and America Conference was organized by the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC)’s 501c3 arm, the Institute for Democratic Socialism. A few years later, DSOC merged with the New American Movement to form the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The conference was held at a strategic moment, after the pivotal November, 1980, election but before the January change in government. At least a few of Palme’s remarks are directed specifically at this. The conference was a Beltway wonder for a few weeks in that December but was ultimately buried by the flood basalts of the erupting Reagan Revolution.

Olof Palme is introduced by Chicago’s Carl Shier. Shier was an International Representative with the United Auto Workers Region 4 and a leader in the DSOC. While it is true that Olof Palme had many connections with the United Auto Workers, it is also true that a truly surprising number of foreign lefty politicians and union leaders knew Carl Shier, Palme among them.

[Recording time: 56:48]

This particular recording was among the several dozen tapes that Frank Llewellyn from the Democratic Socialists of America’s national office had sent to me sometime after the turn of the century. Allowing for duplications and individual tapes expiring from old age, I guessimated those tapes amounted to at least a week’s worth of full time work. I listened to a few of them and did an inventory, but that’s where I left it.

They remained in my closet for well over a decade. Now, voilà.