A bit of rock (sugar), a lot of rye, some sliced citrus, and a bunch of spice

Throughout December I started several blog posts without finishing them. There were more distractions than usual this holiday season. I decided that even though several of the unfinished post are seasonal, I should finish and post a few. So, here’s one:

During the weeks we were shuttling car loads of stuff from the old place to the new, I poured the last bits of a couple of bottles of bourbon into jars with a sliced orange, lemon, a couple of vanilla beans, and various spices to infuse for a few weeks to make a batch of Rock n Rye. After filtering and decanting, I made this label when we set out the libations at the Christmas party.

During the weeks we were shuttling car loads of stuff from the old place to the new in 2017, I poured the last bits of a couple of bottles of bourbon into jars with a sliced orange, lemon, a couple of vanilla beans, and various spices to infuse for a few weeks to make a batch of Rock n Rye. After filtering and decanting, I made this label when we set out the libations at the Christmas party.

For a number of years I ran a Steampunk-based roleplaying game. We got together about once a month for an afternoon game. And people brought food to share, it that it was also a potluck. My husband would frequently look for period recipes that could be adapted into a good potluck dish. In the course of this research he happened upon the origin of the liqueur known as Rock and Rye. It was invented in the 1800s by a guy who was trying to figure out how to turn a large quantity of bad-tasting bourbon into a sellable product.

This requires a short digression about bourbon, particularly bourbon in the U.S. during the 19th Century. Farmers had long been in the habit of turning a certain amount of their annual grain production into alcohol. Besides being a product other people were willing to pay for, barrels of whiskey and similar spirits could be stored safely for much longer than grain could. Usually. But every now and then something would go wrong (the storage building might have gotten to hot for a period of time, or could have been flooded, et cetera) and many barrels of the alcohol that should have aged into something quite delicious would be ruined.

So, this guy had come into possession of a quantity of such bourbon, and he tried various things to make it palatable. The process he settled upon was to mix rock candy (sugar), sliced up citrus, and some spices (most notably star anise) into the bourbon, let it infuse of a month or so, then strain out the liquid. The result was a sweet-tasting booze that carried a deceptive kick (because the citrus oil, sugar, and spices masked a lot of the alcohol taste). He patented it and began selling it for its supposed medicinal purposes. Many decades later, during Prohibition, because Rock and Rye was still often sold in drugstores as a medication, it was one of the few products containing alcohol one could buy in many states.

The point was that there was a recipe for how to make batches of it at home, rather than go to a liquor store and see if they carried the manufactured stuff. Pick of the cheapest kind of rot gut whiskey you could find (it didn’t necessarily need to be bourbon or a rye whiskey), slice up an orange and/or a lemon, put it in mason jars with rock candy, star anise, and so forth. Keep it in a dry cool place. Check on it and shake it every now and then to make sure the sugar dissolves, and eventually strain it out into bottles.

Two of the labels from last year’s batches…

We tried it. And I was quite surprised at how good it was. I started experimenting some more. Any time I picked up a new bourbon or rye (assuming it wasn’t too expensive), if I decided I didn’t really like it for making cocktails, it would go on a back shelf until I was ready to make a batch of rock and rye. It’s difficult to find plain rock candy now a days—it almost always has artificial colors and flavors added—but I can usually find Lump Candy at the local asian market, which works just fine. You can also find big bags of star anise, as well as cinnamon sticks, at much cheaper prices than the regular grocery store.

What would usually prompt me to make a batch is if I noticed that I had an orange or a lemon or lime in the fruit bowl that was getting iffy. The skin was hardening and you just know in another couple of days it would start to mold. So I’d grab a couple of mason jars, whatever cheap bourbon was on the back shelf, a package of rock candy, and start assembling. For spices I tend to put three or four stars of anise in each jar, two or three sticks of cinnamon, and about five whole cloves. Sometimes if I have vanilla bean on hand I’ll slice one of those and throw in, as well.

And sometimes there would be other fruit. There was a bunch of dried apricots and dried cherries left over after my husband made solstice cake one year (and the leftovers had been sitting in the pantry for a few months at that time), so they went into a batch of Rock and Rye.

The last partial bottle that I still haven’t quite finished off.

For the last several years I’ve made two or three bottles (one batch is usually two mason jars, which once you strain out the solid bits, turns into one bottle of finished products) in time from our annual Christmas party. I give each batch a name, based on what it tasted like when I sipped it, and I make labels for the bottles. I’ve been picking up small plastic shot glasses that are in the shape of the red plastic cups you see frat boys drinking beer out of in movies—I can usually find them in both red and green at Christmas time. And I set out cocktail umbrellas along with the shot glasses, just for fun.

Because it isn’t the same base booze each time, and because the citrus isn’t always the same, the batches do wind up tasting very different from each other.

Last year I ended up making three batches, plus I had a lot of the 2017 favorite, “Farewell to Ballard” leftover. The three batches I made last year wound up being labeled “You’ll Get a KICK Out of Me,” “Feel the Lemon Flow Through You,” and “As Sure as There’s an X in Christmas!” Two of those are song lyrics, and one is a riff on a line from Star Wars.

Because we’ve been caught in this slow-moving apocalypse for eleven months, I didn’t make any new batches of Rock and Rye. If we couldn’t get together for a party, there would be no one to share them with. And for whatever reason, I still had a lot leftovers from last year, any way.

I typed whatever, but I know a big part of the reason. It isn’t a beverage that you drink a lot of at a time. One of my friends misunderstood the first view years we did it, and was shocked after he had been sipping at a shot for a while at how the alcohol was hit him. When I describe letting the booze infuse with the citrus and sugar, that gives some people the impression that it is juice with some booze in it. It is not diluted. It’s still a shot of bourbon, it just has flavor added. No significant amount of the juice of the citrus winds up in the liquid. You get the citrus oils, not the juice.

It’s the kind of thing that you drink in small quantities. And sipping shots of flavored bourbon by myself isn’t that appealing. But I’ve invented a couple of drinks using the Rock and Rye as a base. One is a toddy: put a shot or two of Rock and Rye in a mug, top off the mug with hot water, add a slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick. It’s really good on a cold winter night. The other is a Rock and Rye and Soda: but some ice in a double rocks glass, add a shot or two of Rock and Rye, top off the glass with seltzer water. The latter is a bit better for warm weather.

I realized that I still had those bottles left over the week that we hosted the virtual version of the party. I have been trying to use them up so I can clean out the bottles and think about possibly making a batch for next Christmas. Because maybe we can have a party this year?

Tuesday Tidbits 1/26/2021: Let’s worry about the pandemic for a change

Marco Rubio: “I elbowed my way to the front of the line for the vaccine that I said was a hoax, even before doctors & nurses received it.”

Marco Rubio: “I elbowed my way to the front of the line for the vaccine that I said was a hoax, even before doctors & nurses received it.”

Now that we aren’t worried about an illegal overthrow of the government (or at least less worried for now), it’s easier to both find and pay attention to news about the other existential crisis, the pandemic. So much so that these eight can’t wait until Friday:

I’ve linked to this continuously updated interactive map and article before: Tracking Covid-19 cases in the US – Since January 2020, the novel coronavirus has spread to each state and nearly every territory.

In a mix of good news and bad news: Coronavirus deaths and cases dip nationwide, but variant is on the rise.

And speaking of the variants: Moderna making booster shot to fight Covid-19 variants – New strains of the coronavirus have emerged in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. Given how rampantly it’s running in the U.S., its only a matter of time before it mutates here, too, and we have a U.S. variant to add to the mix. Related: Moderna Says Vaccine Still Protects Against Virus Variants – The vaccine yields fewer antibodies against the variant discovered in South Africa, and so the company plans to test an alternate version.

The fact that viruses mutate is one of the reasons that the whole herd immunity argument is BS. If we and other nations had properly flattened the curve, this could have gone like the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in 2009 or the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak of 2002. Public health measures (quarantine, case tracking) contained those so that they didn’t become widespread pandemics and more importantly didn’t start mutating in millions of simultaneously infected people. But because we let COVID-19 get into so much of the population, we’ve almost guaranteed that this is a virus, like influenza, that will be mutating, re-infecting, and killing some fraction of the population year after year. We’ll probably rolling out a new vaccine every year like influenza. And like influenza, getting the vaccine won’t guarantee that you never get infected, it just increases that chances that when you encounter new strains, you may of very mild symptoms or none at all. Which means you probably won’t die, but it also means that you’ll be contagious for a few days and perhaps not know it, and some none-zero number of people who interact with won’t be so lucky.

In other news: In a major setback, Merck to stop developing its two Covid-19 vaccines and focus on therapies. It was always likely that some of the vaccines would be less effective than others, so this isn’t a big surprised. Further down in the article they explain that one of their vaccine variants still shows signs of clinical usefulness, and some of the other treatments they’ve been trying to develop for people after they get sick are also looking promising. So all the the research is still going to be useful.

The sports world has been having mixed results dealing with the virus: Miami Heat to use coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen fans at games. Given the screaming fits people have thrown in stores about masks, I’m not sure how this is going to work out…

Meanwhile, in companies decided to spend their money in ways that might keep more of their customers alive: Budweiser skips Super Bowl ad for first time in 37 years, will use money for COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

“Doesn't believe in social programs - First in line for social program.”

“Doesn’t believe in social programs – First in line for social program.”

We always knew that rich and powerful people would find ways to skip the line, but this particular couple are extra special: Covid vaccines: Casino boss resigns after jumping queue – CEO And Wife Posed As Motel Workers To Get Vaccine. They are also a great example of the problem with levying fines for things. They clearly spent way more than the $575 fine just to travel to the area and pull off their scam, and that fine is loose change compared to his salary. When the only penalty for a crime is a fine, all that means is that it is only a crime for the poor and working class…

Hollywood Elite in COVID-19 Vaccine Scramble: ‘It’s the Hunger Games Out There’.

That song isn’t the one I think it is, or catching up from December

I started, but never finished, several blog posts during December. Between finishing the Christmas shopping, fretting about the coup that seemed in the works, writing five different versions of the Christmas Ghost Story before I was happy, and the stressful deadlines at work where everyone was trying to finish everything before everyone else went on holiday, I just kept not coming back to them. I decided that even though several of them are seasonal, I’m going to just go ahead, finish them, and post.

This is just one of many weird Christmas music albums my parents owned when I was a kid.

This is just one of many weird Christmas music albums my parents owned when I was a kid.

Every year during Thanksgiving weekend I pull whichever iPod has been living in the car the last several months, and replace with with the iPod that is loaded with Christmas music. So every time I drive anywhere during the holiday season, there’s Christmas music in the car. Loading that iPod is not a matter of simply grabbing as much Christmas music as will fit on it, but selecting music that my poor, long-suffering husband can listen to without setting his teeth on edge. Because while I love, love, love Christmas music of almost all kinds, he has decidely less tolerance for it. Which is easy to handle when I’m listening at home, because I can just wear earphones or AirPods and he doesn’t have to hear what I’m listening to. But in the car it’s another matter.

One of the rules for the car playlist is “No sweet baby Jesus music.” Or more generally, no overtly religious music. Another is that while I can assemble a playlist that is all of the versions of White Christmas (73 different recordings at present) and listen to it just fine, they all sound the same to him. And sometimes the random play feature would throw up several different versions of the same song in close enough proximity that it annoyed him. So only one version of any individual song—though he’s okay if there is both a vocal and an instrumental version.

Since I have nearly 3000 Christmas songs in the library, it’s not that difficult to put together a fairly sizable Christmas music playlist which meets those requirements.

Except when I misremember what a song is.

For some context: way back when I was in the fifth grade in elementary school, the school had a Christmas program made up of all of the kids of each grade singing one song. Or maybe it was each classroom that had a song. The song we learned was Christmas in Kilarney which begins with the words, “The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen.” One of the reasons this particular memory sticks out is that my fifth grade teacher was the one who taught us to sing the song. One of his “claims to fame” was that he had spent a couple years after or during college in England. And so he decided we should learn to sing the song in the proper accent. So we spent a lot of time practicing the song the way he wanted us to pronounce things. Which would have been cool if he had been trying to teach us to sing with an Irish accent. But he didn’t. Instead he had us dropping h’s and otherwise went for a very poorly rendered cockney accent.

Whenever that song comes up on a random play, I remember that time trying so hard to learn to pronounce things the way he wanted, and then a few years later realizing that he had been teaching us the wrong accent.

And that’s a cute anecdote, but you’re probably asking what this has to do with selecting songs for the car iPod. Here’s the thing: even though just two paragraphs up I typed the correct title of the song, Christmas in Kilarney, because of those opening lyrics about the holly green and ivy green, whenever I’m looking at a list of song titles, if I see the title The Holly and the Ivy, my brain starts playing the memory of trying to sing Christmas in Kilarney in the wrong accent.

And so, I see the title, think of the bad accent, and add it to the car playlist.

While Christmas in Kilarney is a bouncy secular kind of Christmas song, the The Holly and the Ivy is an old traditional religious song, that is almost always recorded very downbeat and, frankly, in a grindingly boring tempo. It is very religious and abominably repetitive. So not only would it set my husband’s teeth on edge, it almost always sets my teeth on edge.

I suspect that part of the reason I always confuse the songs is that The Holly and the Ivy wasn’t a song that I remember every listening to as a kid. I have never had to learn it to either play or sing in the jillions of holiday concerts and shows I participated in back in the day. The fact that I’ve never performed it probably contributes to why I dislike. There are plenty of other repetitive Christmas songs I do like. For what it’s worth.

Because we’re all in quarantine, I haven’t been driving around nearly as much. All of my Christmas shopping was done online. We didn’t physically get together with anyone during the lead up, and so on. And because I was usually only going out of the house once a week, and the weather was often cold, the iPod would not just go to sleep for all those days, but fully shut itself off. And so one of the routine each time I got in the car was to open the console and take hold of the iPod tight in my hand for a minute or two while the windows defrosted, to warm the iPod enough that it would boot up and talk to the car stereo. And the way the stereo and iPod work together, what this meant was that even though it was on random play, what it actually does is play a randomized list the iPod made when I first connected it to the car with the new list, but it wouldn’t remember where it left off last time, so it would start over. And guess what the third song in that shuffle was?

It took me a few trips before I realized this was what was happening. After wards, I got in the habit of, after I put the iPod back in the console and was nearly ready to pull out of our parking space, I would hit the “skip song” button on the steering wheel twenty or so times to jump past the songs I’d heard on the previous few shopping trips.

The really irritating thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I’ve had to delete that song out of the playlist before. But when I was setting up the list, and looking for songs that I could add or swap out, I put it back in.

Catching myself being a jerk in a dream

Screenshot of a tweet: “I once had a friend mansplain to my roommate hoe to ~correctly~ pronounce her name because he thought she was doing it wrong. -2ajaromano”

“I once had a friend mansplain to my roommate hoe to ~correctly~ pronounce her name because he thought she was doing it wrong.” -2ajaromano

I was dreaming that I had to talk to my boss about my schedule. In the dream some sort of family emergency had come up and I was doing to have to take some time off, but we had deadlines, so we were strategizing on what I could squeeze in before leaving and how many hours I could reasonably try to work while dealing with the issue. And in the dream a woman — not anyone I’ve ever known or worked with, so far as I could tell — was explaining to someone else with a whiteboard how the reason that teachers and nurses and such don’t get paid as much as they deserve is because Hollywood is leeching all of the money out of the economy by overpaying actors. And dream me interrupted to explain that was merely a case of pitting one kind of working against another, because while some actors make incredible salaries, most of the people working both in front of and behind cameras are paid significantly less, and that the real problem is the diversion of vast amounts of capital into things like stock buybacks and so forth. When the woman in the dream told me I was interrupting a private conversation, I started to argue…

…and then another me grabbed me and shook me and said, “I don’t want to dream about me being a mansplaining jerk to a stranger!”

And I woke up.

For what seemed a minute I was very angry at myself for being rude and a mansplainer to that woman. Then I realized that I had been dreaming, and there wasn’t a real woman who I had been rude to. Which started this argument in my head about whether me dreaming about being a jerk was ethically any different than actually being a jerk to a real person. Because, for instance, if I write a story in which a character is a jerk to another character and I write the story in such a way as to portray the jerk as being in the right, no real person is hurt, but I’m still condoning someone being a jerk… and… and… and…

By which time I squinted at the clock, realized that it was a couple hours before my alarm was due to go off, and maybe I should stop thinking about this dream, make a run to the bathroom, then get a glass of water, and try to get back to sleep before I had to wake up and interact with real people.

I am continuously amazed at how my subconscious works. I’ve pulled myself out of dreams many times. Other times I really wanted for a dream to stop and it wouldn’t. I do think this is the first time I’ve ever made myself wake up because I was mansplaining. Maybe that’s worth a chuckle.

Weekend Update 1/23/2021: Lord of the Rings isn’t a legal document, and other revelations

One of the best things about waking up on this particular foggy Saturday morning is that when I woke up my computer and thought about what I wanted to check first, is that I didn’t feel the sense of dread that has descended before I look at any news site or even Twitter in the last four years. What horrible news was awaiting me this time? In a few days I’m sure this almost euphoric feeling will fade, but for now I’m going to enjoy it. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t worrisome news, but the threat level feels a bit more manageable. Speaking of which, it is time once again for a post where I share news stories that broke after I prepped this week’s Friday Five, or didn’t make the cut for said post, or provide an update to a story linked to in some previous post. Along with some commentary from me.

So, let’s go!

Texas Supreme Court: Alex Jones, InfoWars can be sued by Sandy Hook parents. Alex Jones spent months after the Sandy Hook school shooting claiming that it was a hoax, that the parents were hired actors, et cetera. He incited his fans to harass those parents to the point that the haters were staking out the graves of the murdered children so they could scream at and otherwise attack anyone who showed up at those graves to mourn, place flowers, et cetera. So many of those parents have been trying to sue Jones and his business. He has been trying and trying to get out of the suits. He’s issued half-hearted retractions, admitted under oath that he knew at the time the things he was reporting were false, and so on. But he’s still fighting and trying to get the suits tossed because, well, if they succeed he and his so-called business would be ruined. This ruling disposes of more of his bogus objections and allows the suits to move forward.

I hope they all succeed.

Moving on to another kind of hater…

Texas could charge doctors with “child abuse” if they treat a transgender child or teen – The proposed law could land a doctor in prison for treating their patient as recommended by every major medical association. How long do we have to put up with these fuckwits terrorizing other people’s kids?

All the medical associations agree that giving these treatments to trans kids improve their chances of living a long and healthy life. You can have your sincerely held beliefs if you want, but if your sincerely held beliefs are contradict scientific and medical fact, then we call those “delusions.” And you don’t have the right to force those delusions on other people.

Speaking of delusional people…

Texas lawyer fired after Capitol riot files ambitious suit: Dissolve Congress, don’t arrest him – “This is not a Sidney Powell lawsuit,” Paul Davis assures court. True! Powell didn’t argue for abolishing Congres. So this guy was part of the Murder Mob that invaded the Capitol. He’s been arrested, charged with some crimes related to that, is out on bail, and was fired by his law firm. He’s decided the way to fix this problem is to file a law suit demanding that a federal judge dissolve both houses of congress, remove Biden and Harris from office, and furthermore to remove all fifty state governors, the governor of Puerto Rico, and a few other state officials from their office; and to ban all of those above people plus Facebook CEO Jeff Zuckerberg from ever holding public office in the future; and appoint Trump as Steward of the Nation, to rule until a new form of government and voting system can be created.

Please notice that odd title he wants Trump to be given: Steward of the Nation. Where does that come from? Why it comes from the Lord of the Rings. That’s right! This fuckwit quotes from and paraphrases Tolkien as part of his legal argument. So, someone needs to explain to this guy that Frodo was not a Founding Father…

His clients are a weird hodgepodge of fake conservative groups (Blacks for Trump and Latinos for Trump), as well as a fuckwit who was out on bail after showing up armed at a polling place in a state he didn’t even live in and threatening people. While out on bail he also joined the Murder Mob, which has it’s own charges pending, but he’s likely to have his bail revoked and be thrown back in jail on the original voter intimidation charges.

Anyway, the so-called logic is that something was fundamentally wrong with all of the elections (not just the handful of states that Donald was contesting), and therefore all federal offices elected in 2020 are invalid. And his clients, he said, are deprived of their—get this—fundamental rights to have an idea of the economic future of the country so they can properly invest in their 401K funds.

WTF?

There are so, so, so many things wrong with this. First, the courts have already held many, many, many times that individual citizens can’t sue on speculative issues. They have to show a real, quantifiable, and justiciable harm that they will experience just to have standing to put their argument before the court. Not being able to predict the future of the economy is a quantifiable harm, is not the product of the issue they are blaming it on, and (to get that justiciable bit) it isn’t a harm that can be resolved by anything the court orders. Let me simplify that last bit: a court can order the economy to become predictable.

There are so, so many other problems. They don’t present any evidence that all fifty states had something fundamentally wrong with their 2020 elections. They just assert it. If somehow such evidence existed, it wouldn’t have anything to do with two-thirds of the Senators, because only a third of the Senate is ever up for a vote at the same time. A federal district court doesn’t have the power to dissolve congress. It sure as heck doesn’t have the power to appoint anyone “Steward of the Nation.” And so on.

But you know what power federal district judges do have? They can impose sanctions (fine, recommend disbarment, and so forth) on people who file bad faith lawsuits. And there have now been enough of these nonsense suits that the courts are getting quicker to impose sanctions on the fuckwits who file these kinds of claims. I suspect this lawyer is going to find out that getting fired by his old firm is soon going to be the least of his problems.

Now, let’s move on the problems across the pond…

Rotting fish, lost business and piles of red tape. The reality of Brexit hits Britain. Yep, just as everyone predicted. Anything else I can add at this point would be just repeating myself…

Let’s end it with this fun Jimmy Kimmel animated music video – Goodbye Donald Trump:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Friday Five (let’s begin the rebuild edition)

In keeping with last week’s announcement in this space that I’d decided to join those who were considering everything up until the moment the new President was sworn in as part of 2020, welcome to the first true Friday of 2021!

I took Wednesday off from work and spent a good chunk of the day watching the Inaugural. I admit half of the reason I did so was because I didn’t trust the nazis, traitors, and fascists not to cause some kind of trouble. I have to admit, I was a little surprised when, while Lady Gaga was singing the national anthem, that I started crying extra hard at the line, “that our flag was still there.” I mean, the flags that she pointed to at the moment were U.S. flag, but in the same space she was singing, exactly 14 days earlier, the Murder Mob had literally pulled down U.S. flags and raised Trump flags in their place. Full disclosure: I’m the kind of bleeding heart liberal who cries whenever I hear or sing the Star Spangled Banner under any circumstances. And I’m also the kind of bleeding hear liberal who was a boy scout as a child and I get incredibly, incandescently angry at people who disrespect the flag and don’t even know the flag code. As Stephen Colbert noted later that day, usually the Star Spangled Banner isn’t a cliffhanger, right? Anyway, as I have said elsewhere, defeating the grifter at the ballot box last November wasn’t enough; winning the two Georgia senate seats wasn’t enough; getting Biden and Harris safely inaugurated wasn’t enough. There is still a lot of work to do, and we have to stay engaged and be ready to hold our Representatives, Senators, and President accountable if they falter or fail to advance the causes of justice and equality. But I have to admit, for a day and a half it has been an incredible relief that some things have become boring, again.

Time will tell. Until then, we have the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five fun stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about the seditious traitors, five stories about deplorable people, and five videas (plus things I wrote and some notable obituaries).

Fun Stories of the Week:

Inauguration Day full coverage: Joe Biden sworn in as 46th president, Kamala Harris as first female vice president.

Surprising discoveries in new 10 billion pixel photo of Vermeer’s famous ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ .

At Bakka-Phoenix, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy bookstore, you can let your geek flag fly.

Dinosaur fossils could belong to the world’s largest ever creature.

Surreal ‘dome fountain’ of lava bubbles up in Hawaii .

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Joe Biden signs sweeping executive order fighting anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Joe Biden’s defense pick wants to allow trans people to serve in the military again.

LGBTQ+ Americans Express a Weary Hope With Biden-Harris Inauguration.

Biden signs EO implementing Supreme Court ruling for LGBTQ rights.

The Unofficial Ranking of Top Queer Villains: a Guest Post by Be Dazzled Author Ryan La Sala.

This Week in the Pandemic:

‘Come with me if you want to live’: Schwarzenegger gets vaccinated.

Two more US service members killed by COVID-19.

U.S. adds almost 4,400 more COVID-19 deaths, 182,000 new cases.

Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ sources say.

Biden Pledges “Wartime Effort” Against COVID, Signs Executive Order Activating Defense Production Act.

This Week in Seditious Traitors:

Trumpists, Here Are Your Terms of Surrender. Also, Fuck You. I feel the need to point out that the author of this piece was a Republican operative who has a whole lot of his own awful to answer for, but I think we have to–until they prove otherwise–accept it when people claim they have seen the error of their ways. And his list is really good.

Little Man, What Now? — MAGA should be properly understood as the product of a bored and restless upper middle class.

Sen. Ron Johnson calls editorial ‘unhinged.’ Editorial Board responds – Senator Johnson objects to the Editorial Board’s call for him to resign over his actions after the presidential election.

Evidence collected by federal investigators details Capitol rioters attacking police.

“This Is Not A Peaceful Protest”: Prosecutors Charged Capitol Rioters Using Their Own Words – Charging documents in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection quote Trump supporters prepared — and excited — for violence.

This Week in Deplorable People:

Judge Denies the NRA’s Effort to Dismiss, Pause or Transfer the N.Y. Attorney General’s Suit Seeking Its Dissolution.

Democrats poised to rebuff McConnell’s filibuster demands .

Trump’s Last-Day Pardon List Shows A Soft Spot For Those Accused Of Public Corruption.

Judge Refuses To Reinstate Parler After Amazon Shut It Down.

Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack.

In Memoriam:

Helga Weyhe, Germany’s Oldest Bookseller, Dies at 98 – She died above the bookstore, founded in 1840, where she had worked since the waning months of World War II. She locked it up for the last time in December.

Comic book artist’s sudden death: ‘We had no idea he had Covid’.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 1/17/2021: Who woulda thought?

On the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, a challenge.

This is supposed to be the boring time….

How do you measure four years of lies?

America, America, let’s give our best….

Videos!

Stop Saying “This Isn’t Who We Are”: Week In Review | The Amber Ruffin Show This is last week’s show, but I think it’s important to watch:

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Biden’s First Day of Clearing Trump’s Extremely Low Bar | The Daily Social Distancing Show:

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Duran Duran – “Five Years” (David Bowie Cover) [OFFICIAL AUDIO]:

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Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license (Official Video):

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Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club (Official Video):

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America, America, let’s give our best…

Congratulations Mr President and Madame Vice President!

Congratulations Mr President and Madame Vice President!

How do you measure four years of lies?

Randy Rainbow sends the Traitor-in-Chief off with a special ceremony – SEASONS OF TRUMP – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Normally whenever the musical Rent is invoked, I make a comment about how I approve the original, the opera La Bohème, but this made me laugh and cry, so…

There is so much else I want to squeeze in while the Traitor-in-Chief is still technically in charge.

“Donald Trump, a criminal, fascistm, and white supremacist, will go down in history as the worst president ever. He attacked his own country and left millions to suffer during a pandemic and economic crises. The Senate must convict him and ban him from ever holding office again.”

“Donald Trump, a criminal, fascistm, and white supremacist, will go down in history as the worst president ever. He attacked his own country and left millions to suffer during a pandemic and economic crises. The Senate must convict him and ban him from ever holding office again.”

I am a little irritated that the Traitor-in-Chief has knocked George W. Bush off of the top of the list of the worst president in history… but it should come as no surprise.

"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

It’s racism all the way down. Seriously. Racism all the way down..

This is exactly who we are…

As I said, it’s racism all the way down. All of the atrocities perpetrated by the Traitor-in-Chief and his supported boil down to applied racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. That are first and foremost haters, and their hatred is backed into every level of capitalism.

No unity without accountability.

No unity without accountability.

The Republicans only call for unity when they or their supports have violated social norms, political norms, or the law. If Republicans are calling for unity, then someone deserves to be prosecuted.

Similarly, they always oppose call for unity from the Democrats, because the democrats actually value unity, while the Republicans only value their own period.

A picture of the most corrupt president in U.S. history and Richard Nixon.

A picture of the most corrupt president in U.S. history and Richard Nixon.

Donald Trump is not just the worst president in history, he is infinitely more corrupt that Richard Nixon, who for decades everyone in both parties regarded as the most corrupt president in history. I suppose that’s an accomplishment, but in a just world it would mean the Donald spends the rest of his life in prison.

This is supposed to be the boring time…

An elephant, representing the Republican party, as Dr Frankenstein looking at the empty operating table: “Whoever created that monster currently rampaging in the village should be ashamed of themselves,” Igor figure labled Right Wing Media: “I blame ANTIFA, master.”

The entire Republican party should be, yes…

I am actually doing some writing that isn’t about the news and specifically the Traitor-in-Chief… but it’s difficult to stay focused on anything when one is wait for the next Coup to drop.

Last night, for instance, Rachel Maddow began her show talking about how usually this is the boring part of any presidential administration. The last days are normally taken up with the mundane tasks of winding the administration down. The outgoing First Lady invites the incoming First Lady to tea at the White House, and the outgoing President welcome the incoming President and gives them a tour of the place. Other members of the outgoing administration may give farewell speeches to their departments. News organizations publish what are mostly puff pieces about what each cabinet secretary has accomplished, and so on.

Instead the outgoing President has been having screaming meltdowns about petty things such as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks and other stars agreed to perform as part of Biden’s inaugural celebrations. He routinely fires important officials over twitter, and thus there were only a few Senate-confirmed cabinet members left when the Murder Mob invaded the Capitol building. Most of those hastily turned in their resignations after that. Even though everyone must resign by tomorrow, some of them tried to make the resignation sound like they were standing on principle.

Meanwhile the executive offices of the White House are eerily deserted, in part because people are trying to avoid being the target of the Traitor-in-Chief’s next screaming fit.

And he’s too petty to attend the Inauguration, or do any of the traditional social nicety parts of the transition. He’s too busy ordering his staff to find a way to get a big crowd to send him off Wednesday morning (and apparently almost no one is RSVP-ing).

The man has not once, not a single time, expressed condolences to the millions of Americans who have had family members die because of the pandemic. He certainly isn’t going to attend the memorial service in front of the Capitol this afternoon for the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID thus far.

US surpasses 400,000 deaths from Covid-19.

More Americans are dying every day than were killed at 9/11, and yet that has fallen completely off the Traitor-in-Chief’s radar. A bit over four years ago all sorts of people—not just Trump supporters, but lots of so-called moderates and even supposedly liberal people—kept telling people like me that we were overreacting. The kept telling us it would be all right, that we would get through this. And I said, “Not all of us will!” It wasn’t me foreseeing the pandemic, it was the other issues. Such as chipping away at the Affordable Care Act. And the various anti-gay things, including regulations that allow medical people to refuse to treat queer patients if they claim a religious objection. That’s exactly not how you should run an emergency room, let me tell you. And before we got to the pandemic, there were already reports showing that thousands more people than statistically out to were dying because of problems with healthcare. Not to mention the uptick in hate crimes, including a rise in murders motivated by hate.

So, no, this has not been all right. Not everyone has survived this administration. And the lingering effects of their failures is going to include rising death rates for the foreseeable future.

Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights has been vile from the moment he took office. We kept a list.

I don’t have a fun and pithy ending to this.

I’ve had a countdown app on my phone for over a month that tells me exactly how many days, hours, and minutes it is until this evil, hateful, incompetent man is no longer in power. And I check it several times a day. And afterwards, I calm some of the anxieties by repeating quietly several times, “Only X more days.”

I can’t tell you have incredibly happy I am that now we’re in the “Only X more hours” phase of things. I really would like to get back to normal news cycles someday…

“A heartfelt 'fuck you' to everyone who told me I was overreactin in November 2016.”

“A heartfelt ‘fuck you’ to everyone who told me I was overreactin in November 2016.”

On the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, a challenge

“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Being an old, white, gay guy, I think on days such as the federal holiday officially designated “Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.” my job is not to try to address issues of racial inequality with my own words, but rather to amplify the voices of people of color. Their lived experience makes anything they have to say on the topic much more relevant than anything I could say.

So today, let me suggest you take a look at Don Lemon’s “An MLK Day challenge to the news media.” I’ll quote a chunk of it here:

“So, on the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King and his unapologetic truth-to-power approach, let me speak candidly and directly to the people who actively read Playbook — lawmakers and the people they employ, journalists and the people who employ us, and other influentials. It’s what I like to call: WKWW, “What King Would Want.”

This new administration was elected to represent all Americans, obviously. But let’s be honest about the people who put Joe Biden and Kamala Harris over the finish line: They were and are Black, brown and Asian, with Black women leading the way, like pacers in a marathon. It is high time we (because I am included in these groups) not only have a seat at the table, but lead the discussion and make some of the decisions.

Here’s why:

When our Latino brother and sister journalists wondered aloud and privately in newsrooms why we were giving candidate Donald Trump so much oxygen when he started by calling Mexicans rapists, did we listen to them or did we brush it off as an inability to be objective?

When Black journalists in newsrooms all over America questioned Trump’s history of racism, from housing to birtherism and more, did you stand up for us or keep quiet? Or did you journalistically appropriate us once we provided cover for you and your organization to finally speak or write the words, “The President of the United States is racist”?”
—CNN anchor Don Lemon, writing for Politico‘s Playbook

It’s really good. Read the whole article here.

“Trans Black Lives Matter. Queer Black Lives Matter. Disable Black Lives Matter. Poor Black Lives Matter. Old Black Lives Matter. All Black Lives Matter.”

“Trans Black Lives Matter. Queer Black Lives Matter. Disable Black Lives Matter. Poor Black Lives Matter. Old Black Lives Matter. All Black Lives Matter.”

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t let today pass without acknowledging another issue related to racism and other forms of hate: 44 Trans People Killed in 2020, Marking Worst Year on Record for Transphobic Violence.

Two Trans People of Color Have Already Been Killed in 2021.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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