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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,248

Journal Archives

The Meaning of Yusuf/Cat Stevens

After a brilliant but turbulent career, he is reemerging on the public stage. How should we feel about him­ — and his music — now?

A unique feature of the destabilizing, horrifying Great Interruption of the past year and a half (and counting) is that it has nudged so many of us into a period of protracted introspection and reassessment. Superficially, we’ve discovered the wonders of sourdough starter and urban gardening, but beneath the surface something more significant has been going on. Especially during those long, pre-vaccine months of sheltering in place, it became somewhere between interesting and necessary to recalibrate, to inventory what we value, to look at who and what we surround ourselves with, and why.

Part of this process for me has involved a careful survey of what is literally on my shelves, which includes an ungainly collection of music housed on old media: vinyl, CDs and cassettes. I’ve deliberately reached for albums with which I have distant, uncertain relationships, producing new revelations. Foolishly, I’d dismissed Randy Newman as a Hollywood lightweight, but a return to the sharp, subversive danger of his 1974 album “Good Old Boys,” and the more recent “Dark Matter” from 2017, reminded me of his particular genius. The magnificent gospel compilation set “Goodbye, Babylon” from 2003 bathed me again in its heavenly glow every time I put it on, making me wonder why I’d ever consigned it to mothballs. Similarly, both Sun Ra and the Shaggs found their way back from the nether regions of my stacks and into regular rotation once again, each now making more sense than ever. And it had been too long since I’d spent time with Scott Joplin’s opera “Treemonisha”; the relevance of its poignant, resilient finale, “A Real Slow Drag,” gave me goosebumps.

And then came Cat Stevens. I’d first heard Stevens’s music as a teenager in the mid-’80s, when friends and I watched “Harold and Maude,” Hal Ashby’s paean to nonconformity. The film, which turned 50 this year, prominently features Stevens’s songs, including one that could be called its theme: “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.” I decided that I did. The very next day I acquired a cheap guitar and began teaching myself how to play. Stevens’s songs eventually led me to Bob Dylan; Dylan led me to early-20th-century blues, jazz and country music; and by my early 20s I was living in New Orleans, fronting my first band. A few years later, after I moved to Brooklyn, a series of chance encounters led to a high-profile engagement for my quartet. Critics wrote nice things about us, we began making records, and for the past couple of decades I’ve been blessed with a music career, albeit a nontraditional one. Operating under the mainstream radar, I’ve headlined on stages ranging from the fancy (Lincoln Center) to the less so (dank basements in rural Romania). If my path has never followed conventional patterns, just consider its source; in a real sense, I owe it all to Cat Stevens.

Stevens’s road has been anything but a straight line. His career began in the late ’60s as a teenage pop star in Britain, before a bout with tuberculosis nearly killed him. During his convalescence his songwriting morphed, and he emerged as the acoustic-guitar-wielding, long-haired Pan most people still conjure in their minds when they hear his name. He achieved superstardom with evergreen standards like “Morning Has Broken,” “Moonshadow” and “Peace Train,” and toured the world as a major headliner. Then, in 1978, Stevens suddenly renounced his music career, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, auctioned off his instruments and rededicated his life to being a family man and a devout Muslim.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/09/20/yusufcat-stevens-reemerges-public-stage-how-should-we-feel-about-his-music-his-legacy/

He wrote some very meaningful songs in his time. Listening to his early music warp propels me 50 years into the past and gives me pause to consider how lives change over the years.

In Race for 5G, Alarm and Security Services Get Stuck in the Middle

Covid-19 shutdowns and chip shortages have made it more difficult to upgrade devices and meet a deadline set by AT&T.

Melissa Brinkman’s troubles are threatening to slow down AT&T’s multibillion-dollar rollout of ultrafast 5G wireless technology.

Ms. Brinkman is the chief executive of Custom Alarm, a company that installs and monitors home and commercial security systems, fire detectors and personal emergency alert devices in and around Rochester, Minn.

Those alarm devices were mostly designed to communicate using slower 3G wireless technology. In early 2019, AT&T announced it would phase out 3G wireless service in February 2022, meaning that the devices would no longer have a connection after that date. Ms. Brinkman’s technicians were replacing the older gear, one location at a time, when the pandemic lockdown began in March 2020.

By early this year, Covid-19 concerns had eased and people were more willing to let her workers into their homes. But then chip shortages hit the alarm industry, so replacement equipment became harder to come by.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/24/technology/att-5g-race.html

A Tour of China's Future Tiangong Space Station

A new outpost for astronauts will soon be finished in orbit: China’s new Tiangong space station, or Heavenly Palace. Tiangong will be able to support three astronauts, or up to six people during crew rotations.

The unfinished station has already hosted three astronauts, who spent 90 days living aboard and continuing the construction process. The next crew is expected to launch in October.

Tiangong will be built in several stages over the next year. Here’s a look at the main components that will make up the station.

The Tianhe control center was the first section to launch. A central docking hub will connect the module to other sections of the space station, or to visiting spacecraft. Tianhe also has a hatch for astronauts to enter and exit the station.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/science/tiangong-space-station.html

No, California Isn't Doomed

California has been struggling. It has stumbled through the Covid-19 pandemic and recession, afflicted by wildfires, an epidemic of homelessness and stratospheric housing prices. Last year it experienced its first population decline in records going back to 1900. Its latest mess was a costly and unsuccessful campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The state’s problems are real. Nevertheless, there are positive signs. The first step toward fixing problems is recognizing them, and on that score, Californians have grown increasingly aware of what’s wrong. California is also blessed with abundant resources that enable it to fix problems that would be daunting for less endowed states.

Housing is a good example. Prices are crazy: On Sept. 16, the California Association of Realtors announced that the median sale price in the state in August was $827,940, up 17 percent from a year earlier. Only 23 percent of California households could afford to buy a median-priced home in the second quarter, down from one-third a year earlier, the association announced in August.

To make ends meet, many Californians scrimp and save and commute long distances from exurbs; others give up and move to cheaper states. Employers struggle to lure out-of-state recruits. Homeowners can swap one high-priced house for another, but renters can’t buy starter homes because they have no housing equity to use for a down payment. And California’s epidemic of homelessness can be traced in part to a lack of affordable housing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/24/opinion/california-budget-housing.html

'Stop the Steal' Movement Races Forward, Ignoring Arizona Humiliation

As a Republican review of 2020 votes in Arizona sputtered to a close, Donald Trump and his allies signaled that their attack on the election, and their drive to reshape future elections, were far from over.

After all the scurrying, searching, sifting, speculating, hand-counting and bamboo-hunting had ended, Republicans’ post-mortem review of election results in Arizona’s largest county wound up only adding to President Biden’s margin of victory there.

But for those who have tried to undermine confidence in American elections and restrict voting, the actual findings of the Maricopa County review that were released on Friday did not appear to matter in the slightest. Former President Donald J. Trump and his loyalists redoubled their efforts to mount a full-scale relitigation of the 2020 election.

Any fleeting thought that the failure of the Arizona exercise to unearth some new trove of Trump votes or a smoking gun of election fraud might derail the so-called Stop the Steal movement dissipated abruptly. As draft copies of the report began to circulate late Thursday, Trump allies ignored the new tally, instead zeroing in on the report’s specious claims of malfeasance, inconsistencies and errors by election officials.

Significant parts of the right treated the completion of the Arizona review as a vindication — offering a fresh canard to justify an accelerated push for new voting limits and measures to give Republican state lawmakers greater control over elections. It also provided additional fuel for the older lie that is now central to Mr. Trump’s political identity: that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“The leaked report conclusively shows there were enough fraudulent votes, mystery votes, and fake votes to change the outcome of the election 4 or 5 times over,” Mr. Trump said in a statement early Friday evening, one of seven he had issued about Arizona since late Thursday. “There is fraud and cheating in Arizona and it must be criminally investigated!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/24/us/politics/arizona-election-audit-analysis.html

In South America, the climate future has arrived.

Dying crops, spiking energy bills, showers once a week. In South America, the climate future has arrived.

BUENOS AIRES — Sergio Koci’s sunflower farm in the lowlands of northern Argentina has survived decades of political upheaval, runaway inflation and the coronavirus outbreak. But as a series of historic droughts deadens vast expanses of South America, he fears a worsening water crisis could do what other calamities couldn’t: Bust his third-generation agribusiness.

“When you have one bad year, you can face it,” Koci said. Some of his 20,000 acres rest near the mighty Paraná River, where water levels have reached lows not seen since 1944. On the back of two years of drought-related crop losses, he said, the continuing dryness is now set to reduce his sunflower yields this year by 65 percent.

“When you have three bad years, you don’t know if there will even be another year,” he said.

From the frigid peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are slamming farmers, shutting down ski slopes, upending transit and spiking prices for everything from coffee to electricity.

So low are levels of the Paraná running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina that some ranchers are herding cattle across dried-up riverbeds typically lined with cargo-toting barges. Raging wildfires in Paraguay have brought acrid smoke to the limits of the capital. Earlier this year, the rushing cascades of Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian-Argentine frontier reduced to a relative drip.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/24/argentina-brazil-south-america-drought/

Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret

The colossal hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, has been called the “mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. Some of those named in the data have already lost their jobs.

In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Fla., where he used the handle “SouthFloridasFavoriteRealtor” to urge buyers on Facebook to move to “the most beautiful State.”

But online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com, whitesencyclopedia.com, christiansagainstisrael.com and theholocaustisfake.com.

The information was included in a giant trove of hundreds of thousands of transactions published this month by the hacking group Anonymous that exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate.

After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/09/25/epik-hack-fallout/

"Epik’s founder, Robert Monster..." Nice name.

Trump is FREAKING OUT Over the Arizona Fraudit Results that Prove Biden Won

The sham audit that Arizona Republicans have been hyping for several weeks is coming to an ignominious end. The Cyber Ninjas have released the results of their phony "forensic review," and will now skulk back into the shadows from whence they came. Meanwhile, Joe Biden will ignore it all and just continue being President.

On the other hand, Donald Trump and his contemptible confederates are not ignoring it all. Instead, they are focusing on preposterous accounts of utter nonsense so they can keep pumping out their "Big Lie" BS to his dimwitted disciples. The highly disreputable Cyber Ninjas were ultimately unable to manufacture any voting irregularities. In fact, their end count actually showed a wider margin of victory for Biden, with more votes for him and fewer for Trump.

This state of affairs has sent Trump into a ferocious frenzy as he feebly tries to fit the facts into a constructed reality that he, in his narcissistic stupor, can comprehend. And, true to form, his main method for doing that is to flood the zone with wild, nonsensical outbursts that serve no purpose other than to satiate his mammoth ego and to inflame his followers.

To that end Trump had his spokes-shill, Liz Harrington (whose proxy Trump tweeting is violating Twitter's rules against circumventing a ban) post a statement asserting that the subpoenas of four of his closest associates (Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Steve Bannon, and Kash Patel) were merely a diversion from the the Cyber Ninja fraudit report.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/9/24/2054309/-Trump-is-FREAKING-OUT-Over-the-Arizona-Fraudit-Results-that-Prove-Biden-Won

Biden Thanks Arizona G.O.P. for Letting Him Relive Greatest Victory of His Life

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an extraordinary expression of gratitude to his political foes, President Biden thanked the Arizona G.O.P. for allowing him to relive the most glorious victory of his life.

Speaking from the White House, Biden said, “The election was almost a year ago, and the memory of that amazing achievement had really started to fade. Thanks to the Arizona Republicans, all those wonderful memories have begun flooding back.”

The President added that he was indebted to the Arizona G.O.P. for “giving me a lift when I needed it most.”

“Let me tell you, this job is a killer, Jack,” he said. “Some days can get very, very dark. But thanks to the Arizona Republicans there’s a smile on my face and a skip in my step again.”

Biden noted that Pennsylvania Republicans, following in the footsteps of their Arizona brethren, are about to let him relive his greatest win yet again. “All I can say is, thanks, man,” he said. “You guys are the best!”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/biden-thanks-arizona-gop-for-letting-him-relive-greatest-victory-of-his-life

Semiconductor shortage that has hobbled manufacturing worldwide is getting worse

Source: Washington Post

After nearly a year, automakers are still cutting back on production and losing sales in a supply crisis that is also hitting other business sectors.

The global semiconductor shortage that has paralyzed automakers for nearly a year shows signs of worsening, as new coronavirus infections halt chip assembly lines in Southeast Asia, forcing more car companies and electronics manufacturers to suspend production.

A wave of delta-variant cases in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines is causing production delays at factories that cut and package semiconductors, creating new bottlenecks on top of those caused by soaring demand for chips.

Underscoring that the problem has defied easy solutions, the White House on Thursday held its second summit in five months with semiconductor manufacturers and buyers, in part to gain more clarity on the scope of the crisis, senior administration officials said.

Attendees included senior executives from Intel, General Motors, Ford, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and two dozen other companies, as well as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/23/chip-shortage-forecast-automakers/



Looks like it's gonna be a little bit longer wait to get that Playstation 5.
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