“Not Your Mother’s Ireland Anymore”

Forty years ago today, I arrived in Ireland for the first time.

My family was taking one of those pilgrimages that Irish-American families take, or took at the time. Along with so many Irish people, over the course of 60 years in the 19th Century, my great-grandfather and all known ancestors of six other of my great-grandparents had left Ireland for the United States. My father grew up in a working class city outside of Philly that had an Irish Church, an Italian Church, and a Polish Church — as my relatives tell it, everyone was Catholic — with social halls and other civil society to match. It remained, even in my teenage years, the kind of place where Irish-Americans got jobs as cops. So he was raised and so we were raised investing a lot in that Irish-American identity.

We arrived in Ireland, with the names of distant cousins in hand, to see what this place called Ireland was really like.

I remember three things about that pilgrimage most vividly.

First, the night before we left, we went to the Medieval banquet at the Bunratty Castle, a totally schlocky tourist show, now just 20 minutes up the road from where I live. They’ve been doing the banquets ever since, and have expanded into Victorian culture tourism. I recall they gave you just a knife with which to eat your steak. Maybe I was permitted to drink mead.

My family did visit one of those distant cousins, in a 4-room house where a bunch of kids had been raised. The cousin of the same generation as my parents wanted to get out of the too-small house, so we walked down the street to the local pub at a bend in the road. The pub had a thatched roof. There was a fox hunt going on, so there were horses tied up outside the pub. I once believed, but was probably wrong, that that pub was just a half hour from where my now-spouse had lived all his life. My spouse and I have spent decades looking for that thatched roof pub, with no success. It provides a nice excuse to keep looking, anyway.

My family departed from Shannon, but we arrived in Dublin and so were in the Capitol on St. Patrick’s Day. It was quiet and much was closed on account of the bank holiday. One after another person asked us, with puzzlement, why anyone would come from New York to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, because New York and Chicago were where it was at on St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s a bigger deal in Ireland now than it was when my family wandered the famous heart of Dublin on a bank holiday so many years ago (but then, so is Halloween, to my spouse’s chagrin). We’ve got parades and everything is lit up green and oh by the way the Irish team won the Six Nations Championship in rugby, again, yesterday.

But so much of what we know as St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating an American identity, the descendants of the Irish diaspora living in big cities with Irish-American political machines. And so much of that — a white, urban, working class identity — was consciously part of constructing race in America. So much of that was constructed as a way to reinforce conflict between freed slaves and cheap immigrant labor, starting in the 19th century, but still very real today.

I’m thinking of that manufactured conflict this year, as Trump tries to ride it back to the White House.

I’m thinking of that manufactured conflict this year, as outsiders seek to stoke the same conflict within Ireland. In the last year, the American far right had close ties to those stoking arson attacks and the Dublin riot, targeting migrants.

Since my spouse and I have moved back, we have a saying, “It’s not your mother’s Ireland.” For example, I used that line the first time I came back from a local Dunnes store location, the big Irish-owned grocery and department store chain. On one of my earliest visits to my in-laws, years ago, my mother-in-law and I went to the town center to the Dunnes store. I remember thinking it was slightly dingy with very little selection. Since then, Dunnes built a new location on the outside of that town, and Tesco built an even bigger store. Still, for over a year after I moved to Ireland, I avoided Dunnes because of my memory of that dingy, poorly-stocked store I visited with my mother-in-law years ago. So when I came back from the location on the outskirts of Limerick, I couldn’t wait to tell my spouse. This was like a Wegmans. Along with a reasonably stocked normal supermarket, it had a health food outlet, a Sheridan’s cheese counter, a high end bakery, a high end butcher counter, and a passable fishmonger. To this day, we call that supermarket “Not your mother’s Dunnes.”

Then there are the freeways, built with EU investment. We routinely drive on the freeway that didn’t exist when my father-in-law first took me to his home town outside of Galway and the freeway that didn’t exist when my spouse’s parents picked us up from Shannon on our first trip after we married, the one that now features a Barack Obama rest stop. Many of the roads in Ireland still suck — narrow lanes that require pull-offs for passing traffic. There aren’t a lot of roads I’m comfortable cycling on. But those freeways are totally new since my spouse and I got married, to say nothing of that pilgrimage 40 years ago.

But it’s the diversity that has really changed Ireland. Partly that’s being part of Europe. I joke, even still, that if I adopted a Czech or Spanish accent I might be recognized as an immigrant rather than perceived as a tourist, since so many recent arrivals came from Spain or Poland; people aren’t used to Americans coming to stay. In the last two years, there have been places in Clare County where I couldn’t figure out whether local colors were a Clare flag, or a Ukrainian one. Ireland remains more accessible to outsiders than some other parts of Europe; I hear a lot of Brazilian Portuguese on the streets, often students taking advantage of favorable student visas to learn English. There are immigrants from all over the world working in jobs at tech companies, many of the American multinationals. Most notably, though, are the number of migrants Ireland has welcomed, many (though not all) refugees from one or another war America has fought. Most families in Ireland have family members who’ve been welcomed in America, whether for a few years to work or, like my family, for six plus generations. It is only natural that Ireland return the favor.

And so, this year, rather than use Ireland’s privileged face time with the American President in advance of St. Patricks Day to discuss peace in Ireland or the fate of Ireland’s children in America, the Taoiseach pushed proud Irish-American Joe Biden to do something about his Gaza policy. Even the Irish, who take great pleasure in the long line of American Presidents it can claim, is peeved by America’s failures to do more about the Gaza crisis.

This time, Ireland is trying to teach America, not vice versa.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

It’s not your mother’s Ireland anymore.

But if the American far right had its way — those who’ve fought to exacerbate centuries-old manufactured racism and with it fear — they would return Ireland to what it used to be.

After Kansas City, Who is Next?

A KC Chiefs-branded AR-15 from Guns.com.

I knew yesterday was going to be weird. I just didn’t know how weird.

Yesterday, the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day fell on the Christian observation of Ash Wednesday — two very different kinds of days — and then the Kansas City Chiefs went and won the Super Bowl, which added the Chief’s parade and celebration rally to collide with the other two holidays. As the players were boarding the observation deck buses to start the parade, I noticed Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who had a cross of ashes on his forehead – a sign he had been to an early morning mass. Behind him was Taylor Swift’s boyfriend and future NFL hall of famer Travis Kelce. Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, right at the heart of the Super Bowl victory celebration.

All around the metro area, schools were closed, in large part because a sizable number of teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers informed their supervisors that they would be taking the day off, and nowhere near enough substitutes could be found even if the schools wanted to try to hold classes. Similarly, many businesses found the same dynamic with their people wanting to take the day off. Some closed completely, while others tried to make due with a skeleton staff. Estimates of the crowd size went as high as a million people, and traffic around the area certainly made that seem about right.

I was not at the event, but know many who were. I was watching the wall-to-wall coverage on KSHB television, the “home of the Chiefs”. They had reporters all along the parade route, all throughout the crowd, and sitting in midst of the crowd at the rally on an elevated open-air temporary broadcast booth.

The parade rolled out, and many of the players who started on the rooftops of the observation buses got out and walked the route, engaging with the crowd. They signed jerseys, took selfies, and high-fived with what felt like everyone in the front row of the street. They danced and shouted, tossed footballs back and forth with folks in the crowd, and did impromptu interviews with KSHB reporters along the route. And while the parade proceeded, musicians and DJs were amping up the crowd at Union Station who were waiting for them to arrive.

Union Station is a grand old railroad building that sits at the bottom of a massive bowl. To the south is a huge grassy area, which goes uphill to the US National World War I memorial that sits on one of the high spots of the whole city. In that bowl, hundreds of thousands of people had gathered to party. There were old folks, who remember Len Dawson and the first Super Bowl which the Chiefs lost and Super Bowl IV, which they won. There were young folks, who were there in 2020 for the parade and party right before everything shut down for COVID, they were there last year, and they were back again yesterday. There were also the folks in between, who missed the Len Dawson era, but lived through the fifty year drought between Super Bowl wins. There were rich folks and poor folks, lifelong Chiefs fans and newcomer Swifties, there were folks from all parts of Kansas City, from the majority African-American folks south of the Missouri River to the white folks north of the river to the Hispanic community on the west side. Folks from the suburbs were there, from both Missouri and Kansas. Folks from the Ozarks and the Flint Hills, folks from Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and all across the country were there. They brought blankets and lawn chairs and coolers, filled with beverages and food to last the day. It was a joyful sea of red.

The MC for the rally was longtime KC Chiefs radio announcer Mitch Hulthus. He cast the day as a massive history lesson, which other speakers who followed picked up on. KC Mayor Quinton Lucas and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt both spoke of how the Chiefs had changed KC’s image with the world, noting how the Chiefs brought the NFL draft to KC last year and were instrumental in bringing the World Cup to KC in 2026. Missouri’s republican Governor Mike Parson was greeted with loud boos that pretty much battled with the volume on the PA system throughout his speech (boos from Kansas folks because he’s the Missouri governor and boos from the KC folks because he deserves it for his long history of disrespecting Kansas City). When the players took the stage, the crowd went nuts. Every player was grinning from ear to ear, and as the microphone was passed around, the word “Three-peat” echoed louder and louder, and their praise for the Chiefs fans grew ever stronger. Some players were eloquent, some had had one too many adult beverages along the parade route, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Hulthus seemed to be working to keep the rally going while at the same time trying to keep the folks who had overconsumed from falling off the front of the stage. Finally it came to an end, the music came up, and the crowd cheered and shouted and danced.

And then the shots rang out.

Some folks did not hear them at all. Others heard them as they echoed off the surrounding buildings, and wondered where they were coming from. But the folks near Union Station itself heard them, and knew where they came from. Older folks looked around, many wondering what to do, but all the kids didn’t hesitate. Instead of “duck and cover” drills at school that their elders grew up on, they have been living with “active shooter” drills at school for their whole lives, and they took charge and told their elders what to do. Everyone started running.

They jumped barricades and ran into Union Station, which had been blocked off as a staging area for the players, their families, and folks on stage. They jumped barricades on the edge of the bowl, and ran for the side streets. The reporters anchoring the coverage for KSHB threw the broadcast back to the folks at the station, and dropped to the floor of their elevated broadcast area which suddenly felt very exposed and dangerous. At past rallies, it took hours for the area to clear, but yesterday it felt like it emptied out in ten minutes. Left behind were strollers, backpacks, blankets, coolers, and tents. Cell phones were dropped, and there were random empty shoes.

I won’t say more about the deaths and injuries, as the numbers still seem to be shifting. I won’t say much about the shooters, save to say that three people have been taken into custody, no motive has been announced or is obvious from the context, and no description of the specific weapons used has been released.

At the now-routine press conferences afterwards, the familiar words were said. “We stand with the victims . . . We thank the first responders . . .  We pray for those in the hospitals . . . Here’s what we know about the status of the investigation . . .” Just as one press conference was ending, though, the police chief stopped walking away, and turned back to the microphone to make one more statement: “This is *not* Kansas City.” (start at the 11:40 mark)

Those five words touched a nerve.

Social media exploded in Kansas City, with many chiming in to say “this is *exactly* who we are.” Kansas City set a record last year for homicide deaths, largely involving guns. There is huge distrust in the police within the African American community, because of a pattern of racist (and deadly) police interactions with that part of Kansas City that finally forced the resignation of the previous police chief. Similarly, a non-trivial part of the white community thinks the police are being too lenient with “those people” and that is why violent crime is so bad. In one of the more racist parts of Kansas City, a young black youth named Ralph Yarl rang a doorbell, mistakenly coming to the wrong house to pick up his siblings (he had the right house number, but should have been one street over), and the elderly white homeowner shot him through his door. Kansas City has a pattern of using guns to settle beefs, to “stand your ground” when threatened by innocent folks, and to a non-trivial degree, don’t trust the police to help.

For all the talk that “the Chiefs bring people together” (or, more generally, “sports” or “the Super Bowl”, as Biden said in his post-shooting statement yesterday), this is not the first time gun violence has touched the Chiefs in a very personal way. Back in December 2012, well before the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid era, 3rd year linebacker Jovan Belcher came to the Chiefs facilities on a Saturday morning, got out of his car, and pointed a gun at his head. He told then-general manager Scott Pioli and other coaches that he had killed his girlfriend/mother of his child, Kassandra Perkins. They tried to talk him into putting the gun down, but Belcher pulled the trigger and killed himself. Police soon discovered that he had been drinking, and had been having relationship issues with Perkins. When the police went to her home, they found her dead – shot and killed by a different gun legally belonging to Belcher. Maybe I’m the only one who connected yesterday with Belcher and Perkins. I listened to the news coverage, and heard nothing. I ran an online search for mention of Belcher in the last 24 hours, and came up with *crickets*.

Despite KCPD Chief Graves’ words, guns and gun violence have become an ordinary part of ordinary life, and not just in Kansas City. We use them to end our own lives, when we feel things are so out of control in our lives that ending it all seems like the only solution. We use them to settle beefs in our homes, either by using them to threaten or using them to kill. We use them to settle beefs in our communities. We use them to settle beefs in our nation.

And all that world-wide coverage of the Chiefs that Clark Hunt and Mayor Lucas talked about is now going to come back to bite Kansas City. In Europe, every major shooting in the US makes folks wary about traveling here. Now, even as Kansas City worked hard to win the right to host several games in the 2026 World Cup, this shooting will make hosting those games that much more difficult — and not just in Kansas City. Who wants to risk their lives for a sporting event?

This was not the first shooting involving the Chiefs. It wasn’t the first shooting of the year in Kansas City, or even the first shooting of the day in Kansas City. As one local sports talk-radio host said yesterday, Kansas City has joined the list of cities where you say the name and everyone thinks about guns and violence and death, like Uvalde or Sandy Hook. When folks say “Super Bowl rally”, it will evoke the same memories as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (which happened on Valentine’s Day six years ago!), the Pulse Nightclub, and Columbine High School. This is who we are, now.

I’ll say it again: no, Chief Graves, this *is* who we are. It’s who we are, in Kansas City and across the country. The gun in that photo above lists for the low, low price of $2999.99 at Guns.com. It is, however, out of stock. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

Until we learn to argue with one another without leaping to violence, the question is not if there will be another shooting like this, but where it will be. I’m not one of those folks who were asking “how could this happen here?” yesterday. My question is simply “Who is next?”


Corrected to note that Ralph Yarl survived being shot. I inadvertently mixed up that shooting with another event.

Trash Talk: Today’s Blowout Game

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

The score of today’s game was mind-blowing. One could reasonably expect last year’s champion to do well again this year but holy smokes.

Ireland kicked Italy’s behind so hard Italy has no dignity left, final score 36-0.

There’s more than one ball game scheduled today. The other one was part of the Guinness Six Nations‘ rugby series, the second round of six to be played by teams representing England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

Side note: I’m a bit uncomfortable referring to this series as “Six Nations” because it has been the nickname of the First Nations’ Iroquois confederacy of which Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora were members.

Same also for another marginalized group of Celtic nations, the Celtic League: Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Anyhow, the Six Nations’ series began with Round 1’s first match on February 2, and will run through the last match on March 16.

I bet there was a fair amount of revelry in Ireland today after the blowout smashing Italy.

Because it was rugby, here’s a haka performed by New Zealand’s All Blacks for last year’s World Cup:

Perfect way to prepare for the kickoff in San Francisco in a couple minutes when the Kansas City Chiefs meet their hosts the San Francisco 49ers.

This is an open thread.

Trash Talk: Embracing Your Bi as in Coastal

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

“Snacks are ready,” a text message read, including a photo of a decadent oozy appetizer overflowing with calories.

Ordinarily this kind of American excess arrives with the Super Bowl, but this year in Michigan it’s arrived with the rare NFL Conference Championship game in which the Detroit Lions meet the San Francisco 49rs at 6:30 p.m. ET in San Francisco.

I’m not understating the amount of energy the Lions’ success has spread over its home town and the state. I have a nibling who works for one of the Big Three automakers, has season tickets to the Lions, who said that their latest trip to Meijer grocery store was crazy.

Everyone was dressed in Lions’ paraphernalia and chanting “Go Lions!” at each other in greeting as they worked their way down the aisles.

My digital copy of the Detroit Free Press today is nothing but Honolulu Blue and Lions. Every beat must have a story with a Lions angle today.

Is this what it’s like when a city like Detroit, buffeted for decades by economic head winds, saddled with a football team which mirrors the economic battering, finally makes it out of the basement and wins its division?

I had to look at local newspapers for the host cities and their competitors’ home towns:


Here’s the match-up which started at 3:00 p.m. ET today in Kansas City MO. Sure looks like the Chiefs’ hometown takes today’s game in stride, as if it was just another day. Baltimore Sun devotes just over half the front page to the game with two stories — by the way, you have my sympathies, Baltimore, upon the launch of that right-wing moron Armstrong Williams’ opinion column in your paper.

Now compare and contrast the coverage in hometown papers for the Lions and the 49rs who meet at 6:30 p.m. ET today in San Francisco.

It be like that everywhere in Detroit and Michigan today, so much Honolulu Blue. SF’s paper is more excited about hosting the game for their team’s slot in the conference championship than KC is, but less so than the Freep is about the Lions appearing in SF.

There was a drone light show last night in Detroit; the Michigan Central Station was decked out in blue lights cheering on the Lions.

The biggest sign of excitement, though, is Ford Field today, where four massive screens have been set up for a watch party at which 34,000 attendees are expected.

Yes, like half the capacity of the stadium. Fox2Detroit reported,

“Tickets sold out unbelievably fast. We made an offer to our Lions Loyal Members, our season ticket holders, and then opened it up to the public,” she said. “After just a few hours, 34,000 tickets sold.”

Tickets were offered at half price or $10 each to season ticket holders. My nibling bought 10 tickets for themselves and friends, naturally.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much beer Ford Field concessions will sell today in the Power Hour before kickoff.

Damn — I just realized I screwed up thinking this was about bi-coastal championships with Baltimore on the east coast and San Francisco on the west coast.

It’s a tri-coastal day with Detroit on the northern fresh water coast. Let’s see which coasts get knocked out today.

This is an open thread.

On the Skewering of Self-Promoters Who are Filled with Misplaced Self-Importance

Note, please, the face on the 10 pound note.

I have long loved satirists who skewer those who are filled with themselves and endeavor to look better to the world than they are. It’s not enough for these folks to be themselves, but they must appear to be better than those around them. And happily for me and for the world, there are other folks who are not content to notice them, but who are quite good at holding up a mirror to them, to the delight of the world. Folks like . . .

  • Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.
  • Lily Tomlin.
  • Ben Franklin.
  • Amy Poehler and Tina Fay.
  • Michael Che and Colin Jost.
  • Tom Lehrer.
  • Gracie Allen.
  • Dick Gregory (who consciously chose as the one-word title of his autobiography a word that cannot be spoken these days!)
  • Puck and a host of political cartoonists who followed.
  • Jonathan Swift.
  • Art Buchwald.
  • Mark Twain.
  • The anonymous author of the biblical book of Jonah.
  • Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.
  • Heinrich Hoffmann.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer.

All wonderful folks, and obviously this is a very partial, very personal list. But one more name must be added, a name to whom millions will raise a wee dram tonight (or perhaps tomorrow night, if they intend more than a single wee dram and worry about getting to work on Friday): Robert Burns.

Years ago as a teenager, I took a family trip to Great Britain. We saw castles, abbeys, cathedrals, and ordinary small churches. We viewed museums, monuments, and mausoleums, looking on treasures old and new. We visited Oxford bookshops (from whence I brought home a first edition of The Silmarillion) and sports gear shops (from whence I brought home a pair of Franz Beckenbauer Special football boots). We went to Stratford-upon-Avon and saw various Shakespeare sites.

And then we got to Scotland, and the home of Robert Burns. I brought back a souvenir from there, which gets a lot more use than the now-too-small Beckenbauer Specials and even the oft-read Silmarillion: a well-used leather bookmark, with a short little poem by Burns:

The Book-worms

Through and through th’ inspir’d leaves,
Ye maggots, make your windings;
But O respect his lordship’s taste,
And spare his golden bindings.

According to literary scholars, Burns wrote this epigram inside a fancy gold-embossed, leather-bound volume of Shakespeare in a noble’s library. He had pulled the impressive looking book down from the shelf, only to find much of the insides eaten away. Taking out his poet’s pen,  he inscribed the verse above. Four simple lines, neatly skewering “his lordship’s taste” which is clearly of much more importance to his lordship than the inspir’d words of the Bard himself. As Billy Crystal’s Fernando was fond of saying, “It is better to look good than to feel good, and you look mah-vel-ous.” The book may be ruined, but the appearance of the book is what matters.

Makes me think of overly-though out Zoom setups, skewered by Room Rater on the Site Formerly Known as Twitter. There are folks whose Zoom backgrounds fit themselves like a glove (see Michael Beschloss and Claire McCaskill, to name just two well-known examples), and there are . . . others. These are the folks that sit and pontificate in front of shelves lined with impressive looking books, but after hearing what they have to say, you have to wonder whether these folks had actually read those impressive-looking books, or even knew what the basic points of those books are.

Right now, my Book-worm bookmark sits about halfway through my copy of The 1619 Project, which seems appropriate on this Robert Burns Day. Nikole Hannah-Jones and those with whom she worked on this mammoth project have taken upon themselves the task of tumbling the mighty who oversold themselves and their stories while lifting up the lowly whose lives and stories had been shoved to the margins.

So tonight (or tomorrow), let us raise a glass of Scotch Drink to Robert Burns and those like him who use their literary superpowers for good.

Feel free to add your favorite satirical poets and authors to the comments, and if you feel truly inspired, raise your glass/mug/sippy cup, and offer a toast. But as it’s a Thursday, please toast responsibly.

Photo used under CC by 2.0 deed, from the flikr account of summonedbyfells, who also includes a delightful story behind the photo. I’ll be raising a glass to summonedbyfells, too!

Boeing 737 MAX 9: The Comment Heard Around The World

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If I had any doubts this last week whether I should post about Boeing’s quality problems, a comment posted in Leeham News on January 16 convinced me the topic needs more attention. I had goosebumps several times as I read it.

Kudos to Leeham News for maintaining a comment section; it’s not easy but it’s clearly needed.

I’m not screenshotting the entire comment, only enough to convince you this is something worth reading and understanding amid a sea of layoffs and a surge of AI implementation across nearly every industry. Imagine as you read it how this could be made worse by fewer well-educated personnel and less communication between humans.

Before you scroll further, read the article which spawned the comment:

“Unplanned” removal, installation inspection procedure at Boeing

This story was published ten days after Alaska Air’s flight 1282  departed Portland OR’s PDX airport for California only to lose a door minutes later. The Boeing 737 MAX 9 safely returned to PDX roughly 20 minutes after takeoff.

The original comment both parts 1 and 2 can be found directly below the article — use keyword “throwawayboeing” to find them using Ctrl-F in your browser as many more comments have appeared since the article was first published.

If Leeham News should crash from high traffic volume or a possible attack, you can find parts 1 and 2 along with the article at the Internet Archive (keep in mind the earliest archived versions of the article may not have the comments beneath them):


An observer in my social media feed whose name I didn’t record noted that every little problem Boeing planes experience is now news. United Airlines discovering loose bolts on Boeing 737 aircraft reported only days after the Alaska Air door failure would and should have made the news; Alaska Air has also found more problems with bolts since then.

Google Trends suggests there’s some truth to the claim every Boeing problem is now news:

How many of the increased mentions are well-deserved snark is hard to say:

Well-deserved if dark. So dark. Mentions of new resources like Is My Plane A 737 MAX may also magnify Boeing’s problems in the media, but if there wasn’t a safety problem tools like this wouldn’t be seen as necessary.

Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness member Mark Warner (D-VA), and Commerce Committee ranking member Ted Cruz (R-TX) are scheduled to meet today with Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun about the aerospace manufacturer’s ongoing quality crisis.

Calhoun already met last week with the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Seems rather late after the crazy stones Boeing manifested by asking on January 5 for its 737 MAX 7 to be exempted from safety rules to allow the aircraft to fly.

Let’s hope the FAA and NTSB are focused on the quality problems at Boeing and not on the source of the comment above until the comment’s veracity is called into question. The First Amendment should protect just this kind of speech from corporate suppression given the absolute risk all passengers take when boarding a Boeing aircraft.

You’ll note the image used on the front page for this post is a Boeing 737 — but it’s a military craft. Boeing is a federal contractor. If workers can’t safely blow the whistle on manufacturing quality problems with aircraft our defense personnel and our elected officials rely on, purchased with our taxpayer dollars, what good is the First Amendment?

~ ~ ~

What all of this has to do with labor is fairly clear in the original article published in Leeham News. I can’t add more to what’s been written.

But all of this could be worse in time depending on how Boeing addresses solutions in concert with cost controls.

One thing the public should know more about is the impact AI will have in manufacturing environments, especially ones in which both adherence to specifications and safety are tightly linked.

Four days after the Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max 9 lost its door mid-air, there was a report about a vulnerability found in Bosch brand cordless, handheld pneumatic torque wrenches which are used in the automotive industry. The wrenches are programmed to ensure nuts are tightened to specification and operate using Wi-Fi.

What are the chances that similar vulnerabilities may exist or be introduced into aerospace manufacturing, compounded by the increasing amounts of AI used in automation?

Let’s say a certain aerospace manufacturer gets its shit together and fixes its corporate culture and procedures so that all parts are tracked and all actions and omissions are likewise accounted for and documented as it builds aircraft.

What could happen if the no-longer-missing bolts are over- or under-tightened because of a vulnerability like the one in Bosch’s Rexroth’s NXA015S-36V-B wrenches?

It’s not enough to analyze and remedy existing quality and safety problems; future problems must be anticipated at the same time.

~ ~ ~

Since I began drafting this post this morning, The Seattle Times has reported on Boeing’s door problem, mentioning the comment left at Leeham News. You’ll want to follow up with this story as aerospace manufacturing is journalist Dominic Gates beat; he’s covered other similar stories like the ongoing Boeing 737 challenge.

In fact, if you read the comments at Leeham News you’ll see Gates as well.

Yet another example of why well-moderated news sites’ comments can be important.

This is NOT an open post. Please stay on topic in comments.

Trash Talk: Hot January in the D

[NB: note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Though 25F and cloudy in the D, it’s hot today where Detroit Lions’ fans are stoked out of their gourds because their beloved Kitties won their first NFL’s playoff game last week and are scheduled to play their second at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon on their own turf.

Michigan newspapers are loaded with helpful pointers about where to eat and drink with one paper in particular offering the recipe for a Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid cocktail, matching the color of the Lions’ uniform. Absolut Citron and blue curacao? I’m game, I’d try it.

Of course there’s the usual bad mouthing about Detroit. Can’t let the Motor City and the Arsenal of Democracy have anything good without a healthy slap, right, WaPo? Let’s not allow Detroiters to have a rare moment of unbridled happiness without picking at all the wounds.

At least WaPo had to get a lot closer to ensure there was a forced both-sides. Ruin porn on which major newspapers have feasted for the last 10-20 years is a lot more difficult to come by these days in the D. One only needs to look at the Michigan Central Station as an example of restoration and innovation replacing one of media’s favorite ruins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet the Detroit Lions at 3:00 p.m. in the D.

Kansas City Chiefs meet the Bills at 6:30 p.m. in Buffalo.

Yesterday the San Francisco 49ers won at home over the Green Bay Packers 24-21.

The Baltimore Ravens likewise won at home over the Texas Longhorns, 34-10.

Let’s see if home field advantage likewise helps the Kitties today.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of the KC Chiefs, some stalkery dude tried to break into Taylor Swift’s place in TriBeca; he’d been skulking around her place for weeks trying to see her. Swift is still dating the Chief’s tight end Travis Kelce which should make the Chiefs’ game in Buffalo more amusing due to the extra star power in the audience.

~ ~ ~

In football – the other football – racist fans have gotten completely out of hand. FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino wants to crack down on the abusive behavior asking teams to forfeit if their fans are disruptively racist.

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable,” Infantino added. “The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support. Fifa and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination.

“Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!” the head of world football’s governing body added. “We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.”

Yeah. That. Ditto.

Infantino’s demand comes after racist incidents during Coventry City FC at Sheffield FC on January 17 and AC Milan FC at Udinese FC on January 20. Both incidents were aimed at Black players – Coventry’s midfielder Kasey Palmer and AC Milan’s goalkeeper Mike Maignan – with the latter walking off the pitch at one point in protest.

It’s not a good look for FIFA when these incidents happened within days of each other and in different countries in and out of the EU.

~ ~ ~

Damn it. I just realized I made a mistake. My spouse and I agreed I’d cook dinner yesterday and he’d bring home fried chicken for dinner today.

Betting with the Lions’ game he’s ensconced at his favorite watering hole with his friends right now after a couple hours in the office, and getting fried chicken tonight will be a nightmare since so many Michiganders will be ordering takeout to watch the game.

Looks like it’s leftovers tonight.

Treat this like an open thread.

Breathing Room: They Live On

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s blustery and bitterly cold here today after the two-day snow we had in Michigan – perfect weather for queueing up an old film.

Perfect political weather, too, for a movie I have long adored and have wanted to re-watch.

I can’t recall what kept me away at the time but I missed the anniversary celebration this past autumn of an important John Carpenter film.

Halloween, you’re probably thinking. Nope, never seen it, not about to break down now and watch it. Not my kind of horror film.

What I missed seeing re-screened in the theater was They Live which first released 35 years ago November 1988.

There’s a lot of critical analysis published online about this multi-genre science fiction action horror film which has become a cult classic over time. One of the best pieces of criticism isn’t online but in text by Jonathan Lethem, They Live: A Novel Approach to Cinema (Deep Focus).

“But it’s a cheesy B-movie with a wrestler as lead, what the heck gives?” you may be thinking.

Yes, I admit, it’s not The Unbearable Lightness of Being, or The Accused, or even Die Hard, all of which also released the same year. But They Live had something important to say which transcended its time.

Contrast and compare to Die Hard, about which more people spend time arguing if it’s a Christmas movie or not, versus They Live’s anti-capitalist message.

This one image encapsulates the challenge main character Nada (played by Roddy Piper) is up against as he tries to wake his fellow humans:

Screenshot from They Live (1988), by director John Carpenter via Universal Pictures

If fascism is defined as government of, by, and for business, these messages – WORK, WATCH TELEVISION, SURRENDER, BUY, THIS IS YOUR GOD, REPRODUCE, CONFORM, YIELD, STAY ASLEEP, CONSUME, and above all, OBEY — aren’t just capitalist.

They’re fascist.

They Live is a profoundly anti-fascist film which relied on common men – a nobody drifter named Nothing in Spanish, a Black blue-collar co-worker, and a neighborhood preacher – take on forces which have subsumed humanity into a form of unwaking slavery in which dominant authority figures are not human.

Was Carpenter prescient?

There have been plenty of negative critiques about They Live, claiming Carpenter didn’t go far and deep enough with his topic, that his approach was too shallow and populist, inconsistent.

Not to mention the 5-1/2 minute long fight scene between Nada (Piper) and his co-worker Frank Armitage (Keith David). Too long, too violent, too crude, not relevant, you name it — there was some criticism about it.

And yet that fight scene still garners intense conversation decades later having stood out as punctuation in the film. Two of the proletariat fight each other, one intent on trying to save the other from the sleep walking state of submission. Is this what it will take to persuade those who’ve been brainwashed from their anti-woke Qanon’d MAGAted possession, a virtual emotional and psychic slugfest to get them to wake up and smell the fascist coffee?

Or does Carpenter tell us we’ll need to get our hands dirty, talk with the possessed where they live in Red America?

You can stream They Live now on STARZ, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, and more. I should have bought a copy of this film a long time ago for my library.

What about you? What are you going to watch this snowy Sunday, or tomorrow on the federal holiday observing MLK Jr. Day?

Share in comments. Treat this as an open thread.

Welcome to 2024: New Little Habits, New Little Hopes

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

― D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928)

I let our side down yesterday observing the year’s first holiday. My mind has been chock full, too full to pull out anything cogent. I’m still not certain this essay will make much sense. It may look more like shards of stale cookies shaken out of an overstuffed jar.

Part of the challenge has been all that has happened this past year. There’s too much going on my life right now, an attestation to the craziness of the sandwich generation. Helping adult children establish themselves while helping elderly parents in their final descent can be a bit much. Hats off to all of you who’ve negotiated this stage of life without appearing in handcuffs on local or cable news because damn. I don’t know how you did it.

My sibling who has borne the brunt of caring for my parents has adopted a colorful label for the daily eldercare circus – a fuck show.

“What a fuck show,” they said, pounding their fist into their thigh as they punctuated what they’ve had to do to keep their sanity and avoid going postal. Every day is like a blow; every day requires the distraction of self-administered pain to redirect one’s focus.

When we got together this past month for a download on my parents’ condition and what will happen next, my sibling brought a fifth of a funky flavored vodka they’d recently sampled with their young adult son. My nephew liked it as did his buddies, but at his age they’ll drink almost anything without much discernment.

Sibling pulled out the bottle, asking me to try it and give my opinion. Smirnoff’s Spicy Tamarind Vodka, the bottle read, a bright and colorful design wrapped around the entire bottle. What the hell, I thought. It offered a decent break from the ongoing hours-long discussion about my parents’ version of the Divine Comedy. We arrived at the circle of hell where oddball alcoholic beverages might be welcome.

Welcome, but skeptically so. Tamarind is a popular flavoring used in Central and South America; the festive label’s design reflected Mexican cultural with skulls – a Dia del los Muertos theme.

It was rather fitting, considering the topics we’d been discussing. Illness and death were prominent themes throughout the previous couple of hours, including including a goofy story about a local Catholic priest trying to encourage use of their church’s cemetery over that of another parish.

Bring on the tamarind vodka, by all means.

It was funky – tart, a little tingly, a faintly herbaceous flavor which was both familiar and strange. We both agreed that unlike my nephew this wasn’t something we could drink straight.

“But what the hell do you do with it? I’ve never heard of tamarind before,” sibling asked. I’m more familiar with tamarind as a flavoring in southeast and central Asian foods, but not in any dishes or beverages I’ve prepared.

“What the hell do we have to lose?” I said. “Let me experiment with it.” I threw together a few things and ended up with a highly palatable beverage which lubricated our remaining now-darkly funny download.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a new cocktail: The Fuck Show.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix:

1 jigger hibiscus syrup
1-2 jiggers hibiscus tea
6 dashes cranberry bitters
1 jigger tamarind vodka

Shake and strain into a martini glass.

For a Fuck Show North, pour the above mixture over a highball glass filled with ice and top with lemon -flavored sparkling water. Stir and serve.

Yes, there’s a Fuck Show North, a complement to Fuck Show South which my sibling handles. My father-in-law is a competitive son of a bitch, one who has refused his entire life to be bested without a fight. There was plenty to discuss about that gentleman’s terminal velocity taking my household with him.

Sibling and I drank several of these newfangled cocktails and managed to laugh our asses off, looking more like those grinning death’s heads on the tamarind vodka bottle.

I raise this fresh cocktail I’ve poured myself as a nightcap to my sibling whose thigh must be permanently bruised from each blow they’ve applied rather than take out their frustration on others.

This icy cold Fuck Show is for you, sib. May 2024 treat us better in spite of the reality that all things tend toward increasing entropy.

We live in hope.

~ ~ ~

Look, we need to be frank with ourselves about the road ahead into 2024. It looks murky as hell.

There will be all kinds of prognostications claiming disaster is imminent on the other side of that murk for Democrats, documented by anecdotes obtained from people in flyover country.

The truth is disaster is certain if you fucking give up, if you buy into bullshit prepared by a failed media ecosystem which exists solely to make a profit and not to serve the public’s best interests or further democracy through which it has prospered.

If you’re going to give up, step aside and get out of the goddamned way.

The truth is far more complex than corporate-owned U.S. media will convey. Major outlets coverage of Trump’s crooked behavior over the course of his lifetime superbly exemplifies their inability to effectively communicate threats to the public and their own interests. You’ve seen here at this site many examples of what they’ve not covered, omitted, or distorted.

George Santos is another example of Big Media’s failings; the man should never have been elected to office but the biggest New York city and state newspaper couldn’t be bothered. Rep. Elise Stefanik should have been and should still be hammered in the media for her support of Santos which legitimized him in the public’s eye.

The rest of the corporate media’s coverage is the same save for a few bright, brave exceptions.

The truth is there will be surprises the corporate media will do a shitty job covering because corporate media is locked into narratives, the same ones they have relied on for decades. Their business model increasingly under pressure by vulture capitalists, they stick to what has worked in the past because it’s predictable.

Dig deeper. Read more broadly. Support smaller local media outlets like The North Shore Leader which covered Santos’ sketchiness The New York Times ignored.

Don’t overlook outlets abroad which had good reputations for thorough and unbiased reporting. In the age of the internet with translation capability at your fingertips, it’s absurd not to look outside of the U.S. news rut for a different perspective.

No matter what you read, act. Make a plan and act. I’ve said it before a number of times here that it can be surprising how little it takes to become a leader – in this country’s political system, they’re the people who show up and do the work. That’s it, that’s all it takes to make change happen. Show up, do the work.

But, but, but…there are no buts. Find a way to show up. Can’t do it physically in person? Then find a way to make calls, emails, send texts, bake and contribute goods for bake sales, whatever.

For Christ’s sake, fucking lick envelopes. I have literally spent days stuffing and sealing envelopes for a Democratic Party club. Just show up, ask what needs to be done, and do it.

We are heading into the toughest part of an existential fight for this democracy. It’s going to be an ugly, messy fuck show. Plan on it — bring gloves, sanitizer, wear safety glasses and masks and good walking shoes. And then do the work to beat back the fascists.

For some of us it really is a matter of life and death – how many women will die due to complications from a pregnancy they couldn’t end? How many trans persons will give up because they are unable to live life as normal human beings with autonomy over their bodies? How many persons will die from COVID this coming year because of right-wing propaganda supported by elected GOP officials? How many futures will be shortened because children today may not get the food, health care, and education they need, their families couldn’t obtain shelter to protect them?

I’ll repeat myself again, having said this after a painful election:

You want to keep your republic? I’ll tell you what I tell my kids: YOU HAVE TO WANT IT BADLY. And then you fucking find a way to make a contribution beyond showing up to vote. Democracy isn’t easy and neither am I.

Let’s fucking go, people. Let’s hit the road and tear into 2024 like we want a viable future badly.

This is an open thread.

Advent Week 4: The End of Stollen Time

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Our rooms were bugged, our phones were tapped, and our lawyer’s rooms were broken into and their files stolen. We finally had to hire armed guards with pistols to be able to maintain our records. It was hard to believe we weren’t in Russia.

Jimmy Hoffa, Hoffa: The Real Story (1975)

While browsing for reading material related to stolen items, I ran across this excerpt. I’m adding the above book to my To Be Read list just because of that excerpt.

In retrospect, stealing documents seems very much a thing of a certain time – like the Pentagon Papers (1969-1971) and the attempted photocopying of DNC documents at the Watergate hotel (1972).

When were the Teamsters’ lawyers’ files stolen? Was it during the Kennedy admin during the prosecution of Hoffa, or the Nixon administration? I don’t recall much about organized labor history during that period having been just a kid at the time. When it came to news I was more preoccupied with the Vietnam war, civil rights, and space exploration. I feel now like I missed something important that shaped the psyche of Donald Trump and his cohort.

Donald’s father Fred Trump was eight years older than Jimmy Hoffa. Roger Stone, who is six years younger than Donald, cut his ratfucking teeth on Nixon’s campaign. It’s not far fetched to imagine Trump’s brain molded by the means, methods, and events used when he was in his twenties.

Should we have been surprised that Trump continued to use the same means and methods throughout his career like stealing classified documents when we’d long heard about his eavesdropping via phone systems in his condo and resort developments?

Perhaps the problem has been the reaction to his use of DARVO, chronically accusing the targets of his animus of that which he has done. Too much time and energy has been spent trying to defend against his accusations instead of taking those accusations as an indicator of Trump’s misdeeds. In other words,

Trump loudly claimed the election was stolen = Trump was stealing it.

Trump loudly claimed documents were his = Trump had stolen them.

Unfortunately the media isn’t conditioned to assume the reverse; instead the media parrots the false claims, amplifying them to the detriment of the ones most harmed by Trump’s theft/attempted theft.

The media still hasn’t digested the fact one of its own — Fox News — engaged in defamatory false news as part of Trump’s DARVO-driven model. If Fox News is reporting something about Trump as straight news, shouldn’t the rest of the media ratchet up their skepticism? Isn’t the dispersion of falsehoods news itself deserving coverage when it can shape an entire government, and not merely ignored because Fox is the competition?

Has common sense in journalism been stolen along with classified documents?

How should we the media consuming public address this as we head into another presidential election year? We have only days before the season begins in earnest.

~ ~ ~

I was reminded this week of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong..

Guess who was exposed to COVID on December 21, four days before Christmas? Two days before a family gathering?

Before I could attempt another batch of stollen?

I’ve tested negative so far but I had to wear a mask during the gathering with family. Climate change was a blessing; it was warm enough for me to eat my dinner outside on the deck while the family ate indoors.

Perhaps I’ll be fortunate and not actually develop COVID. I got the latest vaccine the week before Thanksgiving and I’ve continued to wear an N95 mask whenever I’m out in shared public spaces.

But a friend I saw on Thursday had likewise been masked up as they traveled on Sunday December 17 and still got COVID.

More of you travelers need to wear masks, that’s all there is to it. One person alone in an airport the size of O’Hare can’t fend off the virus when everyone else refuses to take any precautions.

Anyhow, a test first thing tomorrow morning will dictate what happens the rest of Christmas Day. A visit with a family member who is alone and afflicted with cancer hinges on this test.

If Murphy wants to press the point about shit happening, tomorrow morning here will be the time and place.

Perhaps I didn’t need to go looking for material about things stolen. The holiday has been stolen from many of us thanks to the ongoing pandemic too many people want to pretend ended.

~ ~ ~

And now to things stollen.

This was not a raging success. It was close, but not quite. Somehow I missed the perfect time to add the alcohol-imbued dried fruits to the dough and they ended up drifting toward the outside of the loaf. Next time I’ll roll the dough out, sprinkle it with the fruits, roll up the dough as I would for cinnamon rolls, and let the fruit form a swirl. The technique was fine in the previous mango-pineapple version.

I also did a boo-boo and failed to remove the loaves when they reached 180F-185F degrees internal temperature, not 190F. My new digital thermometer might also be a little touchy and read a bit lower than the actual temp. Whatever the case, these loaves weren’t quite as moist as I would have liked.

Not a winner of the stollen election, but this entrant will make an excellent French toast on Christmas morning just hours from now. The mixture of cranberries, figs, apricots, and apples with the cardamom-scented bread will be tasty – no advance experimentation necessary to know.

~ ~ ~

Here we are, the advent season has now ended in Eastern and Central time zones; only a handful of hours separate all of us from the Christmas holiday.

We’ve already passed through the darkest night this past week – damn it, I just realized I was exposed to COVID on the winter solstice, how dark indeed. But days are now longer already, the dark of night shorter by minutes as each date passes.

What fruit-laden baked good won the stollen election in your opinion as we counted down the remaining days of the season? What did you bake or eat which made the holidays brighter for you and yours? Share in this open thread below.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, hope your holiday season is restful and restorative.