Finished the last travel arrangements for this year’s jaunts. As noted, Two Weddings and a Funeral. It’s better than nothing. It’s just not travel travel.

I can’t be the only one who gets agita when booking flights. You plug in the dates, wait, wince: well, what did I expect? It’s not the ten-dollar bus line that always has a guy with a bottle of Jack in the back row by the crapper. Let’s see, not bad . . . oh, it’s American, 27 hours, with two layovers, one in Dallas, the other in Spokane.

Finally you get something reasonable that does not mean getting up 3 AM and deposits you at the destination with enough time to actually do something in the day other than sit. OMG 1 seat available ACT NOW OR IT’S GONE. So you start to book, and then the fees start adding up. If you don’t chose your seat, you end up in the middle back by the lavs. You are the guy with the bottle of Jack back by the crapper, except it’s a tiny little airplane bottle, and you sensed disapproval from the stew because it’s 10 AM. Sorry, I’m a nervous flier! Make it a double.

So you have to pay for the seat, one of the more brilliant innovations the airline invented. You do not think of Future Self, when you will wish you’d paid $11 more to get seven rows up, because you’ve landed and you’re standing in the aisle and the python of humanity has not even begun its disgorging.

Then there’s the trip cancellation policy, which covers everything except trips being cancelled, and you decline and get one of those proclamations of idiocy: NO, I DO NOT WANT TO BE PROTECTED.

Then the taxes and surcharges and fuel fees and special temporary “We took it in the shorts in 2020” levy and then the final total is twice what you saw when you first started searching for flights.

Okay. Well. That’s done; did the wife’s ticket. I’m coming back on another day, so let’s reload and do my ticket.

The flight she was on does not appear in the Expedia list. It’s only giving me airlines that have three planes and have to rest six hours between legs. Gah. Okay, go to the airline page, input the dates . . . ah. There it is. Nail it down. Two out of three.

Now Daughter, coming from Boston. Her flight is cheaper than the one from Minneapolis to CA. Why? Because. It leaves at 5:30 AM. Gah. No. Find something, anything, that gets her in about the same time as us . . . ah. There. Nail it down.

So I’ve coordinated three tickets for three different people, and it all looks good. Itineraries saved as PDFs, put in the TRAVEL folder on the cloud, data soon to be entered into TripIt, a program I signed up for when I did a lot more travel. All is good.

You’ll never know I was gone. One day I’ll come back with pictures of a distant lovely place. Really, three trips in one year isn’t bad. It just doesn’t feel like travel travel.











Perhaps you saw this exchang on the twitters. It struck some people as a sign of a particular attitude that regards all this fooferal about "not getting things" and "bare shelves" as a sign of a problem, instead of proof of robust, fully functioning economy that's doing so well it just can't keep up with the raw animal spirits of our rapacious demands. It's what you might say if you're quietly and personally exasperated that people are unable to grasp the upside of higher prices.

Is this the dividing line? Your treadmill is delayed, boo hoo, world’s smallest violin. But what if your bike is delayed? I would think that’s bad, because bike are good and holy and sustainable. I don’t think she would have rolled her eyes if bikes were being delayed. But a treadmill - or, for that matter, a stationary bike - well, learn to live with less.

Reset your expectations, we’re told. Relax. You don’t need all these things; you don’t need so many choices.

This works when you have an existential crisis, and everything's mobilized for war production. Absent that, the message sems to be: stop thinking like an American.

Because that is the problem, isn't it? Old and busted: wowing Soviet leaders with the bounty of our supermarkets. The new naught-ness: empty shelves are good thing, because we're bouncing back bigger, and also (the whispered part) you realize that being a fat greedy Costco shopper with all your expectations is unsustainable and inequitous.

All these incremental constrictions, each a minor annoyance, eventually cohere into a feeling that things are sliding towards a culture of constant vexation. (Not me, not here, too much; I don’t have to step over needles and feces on the way to work. It’s clean. Although the other day in the skyway one of the underused legs had a strong hogo of New York Subway Urine, which never used to happen. No one peed in the skyways.) It’s not just the vexation you get when a lot of people are crammed into one place, though. It’s imposed, by dint of not doing anything about the disorderly elements. We will not police the streets so you will step over needles. We will not clear out the encampment so you will have an inert RV fill the neighborhood with smoke when it burns. We will not do something about petty theft, so you will have to wait for the clerk to get a key. We will not confine the mentally ill, so you will be trailed for a block by someone scrabbling a hand in his pants.

When you complain, you will be told you’re lucky not to be in the situation of the people who are causing the problems.You should be grateful you don’t have to steal Tide. You should be grateful you can afford to replace your broken stove, even though the replacement won’t come for 8 months. (It’ll be 9 next month.) I suppose that’s true, but it’s setting the bar rather low, and making the disorderly uncivil elements the baseline. Anything above that, it’s gravy.

Revanchist running-dog lackey of the plutocratic hegemony that I am, I am suspicious when the state determintes your needs and justifies their construction. You don’t need the treadmill is you don’t need 14 varities of ice cream is you don’t need that car is you don’t need that hamburger when there's bug protein is you don't need fast access to unprotected detergent is you don't need to go to that wedding is you don’t need . . . this. That. The other thing. And it is churlish of you to think you need this when (insert aching never-solved non-analogous problem that still exists despite decades of expenditures here).

Ever seen the old Soviet ads? They're lovely. They didn't have 15 different brands. They just had a nice ad for marmalade, in general. No confusion. Yes, but did they actually produce any marmalade? Of course! But if there wasn't any marmalade, because the wreckers and kulaks had prevented the fufillment of the Five-Year Fruit Spread Goals, everyone shared the experience. There was Marmalade Equity. And Comrade Brezhnev had his toast dry? He may have had some at diplomatic occasions, where it was expected.

What you might take away from the exchange above is this: the press secretary has access to a treadmill, and it works, and if it doesn't, there are ten others in a row just like it. And membership in the fitness club comes with the job.




It’s still 1929.

You hate to see false-hope headlines like this, knowing what we know.


Never, ever a good sign when the president has to say the markets are just fine.

Why did he say these things? Why did he need to beef up the public mood? A story directly below says there had been “a terrific crash” the previous Thursday.


Wikipedia: “The Great Crash is associated with October 25, 1929, called Black Friday, the day after the largest sell-off of shares in U.S. history.” This paper is from the 26th, the day after. It refers to the events of Thursday.

The headline on the 24th: “Bankers check near panic in stock market; sales reach new record in ‘darkest day in years.’”

In other words, it didn’t happen all at once. It had been going on for a while, trending down, until kabang. The 24th was “Black Thursday,” which did not enter the lexicon.

“On October 24, "Black Thursday", the market lost 11 percent of its value at the opening bell on very heavy trading. The huge volume meant that the report of prices on the ticker tape in brokerage offices around the nation was hours late, and so investors had no idea what most stocks were trading for.”

The day after was not Black Friday. There was, after the weekend, Black Monday and Black Tuesday, after which the Dow was down 23%. It would eventually lose about 82% of its value.

When they put this paper together, they had no idea what was coming.



The New Broom lads of Borger:

Albert Mace was a Ranger. Didn't Google Dyke Cullum, since I'm at work.

“Give this one a flowery lede.”

“Okay, boss.”


“Give this one a flowery lede.”

“Okay, boss.”


The story:

The news of Diteman’s disappearance was anxiously watched by the Billings community. In fact, the headlines of October 25 were mostly about him, while also acknowledging the Stock Market crash in a smaller article. While Urban Diteman’s attempt failed, the reaction back home was not that he was a foolish dreamer, but that it was a noble attempt at moving aviation forward. Two years later, his father placed a monument to Diteman in the family’s cemetery in Yakima, WA. It depicted a cowboy on a cliff overlooking a vast sea, where clouds shaped like a galleon sailed the sky, next to a small plane.

Diteman’s modifications to his plane meant he made the crossing with an open cockpit.

"Finds release." Whew! Lucky turn of events!

As for the Gorkster, it wouldn't last.

Gorky's return from Fascist Italy was a major propaganda victory for the Soviets. He was decorated with the Order of Lenin and given a mansion in Moscow and a dacha in the suburbs.

The city of Nizhni Novgorod, and the surrounding province were renamed Gorky. Moscow's main park, and one of the central Moscow streets, Tverskaya, were renamed in his honour, as was the Moscow Art Theatre. The largest fixed-wing aircraft in the world in the mid-1930s, the Tupolev ANT-20 was named Maxim Gorky in his honour.

Here's a telling anecdote:

He was also appointed President of the Union of Soviet Writers, founded in 1932, to coincide with his return to the USSR. On 11 October 1931 Gorky read his fairy tale poem "A Girl and Death" (which he wrote in 1892) to his visitors Joseph Stalin, Kliment Voroshilov and Vyacheslav Molotov, an event that was later depicted by Viktor Govorov in his painting.

On that same day Stalin left his autograph on the last page of this work by Gorky: "This piece is stronger than Goethe's Faust (love defeats death)" Voroshilov also left a "resolution": "I am illiterate, but I think that Comrade Stalin more than correctly defined the meaning of A. Gorky's poems. On my own behalf, I will say: I love M. Gorky as my and my class of writer, who correctly defined our forward movement".

You're thinking  . . . and?

As Vyacheslav Ivanov remembers, Gorky was very upset:

They wrote their resolution on his fairy tale "A Girl and Death". My father, who spoke about this episode with Gorky, insisted emphatically that Gorky was offended. Stalin and Voroshilov were drunk and fooling around.

If that's the worst that happens, pal, count yourself among the lucky.


  We the jury - (stifled laugh) find the defendant (barely stifled laugh) - Wee (sudden collapse into uncontrollable laughter)

It’s complicated.

It has to do with electrically amplified recordings and playback machines, which were regarded as superior to acoustically recorded programs. They used GE tech, which was called . . . are you ready? The Pallophotophone.

The tech seems pretty wild for the mid-20s:

The pallophotophone was an optical sound system which could record and play back audio tracks on a strip of 35 mm black-and-white photographic film. Separate recording and playback units were employed. In recording, the sound waves vibrated a tiny mirror which reflected a ray of light through a narrow slit onto the moving film, creating a "sound track" that encoded the audio-frequency variations in air pressure as variations in the width of the track.

After the film was developed, each track could be played by running it between a slit illuminated by a steady light and a photoelectric cell, converting the variations in track width into variations of light intensity and a similarly modulated electrical signal, which was electronically amplified and used to drive a loudspeaker or other device.

Our weekly Webby. Ah, recall the happy Tuesdays we spent last year with ol’ HT.


And another load of poetic booshwa from the most well-paid writer of the day.

And now I have come to believe that Cedric Adams’ local feature, Thoughts while Shaving, which was literally just that, was a play off Oscar Odd’s “Thoughts While Strolling.”

Remember: he took a limo everywhere.


That will  have to do. Head back to the 50s now, if you like. 






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