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Adios

Just for kicks, I collected a sampling of headlines in which victims of COVID, largely vaccine deniers of the conservative persuasion, expressed “regrets” about not getting vaccinated. In some cases, the regrets were reported by family members after the victim croaked.

I know it would be charitable of me to feel sympathy and compassion for these folks. But, speaking as someone who is thrice vaccinated for COVID, and, as an intelligent adult, trusts science and medical authorities and other genuine experts, I feel sympathy and compassion only for the family members and other victims of the bonehead vaccine deniers.

To the multitudes of sick and deceased people represented by the headlines below, I simply say “adios, gente estupida.”

Here are the headlines I rounded up.

———

Hospitalized right-wing radio host in ‘very serious
condition’ regrets not being ‘vehemently pro-vaccine’

Alpharetta police officer recovering from
COVID-19 regrets not getting vaccine

Texas anti-mask organizer dies from COVID-19

‘I feel foolish’ — Florida mom shares regret
about not getting COVID-19 vaccine sooner

Alabama mother who lost son to COVID says
not getting the vaccine is her biggest regret

Man regrets snubbing vaccine
after ‘staring death in the eyes’

Anti-vaccine activist and QAnon
supporter, 64, dies from COVID

North Dakota man regretted not getting
vaccine before dying of COVID: family

Alabama man and wife who posted anti-vaccine
videos on YouTube are both dead from COVID

EMT stricken with COVID-19 and
pneumonia regrets declining vaccine

Infected Texas doctor regrets not getting vaccinated

Conservative U.S. radio host and
vaccine skeptic dies of COVID-19

Mom regrets not getting family vaccinated
after 13-year-old daughter is put on ventilator

Man who spent four months in hospital with COVID-19 and had
double lung transplant said he regrets not getting the vaccine

California woman, 40, who said she was ‘unmasked,
unmuzzled, unvaccinated, unafraid’ dies from COVID

Talk radio host hospitalized with COVID
regrets vaccine hesitancy, brother says

Israeli anti-vax leader dies from COVID-19

4-year-old girl dies of COVID after
unvaccinated mom contracts virus

Florida dad regrets not getting vaccine
after daughter, 15, dies of COVID-19

Family pleads for people to get vaccinated
after 45-year-old father dies from COVID-19

Unvaccinated high school coach dies of COVID

Anti-vax radio host who mocked AIDS
victims dies of COVID-19 complications

Husband of GOP state representative
declines vaccine, dies of COVID-19

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The Questions…

1. What is globophobia?

2. What is the difference between a meteor, a meteoroid, and a meteorite?

3. How many time zones does the world have?

4. What is the world’s oldest rainforest?

5. What is the Neon Boneyard?

The Answers…

1. Fear of balloons.

2. A meteoroid is a chunk of material passing outside of Earth’s atmosphere. If it enters the atmosphere, it becomes a meteor. A piece that reaches Earth’s surface is a meteorite.

3. 24.

4. The Daintree Rainforest in northeastern Australia. It is an estimated 180 million years old, 10 million years older than the Amazon.

5. A museum in Las Vegas, the final resting place of retired neon signs from the city’s past, many of which are historically significant.

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Tune o’ the Day

You gotta love a song that includes the line, “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”

According to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, he began writing this song several years earlier, when Syd Barrett was kicked out of the band for excessive drug use and mental issues. The tune finally appeared on the album “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

Waters said the famous opening line “The lunatic is on the grass” referred not to marijuana, but to ignoring signs that ask you to keep off the grass. Waters also observed that most of us are mentally unbalanced to some degree and could easily end up meeting on the “dark side of the moon.”

No wonder this tune is a favorite of psychologists and philosophers.

Bonus fact: the laughter sprinkled throughout the song came from Peter Watts, the band’s road manager, who died of a drug overdose in 1976. His daughter is actress Naomi Watts.

Brain Damage

By Pink Floyd, 1973
Written by Roger Waters

The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor,
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon,
And if there is no room upon the hill,
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings, too,
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head.
You raise the blade. You make the change.
You re-arrange me ’til I’m sane.

You lock the door
And throw away the key.
There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.

And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear,
You shout, and no one seems to hear.

And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes,
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/08/brain-damage.mp3

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Quotes o’ the Day

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.

Toni Morrison

———

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.

Thomas Paine

———

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

William Shakespeare

———

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.

Stephen Jay Gould

Morrison

Gould

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● Olympus Mons, an extinct volcano on Mars, is 16 miles high, almost three times taller than Mt. Everest.

● In the 1970s, future pop star Madonna Ciccone dropped out of college and moved to New York City. She took a job at a Dunkin’ Donuts, but was fired on her first day for squirting jelly filling on a customer.

● April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.

● In 1850, a French violin maker invented the octobass, a stringed instrument designed to produce ultra-low sounds, including sounds that fall below the range of human hearing. The octobass has three strings and is some 12 feet tall. Today, the only octobass not in a museum is owned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

● In 2013, Russia changed a long-standing law that classified all beverages with less than 10 percent alcohol by volume as soft drinks. The change thus classified beer as an alcoholic beverage in Russia for the first time.

● One teaspoon of healthy soil (e.g., soil enriched with compost) easily can contain six billion microorganisms, doing their thing to decompose organic matter and free up nutrients for reuse. To put six billion in perspective, the current human population of the planet is 7.9 billion.

● Your body contains about 1.3 gallons of blood. Blood cells make a full circuit of your vessels in about one minute.

● The screaming hairy armadillo, so named because it squeals like crazy when handled and is hairier than other armadillos, is native to central and southern South America. It is the smallest of the armadillos, adults being about a foot long. They live in underground burrows and eat plants, bugs, lizards, and an occasional mouse.

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This Just In

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Biologists with the Fish and Wildlife service found a live baby turtle in the stomach of a 15-pound largemouth bass and extracted it unharmed. The turtle, not the bass.

The biologists were in the Everglades catching bass for research when they noticed that the stomach of one of the fish was moving. They carefully opened the fish and discovered the turtle. After determining that the turtle was uninjured, they released it into the water.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN — A Boeing 737 en route to Qatar was forced to return to Khartoum for an emergency landing after a stowaway cat appeared in the cockpit and could not be subdued.

The cat, believed to be a feral stray, emerged from hiding 30 minutes into the flight and caused a major uproar, including attacking the pilot. When crew members were unable to capture or corner the cat, the decision was made to turn back.

Officials said the aircraft had been cleaned the night before the flight. They assume the cat slipped inside and found a concealed space to sleep.

DOLGELLAU, WALES — In January, a border collie was sold at auction for $38,893, setting a new world record for the sale of a trained herding dog.

The dog was a one-year-old named Kim who, according to her trainer, has the skills of a three-year-old. Kim was purchased by a farmer in Staffordshire.

The previous record was $26,088, set last October with the sale of Henna, another female border collie from Wales.

Kim’s trainer said, “She was doing everything. She worked cattle and sheep, and she was ready for any trials or farm work for anybody.”

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This post is about the nefarious practice of gerrymandering, a form of underhanded nastiness that politicians — mostly, but not exclusively, conservative politicians — have elevated to an art form.

Because I live in the Deep South, which is dominated by diehard “Christian conservatives,” I am saddled with a congressman who, by rational standards, is a deplorable jerk and a genuine threat to democracy.

More about the deplorable jerk directly, but first, as you undoubtedly know, gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor one’s political party. The process is dirty, cynical and quite effective.

Gerrymandering is named for Gov. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who in 1812 created a voting district that benefited his party, the Democratic-Republicans, and was mocked for resembling a salamander.


1812 Boston Globe editorial cartoon satirizing Gov. Gerry’s carefully created voting district.

Today, gerrymandering is so common across the country that it’s almost the norm. I am most familiar with what the GOP has done to the congressional districts of Georgia, so I’ll begin there.

Georgia’s cities are Democratic strongholds, so the Republicans have sabotaged them via strategic gerrymandering. Consider this map of Georgia’s congressional districts.

Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus once stood as their own congressional districts, but were combined with enough surrounding rural counties to overcome the Democrats’ advantage.

Atlanta was broken into half a dozen different districts. Athens was sliced down the middle, the two halves being absorbed into, and neutered by, the sea of GOP voters in congressional districts 9 and 10.

The fate of Athens is especially galling because the city was, and still is, a liberal bastion. It was not only subjugated by the GOP, but is now represented by two especially wild-eyed and extremist nutjob Republicans.

One of them is my deplorable jerk of a congressman, the district 9 representative, Andrew Clyde.

This is the same Andrew Clyde who famously described the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 as a “normal tourist visit.”

This is the same Andrew Clyde who was photographed in obvious panic as Trump’s white supremacist goons tried to break into the House chamber while chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

Clyde is (sigh) the owner of the Clyde Armory, a giant Athens gun store. He got into politics because, well, the opportunity presented itself.

He is a typical bellicose right-winger who toes the party line and has no need to give the issues any thought. He is a textbook example of a conservative whose brain rarely functions at a higher level than reptilian mode.

In March 2020, before Clyde was elected to Congress, the accelerating spread of COVID prompted Athens-Clarke County to issue an emergency order requiring non-essential businesses, including the Clyde Armory, to close temporarily.

Clyde went insane. He flooded the media with hysterical rants, and he sued Athens-Clarke County, claiming the ordinance was unconstitutional and would injure his business irreparably. As if anything known to man could hurt the bottom line of a gun store.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, and he warned Clyde and his lawyers not to come back to court unless they could demonstrate a better understanding of the issues and the law.

Clyde was elected to Congress handily and took office in January 2021. He won because he is a hidebound conservative and a gun nut, traits that resonate with the local rednecks.

It is ironically fitting, then, that the GOP representative from district 10, Jody Hice, is a long-time “Christian right” preacher and a right-wing radio talk show host.

Hice quit preaching when he ran for Congress, but he still hosts a daily radio program for Let Freedom Ring Ministries, Inc. That worthy organization is “dedicated to keeping America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and values in the mainstream.”

I’m not sure why they included “Judeo” in the motto. “White” would have been more descriptive.

Not long ago, Hice introduced a bill that would allow members of Congress to carry firearms, which probably earned him a donation from the Clyde Armory.

Hice, incidentally, won’t be in Congress much longer. He is running to replace Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State who refused to overturn the 2020 election results. As you recall, Georgia not only went for Biden, but also elected two Democratic senators.

Raffensperger, of course, is now persona non grata with the GOP and probably will lose in the primaries. Hice may well get the job, and will be in charge of Georgia’s electoral system, unless the Democrats can pull off another miracle.

These are scary times for democracy, people.

Two noxious byproducts of gerrymandering: Andrew Clyde and Jody Hice.

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The Questions…

1. What was the full name of baseball great Babe Ruth, aka the Bambino, aka the Sultan of Swat?

2. How long does it take to hard-boil an egg?

3. What is the largest organ in the human body?

4. What eye color is most common among humans?

5. What is the rarest color of M&M chocolate candies?

The Answers…

1. George Herman Ruth.

2. Seven minutes.

3. The skin.

4. Brown.

5. Brown.

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In 2000, the song “Things Have Changed” from the movie “Wonder Boys” won Bob Dylan both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for best original song. Dylan said he wrote it because he sympathized with the protagonist in the 1995 novel of the same name.

The story is a black comedy about an author and college professor (Michael Douglas) having an epic midlife crisis. His wife has left him, and his mistress is pregnant. His first novel years earlier was critically acclaimed, but the widely-anticipated second novel eludes him.

He smokes so much weed that he suffers regular blackouts. He is responsible for the death of his boss’s dog. His life is a mess and getting worse, but he soldiers on.

Dylan’s song is a succession of images about hopelessness, futility, and impending doom. It’s a great fit — even though the story somehow stumbles to a happy ending.

Things Have Changed

By Bob Dylan, 2000
Written by Bob Dylan

A worried man with a worried mind.
No one in front of me, and nothing behind.
There’s a woman on my lap, and she’s drinking champagne.
Got white skin. Got assassin’s eyes.
I’m looking up into the sapphire-tinted skies.
I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train.


Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose.
Any minute now, I’m expecting all hell to break loose.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

This place ain’t doing me any good.
I’m in the wrong town. I should be in Hollywood.
Just for a second there, I thought I saw something move.
Gonna take dancing lessons, do the jitterbug rag.
Ain’t no shortcuts. Gonna dress in drag.
Only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove.


Lot of water under the bridge, lot of other stuff, too.
Don’t get up, gentlemen. I’m only passing through.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road.
If the bible is right, the world will explode.
I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can.
Some things are too hot to touch.
The human mind can only stand so much.
You can’t win with a losing hand.


Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet.
Putting her in a wheelbarrow, and wheeling her down the street.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

I hurt easily. I just don’t show it.
You can hurt someone and not even know it.
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity.
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high.
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.
I’m in love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me.


Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake.
I’m not that eager to make a mistake.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/things-have-changed.mp3

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