Sunday, September 27, 2020

IT’S NOT CREAM CHEESE, SPOCK

This glowing report just in from China, whose sneaky spacemen have landed on the Dark Side of the Moon (who knew?): the Moon is radioactive! Astronauts landing there would be bombarded with 200 to 1,000 times more radiation than here on Earth. U.S. space radiation experts say “it’s nice” to see their predictions confirmed. Talk about looking on the bright side! What does it mean? That we can forget Star Wars and the SF fantasy of escaping like Superman from our doomed Krypton. It’s probably like that everywhere, so where else would we go? Down with the ship, Captain Kirk.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – China’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, vital information for NASA and others aiming to send astronauts to the moon by the end of 2024, the study noted. A Chinese-German team reported on the radiation data collected by the lander – named Chang’e 4 for the Chinese moon goddess – in the U.S. journal Science Advances. Cancer is the primary risk. “Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and should protect themselves when on the moon,” Radiation levels should be pretty much the same all over the moon, except for near the walls of deep craters. Basically, the less you see of the sky, the better. That’s the primary source of the radiation."


Monday, August 31, 2020

100 Words: THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN BY OUR FASCIST-IN-CHIEF.

 


re·al·i·ty   noun. The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. "he refuses to face reality"

Americans began their Sunday with the news that the staggering pandemic death toll, seemingly beyond dispute, was being questioned by their own president. Not over 180,000 coronavirus deaths, only 9,000 since they were old and would have died anyway, according to Trump.—NY Times

THE BIG LIE. One so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." --Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

More than 100 Words: WHAT ARE THE RUSSIANS UP TO IN KENTUCKY? WE SEEM TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR MEDDLING


Here’s some recent news to think about that didn’t get much play.

Did you know that a Russian oligarch whose company is planning to build a S1.5 billion aluminum rolling mill in Eastern Kentucky was a key figure in Kremlin efforts to interfere in America’s 2016 presidential election?
Who says so? The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
The oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, has extensive connections to both Donald Trump and Valadmir Putin. Deripaska’s company is a Kremlin proxy for Russian government influence efforts, economic measures, and diplomatic relations, the Senate committee has reported.
That’s bad, right? Gangsterism, money-laundering, corruption, and even treason come to mind. But it gets worse.
Kentucky voters may recall that under our previous Republican corrupt governor, Matt Bevin, the state invested $15 million of the taxpayer’s money in the project to be built by Braidy Industries. The mill was expected to create hundreds of long-term jobs in a struggling region of the state. However, those high-wage jobs promised to trainees did not materialize.
The Russian firm agreed last year to invest $200 million if Braidy was able to raise enough financing to build the facility. Braidy is in tatters, its former CEO gone. Should we really trust these people to do what they say? What’s going to happen in this election? Is Deripaska still bent on stealing our presidential elections?
Here's another recent example of an international conspiracy in which Russian billionaire oligarchs were involved. They used their control of a bank in Ukraine to steal billions of dollars of its funds. Then they laundered the money by buying a 29-story office tower. But this one is in—gasp! Louisville!
It’s the former PNC Plaza on Main Street. When the federal government seized the bank, oligarch Igor Kolomoisky fled into self-imposed exile, first in Switzerland and then in Israel. Kolomoisky returned to Ukraine after his former business partner was elected president. Real estate, embezzlement, corruption. Haven’t we seen this murky movie before, Sen. McConnell--like during Trump’s impeachment trial?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

100 Words: ON GETTING OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT

 “I would like to build a university of which the football team could be proud.”

--former University of Oklahoma President George Lynn Cross to state legislators.

It is this kind of backwards thinking that is responsible for the spread of the plague and most of our other societal ills. Thank God we now have a great Democratic ticket with our first ever African American woman on it. Biden gets it right with his first major decision. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country and vote out the tyrant!

Monday, August 10, 2020

100 Words: OUR DOG EAT DOG SOCIETY

NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman gives a great analysis of how, and why, the U.S. is becoming much more like a Third World Country. Friedman says that our political differences are so deep that Democrats and Republicans now resemble rival tribes who believe they must rule or die. He also points out that in both places Everything is now politics — even the climate, even energy, even face masks in a pandemic. No simple answers from me—except that ignorance and illiteracy are primarily to blame, a result of failing schools, children raising children, and capitalism running amok in our time.


100 Words: IT'S THE SAME OLD SONG

In an international conspiracy, Russian billionaire oligarchs use their control of a bank in Ukraine to steal billions of dollars of its funds. Then they launder the money by buying a 29-story office tower. But this one is in—gasp! Louisville! It’s the former PNC Plaza on Main Street. When the federal government seizes the bank, oligarch Igor Kolomoisky flees into self-imposed exile, first in Switzerland and then in Israel. Kolomoisky returns to Ukraine after his former business partner is elected president. Real estate, embezzlement, corruption. Haven’t we seen this murky movie before, Sen. McConnell--like during Trump’s impeachment trial?

Thursday, August 6, 2020

100 Words: TRUMP IMPERILS OUR CHILDREN

Trump's list of crimes against humanity continues mushrooming. Do you trust a man who believes a witch doctor over real medical experts that your children are immune from the plague? Every death in this country can, and must, at least partly be laid to the feet to the magical thinker in chief. Wars aside perhaps, never has any president done so much to harm so many in such a short time span. Once booted from office, he should be charged at a minimum with millions of counts of reckless endangerment. Not content to menace adults, he’s now going after kids.

Read more at RickNeumayer.com


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

100 Words: THE LEGEND OF THE LAZY UNEMPLOYED

I'm sick of hearing propaganda from Moscow Mitch and the Goon-in-chief about unemployment benefits encouraging people not to work. What utter bilge. I would like to see either of those corpulent rodents make do on unemployment benefits, assuming of course that they could actually collect any in Kentucky, where our previous governor gutted the system. If republicans cared about anything but lining their own pockets, they would realize how overwhelmingly stressful losing a job can be. First, they ship Americans’ jobs to the third world, then they blame American workers for being lazy. Absolutely Dickensian in their callousness and cruelty.

Listen to the NYTimes’ Paul Krugman on the subject:

“Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn’t know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world.”

So begins B. Traven’s 1927 adventure novel “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” the basis for the classic John Huston movie. Traven, it turns out, knew more about economics than any member of the modern G.O.P. caucus — a group whose members believe that cutting unemployment benefits and thus forcing people to seek jobs at all cost will somehow conjure more jobs into existence.

Today’s column was about the failure of Senate Republicans and the Trump administration to come up with any meaningful plan to deal with the expiration of special pandemic aid to the unemployed. Much recent economic research has investigated how much effect this aid had on incentives of workers to seek jobs, with the apparent answer being not much. As I argued, however, this question is largely irrelevant: no matter how hard workers look, they can’t take jobs that aren’t there.

But there is an objection one might raise: the number of jobs on offer isn’t a fixed quantity. You could imagine that desperate workers would be willing to accept wage cuts, and that reduced wages might induce employers to expand their workforces. This isn’t an argument that politicians are likely to make openly — “Vote for Trump! He’ll slash your wages!” But might it have some validity?

Well, no. And John Maynard Keynes explained why. (Incidentally, I don’t recommend reading Keynes in the original. His “General Theory” is an extraordinary intellectual feat, unutterably brilliant, but very, very dense.)

What Keynes pointed out was that while an individual worker may indeed be able to get a job by accepting a wage cut — because they underbid rivals for the job, or make it possible for the employer to underprice competitors — the story is very different if everyone takes a wage cut. Nobody gains a competitive advantage, so where are the job gains supposed to come from?

Indeed, if anything, benefit cuts that force workers to compete over scarce jobs can hurt employment, by causing deflation that worsens the burden of debt — a phenomenon my colleague and co-author Gauti Eggertsson calls the “paradox of toil.”

Wait, there’s more. The Covid-19 recession, brought on by the necessary lockdown of high-contact economic activities, has been terrible. But it could have been much worse. Tens of millions of workers lost their jobs and their regular wage income — and the job-losers were disproportionately low-wage workers with little in the way of financial resources to fall back on. So absent government aid they would have been forced to slash spending, leading to a whole second round of job losses across the economy.

Unemployment benefits, however, sustained many workers’ incomes, averting this second-round depression. So “paying people not to work,” as right-wingers like to describe it, actually saved millions of jobs.

In short, things could have been much worse. And sure enough, it seems that they are indeed about to get much worse.


Monday, August 3, 2020

100 Words: In reference to "What was the first book you remember reader/being read to?"

What an absolutely fabulous list! I am in awe of your memories, all. Clearly, what we read as children was important in terms of our development. I'm willing to bet that every single person who responded is still an avid reader. Speaking as an old English teacher and writer myself, I know that being read to as a child was vital in my own love of reading and learning, which to me is just about everything that matters when it comes to education. While I cannot recall the first book I ever read, my grandparents had me memorize “The Night Before Christmas.”

Friday, July 31, 2020

100 Words: Here’s a movie I’d love to see but probably won’t


It’s “Greyhound,” starring Tom Hanks in a WWII flick featuring a running battle between a US destroyer and German UBoat. Hanks also wrote the script, which was inspired by actual events, adapting C.S. Forester’s “The Good Shepherd” and continuing the book’s meticulous accuracy. I was surprised to learn that Hanks also wrote and produced “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” miniseries. Even though I dearly love Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels and other work as well, I probably won’t see this movie because it’s streaming on Apple TV+, which I don’t get and is one too many streaming services for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

100 Words: It’s foolish to expect anything good out of Barr


Word that the attorney general is defending use of Trump’s new gestapo is not surprising, any more than his defense of pardoning Roger Stone. Barr is a criminal just like Trump. Once Trump is out of office, he needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, along with Barr and his other enablers. Maybe that’s impossible. Probably it’s impossible. But it does not change the fact that they deserve it. My greatest fear is that this lawless, immoral administration will use its brown shirts to attempt a coup d'√©·tat once it’s clear they have lost the election.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

100 Words: MI 5 is hard to stop watching

I’ve almost finished season 10 of MI 5, one of the most gripping and intelligent TV shows ever made. The plots seem real and are full of surprises, with each episode a cliff-hanger. In fact, every episode is so riveting it's extremely hard not to keep watching the next one without interruption. Many characters—people we really care about—are killed off, giving MI 5 a hard shell of credibility. There's no room for sentimentality, as we feel ourselves being dragged ever more deeply into Harry Pearce's tense spy world. A revival supposedly is under consideration. Sure hope it happens.






Monday, July 13, 2020

100 Words: “Line of Duty” one of the best police procedurals ever


Looking for some riveting TV? Try this 2012 series (on Prime and Britbox). Seasons 1-4 (6 in all) are addictive with unending plot twists, complex characters, and a breakneck pace. Being based on real life usually doesn’t matter--except in this case it does because nobody could write like this without real-life insider knowledge--plus an incredibly devious mind. Not surprisingly, it’s based on real anti-corruption police units in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and anonymously advised by a real cop. The script is uncompromising and very smart. Masterful performances make you care about the people as much as unraveling the plot.

Monday, July 6, 2020

100 Words: Speed Bump is the smartest comic of all


Creator Dave Coverly’s one-panel comic strip is the most brilliant ever at portraying life’s absurdity: 1) One wolf with cell phone to another: “You can save a lot of huffing and puffing if you hack into the pig’s security system.” 2) Chipmunk to birds and bees conversing in next diner booth: “Hey, we got kids here. Do you mind talking about something a little more appropriate?” 3) Two bewigged gentlemen in 18th century coffee house studying scrolls: “Sure, WE hold these truths to be self-evident, but we’re, like, really smart.” That’s how Speed Bump makes me feel, too.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

100 Words: Garfield’s creator knew what he was up to


Perhaps cat lovers enjoy Garfield because the strip mirrors their own cats’ aloofness and misbehavior. But portraying social awkwardness, gluttony, and cat-worship does not seem like cutting-edge commentary. Maybe it is, though. Garfield is a cat who craves lasagna all the time and develops a rebellious streak against societal rules. Sound like anyone familiar? In 1982, Garfield’s creator Jim Davis admitted that the strip was a conscious effort to create a good, marketable character. “Snoopy is very popular in licensing. Charlie Brown is not.” Davis, now 75, has a net worth of $800 million. I’d argue that was no accident.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

100 Words: Analyzing Garfield’s Appeal


I asked readers to analyze the enduring popularity of cartoonist Jim Davis’ Garfield. If you did, thanks. I appreciate it. I know why I read Pearls, Dilbert, Speed Bump, and Peanuts. But Garfield? “We live in a time when we feel guilty about not exercising and over-sleeping and over-eating, but Garfield’s cool with that. I think that is what people really appreciate about him,” Davis told the Washington Post. A Thai researcher who analyzed 624 “Garfield” strips found that the two most frequently occurring themes were 1) Jon’s silly ideas or actions when dealing with women and 2) Garfield’s gluttony.

Friday, July 3, 2020

100 Words: Here’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands


I analyzed “Garfield,” Jim Davis’ comic strip created in 1978. Why analyze it? See headline. Also, curiosity. For that matter, why read comics at all? Maybe because I crave narrative. And a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Comics provide easy entertainment value and sometimes insight. But Garfield? In my research, I discovered the strip, which is syndicated in over 2500 newspapers, makes an estimated $750 million to $1 billion annually on merchandise. What do you think makes Garfield so popular after all these years? Tell me and then I’ll give you the right answer. (Just getting into character.)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

100 Words: Comic commiseration for rejected writers


I love re-reading Peanuts, a comic strip that I liked as a child but got away from as I “matured.” Now I see its wisdom more clearly. A favorite is the one where Snoopy, who fancies himself an author, gets a rejection slip in his mailbox: “Dear Contributor, We are returning your stupid story. You are a terrible writer. Why do you bother us? We wouldn’t buy one of your stories if you paid us. Leave us alone. Drop dead. Get lost.” Lying on his doghouse, Snoopy thinks, “Probably a form rejection slip.” A real writer most certainly wrote that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

100 Words: Two reasons for hope


One-The only way to return to normalcy is by providing a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. We are about a third of the way there, according to a USA Today vaccine panel designed to offer readers an objective, nonpartisan understanding. ‘The brightest minds in the world are in this fight, and they are moving with an incredible sense of urgency.” Two: a recent newspaper poll finds that most Americans support reforming law enforcement to reduce police brutality against African Americans. Favored reforms include weeding out bad cops, focus policing on serious and violent crimes, and stop buying military gear.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

100 Words: Self-aware comic strips


I love newspaper comic strips. I especially adore the “meta” approach sometimes found in Pearls Before Swine. (Meta, of course, is when something refers back to or is about itself, like a book about books. It's seeing the thing from a higher perspective, like being enjoyably self-aware.) In one recent Pearls strip, Neighbor Bob buries his face in his hands. Sob Sob Sob appears above him. Rat says, “Hey, Neighbor Bob. Are you crying or calling someone a you-know-what?” “Crying,” Bob says. “So hard to tell in comic strips,” Rat comments. This kind of whimsical absurdity transcends the comics.

Monday, June 29, 2020

100 Words: Which newspaper comic strips do you like and why?


I love newspaper comic strips. My tastes have changed over the years along with the strips featured. Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert, and Speed Bump all offer wise philosophical commentary disguised as silliness, of course. In a recent strip, Dilbert says, “I can’t tell the difference between good ideas and bad ones. There are smart people on both sides of every idea. What rational process do you use to determine who is right?” To which cynical lay about Wally replies, “I label the people who disagree with me ‘idiots’ and call it a day.” Who doesn’t do that? Guilty as charged.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Another 141 Words on Breonna Taylor’s death and what can be done to keep this from happening again

I must hasten to add that in praising the Metro Council’s revolutionary proposed police budget that I am in no way suggesting that it could ever make up for Breonna Taylor’s appalling murder by LMPD. No innocent person should ever have to die because of police violence. Like all decent human beings, I wish it had never happened and I grieve for her loved ones and oppressed people, especially African Americans. But at least now it seems possible that Breonna’s death may have a transformative effect on her city. The revolutionary police budget proposal unveiled today, according to Councilman Pat Mulvihill, is a “paradigm shift,” that would prioritize recruiting a diverse police force that lives in the community and training on using force, de-escalation and implicit bias. If this happens, perhaps such future tragedies can be averted. I fervently hope so.

248 Words: Praising Louisville’s revolutionary police budget proposal


You would never know it from today’s CJ headline—"Metro Council unwilling to defund police department”—but I believe the council’s proposed police budget is about to revolutionize justice in this community and turn Louisville into an international model for sound policing. Yes, you read that right. Of course, the devil is always in the details. But if you read the details in this story, this conclusion is inescapable. In my opinion, what the council wants to do is incredible, taking the most positive step in our city’s checkered history of criminal injustice. According to the newspaper, “state and federal forfeiture funds would go toward police recruitment, training and exploration of co-responders, like behavioral health specialists, over equipment. It also proposes setting aside more than $750,000 for a civilian oversight system, an independent body to investigate the police department.” It doesn’t end there. “Rather than using the dollars on police equipment or other law enforcement purposes, it would send the roughly $1.2 million to explore ‘deflection,’ the idea of moving people away from the criminal justice system and toward a behavioral health model, which could include assigning co-responders with police. That might look, for instance, like a case manager assigned to respond with police to help people get connected to treatment, housing or other services.” If adopted and implemented faithfully and fully, policing in Louisville will be changed forever for the better. I have never felt prouder or more hopeful of our local leadership than is this moment.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

100 Words: A few more about “The Eddy” on Netflix


I loved this moody, uncompromising eight-part miniseries, which is unlike anything else on TV this summer. Reviews have been mixed, with criticism centering on the show’s hazy, improvised story line rather than following a more traditional dramatic structure. Nevertheless, “It was a show with scenes that moved me as much as anything on TV” (Roger Ebert). Filmed in a struggling Paris night club, it was “visually rewarding” (LA Times). The original jazz numbers composed by Glen Ballard are sensational. The music is performed by magnificent vocalist Joanna Kuligac and a cast of accomplished musicians, many in their first acting roles.

Friday, June 19, 2020

100 Words: “The Eddy” on Netflix is challenging but so worth it


This is my favorite TV show of the summer. The eight-part miniseries follows Andr√© Holland’s struggles to keep his Parisian jazz club afloat during terrible times. The murky plot is complicated further by lines mumbled in English, French, and Arabic. But brilliant musical scenes dominate. They’re filmed “in loving detail,” with “incredible solos and moments when the whole band comes together to form something almost transcendent” (Roger Ebert). To critics who panned it: “Sometimes you have to be careful to avoid criticizing a series for not being what you want it to be, instead of what it is” (LA Times).

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

100 Words: So, this is what opening back up looks like


Had my first (unavoidable) in-store experience since the plague began yesterday and was appalled by the number of people who were blundering around without masks. What is wrong with these people? According to current news accounts, leading U.S. infectious disease experts are warning the coronavirus will continue making life difficult for the foreseeable future. Why? Because so many refuse to take the persistent threat seriously. But the virus is not going to rest, according to the CID director. I sincerely hope no one has to die because of this, but if someone does then I know who deserves the nomination.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

100 Words: A Final Trump Reminder: He’s No Nixon (NY Times)


The 50th anniversary of the Kent State massacre passed with little notice. Now Nixon era echoes are heard as Trump deliberately invokes Tricky Dick’s legacy, tweeting on “law and order” to exploit white backlash for political gain. But Trump isn’t Nixon — he’s much, much worse. Nixon was cynical and ruthless, but also smart and hard-working. Trump spends his days tweeting and watching Fox News. Trump on Covid-19 threat: denial, then frantic efforts to shift the blame to others for his own sham ineffective policies. So, Trump is no Nixon.” (Paul Krugman, NYT). My question: How different is the country Trump’s trying to “dominate?”

Monday, June 15, 2020

100 Words: A Trump Reminder for This Fall (as reported by USA Today)


The upcoming presidential election “continues to be largely a referendum on the incumbent. The initial reaction to ongoing racial unrest in the country suggests that most voters feel Trump is not handling the situation all that well” -- Monmouth U. poll. George Floyd’s death has made Americans more pessimistic about the state of race relations. 61% say race relations in the USA are “generally bad” while 57% of Republicans believe race relations are generally “good.” --CBS News survey. Monmouth says if the fall election, still five months away, were held now, Biden wins over Trump by 56% to 41%.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

100 Words: A Trump Reminder for Now (as reported by USA Today)


“President Donald Trump is now one of only three presidents to be impeached, and the only one impeached in his first term. Why Trump? On Inauguration Day, he had already confessed to grabbing women’s genitalia, stoked bigotry against Mexicans and Muslims, encouraged fans to “knock the crap” out of protesters, bilked Americans with his fraudulent “Trump University,” mocked a disabled reporter and lied in a way that appeared pathological. Now Americans are unhappy with Trump’s response to George Floyd’s death, his handling of ensuing protests, and his handling of race relations in general, according to four polls released this week.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

100 Words: A Trump Reminder (as reported by USA Today in Dec. 2019)


“Trump has never lived the life he deserved. In the 1970s, the Justice Department sued him for refusing to rent apartments to African Americans. Still, he became a billionaire real estate developer. He bragged about sexually assaulting women, reduced presidential politics to name-calling, and invited a foreign adversary to hack his 2016 rival’s emails. Still, he was elected president. He stocked his administration with crooks and cronies, used the presidency to further his financial interests, bribed a foreign ally for personal gain and hired a morally bankrupt attorney general. Still, he has good odds of winning reelection.”

Friday, June 12, 2020

100 Words: Who’s to Blame for Our Failure?


There’s been enough international success dealing with the plague to leave a clear sense of how to beat it: impose strict social distancing long enough to reduce those infected to small fraction of population. Then test, trace, and isolate--quickly identifying outbreaks, finding and quarantining everyone exposed until danger passes. It worked in South Korea and New Zealand, but  must be strict and patient, staying the course, not giving in to temptation to return to normal life with virus still widespread. Alas, America’s impatience and unwillingness to do so runs much deeper than any one man.—Paul Krugman, NY Times

Thursday, June 11, 2020

100 Words: Living in history


“Just because it was historical, I don’t treat the characters as any different from characters in a contemporary setting. That’s important or it will feel stilted rather than real and naturalistic. These characters aren’t aware they are living in history, to them it is what their life is. Walking around with ironware and swords was the norm for them, they are living in the now. And they were very similar to us in terms of love, friendships, relationships, laughter. Humor is really important to me. It brings you into their world.” --Writer Stephen Butchard, “The Last Kingdom” (seasons 1-3).

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

100 Words: How’s This for Crazy?


One definition of insanity: keep doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome. How’s this for crazy? Four in five registered voters in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll feel “things in the country are out of control” as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approaches 110,000, unemployment remains at a level not seen since the Great Depression and protests continue across the U.S. Just 15% of voters think matters in the USA are under control. The sense of chaos and economic pessimism did not have much effect on the job approval rating for President Donald Trump.

100 Words: It’s the people in the car chase


“It’s the characters who make it relatable…. If people can’t buy into the characters, then it just becomes a series of events. I always use the example of a car chase – if you don’t care about the people in the car then it means nothing. You only care about the outcome if you care about the people.” --Stephen Butchard, screenwriter (“The Last Kingdom” seasons 1-3). Incidentally, when Martha Hillier replaced Butchard for season 4, plotting suffered and Uhtred became impulsive rather than brilliant. Another factor: Netflix took over production from the BBC and Carnival Films (“Downton Abbey”) season 4.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

100 Words: Tracking Inspiration … for a change


England remains a seafaring nation and loves its nautical traditions. I, too, love the great seafaring historical novels by C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, and Bernard Cornwell (50 or so novels altogether). “The Last Kingdom” author says his own ancestral roots gave him the idea for Uhtred, the half-Dane warrior who helps King Alfred unite Britain. Cornwell grew up loving Forester’s Napoleonic War novels featuring Horatio Hornblower, and later revered the Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin series. Forester inspired Cornwell to write his own series about the Napoleonic wars, only on land, featuring fictional rifleman Richard Sharp. Sometimes, inspiration is easy to track.

Monday, June 8, 2020

100 Words More: How About A Change of Pace?


Internet down, no classic rock tv channel to watch while working out, so I switch on FM radio--a country music station sans commercials. One song writer says he’s no good at anything else, but he sure is good at drinking beer. Brad Paisley supposedly laments the plague with the refrain, “There ain’t no ‘I’ in beer.” He mentions the beer by name. Bud Lite. Is he being paid to? That’s not even an American beer anymore. I like beer and Willie Nelson, too. But ye gods, is this really what passes for clever lyrics down in Nashville these days?

100 Words: Kentucky’s Shame


100 Words:  Kentucky’s Shame
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act passes the U.S. House 410-4 (with Ky. Rep. Thomas Massie in opposition). Now Ky. Sen. Rand Paul ties up the federal antilynching bill for the flimsiest of reasons. “I will be excoriated by simpleminded people on the internet,” Paul says. Possibly by some not so simpleminded, as well, Rand. Newspaper columnist Joe Gerth calls Paul a laughingstock for preventing the lynching of an African American from becoming a hate crime. He’s right, but it’s worse. Paul, Massie, and Ky. Senate czar Mitch McConnell (“Medicare for All will never happen on my watch!”) shame all Kentuckians.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

100 Words: Kennedy’s 1968 Speech On ML King Assassination


Recently a NYTimes writer recalled Robert F. Kennedy’s speech announcing the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I watched the video and found that
RFK’s speech remains as tremendously moving and powerful today as it did the first time I heard it on TV back in 1968. Not hatred, division, and violence but love, wisdom, and unity. Yes, it would be wonderful. Perhaps even possible, if we had such a person in the White House today. Of course, we don’t. But there’s a remedy for that in November and at the moment Trump is falling, falling in the polls.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

100 Words: Pouring Gas On The Fire

100 Words: Pouring Gas On The Fire
The U.S. faces three intertwined crises: the pandemic that has claimed over 100,000 lives; the resulting economic crisis leaving over 40 million unemployed; and now the policing crisis that has triggered the largest wave of urban unrest since the late 1960s. Each disaster disproportionately harms people of color. Each feeds off the other. The pandemic spawned the economic free fall, and mass protests over the death of George Floyd a week ago in Minneapolis are likely to accelerate the pandemic. Exceptional leadership is needed but will not come from Donald Trump who pours more gasoline on the fire (USA Today).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

100 Words: Will desperate Trump suspend fall election?


In 1968, Nixon handily mobilized law-and-order sentiment against urban disorder by pinning all the insurgencies, troubles and miseries on Democratic leadership. In 2020, no one but Trump leads the dominant political party. He runs against conditions that he himself has wrought. He has to run against himself (USA Today). The outcome is getting more likely  by the day. Trump trails Biden by 10 points (53-43) in the latest polls. His response:  Justice Dept. wants to suspend civil liberties during pandemic and “other emergencies,” including indefinitely holding people without trial (Politico). If Trump anticipates losing, will he suspend the fall election?

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

100 Words: CEO, flight attendant bond over race talk (USA Today)


She has no idea who he is. She points at his book and asks, ‘How do you like that book?’ He says it’s fantastic. She says, ‘It’s on my list to read and I saw you bring it onboard and I just wanted to talk to you. …’ And then she starts to cry. He tells her that the book talks about how white people are horrible at talking about racism and that what we need are real conversations. She agrees. He tells her he is trying to learn and through tears and a mask, she says, ‘So am I.’”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

166 Words Today: Very scary


Okay, so I was offline for four days until Spectrum came out and fixed the problem. No computer (couldn’t save files), no TV, no land line. During that time, some allegedly 3% human being lynched Gov. Beshear in effigy on the capitol lawn and threatened his life, 100 protesters--aka a mob--banged on the mansion front door, and swanned around with automatic weapons like some third world goons out to overthrow the elected government. State police officers stood around watching, apparently doing nothing. Why? I would like to know who these 100 are, and if they are the same 100 every time, and if they are being paid and by whom. If people are not reacting to this outrage (not politicians) it must be out of fear. Just remember this: “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Very scary. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

100 Words: Destiny Is All


--according to Uhtred. I adore “The Last Kingdom.” It’s an enthralling story, filled with tension and surprises. Terrific battle scenes. Remarkable sense of place with the beautiful wilds of Hungary totally believable as Alfred the Great’s England in 900. EVERYTHING feels authentic, down to the smallest detail. Uhtred as POV character is a master storyteller, fearless warrior, brilliant strategist, and a philosopher torn between Saxon heaven and Danish Valhalla. Creator Bernard Cornwell is our greatest living historical novelist and writes solidly in the noble tradition of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brien. Seasons 1-3 were fabulous. More on season 4 later.

Friday, May 22, 2020

100 Words: The Best Man In His World

Uhtred doesn’t always win, which makes “The Last Kingdom” all the more credible. He’s always a force for good and civilization, however, even though he remains a pagan warrior. His attraction for me is odd, in a way, as I’m pacifistic by nature and peaceful whenever possible. But Cornwell’s character has a deep undeniable appeal. The show is predominately a male fantasy, but it features many strong and indelible female characters. Uhtred is no cave man. He respects and admires women. As Raymond Chandler might describe him, Uhtred is the best man in his world, and good enough for any.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

100 Words: Uhtred, Anyone? What Do You Think?


I’ve read all of Bernard Cornwell’s books and watched every episode of “The Last Kingdom” on tv. I was thrilled when I learned that season four had debuted in April and immediately binge-watched it all (started with season 1). Alexander Dreymon, the German actor who plays Uhtred of Bebbanburg, seemed wrongly cast at first. He was too small and too pretty to be the fiercest Viking warrior who ever lived. But I was wrong. He soon won me over and now I can’t imagine the character without seeing Dreymon. I have much more to say about this. How about you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

100 Words: About Chinese Checkers


Cleaned up two beautiful old Chinese checkers boards I hadn’t seen in years, “Ming Check” and “Hop Ching Checkers.” We played a game--still fun, like always. Corie cleaned up an old poker chip holder and found a two-deck Renaissance playing card pack faced with Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” and “Portrait of A Musician.” She says I bought them for her as a gift. We also dredged up two other ancient games never even opened--a dice bowling game (ages 8+) and a fingerboard tabletop football flick game (ages 5+). Maybe the football game next—dice game may be too advanced.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

100 Words: Literary Grumpy Old Men


I’m a hoppy beer man. But during the plague, I plan to make every drink in my grumpy old man drinks book. It requires stocking up on some special ingredients—i.e., sweet and dry vermouth, pineapple juice (“Godfrey Daniel! Some sidewinder put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice!”), bitters, grenadine, and of course maraschino cherry. Lots more stuff. And booze, naturally. Totally worth it. We had an Algonquin, named after the celebrated NYC hotel where literary luminaries gathered (2 oz rye, 1 oz dry vermouth, 1 oz pineapple juice, Maraschino cherry). Guaranteed to make you as witty as Dorothy Parker!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

100 Words: It’s Easy To Vote by Absentee Ballot Now In Louisville, KY

I vote in every election. As a citizen, so should you (unless you’re a Republican, that is, in which case stop reading now). This year, due to the plague, you can vote by absentee ballot by clicking on the link below. You’ll arrive at the Louisville Jefferson County Election Center page, where there’s a fill-in form with a menu of reasons (including the pandemic). Choose either a paper ballot or an email one. No more lines and harder to hack. There’s no longer any excuse not to vote. And voting has never been more important. So vote! Here’s the link:



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

100 Words: Doing Our Bit for the Economy


To give Corie a once a week break from cooking (the alternative: my cooking—undesirable), we bought German takeout recently from my favorite brew pub (tipped heavily). Sauerbraten, Rouladen, Donder fries, and pretzel. Enjoyed it all hugely, especially the BIG pretzel with beer cheese. Could not eat all this, of course, though I gave it the old college try. Hence, leftovers the following night with the addition of Spatzle-like noodles and broccoli. Yum. Preceded by an un-German Grumpy Old Man drink, the Rob Roy (named for a minor character in an old musical: scotch, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, maraschino cherry).

Monday, May 4, 2020

100 Words: Where Have All the Hippies Gone?

Long time passing … long time ago. One of them is squatting in a self-made shack in Hampstead, a picturesque north London area. A seemingly conventional widow falls in love with him and the pair embark on a quixotic romantic/real estate adventure with a happy-ever-after ending. The closing image is right out of The African Queen. Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson are fine in their Hepburn-Bogart-esque performances. This 2017 Irish flick is named after the town. Where have all the flowers gone? / Young girls picked them every one / When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

Thursday, April 30, 2020

100 Words: The Grumpy Old Man


I’ve read that the cocktail hour is experiencing a resurgence during the plague. Count me in. Yesterday I made us a “Grumpy Old Man”: 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz lime juice, ginger ale. Not bad. Just about what I made occasionally as a grumpy young man. My wife inspired the idea to occasionally make “rough, manly drinks, the kind the bartender has to check his cheat sheet to remember how to make.” She gave me a book, Old Man Drinks by Robert Schnakenberg (www.quirkbooks.com) championing retro drinks from the zoot suit, snap-brim hat era. After one I feel downright chipper!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

100 Words: Waiting for the Close-Up


“All they do is brood, dawdle, and get drunk. No wonder poets don’t age well. / Novelists know there’s another plot twist or two or ten down the road…. (Novelists must) do everything. Poets, they just wait for the close-up.” –K.L. Cook, “Poets v. Novelists” (Lost Soliloquies / www.icecubepress.com). A response? The ant envies the grasshopper for saying so much with so few words. As opposed to (we fear) taking so many words to say so little. But novelists often write in daylight, nourished by sunshine. Poets often write at night in the dark moonscape of the soul. Yang yin?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

100 Words: Making Sense of Our Lives

In a wonderful just-published essay about a do-it-yourself book tour early in his career, Spalding U. prof Kenny Cook tells of unusual audiences for his talks and readings, ranging from 6th graders in Alabama to prison inmates in the Texas Panhandle. The prison stop was the tour’s best. It gave Kenny what he wanted: “to be in a room with people … who needed stories to make sense of, and to help transform, their lives.” The multi-prizewinning author’s literary trifecta includes three brilliant books published simultaneously by IceCubePress.com: essays (The Art of Disobedience), poems (Lost Soliloquies), and stories (Marrying Kind).  

Monday, April 27, 2020

100 Words: Found My Marbles


Cleaned up an old cut-glass crystal candy jar full of marbles the other day. Not sure where they came from, but they sure are pretty—so is the jar. Never played marbles much as a kid. But my cousin Gary and I used to play a baseball game using Topps Baseball Cards, a pencil, and a button, as I recall. I’ve always been such a jerk about winning games. Never let my nephew Ben beat me at ping pong, for instance, which is lamentable. Ben earned a black belt in karate. My only black belt won’t go around my waist.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

100 Words: One State, 120 Counties?

Recently, we laboriously put together an old puzzle of Kentucky’s 120 counties that had been moldering away in the basement. Why are there so many? I missed taking Kentucky history in elementary school because I was living in California. That’s my excuse. Now I’m too lazy to look it up. I know all about the Mexican War and the missions there. But aside from Daniel Boone and the Indians who hunted in this “dark and bloody ground,” I’m ashamed to admit (especially since I was a history major at WKU back in one million B.C.) that I don’t know the answer. Do you?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

100 Words: Everything Is So Green


Had to cut down the Weigela, a hardy shrub that bloomed profusely for many years. It’s now a huge tangled brush pile, its destruction having required about thirty minutes of steady labor. Hoping new shoots will arrive with spring rains. The rest of our garden is bursting with new life, from the oaks planted last fall to the laurels along the fence. Everything is so green. Heightens my awareness of how light and movement affect what we see. Our small Dave Caudill hanging sculpture turns slowly in the breeze. One minute it’s all red and blue, the next yellow and orange.


Friday, April 24, 2020

100 Words: Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation’


“Hope I die before I get old.” That was then. Now my role model is Uncle Hank, who died this month at 98. At lunch over a fish sandwich and a beer, he’d talk with wonderful lucidity about everything from politics to the theory of relativity. We’d drive through Cherokee Park and visit his parents’ grave in St. Michael’s. “I’m going to be up on that hill,” he’d say, “though I don’t know exactly where.” I still don’t, due to the plague. I’ll find it soon—hopefully after a fish sandwich and a beer in his memory. RIP Uncle Hank.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

100 Words: The More Things Change


Been re-reading Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe is credited by many as the first novelist AND the father of journalism. Striking similarities exist between today and London in 1665. People were locked up in their homes. The sick quarantined and abandoned with big red crosses painted on their doors as a warning. Cemeteries were bursting. New mass graves were dug until they reached the water line. People embraced amulets and fake cures. No vaccine existed. No belief in science then to develop a cure, either. Only religion. So, has 40% of the population changed since then?