January 9, 2021 in 4,565 words

• • • an aural noise • • •

word salad: Microcosmos Records is happy to present Parallel Ways of Enlightenment by Dva Dereva.

Dva Dereva is a Ukrainian collaboration project of Artem Cherchynskyi, a multi-instrumentalist, and Nadya Makarova, a singer. The project started in 2010 and over the years it has performed meditative and trance acoustic music with the use of a wide range of ethnic and archaic musical instruments, including didgeridoo, kalimba, duduk, Jew’s harp, frame drum, singing bowls, etc. In 2018 Dva Dereva started exploring electronic sound which led to incorporating into their music production the elements of trip-hop, drone ambient, tribal ambient.

The album Parallel Ways of Enlightenment is a story of self-exploration and unification with the Universe through music. Soulful synth drones, cosmic vocals together with hypnotic ethnic instruments will bring you into a deep meditative state.

Turn on Parallel Ways of Enlightenment by Dva Dereva and Microcosmos Records to look into the depths of the inner space, find yourself free from reality, enjoy the beauty of the movements of your soul.

• • • some of the things I read in antisocial isolation • • •

BREAKING: President Trump Is Now Permanently Banned From Twitter

Well, folks, it only took 1,449 days, an attack on our nation’s Capitol, and countless blatant, harmful lies, but @jack and his goons finally came through — President Donald J. Trump, has now officially been permabanned from Twitter.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement posted to their safety account about their decision to swing that sweet, sweet banhammer. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action,” the company followed up in a subsequent tweet.

The satisfying move comes after POTUS, who had just had his account restored after a 12-hour lockout, with a warning he’d be permanently banned if he shared anything else that violated the platform’s terms of use, posted two pretty risky tweets. The first of which was aimed at his supporters, some of which had notably just been arrested after allegedly committing what some are calling an act of domestic terrorism.

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!,” POTUS posted. Read the room, Donnie.

Ed. Be sure to thank @jack.

RELATED: Eagle-Eyed Fans Draw Similarities Between Old Episodes of ‘The Simpsons,’ Capitol Attack

Well, folks, it seems Matt Groening and his band of psychic writers have struck again — a number of eagle-eyed social media users realized that like many of the oddities of the past decade and change, The Simpsons, in fact, predicted parts of Wednesday’s attack on our nation’s Capitol.

From a clip of the show’s 1996’s SchoolHouse Rock Parody, “I’m an amendment to be,” in which a horde of angry, hyper-conservative bills charge at the house carrying guns and explosive devices…

Well, folks, it seems Matt Groening and his band of psychic writers have struck again — a number of eagle-eyed social media users realized that like many of the oddities of the past decade and change, The Simpsons, in fact, predicted parts of Wednesday’s attack on our nation’s Capitol.

From a clip of the show’s 1996’s SchoolHouse Rock Parody, “I’m an amendment to be,” in which a horde of angry, hyper-conservative bills charge at the house carrying guns and explosive devices…

… to a screencap of Homer stealing a statue …

… and even a recent Treehouse of Horror sketch illustrating the worst-case-scenario terrors that would arrive come January 2021 …

… the creative minds behind the Springfield Extended Universe (SEU?) have seemed to predict a lot of the grossness of the past few days.

Amid the Twitterstorm once again highlighting Matt Groeing and Co’s apparent psychic powers, Matt Selman, the show’s executive producer verified some of these connections, posting two side-by-side images of photos from the riot and screengrabs of Homer respectively stealing a statue and arresting a person appearing to wear a boar head.

… the creative minds behind the Springfield Extended Universe (SEU?) have seemed to predict a lot of the grossness of the past few days.

Amid the Twitterstorm once again highlighting Matt Groeing and Co’s apparent psychic powers, Matt Selman, the show’s executive producer verified some of these connections, posting two side-by-side images of photos from the riot and screengrabs of Homer respectively stealing a statue and arresting a person appearing to wear a boar head.

This Miniature Quran Bears Witness to an Immense History

It is an artifact of devotion, wealth, and empire.

This Quran is small enough to fit inside a locket, and in your palm. Embiggenable. Explore someplace that may be relevant at home.

A HOLY TEXT, IN BOTH form and content, is an instrument of awe. The first thing one might notice about them, in many cases, can be their sheer bulk, as if heft must correspond to importance.

But it’s often the smaller objects that are most truly impressive, representing examples of discipline, precision, craft, and devotion. That makes this miniature Quran, currently on display in the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, a marvel: the totality of a divine scripture within the space of a matchbox. Measuring just 46 x 35 mm (roughly 1.8 x 1.4 inches), this Quran is part of an enameled gold locket, bedecked with diamonds and rubies and attached to silver chains. Though it originated in the Mughal Empire, probably around 1700, British imperial officials eventually confiscated it and then gifted the Quran to the Royal Collection. The Quran is just one item in the exhibit Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent, which covers some 400 years of relations between the British Crown and the rulers of South Asia. The exhibit is temporarily closed in accordance with COVID-19 precautions, but it is offering a virtual experience for now.

Zinat Mahal, likely the Quran’s former owner, and a favored wife of the last Mughal Emperor.

The Mughal Empire—which, at its peak, comprised parts of modern-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh—was founded in 1526, and during the 17th century rose to become the richest empire in the world. The Taj Mahal is one obvious symbol of its immense wealth. A subtler one, according to the Oxford English Dictionary’s etymology, is the English word “mogul.” Sunni Islam was the religion of the court, and it’s thought that this miniature Quran belonged to Zinat Mahal, a favored wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of the Mughal Emperors. Though the empire had been hobbled and all but consumed by the time of Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, that uprising and the retribution that followed marked the official end of the dynasty. After that, the era of rule by the British East India Company was supplanted by the British Raj, as the Crown assumed direct control of the subcontinent. According to an email from the exhibit’s curator, Emily Hannam, Mahal’s jewelry “was confiscated and sent to the Treasury of Fort William in Calcutta.” Mahal and her husband were exiled to Yangon, Myanmar (then called Rangoon), where the emperor died in 1862 and Mahal in 1886. In the interval, in 1876, Queen Victoria was named Empress of India.

RELATED: Eastham, Massachusetts: Three Sisters Lighthouses
These three lighthouses played a fundamental role in the maritime life of Eastham.

The Three Sisters Lighthouses. Embiggenable. Explore at home.

LIGHTHOUSES HAVE PLAYED A CRITICAL role in the daily life of maritime towns as nautical landmarks that provide directional signals to ships. They are traditionally located very close to the water.

The Three Sister Lighthouses were originally located on Nauset Beach atop a cliff, just a quarter-mile from the Atlantic Ocean shore in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

All along Cape Cod, there were several lighthouses, however, many shipwrecks were found close to the Eastham shore. As a result, locals from Eastham constructed the Nauset Lighthouses to provide an additional landmark for sailors who were about to reach the mid-point of the outer cape. To further enhance visibility, it was cleverly decided to build three lighthouses.

The Nauset Lighthouses were dubbed The Three Sisters because when viewed from the ocean, the lighthouses resembled three ladies in white dresses and black hats.

The Three Sisters went into operation in 1838, until erosion along the cliff threatened their existence. Unfortunately in 1890, The Three Sisters fell into the sea. Two years later, they were replaced by lighthouses composed of wood on brick foundations. They were located just 30 feet west of the original site.

Ed. And, as with every element of public infrastructure, the light houses were allowed to tall into disrepair and become obsolete.

The Inaction of Capitol Police Was by Design

The spectacle of Wednesday’s tepid police response to riotous mobs shocked many. But the passivity is not some surprising anomaly—it is the status quo.

What Americans witnessed on their TV screens on Wednesday was not just an insurrection against American democracy—it was also an expression of white supremacy. As mobs of white Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building to ransack offices, terrorize lawmakers, and interrupt the certification of the presidential election, they were met with a notably weak show of force by the Capitol Police, who were responsible for quelling the insurrection. According to reports, more than 50 officers were injured, and footage of police being physically assaulted by rioters proliferated online. To many of these acts of violence, officers responded with immense restraint or full capitulation. In other cases, their unpreparedness had fatal consequences: One woman was killed by police, three other people died, and last night an officer succumbed to his injuries.

Videos also portray a friendlier side of these interactions: One widely circulated shot appears to show a rioter taking a selfie with an officer inside the Capitol halls, while others depict insurrectionists being calmly escorted by police out of the building they’d just overtaken. These scenes provide a stark contrast to what the nation witnessed from police mere months ago, during the Black Lives Matter protests: Peaceful demonstrators tear-gassed and pinned to the ground. People who were standing still shown the full force of state violence.

According to the Associated Press, the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the riot days before it took place, but rejected offers of help from the National Guard and the FBI. Officials said that they wanted to avoid using federal force against Americans, as they had done this summer. The choice to turn down help amid warnings of an insurrection is as revealing as it is disturbing: Why did law enforcement assume that they’d encounter violence from protesters marching for Black lives in June, but think that a largely white crowd of pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists would remain peaceful? The difference in the Capitol Police’s response shocked many who bemoaned the double standard. But police brutality against Black Americans and police inaction toward white Americans is not some surprising anomaly; it is the status quo.

D.C. Metropolitan Police officers forcefully detain a Black Lives Matter protester on July 4.

The genesis of modern American policing can be traced in part to the institution of chattel slavery and its white-supremacist orthodoxy. It started with the slave patrols of the early 1700s and continued with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a federal statute strengthening laws that prevented the enslaved from fleeing bondage and left free Black people vulnerable to kidnapping. White citizens were employed as slave catchers to return the “stolen property” of southern planters by any means necessary. In his 1903 text The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that the “police system was arranged to deal with blacks alone, and tacitly assumed that every white man was ipso facto a member of that police.” The ideologies of that earliest iteration of American policing—designed to prevent the freedom and enfranchisement of Black people and to protect the interests of white people—still persist in today’s policing system.

RELATED: The Whole Story in a Single Photo
An image from the Capitol captures the distance between who we purport to be and who we have actually been.

On Wednesday afternoon, as insurrectionists assaulted the Capitol, a man wearing a brown vest over a black sweatshirt walked through the halls of Congress with the Confederate battle flag hanging over his shoulder. One widely circulated photo, taken by Mike Theiler of Reuters, captured him mid-stride, part of the flag almost glowing with the light coming from the hallway to his left. Just above and behind him is a painting of Charles Sumner, the ardent abolitionist senator from Massachusetts.

On May 22, 1856, Sumner was attacked by Preston Brooks—a pro-slavery member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina—for a speech Sumner had made criticizing slaveholders, including Brooks’s cousin Andrew Butler, a senator representing South Carolina.* Brooks attacked Sumner on the Senate floor. “Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine,” he said. Before Sumner could fully respond, Brooks began beating him over the head with the golden head of his thick walking cane, trapping Sumner under his desk as he tried to escape, until two representatives were finally able to intervene and bring him out of the chamber. Sumner did not return to the Senate for three years, and would experience ongoing, debilitating pain for the rest of his life.

Also behind the man in Wednesday’s photo, partially obscured by the rebel flag, is a portrait of John C. Calhoun. A senator from South Carolina and the vice president under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, Calhoun wrote in 1837: “I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.”

The fact that this photo was taken the day after voters in Georgia chose the first Black person and the first Jewish person in the history of that state to serve in the Senate; that it shows a man walking past the portrait of a vice president who urged the country to sustain human bondage and another portrait of a senator who was nearly beaten to death for standing up to the slavocracy; that it portrays a man walking with a Confederate flag while a mob of insurrectionists pushed past police, broke windows, vandalized offices, stole property, and strolled through the halls of Congress for hours, forcing senators and representatives into hiding and stopping the certification of the electoral process—it is almost difficult to believe that so much of our history, and our current moment, was reflected in a single photograph.

RELATED: The Insurrectionists Would Like You to Know That They’re the Real Victims
The perpetrators of the assault on the Capitol and their sympathizers in the media and Congress lost little time in claiming the mantle of victimhood.

History is rewritten by the self-styled victims.

Even after more than four years of rationalizing and excusing every violation by the president, Donald Trump’s enablers have their work cut out for them this week, after a mob incited by Trump sacked the U.S. Capitol, disrupted constitutional order, and killed a police officer. But, undeterred, they are still energetically devoted to the task.

I warned yesterday that Trump’s remaining allies would seek to memory-hole the January 6 attempted coup and convince people that it didn’t happen the way it did. The whitewashing is already in full motion. Some takes the form of dangerous disinformation—false claims, for example, that antifa was behind the siege and not Trump backers, even though Trump cheered them on. Those are fringe ideas catering to a fringe audience, however, and they mostly serve to muddy the waters.

The more common argument on the mainstream Trump-friendly right is simpler: It contends that what happened wasn’t so bad, and anyway it was someone else’s fault. The real victims, it turns out, are Trump and his supporters.

Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado’s Water

Investor interest in the river could redefine century-old rules for who controls one of the most valuable economic resources in the United States.

Farmland meets the desert, separated by an irrigation canal, near Fruita, Colo.

There is a myth about water in the Western United States, which is that there is not enough of it. But those who deal closely with water will tell you this is false. There is plenty. It is just in the wrong places.

Cibola, Ariz., is one of the wrong places. Home to about 300 people, depending on what time of year you’re counting, the town sits on the California border, in a stretch of the Sonoran Desert encircled by fanglike mountains and seemingly dead rocky terrain. Driving across the expanse, where the temperature often hovers near 115 degrees, I found myself comforted by the sight of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler carrying bales of hay, which at least implied the existence of something living where I was headed.

Thanks to the Colorado River, which meanders through town, Cibola is a verdant oasis that chatters at dusk with swooping birds. Along both banks, a few hundred acres produce lush alfalfa and cotton, amid one of the more arid and menacing environments in North America.

This scene is unlikely to last, though. A few years ago a firm called Greenstone, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of the financial-services conglomerate MassMutual, quietly bought the rights to most of Cibola’s water. Greenstone then moved to sell the water to one of the right places: Queen Creek, a fast-growing suburb of Phoenix 175 miles away, full of tract houses and backyard pools.

Transferring water from agricultural communities to cities, though often contentious, is not a new practice. Much of the West, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, was made by moving water. What is new is for private investors — in this case an investment fund in Phoenix, with owners on the East Coast — to exert that power.

Fox News Assures Advertisers That Maria Bartiromo, a Rabid Trumpkin, Is ‘Hard-Hitting Journalism’

In a pitch presentation obtained by The Daily Beast, the cable news giant assures potential sponsors that any “negative chatter” associated with buying ads on Fox News fades fast.

Fox News has a message to potential advertisers: Relax, the “negative chatter” associated with sponsoring our toxic brand fades fast. So please buy ads.

In a presentation document obtained and reviewed by The Daily Beast, the network pitched its ad space to potential sponsors by laying out internal data suggesting the negative coverage of Fox’s inflammatory, right-wing commentary does not actually harm its advertisers. Additionally, the network touted the “hard-hitting journalism” of stars like Maria Bartiromo, a staunchly pro-Trump host who has long boosted baseless right-wing conspiracy theories.

Over the past several years, the conservative cable news giant has faced a barrage of calls for advertiser boycotts from celebrities, politicians, and liberal activists over a variety of bigoted comments and dangerous conspiracy theories peddled by top on-air personalities like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. In some cases, like during Carlson’s primetime hour, the boycotts have been so persistent that only a handful of advertisers—including a pro-Trump pillow company—remain.

But behind the scenes, Fox has told potential advertisers not to be concerned.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Fox Your Feelings: Then and Now

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

Stephen kicks off our first Friday show of the new year with a segment we’re calling “2021: The Week That Felt Like A Year.” Luckily, thanks to our friend Stacey Abrams, there was some good news out of Georgia this week, and our host is finally able to celebrate it.

THANKS to CBS and A Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here’s me commentary on pushing the limits when ya move house.

みりは眠くなると、いつも一人でお気に入りの寝床に行って寝ます。まるやはなに甘えようとする素振りを見たことがないので、たぶん猫に甘えることを知らないのだと思います。Miri doesn’t try to sleep with Maru&Hana, even if they sleep nearby. Miri doesn’t even ask for grooming. Miri may not know how to be pampered by cats.


Here’s what you normally aren’t allowed to bring into the Capitol.


The joys of being an absolute beginner – for life

The phrase ‘adult beginner’ can sound patronising. It implies you are learning something you should have mastered as a child. But learning is not just for the young.

One day a number of years ago, I was deep into a game of draughts on holiday with my daughter, then almost four, in the small library of a beachfront town. Her eye drifted to a nearby table, where a black-and-white board bristled with far more interesting figures (many a future chess master has been innocently drawn in by “horses” and “castles”).

“What’s that?” she asked. “Chess,” I replied. “Can we play?” she pleaded. I nodded absently.

There was just one problem: I didn’t know how. I dimly remembered having learned the basic moves as a kid, but chess had never stuck. This fact vaguely haunted me through my life. I would see an idle board in a hotel lobby or a puzzle in a weekend newspaper supplement, and feel a pang.

I had picked up a general awareness of chess. I knew the names Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. I knew that the game had enchanted historical luminaries including Marcel Duchamp and Vladimir Nabokov. I knew the cliche about grandmasters being able to look a dozen moves ahead. I knew that chess, like classical music, was shorthand in movies for genius – often of the evil variety. But I knew chess the way I “knew” the Japanese language: what it looks like, what it sounds like, its Japaneseness, without actually comprehending it.

I decided to learn the game, if only to be able to teach my daughter.


Ed. It’s also about what I call The pointlessness of it all:

Most of the people I know are aware I’ve become an avid bicyclist since 2017. This has allowed me to ride the trails all around the city where I live.

There’s one particular trail that runs through a protected wildlife wetland area that I get to by riding a path alongside a busy highway. Not exactly a pleasant place to ride a bicycle. The noise from the traffic drowns out my music.

One morning I observed a prairie falcon swoop down and catch a prairie dog. Yeah, yeah, yeah… circle of life and all that shit.

Unfortunatly, the falcon’s breakfast entree wasn’t meant to be. The prairie dog fell to the ground, landing on the path just as I rode by.

It was dead.

As I rode by over the coming weeks and months, it started with the smell, the putrification, the little birds and other critters picking at the remains, the wind blowing the fur away and summer thunderstorms washing the sidewalk every so often.

I’ve been wanting to write this for some time.

Over the course of this past summer, I watched that little prairie dog completely disintegrate, leaving only a stain shaped like its body permanently embedded in the sidewalk.

The stain left upon the world by that little prairie dog.

This made me ponder how completely insignificant life can be if one doesn’t strive to always be moving forward. Always be observing, discovering and learning new things.

We’re here for a while, doing what we do. In two or three generations there will probably be noone who knows what we were all about and what we accomplished.

And, in the end, everything ends up an anonymous stain somewhere upon the Earth.

I still love to ride that trail a lot because it’s peaceful in the wetlands it leads to. Last summer I remarked to myself that little prairie dog’s stain has vanished forever. So even the stain we leave ends up forgotten.

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.


Good times!

Ed. I got what I wanted. Jack Dorsey finally stuck a cork in America’s Shithole’s facial shithole. I’m hopeful.

Ed., etc. I just learned that a double possessive is disfavored “on the grounds of style” by The Word Police.

Ed., etc., etc. Seriously, the aural noise just ended and I’m finished with these errant ramblings barely uninteresting at all things.

Ed., etc., etc., etc. I’m amused to realize the very first page of these errant ramblings begins with some of the things I read while ignoring the person who was yelling. Upon further rummaging around, I find this page where I identified by name the Karen whose job I’d just inherited. Sarah, I never wanted your job, but lately it’s been giving me a great deal of satisfaction that I’m working to make our team really enjoy working together. Seriously, I dislike you, but I don’t hate you. And, should you ever stumble through the billions of pages on the web containing the Earthly stains of Karen and Sarah, and run across this page, I wish nothing more that you to seek out the mental health professional you truly require. Because of your mental illness, I’ve grown confident in my job, which previously was yours.

Looked again. Still no stain to be found.