Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide by Michael J. Knowles (Simon & Schuster, 2017)

My son-in-law is brilliant. They both are, actually, but this post is about the one who ensures that birthday and Christmas gifts from our family overseas almost always include a number of books. As I said, he's smart, and he's also good at choosing books I will enjoy.

He has an impressive track record, but it's not perfect. On very rare occasions he has been known to pick books that do not fit my personality at all, but which might be good for me to read. I appreciate the motivation, and have been known to commit that particular sin myself (though not as often as some people think!). Because I am human, such books tend to end up far from the top of my enormous "to read" list.

I had a birthday recently, and the pile of presents that greeted me contained, as expected, a number of book-shaped packages (and one Kindle book, not pictured). (Click on any image to enlarge, if needed.)

Porter (who had wrapped the packages), had arranged them so that I would open the other books first. Then I unwrapped Reasons to Vote for Democrats.

Let's just say that our son-in-law and I have more than a few disagreements when it comes to politics. (It's possible to be both brilliant and wrong.) I think I can be forgiven for my gut reaction that this was another of the "take your medicine" books. I looked quizzically at Porter, who had said, "This one is so good that I read it completely before wrapping it." (That happens in our house, not infrequently.)

He insisted, "Open it."

I turned the pages. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Table of Contents. Nothing enlightening.

I looked at him again.

"Read it!" he urged.

Finally, I came to the first page of substance. Sort of.

Except for the sticky note credit to composer John Cage, which Porter had added, and the bibliography, every page looked like this:

Maybe I should have read the back cover, with its endorsements, first.

This gift was the best laugh of the week. Maybe month. Truly a welcome prank! It could ony have been better if my birthday were April !.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 8, 2024 at 6:57 am | Edit
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I miss the Muppet Show! Thanks to a friend with some exciting news, I was reminded of The Cat Came Back. My friend wasn't aware of the song, so I went looking on YouTube.  There are several versions, including some highly sanitized and no doubt considered more appropriate for children, but this is my favorite.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 6:49 pm | Edit
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I couldn't resist posting this Future Proof video, because my husband is obsessed with flavored sparkling water, and our grandchildren love it, too—probably because they're allowed to drink more of it than they are allowed soda. Special note to said husband: check out this guy's favorite brand (9:17).

(14 minutes on normal speed, mild language warning. I am, by the way, really annoyed by the objectionable language that finds its way into so many YouTube videos. It would probably be easier to note when there isn't bad language. Good ol' YouTube, for whom "free speech" means you can swear to your heart's content as long as you refrain from expressing unfashionable opinions.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at 6:39 am | Edit
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Before Canada's Freedom Convoy, which catapulted his vlog into fame, if not fortune, my favorite Canadian lawyer, David Freiheit, was a mild-mannered YouTuber who expounded on legal issues in a funny and understandable way. Today this flashback to 2019 showed up, and I offer it to you, in case you want to vicariously experience some really exciting zip lines, and learn about liability waivers in the process.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 4:24 pm | Edit
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I was wondering how I'd get a post out today, in which there is no time for actual writing. Then my grandson handed me this on a platter, which he dubbed, "The real reason I decided not to go to college." (This from one of the most learning-obsessed people I know.) Porter, you will love what he says about Economics.

Also, this is for all of my fellow Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 5:32 pm | Edit
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You like Pirates of the Caribbean? You especially like the music? I think you'll enjoy this 13-minute story of the soundtrack.


Having shared that, I can't resist reprising my personal favorite version of the Pirates themes. For all of our Grace fans, this is her primary support group; Grace is in the backpack, contributing to the percussion by dropping a French horn mouthpiece, twice. (Summer 2023)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 3, 2024 at 8:34 am | Edit
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Porter usually knows better than to read me sports articles, but he knew my writer side wouldn't want to miss this.  Either that or he was feeling in a particularly sadistic mood, and as I happen to know that he was still elated from a great run this morning, I'm sure that wasn't the case.

Porter doesn't usually read "Wrestling News 365" any more than I do, but it came up in his phone's news feed.  The headline was "LeBron James Stuns NBA World, Walks Away from $162 Million Deal!" and the author Olivia Smith.  I'm not including the link because I could be accused of spreading mis-, dis-, mal-, or at the very least, obscene-information, but Mr. Google will show it to you easily enough.

"Obscene?" you say.  "How is it obscene?"  Well, I challenge the writers among my readers to peruse the excerpts below without experiencing the same stomach-turning revulsion a normal person might feel having accidentally encountered a pornographic website.  For openers,

Yet again LeBron James, the notorious figure in b-ball, has turned into the point of convergence of conversations as the Los Angeles Lakers explore the uneven waters of vulnerability. With the customary season creeping towards its decision, the Lakers end up wrestling with a horde of inquiries, the most squeezing of which rotates around the fate of their supernatural chief, LeBron James

Ah, so that's why it was included in a wrestling news site.

LeBron James without a doubt remains as one of the NBA’s chief gifts, even as he moves toward the nightfall of his famous lifetime at 39 years old. His simple presence can change a group, infusing importance and title yearnings into their DNA. Notwithstanding, LeBron’s impact stretches out past the hardwood, pervading into the unpredictable texture of group the board choices. Named ‘LeGM’ for his penchant to impact faculty moves, LeBron’s inclusion frequently requires a fragile equilibrium for front workplaces, possibly smothering their independence.

LeBron’s propelling age adds one more layer of intricacy to the situation. With the ways of the world running slight, LeBron’s window to fight for titles limits with each passing season. The Lakers’ reliance on prompt accomplishment under LeBron’s stewardship takes a chance with leaving the establishment in confusion should their undertakings miss the mark. Besides, the possibility of LeBron’s potential retirement poses a potential threat, abandoning a void that the Lakers might battle to fill, both on and off the court.

Okay, that's enough.  I don't want to stretch the "fair use" copyright concept too far, and besides, I don't think I can take anymore.

Still, in the end, it's funny.  Ya'll know how much I dislike mockery, but I'm not attacking Olivia Smith the person.  If she is a person.  I'm sure that such stunning prose could only have been generated by AI, and Automated Idiocy is fair game as far as I am concerned.  Yesterday my phone's Autocorrect unilaterally replaced "Wind" with "Eindhoven."  If this is what it wants to be when it grows up, I think I'll pass.

In case you're wondering, and checking up on Ms. Smith yourself, the "Olivia Smith" pictured on the article's byline does not look like the Olivia Smith Google shows me, who is an actual, award-winning journalist.  But who knows?  Ms. Smith, if you are a real person who really wrote this article, you deserve a better editor.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 21, 2024 at 8:46 am | Edit
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I'm putting this in the "Just for Fun" category, because laughing at small annoyances is like removing the stone from your shoe before it has a chance to raise a blister.

This just in from Porter's Spectrum news feed, emphasis mine:

With interest rates in the 7% range, home buyers, and even sellers, are seeing a change in the housing market.

I told you weird things are happening these days. Why, next thing you know, we'll be hearing about hikers whose health apps indicate that they change elevation both going up and going down a hill! Or that despite the best efforts of government, academia, Hollywood, and Big Tech, Newton's Third Law is still in effect. 

(I tried to work Pharma and Factory Farming into the list, but it seemed like overkill. Oops—I mean it seemed a bit too much. Despite the banned four-letter word "k--l" embedded in the term, that was not a call for violence.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 7:50 am | Edit
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If you are not among those of our family and friends who are travelling to view the solar eclipse, or who are lucky enough to live in the path of totality, you can still enjoy this facsimile. (Image found on Facebook.)

Here in Florida we are a lot further away from the path of totality than on March 7, 1970, when I lived in Philadelphia and the path was just off the coast. Here's how my father described it then:

On Saturday we watched the eclipse by focussing the light from the sun on a piece of paper through half of our binoculars. It worked well, and the progress of the moon was very clear. At the darkest, it looked like a heavily overcast day outside, so it was not really impressive for this time of the year, but what we didn't see here we did see on television.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 8, 2024 at 6:38 am | Edit
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Easter's coming, but it's not here yet.  (Except in Switzerland, and some other time zones.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 30, 2024 at 9:30 pm | Edit
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I love my dad's sense of humor.

Here's another story from his journals, this time from a four-week cross-country car trip we took in the summer of 1968. When we weren't visiting relatives, we camped in a small tent-trailer, at inexpensive campgrounds. Some were wonderful, most were fine, and a few were less so. Of the North Woods Motor Court and Campground, which as far as I can tell no longer exists, Dad said,

It looks like the owner is fixing things up in his spare time, and he hasn't had much spare time.

There were only two picnic tables, and one bathroom. But with only four families staying, that worked out all right, and we were just thrilled to be camping on green grass for the first time in quite a while. It's only worth writing about because Dad's comment makes me laugh.

And also because this campground was the scene of our Great Skunk Adventure, but that is another story.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 8:51 am | Edit
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Just a commercial, but one with meaning. First, it's a pretty good one. Second, I've known the scarecrow since he was barely school age, when he regularly served as an usher at church. All decked out in his suit and tie, he took his job with the utmost seriousness, and knew more about what needed to be done than many of the adults.

All those years he was (and still is) active in our church's theatre program: acting, stage management, even directing. This was (I believe) his first commercial. I'm sure it won't be his last.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 12, 2024 at 6:29 pm | Edit
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As we prepared for our annual Lessons & Carols service a weekago, a fellow chorister shared this reminder from Allan Sherman, one of my favorite commedians from the past.

Because it's sometimes hard to understand the words, here's a visual aid.

We would now like to salute all of the beautiful singing groups all over the world.

When the Norman Luboff Chorus
Sings a song like this (like this, like this, like this),
Every single note is gorgeous,
But they sometimes miss.

No one's perfect, no one's perfect, no one's perfect, and
That includes Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, and The Ray Charles Singers who were made famous by their frequent appearances on The Perry Como Show, and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and The Robert Shaw Chorale.

When the chorus sings behind you,
All they do is hum (hum).
Every hum is like an angel,
Then one hum goes bumm!

Far above the other singers,
In the treble clef,
A soprano sings in B flat,
But the key is F.

No one's perfect, no one's perfect,
We have learned tonight.
So you'll be astounded
When we hit this last note right.

For the record, it's not easy to sing so beautifully discordantly.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, December 15, 2023 at 3:18 pm | Edit
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I've put this post in the Just for Fun category, though those who hated math in school might not think so. I'm one of those weird folks who loved both mathematics and taking SAT-type tests. Admittedly, they aren't as much fun today as they used to be, ever since they took out the analogy and quantitative comparison questions. (A pity, since they replaced questions that test your general ability to think (scholastic aptitude) with ones more related to coursework (making it easier to "teach to the test").

Be that as it may, there's no test here, but a fascinating mathematical deep dive, at a layman's level, inspired by a question that everyone, including the test-makers, got wrong on a Scholastic Aptitude Test given back in 1982. (18.5 minutes at 1x speed, no language warning—unless math sounds offensive to you)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 11, 2023 at 1:19 pm | Edit
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There may be something particularly potent about giving blood on Hallowe'en; I've never before been quite as exhausted after donation as today's session left me. Of course, that might have had something to do with our water aerobics class a couple of hours before donation. Note to self: next time, take it easy before as well as after; you're not as young as you once were.

Anyway, OneBlood, our local vampires blood donation organization, usually gives donors some sort of swag, like a t-shirt. This time, they missed a bet: Hallowe'en donors should have received something like this:

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at 6:39 pm | Edit
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