Shchedryk, 100 Years Later

“Carol of the Bells” returns to Carnegie Hall 100 years after its North American premiere on this stage, when New York audiences first experienced Ukraine’s unique choral tradition thanks to a historic tour by The Ukrainian Republic Capella. “Carol of the Bells” has since become a worldwide Christmas favorite. Hear it and other beloved Ukrainian carols in a once-in-a-lifetime holiday concert that also features contemporary choral works, a world premiere by composer Trevor Weston, and artists including conductor Daniela Candillari, soprano Janai Brugger, Ukrainian-Canadian singer Marichka Marczyk, the Shchedryk Children’s ChoirThe Choir of Trinity Wall StreetUkrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (as seen on Saturday Night Live), and Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.

carnegiehall.org/Calendar
NPR – State of Ukraine – 100 years ago, ‘Carol of the Bells’ came to America — from Ukraine – December 2, 2022

Carol of the Bells is almost unique in the fact that it is a Christmas song that I don’t automatically loathe upon hearing the first chord. Every other Christmas song that gets airplay in the United States has been played so often to my unwilling ears that I can’t stand to hear the songs even one more time.

I never knew the history of the song before today. It’s a Ukrainian shchedrivka or New Years song that was introduced into to the United States back in the years between World War I and World War II, the last time that Ukraine was desperately trying to escape from Russian aggression, Russian oppression. Happy New Year, Ukraine. Here’s hoping 2023 finally delivers you from the Russia that you never wanted to be part of in the first place.

Bountiful evening, bountiful evening, a New Year’s carol;
A little swallow flew into the household
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
“Come out, come out, O master,
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have given birth
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, by selling them.
You have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife
If not money, then chaff from all the grain you will harvest
you have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife.”

wikipedia.org

The Carnegie Hall performance is tomorrow. Wish I could be there.

youtube.com/LindseyStirling
youtube.com/TSO

Disabled by Disability Red Tape

I can relate to the lamentations of the disabled person in this podcast:

The Indicator from Planet Money – Jobs Friday: The problem with disability support – October 7, 2022

I spent nearly five years trying to get disability myself:

1 in four people will have to go on disability support before retirement. That means of the four or five people who might be reading this right now, one or two of you will need to be on disability in the near future. As this blog is read more frequently by disabled persons, that number is probably even higher and many of the complaints aired in the above episode probably echo with their own experiences.

I quite literally could have died during the five year process it took to get disability and it would have done nothing to demonstrate the need for support that my family and I needed at the time. The amount of fraud in the system is miniscule and yet the harm that is caused to disabled people and their families by delaying disability payments can be demonstrated time and time again. It is a black mark on our country’s moral ledger that this harm continues.

Once you have qualified for disability it then becomes a constant irritant, this need to demonstrate a need for continued support as if chronic illness is a thing that you recover from, or that the lasting effects of years of illness would not in themselves merit some level of support from the government. Rather than being something that you had to demonstrate a need for, disability payments should be a benefit that is granted automatically to every person who is not working. Granted automatically so that loss of housing, food and security isn’t a thing that the newly unemployed person suffers from.

If there are shirkers living off those easy benefits then it’s a simple matter of getting those people the mental help they need to get back out of their houses and get back to work doing something. You won’t live long sitting around your house doing nothing. Twenty years of disability has proven this to me. The only thing that keeps me alive now is getting out and engaging with the world on a near-daily basis. Something that I’m not allowed to charge anything for if I want to keep my disability payments.

Universal basic income would solve this problem, but I don’t expect we’ll be seeing that anytime soon no matter how feasible it might seem to the economists who support it. In the meantime if you aren’t working, can’t work, then you shouldn’t be facing eviction and eventual starvation because of it. It just shouldn’t happen anywhere that calls itself civilized.

Restore The Child Tax Credit

This is one of the things that we need to be going to polls for, restoring the Child Tax Credit. If you want to reduce the impact of inflation on the people most devastated by inflation, then you want to ease the burdens of the parents of young children. Their children are the real victims of this economic turmoil.

NPR: The Indicator from Planet Money – Going backwards on child poverty – June 16, 2022

…and it’s much more than that. If you want to reduce the number of abortions you have to visibly provide support for mothers. If you are going to force the end of abortion in the United States (as we seem hell bent on doing, even though it is impossible to achieve) then you must provide support for the children that you are now directly bringing into the world by your interference. There will be a bill due from all of this turmoil, and if we don’t pay it to the children they will take it from those who live long enough to see them come of age.

Up First – How Two Women’s Views of Abortion Changed – June 26, 2022

The common denominator between these two stories is economics; the inability of the mother-to-be to afford the child that they are aborting. If you really want to reduce the reliance on abortion then the thing you need to do is give these women money to raise their children with. If they are expected to work or give birth they will generally not pick give birth and it is stupid to expect them to.

If you don’t provide support, give these people we are forcing into this world hope, they will take their hopelessness out on the rest of us. You have been warned.

Postscript

Writing while on allergy drugs leads to duplication of effort:

…these should have been one article.

Wildcat

wildcatter is an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration of oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. The term dates from the early oil industry in western Pennsylvania. Oil wells in unproven territory were called “wild cat” wells from mid-1870, and those who drilled them were called “wild-catters” by 1876.

wikipedia

The oil industry is all up in arms over the demand that they produce more oil now to compensate for the loss of Russian oil on the markets. They just can’t do it, they say. It’ll take a year, they project. There aren’t workers to do the jobs we need done, they complain. All of it is bullshit. All of it.

Two years ago the oil producers were begging for money from the government to cap and plug wells in West Texas and New Mexico. They were desperate to get active wells reclassified as orphan wells because the wells weren’t producing enough to pay the royalties due on them. Not at the negative oil prices then in effect. Now that the price is back in the familiar territories of $100+ a barrel, they’re saying there’s not enough oil and gas and so they have to charge exorbitant prices.

spotifyacast.com/theeconomist

It is true, the oil industry lost billions of dollars during the pandemic lockdowns. They and all the other industries that made their living on people intermingling and traveling across the globe to enjoy their vacations, all of them have had a rough two years of it.

The fact that the world economy is stretched thin is probably why Vladimir Putin picked now to start a Russian civil war in Ukraine and thereby causing the energy panic that has now gripped the world.

Look, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” McCain said. “It’s kleptocracy. It’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important.”

John McCain – JANUARY 8, 2015

More sanctions on oil? Americans were already complaining about high oil prices:

I would have sworn that everyone was onboard with oil prices rising so as to save the oil industry? That seemed to be the mantra under the last president. Now we can’t bear to pay too much for gasoline? Pick one, people. You can’t have it both ways.

NPR – State of Ukraine – Americans on low incomes are hit harder by high gas prices due to the war – March 9, 2022

I get it, the oil companies are posting record profits for the first time in two years. Great. Maybe they should suck up some of the increased cost instead of raising prices at the gasoline pumps? Sure, that sounds good. I’m sure the investors won’t squall about not getting their larger checks in the mail. Maybe they should squall. Maybe they should get out of the investment business if they think investment should be a certain bet. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.

I guarantee you that if the US government lit a fire under oil company CEO’s asses they could go find some more oil tomorrow, not in a year. You might not see an increased flow of oil for a few months, but then we shouldn’t see a serious tightening in oil and gasoline availability for a few months, either. It won’t do much good for the political maneuvers that need to be conducted right now, but that is how things work out in the real world.

As for there not being workers, that is a flat-out lie. There are plenty of people willing to work if you’ll pay them. That is the catch, after all. The cost of living has gone up in cities across the nation. You can no longer work for even fifteen dollars an hour and be able to afford a place in most major cities. You should pay no more than 30% of your wages on housing costs and apartments average out around 1500 in Austin. One person living alone might be able to swing the cost of an apartment, but that is a dead-end life of no love, no children and no fun.

My grandfather was raised in Kansas. He used to tell me stories of working on his Uncle’s farm just outside of Scott, Kansas. When he decided it was time to go out and make his mark in the world, he moved to Texas and started working in the then newly discovered oil patch. Over the course of ten or fifteen years he made enough money to buy a large spread of land in the next county over from his Uncle’s. That is what being well-paid looks like. Workers who put in their time and then leave to go do the things they really want to do. Nobody wants to spend their life working the rigs in the oil field. Nobody should spend their whole life doing it unless they want it to be a pretty short life.

These days employers pay only what they are required to pay and then complain about how they can’t find quality work anymore. Why not try offering more money? There is a thing that every corporate leader expects these days, and it is a crime that this thing even exists. They call it the golden parachute. These benefits are paid out in addition to the outrageous stacks of cash that they are paid for every day they hold their jobs.

Oil executives should make less money than the roughnecks that work for them. This is a plain fact that can’t be stated baldly enough. Unless these guys are willing to get out on the rigs and do the dirty work along with their crews, they should be paid office scale for comfortable office work. Their benefits should include not being killed on the job. Not being maimed on the job. Not being forced out of work by repeated injuries that leave you disabled, but not disabled enough to earn disability benefits.

If you started paying the roughnecks the wages that they deserve, I guarantee you that you will get the workers you need to get oil out of the ground faster than we can use it. It has happened before and it can happen again. It just takes a willingness to put the chips on the table and force the play. Are you in, or are you out?

Featured image: Dallas Morning News – The Railroad Commission does what?

Postscript

I hate to break it to Fran Hart but substack is the blogger of 2019. Give it time. “I have a substack” will be derided like blogs are today in a very short order, especially with people like her publishing on the platform. If people come to my blog it’s because they think my writing is worth reading. I don’t have to force people to wade through my spam every day to get to what they want in their inboxes.

The oil price spike happened at the time that it did because the glut ended and the demand went up and the need to drill more became evident, not because of some mystical handwaving thing having to do with people not being willing to work. It is the boom/bust or profit/loss cycle. That’s all. No mystery to solve here.

The spike hit because American automakers stopped making cars and switched to monster trucks for morons who didn’t believe gas prices would go up again.

Dan Tolliver

Changing Government

Manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson
Morning Edition – Thomas Jefferson Descendant Reflects On His Ancestor’s Memorial And Legacy – July 15, 2020

Trump the Demented

“It seems like if you leave a dementia test bragging about all the extra points you got on your dementia test, you have dementia.”

Jessi Klein

Person, Man, Woman, Camera, TV has been making viral rounds this week. I couldn’t bring myself to care long enough to even figure out what that Orange Hate-Monkey bullshit was about. I did try though. I got two minutes into,

The Late Show with Stephen ColbertTrump Proves His Cognitive Abilities With Five Magical Words: Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV – Jul 23, 2020

…and just gave up. Too much OHM lip-flapping, not enough humor. Today (Sat. July 25, 2020) with hints from,

‘Wait Wait’ For July 25, 2020, With Not My Job Guest Padma Lakshmi

I was able to deduce that the OHM is still bragging about how well he did on the dementia test they gave him, two weeks after the bomb dropped that they had tested him for dementia but didn’t bother to tell the American people about it for two years.

Facebook

Fresh Air – Mary Trump, The President’s Niece – July 23, 2020

Suggested reading:

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump Ph.D.

I listened to the entire book last week. It was an interesting listen if only marginally about Donald Trump himself. It was more about the monster that was Fred Trump, and how that monster drove his eldest son into the grave while twisting the minds of the rest of his children. Creating the fascist demagogue that we know as Caudito Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey in the process. Donald Trump is exactly who his father made him to be. Ruthless. Vindictive. But he is also what he was when he was sent to military school. Slovenly. Empty-headed. Narcissistic.

Mary Trump would say (and did say in the book) that her Uncle was unfit for the office of president. As a doctor with first-hand experience with him, she should know.

Mencken: the American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers
Facebook – Stonekettle

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

So it isn’t telepathy. Color me dejected.

I’ve experienced this all my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in a library or a classroom with people reading all around me, books quietly being opened, pages being turned, people whispering what they are reading to themselves, whispering to each other, and this feeling of being tickled in my brain, up and down along my arms and legs, a feeling of static electricity all over my skin surface would occur. It happened a lot.

I could not explain it. I didn’t even dare tell anyone about it for fear of being laughed at or being told I was hallucinating. The feelings persisted though, throughout my life. Anytime I was in a quiet space and these soft, rustling sounds would occur, I would get that familiar feeling.

I wondered about it a lot. I have a very active imagination. I wondered if I was telepathic or empathic or…? Even in my wildest flights of fancy, I couldn’t explain it. I dismissed the telepathic fantasy because I couldn’t actually hear people thinking, try as hard as I might. Dismissed the empathic fantasy because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with a particular emotion or set of emotions.

It was sounds and textures. Touching skin and moving my fingers softly up and down the skin causes the sensations, too. A few years ago I stumbled across the phrase autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR, and I filed away the fact that there was an explanation for this weird thing I experienced. It was brought back to mind with this episode of Shortwave.

Short Wave – The Squishy Science Behind ASMR – October 17, 2019

It’s an encore episode, yeah I know. This was the video that I first watched way back when. Back when I first ran across the term ASMR and wondered if this was the thing that I experienced.

Accidentally GracefulASMR Unfiltered | Simple Sounds and Soft Whispers – Apr 30, 2015

Last year, when the Shortwave episode first aired, The Wife and I queued up some of the kinds of videos that the episode airs clips from. ASMR Darling, CosmicTingles, JellybeanASMR and others. We established pretty quickly that she did not get a reaction from any of the videos. She also noted the thing that the host of Shortwave first questioned. These are all young women. Is this sexual?

It isn’t sexual, although it might be related to a sexual response. Hard to say. I am not turned on by these young women. I find their crowding the microphones creepy. I understand that they have to be close to the mics in order for the soft sounds to be captured, but still. The mic isn’t the camera. Try backing away from the camera. You might discover that the ASMR response is higher if you aren’t looking at the video but just listening to it.

I haven’t tried playing with floam, the gag that Shortwave ended the episode with. The response can be triggered by tactile sensations, as I mentioned previously. I’m not a big slime enthusiast. It just isn’t my thing. Slime with styrofoam bits in it always struck me as pre-dirtied slime. Really not my thing. But put me in a crowded library with people quietly reading any day. It is an interesting (if slightly distracting) sensation to experience.

The Restaurant From The Future

Planet Money – The Restaurant From The Future – May 13, 2020

The idea is to build a scalable brand, not just a restaurant. So they have a research kitchen in the basement where they try out new recipes. One of their locations is what’s known as a ghost kitchen. You can’t eat there. It’s a kitchen that exists just for delivery. Overall, Yong is trying to build this beautiful restaurant chain. And it was going pretty well.

Two months into the lockdown, Yong and his team have kind of figured out how to survive. The family meals, the deliveries to hospital workers, the three-course dinners – it’s keeping the business afloat for now.

But Yong is not thinking about now. As usual, he’s focusing on what happens next when the lockdown is lifted, when he’ll have to face the single most dangerous thing in this pandemic – people, people starting to eat at his restaurants again.

Planet Money

This episode was inspirational for me. I’ve worked in and around restaurants and bars for a good portion of my life. It was great to hear from someone who isn’t terrified into inaction by the prospect of having to change how he does business. He is heading towards the future with an eye on what people are doing in other places that are coming out the other side of this pandemic. I wish I was confident that more people in the United States were following his stellar example.

nytimes.com

I’ve now read of a few places trying to reinvent themselves on the other side of pandemic. This could be a good sign. I look forward to hearing of others.

All Things Considered – Boston Tavern Pivots To ‘Plan B’ To Try To Survive The Pandemic – July 7, 2020

The Infection Forecast

Morning Edition – How Computer Modeling Of COVID-19’s Spread Could Help Fight The Virus – March 4, 2020

I love the idea of infections being charted like a weather forecast, showing current infections and trending directions for new infections. This information would be very useful for parents, caregivers and the immune compromised, giving all of those groups a heads-up as to what symptoms to look out for when dealing with their patients and the public at large. Not just for COVID-19, but for all diseases in a population.

My brother informs me that his medical software company already does this with the data it collects. Here’s hoping we have forecasting ability available to everybody in the near future. It’s the right thing to do if we want to avoid needlessly hiding in our houses out of fear of catching some disease or other that might be circulating unbeknownst to us because no one is tracking those trends.

The Cost of Being Homeless

Morning Edition – To Combat Homelessness, Spokane Is Starting To Put Relationships Before Punishments – February 19, 2020

It is an incredible expense on the community to have these warrants ultimately served. I think people have to start, frankly, caring about folks, their problems, and try to help them with it.

Spokane Municipal Court Judge Matthew Antush

$134 a day is the price of jailing a person for being cited for being homeless. For being caught camping or sleeping on the street. $134 a day. Here’s a radical thought. How about we assign that as a baseline cost for living in the city of Spokane, and simply give every person who is found homeless in the city that much of a stipend so that they can get back on their feet. Once they find housing and a job that lasts longer than a year, the stipend ends. If they don’t find housing and a job within some set time limit, then the stipend rolls over into mental health care programs that will help that homeless person find housing and work.

…or we can keep blaming the victims for the problems that system as it is currently structured forces on them. Given the heartlessness of the average American these days, I’m betting that the latter will continue to be the excuse we use.