Note: I am not in a normal groove yet. It'll be another week before the whole daughter-going / England / wha? / FAIR plot subsides in my head. Expect lameness, Bleatwise.

Yesterday I had a coffee with the son of an actor who father starred in a CB-radio-craze-era TV show about truckers, and we didn’t talk about that at all. Next time, perhaps. He wanted to ask me about old Minneapolis history, and we had a fine time. What I want to talk about is the location: an 80s hotel by the Mall of America.

It’s a Crown Plaza, and no matter how they spiff it up or add cool art, the bones of the place cannot be altered. I entered on the second floor from the parking lot and was hit by my old friend, the soggy mop of swimming pool chlorine. Looked down, saw the pool below - empty. Horrible placement. Everything about it said “no one wants to wear swimming clothes this close to the lobby, or where creeps can look down from above like pervs in Olympus.” Then the hallway leading to all the meeting rooms, where no one ever wants to be and nothing anyone wants to have happen, happen. Ridiculously large staircase to the lobby, so big the lobby seemed like an afterthought.

You may have heard of the immolation of the Brazilian Natural History museum. I was a bit stricken, because Daughter is there, and that makes me oddly involved with Brazil from this distance. I wondered how they’d talk about it in school, how they talked about it in her host parents’ house - the sense I got from Brazilian Twitter was despair and impotence: the government is hopeless and cannot be counted upon to safeguard the nation’s treasures.

One tweet from a domestic source eager to make a Big Huge Point said that the oligarchs of the world today, Trump and Putin, do not care if museums burn. Sigh. Well. No. Putin, I expect, regards the museums as proof of Russian cultural greatness, for reasons that have nothing to do with any admiration of art. Chauvinists gotta chauvin. After eight years of Trump - for all his supposed eye for Classy Things, a philistine - I expect the National Gallery will not have its fire suppression systems compromised.


Flash forward: we’re outside working on the lawn. The grub infestation was worse than we thought. It’s a nightmare. Huge parts of the lawn have to come up - and it’s a damned big hill. I got ten bags of dirt earlier in the day; wife got 14 more, which I hauled up the hill. We scraped off vast swaths of lawn, put down dirt, seeded, and were putting down the cover that protects the seeds and also says to the neighbors WE KNOW, WE KNOW, WE’RE TRYING.

Wife says: it’s 6:49. We have time to finish this.

Yes, we have a call, a FaceTime, at 7:15. First call to Daughter!

Didn’t want to do it earlier, because there’s that whole let-them-get-adjusted thing, and besides, I’ve been texting back and forth for a while; she never felt out of touch. But we haven’t seen her.

Text: 7:30? Just got back from soccer have to recharge phone lol

Ah. Time to shower so we don’t look like field laborers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we’re dirt-streaked, sweaty, harried. Wife showers and PUTS ON EARRINGS. The appointed hour comes, and through the magic of the modern world we’re having a videophone chat with Daughter in another hemisphere. She looks great! She’s having a fantastic time. Torrent of words for an hour.

So very proud: I knew she could do this.

And she seems as if she’s grown up a year in four weeks.







There was a piece about considering Jefferson instead of Hamilton. Because of the musicalal, you know. It is here.

The author appears frequently in the Strib's op-ed pages. She is very concerned about rich people who ban arguments and prevent good things like free college. It must be a constant struggle to avoid losing your ideals and beliefs when the Koch brothers are broadcasting their ideas non-stop; one must put wet cotton in one’s ears to avoid the siren songs.

She is less concerned, I’d wager, about rich people who use their money to advance good issues - as is their right, of course. I am less concerned to the point of nonresistance about anyone spending money to advance their opinion. There was no ad, no campaign, no book, no movie, that could have made me vote for Donald Trump, for example. There are some beliefs I hold because - what’s the phrase? - because I believe them.

If you do not share her ecocatastrophism, the columns are not persuasive, but they are always interesting reading if you hold different views. The column on Jefferson had a paragraph that made me think: oh ho, here’s what’s next. Anticipating an objection to respecting Jefferson, she wrote:

Wasn’t Jefferson a slaveholder, and aren’t undocumented (unprotected) immigrants working in agriculture today no better than slave laborers?

Huh. Well. Two things: the comparison of non-citizens to slave laborers is almost obscene, given what slaves experienced: non-volutanary transport, a complete absence of rights, a denial of their humanity, their familial bonds sundered, their labor uncompensated, their lives the property of others who could do with them as they wished. Compared to someone who voluntary enters a country and gets a job of their own free will - yeah, that’s apt. That’s a perfect match.

The rhetorical sleight-of-hand in the first part of the sentence also stood out. The term “undocumented” is preferred to illegal, since the latter connotes a stigma, and the former makes it sound as if people who crossed the border without going through the usual channels have every right to be here, but lack the paperwork to prove it. Just as someone who broke into your house would be “unkeyed.”

But note! “undocumented (unprotected) immigrants.” That’s the next term, I suspect. If you call someone undocumented, compassionate people do not necessarily insist that they be given documents, but if you call them unprotected, compassionate people want them to be made safe.

Then the column veers into a call for an end to international trade.

(Hamilton) would have been incredulous that corporate money could have been allowed to so thoroughly corrupt the political process and silence constructive discussion of such never-before-possible (and now economically inevitable) entitlements “for the greater good” as universal health care and free public education and his fondest dream, a wholly self-sufficient domestic economy.

. . . What better time than now to follow China’s lead (and Jefferson’s vision) and slowly phase out our reliance on overseas markets and resources?

Because it would impoverish everyone?

No nation on Earth is better positioned to make that shift, not even China, but China seems to be forcing our hand. Better a thoughtful and deliberate transition to sustainability that puts a healthy planet and the greater good as our top priorities — not GDP, job growth or a booming stock market — even if it does involve short-term hardship (and even if it means some multinational corporations pull up stakes and move) than to leave all but the richest Americans unmoored and desperate in the long term.

No doubt you’re keen for specifics.

The alternative to enhancing our self-sufficiency, and that of all nations, is a draconian “correction” in human population.

Life expectancy and wealth have soared in the past few decades, as trade and markets have done their work. The “correction” would come from disease and / or famine, which global trade can mitigate.

Automation combined with a shift to high-value-add products (including life-extending technologies and healthy food) renders the traditional labor force obsolete and unprotected from climate-related disease, famine and war.

I’m . . . not sure where she’s going here. BTW, are you worried about “climate-related disease”? If you knew that was the only thing about which you had to worry, would you be more or less concerned? Automation leaves people unprotected from famine? The Syrian war victims were subjected to state-directed violence because of healthy food and touch-screen McDonalds kiosks?

This may sound dystopian but there’s a reason such predictions are staples of popular entertainment.

Just as overpopulation and resource exhaustion was the dystopian staple of 70s popular entertainment, and post-nuclear wastelands were the staples of the 80s. They were wrong then, too.

They may be banned from “polite” political discourse

They are not banned.

but we all know, especially the young, that they are as plausible as any other future scenario.

Hunger Games: an anticipatory documentary, I guess.

Science just hadn’t caught up with politics back in 1809 when a weary Thomas Jefferson headed home to Monticello. It would. And did, though a Civil War came first. Old ways of doing things die hard, because for every person who benefits from a change that improves things down the road, there will be others (sometimes lots of others) who will lose.

To forestall this theoretical catastrophe, we must usher in this preventable catastrophe. Lots of people will die! But it’s for a good cause.

Only a government dedicated to ensuring the right of happiness for all its citizens stands between a decent albeit difficult future and global disaster for all but a few.

The article was not online only, but - presumably because the author did not request it - was printed on paper hauled down from Canada on trucks, a significant carbon outlay, and delivered to homes by internal-combustion engine-powered delivery people.

Was that trip really necesssary?





Let me just say in advance: I am so, so sorry.

Don’t worry, he just has a knife. Shoot him!

Well, what will be the deal - a mad scientist? A villain from another planet?


So it’s a guy with a really top-heavy artillery piece that needs three sights. Okay, how do we start? Crime wave is usually how it goes. Let’s see:


Interstellar? So it’s a long way off, then. The planetarium, of course, holds a Scientist who observes the hurtling objects . . .

He informs his neice Sheila, who looks like she’s the alien:


Turns out the meteor is purple. I have to say, Republic finally sprang for a set:


Let’s check out our Purple Monster’s delicate landing skills:


Impressive. Remember that sequence. I have the feeling we’ll see it again some day. It cost too much.

Well, the alien introduces himself to the Scientist, and says “my name would be meaningless to you. I am from the planet you call Mars.”

But - but you speak English!

My people know all languages, he says, thanks to an invention called “the Distance Eliminator.” Doesn’t do squat for smooth landings, though.

The scientist says hey, my name is Dr. Cyrus Layton, and I happen to be working on interplanetary travel myself!

Great, says Purple Dude, adding that Mars hasn’t been able to figure out that whole “getting back to the home planet” thing, and why it’s really good he ran into Dr. Layton out here. Let’s go back to your lab.

Of course, strange man from Mars. Let me show you all my designs!

I would have preferred a crime wave.

Anyway, Purps says “this rocket design is better than our rocket design. Surely you have backups? Nope! The only people who know about it is my lawyer, and my niece Sheila! They’re on their way here; perhaps you can join us for dinner?


Well that’s a buzzkill. Purps says he’s the advance guard for the invasion which will subjugate Earth. The only reason the invasion hasn’t happened is because they don’t have rockets that can safely land and go back. Purps says sorry; I’m going to kill you and take your form.


But the lawyer hero and Sheila show up before he can take the form of the Scientist! There’s a fist fight, the lawyer’s knocked out, and Purps unveils his most terrible power:



Well, it’s a nice effect. He sits on the body of the dead scientist and takes his place. The lawyer wakes up the dead doc who is now Purps, and Purpls says his rocket plans are gone! He’ll have to start over. Lawyer says he’s going to get himself deputized so he can solve this crime.

I didn’t think this mattered, but of course it does - there’s nothing extraneous in the serials. I mean, it’s all extraneous, but on point. The Lawyer Hero had mentioned that the attack could have been the work of the extortionist who tried to get $50K out of the scientist the week before. After they’re gone and Purps is alone, he has a visitor:


It’s the extortionist! He wants his money. Because scientists always have $50K sitting around the planetarium. Hey, why are you sitting in the chair instead of getting my money?


Dude, you’re not known as that at all. You just got here. Stop trying to make that happen.

It’s a rather time consuming process, isn’t it? He’d seem quite vulnerable when it the transparent state.

Of course, he enlists the criminal as his Number One Hench. Back to Purp-as-Scientist in the observatory; he learns that the rocket is under construction, but the motor is finished. So it’s off to the testing grounds! With the Hench.



He tells Mitchell, the guy with the rocket, to call Craig - that’s our deputized lawyer hero - and postpone the destination. But he taps out an SOS signal while talking! Craig speeds to the testing ground, unaware this is the first episode and he’ll be at this for weeks without sleep or eating.

He gets the drop on Purpls, and we learn that Niece Claire has SPUNK:


Not very effective, though. Does Purps start throwing around his poison Martian gas? No, it’s a fistfight. But wait! She’s okay!




That’s a dramatic cliffhanger, all right - best I’ve seen in a while - but it’s also the first where the villain is punched unconscious in the very first ep.

Here we go! Could be fun. (Spoiler: it's . . . well, just wait.)

A new site today: Chain Store Age. A reader sent these along, and I've scanned about half. They're industry mags, so all the ads are aimed at the people who buy the stuff the rest of us buy. They're like nothing you've seen before!

I know that oversells it, but it's true. Three pages per week for the rest of the year.


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