I'm on hold with DirecTV, giving them the opportunity to keep me as a customer. I've been with them for 23 years. I have a customer service rep who does not speak particularly clear English and has no apparent knowledge of other streaming systems, and what they provide.

Me: you're charging me $108 for basic streaming. The same package at Hulu Live is $90. Currently I pay Hulu $9 for the ad-supported streaming service. So if I switch, I don't pay that nine dollars. Also, they add Disney+, which is $15. So I save $24 and get more. Your counteroffer?

(boiler-room sounds) Can you hold please (silence)

She comes back with odd questions - what do I watch, what channels do I like. I explain I really don't watch that much, but want to have it around in case. Wife watches the Tennis Channel, which joins the Hulu Live lineup in 2024.


(boiler-room sounds) Can you hold please (silence)

They didn't even try to keep me.

I almost feel insulted.

Well, next step: sign up for Hulu. Done and done. Next step: get the intro deal for Paramount because Star Trek, of course. In all these instances I am using a new card that offers 3% on streaming. Why, I'm practically making money!

Card declined.


Hmm. So, call Amex. This is a world of difference from DirecTV - the representative's English is accented but crisp and professional, with a lilting note of delight as if this is the best job in the world. Hmm: there were no hits on the account. They didn't even try. She suggested I call Paramount, which I did, and . . . oy such a wretched phone tree. The robot reads out the entire URL for the privacy statement, and it's half an hour long with dashes and slashes. Finally get a human being, somewhere in the world. He informs me that the website will not accept customer signups if you're using a Mac browser. Or Edge. Only Chrome.

Makes me realize how everyone else probably uses Chrome, and they're content to be an occupant in the Google Panopticon.

I mean, I have nothing to do with them. I have an account, and I store some things on the drive, but Google Docs, no. I figure they can nuke the accounts at any time because I said the wrong thing somewhere.












There’s something profoundly askew in the souls of the people who feel compelled to tear down the posters of kidnapped children. I’ve been watching these for weeks now, it seems, and every day, a new one, a new person, a new flat-aspect person with dead eyes or, on occasion, sparky ire for anyone who DOES NOT UNDERSTAND that putting up the images of kidnapped children is NAZI PROPAGANDA. Even after a fortnight of people getting filmed and ID'd, they're still taking them down. Because other people are still putting them up. Why not? The fliers are like flypaper.

As many have noted, some seem to confront shame for the first time in their adult lives, and they’re like dogs who have a mouthful of something unfamiliar and do not know how to proceed.

I thought that might be the case, but what would they be ashamed about? Perhaps it's just . . .confusion.

Sometimes they retreat to tropes that sounded good in the soapy warmth of their own bubble. I heard one snap that “Zionism is antisemitism,” and I’m sure they’ve a perfectly dialectical explanation for this iron-clad truth. Most of them mutter something about how the posters are inappropriate, since the kidnapping - if that’s what it is, who knows if it really happened - is over there, not here, and the posters just bolster the colonialist propaganda line. I saw one from New York where two young women accused the posters of fomenting an atmosphere of hatred for Hamas, and making people think that Hamas was a terrorist organization.

October 7th might have nudged a few folk in that direction, I guess, but the posters, they'd seal the deal.

But my favorite excuse, heard now and then by tight-lipped little paradigms of progressive righteousness, is how the posters are violating a civic statute against bill posting.

Oh look who’s in favor of the carceral state, all of a sudden! Look who wants to use small laws to punish the powerless! Look who wants the cops to enforce the small things that provide their own ration of glue to keep the civil contract adhered to the public consciousness! These posters are illegal! Of course. But spray-painting national monuments, that’s different, because it’s righteous. Topping a statue is different, because it’s politically correct. Burning a downtown, that’s the voice of the people. A BLM poster taped to a pole may be (hand-waving) illegal, but in that case the law is just used to silence the disenfranchised.

Yes of course it’s the illegality that makes the bile rise in your throat, and makes you claw off the picture with righteous annoyance.

Perhaps feeling left out of the great street convulsions, the proud and exultant display of foreign flags, the full-throated exhortations to genocide (which are really not about driving Jews into the ocean, but a call for a peaceful multi-ethnic state, you know), the Just Stop Oil vandals were at it again:

Why this? People ask. Because it is important and beautiful and venerated as a fine work of art, out shared cultural inheritance, a product of skill and talent. By defacing it - or at least attempting to - attention is paid, and people are required to confront the fact that there might be something of higher purpose than this inert rectangle daubed with paint. Attention will be paid! Success!

  Except it is never a success; their cause does not advance an inch, except perhaps to accumulate a few more miserable souls drawn to the cold flame of ideological certainty, anxious for a cause that will set them apart. Because nothing else sets them apart.

The return-to-candlelight crowd issued a statement:

“Women did not get the vote by voting,” said a female protestor via X, after hammering the glass protecting the work. “It is time for deeds and not words. It is time to just stop oil.” Soon afterward, the second activist next to her commented: “Politics is failing us. Politics failed woman in 1914. If millions will die due to new oil and gas licensing, if we love art, if we love our families, we must just stop oil.”

The hectoring bore was referencing the previous defacement of the painting by Mary Richardson, a suffragette. She had her reasons, of course, and you'd best agree with them. And then:

In 1932, after forming the belief that fascism was the "only path to a 'Greater Britain,'" Richardson joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley. She claimed that "I was first attracted to the Blackshirts because I saw in them the courage, the action, the loyalty, the gift of service and the ability to serve which I had known in the suffragette movement".

Odd how that happens.



It’s 1931.

Mirth, stirred:

Looks like we have someone shipping dead bodies in a trunk - something that will occur again and again in old stories and radio shows. It never works.


So, what was this all about?

Winnie Ruth Judd (January 29, 1905 – October 23, 1998), born Winnie Ruth McKinnell, also known as Marian Lane, was a medical secretary in Phoenix, Arizona, who was accused of murdering her friends, Agnes Anne LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson, in October 1931. The murders were discovered when Judd transported the victims' bodies, one of which had been dismembered, from Phoenix to Los Angeles, California by train in trunks and other luggage, causing the press to name the case the "Trunk Murders".

Real good nickname work there, boys.

Judd was tried for LeRoi's murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death. However, the sentence was later repealed after she was found mentally incompetent, and she was committed to the Arizona State Asylum for the Insane (later renamed the Arizona State Hospital). Over the next three decades, Judd escaped from the asylum six times; after her final escape during the 1960s, she remained at large for over six years and worked under an assumed name for a wealthy family. She was ultimately paroled in 1971 and discharged from parole in 1983.

And here, you suspect, hangs a tale.

  I think someone’s looking for a little PR. It had been a while since she had a good role.


Barbara Newhall Follett (March 4, 1914[2] – disappeared December 7, 1939) was an American child prodigy novelist.[3] Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in January 1927, when she was twelve years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., was based on her experience on a coastal schooner in Nova Scotia. It was published a year later in 1928, also receiving critical acclaim in many literary publications.

However, in the same year, Follett's father abandoned her mother for another woman. The event was a devastating blow to Follett, who was deeply attached to her father. Aged 14, she had reached the apex of her life and career.

“My dreams are going through their death flurries. They are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of a world of Time and Money.”

Wikipedia doesn’t talk about her mother leaving her at the Y. I gather from other news stories that she was supposed to go to school in LA, but didn’t want to. She’d never been to school and hated LA, so she went to SF.


In the summer of 1931, Follett met Nickerson Rogers. The couple spent the summer of 1932 walking the Appalachian Trail from Katahdin to the Massachusetts border, then sailed to Spain where they continued their walking excursions in Mallorca and through the Swiss Alps. After settling in Brookline, Massachusetts, the couple married in July 1934. At this time, Barbara still wrote, but her work was no longer in favor with publishers.

Although initially happy, by 1937 Barbara had started expressing dissatisfaction concerning married life in her letters to close friends, and by 1938 these cracks had widened even further.[6] Follett soon came to believe that Rogers was being unfaithful to her and became depressed.

According to her husband, on December 7, 1939, Follett left their apartment after a quarrel with $30 in her pocket ($589 in 2021). She was never seen again.


The mother wanted police to investigate, accusing the husband of indifference to his wife’s fate. Nothing came of it.

No one knows what happened.

What happens when an editorial writer attempts to write news:


Tsk tsk, Teddy.

Brittanica: What did Theodore Dreiser believe?

Dreiser came to believe that human beings are helpless in the grip of instincts and social forces beyond their control, and he judged human society as an unequal contest between the strong and the weak.


Brittanica: What did Theodore Dreiser believe?

Dreiser came to believe that human beings are helpless in the grip of instincts and social forces beyond their control, and he judged human society as an unequal contest between the strong and the weak.

On the editorial page, we have the very first instance, I believe, of a descriptor tag “Shoe Consumption.”

This is a bit of a puzzler. People who kept up on the news no doubt got it in a trice.

  An evergreen letter. What is it, really, and has it ever been tried?
  A fellow who writes in “for true understanding and progress,” helps with the usual arguments. Jesus was a Red!

Let’s see what’s playing at the Orpheum: ah, youth aglow.

“A Drama of 20th Century Youth!” Imdb:

A good kid with no record commits a robbery, kills an old man and winds up on death row. The authorities try to figure out why he went bad.

Ben Alexander, you say? Yes: the first partner in Dragnet, many years later.

Well, at least we have the credits.

Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do - see you around! Nervine information awaits. And thanks for the patronage.



blog comments powered by Disqus