If he can have a 2021 Summer Reading List, I can have a 2021 Summer Reading List.

Here's my list.

On Wednesday March 31st, my wife and I drove back to Amarillo TX (11 hours round trip again) to get our second Moderna vaccines. We'd gone out there on March 3rd for the first shots, after hearing that Amarillo was taking anyone from anywhere even out of state, as long as they were qualified. We were, and we'd been waiting in New Mexico since December and decided, why not?, nothing's happening in New Mexico, so we drove out. On the first trip there were six people in line ahead of us. In a VAST convention center.

When we arrived this time, for the second shots, WE WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE THERE. You have to understand: this is in a vast convention center that could handle thousands. We were literally the only people getting shots. In and out in a few minutes. Where are the Texans? Good grief, man. History is going to wonder what madness overtook America in the early 21st century.

Check out the pictures. Note in the last image, all the nurses were just standing around in one of the vast exhibit halls, waiting for patients to get vaccinated. I think there were about 30 privacy booths to get the shots. We took number 24. The rest were empty.

The whole operation was fully professional, courteous, well-organized, you name it. Superb operation. Just NOBODY TO VACCINATE except random strangers showing up having left at 4:49am from New Mexico....

It would take until 2020 before it was discovered....

(With apologies to Stewart Brand)

And any fool knows a dog needs a home
A shelter from pigs on the wing
-- Pink Floyd

Had no idea New Mexico had cicadas. They have been out in force for weeks, buzzing everywhere. They're all over our yard, though rarely seen, unlike my experience growing up in Maryland where the 17-year cicadas were so numerous, and their discarded Alien-like shells so ubiquitous, you couldn't help but step on them every few feet. This morning I decided I needed photographic proof that these buzzing critters really are cicadas. Here's the proof, right from our side yard:

Cicadas on a tree in New Mexico, photo taken 2019-06-18, Copyright (c)2019 Brian Dear. All rights reserved.

Took the photo with a plain old iPhone 6, nothing fancy. Held the lens about an inch away from the two cicadas who luckily were so laid back they didn't budge despite the phone being in their faces.

So far I've seen 103 movies this year in theatres. I figure I'll prolly see another 5 before the year's out. But we're far enough along in December I figured I could throw this list out there of my favorite 25 movies. You will probably notice the glaring omission of most Hollywood movies, especially the comic-book crap. I ignore that stuff. You should too.

Here's my list:

24. ROMA

Who knows? If something good pops up, this list may be revised in remaining 2 weeks of Dec.

Scientific American story: "The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn't A Technology"

Speaking of which . . .

I'm still unclear on the idea of a business chopping down a perfectly good pine tree, putting it on a truck with a whole lot of other cut trees, transporting them over long distances to some parking lot or roadside area, selling them to people, each of whom then puts one on the top of their car, drives it home, props it up inside the home, then puts decorations and lights all over it for a few weeks, then takes the decorations off, then puts the dead tree back on top of the car, drives it to a parking lot or somewhere, and dumps it in a pile often illegally (hey everybody else does it, etc), and drives off . . . I'm still unclear why that qualifies as some kind of worthy yearly tradition to be celebrated by hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of people at the expense of killing many millions of trees, especially in an era when trees are the best simple natural things that could really help combat the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere and are the very things that essentially act as the earth's lungs. So it always strikes me as kind of counterproductive to the planet's, and all animal life's, not to mention plant life's, continued survival. Instead, maybe we ought to celebrate trees, not kill them. I wish the annual tradition among the current crowd that cuts down the trees was instead to go outside once a year, designate a tree in a neighborhood or on the street or in one's yard if one has a yard as This Year's Tree, and decorate it and care for it and teach children about it. That would be a cool annual tradition. Even better, every time someone has a birthday, plant another tree. Every birthday. Every person. A new tree. We'd have billions of new trees everywhere every year.

I have never understood the allure of the band that calls itself Pearl Jam. I didn't get it in the 90s, I didn't get it in the 00s, and I still don't get it. Nothing they have ever done or performed has ever "reached" me.

Besides the pose, the look, the stance, the sound, what exactly is Pearl Jam? I've never heard any *music* there, just guys doing the Pearl Jam act. I have tried numerous times to listen to their allegedly best albums, and I come away thinking, after 40 minutes of listening (if I can last with it playing that long), when does the music start, as in a kid in a car asking, "are we there yet?" Because I don't ever get "there" with Pearl Jam. I mean, never.

And then they occasionally will do a Who cover song and I'm like, no, you are Pearl Jam, you made a conscious choice years ago to be Pearl Jam and because of that decision, one you have to live with forever and ever, you can't pull off a Who song, you are nowhere near The Who's caliber nor do you sound like The Who nor play like The Who nor bring any new meaning, perspective, or insight to Who music, nor possess any of the visceral raw power of The Who. For Pearl Jam to cover The Who feels pointless and offensive.

Pearl Jam is like a big con: here, America, come fill this stadium and listen to sound that appears to be Rock but has no authenticity or soul what-so-ever. Pearl Jam is no different than most product that passes for country music these days, in that regard. It's just an act, and the public is fooled by it, but money is being made, and it will continue as long as money is being made.

In 2011, Rolling Stone did a poll, asking readers to rate "the best songs ever" by Pearl Jam. I've listened to these songs, all the way to number one, and I'm like, yeah that is Pearl Jam, but, like, these are the best? I still don't hear any music there, nothing that moves me in the slightest. The thing that strikes me listening to Pearl Jam is its resemblance to what passes for Top 40 country today. Same soul-less emptiness, nothing there to relate to. Imagine if U2 had no good songs, but still went out and did its stadium act, and everyone was ooh ahh and cheering. That's Pearl Jam. A band without a single good song, and yet everyone pretends they're great.

Ever had a dream that skirts the boundaries of nightmare, wants to become a nightmare, but teases at skirting the boundary, just going on and on, with one of those really unpleasant antagonists who’s right out of some suspense thriller movie, the kind of antagonist who’s a menace in the dream, keeping you on edge, making you think you may wind up in self-defense hand-to-hand-combat in the very next moment?

I had that kind of dream two nights ago and I’m still thinking about it. The antagonist in the dream? Get this: Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, I know. Weird. Zuckerberg has broken into our home in a home invasion situation. And he’s bothering me and my wife. And he’s poking around looking at all our stuff, asking questions, like a snake, slithering into each room, picking stuff up, examining it with disgust, moving on to something else, always making you feel he’s going to break something, or hurt you.

Like I said, weird. Never had a dream like this before. Never had a Mark Zuckerberg dream before. Hopefully this was the last one.

The dream ended like these dreams often end: at some point my sleeping mind said, WTF, BASTA, enough of this nonsense. Out with you, Mark Zuckerberg! For dreams like this, there are only two ways out. You either command it to effing end, the way Captain Picard would suddenly command the Holodeck to shut down, or you wind up in some kind of scary situation where you suddenly wake up and go, geez, what was all that about. For this one, I pulled a Picard.

Imagine a media organization that only reports what the President of the United States and his administration does, and ignores what he and his administration says.

The news would be completely different.

Let's extend this to Congress as well. Only cover what actions they've taken, not what they have said, especially to reporters or in front of cameras.We would learn far more things about what the government is doing. Minus all the talk, we would get such a different view, it would be eye-opening.

For example:
Today the President go on Air Force One and flew to Florida. Then he went straight to his golf course and played a round of golf with ________, _______, ________, and ________. After that he met and spoke to a social club at Mar-a-Lago. He held no other public meetings or events. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency changed their ruling on _______. The Food and Drug Administration began ______________. The Centers for Disease Control has started _______________. The Department of Defense began issuing _____________. The State Department fired ______________. The FBI opened a new investigation into ____________. Meanwhile, the House introduced four new bills ____, _____, ____, and ____, and voted on these bills ____ and ____. The Senate introduced no bills but voted on ______.

And so on. Just what happened, not what was said.



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The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear
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