Denny Hamlin Cursed, With ‘F’ Word, On NBC Sports Sunday

The use, and misuse, of our public airwaves is a many decades interest of mine. Simply put I believe in standards of good taste. Such a bottom line is not political or old-fashioned. It is not about censorship. It is simply about a firm belief in what should be regarded as an accepted way of behaving in polite society.

I seek that in my everyday conversations and absolutely expect it when listening to programming from our public airwaves. I suspect many others desire the same thing.

Until today I was not even aware there was a Denny Hamlin who races cars for a profession. I wish I could forget him, and what he said on national television. Other than his cursing he does seem utterly forgettable.

With the DVR set to record local news Sunday evening on NBC, and with the sports program running long, meant I heard Hamlin using his fourth-grade mouth to answer questions from a sports reporter. There was apparently some dust-up with another driver that prevented Hamlin from bringing his adult side to the interview.

So Hamlin first called another competitor a “hack” and from there cursed twice with the final verbal assault being the ‘F’ word. With pure red-neck eliding, though I am certain Hamlin is not aware of the term, he even left the ‘g’ off so as to better connect with his base of fans.

Hamlin cursing on national television was a pathetic moment. If one cannot converse in appropriate ways with an interviewer perhaps getting a tutor in language skills would be a place for him to focus this week. Between his giving the finger to another driver, and then his lack of a broader vocabulary so as to express himself, it is clear Hamlin’s lack of driving skills is not all that limits his upward reach.

And so it goes.

Nearly 5 Million Worldwide Dead From COVID, Many Americans Still Fight Vaccines

I believe we are our brother’s keeper. It is how I frame my lookout on life, my religious path, and that perspective deeply shapes my perspective also how government should work.

So when I read about the disparity in vaccine availability around the world it not only concerns me from a health point of view, but also from a moral one. Though the football stadiums are crammed full and college students are packed in line to enter their favorite drinking establishments in the United States, the larger world community is facing tough going in certain areas at combatting the virus and obtaining needed vaccine shots.

“With almost 50,000 deaths a week, the pandemic is far from over — and that’s just the reported deaths,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Oct. 24.

Many have urged that a more concerted effort be made to distribute vaccines to health partners worldwide so to stem the spread of the virus. Recently the UN Secretary General-General Antonio Guterres pointed out a glaring discrepancy with statistics underscoring the problem. Rich nations have spent 28% of annual economic output on pandemic recovery efforts, while the figure is 2% for the poorest nations.

The Economist this week reported a more stark assessment.

Today, in low-income countries, less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated, compared with 50% in high-income ones. A new analysis from Airfinity, a life-sciences data firm, spells out the startling implications: if rich countries do not redistribute surplus vaccine this year, between 1m and 2.8m lives could be lost as a result.

What is even more troubling to ponder into our thinking is that with the complete availability of the vaccines in the US there is still a most numbing fact.

The United States continues to have the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths globally. In early October, the U.S. death toll from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, surpassed 700,000, despite the widespread availability of vaccines in the country.

We have had too many news reports of obstinate people blocking our forward movement in the nation due to selflessness and neanderthal thinking.

More than 26,000 New York City government employees, including firefighters, police officers, and sanitation workers, flouted the deadline for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Gothamist reported this weekend.

Labor unions continue to balk at the mandate, notably fire unions that have staged numerous rallies opposing the mandate over the past week. Figures show that while 84% of FDNY employees have abided by the mandate, more than 4,000 of them might not be able to come in next Monday. About 8,300 NYPD employees also remain unvaccinated. The police department held a retirement drive Friday and Saturday for employees who didn’t want to take the vaccines.

I do not understand at any level the delusional thinking of those who spit at science and place others in the community, and the health of the economy itself, into harm’s way. More than 200 million Americans are living examples of the remarkably effective and safe nature of vaccines. Those shots have severely stunted severe illness, kept folks out of hospitals, and SAVED LIVES.

What has been proved in the US to be so effective should be far more available to people in other nations, regardless of their income or station in life. We must lean into the issue of producing more shots, shipping them to targeted locations, ensuring their use, and not allowing anything to block the path towards a better outcome for all.

Rocket science is not required to achieve this mission. This is just old-fashioned willpower that needs to be employed. And the understanding that we are our brother’s keeper.

And so it goes.

Grand Ole Opry Airs 5,000th Broadcast Saturday Night On WSM Radio!

Most folks who have a broad sense concerning the evolution of radio in our country know of George D. Hay. He was affectionately known as the “The Solemn Old Judge”. He started the radio program WSM Barn Dance and shortly thereafter uttered a sentence that was a major step in creating the famed and deeply-loved Grand Ole Opry.

His one line has been repeated often in the annals of American broadcasting.

“For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry.

That was in 1927.

On Saturday night, October 30, 2021, the longest continuously running radio show on WSM will air the 5000th broadcast of the Opry! What a remarkable history has been recorded over those decades.

To lend my voice and delight with this weekend I recorded and released a podcast episode on Wednesday that pays tribute to classic country music, WSM, and Grant Turner, an iconic voice of the Opry from the stage where all the radio magic happened.

George D. Hay and his steamboat whistle that started each Saturday night’s radio broadcast.

We need to make sure this weekend Hay is remembered. I know the Opry will be front and center with his importance, and here is why.

Initially, he had been a newspaperman, on The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was there that he earned his nickname, the Solemn Old Judge, covering jury trials and where he was first attracted to mountain music while attending a country hoedown in Mineral Springs, Ark. That gave Hay the inspiration for a “radio barn dance” after he became a radio announcer, first in Memphis and later at Chicago’s WLS, where he helped create “The National Barn Dance.”

Hay’s initial “WSM Barn Dance,” on Nov. 28, 1925, turned a lot of heads in Nashville; some people were horrified that the new prestige station of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company was allowing “those dreadful hillbillies” on its airwaves. In fact, Hay often had to fight the station moguls to keep the show on the air until it was noticed that “The Barn Dance” was selling an awful lot of insurance policies through its rural salesmen.

At 7 PM CST, nearly 96 years to the week the show made its debut, the Opry will take to the airwaves for the 5,000th time! The tradition continues!

And so it goes.

Republican Party Not Only Needs Adam Kinzinger, But More Like Him

This morning Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a smart, well-presented conservative Republican from Illinois released a statement announcing he will not seek reelection to his Illinois House seat.

The news was somewhat expected as the seat he held is being redistricted which would make the upcoming race more difficult. But there was also expected the brash and outlandish behavior from the right-wing base in the midterm election due to his repeatedly stating why Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for actions against our nation on January 6th.

There were only ten brave, and may I add, patriotic Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach Trump after the seditious attack on the Capitol. The most horrendous attack on our political institutions since the Civil War, a dagger at the very heart of our national ideals about the electoral process as the Electoral College Votes were being announced, and the vast majority of the Republican Party turned their backs on the nation.

Kinzinger stood up, took a correct stand, and has not backed down with his resolve to investigate and speak out about the threat to our democracy that occurred at the capitol.

When I walk to my desk each morning with a freshly-made cup of coffee I pass the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. This morning my eye happened to land on the section of books in front of me about President Kennedy. With the news just announced about the congressman’s exit Profiles In Courage caught my attention, and my first thought was Kinzinger would be a great addition to the Kennedy book. (For those who might notice my OCD demands books on presidents be shelved chronologically.)

But then with the rubes who so thoroughly dominate the base of the GOP the book about Daniel Webster, Robert Taft, and others mean nothing. They never read it. I dare say, they have no idea it even exists. So adding the name of Kinzinger to those of others who proved to have the courage to do the right thing only resonates with the rest of us.

Kinzinger well understands the gravity of trying to deny, through brutal force and bloodshed the lawful transfer of the Oval Office to the winner of the 2020 presidential election, That being Joe Biden.

As we know from our own experiences doing the right thing does not always elevate a person or allow for justice to be demonstrated like an ending to a Hollywood movie. Kennedy notes in the book that acting in accordance with our ideals, at times, has to be enough reason alone to carry on. Bravery in politics may actually end a career in a legislative chamber.

The Congressman, however, made his position most clear in a Washington Post column. He is not backing down on what is required by one who carries the title of American Citizen. (It is a lesson we all need to heed.)

I firmly believe the majority of Americans — Republican, Democrat, independent, you name it — reject the madness of the past four years. But we’ll never move forward by ignoring what happened or refusing to hold accountable those responsible. That will embolden the few who led us here and dishearten the many who know America is better than this. It will make it more likely that we see more anger, violence and chaos in the years ahead.

The better path is to learn the lessons of the recent past. Convicting Donald Trump is necessary to save America from going further down a sad, dangerous road.

While it is clear Kinzinger will not seek a House seat his statement today made it clear he does not plan to go away. He said, “this isn’t the end of my political future”.

The Republican Party, whether they are able to now understand it or not due to the cult personality they have constructed around their Dear Leader Trump, needs Kinzinger. In fact, they need many men and women like him to lift the party out of the near fascist and truly deplorable state that it now finds itself.

The GOP was once a truly policy-oriented operation that had the ability to connect with voters about economic and international policy. Now the party is a laughing stock for every late-night comedian and scorned by younger voters who live in a country of growing diversity.

The absurdity with redistricting, which I comment about often, can again be proven to have caused concern not only for Kinzinger but also the nation. Due to the overly partisan created districts means the high-profile and bombastic primaries allow for the most extreme outcomes, from both parties, to prevail. That happens all too often which then creates a national spitting contest in Congress between the two sides. Which adds more fuel to the fire-eaters among the electorate. Which then adds more rhetoric to talking heads on radio and news channels. This then ups the ante for the next set of primary elections……

Kinzinger knew that was what would happen next year and wanted no part of it. Instead, he wishes to refashion the GOP into a party that again thinks and seeks actual solutions. He seeks to add that moderate voice that has been so diminished in recent years.

One can have a contrary perspective regarding the policy goals of Kinzinger, but we all can agree that his mission about the need of the Republican Party to morph back to sanity is worthy of national support.

Let us hope more members of the Republican Party, if they can not care for the nation following the insurrection, at least have enough self-interest to salvage their party.

And so it goes.

Andrew Cuomo To Be Arrested. What About Donald Trump?

I am never sure why some men, who find themselves the center of attention for being too stupid for words, took actions that clearly were ill-advised.

Do men who force themselves on women not know there are call-girls who (I am told) will do whatever is asked? That there are outlets for almost everything conceivable on the internet? That being a top elected official means having a wide selection of willing women who will enjoy such company?

So what makes men so stupid to force themselves on a woman who wants nothing to do with such advances?

Or to be precisely pointed here what made former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo feel he could forcibly touch a woman? The news today is just the latest chapter in a sordid book.

A criminal complaint against Cuomo has now been filed by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. Cuomo was summoned to appear in court next month on a misdemeanor charge.

The alleged crime took place at the governor’s mansion on December 7, 2020 when Cuomo “intentionally and for no legitimate purpose” forcibly placed his hand under the blouse of an unnamed victim and onto an intimate body part.

You can not make this up.

But if we are going to talk about men with power who then abuse women and commit criminal acts let us not forget Donald Trump.

He was accused of many sexual crimes including rape. Add in the financial crimes, and the insurrection against our country, and all of a sudden there is a need for a bevy of lawyers to handle the charges.

Cuomo is in need of some legal pushback and then some intense therapy.

But Trump deserves a very tight jail cell.

No man gets a pass for acting like a cad, or worse for treating a woman like a mere sex object.

And so it goes.

My New Doty Land Podcast: Tribute To Grant Turner, Classic Country Music Stars

Doty Land, my podcast, following a long hiatus due to truly swear-worthy technical issues and the pandemic which made it most difficult to have the equipment in our home worked on, is now back ‘on the air.’

Humbly written here, but I am mighty pleased with the 16-minute multi-track production which offers my sincere tribute to WSM radio announcer Grant Turner. I also offer my thoughts as to what essential quality the classic country singers had which then allowed for them to have such faithful fans many decades later.

You can hear Doty Land and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartradio, Spotify, Castro, and many other sites. Pandora and Amazon are the next sites I am working with that will be offering my podcast for your listening enjoyment.

You can also link here and head directly to my podcast page.

From memories of Loretta Lynn,  Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, WSM radio announcer Grant Turner and others this tribute looks at how classic country music still resonates across the land.  Heartfelt memories galore! Podcaster Gregory Humphrey takes listeners on a journey from his Hancock home to the stages of country music shows.  The fiddles are warming up, now.  

This project will not put me on the map, but it made me very happy if for no other reason than everything is working as the manufacturer of the studio equipment intended! Broadcasting and now its offshoots remains a great love of my life. Therefore, it was most rewarding to ramp up the production values for this episode. I admit to a few ‘bumps’ that perhaps my ear is more accustomed to discerning, but overall I am very content to offer this episode to the listening public.

Grandma Schwarz landed at this angle for the promo pic. As in radio days, I like to have photos of special people around as it makes for a more genuine type of conversation when recording. She seemed the one who would best connect with the topic of these recordings.

And so it goes.

One More Time: Compromise And Bipartisanship Are Essential To Governing

At some point, Congressional Democrats will need to join hands, focus on what can be achieved in the major Build Back Better legislation, pass the bill, and rejoice in the signing at the White House. The various factions and the competing ideas of what programming to push for and how to fund it will need to give way to governing.

Part of the problem at achieving that end can be seen in the way too close polling in the upcoming Virginia governor race.

While crafting legislation is certainly a part of the governing process it can also be viewed by the public, with the past month in Washington as evidence, as to why there is a strong perception that the dysfunctional nature of our politics has the upper hand.

One of the hurdles that continue to be a major stumbling block among Democrats is the need for compromise. In large funding packages, such as this bill, no one is going to get everything desired. All have to give up something to gain something. That is a political fact.

It does not take long to scan this blog and know I have some core ideas and strong convictions about policy concerning a raft of issues in the country. I would love to have everyone see the landscape from my perspective. But in a two-party system, and with varying degrees of factions within each party, it becomes essential to broker consensus and commit one’s self to govern as effectively as possible.

That does not mean one ever needs to fall for extreme positions, but does mean that when it comes to items like Medicare expansion or climate change proposals, or child leave there can, and should be, ways to trim here, add there, and walk away with a deal.

In line with the need for better working at the art of compromise, there must also be a better attempt at bipartisanship. Granted, that is more difficult with a Republican Party that has drifted so far that it has, at times, hit the fascist wall. There are some progressives in the Democratic Party who also make it most challenging to find a reasonable path forward with the goal to work together.

Last night Senator Joe Manchin waxed about the way Washington once worked.

Manchin also reminisced at the dinner about the good ol’ days of bipartisanship — “wining and dining” Republicans and Democrats on his houseboat — and evenings full of singing and good cheer. He told a story about bringing together two senators in particular: The first time he had Tom Harkin on the boat, Harkin, ecstatic to be there, told him he’d never been on the Potomac at night. Then, as Manchin told the room, “here comes Ted Cruz and [Harkin] said, ‘I’m getting off this damn boat!’ And I said, ‘Come on Tom, it’s going to be fun! You’ll be fine!’ He said, ‘Get me another glass of wine!’ … Before the night was over I couldn’t separate them.” And then they introduced legislation together a few days later.

“We just don’t know each other,” Manchin complained of the current Washington climate.

I do not just post that portion of Manchin’s words to fill space. I actually believe what he says about bipartisanship.

I have long suggested that one of the problems with modern-day Washington is the lack of friendships among members. Not casual encounters on the capitol subway system, but real friendships. Since there is a need for continual fund-raising, and then the constant back-and-forth every weekend to the congressional district, there is no time to build the needed bonds that would well-serve our nation at times of high political tension.

The types of friendships I speak about are spelled out in the writings of such books as Katharine Graham’s Washington. Over the years I have likened the lack of connectedness among members of Congress to satellites floating about, all serving a purpose but not being linked in a meaningful way.

Friendship is lacking in Washington.

Now it seems that more people are noticing what I have argued for years.

Back in the golden days of Washington entertaining, hostess-with-the-mostest Perle Mesta was said to have remarked on the ease with which she was able to draw guests to her parties: “Just hang a pork chop in the window and they’ll come.” I’d like to see what Perle would have to hang in her window now to get a government official to one of her storied dinners — a minor rock star? A major PAC check? Washington doesn’t go to dinner much anymore, and it’s bad for the country.

I wish to conclude this post with another slice of the past. Politics and governing are never easy. But as the short story below underscores it also need not stop our progress as a nation.

Volcanic Comet 29P vs. ‘Do Vaccines Work’?

This weekend another odd and most tantalizing event occurred on a comet near Jupiter that has excited astronomers and made folks like me ponder things that seem more like Hollywood than the solar system.

For several weeks I have been following, through Spaceweather, the happenings on Comet 29P. During this time the comet has erupted through volcanic action which at times, as it has been reported, became 250 times brighter than usual, like a lit match becoming a bonfire. These explosions are so large that they can be viewed with a solid telescope from your home.

I write about this matter as space and the mysteries of the universe have always intrigued me. But I also post about this matter from the perspective of 2021 in America where too many of our fellow citizens are waxing about the usefulness of vaccines!

Our nation, along with the world, should be spellbound and inquisitive about this comet. But too many are stuck at a stunted level with science so not to even be aware of how to effectively curb a pandemic.

Comet 29P photographed less than 12 hours after the Oct. 23rd eruption. Credit: Jean-Francois Soulier of France.

Comet 29P is one of the strangest objects in the solar system. In fact, it strains the definition of “comet.” 29P is a ball of ice 60 km wide (much larger than a typical comet) trapped in a planet-like orbit between Jupiter and Saturn. It appears to be festooned with ice volcanoes which erupt ~20 times a year.

A rapidfire “super-eruption” of 4 volcanoes in late September created an expanding shell of vaporized cryomagma, which astronomers have been monitoring. Yesterday’s eruption propelled a new compact shell into the old larger one.

29P rotates once every ~58 days. As sunlight sweeps across its frozen surface, cryovolcanoes erupt under the high sun. “The latest eruption has taken place some 59 days after a similar event on August 25th, and may be an example of an outburst from the same cryovolcano erupting a second time on the next rotation of the nucleus.

It is dismaying that we must continually deal with the most elementary level of science among a wide swath of our adult population. Recent events with the pandemic have underscored how underprepared people are at basic reasoning after completing, upon graduation, their public education.

As a result, for example, the slow pace of vaccinations in many parts of the nation has sucked up all the bandwidth so there is no time to dive into a volcanic comet on most news broadcasts. Given the lack of science standards in too many public schools, curiosity over such matters was never developed among much of the populace.

This below then, is what could be the topic with others around ‘the national backyard fence’. We should not only ask ourselves about the comet, but we also must address what has happened to our education system in the nation.

And so it goes.