Pedal to the Metal, and other expressions for speed

Pedal to the Metal

I’m drivin’ a truck
Drivin’ a big ol’ truck
Pedal to the metal, hope I don’t run out of luck
Rollin’ down the highway until the break of dawn
Drivin’ a truck with my high heels on

Weird Al Yankovic, “Truck Driving Song”

The origin of this phrase is pretty irrelevant because it’s so obvious – you’ve got your accelerator pedal pressed down as far as it will go, all the way to the firewall.

Put the Hammer Down

This is essentially equivalent to “pedal to the metal.” It also appears in Weird Al’s lovely tribute to truckers:

My diesel rig is northward bound
It’s time to put that hammer down
Just watchin’ as the miles go flyin’ by
I’m ridin’ 20-tons of steel
But it’s sure hard to hold the wheel
While I’m still waiting for my nails to dry

Weird Al Yankovic, “Truck Driving Song”

Other expressions for speed are not as straightforward.

Balls to the Wall

Despite how you might be tempted to sexualize this phrase, it has nothing to do with enthusiastic reproduction. It’s an aviation term, originating at least from the ’60s and probably much earlier.

Notice the throttles with their round handles; when you have the need for speed, push those babies all the way to the control panel. Now one thing I learned when I was taking flying lessons in Key West in 1972 is that typically you shove those throttles forward when you want to go up; if you want to go faster, you point your nose down to reduce drag. That may seem counter-intuitive, but you get used to it. And you learn to juggle the two in such a way that you can put the plane where you want it to go, and at the speed you want at the same time.

Balls Out

Again, nothing to do with Harambe. Oh wait, that’s another expression. Well, still – this one is the steam engine version of “balls to the wall.” Old trains and industrial steam engines were equipped with centrifugal governors to regulate the speed of the device being controlled.

Those balls would spin around, and the faster they went, the farther out they would go because of centrifugal (or centripital, I dunno, dammit Jim I’m a linguist not an engineer) force, pulling a linkage to adjust the amount of steam being sent to the prime mover. So when the engine was going as fast as it could, those governor balls would be out as far as they could go, hence “balls out.”

Both Ears Down

This is an oldie but a goodie. If you’re not of a certain age, or an antique automobile enthusiast, you probably won’t be able to make heads or tails of this one.

The steering column of a Ford Model-T had two levers, one on either side.

Frontenac Auto Company

The one on the left adjusted the spark, and the one on the right was the throttle. In other words, the one on the right was your “gas pedal,” and the one on the left manually adjusted the timing of the spark (this was in a day before the self-adjusting distributor was invented.)

So the faster you went, the more you had to advance the spark to avoid engine knock, meaning both levers were gradually pulled downward as speed increased. Exactly how this was done is shown in the following schematic:

Notice that for maximum speed, (upper right-hand corner) both levers were down as far as they could go. Hence, “both ears down” came to mean pushing your brand-new Model-T to the max.

Rattle your dags

This one is exclusively Australian. Dags are matted clumps of wool and dung that hang off a sheep’s rear end… huge dingleberries, if you will. When a daggy sheep gets to running, those undulating gems make a rattling sound. Dag is descended from the British Daglock which was a dialect term borrowed into Australian English in the 1870’s. It essentially means “get a move on,” or “hurry up.”

I’m sure there are a lot of expressions out there that I don’t know, but these are some that always stuck in my mind.

The Old Wolf has spoken.¹


Footnotes

¹ Note: I’ve been saying this a lot longer than Kuiil has, but not as long as Chien Jaune.

For the Ward Clerks out there

If you happened to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the ’60s and were ever called as a Ward Clerk, or one of the assistant clerks – Historical, Financial, or Membership – you may remember the old Adler 200 typewriters.¹

Long before the advent of computers or word processors or even IBM Selectrics or Daisy-wheel typewriters, Adler was the go-to brand if you wanted a typewriter with an unusual font. I don’t know how many Adlers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased over time, but I’d bet they kept a lot of factory workers and typewriter repair personnel in business for decades.

The LDS Adler had a specific keyboard layout, as well: you didn’t have to shift for numbers (because they were used mostly for entering financial records) and symbols were on additional keys.

The font that came with these machines was OCR-A, a font created in 1968, in the early days of computer optical character recognition, when there was a need for a font that could be recognized not only by the computers of that day, but also by humans.” (Wikipedia) It looked like this:

In the case of financial donations, members would fill out donation slips (being admonished to always write their names the same way each time):

and clerks would painstakingly transcribe these slips onto a ledger sheet on the typewriter, which was then sent by snail mail to headquarters where the records were scanned and entered into mainframe databases. Other information was also recorded using these machines, which were built like Sherman tanks, and like a Timex watch they would “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.”

Ward clerks often served for extended periods of time; whereas service callings in the Church today generally only last a few years, back in the day it was not uncommon for a clerk to serve for decades, especially if he did a good job.

The Ward Clerk

He kept the minutes, typed each note,
And put them in the file.
The membership he knew by rote;
He labored with a smile.

The ordinations, births and deaths
He faithfully recorded
For forty years, until at last
He went to be rewarded.

The people he had known so well
Turned out to shed a tear,
And pay respect to this good man,
Gone to another sphere.

But as the choir rose to sing,
They saw with consternation
The good man from his coffin step
To count the congregation!

-Author Unknown

It is said in the navy that the Captain may command the ship, but the E-7’s (Chief petty officers) keep the show running. Much the same could be said about a ward or branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Bishop or Branch President may be in charge, but the ward clerks keep the wheels greased and everything running smoothly so the leaders can focus on ministering rather than administering.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ The typewriter photos used in this post are from typewriter hunter Jake Fisher at the Typewriter Database.

Vaccine denial is still a thing… and it’s killing people.

Jason Chatfield, The New Yorker

People can believe whatever they want. They can preach it from the street corners, or on TV, or the radio, or the Internet. Flog your religion, be a vegan. Most beliefs are lifestyle choices and are pretty harmless. But some things cross the line, and vaccine misinformation is one of them. And it enrages me that this is still a thing, even after all these years.

This popped up on my Facebook feed just yesterday:

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in you [Babylon]; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in you: for your merchants were the great men of the earth; for by your sorceries [aka pharmakeia!] were all nations DECEIVED.Revelation 18:23I have warned about this way before it came out, but PLEASE, just say NO to cv vaccine. 😭🙏
Inform yourself of the ingredients:
mRNA
Luciferase
Hydrogel
Aborted fetal cells
Toxic chemicals & poisons
Don’t take my word for it.
Research it yourself.

In the case of wild, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and science denial, “research it yourself” is equivalent to “watch the YouTube video that supports my position.” Because that’s not how science works.

So let’s look at the actual ingredients in Pfizer’s vaccine:

  • Active Ingredient
    • nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2
  • Lipids
    • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015)
    • (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159)
    • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC)
    • cholesterol
  • Salts
    • potassium chloride
    • monobasic potassium phosphate
    • sodium chloride
    • basic sodium phosphate dihydrate 
  • Other
    • sucrose

mRNA: ✓. That’s how the vaccine works, and it’s quite miraculous. Instead of injecting the body with dead or living virus so the immune system can ramp up to deal with a future real attack, it teaches the body how to build the part of the virus that attaches to our cells, so when a real virus attacks us, the immune system recognizes that protein spike and goes after the invaders. That’s crazy cool, and it’s completely harmless because no actual virus gets anywhere near the patient.

luciferase: ✘ Luciferase is one of two chemicals fireflies use to attract mates, and it has nothing to do with Lucifer. The roots of this word are Latin: “lux, lucis” meaning “light,” and “fer-” from the verb “to carry” whose principle parts are ferro, ferre, tuli, and latus. Hence “a substance that carries light.” Now, “Lucifer” is basically the same word, and the wanker is described in the Bible as an angel of light who fell from heaven. But there’s none of him in the vaccine. According to Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, a neuroscientist and priest in the Fall River, MA diocese:

Luciferase, an enzyme involved in firefly illumination, is being used in various testing and development stages ahead of the production of a COVID-19 vaccine, but is not itself part of the injected material included in human vaccinations. Luciferase is a commonly used biomedical research tool, and has been used, for example, in lab animals to study the most effective way to deliver mRNA vaccines, whether by an injection into the skin, muscle or a vein. (emphasis mine).

Click for more from Fr. Tad.

Remember the game of “telephone” that you played in grade school? It goes by other names, too – but you sit in a circle and the first person whispers something into the ear of the person next to them, like “Johnny kissed Mary under the apple tree.” And you can’t ask for a repeat or clarification. (This rule was called “no operator!” if I remember correctly.) And by the time it gets back to the last person, what comes out is completely different, like “My mother made apple pie for Thanksgiving.” This is how rumors spread and become twisted. Because very few people are trained in critical thinking, and people don’t understand what “doing research” really entails. They hear things from people they know, and repeat them in mommy groups or around water coolers or at football games or on the Internet, and all of a sudden the Pfizer vaccine contains the Devil, because sadly – in far too many cases – religious belief trumps anything based on centuries of scientific research.

hydrogel ✘ Hydrogels have many uses, including “injectable hydrogels which can be used as drug carriers for treatment of diseases or as cell carriers for regenerative purposes or tissue engineering.” That said, none are being used in Covid-19 vaccinese. This is an unsubstantiated myth.

aborted fetal cells ✘ From the University of Nebraska:

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use, neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines during the development or production phases. (So, no fetal cell lines were used to manufacture the vaccine, and they are not inside the injection you receive from your doctor.)

To be clear:

Fetal cell lines are not the same as tissue from aborted fetuses. Fetal cell lines are cells that grow in a laboratory. They descend from cells taken from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s. Those individual cells from the 1970s and 1980s have since multiplied into many new cells over the past four or five decades, creating fetal cell lines. Current fetal cell lines are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue. 

This is a standard scare tactic used by the religious right, linking anything that they are afraid of to abortion – one of their favorite hot-button issues.

Toxic chemicals and poisons ✘ To many who view science as a product of the Devil, anything they can’t understand or can’t pronounce is “toxic poison.”

Far too many proponents of natural health repeat this claim far and wide on the Internet and in published works. But let’s look at the “toxic chemicals and poisons” which make up an organic blueberry:

Every bit of food that we eat is made up of chemicals, many of which you would have to be an organic chemist to understand or pronounce. Look closely, and you’ll find that most of these health-oriented websites are linked to something that they want to sell you: a supplement, a product, or a service.

The lipids and salts used in the Pfizer vaccine are there as lubrication to encase the mRNA and ease its passage into our system, or as preservatives to prevent its degradation before it can be effective.

The Pfizer vaccine contains four salts, one of which is ordinary table salt. Together, these salts are better known as phosphate-buffered saline, or PBS, a very common ingredient that keeps the pH, or acidity, of the vaccine close to that of a person’s body. You’ll understand how important that is if you’ve ever squeezed lemon juice on a cut. Substances with the wrong acidity can injure cells or get quickly degraded.

Sucrose ✓ Sugar. It’s there to keep the mRNA particles from sticking together when the vaccine is frozen. No danger to the human system, especially given how much sugar we humans like to consume.

In addition to the massive amount of testing that went in to the development of these vaccines, all of the real ingredients in the vaccine are present in such minuscule amounts as to render them entirely innocuous. Beyond that, there’s nothing in the Pfizer vaccine that people (unjustifiably) scream about – no mercury, no thimerosal, and no microchips.

Just as a matter of passing interest, here’s my vaccination schedule:

DPT Vaccine
1st11/13/1951
2nd11/27/1951
3rd12/11/1951
1st Booster4/8/1961
Polio
1st12/18/1955
2nd1/11/1956
3rd10/8/1956
4th8/1958
5th4/14/1961
Smallpox
1st1951
2nd4/14/1961

As a result of these vaccines, I survived childhood with only chicken pox, German measles, and mumps – and didn’t die from easily preventable diseases. And over the course of my life I’ve had many other vaccines, including TB, Tetanus boosters, Yellow Fever, influenza, shingles, and a host of others. And I’m still alive, and I’m no more autistic than I was when I was born twitch twitch (that was a joke, folks. I suffer from ADHD but it has nothing to do with vaccinations.)

Now it’s time to repeat something that shouldn’t have to be repeated, but sadly does: vaccines don’t cause autism, and they don’t poison people

This viral image enraged a scientist who published this response (his screen name is kinda crude, so I don’t want to use it here, but it’s out there if you need to find it, and I have only slightly bowdlerized his or her essay):

You are the worst person.

You can be a vegan and whine at people, that’s hurting nobody but when you tell people to not take vaccines, you’re endangering public health.

If YOU mixed mercury, aluminium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, formaldehyde and viruses and injected it into someone, you’d kill someone because you have no pharmacological experience. 

If someone in a lab mixed those together, they know how they work, they have medically assessed and peer reviewed evidence and strict guidelines to follow to create a safe and effective product. Why is it legal? Because they know what they’re doing and know how to spell “phosphate” and “ammonium”.

Why don’t YOU educate yourself instead of subscribing to the notion that all scientists are evil and want to poison you are your natural, vegan lifestyle. I say this as an IMMUNOLOGIST, you are single-handedly responsible for the skyrocketing resurgence of deaths caused by TB, measles and the worrying prospect of smallpox returning.

Let’s break this one down and give you some education.

Mercury is an element in the compound thiomersal which was part of many vaccines. It has been claimed with NO tangible evidence other than a multifaceted correlation that thiomersals cause autism. This has been investigated thoroughly and no causal link has been found.

Aluminium phosphate is an aluminium salt which is used as an adjuvant in vaccines. An adjuvant is a compound which causes an immune response to be higher and stronger, so that the immune system comes into contact with the attenuated virus more, so that it can recognise the antigens of the virus and provide immunity. They are a necessary part of the vaccine if you want it to work well.

Ammonium sulfate is used in the process of purifying the proteins in the synthesis of a vaccine. It is also found in bread and flour, so you’d better learn to enjoy rice if you want to avoid it.

Formaldehyde is used in the treatment and purification of vaccines and stops contamination. Most of this is removed before the vaccines is shipped, although some remains.

In my personal and scientifically backed opinion, the war against disease is a hundred fold more important than the mum-led war against vaccines. Do you want your child to die a slow, painful, agonising death? If not, then shut up with your so called “facts” you got from Yahoo Answers and get your kid vaccinated.

I am going to sound derogatory, but if you don’t have formal education in at least biology, you have no role to talk about the way vaccines should be done. You have no idea of the actual function and mechanism in which they work, and you have is a vague knowledge that mercury used to make people mad, formaldehyde is used in embalming and that ammonium sulfate and aluminium phosphate sound scary.

Vaccinate your kids if you want them to live. End of. If you don’t then you clearly don’t love your kids and would prefer to see them die of completely preventable diseases.

This has been a rage filled, alcohol induced response from a scientist.

To say it again: VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM.

So I didn’t “take your word for it,” and I “researched it myself.” And came up with a bunch of baseless lies, misrepresentations, and scare tactics. And by encouraging the susceptible not to take the Covid vaccine, you’re killing people.

Your move.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes:

¹ Human genetics and chemistry are so complex that no medication is without possible risk or side effect for someone in the general population. I would be a fool to say that nobody has ever had adverse responses up to and including death from some vaccine or medication. But when one is dealing with wide societal health issues, the concept of risk/benefit has to be considered.

If the MMR vaccine protects countless, numberless children (and later adults) from crippling or even fatal diseases, and there’s a one in a million chance that a child will respond adversely to a vaccination, is that a reason to tell people not to take the vaccine? The loss or injury of a child to its parents and loved ones is incalculable and should never be minimized – but how many lives have been saved, and how much disease averted, by the simple act of keeping a population protected?

The “Lonely Hearts” scam

Messages like this may pop up in your Facebook messenger feed, or on any other social media channel. People who are lonely might actually respond, in which case they will be groomed for personal information or asked for money once a “relationship” is established.

Hallmarks of this particular scam are bad grammar and formatting, flattery, and requests for assistance.

These are not people looking for love, they are scammers and criminals. They want your money or your personal information. Shun them. Delete their messages. Never answer.

A more detailed explanation of this type of scam can be found at Pathways Financial Credit Union.

HELLO DEAR.
My name is Miss Marvis Gaasu.
I am glad to meet you here; Please, write me in this email id.(obfuscated@yahoo.com).
It very important.i wait your reply fast,Or you send me your email address,i will send you my photos and details your email address. Thanks.

If you respond, those photos they send you will most likely be stock pictures lifted from the internet.

Hello dear friend i am Kate Brown by name,i am interested to be your true friend.please I will like you to reply me with my email (katebrown4@yahoo.com ) so that i can send you my own information for us to know each other very well. Thanks bye. obfuscated@yahoo.com ❤ ❤

Interesting that all these scammers are using yahoo addresses. That’s another red flag.

Hello new friend,
greeting to you. How was your days and health? Hope all is well with you. My name is Miss Favour Mercy, I am a female. I am interested in you after going through your profile on facebook, and i decided to contact you. I would like to get acquaint with you, As well to know you better. Please write me back through this email address: (obfuscated@yahoo .com) so that i can send you my picture and let you know more about me. Write me on my email address, because i do not use facebook very often, If you contact me on facebook, you may not probably get any reply from me. I am eager to hear from you soonest! Thanks for your answer: Yours new friend Miss Favour Mercy.

If you contact the scammer on Facebook, it’s very likely that their profile has already been deleted as being fraudulent.

Protect your vulnerable loved ones from this sort of thermonuclear douchebaggery.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Enjoy your eternity, Scammers.

Lessons from a Danish Hearing

We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.

The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.


I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.

First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?

The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.

Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤

Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.

Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!

This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?

I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.

This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.

Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.

In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.

A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.

I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.

  • As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
  • Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
  • We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
  • The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
  • Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:

A new day dawns in America

For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.

Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹

I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:

David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.

There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:

We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.

Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.

The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.

May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.

Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.

Halliburton takes a page from Robin Cook’s “Fatal Cure”

Cross-posted from a LiveJournal post on Sep. 16th, 2012

So yes, this is an old story, but it came up because I was once again looking for a particular quote about Cobalt-60, and Google gave me my own post as the first search result. That’s always a titillating feeling.

In the closing pages of Robin Cook’s Fatal Cure, we learn that the evil hospital administrator bastards who have been killing people with massive doses of gamma radiation (because they were using too many hospital resources) come to a satisfyingly karmic end.


Scanning the cluttered conference table, David spotted the source instantly. It was a cylinder about a foot long whose diameter matched the size of the bore in the treatment arm he’d examined only minutes ago. Several Teflon rings were embedded in its circumference. On its top was a locking pin. The cylinder was standing upright next to a model of a parking garage just as Van Slyke had indicated.

David started for the cylinder, clutching a lead apron in both hands.

“Stop!” Traynor yelled.

Before David could get to the cylinder, Caldwell leapt to his feet and grabbed David around his chest.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” Caldwell demanded.

“I’m trying to save all of you if it isn’t too late,” David said.

“Let him go,” Angela cried.

“What are you talking about?” Traynor demanded.

David nodded toward the cylinder. “I’m afraid you have been having your meeting around a cobalt-60 source.”

Cantor leaped to his feet; his chair tipped over backward. “I saw that thing,” he cried. “I wondered what it was.” Saying no more, he turned and fled from the room.

A stunned Caldwell relaxed his grip. David immediately lunged across the table and snatched up the brass cylinder in his lead gloves. Then he rolled the cylinder in one of his lead aprons. Next he wrapped that apron in another and that one in another still. He proceeded to do the same with the aprons Angela was carrying while she stepped out of the conference room to get the others. David was anxious to cover the cylinder with as many layers of lead as possible.

As David was wrapping the last load of the aprons around the bulky parcel, Angela got the Geiger counter.

“I don’t believe you,” Traynor said, breaking a shocked silence. But his voice lacked conviction. Cantor’s sudden departure had unnerved him.

“This is not the time for debate,” David said. “Everyone better get out of here,” he added. “You’ve all been exposed to a serious amount of radiation. I advise you to call your doctors.”

Traynor and the others exchanged nervous glances. Panic soon broke out as first a few and then the remaining board members, including Traynor, ran from the room.

David finished with the last apron and took the Geiger counter. Turning it on, he was dismayed to see that it still registered a significant amount of radiation.

“Let’s get out of here,” David said. “That’s about all we can do.”

Leaving the cylinder wrapped in aprons on the table, they went out of the conference room, closing the doors behind them. David tried the Geiger counter again. As he expected, the radiation had fallen off dramatically. “As long as no one goes in the conference room, no one else will get hurt tonight,” he said.

Cook, Robin, Fatal Cure, Putnam, 1993

All of the criminals die horribly, of radiation poisoning. 

 {Evil Laugh}

Back in the real world, in September of 2012, it appears that Halliburton, the company formerly run by Vice-President Dick Cheney, misplaced a little radioactive cylinder of its own.

120915_tch_radioactivecylinder.grid-6x2

About 7 inches long, the little device is used by the oil field services company to assess potential sites for hydraulic fracturing (fracking – Google it); they lost track of it while trying to transport it from Pecos to a well site near Odessa 130 miles away. (How that loss was permitted to happen in the first place remains a large question to which I have never seen a satisfactory answer.)

“It’s not something that produces radiation in an extremely dangerous form,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “But it’s best for people to stay back, 20 or 25 feet.”

Comfortingly, the cylinder is stamped with the words “danger radioactive” and “do not handle” along with a radiation warning symbol, according to the Texas Health Department.

There’s just one problem.

By the time you get close enough to read that teeny-tiny writing, you’ve probably picked the thing up and held it about six inches from your face. Sorry, you’ve just fatally irradiated your brain. Sucks to be you.

I do hope they can locate this thing, before the ɑ-particles produced by americium-241 react in the presence of beryllium to form neutrons, which will promptly burn the hell out of whichever group of children picks it up and uses it to play catch with.

You know what I mean?


Fortunately, they did find it, about a month later per the Guardian. Also fortunately, the danger to anyone who found it would have been minimal as long as they didn’t treat it stupidly; per a comment at Livejournal, it was handled as a “non emergency” by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Operations Center.”

So this story ended happily, but the concept of unshielded radiation sources running around in the wild is something best left to the gripping medical fiction of Dr. Robin Cook and not real life.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Nigerian Scam is still alive

Oh, those unclaimed trunks of money…

In my spam box six days ago:


Steven Owen
Deputy Director Of Finance,
(Administration,Operations)
Richmond International Airport
1 Richard E Byrd Terminal Dr,
Richmond, VA 23250, United States
Email: stevenowen.005office@gmail.com

I have very vital information to give to you, but first I must have your trust before I review it to you because it may cause me my job,so I need somebody that I can trust for me to be able to review the secret to you.

I am Mr. Steven Owen,(Deputy Director Of Finance & Administration) here at the Richmond International Airport, Virginia.
During my recent withheld package routine check at the Airport Storage Vault, I discovered an abandoned shipment from a Diplomat from Africa and when scanned it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in a Metal Trunk Box weighing 210kg approximately $25,500,000.00 ($25.5M) The consignment
was abandoned because the Contents of the consignment was not properly declared by the consignee as “MONEY” rather it was declared as personal effect to avoid interrogation and also the inability of the diplomat to pay for the United States Non Inspection Charges which is $4,500USD. On my assumption the consignment is still left in our Storage House here at the Richmond International Airport, Virginia till date. The details of the consignment including your names, your email address and the official documents from the United Nations office in Geneva are tagged on! !! the Trunk box.

However, to enable me confirm if you are the actual recipient of this consignment as the assistant director of the Inspection Unit, I will advise you provide your current Phone Number and Full Address, to enable me cross check if it corresponds with the address on the official documents including the name of nearest Airport around your city. Please note that this consignment is supposed to have been returned to the United States Treasury Department as unclaimed delivery due to the delays in concluding the clearance processes so as a result of this, I will not be able to receive your details on my official email account. So in order words to enable me cross check your details, I will advise you send the required details to my private email address for quick processing and response. Once I confirm you as the actual recipient of the trunk box, I can get everything concluded within 48hours upon your acceptance and proceed to your address for delivery.
The Requested Information is to ensure that no mistake or error is occured and should be forwarded in the manner stated below:

Your Full Name:…….
Your Complete Address:…..
Name of City of Residence:…..
Closet Airport to your City:……
Direct Telephone Number:…..

Lastly, be informed that the reason I have taken it upon myself to contact you personally about this abandoned consignment is because I want us to transact this business and share the money 70% for you and 30% for me since the consignment has not yet been returned to the United States Treasury Department after being abandoned by the diplomat so immediately the confirmation is made, I will go ahead and pay for the United States Non Inspection Fee of $4,500 dollars and arrange for the box to be delivered to your doorstep Or I can bring it by myself to avoid any more trouble but you have to assure me of my 30% share.

I wait to hear from you urgently if you are still alive and I will
appreciate if we can keep this deal confidential. Please get back to
me via my private Email (stevenowen.005office@gmail.com) for further directives:

Best Regards
Mr.Steven Owen


The email came with a form to fill out, which clearly was never completed:

These are just as fraudulent now as they were during the days of the fax machine. NEVER send money or private information to these scumbags. Delete their emails and move on with your life. There is no money waiting for you, and if you communicate with these people you stand to lose money or your identity or both.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Benedict Arnold was bupkis

Joseph Biden, Jr. won our latest presidential election, the most secure in our history. It’s a confirmed fact.

The idiot currently in the White House, in my lifetime’s greatest display of pettiness, infantile spite, and breathtaking narcissism, has continually refused to honor our nation’s traditions and concede his spectacular loss – both in the popular vote and the electoral college – and continues to claim that he won the election by “a lot,” that millions of votes were cast illegally by democrats and dead people, and that the election should be overturned in his favor. Legal scholars could debate this for a lifetime, but from where I sit this is not just arrogance and megalomania, it’s an attack on American institutions and the Constitution, and hence rises to the definition of treason.

But that’s not unexpected from this incompetent, unqualified clown. In fact, given the daily outflow of lies, conspiracy theories, misrepresentations, insults, and heart-stopping displays of abject stupidity seen on this con-man’s Twitter feed, it’s exactly what many people predicted would happen. So it’s not exactly astonishing.

What is astonishing is the number of people in positions of power and influence – almost exclusively Republicans – who have hitched their wagon to this pathetic, dying star and are supporting both the man and his insane attempt to stay in a position of power that he has for too long disgraced and abused.

They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit on his behalf, the vast majority of which – over 59 as of December 13th and counting, according to a running tally on Twitter – they have definitively lost in front of judges and courts, many of which were appointed by the Buffoon-in-Chief himself. Their claims have been absurd and frivolous, and all of them (except one or two about minor procedural matters) have been appropriately dismissed by these jurists and indeed, by the Supreme Court.

Now comes Louie Gohmert, Republican congressman from Texas, who has filed a suit against Vice President Mike Pence, demanding, in the words of Jim Wright, the author of Stonekettle Station,

“that the Court give Pence the “Exclusive Authority” to decide which Electoral College votes to count and which ones to ignore during the upcoming congressional session on January 6th when the House certifies the election. The lawsuit LITERALLY demands that Pence be given the exclusive authority to decide the election.”

Breathtaking doesn’t cover it. Heart-stopping doesn’t cover it. Mind-raping doesn’t cover it. The abject stupidity and un-Americanism of all these attempts to overturn a United States presidential election, not only by juridical means but also by loudly and repeatedly trumpeting the lie that the election was stolen by Democrats, is absolutely impossible for me to fathom. In the words of a certain segment of a previous generation, “I just can’t even.”

And the saddest part of it all is that I don’t see any consequences forthcoming for this army of sycophants and followers of our modern-day caudillo¹, all of whom have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world and of history. Certainly, on January 20th The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office will either walk out of the White House (or be frogmarched out by the Secret Service, which I have to admit would be a more satisfying spectacle), and fade into obscurity to become an ignominious footnote in history, along with the rest of his corrupt clan and hangers-on.

Image by Cathygraphics.com

That’s an indisputable consequence. And it pleases me to think that despite any executive pardons either already issued or forthcoming, many states are lined up at the starting gate with indictments and subpœnas in hand, waiting to delve into the personal and political corruption that has been on public display for the last four years. But for many of the people who have foolishly attached their names to lawsuits, or signed on as friends of the court, or done anything to try to subvert a constitutionally-conducted election, I fear that our nation is simply too complex, and the issues facing us at the present time – not the least of which is the Covid pandemic – are so pressing that things will simply return to business as usual and there will be neither punishments nor repercussions.

And there should be. There must be. From the Republican Senate’s refusal to hear evidence or witnesses during the impeachment trial, issuing a verdict based on political ideology rather than facts, to the current insanity of a disputed election, there must be consequences or our nation’s political process will remain forever tainted. Every senator who stated – in advance! – that they would not be an impartial jurist during the impeachment trial; every senator or congressperson who joined lawsuits to try to keep a drooling cretin in power for four more years despite the will of the American people – should not be seated in January or should be immediatly recalled. They have disgraced themselves, disgraced their legislative bodies, and disgraced the Constitution of the United States. If they are attorneys themselves, as so many of them are, local or national bar associations should sanction or disbar them. What they have done and continue to do is virtually inexcusable.

That’s what I demand, as a citizen of a once-great nation which has been made decidedly less great by a harlequin in a red hat. I hold out a faint glimmer of hope that in some cases, elected officials will be voted out during their next run for office, and retire in disgrace. I hope against hope that there will be legal consequences for some of them. But whether or not these things happen, I am content to have said my piece to the world. To my children and grandchildren and whatever posterity I am blessed with, know that I stood against this raging tide of folly, I voted my conscience, and did what I could to end the madness.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ If you’re not familiar with the term,

“Historian John Lynch states that “Before 1810 the caudillo was unknown. … The caudillo entered history as a local hero whom larger events promoted to a military chieftain.” He gained in power by his success as a military leader. In a rural area that lacked any institutions of the state, and where the environment was one of violence and anarchy, a caudillo could impose order, often by using violence himself to achieve it. His local control as a strongman needed to be maintained by assuring the loyalty of his followers, so his bestowing material rewards reinforced his own position. Caudillos could also maintain their position by protecting the interests of regional elites. A local strongman who built a regional base could aspire to becoming a national caudillo, taking control of the state. In this situation, caudillos could bestow patronage on a large retinue of clients, who in turn gave him their loyalty. In general, caudillos’ power benefited elites. But these strongmen were also mediators between elites and the popular classes, recruiting them into the power base, but also restraining them from achieving power themselves.” (Wikipedia)

If there were justice in the world

Recently the Washington Post conducted a survey of every Republican member of congress, asking who they thought won the recent election and if they would support the winner. The results are below:

Of the individuals surveyed, 27 correctly stated that Joe Biden was the winner (with 306 electoral votes, of which over 270 have been officially certified as of this date, and over 7 million more votes in the popular vote count.) Many of those in this category declined to respond directly to the survey, but their positions have been made clear in other public statements.

Two (Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona) stated flat out – and incorrectly – that Trump won the election, because it was fraudulently conducted.

The remaining 220 legislators refused to comment one way or another.

Now it is unheard of in my lifetime and longer that the results of a democratically-conducted election should be disputed in this way. Election night happens; one individual wins; the other individual concedes; and an administration continues or there is an orderly transition of power. That’s the way our system has worked for as long as I’ve been alive.

So why are things different now?

Because one man, with an ego the size of Jupiter and living in an artificial reality refuses to believe that there is a world where he could lose at anything.

Long before the election was held, the incumbent was telling people right and left, day and night, “If I lose this election, it was rigged.” Mail-in and absentee balloting has been a part of our electoral system; per the History Channel, “Voting by mail can trace its roots to soldiers voting far from home during the Civil War and World War II.” But in the mind of this pathetic, infantile clown, mail-in ballots are simply a channel for millions of people to vote illegally: the dead, illegal immigrants, people of color (their votes don’t really count because they’re not really Americans), and (gasp!) Democrats and Liberals. He even installed a Postmaster, a Republican party fundraiser, to make sure that the mechanism for delivering absentee ballots was crippled, so that it would be easy to claim (as Trump did) that any ballots received after election day were invalid. This, however, is simply untrue; states decide how to deal with absentee ballots, and many allow them, particularly if they were postmarked before the actual election.

Trump hammered on these lies again and again. Lies that have no basis in fact, no basis in history, and no basis in the results. The fact that he did so is a thundering disgrace. And he lost, soundly.

But 222 Republican legislators either believed the lies, or – despite seeing the writing on the wall about what had been happening to our government over the last 4 years – were unwilling to step up and accept the results of the election for fear of losing their power and their position. And this is equally disgraceful, and in my mind it approaches the standard of sedition and treason.

The president himself will be going back to the business world after January 20; that’s a foregone conclusion, although in his mind he still thinks he won and that somehow, there’s going to be a Hail Mary play in Congress or the Supreme Court that will reverse the clear results shouted by the American people. Ain’t gonna happen. And many of the 222 who bought in to his fantasy are businessmen themselves.

If there were any fairness in the world, no one would get involved with these people ever again. Trump, or his sycophantic, spineless enablers. People of good conscience would say to them, “No, thank you. I have no desire to do business with someone who has demonstrated a total disregard for the history and traditions of our nation. I have no desire to do business with someone who has no honor. I have no desire to do business with someone who is guaranteed to stiff me.

Sadly, as everyone knows, there are many people in the world who are not of good conscience. Personal interests and the desire for gain take precedence in their lives, and in the years to come we will see many who are more than happy to conduct transactions with the ex-president (at their peril!) or with other GOP members of Congress who have shown that lies and fantasy are more profitable than principles or good governance. But Americans who believe in honor will take note, and it is my hope that they will speak at the ballot box at the next possible opportunity and replace these people with others who can see past the duplicity and corruption.