December 2020 Notebook


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Daily Log

Today's death toll includes: Dawn Wells (Maryann from Gilligan's Island, 82).

Monday, December 28, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (finished).

Music: Current count 34643 [34609] rated (+34), 212 [213] unrated (-1).

Rated count was depressed last week because I spent most of three days cooking a large dinner for Christmas Eve. Note that this was not a large sit-down dinner. We packaged the dinner up for take-out, and guests either came by to pick it up, or I delivered it to their homes. I prepared eight dinners for two, and we scrounged a ninth out of the surplus. I mostly didn't scale quantities up from recipes, but made more dishes, in effect creating a tasting menu. I tried to pick out dishes that didn't have to be served immediately, that retained their flavor and texture, that could be heated up easily, or eaten at room temperature. I thought a combination of Mediterranean dishes might work nicely. Here's the menu I came up with:

  • Paella, with sausage (kielbasa), shrimp, and scallops.
  • Garlic chicken wings.
  • Tuscan spare ribs (a lot of fennel seeds in the rub, and glazed with balsamic vinegar).
  • Tunisian fish (cod), with preserved lemons and olives.
  • Green bean ragout, with potatoes.
  • Cauliflower gratin.
  • Herb pie: onion, kale, chard, arugula, and herbs mixed with cheeses, wrapped in filo, and baked.
  • Greek (horiatiki) salad (a chopped salad with anchovies, olives, and feta).
  • Cucumber-yogurt (mast va khiar), with scallions, sultanas, and black walnuts.

Most importantly, I provided a nice range of desserts:

  • Date pudding, topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
  • Tiramisu, made with sponge cake.
  • Oatmeal stout cake, with a toasted topping of oats and pecans in sweetened condensed milk.
  • A chocolate sheet cake topped with black walnut icing.
  • Macadamia nut-white chocolate cookies.
  • Moroccan mixed fruit, in orange juice, honey, and orange blossom water.

The main courses all came out close to perfect. The desserts had all sorts of aesthetic problems, but were still pretty tasty. I had various other social ideas that came to naught: I had a long list of people I wanted to call, but most of my attempts failed, and I soon gave up. I also imagined a virtual get-together, that we never attempted. I bought a new webcam, which is still in the box. After the deliveries, I was exhausted and pretty sore. I've been a hermit ever since, which allowed me to knock out a modest Weekend Roundup, and substantially catch up on my listening shortfall. I kept adding records to the list below up to about midnight Monday, which is what got me over 30. It also allowed me to reduce my queue of 2020-released promos to zero. I thought about extending the week to the end of the month, but after I hit 30, I decided it would be best to release what I have, and free up time going forward.

I figure I still have a month to fiddle with my Year 2020 List before freeze. Likewise, I'll continue adding 2020 albums to my EOY Jazz and Non-Jazz lists -- probably well past the end of January. I remain surprised not only that there are more jazz than non-jazz A-list albums, but that the margin is continuing to increase (currently 76-to-55). I'm less surprised that the imbalance persists among lower grades -- B+(***) is currently 140-to-85 -- because I've simply played a lot more jazz this year than I have before (with the possible exception of the last year or two of Jazz Consumer Guide). I suppose one theory is that I'm quicker and more sure of my jazz grades.

I'm continuing to add to my EOY Aggregate file, although there is not a lot of churn in the rankings. The one high-placed record with some momentum is Taylor Swift's Folklore, which has just passed Waxahatchee for 5th place, and may well bump Bob Dylan from 4th before I'm done. Swift's Evermore seems to have arrived too late, with too little fanfare, to make a dent -- it's currently tied at 117, and has actually dropped a few spots lately.

I've heard the top 97 albums on the list -- was over 100, but Touche Amore and Crack Cloud (two bands I have next to zero interest in) recently rose to 98 and 100. I'm still way behind in adding lists, but my interest is beginning to wane.

Jazz Critics Poll should run at NPR something the week of January 4. I'm hoping to make some minor changes to the layout by then.

Although the December Streamnotes file is closed, I have not yet done the usual indexing, or inserted the usual Music Week notes. I'll get to that later this week.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Annie: Dark Hearts (2020, Annie Melody): [r]: B+(**)
  • Christiane Bopp/Jean-Marc Foussat/Emmanuelle Parrenin: Nature Still (2018 [2020], Fou): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Anthony Braxton/Jacqueline Kerrod: Duo (Bologna) 2018 (2018 [2020], I Dischi Di Angelica): [r]: B+(***)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Maâlem Moukhtar Gania/Hamid Drake: The Catch of a Ghost (2019 [2020], I Dischi Di Angelica): [r]: A-
  • The Bug: In Blue (2020, Hyperdub): [r]: B+(*)
  • Carne Doce: Interior (2020, Tratore): [r]: B+(*)
  • Code Orange: Underneath (2020, Roadrunner): [r]: B
  • Deftones: Ohms (2020, Reprise): [r]: C+
  • Bertrand Denzler/Antonin Gerbal: Sbatax (2019 [2020], Umlaut): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Thomas Lehn: Spie(l)gehungen (2017 [2020], Fou): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Muriel Grossmann: Quiet Earth (2020, RR Gems): [r]: A-
  • The Heliocentrics: Telemetric Sounds (2020, Madlib Invazion): [r]: B+(**)
  • K. Michelle: All Monsters Are Human (2020, EOne): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Koreatown Oddity: Little Dominiques Nosebleed (2020, Stones Throw): [r]: B+(***)
  • KRS-One: Between Da Protests (2020, R.A.M.P. Ent Agency): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Liv.e: Couldn't Wait to Tell You . . . (2020, In Real Life): [r]: B+(*)
  • Masma Dream World: Play at Night (2020, Northern Spy): [bc]: B
  • The Microphones: Microphones in 2020 (2020, PW Elverum & Sun): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Ela Minus: Acts of Rebellion (2020, Domino): [r]: B+(***)
  • Rico Nasty: Nightmare Vacation (2020, Sugar Trap/Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Waylon Payne: Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the Queer, the Pusher & Me (2020, Carnival): [r]: B+(***)
  • RaeLynn: Baytown (2020, Round Here, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hans-Joachim Roedelius: Selbstportrait: Wahre Liebe (2020, Bureau B): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michael Rother: Dreamimg (2020, Groenland): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sevdaliza: Shabrang (2020, Twisted Elegance): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sorry: 925 (2020, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Swell Quintet Soul Travelers With Leena Conquest: Astonishments (2018 [2020], RogueArt): [cd]: A
  • Thelonious Monster: Oh That Monster (2020, Outliner): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lennie Tristano Centennial Quartet: Live @ Berklee (2020, Altered Music Productions): [r]: A-
  • Why?: Ten Voices (Synesthesia Media, EP): [bc]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Available Jelly: Missolonghi: More From 2004 (2004 [2020], Ramboy): [bc]: B+(**)
  • George Coleman Quintet: In Baltimore (1971 [2020], Reel to Real): [r]: A-
  • Michael Moore/Simon Nabatov: Ancient Sorrow (1998 [2020], Ramboy): [bc]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Thelonious Monster: California Clam Chowder (2004, Lakeshore): [r]: A-

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG): [cd]: [was: A-]: A

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Baker's Brew: New Works (Psychosomatic, 2CD) [02-12]
  • Steve Swell/Robert Boston/Michael Vatcher: Brain in a Dish (NoBusiness)
  • Steve Swell Quintet Soul Travelers With Leena Conquest: Astonishments (RogueArt)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

Spent three days this past week working on Christmas Eve dinner. Barely looked at the computer for email, but pretty much enjoyed a total news blackout. Also only played old music I didn't have to write about. Still got occasional reports from my wife about various stupid and/or evil things Trump did. Wound up feeling even more disgust and contempt for him than ever before. I'm surprised that's still possible, but one still learns something every day.

Trump's Last Days

It's beginning to look like Trump's reconciling himself, not to the obvious fact that he lost the election but at least to the realization that nobody's going to save him from the loss and hand him a second term. Thus, he's started to move on to his final, most criminal stage: using his remaining powers to inflict as much damage as possible on the government, the economy, our sense of justice, and his own legacy. It's an appalling thing to witness, and likely to become even more so before Biden takes over on January 20.

Sasha Abramsky: Trump is guilty of sedition and must be brought to justice: "He's violating his oath to protect the Constitution, and every day that he's allowed to remain in power, the threat to our democracy grows." First, sedition (like treason) is a bullshit charge. You might argue that because he is president (still), there should be some limits on what he can say, but there's no practical way to enforce it -- about all you can do is counter that he's being stupid, evil, and/or a gross nincompoop who should be deeply ashamed of himself. Second, it's a little late to say that anyone must be brought to justice, given all those guilty of far worse crimes than throwing a tantrum over losing an election, even if you limit the time frame to this past year.

Isaac Arnsdorf: Inside Trump and Barr's last-minute killing spree: "Private executioners paid in cash. Middle-of-the-night killings. False or incomplete justifications. ProPublic obtained court records showing how the outgoing administration is using its final days to execute the most federal prisoners since World War II."

Shawn Boburg/Dalton Bennett/Neena Satija/Ken Hoffman: Ex-cop hits truck thinking it held 750,000 fraudulent ballots, police say. It held air conditioning parts.

The episode illustrates the extreme and sometimes dangerous tactics that a set of conservative groups have employed in an effort to substantiate President Trump's unproven allegations of widespread voting fraud in the election. Theories about truckloads of missing mail-in ballots, manipulated voting machines and illegal mail-in ballot collections have abounded in far-right circles, despite a lack of credible evidence, leading to threats of violence against election workers and officials.

Kyle Cheney/Josh Gerstein: Trump's latest batch of pardons favors the well-connected.

Kaitlan Collins: Giuliani told to preserve all records as lawyers for Dominion warn legal action is 'imminent': Moves toward a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems over the conspiracy treaties floated by Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

Sumner Concepcion: Dominion CEO weighs potential lawsuit against Trump for pushing bogus fraud claims.

Paul Dickinson: I sued Blackwater for the massacre of Iraqi civilians. Trump just pardoned those convicted killers. "Trump's pardon of the Blackwater mercenaries who murdered 14 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square shows the world what justice means in the United States." But the entire war was an unindicted, unprosecuted crime, the culpability increasing all the way to GW Bush at the top. That says all you need to know about the state of justice in the United States. The tiny number of soldiers and mercenaries who did get prosecuted were selected not because they killed and/or tortured Iraqis -- thousands did that, as directed by US policy -- but because they violated orders, so grossly the military felt the need to make an example of them, in order to maintain command order. What the pardons do is to show that the military cannot maintain discipline within its own ranks, let alone act as a viable occupying force. That's something to consider before inserting military forces in foreign countries where they cannot help but self-destruct. Of course, also consider the fact that no occupying military force, no matter how disciplined, can possibly be viewed and respected as just.

Franklin Foer: The triumph of Trump's kleptocracy.

Matt Gertz: Trump's Fox News pardon pipeline: A comprehensive review: "Fox's programming and personalities influenced at least 21 of Trump's acts of clemency -- so far." Update of an article from 2019. Expect another update around January 20.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump's most disgusting pardons.

Spencer S Hsu/Kareem Fahim: Trump administration weighing legal immunity for Saudi crown prince in alleged assassination plot. Mohammed bin Salman is being sued in US courts for his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Trump could intercede on the Prince's behalf.

Alex Isenstadt: Senior Trump advisers prepare to launch policy group. Brooke Rollins, Larry Kudlow. Other names are more speculative. Kudlow says, "The president is very enthusiastic about this."

Ankush Khardori:

Michael Kranish: Trump vowed to drain the swamp. Then he granted clemency to three former congressmen convicted of federal crimes.

Anita Kumar/Gabby Orr: Inside Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the election.

Anita Kumar/Melanie Zanona/Marianne Levine: 'Complete clusterf---': Trump leaves Washington in limbo: "No one in the White House or on Capitol Hill appears to know what Trump's plan is -- or even if there is one."

The repercussions of inaction could be dramatic. If lawmakers and White House aides can't persuade the president to sign a funding and Covid relief package by Monday, the government will enter the fourth shutdown of Trump's presidency. And millions of Americans had been told to expect another round of direct payments from the government shortly, while businesses across the country were expecting more financial assistance.

Yet Trump left town Wednesday afternoon without saying a word about the bill, departing for Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida resort, where he plans to stay through the new year. And no one seems to know what will happen next.

German Lopez: Trump pardons corrupt members of Congress and allies caught in Russia investigation.

Eric Lipton: In last rush, Trump grants mining and energy firms access to public lands.

Amanda Marcotte: Remember that stupid thing Donald Trump did? Hard as it is to pick, here are the top 10.

Tim Naftali: Trump's pardons make the unimaginable real. Much about Watergate here, how Nixon was tempted to pardon his way out of the jam, but held back, so Trump has already broken new ground in pardoning his accomplices -- and one only wonders how much further he's willing to go. One thing that's clear already is that neither public opinion nor respect for democratic norms will inhibit him.

Erica Newland: I'm haunted by what I did as a lawyer in the Trump Justice Department. Newland worked in the Office of Legal Counsel from 2016-18.

Tina Nguyen: Trump leans on QAnon figures in flailing effort to overturn election.

Paul R Pillar: The big finale: is Trump dangerous enough to start a war? Tricky territory here: calling Trump "dangerous" just strokes his ego. A better word choice is "deranged." Trump seems to be angling for a parting salvo on Iran. He's moving forces into position -- not that there weren't plenty already. But he doesn't have enough time for a full-blown war, and I rather doubt that the Joint Chiefs would go all in for a lame duck president. But there's little reason, other than his innate slothfulness, to think he's not deranged enough to try.

Nikki McCann Ramirez: A far-right architecture obsession just became a Trump executive order -- and Tucker Carlson was the middleman:

On December 21, President Donald Trump signed an executive order designating "classical" architecture the preferred style for federal buildings in Washington, D.C. The order represents the transformation of an far-right obsession into federal law, and the long-gestating effort was aided by Fox host Tucker Carlson earlier this year.

James Risen: Snowden and Assange deserve pardons. So do the whistleblowers Trump imprisoned. Reality Winner is also pictured. Evidently there's been some discussion of pardoning the first two. Indeed, one can argue that Assange was a major asset for Trump in 2016, and that Trump might have fared better in 2020 with Assange free to dig up dirt on Democrats -- something he couldn't do while in jail. (I'd put more emphasis on Trump's job performance as a reason he lost.) Still, I'd be pleased to see any/all pardoned. But if Trump pardons any of them, expect a lot of security-fetish Democrats to throw a conniption fit.

Aaron Rupar: Fox News's post-Trump identity crisis, explained by an expert: Interview with Matt Gertz, of Media Matters.

Maggie Severns: A Trump executive order set the stage for Falwell's political activities.

Ben Smith: The 'red slime' lawsuit that could sink right-wing media: "Voting machine companies threaten 'highly dangerous' cases against Fox, Newsmax and OAN, says Floyd Abrams."

Kimberly Wehle: No, Flynn's martial law plot isn't sedition. But it's not necessarily legal either. "If it incites violence, the former general's proposal to redo the election is not covered by free speech protections."

Matt Zapotosky: Undercutting Trump, Barr says there's no basis for seizing voting machines, using special counsels for election fraud, Hunter Biden.

Matt Zapotosky/Josh Dawsey/Colby Itkowitz/Jonathan O'Connell: Trump pardons Charles Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone in latest wave of clemency grants.

Politics as Usual

Congress passed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill, combined with a $1.4 trillion bill to keep the government from shutting down by allowing all sorts of spending through September. See Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou: Congress has officially passed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief package. Trump whined and pouted without signing the bill (at least as of late Saturday). See: Alexandra Olson/Jill Colvin: Trump fiddles as unemployment benefits are about to expire for millions. Sunday evening, Trump finally signed -- see Seung Min Kim/Jeff Stein/Mike DeBonis/Josh Dawsey: Trump signs stimulus and government spending bill into law, averting shutdown. Or, as the New York Times put it, Trump signs pandemic relief bill after unemployment aid lapses.

FiveThirtyEight: Latest polls of the Georgia Senate runoffs: Basically dead even. I'm not sure why anyone would split their vote, but the numbers show a 0.5% edge for Perdue over Ossoff and a 0.6% edge for Warnock over Loeffler.

Dean Baker:

  • Quick note on the Federal Reserve Board: So Republican Sen. Pat Toomey "insisted on adding language to the pandemic rescue package, stripping the Fed of emergency powers." Granted, the Fed mostly uses its powers to rescue banks and ensure them profits (remember "the Greenspan put"?), the clear intent here is to make the recession longer and deeper under Biden.

    Just for background, we know that the Republicans are perfectly fine with sabotaging the economy in order to hurt the political prospects of a Democrat in the White House. This is exactly what they did under President Obama, as they demanded recovery killing austerity as they feigned concern about deficits. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell openly said that his job was to make Obama a one-term president.

  • Bloomberg is concerned that Janet Yellen's dollar policy may lessen wealth inequality. Of course, Toomey's concern is not just a cynical political ploy. He's also concerned that the rich might suffer.

Eric Levitz: 7 surprisingly good policies buried in the stimulus-omnibus bill.

  1. The most significant climate-change legislation in at least a decade (and arguably ever).
  2. An end to most forms of surprise medical billing.
  3. The most significant anti-money laundering reform in decades.
  4. A simultaneous breakthrough in higher-education and criminal-justice-reform policy.
  5. Two cool new museums.
  6. An expansion of rural broadband.
  7. Medicaid for Marshall Islanders.

German Lopez: Trump vetoes military spending bill, potentially setting up first veto override of his presidency.

Natalie Shure: Congress doesn't care about your surprise ambulance bill.

Emily Stewart: The stimulus bill includes a "historic" provision to expand broadband internet access.

Li Zhou:

Biden Prospects

See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots. Another updated scorecard is Intelligencer's All of president-elect Joe Biden's cabinet nominees. For an evaluation, see Robert Kuttner: Biden's cabinet: The scorecard so far.

I also want to point out an extensive series of articles, collectively titled Day One Agenda, at The American Prospect. I've linked to some below, and others in previous weeks. Most focus on things that Biden can do with existing executive powers, without having to go hat-in-hand to get support from a hostile Congress. A lot of these are unlikely to happen -- one article,, Joe Biden is unhappy about the Day One Agenda, is conscious enough to argue over it, as does The Day One Agenda polls pretty well -- but the vast scope of these pieces shows that the left is bursting with good ideas for better government. For further debate, see Ryan D Doerfler: Executive orders and smart lawyers won't save us, and the reply by David Dayen: Make progress on all fronts: A response to Jacobin.

Glenn Greenwald: With Biden's new threats, the Russia discourse is more reckless and dangerous than ever: "The US media demands inflammatory claims be accepted with no evidence, while hacking behavior routinely engaged in by the US is depicted as aberrational." My main complaint here is that I don't recall US hacking as ever having been depicted as anything -- aside from rare whistleblower complaints, it's simply not something American media tries to report on.

Jeff Hauser/Erich Pica: The most important Biden appointee no one has heard of: "The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs can determine the scope of the Biden presidency."

Mike Pearl: The green fantasy and messy reality of nuclear power.

Robert Wright: Five things about Gen. Lloyd Austin.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 19.1 million+ cases (14 day change -9%, total up 1.4 million in last week), 333,197 deaths (-71%), 117,344 hospitalized (+11%). Dec. 18 had a peak of 251,447 new cases, with Dec. 26 just barely down to 225,930 -- the drop to 91,922 cases on Christmas day is what's dragging the average down, but that may have more to do with reporting than with testing.

I saw a report last week that 4 of the top 5 counties nationwide for per capita death rates were in Kansas, topped by Edwards County. I had an aunt who used to live in Kinsley there, and I've spent a lot of time there, especially before 1970. The town has declined considerably, with the county population dropping under 3,000, so a small number of deaths makes a big blip. The map above shows an average of 10 cases per 100,000 in Edwards, but 147 in neighboring Pawnee County, and 0 in Hodgeman and Kiowa Counties. (Hodgeman, by the way, was where my great-great-grandfather homesteaded in 1867. My father was born there in 1923, although his birth certificate says Spearville, just over the Ford County line (and just a couple miles from Edwards County).

Dean Baker: Helping the NYT understand its reporting: China's coverup was not the cause of the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus.

Donald G McNeil Jr: How much herd immunity is enough? Without doing any math, my initial guess was that it would take about 80% immunity to significantly reduce the number of cases, and a good deal more to "banish it." Evidently people who should have done the math were throwing out 60-70% estimates, but when pressed recently Fauci is talking 75-85% (publicly, and 90% privately).

Brian Resnick/Umair Irfan: The new UK coronavirus mutations, explained.

Around the World

Andrew J Bacevich: Reflections on Vietnam and Iraq: The lessons of two failed wars. [Reprinted from TomDispatch, minus Tom Engelhardt's introduction.] While I'm pleased to see these two debacles linked in print, the only lesson of Vietnam is that Americans are incapable of learning lessons, even (or perhaps especially) from failures. Perhaps chances are better for Iraq: the memory is less distant, and less clouded by overarching mission -- the "global war on terror" was always more nebulous than the anti-communist crusade, and didn't even fit the situation in Iraq. But the similarities are critical, hence one should draw the same basic lessons: both are wars where the US attempted to impose its capitalist economic system on nations accustomed to resisting colonialism, and did so ultimately with military force, with little (if any) respect for the lives and welfare of the people. Sure, there were moments when the US talked its game of democracy, but it was always conditional on voting for the right politicians. The only things that made Iraq less of a disaster than Vietnam was that the US was able to disunite resistance by inciting civil war (between Kurds and Arabs, and between Shiite and Sunni Arabs), playing each side against the other. I'd draw two basic lessons from these wars: one is that the US has to be more respectful of the people and their welfare, even if that means letting them run their own affairs and organize their society and economy along lines we don't consider ideal; the other is that armed force is not a real option -- it is counterproductive, both in that it destroys the nation one hoped to save, and in that it is corrosive of the moral values of the occupying force. Also at TomDispatch:

  • Tom Engelhardt: Partyland 2020. Subtitle asks "what if, after 9/11, George W Bush had thrown parties?" But if memory serves, Bush did shill for Disneyland immediately after 9/11, while plotting to make his grudge war against Afghanistan even more unwinnable by extending it to Iraq and beyond, promoting an "Axis of Evil" that extended as far as North Korea. As Trump showed with Covid-19, America believes in partying through its wars.

  • Rebecca Gordon: All-War-All-the-Time?

Katrin Bennhold: She called police over a neo-Nazi threat. But the neo-Nazis were inside the police. In Germany.

Chas Freeman: The growing peril of war with China over Taiwan.

Fred Kaplan: Should the US retaliate for Russia's big hack? Any time I read about the need to deter attacks my bullshit detector goes off. Kaplan tries to make a case for nuclear deterrence, and that's not totally wrong, as there is a clear line separating use of nuclear weapons from other weapons, and nuclear weapons represent a clear escalation beyond any other weapons. Still, the main reason nuclear deterrence works is that nobody actually wants nuclear war, so deterrence reinforces preferred behavior. But how is it even possible to deter hacking?

Any assessment must also recognize the following: We do this sort of thing too, and have been doing it for a long time. Our cyberattacks tend to be more focused on specific targets, for specific aims. But the National Security Agency, Cyber Command, and certain units of the CIA have long been carving "backdoors" into foreign networks, roaming around in the critical infrastructure of adversaries, and planting malware that can damage this infrastructure on command.

In 2014, after realizing there was no way for America's vital networks to defend themselves from a sophisticated cyberattack, Cyber Command adopted a policy of "active defense." Defining the concept, Adm. Michael Rogers, the commander at the time, said the "biggest focus" would be "to attempt to interdict the attack before it ever got to us" -- in other words, to get inside the adversary's network, in order to detect him preparing an attack, then deflect or preempt it.

So, before U.S. leaders set about responding to the SolarWinds hack, they should articulate how it differs from the things that we sometimes do -- why the Russians deserve punishment and we don't.

Jessica J Lee: It's time to end the Korean War: "Seventy years into the conflict, Biden can resolve the original forever war."

Ted Snider: Israel-linked assassinations: How much is the US really involved?

Other Matters of Interest

Dave Barry: Dave Barry's year in review 2020: "And we thought past years were awful."

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw: The unacceptable costs of appeasing MAGA Nation: "Why we can't afford to make peace with white supremacists."

Thomas Geoghegan: Labor power is the key to racial equity: "The next big American conversation about race should take place in a union hall." Part of a series called Unbreaking America: "How to fix a country that was already cracking up before Trump came along." Some other pieces:

Parker Molloy: A war on Christmas story: How Fox News built the dumbest part of America's culture war.

New York Times: Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year. A somewhat idiosyncratic but interesting list, topped by Shere Hite.

Alex Pareene: The return of corporate tax incentives is a bad omen for blue states.

Kirkpatrick Sale: Is society collapsing? Author of the first major history of SDS (1973), recalls a bet he made 25 years ago "that global society led by the United States would collapse in the year 2020 from a confluence of causes created by modern technology out of control." Earlier this year (February 11), before the pandemic really hit, he wrote a short book to make his case for winning the bet (The Collapse of 2020). This is a précis. Not sure that he won the bet, but I'd say he's closer than his "won't even be close" opponent.

Zachary Siegel: The deadliest year in the history of US drug use.

Micah L Sifry: Why did Obama forget who brought him to the dance? "His memoir is strangely silent about the people who organized for him." This reminds me of the adage that while both parties despise their bases, Republicans at least fear theirs, which keeps them aligned. Most Democrats, on the other hand, feel free to turn their backs as soon as the votes are counted.

And as Election Day approaches, Obama writes of his awe at the size of the crowds coming to his rallies and worries about having aroused too much hope, knowing that he might not be able to meet the expectations that some of his followers were pressing on him.

But after his election as president, the grassroots disappears from Obama's story. The amnesia starts the night of his inauguration, when he attended ten formal balls with first lady Michelle Obama, but only the first one, where he was serenaded by Beyoncé, and later one for members of the armed forces, make it into his memoir. The Obama for America staff ball, which was attended by 10,000 staff and where Obama reportedly spoke for 17 minutes, is gone from his memory. White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who managed the White House's relationships with Democratic advocacy organizations, gets barely a mention for his role in the health care reform fight. The organizers who took him to victory in the Iowa caucus, who he says he "would still do anything for," are nowhere in the rest of the book, even as one of them, Mitch Stewart, would come to run Organizing for America at the DNC. . . .

It's no wonder that once Obama entered the White House, he and his team obsessed about how much power the media had to shape the narrative of his presidency. He never understood that when enough people are successfully organized to move en masse, they can actually write history themselves. Instead, he thought he was the author of his story. And apparently, he still does.

Richard Silverstein: Conflating Judaism and Zionism: Bad for the Jews.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: Welcome to the malarky factory. A scattershot of useful tidbits. For example, "a handful of giant corporations have spent $8 trillion in unproductive stock buybacks since 2009." I was recently reminded that stock buybacks were illegal before Reagan. It has since helped inflate the stock market, becoming one of the main ways wealth is transferred to the top 1%.

Paul Waldman: What a miserable 2020 revealed about America: "It exposed an impotent political system, a deadly mythology of rugged individualism, and a Republican Party without shame."

Alex Walker: Rush Limbaugh's deranged 2020: From denying the pandemic to supporting a coup. Has anyone ever been more consistently wrong?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Daily Log

Posted this at Facebook:

Done with my quarantine Xmas Eve dinner. Since we couldn't entertain, I made 8 take-out dinners for two: paella, garlic chicken wings, Tuscan spare ribs (a lot of fennel seeds in the rub, and glazed with balsamic), eggplant parmesan, Tunisian fish (preserved lemons & olives), green beat ragout, cauliflower gratin, "herb pie" (greens and cheese wrapped in filo and baked), mast va khiar (cucumber-yogurt), horiatiki (chopped salad with feta). For dessert: date pudding, tiramisu, chocolate cake, oatmeal stout cake, macadamia-white chocolate cookies, Moroccan mixed fruit. Lots of problems with the desserts. Only picture I took was right after the herb pie came out of the oven, flanked on stove by chicken wings and paella. I'm sore and tired, and kitchen is a wreck. Latter will be cleaned up by tomorrow, but the pain seems here to stay.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34609 [34569] rated (+40), 213 [215] unrated (-2).

No real time to work on this, so I need to rush through. Continuing to update various tracking files (although I've fallen way behind with the EOY aggregate):

I've finished compiling the Jazz Critics Poll, toting up 148 ballots. NPR will publish the results, but I don't know what their schedule is. Full rankings and all the ballots will be available on my website, once NPR has done their thing.

Two fairly major musicians died last week: Jazz pianist Stanley Cowell, and country singer-songwriter K.T. Oslin. Oslin's Love in a Small Town is a personal favorite. Cowell's 1969 album Blues for the Viet Cong was an early breakthrough, seems more radical today than it was then. Here are a couple links:

Here's a link for a new Iris DeMent song: Going Down to Sing in Texas. I haven't seen any reports of a new album coming out, but the song is clearly recent and topical.

I'm going to do a fair amount of cooking this week. We won't be hosting our usual Christmas Eve dinner, and we won't be attending the big Christmas Day bash at my cousin's farm, but I'm planning on delivering "meals on wheels" for 15-20 friends. I'll be listening to music while I cook, but nothing I'll write about, so next week's report should be relatively thin. It will also be the last of the month and year, so I might be tempted to push it out a bit.

New records reviewed this week:

  • 75 Dollar Bill: Little Big Band Live at Tubby's (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • 75 Dollar Bill: Live at Cafe Oto Dec. 19, 2019 (2019 [2020], self-released): [r]: A-
  • 75 Dollar Bill: Power Failures (2018 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • 75 Dollar Bill Little Big Band: Roulette, March 27, 2017 (2017 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Bab L' Bluz: Nayda! (2020, Real World): [r]: B+(*)
  • William Basinski: Lamentations (2020, Temporary Residence): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nat Birchall: Mysticism of Sound (2020, Ancient Archive of Sound): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner: Upright Living (2020, Tradition Disc): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Nat Birchall Sextet: Exaltation: Live in Athens Vol 1 (2018 [2020], Parafono): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Blu & Exile: Miles (2020, Fat Beats): [r]: A-
  • Jorun Bombay & Phill Most Chill: Jorun PMC (2020, AE Productions): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Phoebe Bridgers: Copycat Killer (2020, Dead Oceans, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Phoebe Bridgers: If We Make It Through December (2020, Dean Oceans, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Brad Brooks: God Save the City (2020, Brad Brooks): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Disclosure: Energy (2020, Island): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Elzhi: Seven Times Down Eight Times Up (2020, Fat Beats): [r]: B+(**)
  • Felt: Felt 4 U (2020, Rhymesayers Entertainment): [r]: A-
  • Matthew Halsall: Salute to the Sun (2020, Gondwana): [r]: B+(***)
  • Headie One X Fred Again: Gang (2020, Relentless, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jihee Heo: Are You Ready? (2020, OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Nicholas Jaar: Cenizas (2020, Other People): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nicholas Jaar: Telas (2020, Other People): [r]: B+(**)
  • Aubrey Johnson: Unraveled (2017 [2020], Outside In Music): [r]: B-
  • Jimmy Johnson: Every Day of Your Life (2019, Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
  • Simone Kopmajer: Christmas (2020, Lucky Mojo): [cd]: B
  • Marlowe [L'Orange & Solemn Brigham]: Marlowe 2 (2020, Mello Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Moodymann: Taken Away (2020, Mahogani Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • New Orleans High Society: New Orleans High Society (2020, 1718/Slammin Media): [r]: B+(***)
  • Tivon Pennicott: Spirit Garden (2020, New Phrase): [r]: B
  • Zach Phillips: The Wine of Youth (2020, self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Polo G: The Goat (2020, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • ROPE [Frank Paul Schubert/Uwe Oberg/Paul Rogers/Mark Sanders]: Open Ends (2017 [2020], Trouble in the East): [bc]: B+(**)
  • J. Peter Schwalm/Arve Henriksen: Neuzeit (2020, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Sturgill Simpson: Cuttin' Grass Vol. 2 (The Cowboy Arms Sessions) (2020, High Top Mountain): [r]: A-
  • Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter: Plaguesong (2020, ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Tell No Lies: Anasyrma (219 [2020], Aut): [r]: B+(**)
  • Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours: Chapter 10: Breaking Cover (2020, Picaro): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Ambiance: Into a New Journey (1982 [2020], BBE): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Misha Mengelberg: Rituals of Transition (2002-10 [2020], I Dischi Di Agelica): [r]: B+(**)
  • Neil Swainson Quintet: 49th Parallel (1987 [2020], Reel to Real): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cecil Taylor: At Angelica 2000 Bologna (2000 [2020], I Dischi Di Angelica): [r]: B+(**)

Further Sampling:

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Lisa Mezzacappa Six: Cosmicomics (2020, Queen Bee): [bc: 1/11, 6:25/66:11]: ++

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Christiane Bopp/Jean-Marc Foussat/Emmanuelle Parrenin: Nature Still (Fou)
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Thomas Lehn: Spie(l)gehungen (Fou)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

Rushed through this, reusing last week's TOC and section breakdown, even though it's getting hard to slot the post-election stories. Also, no doubt because the Electoral College vote was way back on Monday, I didn't run across much there. I suppose I should know better, but I'm still surprised that Trump's still jerking us around. He lost by more than 7 million votes, with Biden getting an absolute majority -- a feat that wouldn't even trigger a runoff in Georgia or Louisiana. The scandal is not that he got beat, but that the Electoral College system is so slanted and undemocratic that the vote there was even close to close. And as I note under a piece in the "fraud" section, if anyone has a right to complain about election counts, it's the Democrats, who significantly trailed the best available polling in select swing states and districts.

I should probably note somewhere that Wichita has been rocked by a series of earthquakes in the last couple days, ranging from 2.7 to 3.7. These are centered inside city limits, about 8-9 miles east and very slightly north of where we live. Newspaper says there were similar quakes around 1948, but nothing like them in my lifetime. They also doubt they have anything to do with fracking, but there are oil wells 15-25 miles northeast of there, on up past El Dorado. We have felt many earthquakes from Harper County, KS, and further down in Oklahoma, which are definitively caused by injection wells.

I am in a rush to wrap this up, as I have a Christmas project I need to be getting to.

Trump's Election Fraud, Etc.

On Monday, the Electoral College voted, as expected: Biden's 306 Electoral College votes make his victory official. Trump continues to contest the election, more desperately than ever.

Jonathan Chait: Trump floats coup plan that's so wild even Rudy Giuliani is terrified. "The crazies are turning on the crazier."

DC Report: Why the numbers behind Mitch McConnell's re-election don't add up. If Trump wasn't making such a ridiculous stink about how his election was stolen, we'd be seeing more stories like this one, about the real mystery of the election, which is where all those damn Republican votes came from. McConnell's approval rate in Kentucky is way down at 39%, but he somehow managed to defeat Democrat Amy McGrath by 19-points. Even more suspicious is Susan Collins' win in Maine, after trailing in literally every poll all year long. And why weren't the presidential races much closer in Florida, Ohio, and Iowa? It's possible to imagine some hidden pockets of Trump/Republican support, but the votes in many swing states/districts broke about as far Republican as poll margins of error allowed.

Igory Derysh: Michael Flynn says Trump could seize every voting machine across the country and "rerun" election.

Peter Dreier: The number of Democratic Socialists in the House will soon double. But the movement scored its biggest victories down ballot.

Andrew Prokop: Alternate electors: The latest far-fetched Trump plan to overturn the election, explained.

Aaron Rupar: Ron Johnson turned the Senate into a platform for discredited election conspiracy theories.

Alex Shephard: Republicans will never accept the election results.

Tessa Stuart: What the Democratic Party can learn from Stacey Abrams' success in Georgia.

Anya van Wagtendonk: Trump is reportedly considering making Sidney Powell a special counsel on election fraud.

Biden Prospects

See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots. Another updated scorecard is Intelligencer's All of president-elect Joe Biden's cabinet nominees.

I've cited a number of articles critical of Biden's cabinet picks -- Jeffrey St Clair is by far the most caustic -- but my own druthers were finally articulated by Walter Shapiro: Give Joe Biden a break: "Sure, some of his Cabinet choices have been puzzling. But what's most important right now is that Biden feels comfortable with the people in his administration." Of course, the left can and should continue to offer advice and recommendations, but I don't see any value in carping. For all his problems, Biden was a lot better than Trump, and Biden's cautious reforms are still much better than what Trump and the Republicans have been doing. Besides, over the long term, the left has better solutions, and many of those will win out eventually, but only once they are embraced by mainstream Democrats, which will only happen when the spectre of Republican power fades.

Kate Aronoff: Biden isn't a lost cause for the left.

Gabriel Debenedetti: A Biden style of government is emerging: Lowest drama possible.

Barry C Lynn: How Biden can transform America: "The country thrived when its leaders broke up monopoly power. The president-elect won't need Congress to do so again." Also see Martin Longman's comment on Lynn's piece, How Biden can have a successful presidency without Congress. More on antitrust:

Alex Pareene: Jen O'Malley Dillon fell into Joe Biden's unity trap. For another take on this same "story":

Aaron Rupar: Biden's post-Electoral College speech was a stinging rebuke of Trump.

Alex Shephard: Sorry, the Hunter Biden story is still not a thing.

Emily Stewart: The debate over Joe Biden cancelling student debt, explained.

Marianne Sullivan/Christopher Sellers: 10 ways Biden should fix the EPA. Biden's appointment of Michael Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, was a start. The 10 ways:

  1. Take quick climate action
  2. Restore the budget and staff
  3. Keep industry out
  4. Make environmental justice a priority
  5. Tackle toxic chemicals
  6. Reinvigorate science
  7. Enforce the law
  8. Upgrade data
  9. Be a stewart of information
  10. Partner with the American public

John Walsh: Can Biden-Harris 'just say no' to the endless war on drugs?

Alex Ward: Progressives, trying to sway Biden, send list with 100 potential foreign policy hires.

Li Zhou: Poll: A majority of voters want Joe Biden to advance policies that promote gender equality.

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 17.7 million+ cases (14 day change +13%, total up 1.3 million in last week), 317,120 deaths (+21%), 113,929 hospitalized (+14%). Deaths hit a new high on Wednesday with more than 3,600. "The South is on a worrisome trajectory": Tennessee has the highest per capita rate in the country, while Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina have all set weekly case records.

Remember when Trump said that after the election you'll never hear about Covid again?

American life has been fundamentally reordered because of the virus. Concerts, parades and high school basketball games continue to be called off. Countless people have found themselves jobless and struggling to afford housing. Many schools and colleges have held few or no in-person classes this fall. More than 397,000 cases have been linked to colleges and universities over the course of the pandemic. Thousands more cases have been identified in elementary, middle and high schools.

One class of story I didn't feel like going into is speculation about vaccine distribution. Anything that big is bound to have snafus, deliberate or not. And sure, in a society with as much inequality as America has, it's inevitable that we'll have line-jumpers and people left out. I will note that I saw a tweet from Cam Patterson claiming that over 1,000 people have been vaccinated at UAMS in Little Rock (where he's Dean, and I might add the best possible person for the job). I take that as a good sign.

Yasmeen Abutaleb/Ashley Parker/Josh Dawsey/Philip Rucker: The inside story of how Trump's denial, mismanagement, and magical thinking led to the pandemic's dark winter.

William Booth: Britain tightens lockdowns over virus mutation with 'significantly faster' transmission rates.

Apoorva Mandavilli: The coronavirus is mutating. What does that mean for us?

Lois Parshley: The many strange long-term symptoms of Covid-19, explained.

Brian Resnick: A wild mink in Utah has Covid-19. Veterinarians fear this is just the beginning.

Liz Theoharis: Making sense of mass abandonment amid abundance.

The Economy, Stupid

As I was trying to wrap this up, this story broke: Andrew Taylor: Congress reaches deal on major COVID relief package. As I understand it, the bill combines $900 billion for various relief programs (mostly for small businesses, but also a $300/week unemployment insurance bump -- vs. $600/week under CARES -- combined with a broader federal spending bill, which keeps the government funded through September. I generally skipped articles on negotiations for this bill, other than a couple warning about dire consequences if nothing happened. The bill is still far short of what Pelosi and Shumer were proposing last summer (which the House passed but Mitch McConnell blocked). More on this:

Sasha Abramsky: 2.7 million jobs in the arts have been lost since the pandemic began: "It's past time for the United States to make similar investments to protect the people and institutions who provide us with art, with song, with melody during good times and bad."

John Cassidy: A brazen Republican power play is blocking essential pandemic relief.

Thom Hartmann: Mitch McConnell is holding your community hostage until corporations are able to kill you without consequence. Not the way he's phrase it, but that's about the gist of McConnell's insistence on liability waivers for businesses.

Paul Krugman:

Timothy Noah: Republicans for recession: "How can you tell that the GOP has accepted Biden is the duly elected president? They're trying to destroy the economy."

Anna North: Millions of Americans are about to lose emergency paid leave during the pandemic: "The benefits expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn't act."

Emily Stewart: Whatever Congress does on stimulus, millions of workers are already screwed. "Even if there's another stimulus bill, unemployed workers are likely to see a lapse in benefits."

Still More on Donald Trump

I started this section for articles on the administration (after having broken out the more timely items above) and more generally on the man (and his awful family), but now it's just turning into the garbage bin.

Intelligencer Staff: The all-time funniest photos of President Trump: Funny is not the word that comes to mind here. Embarrassing is closer to the mark, with a bit of pathos thrown in.

Felipe De La Hoz: Trump's most vicious cultists aren't done with America: "They gleefully enabled a corrupt president for years. How will they satisfy their destructive appetites in the years to come?" Cue picture of Stephen Miller.

Susan B Glasser: Trump's new brand is loser.

Nicole Gaudiano: Trump appoints 1776 Commission members in last-minute bid to advance 'patriotic education'.

Jen Kirby: Attorney General Bill Barr contradicted Trump on voter fraud. Now he's resigning. One point is rarely made about Barr: he had a political agenda even before Trump became president, and he remained true to that agenda throughout his tenure. At some point, he realized he could use Trump's vanity to promote his agenda, which led him to write his op-ed on impeachment, which brought him to Trump's attention. He's often characterized as an enabler for Trump's subversion of Justice, but what we've really seen was Barr's own subversion, which he managed with a good deal less brown-nosing than many other Trump supplicants (e.g., Mike Pompeo, who, as I note elsewhere, also had his own private agenda). What Barr's resignation signifies is that he's calculated that from here on out, Trump is more of a liability than an asset. I think it's likely that most people in the Trump administration signed on because they thought they could use the power of the White House to advance their own goals, and they've been willing to suffer numerous indignities along the way. And in the end, most are likely to blame their own failures on Trump. Barr is different only in that he's shrewder, more deliberate, more efficient, and ultimately more dastardly. More on Barr:

Michael Kruse: Is Trump cracking under the weight of losing?

Jonathan V Last: Everyone Trump touches dies: The list.

Eric Lipton: In last rush, Trump grants mining and energy firms access to public lands: "The outgoing administration is pushing through approval of corporate projects over the opposition of environmental groups and tribal communities."

Nicole Narea:

Jonathan Swan: Officials increasingly alarmed about Trump's power grab. A lot of this reads like weird gossip and idle speculation, but Swan cites the New York Times for one of the more bizarre stories:

In and Around the Courts

Ian Millhiser:

Around the World

Gilbert Achcar: The first decade of the Arab revolutionary process.

Anand Gopal: America's war on Syrian civilians: "Bombs killed thousands of civilians in Raqqa, and the city was decimated. US lawyers insist that war crimes weren't committed, but it's time to look honestly at the devastation that accompanies 'targeted' air strikes."

Rebeca Gordon: It's almost twenty years since 9/11: Can we finally stop marching to disaster? Related:.

  • Jacob Silverman: The new language of forever war-making: "The post-9/11 consensus is crumbling, so America's hawks are inventing fresh rhetoric to justify imperialist disasters." Refers to a recent book by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies ("a conservative think tank notorious for lobbying for war against Iran"), with an essay: "Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad." No surprise that they're still hung up with the Vietnam War debacle (the right's version of the German "stab-in-the-back" theory):

    A certain disastrous, interminable American war haunts these writers, but it's not the one you'd think: Panetta and McMaster diagnose their skeptics with Vietnam syndrome, a psychic and societal malady that tends to produce a dim view of American war-making. This "has saddled American strategic thinking for decades," Panetta laments. McMaster attributes it to a "simplistic but widely held belief" that the Vietnam War "had been unjustified and unwinnable."

    If only Vietnam syndrome were a real affliction, it might have saved us from two more protracted, unwinnable wars. Hundreds of thousands of lives would not have been lost. America's true malady is quite the opposite: We don't learn from our imperialistic misadventures. Reading "Defending Forward," one cannot help but fear that 20 years hence, the foreign policy elites of the day -- safely ensconced in think tanks, newspaper op-ed boards, military contractors, Foggy Bottom, and the E-ring of the Pentagon -- will still be making the case for forever war. And they will accuse their critics of suffering from "Afghanistan syndrome."

Conn Hallinan: Space Force: space gravy for contractors and useless for Covid: "Why not deploy diplomats to demilitarize space and save the money for earth-bound problems." Wasn't there a treaty at some point intended to keep space free of weapons systems? If so, there has been a lot of cheating around the edges, or loopholes. The US didn't need a Space Force to launch military systems beyond Earth's atmosphere, although most of the practical uses are in communications, surveillance, and guidance for missiles. As far as I know, China and probably Russia have focused on counter-measures to disrupt US satellite dominance. Needless to say, it's easier and a lot cheaper to wreck some other system than it is to build one that is secure. The big problem with diplomacy is that while it's easy enough to get the "have nots" to agree not to bother (cf. NPT), the "haves" all have political and economic interests promoting further militarization, even when no one has a clear idea what might justify it, or why. However, even simpler than diplomacy would be to just fold its satellite portfolio back into the Air Force and abolish its separate identity. After all, the only thing having a separate Space Force really does is to gin up yet another pointless arms race. Besides, it's not just impractical. It's prima facie ridiculous. Also:

Vijay Prashad: Donald Trump's final act: Snuffing out the promise of democracy in the Middle East.

Philip Weiss: Israel is going to keep on killing Palestinian boys, until US Jews endorse BDS.

Other Matters of Interest

Tahir Amin: We need to take on drug companies' abuse of the patent system. Actually, we really should abolish the whole system. The idea that one person (or worse, company) can file paperwork on an idea and thereby prevent anyone else from thinking up and working on similar ideas is abhorrent to free enterprise, let alone human ingenuity. Worse still is the idea that "owning" an idea entitles one to exact unregulated monopoly rents. The potential for abusing such a system should be obvious, but doesn't depend on thought experiments: we see abuse everywhere we look. Granted, there are ways to "overhaul" the system to make it less onerous: one could reduce patent terms; one could arbitrate reuse rates, and allow others to further develop based on patents; one could eliminate certain classes of patents; one could reject overly broad patent claims; one could deny patents on grounds of obviousness. Still, we'd be better off killing off the whole wretched system.

Siddhartha Deb: The blinding clarity of John Le Carré: "His novels of imperial decline speak to a world that has remained at war since his youth." The famous spy novelist died last week at 89. My wife declared it the "worst day since Reginald Hill died." More on the late novelist:

Peter E Gordon: The scars of democracy: "Theodor Adorno and the crises of liberalism." Review of Adorno's book (a translation of a 1967 lecture), Aspects of the New Right-Wing Extremism.

Sean Illing: Americans don't think like citizens. They think like shoppers. Interview with political scientist Ethan Porter, author of The Consumer Citizen. Illing makes a key point:

Most "consumer citizens" are very bad at understanding how government interacts with their lives. The costs of government (taxes) are very clear, but the benefits of government (public parks, drivable roads, safe food to eat) are harder for people to connect. That's probably unavoidable in a big, complex society like ours, but it also seems like a recipe for incoherent electoral outcomes. . . .

Part of what I'm getting at here is that to be a citizen you have to care about your country and you have to care about the people who make it up, but in a capitalistic society like ours, market logic shapes our relationship to nearly everything, including and especially people. We're not part of some shared project. We're all competing for money, for power, for status, for whatever advantages we can get.

Tyler Kepner: Baseball rights a wrong by adding negro leagues to official records: "More than 3,400 players from seven leagues that operated from 1920 to 1948 will now be considered major leaguers in a move that will shake up the record books." I've spent hundreds of hours scanning Major League record books, all after the 1969 addition of statistics from four early all-white leagues, and indeed know a lot about the 1880's American Association through its stats. I've read several books on the negro leagues and their stars, but have only seen occasional stats cited -- so one thing this signifies is that researchers have finally gotten a credible set of statistics together. As became immediately clear after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947, the negro leagues were teaming with major-league talent. I started seriously following baseball in 1957, when I was six, and Robinson and Roy Campanella had just retired. A couple years later I recall my cousin and I picking white and black all-star games, and readily conceding that the black teams would win most (despite the white team looking a lot like our cherished major league champs, the New York Yankees). Later I found that Bill Veeck had seriously proposed making that thought experiment real: he owned the Philadelphia Phillies and wanted to field an all-black team. I've long considered integration to be the best thing that ever happened to Major League Baseball. Integrating the record books doesn't remove the tarnish on the Jim Crow era, when white players never officially had to test their talents against black opponents. (By the way, there are many stories of exhibition games, especially in Cuba, where they did, and you can guess how those turned out.) But at least young people, like I was, will get a better picture of the past.

John Koblin/Michael M Grynbaum: CNN and MSNBC fret over post-Trump future. My advice would be to find villains in the Republican Party and hound them mercilessly. That includes the obvious political figures, but also should look at the money people behind the party, the influence and corruption they seek. Sure, that's harder work than just going after Trump, but it dispenses with the easy temptation to try to smear Trump by contrasting him with the occasional Republican who strayed ever so slightly from his grip. People need to understand that the Republican Party is rotten top to bottom. If CNN and MSNBC can't do that, they don't deserve an audience.

Michael Lind: Progressives are a minority in America. To win, they need to compromise. Fair point, but what to compromise on is the rub, especially when the common slam against liberals is that by compromising so readily and by ceding so much ground, they call their own convictions into question.

Carlos Lozada: The great acceleration: "The virus isn't transforming us. It's speeding up the changes already underway." Washington Post book review editor, wrote a book about books about Trump, moves on here to the first speculative votes about the longer-term impact of the pandemic: Nicholas Christakis: Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live; Fareed Zakaria: Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World; John Mickelthwait/Adrian Wooldridge: The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It.

Ian J Lynch: Why can't the SEC just agree that bribing foreign governments is bad?: "Instead, it's scheduled to gut a rule forcing companies to disclose those bribes."

Andy Lee Roth/Mickey Huff: Corporate fact-checking services shouldn't be our defense against "fake news".

Luke Savage: They said tax cuts for the rich would create jobs. It never happened. Well, they were lying. And they knew they were lying. And most of the rest of us knew they were lying, and many said so at the time. And they did it anyway, knowing they'd be found out, but they didn't care. Related:

Colette Shade: The year we learned to live like life doesn't matter: "How the pandemic put a grotesque new face on the political normalization of brutality."

Jeffrey St Clair: The real resistance begins now: 25 groups that will keep fighting no matter who's president.

Vera Tolz: Short cuts. [article behind paywall, even though we fucking subscribe and I have the hard copy in front of me, but can't see for shit]

Alex Ward: How the US government hack happened, and what it means, explained by an expert: Interview with "cybersecurity expert" Jason Healey. The hack was accomplished by patching spy code into commercial software developed by SolarWinds and used by the various government agencies. More on cybersecurity issues:

  • Thomas P Bossert: I was the Homeland Security adviser to Trump. We're being hacked. Link to this asked even more hysterically "Is the US facing a Cyber Pearl Harbor?" I think the government has become far too cavalier about cyberwarfare, probably because they see it as a net positive, but also because they tend to be indifferent about collateral damage. The only real way to protect against such threats is to negotiate a modus vivendi where no one benefits from cyberattacks. On the other hand, while it seems clear that Russians have enjoyed a peek into US government computer networks, the actual damage is harder to assess, beyond the obvious embarrassment at allowing the breach to happen.

  • Jonathan Chait: Trump won't denounce Russia's hack because he's still subservient to Putin. The inevitable knee-jerk Cold War Liberal reaction. Trump may well be right that "The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control." On the other hand, he may well be confusing old and new Russia hacks, and out of the muddle getting overly defensive. I've never understood the line that Trump, with his wealth and power and ego and vanity, feels subservient to Putin, or anyone else. Sure, he may identify with Putin, because both are oligarchs whose contempt for democracy is cloaked by the trappings of nationalism. But the reason he doesn't fall for the Cold War stereotyping is simple enough: he realizes that both oligarchs have more to fear from their own people than from each other.

  • Fred Kaplan: The government has known about the vulnerabilities that allowed Russia's latest hack for decades -- and chose not to fix them.

  • Nancy LeTourneau: Amidst a massive cyber attack by Russia, Pompeo warns of China threat:

    This demonization of an enemy has become a pattern for Republicans. Ronald Reagan declared that the Soviet Union was an "evil empire" in 1983. As the Cold War ended, a new enemy emerged. Following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush identified an "axis of evil" -- North Korea, Iran, and Iraq -- in order to justify his "war on terror" and invasion of Iraq. Now we're being told that China is our greatest threat.

    The United States does, indeed, face some serious threats. But they come in the form of a pandemic, climate change, income inequality, gun violence, and a racist criminal justice system. Republicans are in denial about those issues -- and have been for a very long time. Perhaps that's why they are so intent on exaggerating a foreign threat that supersedes everything else.

  • Ellen Nakashima/Josh Dawsey: Trump contradicts Pompeo in bid to downplay massive hack of US government, Russia's role. Of course, it's impossible to believe that either of these guys know what they're talking about. Rather, they both use news to reiterate their preconceived notions. That they are opposed is no problem as long as Pompeo remains publicly submissive, and Trump cares about nothing else. Of course, they take Trump's position as "so much like a paid Russian agent." Just as possible that the hack has done no real damage, because the relationship is less adversarial than suits hawks (like Pompeo) who seek to profit from more fright.

  • Raphael Satter/Christopher Bing/Joseph Menn: Hackers used SolarWinds' dominance against it in sprawling spy campaign.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Daily Log

Scratch sheet for planning Christmas menu. More-or-less Mediterrannean theme, probably more "north of" (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey) than "south of" (Morocco, pan-Arab, Persian). Food will be delivered to "guests," who will have to reheat and/or finish to eat in their own homes. I've bought a lot of containers for delivery. Estimate cook for 20-25 people. Not everyone needs to get the same things.

Main dishes:

  • Rice: Paella valenciana [Sp], minus chicken and clams, plus shrimp.
  • Chicken: Garlic wings [Sp].
  • Fish: baked filets (cod? chermoula?).
  • Pork ribs: cola and jam? balsamic glaze? (combo glaze?)
  • Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes?
  • Eggplant: parmesan [It].
  • Green beans: ragout [Gr].

Starters, salads, side dishes:

  • Antipasto?
  • Gougeres [Greenspan]?
  • Gravlax [Greenspan]?
  • Chopped liver [Greenspan]?
  • Piperade [Greenspan]?
  • Cauliflower-bacon gratin [Greenspan]?
  • Chopped salad: horiatiki [Gr].
  • Cucumber-yogurt salad: mast va khiar [Iran].


  • Date pudding.
  • Cake? Flourless chocolate.
  • Tiramisu?
  • Baklava?
  • Cookies?
  • Brownies?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34569 [34511] rated (+58), 215 [215] unrated (+0).

Another monster week. I seriously doubt that 50 will be the new 30, but the last few weeks have gone that way. The main reason is that I've been shackled to the computer all week. Jazz Critics Poll deadline was Sunday, so I've had a steady stream of ballots to process. Aside from a quick pass at Weekend Roundup, I've spent most of the rest of my time adding EOY lists to my aggregate file. I've fallen pretty far behind this week, but the standings look like they've begun to stabilize. Top five have maintained stable margins since last week: Fiona Apple, Run the Jewels, Phoebe Bridges, Bob Dylan, Waxahatchee. Last week's three-way tie for 6th between Dua Lipa, Haim, and Taylor Swift has broken as Swift has the momentum, then Haim, then Lipa, with Perfume Genius and Sault (Black Is) rounding out the top ten.

Biggest surprise on that list is Sault, whose second album, Untitled (Rise), is also rising, currently at 24. I gave both of the group's 2019 albums A-, but didn't find the new albums as impressive. On the other hand, the first came out as the Black Lives Matter protests broke out last summer, and many people took them as anthemic. Aside from RTJ4, there have been damn few hip-hop albums this year that pop critics have felt obligated to cover. After Run the Jewels, US black rappers are buried pretty far down the list: Freddie Gibbs (43), Megan Thee Stallion (46), Lil Uzi Vert (48), Clipping (66), Lil Baby (96), Open Mike Eagle (105), 21 Savage & Metro Boomin (119), Flo Milli (122), Public Enemy (124), Westside Gunn (125), Childish Gambino (127), Princess Nokia (133). I don't have any good theories why this should be so.[1] I also don't have many on my list (although I've heard all but 1 of the top 53 hip-hop albums): Run the Jewels (4), Enemy Radio (20), Megan Thee Stallion (22), Public Enemy (26), Aminé (31), Megan Thee Stallion EP (32), Black Thought (34), City Girls (38), Moor Jewelry (39), Kehlani (47), Bktherula (48).

[1] OK, here's a theory, from Emily Nussbaum's essay on Jenji Kohan, starting midway in a Kohan quote:

"And right now, the world is just 'Everyone back to their corners.'" In the Trump era, Kohan sees an urge to hunker down with one's own, "to just put your louspeaker up and say, 'This is me, and this is my worldview, and I don't want to know from yours.'"

I don't know about you, but I've heard the word "hunker" more times this year than in the past 70 combined.

I might as well offer my own Jazz Critics Poll ballot here:

New Releases:

  1. Mark Lomax II & the Urban Art Ensemble, 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia)
  2. Rich Halley-Matthew Shipp-Michael Bisio-Newman Taylor Baker, The Shape of Things (Pine Eagle)
  3. Dave Rempis-Jeff Parker-Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten-Jeremy Cunningham, Stringers and Struts (Aerophonic)
  4. Aly Keďta-Jan Galega Bronnimann-Lucas Niggli, Kalan Teban (Intakt)
  5. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Hero Trio (Whirlwind)
  6. Kenny Barron-Dave Holland Trio Featuring Johnathan Blake, Without Deception (Dare2)
  7. Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)
  8. Jason Kao Hwang, Human Rites Trio (True Sound)
  9. Dave Glasser, Hypocrisy Democracy (Here Tiz Music)
  10. Kevin Sun, (Un)seaworthy (Endectomorph Music)


  1. Borah Bergman-Perry Robinson-Steve Swell-Ray Sage, Quartets Trios Duos (2007, Mahakala Music)
  2. Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, Ancestral Echoes: The Covina Sessions, 1976 (Dark Tree)
  3. Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe/Four Men Only, Complete Recordings (1968-73, NoBusiness)

Vocal: Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)

Debut: Immanuel Wilkins, Omega (Blue Note)

Latin: Aruán Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera, Inside Rhythmic Falls (Intakt)

Attentive readers will notice discrepancies between this ballot and my EOY Jazz List. The main one is that I decided to skip over albums that I have only heard from streaming or downloads. I've done this in the past for the historical category, but don't recall doing so for new releases before -- or maybe I just never had so many before. I've long suspected that CDs I receive are slightly more likely to get better grades than records I stream or download, mostly because I'm more likely to play them more times, so they may have an edge rising up my lists. (It's also likely that I'm a bit more inclined to replay albums on Napster than on Bandcamp, which I've found starts nagging me for a purchase on a third play.) Still, as I receive ever fewer promos, and spend more time streaming, the split has grown. I doubt the decision this year will result in me getting more promos next year. Still, I'm pleased to have been able to vote for the records I did, even though my highly approximate sorting left a bunch of very good records higher up my list:

  1. Ross Hammond/Oliver Lake/Mike Pride: Our Place on the Wheel (Prescott)
  2. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!)
  3. Evan Parker/Paul Lytton: Collective Calls (Revisited) (Jubilee) (Intakt)
  4. Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra: If You Listen Carefully the Music Is Yours (Odin)
  5. Broken Shadows: The Tower Tapes #2 (Jazz Club Ferrara)
  6. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem)
  7. Jeb Bishop Flex Quartet: Re-Collect (Not Two -19)
  8. Jasper Hřiby: Planet B (Edition)
  9. James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor: Live in Willisau (Intakt)
  10. Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (Cuneiform)
  11. Tani Tabbal Trio: Now Then (Tao Forms)
  12. Schlippenbach/Narvesen Duo: Liminal Field (Not Two -19)
  13. James Brandon Lewis Quartet: Molecular (Intakt)
  14. The Third Mind: The Third Mind (Yep Roc)
  15. Kahil El'Zabar: Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove (Spiritmuse)

While it looks like these records got slighted, I should note that my slotting of them is less certain than where I ranked the CDs. Christgau makes a bit point about only rating records that he's played at least five times -- enough to be highly certain of his grades. I don't limit myself to records I am absolutely certain of -- no doubt partly because I don't have his gift of certainty about anything. I'd rather jot down as much as I know, when I know it, and revise when/if further experience so dictates. Consequently, every grade has an unstated extra dimension of uncertainty, which isn't clear from the ranked list. I've thought about ways to notate this (the simplest is to count plays, not that every spin occurs under equal or even fair circumstances), but decided it would be a bookkeeping nightmare. Besides, there are other dimensions, like time, that add to the fuzziness.

I did make one exception to the CD-only rule, for Mark Lomax's top-rated 400 Years Suite, but only after I broke down and bought a copy. I haven't received it yet, and it's possible I'll change my mind when I do, but I figured I should at least own a copy of what seems most probably the record of the year. As I've noted, I've pretty much given up on buying new music, but I got dispensation from my wife to order a few non-jazz CDs recently: Fiona Apple, Run the Jewels, Lucinda Williams, Lori McKenna -- all albums I graded A-, which Christgau graded A or A+. (See my Non-Jazz EOY list.) Good chance I'll upgrade RTJ4 and move it to the top of my list. I'm less taken by Apple's album, not that it isn't a big deal.

I've followed the same CD-only rule for Reissues/Historial in recent years, not just to favor publicists who service me but also because the category is usually swept by fine but minor additions to he works of major artists -- this year: Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Art Blakey -- and I'd rather pick out some things that aren't automatically familiar. As I usually don't get these reminders of past glory -- Rollins in Holland is the only one this year -- the rule has been an easy excuse to stock my list with marginal but more interesting fare. That's what I did this year, going with a 3-CD box from NoBusiness that barely made my A- grade over the more obvious Rollins set.

One belated exception to the CD-only rule is the vote for Wilkins as Debut of the Year. Not seeing any debuts in my A-list, I originally left that blank, but was moved to give Wilkins another shot not for sweeping the category (something much hyped Blue Note artists win way too often) but because he did surprisingly well on main lists. I hate leaving form lines blank, so once I came around, I slipped him in. I have a lot of little-known artists in my A-list, but they all have previous records, even if they are even more obscure than their latest.

Next couple weeks should be much less frantic and stressful than the last two have been. I have a project for Christmas that should take me away from the computer, and I'll probably relax with favorite old music as the year winds down. Also thinking about resolutions for the new year. One thing that's pretty clear is that I'll be cutting back on the music tracking (the file has 5019 records so far) and reviewing (1256 records so far, which if not a record isn't far off the mark). Also have a couple of questions to answer this week.

Recommended music links: Dropped this as a regular feature, then this popped up:

New records reviewed this week:

  • Bruce Ackley/Fred Frith/Henry Kaiser/Aram Shelton: Unexpected Twins (2016 [2019], Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Amaarae: The Angel You Don't Know (2020, Golden Child Entertainment): [r]: A-
  • The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You (2020, Island): [r]: B+(**)
  • Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison (2020, Book): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bktherula: Nirvana (2020, Warner): [r]: A-
  • Boldy James/Sterling Toles: Manger on McNichols (2020, Sector 7-G): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chouk Bwa and the Ĺngströmers: Vodou Alé (2017-18 [2020], Bongo Joe): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Chubby and the Gang: Speed Kills (2020, Static Shock): [r]: B+(*)
  • DJ Python: Mas Amable (2020, Incienso): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dorian Electra: My Agenda (2020, self-released): [r]: B
  • Dave Douglas: Marching Music (2019 [2020], Greenleaf Music): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Duma: Duma (2020, Nyege Nyege Tapes): [r]: B
  • Dutchavelli: Dutch From the 5th (2020, Parlophone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Roger Eno and Brian Eno: Mixing Colours (2020, Deutsche Grammophon): [r]: B+(*)
  • Four Tet: Sixteen Oceans (2020, Text): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Friesen With Orchestra and Quartet: Testimony (2018-19 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B
  • Gorillaz: Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (2020, Parlophone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mickey Guyton: Bridges (2020, Capitol Nashville, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hemingway, Phillips & Moore: Slips (2019, Ramboy): [bc]: B+(**)
  • François Houle 4: RECODER (2019 [2020], Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
  • JPEGMafia: EP! (2020, Universal Republic, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams: Plastic Bouquet (2020, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kid Cudi: Man on the Moon III: The Chosen (2020, Republic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kirk Knuffke: Tight Like This (2020, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mário Laginha/Julian Argüelles/Helge Andreas Norbakken: Atlântico (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: A-
  • David Lord: Forest Standards Vol. 1 (2016 [2018], BIG EGO): [r]: B+(**)
  • David Lord: Forest Standards Vol. 2 (2018 [2020], BIG EGO): [r]: B+(**)
  • Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper/9th Wonder/Kamasi Washington: Dinner Party (2020, Sounds of Crenshaw, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper/9th Wonder/Kamasi Washington: Dinner Party: Dessert (2020, Sounds of Crenshaw, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Terrace Martin: Village Days (2020, Sounds of Crenshaw/Empire, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gayelynn McKinney and McKinney Zone: Zoot Suit Funk (2020, Beatstix): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Victoria Monét: Jaguar (2020, Tribe, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Michael Moore Fragile Quartet: Cretan Dialogues (2019, Ramboy): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The NDR Bigband With Michael Moore: Sanctuary (2019, Ramboy): [bc]: B+(***)
  • PRAED Orchestra: Live in Sharjah (2018 [2020], Morphine): [r]: B+(**)
  • Katie Pruitt: Expectations (2020, Rounder): [r]: B+(*)
  • Saint Jhn: While the World Was Burning (2020, Hitco): [r]: B+(**)
  • Oumou Sangaré: Acoustic (2020, No Format): [r]: B+(**)
  • The John Santos Sextet: Art of the Descarga (2011-15 [2020], Smithsonian Folkways): [r]: B+(***)
  • Alvin Schwaar/Bänz Oester/Noé Franklé: Travellin' Light (2019 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ray Scott: Nowhere Near Done (2020, Jethropolitan, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Squarepusher: Be Up a Hello (2020, Warp): [r]: B+(*)
  • Emma Swift: Blonde on the Tracks (2020, Tiny Ghost): [r]: B
  • Taylor Swift: Evermore (2020, Republic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jorma Tapio & Kaski: Aliseen (2019 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • Laura Toxvaerd: Tidens Strřm (2019, ILK, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Laura Toxvaerd: Drapery (2019, ILK): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kelsey Waldon: They'll Never Keep Us Down (2020, Oh Boy, EP): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Sharhabil Ahmed: The King of Sudanese Jazz ([2020], Habibi Funk): [r]: A-
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time OutTakes (1959 [2020], Brubeck Editions): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Nat King Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Best of Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) (1938-43 [2020], Resonance): [r]: B+(***)
  • George Lewis: Rainbow Family (1984 [2020], Carrier): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Prince Buster: Roll on Charles Street ([2020], Rock A Shacka): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Prince Buster: Let's Go to the Dance: Rock Steady Selection (1967-68 [2020], Rock A Shacka): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Kalie Shorr: Open Book: Unabridged (2019 [2020], Tmwrk): [r]: A-
  • Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit: Axis/Another Revolvable Thing (1975 [2020], Blank Forms Editions): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Gene Russell: New Direction (1971, Black Jazz; [2020], Real Gone Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gene Russell: Talk to My Lady (1974, Black Jazz): [r]: B+(*)

Further Sampling:

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Peter Evans/Joel Ross/Nick Jozwiak/Savannah Harris: Being & Becoming (2019 [2020], More Is More): [bc: 1/5, 9:43/50:11]: ++
  • Peter Evans Ensemble: Horizons (2018 [2020], More Is More): [bc: 2/7, 10:29/42:10]: +
  • Peter Evans: Standards (2020, More Is More): [bc: 1/5, 8:59/39:22]: +

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Serengeti: With Greg From Deerhoof (2020, Joyful Noise): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(***)
  • Sunny Sweeney: Recorded Live at the Machine Shop Recording Studio (2020, Aunt Daddy): [r]: [was: B+(***)]: A-
  • Immanuel Wilkins: Omega (2020, Blue Note): [r]: [was: B+(**)]: A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet: Social Distancing (Saponegro) [01-29]
  • Zach Phillips: The Wine of Youth (self-released)
  • Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter: Plaguesong (ESP-Disk)
  • Fay Victor's SoundNoiseFunk: We've Had Enough! (ESP-Disk)


  • Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia)

Monday, December 14, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

I've been paying more attention to EOY album lists, this week than to news. Started collecting this late Saturday evening, but got swamped Sunday with my work compiling Jazz Critics Poll ballots, and that pushed my schedule back a day. Even so, I prioritized collecting links for possible future interest, and refrained from commenting much on them. Perhaps I'll come back mid-week and add some notes, as there is much to talk about here.

The extra day means that the Electoral College has now done its duty and elected Joe Biden president (see: Electoral College vote officially affirms Biden's victory). Also: William Barr is out as Attorney General. And: US virus death toll crosses 300,000 as vaccinations begin (more figures further down, in the usual place).

Trump's Election Fraud and Other Election Matters

Jamelle Bouie: The 'Trump Won' farce isn't funny anymore: "Republicans are now seriously arguing that elections are legitimate only when their side wins."

Ronald Brownstein: The Republican Party's widening assault on American democracy.

Jessica Corbett: Four stabbed after Proud Boys, told by Trump to "stand back and stand by," descended on DC for march.

Garrett Epps: Disbar Ken Paxton -- and then some: Texas Attorney General, who filed the Trump fraudsters' "Hail Mary" lawsuit to overturn elections in states that try harder to practice democracy than Texas does.

Matt Ford: The rabid illiberalism of Trump's desperate election deniers.

Rosalind S Heiderman/Elise Viebeck: 'The last wall': How dozens of judges across the political spectrum rejected Trump's efforts to overturn the election.

Harold Meyerson: Will it really be all over on December 14? That's when the Electoral College votes.

Ella Nilsen: Everything that needs to go right for Democrats to win the Georgia runoffs, explained. More on Georgia:

Cameron Peters:

Jim Rutenberg/Nick Corasanti: 'An indelible stain': How the GOP tried to topple a pillar of democracy.

David Siders: Trump unleashes an army of sore losers.

Margaret Sullivan: Don't buy into Trump's disapproval of Fox News. The network is working hard on his election-denial fantasy.

Biden Prospects

See Building Biden's Cabinet for a survey of who's been selected for Biden's top administration positions, and who's being considered for still open slots.

Medea Benjamin/Nicholas JS Davies: Can Joe Biden's America figure out how to stop creating terrorists? Tempting to quote the whole article for its many examples where the insertion of US forces has only led to more resistance and terror (not least by the US itself). But I'll limit myself to the end:

We have real problems to deal with in this century -- existential problems that can only be solved by genuine international cooperation. We can no longer afford to sacrifice our future on the altar of the Global War on Terror, a New Cold War, Pax Americana or other imperialist fantasies.

Matt Ford: Biden is finding new and inexplicable ways to screw up his cabinet picks.

Fred Kaplan: Looks like Biden will be able to bring back the Iran deal after all.

Dylan Matthews:

Alex Pareene: Is Joe Biden just being stubborn? "A theory about his strangest nominees and appointments." Interesting example:

Take what happened to Marcia Fudge. The Ohio representative was openly lobbying to be made secretary of agriculture, in order to focus the department's attention on hunger and food security. She believed she had the relevant experience for the job and had even gone to the press with plans for what she wanted to do if selected: Her goal, as she explained in an interview last month, was to change the perception that the department only exists to help rural whites.

"As this country becomes more and more diverse, we're going to have to stop looking at only certain agencies as those that people like me fit in," she told Politico. "You know, it's always 'we want to put the Black person in labor or HUD.'"

Then Joe Biden's team put Marcia Fudge in HUD and announced that former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack would be getting his old job back.

Daniel Politi:

Dylan Scott: What Joe Biden could do to bring down drug costs.

Emily Stewart: The debate over Joe Biden cancelling student debt, explained: "45 million Americans have student debt." More on student debt:

Alex Ward:

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 16.4 million+ cases (14 day change +30%, total up 1.6 million in last week), 300,051 deaths (+67%), 109,331 hospitalized (+19%). Dec. 9 was the first day where deaths topped 3,000, the round number above and beyond such infamous days as 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.

Jerusalem Demsas: Study: Allowing evictions during Covid-19 could have caused nearly 11,000 unnecessary deaths.

Laurie McGinley/Carolyn Y Johnson/Josh Dawsey: FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in the deadly pandemic. Generic headline, but the link I followed to this article focused on the dirty hand of politics: White House orders FDA chief to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Friday or submit his resignation.

The White House actions once again inject politics into the vaccine race, potentially undermining public trust in one of the most crucial tools to end the pandemic that has killed more than 290,000 Americans. It comes in the midst of a process that had been designed to show no shortcuts were taken in reviewing the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine as surveys show many people remain unsure whether they will get the shots.

Given that bureaucrats have an innate tendency to drag their feet under the guise of caution, the political pressure might have been a good thing. Still, much can go wrong in a process driven primarily by profit-seeking and political advantage, where much of the relevant data is kept closed off as proprietary.

Whet Moser: The pandemic's final surge will be brutal.

Achal Prabhala/Arjun Jayadev/Dean Baker: Want vaccines fast? Suspend intellectual property rights.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg: Trump and friends got coronavirus care many others couldn't: "Rudolph W Giuliani became the latest in President Trump's inner circle to boast about the treatment he received for Covid-19, as hospitals across the country ration care."

Peter Wade: Rudy Giuliani brags about getting 'celebrity' virus treatment.

David Wallace-Wells: We had the vaccine the whole time.

F Perry Wilson: A doctor on 9 things that could go wrong with the new vaccines.

Sarah Zhang: The next six months will be vaccine purgatory: "The period after a vaccine is approved will be strange and confusing, as certain groups of people get vaccinated but others have to wait."

Still More on Donald Trump

Jonathan Chait: How Michael Anton's 'Flight 93 Election' essay defined the Trump era.

Sean Illing: A book critic read 150 Trump-era books. Here's what he learned. Interview with Carlos Lozada, author of What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era.

Nicole Narea:

Rachel Ramirez: The high rate of executions during Trump's last weeks in office, explained: "Trump has scheduled more federal executions than any president in at least a century."

William K Rashbaum/Ben Protess/David Enrich: Manhattan DA intensifies investigation of Trump.

Matt Stieb: Trump's last-minute execution spree has begun.

Tim Wu: What really saved the republic from Trump?

Jonathan Zimmerman: What Donald Trump can learn from Grover Cleveland. Premise here is that if Trump runs and wins in 2024, he'll join Cleveland as the only person to win two non-consecutive presidential terms. So how did Cleveland manage to win an election after losing one? Strikes me that the author is overly concerned with the duo's sex scandals, but there are other striking differences -- Cleveland actually won the popular vote in the election he lost -- as well as similarities (Cleveland was probably the most conservative president the US ever had, at least until Trump redefined what that meant).

In and Around the Courts

Jane Mayer: Dianne Feinstein's missteps raise a painful age question among Senate Democrats. Related:

  • Alex Shepherd: The Democrats are too old: "A grim report about Diane Feinstein's cognitive decline underlines a larger problem with the leadership of the party."

Ian Millhiser: The Supreme Court hands down a loss for rogue law enforcement officers -- and a win for the religious right.

Andrew Prokop: Joe Biden's Justice Department will inherit an investigation into Hunter Biden.

Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court rejects opportunity to roll back marriage equality.

Around the World

Jen Kirby:

Jessica J Lee: How we an build on Trump's North Korea policy.

Trita Parsi: House Dems united to support the Iran nuclear deal.

Cameron Peters: Iran's execution of journalist Ruhollah Zam, briefly explained.

Mitchell Plitnick: Israel-Morocco agreement plants long term seeds of conflict.

Elizabeth Shackelford: Why Trump's Somalia gambit won't make anyone happy.

Other Matters of Interest

Tariq Ali: On John Lennon and Mick Jagger.

Bryce Covert: How monopolies have taken over our everyday lives: Review of David Dayen's book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. By the way, some recent pieces by David Dayen:

Melissa Gira Grant: Nick Kristoff and the holy war on Pornhub: "When Kristof turns his notebook in the direction of women with stories of trauma, the resulting narratives most often fall somewhere between beneficent voyeurism and journalistic malpractice."

Daniel A Hanley: The FTC's strong case against Facebook. More on Facebook:

Sarah Jones: Why is Mitch McConnell so obsessed with liability shields?

Nick Martin: Wall Street vultures are ready to get rich from water scarcity.

Nathan J Robinson:

Luke Savage: How McKinsey, the world's most elite consulting firm, helped turbocharge America's opioid epidemic.

Peter Hammond Schwartz: Why the Democrats failed again: On the cosmological emptiness of liberalism: "Right-wingers have a theory of human nature and the universe. Without such a narrative, liberals will keep losing."

Alex Shepherd: Fox News is in trouble: "The network is facing real, sustained competition from the right for the first time in its history."

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: negative creep. His usual snark about Democrats (not without reason).

For a month now, the Democrats have ceded the airwaves to Trump and some of the most lunatic lawyers in America, while Biden rolls out recycled cabinet picks no one, except a few K Street lobbyists, asked for or wanted. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Schumer can't even get a tiny relief check to the 12 million people about to have their water and heat turned off or face eviction from their homes . . .

Still, lots more here, like a chart which shows that the top 1%'s share of income in India has risen from 6% in 1980 to 21%.

New York Times: This week in obituaries (a few names from a long list):

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Daily Log

Shopping for restaurant take out containers: Purchased:

  • Stack Man plastic w/lids, 200 sets, 2 oz, 1-1/8" h, 2-5/8" d: $9.99
  • Plastic cups with lids, 100 sets, 5.5 oz, 2-3/8" h, 2-7/8" d: $11.99
  • Stack Man plastic round with lids, 48 sets, 8 oz, 1.5" h, 4.5" d: $11.99
  • Stack Man plastic round with lids, 48 sets, 16 oz, 3" h, 4.5" d: $13.49
  • Stack Man plastic round with lids, 48 sets, 32 oz, 5.4" h, 4.6" d: $20.00
  • Iume plastic black with lids, 50 sets, 26 oz, 6.73x3.64x2.46": $17.99
  • Plastic 5x5" clamshell dessert containres, 50 count: $15.99
  • Brown bakery box with window, 20 pieces in 3 sizes: 8 8x8x2.75", 8 8.75x5.75x2.75", 4 10x10x5": $17.99

Not purchased:

  • SafeWare plastic round with lids, 200 sets, 2 oz, : $9.99
  • ProMoze plastic black with lids, 50 sets, 28 oz, 8.75x6x1.75": $23.99
  • ProMoze round plastic black with lids, 50 sets, 28 oz, 2" h, 7.25" d: $23.49
  • ProMoze plastic round deli with lids, 48 sets, 16 oz, 3" h, 4.5" d: $17.49
  • Plastic cups with lids, 100 sets, 4 oz, 1-7/8" h, 2-7/8" d: $10.99
  • Safeware plastic round with lids, 50 sets, 32 oz, 5.5" h, 4.5" d: $24.99
  • 32 oz square clear with lids, 25 sets, 32 oz, : $23.74
  • bakery/pie box with window, 25 sets, 10x10x2.5", white: $23.95
  • b rown pie box with window, 15 sets, 10x10x2.5": $15.99
  • white bakery box with window, 24 sets, 10x10x5": $22.99
  • white bakery box with window, 15 sets, 10x10x5": $18.99
  • brown bakery box with window, 15 sets, 12x12x3": $18.88
  • white bakery box with window, 15 sets, 12x12x3": $18.88
  • brown bakery box with window, 12 sets, 9x9x2.5": $14.99
  • brown bakery box with window, 12 sets, 6x6x2.5": $13.99

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Daily Log

Worksheet for Jazz Critics Poll ballot:

New Albums:

  1. Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble, 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia)
  2. Rich Halley-Matthew Shipp-Michael Bisio-Newman Taylor Baker, The Shape of Things (Pine Eagle)
  3. Dave Rempis-Jeff Parker-Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten-Jeremy Cunningham, Stringers and Struts (Aerophonic)
  4. Aly Keďta-Jan Galega Brönnimann-Lucas Niggli, Kalan Teban (Intakt)
  5. Rudresh Mahanthappa, Hero Trio (Whirlwind)
  6. Kenny Barron-Dave Holland Trio Featuring Jonathan Blake, Without Deception (Dare 2)
  7. Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)
  8. Jason Kao Hwang, Human Rites Trio (True Sound)
  9. Dave Glasser, Hypocrisy Democracy (Here Tiz)
  10. Kevin Sun, (Un)seaworthy (Endectomorph Music)


  1. Borah Bergman-Perry Anderson-Steve Swell-Ray Sage, Quartets Trios Duos (2007, Mahakala Music)
  2. Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, Ancestral Echoes: The Covina Sessions, 1976 (1976, Dark Tree)
  3. Modern Jazz Quartet Karlsruhe/Four Men Only: Complete Recordings (1968-73, NoBusiness)

Vocal: Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope)

Debut: none

Latin: Aruán Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera, Inside Rhythmic Falls (Intakt)

Monday, December 07, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 34511 [34444] rated (+67), 215 [210] unrated (+5).

I've been working very fast and very hard, as should be obvious from the ridiculously high rated total this week. I've been counting ballots for the Jazz Critics Poll (71 submitted so far, which is pretty good with six days to go). I've been toting up EOY lists. I've been playing things I'm seeing on these lists, though rarely giving them more than a single spin. (I should give those Schubert albums another shot; also seems likely that one or more of the hip-hop albums might click; on the other hand, Kimbrough got three spins today, thanks to having the CD, which I could play while making soup and coleslaw (separate projects, but both kitchen-based).

All this listening is causing my EOY lists for jazz and non-jazz to churn, but is having surprisingly little effect on the upper reaches. I haven't formally submitted a Jazz Critics Poll ballot, but nothing new has come close to top-ten level. This is probably because I've managed to hear more of what I've heard about this year than in any previous year. For instance, if you look at the current EOY Aggregate file, the top-rated records I haven't heard are:

  1. Deftones: Ohms (Warner Bros) {38}
  2. Code Orange: Underneath (Roadrunner) {24}
  3. Sorry: 925 (Domino) {21}
  4. Gorillaz: Song Machine,Season One: Strange Timez (Parlophone) {20}
  5. The Killers: Imploding the Mirage (Island) {19}
  6. Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison (Book/Concord) {18}
  7. Helena Deland: Someone New (Luminelle) {18)
  8. AC/DC: Power Up (Columbia) {17}
  9. The Lemon Twigs: Songs for the General Public (4AD) {17}
  10. Touche Amore: Lament (Epitaph) {17}
  11. Nick Cave: Idiot Prayer (Bad Seed) {16}
  12. The Microphones: Microphones in 2020 (PW Elverum & Sun) {16}
  13. Poppy: I Disagree (Sumerian) {16}
  14. BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff (Bella Union) {15}
  15. Crack Cloud: Pain Olympics (Meat Machine) {15}
  16. Mark Lanegan: Straight Songs of Sorrow (Heavenly) {15}

Most of these are metal or near-metal -- things I almost never like. The frequency of unheard records increases after that, but I have to scroll down toward 330 to get a screen with more black than green (or blue), and from 582-624 colors outnumber black 27-16 (at 5-6 points, my own votes are starting to have more influence). My coverage of jazz is even deeper. At present, there are 111 albums with 9(2) or higher scores. Of those, I've heard all but the following (11, so less than 10%; I've heard the top 34):

  • Tyshawn Sorey: Unfiltered (self-released)
  • Camila Nebbia: Aura (Ears & Eyes)
  • Michael Formanek Quartet: Untamed . . . Pre-Apocalyptic (Out of Your Head)
  • Peter Evans: Being & Becoming (More Is More)
  • Jason Palmer: The Concert: 12 Musings for Isabella (Giant Steps Arts)
  • Dan Weiss Starebaby: Natural Selection (Pi)
  • Steve Swell: The Center Will Hold (Not Two)
  • Lynne Arriale Trio: Chimes of Freedom (Challenge)
  • George Lewis & Oxana Omelchuk: Breaking News Studio Dan (Ezz-thetics)
  • Tim Ray: Excursions and Adventures (Whaling City Sound)
  • Dave Douglas: Marching Music (Greenleaf Music)
  • 3D Jazz Trio: I Love to See You Smile (DIVA)

I recall looking the first three up on Bandcamp, and didn't find enough cuts to review. (I should recheck them for "Further Sampling," which I'm still doing -- just not very aggressively.) I already have a download of Douglas, so I'll get to that. I was surprised to find that I've only received one record from Pi this year. They usually do a very good job of servicing critics, but cut back when the lockdown hit, and started releasing digital-only home recordings. Besides, I've panned all of Dan Weiss's CDs, so maybe they're keeping track.

As far as the EOY Aggregate is concerned, I continue to cheat in ways designed to make the list more interesting. I ignore exclusive metal magazines -- although enough leaks through that the metal subset of the big list has reached 160 albums (I've heard 2: kind of liked one, and didn't hate the other). I pick up jazz that the big aggregators ignore (including some JJA lists, but I haven't dipped into the JCP ballots yet), and I look out for country and hip-hop lists, and somewhat less aggressively for electronica and world lists. I've heard 42 of the top 50 country/folk/Americana albums (84%, 135 albums listed), 47 of the top 50 hip-hop/rap albums (94%, 214 albums listed), 22 of the top 50 electronica albums (44%, although 9/10 and 14/16, 197 albums listed), and 31 of the top 50 world albums (62%, 80 albums listed).

I've also started to pick off some ballots from the Pazz & Jop Rip-Off Poll, although thus far my standard is to only pick names I've tracked in previous EOY Aggregates (many from Village Voice Pazz & Jop polls, or the Christgauvian Expert Witness Facebook group, so that warps the results toward Christgau's picks, as does the extra points for his grades). One such ballot came from Tom Lane, who followed up by sending me a much longer list via email (which I will count in due course; any reader who deigns to send me a ranked list via email is also likely to get counted).

My EOY lists were up to date as of last Friday (at least based on what I've found on Acclaimed Music Forums), but I've slipped a bit over the weekend. I should also note that I've depended a lot on lists by Phil Overeem, Chris Monsen, and Tim Niland.

One anomaly this week is that I threw in a cover scan for a mere B+(***) record. Just saw Gnod's record in the recommendations of a Bandcamp page, and my interest was piqued enough that I played it -- the only non-new record this week (not that 2017 is that old). Couldn't quite give it an A- (a bit too noise/metal for my taste within the limits of one spin), but wanted the cover anyway. My prerogative.

Current jazz/non-jazz split for new A-list albums: 69/48. Most years eventually even out. Maybe Christgau's December Consumer Guide -- out Wednesday for paying subscribers -- will offer some non-jazz candidates?

By the way, Michaelangelo Matos' new book, Can't Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop's Blockbuster Year, is coming out this week. I'd still argue for 1964, but he's a good deal younger than me. For a review, check out Jack Hamilton: The Great New Book About the Year That Changed Pop.

By the way, Matos passed along my favorite tweet of the week: "Pro-tip: Never say 2020 can't get any worse!"

New records reviewed this week:

  • Eivind Aarset & Jan Bang: Snow Catches on Her Eyelashes (2020, Jazzland): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Backxwash: God Had Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It (2020, Grimalkin, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Barrage: The Was and Is to Come (2020, Řra Fonogram): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ran Blake/Andrew Rathbun: Northern Noir (2018 [2020], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Urs Blöchlinger Revisited: Harry Doesn't Mind (2018 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(**)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Memories of a Tunicate (2020, Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Paul Bryan: Cri$el Gems (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • BTS: BE (2020, Big Hit): [r]: B+(*)
  • Conway the Machine: From King to a GOD (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(***)
  • Conway the Machine/The Alchemist: Lulu (2020, Griselda/ALC, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger: Force Majeure (2020, International Anthem): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kurt Elling: Secrets Are the Best Stories (2020, Edition): [r]: B-
  • Enemy Radio: Loud Is Not Enough (2020, SpitSLAM): [r]: A-
  • Fleet Foxes: Shore (2020, Anti-): [r]: B
  • Satoko Fujii/Natsuki Tamura: Pentas: Tribute to Eric and Chris Stern (2019 [2020], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Future/Lil Uzi Vert: Pluto x Baby Pluto (2020, Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • GoGo Penguin: Live From Studio 2 (2020, Decca): [r]: B+(*)
  • Devin Gray: Socialytics (2019 [2929], Rataplan, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Devin Gray/Gerald Cleaver: 27 Licks (2019 [2020], Rataplan): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Connie Han: Iron Starlet (2019 [2020], Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
  • Elisabeth Harnik & Steve Swell: Tonotopic Organizations (2019 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Honey Harper: Starmaker (2020, ATO): [r]: B
  • Headie One: Edna (2020, Relentless): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ian Hendrickson-Smith: The Lowdown (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • HHY & the Macumbas: Camouflage Vector: Edits From Live Actions 2017-2019 (2017-19 [2020], Nyege Nyege): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jon Irabagon: I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues: Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox (2019 [2020], Irabbagast): [bc]: B-
  • Keefe Jackson/Jim Baker/Julian Kirshner: So Glossy and So Thin (2018-19 [2020], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Jubileum Quartet [Joëlle Léandre/Evan Parker/Agustí Fernández/Zlatko Kaucic]: A Uis? (2018 [2020], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Junglepussy: JP4 (2020, Jagjaguwar): [r]: B+(*)
  • Will Kimbrough: Spring Break (2020, Daphne): [cd]: A-
  • Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladders (2020, Ghostly International): [r]: B+(*)
  • José Lencastre/Hernâni Faustino/Vasco Furtado: Vento (2018 [2020], Phonogram Unit): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Lil Baby: My Turn (2020, Quality Control): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lil Uzi Vert: Eternal Atake (2020, Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brian Lisik: Güdbye Stoopid Whirled (2020, Cherokee Queen): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Anna McClellan: I Saw First Light (2020, Father/Daughter): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tkay Maidza: Last Year Was Weird (Vol. 2) (2020, 4AD, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Flo Milli: Ho, Why Is You Here? (2020, RCA): [r]: B+(*)
  • Keir Neuringer/Shayna Dulberger/Julius Masri: Dromedaries II (2020, Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Keir Neuringer & Rafal Mazur: The Continuum (2018 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Guillaume Nouaux: Guillaume Nouaux & the Stride Piano Kings (2019 [2020], self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs: Viscerals (2020, Rocket): [r]: B
  • Chris Potter: There Is a Tide (2020, Edition): [r]: B-
  • Abbey Rader/John McMinn: Duo From the Heart (2019 [2020], Abray): [r]: B+(**)
  • Eric Reed: For a Time Such as This (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Matana Roberts & Pat Thomas: The Truth (2018 [2020], Otoroku): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Frank Paul Schubert/Dieter Manderscheid/Martin Blume: Spindrift (2019 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Frank Paul Schubert/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Martin Blume: Forge (2020, Relative Pitch): [r]: A-
  • Nadine Shah: Kitchen Sink (2020, Infectious Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Skurkar: Skjulte Motiver (2019 [2020], Řra Fonogram): [r]: B+(***)
  • Spillage Village: Spilligion (2020, Dreamville/SinceThe80s/Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bartees Strange: Live Forever (2020, Memory Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Talibam! With Silke Eberhard and Nikolaus Neuser: This Week Is in Two Weeks (2020, ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(**)
  • Duval Timothy: Help (2020, Carrying Colour): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kali Uchis: Sin Miedo (Del Amor Y Otros Demonios) (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Birgit Ulher/Franz Hautzinger: Kleine Trompetenmusik (2018 [2020], Relative Pitch): [bc]: B-
  • Luís Vicente/John Dikeman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: Goes Without Saying, but It's Got to Be Said (2020, JACC): [bc]: A-
  • Fay Victor's SoundNoiseFunk: We've Had Enough! (2019 [2020], ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(**)
  • Virtual Company: Virtual Company (2018 [2020], Confront): [bc]: A-
  • Working Men's Club: Working Men's Club (2020, Heavenly): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Victor Chukwu: Akalaka/The Power (1977-79 [2020], BBE): [r]: A-
  • Full Blast [Peter Brötzmann/Marino Pliakas/Michael Wertmüller]: Farewell Tonic (2007 [2020], Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live in Maui (1970 [2020], Experience Hendrix/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker: Ballads for Two (1979 [2018], Dot Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wolfgang Lackerschmid/Chet Baker: Quintet Sessions 1979 (Dot Time): [r]: B+(***)
  • Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 (1983-87 [2020], Captured Tracks): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Gnod: Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine (2017, Rocket): [bc]: B+(***)

Further Sampling:

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Mark Helias/Tim Berne: Blood From a Stone (2020, Radiolegs): [bc]: +
  • The Human Hearts: Day of the Tiles (2020, self-released, EP): [bc]: -

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Brad Brooks: God Save the City (Brad Brooks)
  • The Grasso-Ravita Jazz Ensemble: Jagged Spaces (Grassvita Music) [01-15]
  • Roderick Harper: Evolving (R.H.M. Entertainment) [01-04]
  • Will Kimbrough: Spring Break (Daphne)
  • Brian Lisik: Güdbye Stoopid Whirled (Cherokee Queen)
  • Gayelynn McKinney and McKinney Zone: Zoot Suit Funk (Beatstix)
  • Larry Newcomb Quartet: Love, Dad (Essential Messenger) [02-05]
  • The Justin Rothberg Group: Hurricane Mouse (self-released) [01-01]


  • Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020, Epic)
  • Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia)
  • Lori McKenna: The Balladeer (CN)
  • Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG)
  • Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20)

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Table of contents:

I've been paying more attention to EOY album lists this week than to news. Started collecting this Saturday evening, and figure I got enough.

Trump's Election Fraud

Plus a few more election-related stories, including the Georgia Senate runoffs. Note that: Biden's vote lead over Trump now more than 7 million.

Susan B Glasser: The President is acting crazy, so why are we shrugging it off? Well, we voted him out of office. What more can we do? And unless, in due course, he figures out some way to defy the eviction, why give him the satisfaction of attention? It's not like we don't have anything else to worry about.

Ryan Grim: Goldman Sachs log exposes David Perdue's stock trading claim as a lie. Actually, both Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have notorious stock trading scandals. (Steve M also reminds us that Loeffler is "the wealthiest member of the Senate" and "Loeffler's husband is literally the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange." Another tweet posted this picture of "one of Loeffler's 5 houses.") With enormous sums being spent on this race, scandals like that should be drummed into every voter's noggin. More on Georgia:

Benjamin Hart: Trump funds political future by claiming he won in 2020.

Zach Montellaro/Elena Schneider: Trump's post-election cash grab floods funds to new PAC.

Andrew Prokop:

Aaron Rupar:

Jeff Singer: Ohio's decade-old gerrymander still performed exactly as the GOP intended in 2020.

Peter Slevin: Trump's election-fraud bluster finds an audience.

Matt Stieb: DOJ investigating 'bribery-for-pardon' scheme involving White House.

Biden Prospects

We're starting to see announcements of Biden's picks for the cabinet and key staff positions -- see Joe Biden's cabinet begins to take shape.

Kate Aronoff: The problem with putting a BlackRock alum in charge of greening the economy: "Brian Deese, expected to head the Biden administration's National Economic Council, is a longtime adherent of a disastrous energy strategy."

David Atkins: Media must focus on larger truths during the Biden presidency: I'm not a betting person, but odds of this happening are pretty slim. Presumably they won't have to cope with Trump's "flood the zone with bullshit" approach to PR, but let's face it: they were suckers for bullshit; also a lot of it is endemic to using social media as a PR engine, which Biden's staff will continue to do, even if they're not as flagrantly duplicitous as Trump's staff have been. Atkins also wrote a piece on How do you deradicalize the Republican Party?. Well, it would help if the media got smarter and dug deeper, holding Republicans accountable not just for their frequent gaffes but for the real consequences of their demented programs. After all, what matters more than deradicalizing the Republican Party is defeating them. Do that, and they'll adjust on their own.

Rosa Brooks: It's time for a woman to run the Defense Department. Advertisement for Brooks' former boss, Michele Flournoy, although it could also reflect Brooks' own ambitions. I try to cut her some slack, mostly because her famous leftist mother Barbara Ehrenreich still seems to respect her, and this is one case where coming from a famous family is unlikely to have done her any favors. Still, I couldn't care less about the sex or race or religion of any government agency heads, but I'm unlikely to like anyone under serious consideration for the Defense Department. By the way, see Robert Wright/Conor Echols: Grading candidates for Biden's foreign policy team: Michčle Flournoy (grade even lower than expected; hell, even lower than Antony Blinken's).

Linda Pentz Gunter: In promoting new nuclear power, Biden-Harris back fiction over science.

Ben Jacobs: Harry Reid's former lieutenant on what it's like to fight Mitch McConnell. Interview with Adam Jentleson.

Paul Krugman:

Dylan Matthews: Joe Biden is taking office amid a poverty crisis: "Columbia researchers project that 5 million to 12 million more people will be in poverty in January than a year before."

David Roberts: Joe Biden should do everything at once. Nice to see some thinking about the Obama administration's failures to get things done given a hostile, obstructionist Republican Party. Subheds:

  • Obama's efforts to collect and spend "political culture" were mostly for naught
  • Two-party partisan politics really is a zero-sum game
  • Biden should run a blitz
  • The new rule of partisan politics is to act, not react

The Covid-19 Pandemic Surge

Latest map and case count: 14.8 million+ cases (14 day change +12%, total up 1.5 million in last week), 282,257 deaths (+48%), 101,190 hospitalized (+27%).

Chas Danner: Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for Covid-19.

Elaine Godfrey: Iowa is what happens when government does nothing.

Kasey Grewe: Headlines don't capture the horror we saw: "I chronicled what Covid-19 did to a hospital. America must not let down its guard."

Carolyn Kormann: Countdown to a coronavirus vaccine.

Robinson Meyer/Alexis C Madrigal: The US has passed the hospital breaking point: "A new statistic shows that health-care workers are running out of space to treat Covid-19 patients."

David Remnick: Atul Gawande on coronavirus vaccines and prospects for ending the pandemic.

David Roberts: The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19): "Shifting baselines syndrome."

Dylan Scott: America's failures have led to a new daily record in Covid-19 deaths.

Still More on Donald Trump

Kyle Cheney/Josh Gerstein: Barr taps Durham as special counsel, pushing probe into Biden era. John Durham has been investigating "the origins of the FBI's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election," looking (to little avail) or pin the investigation of Trump on Obama. By designating Durham a Special Counsel, Barr hopes to extend the witch hunt past Jan. 20.

"In an appointment secretly conferred on Durham prior to the election and only disclosed now that Barr concedes there is no evidence of election fraud to overturn the results, Barr is using the special counsel law for a purpose it was not intended: to continue a politically motivated investigation long after Barr leaves office," said House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff in a statement.

More on Durham:

Jonathan Guyer: The lucrative after life of a Trump official: "Trump's former appointees are profiting from their time in the White House -- H.R. McMaster most of all."

Sarah Jones: White evangelicals made a deal with the devil. Now what?

Michael Klare: Trump's pernicious military legacy: "From the forever wars to the cataclysmic wars."

People seldom notice that Trump's approach to military policy has always been two-faced. Even as he repeatedly denounced the failure of his predecessors to abandon those endless counterinsurgency wars, he bemoaned their alleged neglect of America's regular armed forces and promised to spend whatever it took to "restore" their fighting strength. "In a Trump administration," he declared in a September 2016 campaign speech on national security, America's military priorities would be reversed, with a withdrawal from the "endless wars we are caught in now" and the restoration of "our unquestioned military strength."

Anita Kumar: Trump to restart foreign deals, breaking a post-presidency norm.

Martin Longman: Trump's maddening war against Section 230 which protects digital publishers. "It's not just Democrats for whom January 20th cannot come soon enough."

David Nakamura/Juliet Eilperin/Lisa Rein: As Trump rants over election, his administration accelerates push to lock in policy and staffing gains.

Administration officials are rushing to auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, slash U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, implement new rules to limit drug prices and create a new personnel category for civil servants in policymaking roles that would strip them of most job protections. The Department of Homeland Security is racing to complete an additional 50 miles of wall barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the State and Treasury departments are preparing additional economic sanctions on China and Iran.

Senate Republicans -- who may lose their governing majority in January, depending on a pair of runoffs in Georgia -- are moving swiftly to confirm Trump's conservative picks to the federal courts and other nominees whose tenures will extend into the Biden presidency and beyond.

Sarah Okeson: Trump's ERA clears way for "Bhopal 2" here in the US.

Rachel Ramirez: The high rate of executions during Trump's last weeks in office, explained: "Trump has scheduled more federal executions than any president in at least a century." More specifically:

Brian Resnick: Why Trump taking credit for the Covid-19 vaccines could be a good thing: "After he leaves office, he can help convince supporters to get vaccinated for Covid-19." Wishful thinking, but don't expect he'd do it out of his deep well of public-spiritedness. On the other hand, he could probably make a bundle as a Pharma shill.

David Rohde: William Barr's break with Donald Trump: "The Attorney General is, at long last, defending American democracy." Jeez, he says one thing, carefully worded to technically accurate while a minimum of comfort to his enemies, and some people are eager to acclaim him as an American hero. The best I can say for Barr is that he, unlike Rudy Giuliani (to pick the most obvious example), has always known where the line of the law lies, and how to tripping over it and getting indicted or disbarred. That may occasionally irritate Trump, and feel free to enjoy Trump's agitation, but Barr has actually been a much more effective defender of his client than Giuliani has. If you need a reminder, look back at how Barr handled the Mueller Investigation, showing Mueller a great deal of personal respect while bottling up and defanging the Report. Again, contrast with Giuliani, who accomplished little more than getting his henchmen indicted.

Matthew Rosza: This Marxist philosopher foresaw the rise of Trumpism more than 80 years ago. Title like that I had to click, if nothing else just to get the name. Of course, 80 years ago isn't as far back as it used to be. In fact, it only takes you to 1940, which gives one plenty of time to observe the rise of Adolf Hitler. Sure, Trump isn't Hitler Redux, but you're hardly breaking new ground pointing out similarities. The name is Walter Benjamin, a special interest of mine in a time closer to then than to now, and the key point is:

Benjamin, a Marxist and a Jew who was thus obviously opposed to the Nazis, postulated that modern fascists succeed when they are entertainers. Not just any entertainer -- a circus clown or a juggler-turned-fascist wouldn't do. Specifically, modern fascists were entertainers with a distinct aesthetic, one that appeals to mass grievances by encouraging their supporters to feel like they are personally expressing themselves through their demagogue of choice.

Benjamin's insight, which appears to have been largely forgotten, is that keeping fascism out of power means recognizing how they use aesthetic entertainment to create their movements. That does require us to admit, cringe-inducing though it may be, that Trump is an artist -- albeit a tacky, shallow and transparently self-aggrandizing one. More importantly, his movement, the MAGA crowd, has a distinct aesthetic which he has created and honed for them.

There is, by the way, much more to Benjamin than the essay cited, and much more to he essay than the use it's put to here -- John Berger wrote a whole book, Ways of Seeing, based on the essay. There is much more to be gained by understanding Benjamin within the context of his time than in trying to use him to decipher fascism today. But it is also true that those of us who understood fascism through the critiques of Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and fellow thinkers had a leg up on you dogmatic anti-Marxist liberals. The other point I want to make is that fascist aesthetics are only such when adopted by fascists for fascist political aims. It's not random what fascists choose, but it's not commutative either: you don't become a fascist because you like swastikas or monster trucks or "reality TV," and you don't stop being a fascist because you hold to more conservative aesthetics.

In the Courts

Ian Millhiser:

Around the World

Dave DeCamp: President Trump orders to withdraw the 'majority' of troops from Somalia: "The Plan will reposition troops to neighboring countries to allow for 'cross-border operations'" -- ergo, business as usual, no big change. Also on the Somalia war you probably didn't know about:

Yossi Gurvitz: Israeli court rules that Nation State law calls for discrimination against Palestinian citizens.

Daniel Immerwahr: Fort Everywhere: "How did the United States become entangled in a cycle of endless war?" Review of David Vine's book, The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, From Columbus to the Islamic State. I'm reminded here of point 2 in Mark Kurlansky's Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons From the History of a Dangerous Idea: "Nations that build military forces as deterrents will eventually use them." Or as Madeleine Albright put it, "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" War follows militarism. Put bases all around the world and what you're protecting soon reduces to little more than the bases themselves.

James North: Coverage of Israel's killing of Iranian scientist is marred by inaccuracy and inhumanity.

Richard Silverstein: Iranian authorities: Israeli assassination carried out remotely by satellite.

Alex Ward:

Other Matters of Interest

Jariel Arvin:

Paul Blest: The Democratic Party will keep betraying labor. It's time to launch a workers' party. Article paired with: Jonathan Smucker: Don't abandon the Democratic Party -- take it over. I answered this question after the Ralph Nader debacle in 2000. What bothered me wasn't throwing the election to Bush -- Gore campaigned the way he wanted to -- but the fact that even in Kansas, where Gore didn't campaign at all, he outpolled Nader 10-to-1. I realized then that the people you need to appeal to had already decided to be Democrats, and if anything that's even more true today. Sure, Democratic socialists and neoliberals have huge differences, and are joined today largely by fear of ever greater Republican fascism. But the path of political progress goes through the people, and the people most open to progressive proposals are already in the Democratic Party. Win there, or go home. (Of course, I have no problem with sitting outside practical politics when that's the only space you can be right in -- one of my formative political journals was called The Minority of One. Just don't pretend that doing so is some kind of viable political strategy.)

Zach Carter: The power of ideas and the idea of power: "The progressives won the debate about whether there is a power elite. Now they need to keep the corporate elite from destroying what's left of our democracy."

Jeffrey Frank: Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz tell the full sordid story of Spiro Agnew: A review of their book, Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House.

Christina Goldbaum/Will Wright: 'Existential peril': Mass transit faces huge service cuts across US.

Eric Levitz:

German Lopez:

Ed Morales: Privatizing Puerto Rico: "The rushed sell-off of the territory's electrical utility is part of a larger move to gut public goods for private profit."

Anna North: The government's failure to provide economic relief is killing people.

Alex Ross: Revisiting Hitler's final days in the bunker: Very hard to read this piece without trying to transpose Trump into Hitler's bunker -- not that Trump is Hitler, let alone that the "radical leftists" besieging Trump's White House are anywhere near as lethal as the Red Army bearing down on Berlin. But psychologically, it must bear some likeness, even if only in Trump's fevered delusions. Sure, Hitler fell harder, but when you start from the pinnacle of Trump's ego, the downfall must feel infinite.

Jeffrey St Clair: Roaming charges: Let's get small: Some snippets:

  • Joe Biden's cabinet is shaping up to be the most diverse group of ideological clones ever assembled.
  • According to Obama's book, the breakdown on intervening in Libya was as follows: Against: Biden, Gates, Mullen, Daley. For: HRC, Rice, Powers, Blinken. He, of course, was conflicted, but bombed Libya anyway.
  • Nancy Pelosi has now served as the leader of the Democrats in the House for as long as Leonid Brezhnev served as General Secretary of the Communist Party, 18 years.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Daily Log

Sent in my ballot for El Intruso's annual poll. I don't particularly like the way this poll is structured, so didn't put much effort into it, and don't stand at all firmly behind my picks. Still, will jot them down here for future reference (since I'll probably get invited again).

  • Musician of the year: Dave Rempis, Matthew Shipp, James Brandon Lewis.
  • Newcomer Musician: Kevin Sun, Luke Stewart.
  • Group of the year: Irreversible Entanglements, Shabaka & the Ancestors, Heroes Are Gang Leaders.
  • Newcomer group: Broken Shadows, Threadbare.
  • Album of the year: Mark Lomax II, 400 Years Suite (CFG Multimedia); Rich Halley, The Shape of Things (Pine Eagle); Dave Rempis, Stringers and Struts (Aerophonic).
  • Composer: Mark Lomax II.
  • Drums: Mark Lomax II, Chad Taylor, Whit Dickey.
  • Acoustic Bass: William Parker, Anne Mette Iversen, Jasper Hoiby.
  • Electric Bass: none.
  • Guitar: Luis Lopes, Samo Salamon, Ross Hammond.
  • Piano: Alexander von Schlippenbach, Matthew Shipp, Marilyn Crispell.
  • Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ: none.
  • Tenor Saxophone: Rich Halley, James Brandon Lewis, Edwin Bayard.
  • Alto Saxophone: Oliver Lake, Dave Rempis, Rudresh Mahanthappa.
  • Baritone Saxophone: Dave Sewelson.
  • Soprano Saxophone: none.
  • Trumpet/Cornet: Jaimie Branch, Luis Vicente.
  • Clarinet/bass clarinet: Jason Stein.
  • Trombone: Steve Swell.
  • Flute: Nicole Mitchell.
  • Violin/Viola: Jason Kao Hwang.
  • Cello: Tomeka Reid, Fred Lonberg-Holm.
  • Vibraphone: Jason Adasiewicz.
  • Electronics: Rob Mazurek.
  • Others instruments: Aly Keita (balafon).
  • Female Vocals: Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother).
  • Male Vocals: none.
  • Record Label: NoBusiness, Moserobie, Astral Spirits.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Daily Log

Temporary comparison shopping list, for an all-in-one printer (ink jet):

  • $380: HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile [CG61]
  • $300: Canon MegaTank Pixma G7020 [CR65]
  • $280: Canon MegaTank Pixma G4210 [CR67]
  • $270: Canon MegaTank Pixma G6020 [CR64]
  • $250: Brother MFC-J775DW XL [CR65]
  • $230: HP Envy Photo 7885 AiO [CR61]
  • $200: Canon MegaTank Pixma G3200 [CR63]
  • $200: HP Envy Photo 7864 [CR61]
  • $195: HP Envy Photo 7858 AiO [CR61]
  • $180: HP Envy Photo 7155 [CR60]
  • $130: Brother MFC-J895DW [CR69]
  • $110: Canon MegaTank Pixma G3202 [CR63]
  • $110: Canon Pixma TS6320 [CR60]
  • $110: HP Envy 4520 [CR61]
  • $100: Canon PIXMA TS5120 [CR60]
  • $95: Brother MFC-J491DW [CG62]
  • $80: Canon Pixma MG3620 [CR63]
  • $80: Brother MFC-J497DW [CR62]

Color laser printers (CR graphics quality: 5):

  • $600: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479dw [CR70]
  • $550: Brother MFC-L8900CDW [CR71]
  • $530: Canon imageCLASS MF733Cdw [CR66]
  • $500: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw [CR70]
  • $350: Canon imageCLASS MF642Cdw [CR69]
  • $330: Brother MFC-L3750CDW [CR69]
  • $330: Brother MFC-L3710CW [CR68]
  • $320: Canon Color imageCLASS MF644Cdw [CR69]
  • $240: HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M180nw [CR63]

Another temporary comparison shopping list, for a bathroom space heater. [Deleted options. Ordered a TaoTronics PTC 1500W Ceramic Tower Oscillating Portable Heater with Remote Control Programmable Thermostat ECO Mode 12H Timer LED Display, Black, Large, for $55.24 + tax.]

Nov 2020