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Old lobster traps, in bushes by a collapsing boat house.

Columbia Falls, Maine.



Me: Frank Lynch. These are my daily rants, mostly political. For something less spontaneous, I maintain The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page (over 1,800 Johnson quotes), perhaps your best online resource for insight into his thinking.

DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. We do polling, public policy research, surveys, etc. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

first: frankplynch at gmail dot com; now delete the 'a' in my name

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Leslie won week 39.

Bio: Born 1957, raised in Florida, moved to New York area in 1982; now live in Brooklyn. Married, with one daughter. I work in marketing research for Abt SRBI. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Never underestimate vision.

So we went to Maine last week. A couple days had splendid weather, a couple were grey, and one, Wednesday was full of torrential rains. Knowing Wednesday's weather in advance, we chose to drive up to Bangor (it seems to be pronounced Bang Gore) for a museum. The museum we chose was the Cole Land Transportation Museum, and I have to tell you this up front: while we used incessant rain as the spur, you should go even if the weather is fine your whole stay. Basically it's a huge hangar (I don't know the square footage, sorry) with all sorts of land vehicles (snow plows, fire trucks, train cars, classic automobiles, delivery wagons, baby strollers, bicycles, freight trucks, snow mobiles, and so on) as well as an entire train station office. It's quite the unique museum.

The museum is the 25 year old brainchild of Galen Cole, whose dad started a freight company a loong time ago, and pioneered plowing the snow from Maine's roads. Galen took over the family business, and late in his career realized that transportation was worth a museum. So he built a hangar and called out to the public to contribute old vehicles they had laying around; volunteers restored them and other volunteers added accoutrments to help make them all come alive. Volunteers serve as docents. It's crowdsourcing at its finest.

Galen Cole is a decorated WWII vet, and the grounds surrounding the museum have memorials to veterans (due to the heavy rains we did not see them), and there's a strong amount of attention to vets and the military; many of the docents are vets. He also is a big believer in education: the museum hosts school visits, and one of the videos in the museum reminds kids how lucky they are to get schooling, and how they need to take advantage of it. By chance he was there, on one of his random visits to his project, approached us and engaged us, and the man is completely with it (age 90).

There is something special about local museums; I still have fond memories of the Chemung County Museum we visited in Elmira, and if you can't get to Maine or Elmira, I strongly recommend you review the guide books for wherever it is you're going and seek them out.

Link | Comments | 7:31 PM

Running Up That Hill.

Wye Oak covers Kate Bush.

This was one of their encores on the tour we saw.

Link | Comments | 6:46 PM

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fortunate Son.

I have complete confidence in your ability to find the CCR song on the Internet if you don't already have a copy, but a couple notes with respect to it and Donald Trump. Vox had an item this week where they demonstrated that if he'd gotten an equal split of his dad's estate and just put it in index funds and twiddled his thumbs he'd be in better financial shape than he is now. (There is room to quibble; the analysis not only assumes son Donald received a "fair share" of the $200 million estate, but also that none of it went to charity. It's possible that was signficant.)

The other point has to do with the lyric that "when the tax man comes, the house looks like a rummage sale," that is, a poor act for the auditor. When Trump listed his assets in his campaign filings, he listed a golf course in Westchester as having a value north of $50 million. Uh, oh, property taxes are coming up, and Trump's people want to reduce the assessed market value from $13.5 million to $1.36 million, a 90% drop from its previous valuation and a splinter compared to the $50 million plus Trump claimed when he wanted to impress.

Link | Comments | 9:51 AM

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Britain proud to proclaim it's no longer Top Nation?

Allow me to cite Burke's efforts on tolerance towards the Colonies (that was us, then) as a point that while he, himself, was not stubborn, the monarchy and most of Parliament were. Somehow the Ministers never got the word that there was a famous error in a spreadsheet, and are digging their heels in on the whole austerity thing, rather than listen to Keynes, their homeboy.

Austerity is such a 'my precious' that it seems to even be threatening The Proms.

(Your answer to "what are the Proms?" is here.)

The Proms are a fabulous cultural institution. There's certainly nothing like it here, and every visiting orchestra understands they have to put their game face on and do their best. (I remember a trip to the UK about ten years ago, when we trained up to Edinburgh, got into our hotel, and happily saw an incredible performance of Shostakovich's 5th. What a fabulous treat.)

Don't be a putz, Cameron; don't defund the Proms. That would be so, uh, so Kansas.

Link | Comments | 7:24 PM

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hamilton (the Musical).

First, we should all acknowledge that there's something "Springtime For Hitler"-ish about a musical conceived on the life and death of Alexander Hamilton. AND I'm sure if you Googled for articles on this musical you'd find I'm not the first to mention this. The hilarity of The Producers was of course that SfH's creators never wanted it to succeed as anything more than fraud. As you know, it failed, and succeeded. And "Hamilton" is quite a success.

We saw it last night, with tickets that had been bought many months ago on the basis of the buzz and our connection to an institution named after Hamilton. It's damned pricey, and if I'd been part of the decision I'd have vetoed it.

Good thing I was not consulted, because it's damned good. So much of what has been said about it has described it as being our first hip-hop musical, and while I'm not inclined to do any research to refute that, and I accept it, hip-hop just isn't a form I like that much; consequently I anticipated an evening like the rap (get it?) on Wagner, 45 minutes of dullness until you get to something really grand. Not the case here at all; the hip-hop often is like the recitative in an opera, but actual "songs" come quickly. And they are inventive. And frequently funny. And not just the songs themselves, but also the rap, as in a couplet before a duel (not "the" duel), exploring whether or not the duel was truly called for:

"Your behavior has been ruinous."
"Okay, we're doin' this."

I mean, what's not to love with moments like that?

On top of that, they've managed to lay in an incredible amount of history in the two and a half hours (or so) of the show, using the Greek chorus technique (sometimes delivered by Aaron Burr, played by Leslie Odom Jr. [who you might recognize from CBS's Person of Interest, where he was in a dozen episodes in Season 3]), and when Burr calls out the many highlights of Hamilton's career it not only advances the Hamilton story but also positions Burr as being amazed over his, to Burr, inexplicable, astonishing success.

Like I said, they pack in an incredible amount of history... Hamilton being an immigrant, his efforts to become a general in the American army, his ambivalence between the woman he married and her sister, the Federalist papers, the creation of the Federal banking system, and whether or not to take sides in a war between England and France. On these latter two, arguments between Jefferon and Hamilton, it's a rap battle, well employed.

I just had a fabulous time, and haven't talked about 25% of the things I'd like to. My deepest regret is that the price of tickets presents a barrier, and I wish more could see it (especially since it's hip-hop). Long before the movie version of "Into the Woods" existed, some company made an original cast DVD of it. I hope that will be the case with this, it's really so wonderful.

Link | Comments | 6:48 PM

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders and immigration.

I get what Sanders is saying, that lax immigration policies could lead to an oversupply in the labor force and suppress wages. But I also get what John McCain said years ago, that a lot of the work which is done is back-breaking farm labor which not-recently-arrived Americans aren't willing to do. I think it's wrong to point to farm labor as defining the whole range, though: there are a good number of coders coming in, too, and that enables the tech companies to pay less.

One of the problems I see, however, is that without a reasonable policy there's going to be an underground economy supported by low wage immigrant labor, reducing the price point for wages. Doesn't have to be in the mani-pedi industry; it could be in the car wash, it could be in your restaurant. YOU don't know the status of the people who bus your table. And if they're undocumented and want to stay under cover, it's not like they're going to call out labor abuses.

UPDATE: This is what I mean about exploitation.

Link | Comments | 6:52 PM

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's next? Boy Scout kerchief slide contest?

Will we ever hit a point of Peak GOP Childishness?

Billionaire Donald Trump may be leading in the polls for the GOP presidential primary, but former Texas Governor Rick Perry knows how he can beat his rival candidate. Asked about Trumpís critique of his candidacy, Perry challenged Trump to a pull-up contest.

I get it, the debate format won't accept the also-runs who aren't in the top 10, and they're all working be number 10. But seriously: Chin ups? Are we going to soon hear whose daddy can beat up whose?

I very much doubt that Reince would listen to me, but the format is all wrong. The GOP should create a web site showing all the candidates' answers and positions on 10-20 questions and issues. Allow the visitors to whittle down, select specific comparisons just like Consumer Reports does. It's not difficult.

Does the GOP really want this ridiculous circular firing squad?

Link | Comments | 9:11 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Marco Rubio disqualifies himself for the presidency.

Rubio disqualified himself for the Oval Office today, during Secretary of State John Kerry's appearance on the Iran nuclear deal. (Weird thing is, it was the second time in a week in which he'd disqualified himself. The first time was when he'd said Trump's McCain insult disqualified Trump for the Oval Office, not having said anything like that over Trump's comments on undocumented Mexican immigrants.) So today:

Many of the criticisms had a hit-and-run quality.

For example, Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee and is running for president, derided the agreement before the members and departed promptly.

As in, he didn't stick around to hear what Kerry had to say. He oafishly grandstanded and then split. No presidential qualities there, Senator.

Link | Comments | 8:32 PM

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