Featured

STAN LEE: WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY? – BY TOM CURLEY

Stan Lee died. He was 95. He was an American icon.

He didn’t just create an American mythology, he didn’t just create a world.  Tolkien created a mythology.

J.K. Roland created a wizarding world.

Stan Lee created a Universe.

When the news came out many people, especially old, old friends emailed me. They all know I was, and still am a huge comic book nerd. Every week when I was old enough to walk to the store, I would buy the latest comic books. They cost 10 cents. Then they went up to 12 cents. I didn’t own a copy of Spiderman#1.

Or the Fantastic Four #1.

But I did own the first copy of every other Marvel character that debuted after that. Iron Man, The Hulk,  The X-Men, etc.

Every single one. I wasn’t a collector. They were just there and new, so I bought them. Years later I was in a bookstore and I found a book of comic collectibles and what they were worth. I started to tally up all the issues I remembered I owned. I stopped at 17-THOUSAND DOLLARS! So, you say, why didn’t you just sell them all?  Because when I was about 17 my mother put all of them into three grocery bags and GAVE THEM AWAY TO OUR BARBER!!!

That was over 50-years ago, and I still haven’t gotten over it.

I loved comic books. I loved all the Marvel and DC characters. When I was ten, I had a tiny desk in my bedroom where I would trace pages of Spiderman comics and make my own stories.

I still have that little desk. Spiderman was my favorite. He still is. Spiderman appealed to all the kids who got picked on, who were scrawny, who were nerds. Suddenly they had superpowers.

They were superheroes. I always hoped that someday, somehow, I would get bitten by a radioactive spider and become Spiderman. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I still do. I always have.

When I read about Stan Lee’s death, I got to thinking about this again. But this time, for some reason, my fantasy about becoming Spiderman changed a little. The fantasy is, you wake up one morning and you’re Spiderman. But for the first time, I started to think about what happens next.

First, I realize, I’m Spiderman! Awesome! I can climb on the walls! I can pick up a  car!

I rush to tell my wife, Ellin.

ME: Ellin! I’m Spiderman! I can climb on walls! I can pick up a car!”

ELLIN: That’s nice. Can you climb up the walls and change all the light bulbs that are out in the Kitchen?

ME: You don’t understand. I’m Spiderman now. I have to use my powers to for good! I have to fight crime! I have to use my webs to swing from building to building and save people from being mugged!

ELLIN: We live in Easton CT. There is no crime here. And we live in the woods. There are no buildings to swing from. Just a lot of trees.

ME: Well, yeah. OK, I could go to New York City.

ELLIN: Really? You’re going to start commuting to the city, again? You did that for 40-years. That’s why you retired. To stop having to spend four hours a day in a car commuting.

ME: Yeah, well yes, but with great power comes great responsibility!

ELLIN: And even if you do start commuting to the city again how are you going to swing from building to building with your webs? Don’t you need a web shooter thingy to shoot all those webs? You’d have to invent it. You’re a retired TV Director, not a genius 16-year-old biochemist.

ME: I never thought of that.  But still, with great power comes great responsibility!

ELLIN: I agree. You now have great powers and you have great responsibilities. First, you have the responsibility to take out the garbage. It’s overflowing. And there are light bulbs out in the bedroom.

ME: But, but…

ELLIN: No buts, garbage, light bulbs.

So, there you have it. At least I don’t have to hire anybody to clean the gutters on the roof anymore.

And I can still bench press a car.


RIP Stan Lee

Nuff said.

Excelsior!

AN AWFUL TERRIBLE HORRIBLE DAY AT WORDPRESS – Marilyn Armstrong

I went to take a look at the brand spanking new format for WordPress.


WARNING: If you do that, you will NOT be able to go back to your old format. I think what they have done is eliminate all the old versions of the editor we used, so you can use the new one, or hope they don’t delete the old ones entirely and leave you with this mess.

Which is what I think is really going to happen. 


Now, there are things about the “new new new new editor” that may — eventually, when they get the bugs fixed — be useful. But right now? You can’t even get a set of standard editing functions across the top of your page. 

They also (apparently, unless it’s a bug) have a limited number of categories — AND they no longer offer you the option of picking up an old post so you can rewrite it.

I’ve got nearly 8,000 posts, so yes, I go back and rewrite material. After you’ve been doing this for a long time, why not?

In this new format, I opened categories and it dies after the letter “C.” What happened to “D” through “Z”? You can’t even find the missing pieces by typing the category name in the search list. Nothing comes up. This will effectively lose thousands of posts and pictures.

 

I went through and deleted all the one I used very rarely. That got me all the way to “D.” When I eventually found my way back to the “classic editor,” all the deletes were not made.


NOTHING IN THAT SOFTWARE IS WORKING. NO ONE BETA TESTED IT. NO ONE.


I don’t object to change. I object to untested changes and buggy software. I pay to use WordPress.  I object to being forced to do stuff the way they decree. If this is such a great interface (it might be POTENTIALLY, but it definitely isn’t there yet), then people will use it. You don’t have to club us over the head.

Also, they are no longer offering help to anyone but business users … so they’ve forced me to use this very buggy interface and there’s no one to talk to. Maybe this will finally push me over the edge.

You know that whole thing about this being a free country? Well … this kind reminds me that anyone who doesn’t follow orders is not free. What is wrong with having more than one interface? How does it hurt anyone?


A thing that happens as we age is we lose contact with pop culture. We retire. We don’t feel impelled to learn to do it differently unless there’s a really good reason to do it. Unless you’re paying me to do it your way, try not to get too bent out of shape if I prefer to do it my way. It may be different, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

We are happy with the way we do things. They are comfortable and trust me, retirement and comfortable go together like guitar and bass. It starts early, as early as ones 30s when you realize you don’t like the music. By your 40s, you don’t care who knows it and by fifty, you drop any pretense of caring any of “the latest things.”

It doesn’t mean that nothing new makes the cut, but I’ve been a writer my whole life and any product that requires me to access multiple pages to accomplish the same task that previously could be done on a single page is NOT an improvement. This is poorly designed software.


That’s right: it’s BAD SOFTWARE. That’s not how the pros do it, kids. Because I was one of them.

I’ve been reading about this upcoming new interface for a while. I really had my fingers crossed that just this once, WordPress would have the grace to fully test it and make sure it worked. It is not an UPGRADE if it’s harder to use than the old one — especially if the task is identical.

Drop down lists for everything? Dumping most of my categories? Completely changing how media is handled without so much as an introduction? Discovering that we no longer have access to help?


So, they did it again, but this is the worst yet. I’m wondering if it’s worth it. WordPress doesn’t want writers and photographers. They want business accounts.

I’m not a business. I am not selling anything. I’m trying to just enjoy life. 

This isn’t going to be fun. It’s going to be a major league headache. They’ve been cutting down on what they offer “premium” users for years and at this point, nothing seems to be what they are offering. Platform, templates, and good luck. What they are clearly saying is simple.


WORDPRESS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT USERS. 


You know how Sears is going out of business? Well … guess what? I’m pretty sure driving away all the people who do creative stuff which brings in new people is not going to help WordPress get richer (they are already making plenty of money) than they already are. But not to worry.

There’s always bankruptcy. 

FLOWING WATER – CEE’S BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

The Stream in Ellin and Tom’s Backyard

We are in Connecticut and it is snowing. We knew it was going to snow, but it was only a maybe. Meanwhile, the white stuff is falling, but before the snow began, I saw the title for this and said “Oh, hey, I’ll take a few pictures of the stream.”

Then I bumped into WordPress’s new — and incredibly buggy — format. It is currently not usable and I’ve been trying to get back to the old format since this morning. It’s seriously full of bugs and you should wait before you even consider trying it out. I’m not kidding. It may eventually be okay, but right now, it is what I call “unfinished software.” There are actually good ideas in it, but it has clearly NOT been beta tested and there are so many missing elements, it should never have been released until they made it suitable for customers to use. Shame on their software department for putting out a product that is so full of bugs it is functionally useless.

Don’t go there. It’s really not ready to use. They are going to need months to get it to work properly, so stay with whatever already works for you.

And finally, here I am again.

Wider view

With a hint of color

And this next one is definitely NOT the stream, but Roaring Dam in Blackstone. But it’s a great picture of water in motion.

Blackstone Gorge

WON’T YOU EASE MY WORRIED MIND – Rich Paschall

Layla, Rich Paschall

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?

Eric Clapton was a member of several groups before he joined with others to form Derek and the Dominos in 1970.  No, no one was actually named Derek.  Clapton, along with band mate Jim Gordon, penned the famous song and recorded it in 1970 with their new band.  It was released in 1971 without great success.  It’s length was a problem for radio play.  Thus, an edited version at 2:43 was released and hit the Top Ten in 1972.

Derek and the Dominos

The long version was released again in 1972 and appeared on albums by Clapton and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers fame.  Allman had played guitar on the original studio version of the song.  The long version then found success as a single.

In 1982 the long version was re-released and charted again.  This time it was critically acclaimed as one of the great rock songs of all time.

In January 1992 Clapton recorded an acoustic album which included a new arrangement of the song.  The slower version with a different opening was seen that year on MTV Unplugged.  Clapton was reluctant to release the acoustic recordings, but finally relented and the song was released in September of that year.  The B-side of the vinyl recording was “Tears in Heaven” which also became a hit.

The top video is from a 1986 concert and yes, that is Phil Collins on the drums.  The lower one is from that 1992 MTV Unplugged performance.

HEY HO – THE DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE GRAND DUKE OF OUR ACRES

Weekly Photo Challenge: 4-Legged Friends


We got him by accident. We kept him because he needed a home. We thought eventually, he’d calm down.

He has not calmed down.

He has not become mellow.

He has not recognized that he is home and it safe to relax. Mostly, he wants to be attached to Garry all the time. Physically joined if possible.

He has calm periods, but mostly, he’s like a giant, over-wound spring and if the hour strikes just right, he goes into hyper action and zooms madly around the house, knocking over fences and making the two, relatively quiet little Scotties looking lost and confused.

Resting … however briefly

What’s going on out there!

Portrait of the beast

Exploring the outdoors

Roaming

“I think I smell a squirrel”

Trump and America’s Xenophobic Soul: Reblog – SHINBONE STAR

It started before the Revolution and despite the Civil War and Constitutional amendments, racism has never gone away. Those of us who are the targets of America’s hatefulness –all dark-skinned people, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hispanic — basically, anyone whose ancestry was not white European– we all knew. Or should have known.

My mother tried to warn me, but I thought the bad old days were over and she was just being cynical.

I’m glad she isn’t alive. She would hate — and recognize — this “new” world. Because it’s not new. It’s creaking with age and cruelty.


 

THE SHINBONE STAR

In the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet” the characters come to the realization the monster that’s been steadily kicking their ass is a projection of the id from the subconscious of the ridiculously pompous Dr. Morbius.

Since Donald Trump broke out with his bullshit about former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, professional and academic credentials and then still was elected president, I considered Trump to be a monstrous projection of white America’s id.

Nope. It’s way worse.

I think Trump is the embodiment of the Krell machines — (do yourself a favor and watch this film, it’s worth your time) channeling America’s id into a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ 30 percent core of electoral malevolence called the GOP.

After these weeks of rolling outrage, it is obvious that everyone now blaming the president for this hostile environment is missing the point: Trump isn’t the disease, he is the symptom.

View original post 765 more words

TERM LIMITS: A REALLY TERRIBLE IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong

I keep reading the same crap. Why is this so hard to understand?

So you believe term-limits will solve our political problems. Why would you think that? Are “old timers” in Congress the big problem — as opposed to the bloated egos and narrow minds of the Tea Party, Trumpocrats, and racists? All of whom were recently elected and have no understanding of how the government works? And worse, who care nothing for the American people?

Look how much they’ve fixed everything. Yeah, that’s going well.

Exactly what problem do you think you solve by making terms shorter? Will it attract a better quality of candidates for office? Will it convince people to vote for better candidates?

Doesn’t the past presidential election prove that people will vote for a bad candidate even when all logic and reason should tell them he has no interest in serving their interests?

So you believe we will get better government if no one in congress gets to hang around awhile? Why would inexperience produce a better government?  Aren’t we already suffering from a monumental amount of inexperience and incompetence?

Would you choose an inexperienced surgeon? A barber who has never cut hair or gone to barber school? In what other area do we prefer untrained, raw recruits to veterans?

Oh, right. The presidency. How’s that working for you?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?

Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits.

Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded the Constitution) proved to them the best people are not interested in temporary government jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. Many of the people originally elected under the Articles of Confederation walked away from their positions or never took them up in the first place.

There was no future in it.

When the Constitution was drawn, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest to government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs and parvenus. The business of governing a nation has a learning curve. It takes years to get the hang of how things work, how a law gets written. How to reach across the aisle and get the opposition to participate.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. They failed. Miserably. How many times do we need to relearn the same lesson?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history

Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future and their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs or support their families.

Term limits were soundly rejected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They were right. The Constitution aims to get professionals into government.


Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government.
It becomes a rough temp job without a future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid

Maybe they are paid more than you and me but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, not so much.

What you cry? How can that be?

Most members of Congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file congressional members was $174,000 per year. A third-year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send their kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of Congress have other income streams.

Curiously, our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. They would be less susceptible to bribery.

On the whole, they were right. What they didn’t foresee was how greed would become the foundation of our national government and that’s another issue. Or how many kinds of corruption would be easily available.

Bribery is the least of our problems.

Skill and experience count

Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by the courts and other members of Congress takes years. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.


We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old-time pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of the old guard, folks who understood how to work with the opposition. Knew how to make the process work. It’s the recently elected morons who are stopping progress.

Sadly, our experienced old-timers got old, retired, or died. They have been replaced by imbeciles.


Above and beyond the skill it takes to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and accomplish miracles. Newly elected congresspeople hope to build a career in politics. With luck, one or two of them will become a great legislator, a Tip O’Neill, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy et al.

Anyone you name connected to the passage of major legislation was a multi-term, Representative or Senator.

Term limits eliminate all chance of having great legislators

Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around Congress. If any of them figure out where the toilets are and actually get good at their jobs (I know, hard to imagine at the moment), they’ll be gone.

Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better.

If you don’t elect them, they won’t be in Congress

We have term limits. These are called elections. Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were an awful idea in 1788 and they haven’t improved with time. You only have to watch the news once or twice to see how our wonderful, government is doing.

If that doesn’t argue against the treasured (but stupid) belief that what Washington DC needs are outsiders, I don’t know what will convince you. Assuming we survive 45s reign, we will desperately need intelligent, knowledgeable people to set America back on course.


We don’t need term limits.
We need better candidates, better representatives.


We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with each other and other nations to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on Congress.

The president doesn’t run the country

He’s not our “CEO.” Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people who make the laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault

The members of Congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure that a lot of people vote for that candidate. You may not like him, but other people do. That’s what elections are about.

It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve the problems. Make the job more — not less — attractive so better people will want to go into government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one will want.

It’s close to that already. Mention going into politics to an ambitious young person. Watch him or her recoil in horror.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics, and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation … and we need to agree what that means, at least in broad strokes. Term limits won’t fix the problem, because that’s not what’s broken.

You want term limits? Vote the morons out of office

We didn’t vote ALL the morons out of office, but we did pretty well and considering there are still a few senatorial elections being recounted, we may do even better. Moreover, we had the highest voter turnout ever. That’s amazing, wonderful, and gives me hope.

Vote for people who believe the good of the country is more important than their personal agenda. Vote for intelligent people who understand about compromise, who have a grip on law, justice, and the constitution.

That will produce real change that might last!