Skies have been clear in these parts every day except for mid-morning through mid-afternoon on eclipse day. Still, at the appointed time, we were able to view the eclipse through eclipse glasses, during brief hazy breaks in the dark clouds overhead. The clouds made for a diminished show, but one still worth seeing. I'm saving the glasses for the next total eclipse on April 8, 2024.
About three weeks ago, the sound quality on my laptop suddenly degraded badly, which is annoying because I like to listen to music or NPR when I'm using it for mundane tasks. I did a little digging and couldn't identity the problem, and had been planning to try a system restore. I decided I would do that this morning, but before I did so, I checked my phone messages on line. The sound quality of the messages was good. After that, I tried a few videos and discovered the sound quality is A-OK again. It was not okay as of yesterday. My suspicion was that an update was the initial culprit, which is why I was going to try a restore, but I don't think there was another update overnight that would explain the sudden return of normal audio.
California is considering a bill that would downgrade from a felony to a misdemeanor, knowingly exposing another person to HIV. The bill's author says that people are avoiding testing because they're afraid of potential legal liability if they know they have HIV. He also claims that the current law is discriminatory because it singles out HIV, and not other diseases. As to his first claim, I'd like to see hard evidence. Regarding the discrimination, change the law to include HCV, herpes and other STDs.
Season 2 of Leah Remini's Scientology: The Aftermath began airing last week. It's worth watching. Also excellent, the Netflix documentary series The Keepers, about a Baltimore Catholic nun murdered in 1969, shortly after she learned about the rapes of her students by priests working at the all-girl's school where she had been teaching.
After the death of her mother, a lonely young woman ends up in a psychiatric hospital for crashing a wedding and pepper spraying the bride, who is a random woman she stalked on Instagram.
Released from the hospital, the title character, Ingrid, sets out for California with a modest cash inheritance, determined to reboot her life by pursuing friendship with another woman she's stalking on Instagram. Funny along the way to a predictably sappy but happy ending. Watchable, but save this one for viewing on TV. X-ometer 85/100
There might be more to this story, but on the face of it, this priest should stand as an example that change is possible. Rather than punish his behavior as a very young man, he should be applauded for what appears to be his sincere change of heart and repentance.
How can Americans in the South learn history if no local monuments commemorate Union Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Meade or even the Unionist Virginian, George Henry Thomas? And how can residents of the American South learn about Lincoln, if virtually all of the American memorials and statues of Lincoln are located outside the former Confederacy?
With all the erasing and, in some locales, failure to record history with statues, where is one supposed to go to learn Civil War history?
Maybe a school, a library, a bookstore, Amazon or the internet?
Facetiousness aside, learning about or erasing history isn't what this cultural moment is all about. It's about disputed social meanings, and ultimately the psychological meaning of the statues, especially as they pertain to identity.
People aren't fearful of erasing history. They're afraid of erasing their identity. At the most primitive level, these people fear – all people fear – being erased, ceasing to exist. Full Stop.
Detroit is a film few people want to see, but it happened, it was horrifying, and everyone should see it. 90/100
In Step, documentary filmmakers follow the progress of several girls on a high school step team at an inner-city Baltimore academy that has as its mission, getting all who start high school to finish and attend college. Revealing, moving, you'll come to really care for these kids and their dedicated teachers, but I found it a little too drawn out in spots. 87/100
Wind River: A rape and murder investigation on a Wyoming Indian reservation is intense, taut and a 95/100 most of the way through, but the ending was cinematically inartful, bringing it down to a 91/100. That's still very good, and this film is well worth seeing. Don't wait for this one to reach the telly. It's made for the big screen.
Menashe is a gem of a film about a widowed Hasidic man who wants to gain his rabbi's approval to raise his son in a motherless household. The title character, Menashe, struggles financially and isn't interested in marrying again. As we learn, he didn't want to marry the first time around, and the marriage was an unhappy one. Menashe was filmed in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and none of the cast members are professional actors. All are Hasidic Jews who agreed to perform in the movie, and they did a hella impressive job. If our film group was meeting over the summer, I bet this would have been our leader's selection. 96/100
The Glass Castle is based on a best-selling memoir by journalist Jeannette Walls. The reviews weren't great, but I'm going to disagree with the reviewers on this one. See it. 90/100
Coming Up in Film:
I was surprised by a trailer for a film called The Novitiate, which might be a term unfamiliar to non-Catholics. Anyway, this one might not sit well with some in the Catholic Church, but the trailer left me wanting to see more. Read the plot at the link, and you'll see why I say it might not sit well with some Catholics, but you never know. Currently at a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience want-to-see of 98%. We will see this one.
Abraham Lincoln has joined George Washington on the list of those targeted by Chicagoans in a national debate over Civil War-era monuments.
It isn't a monument. There is no list of monuments targeted by Chicagoans. It's an old, neglected, concrete bust of Lincoln that was created as a gas station promotion in 1926 for the Lincoln Gas Station. The gas station closed ages ago and the bust was left behind, sitting on a corner parkway. It was beat to hell, nose gone before the recent damage occurred.
Over the years, it was painted white, then black, then white, and targeted with gang graffiti.
The damage referred to in the article has nothing to do with Charlottesville or a list of targeted statues or Chicagoans collectively. It was charred over the 4th of July weekend, presumably by kids playing with fire. I imagine a conversation that went something like this:
"Hey, let's light that shit."
Or maybe they just wanted to make it black, as it had been in the past.
This is what the bust looked like before the most recent damage. Quite a monument. No?
Early in July, The Financial Times reported that Trump business partner Felix Sater is a cooperating witness in the investigation of the president. Sater has historic ties to both the Mafia and the Russian government, and has been a big mover of money from Eastern Europe into Trump properties. He's done prison time for knifing a man in a bar and avoided prison after a felony stock fraud conviction by working as an FBI informant in organized crime.
Now The Spectator's Paul Wood says that Sater has been telling family and friends that he will be going to prison, and so will Trump.
For several weeks there have been rumours that Sater is ready to rat again, agreeing to help Mueller. ‘He has told family and friends he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ someone talking to Mueller’s investigators informed me.