June 30, 2024

Poem 27 of A “Trump Alphabet”

I have added the sonnet below to my 26 poems of A Trump Alphabet.

And there you have the ABCs
Of an American political offender,
A felon exposing a civic disease:
Support for a pernicious contender.
Donald Trump isn’t competent, caring, or nice;
He’s selfish, rapacious, and cold.
Having chosen him once, we cannot choose him twice.
He is dangerous, wicked, and old.
The Republic has stood for many a year
And survived many crises and war.
But now we must face trepidation and fear:
Can democracy endure anymore?
We have to act boldly our nation to save
Lest the flag of surrender be ours to wave.

June 27, 2024

A Trump Alphabet

For a long time, I have been working on a project called “A Trump Alphabet,” a collection of 26 poems based on properties of the former president. I invite you to read the poems and pass them along to others who might appreciate them.

As a teaser, here is a sample poem:

Happy Reading!

“W” is for Womanizer

For Trump, all women are toys for his pleasure,
And marriage never inhibits his ways
Of seeking, between comely legs, the treasure
Of those who fall victim to his lecherous gaze.



Chinese Food Comes to Clifton Springs (Sort Of)

Clifton Springs, New York, has too few restaurants. Before I moved here in 2022, there was a Chinese restaurant on Main Street, a short walk from my apartment. It had closed before I arrived. I have been craving Chinese food but have not yet left the village to find any. Friends have recommended Chinese restaurants elsewhere, however, and I found one online that none of my friends seemed to know about.

I was very excited yesterday when a menu for a new Chinese restaurant turned up downstairs. Hong Kong Chinese Kitchen is opening where the old Chinese restaurant used to be. I don’t know if the old restaurant is being resurrected or whether Hong Kong is brand new. Last evening, I took a short walk to the place to check it out. I had already eaten dinner, but I thought I might have lunch there today. There was a sign on the door apologizing for not being open and referring patrons to the restaurant’s Facebook page for information about its opening. I was unable to find the restaurant on Facebook, so I telephoned one of the numbers on the menu. As I suspected, callers hear a recorded message. The restaurant needs to install a new sprinkler system, I was informed, and the projected opening date is now August 1.


June 16, 2024

New Hat

For a long time, I was pictured on my blog in a cream-colored hat I liked very much. I discovered that my friends associated that hat with me. Somewhere along the line, I lost the hat, probably having left it somewhere I didn’t remember. I’ve missed that hat.

For Father’s Day, my son took me to a new hat shop in Geneva and let me pick out a new hat. I found one only slightly different from my “famous” one. This hat is linen and a bit whiter—definitely a summer hat. See what you think.

June 15, 2024

Alleged Suspect

News organizations are careful to avoid suggesting the guilt of persons not convicted in a court of law. Thus, news reports often refer to “alleged” miscreants.

ABC News ran a video story on its Web site yesterday over the headline “13-year-old girl sexually assaulted at knifepoint in NYC park: Police.” The story made it clear that the police and the girl involved asserted that certain things happened. On ABC’s nightly newscast today, ABC reported that police were searching for the “alleged assault suspect.” My initial reaction to this phrase was that the use of “alleged” is unnecessary. A suspect is, after all, only someone thought to have possibly committed a crime. Police are seeking an actual assault suspect, not someone alleged to be an actual assault suspect. (Alleged by whom?) One is either a suspect or not. Being a suspect does not imply guilt.

On reflection, I began to question whether I had parsed “alleged assault suspect” properly, Perhaps, the police are looking for a suspect in an alleged assault, not assuming that the reported assault actually happened. This is a reasonable interpretation but likely not the correct one, as earlier reports suggested that the police have taken as fact that an assault actually occurred. The New York Times also framed its story by what the police asserted. Details of the story suggest, however, that the police may have physical evidence that has led them to conclude that the story told by the girl is substantially true.

I may be thinking about the phrasing used by ABC more that its reporters and editors did. Probably, “alleged” was unnecessary. It may have been added just to be safe, however.

June 14, 2024

How To Write Better Gun Laws

A far-right Supreme Court today invalidated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives rule against bump stocks. The rule had been promulgated during Donald Trump’s presidency in response to the 2017 massacre in Las Vagas that was facilitated by the use of bump stocks.

The argument in favor of the ATF ban was that a bump stock converts a rifle into what is virtually a machine gun, the sale of which has long been severely restricted.

NPR, commenting on the court decision noted that, “Justice Thomas, speaking for the majority, said the bump stock doesn’t change the internal firing mechanism, so it can’t be classified as an illegal machine gun.”

Like so many decisions of this court, this ruling turns on minor, seemingly unimportant details.

The reason that lawmakers have had such a hard time framing gun laws is that they go about it in the wrong way. In today’s case, for example, we shouldn’t care about the gun’s trigger or its internal mechanism. What is important is (1) how fast the gun can fire a projectile and (2) how much energy is carried by that projective as it leaves the muzzle. A machine gun is a gun that can fire rounds above some specified rate carrying energy above a certain threshold. I don’t know what those parameters should be. and I doubt that muzzle velocity need be considered, as energy increases with velocity. If a gun performs like a machine gun, it is a machine gun, whatever its internal workings.

Defining firearms using what I suggest are the relevant parameters means that manufacturers cannot get around regulations using various technicalities. This is a much better way of describing what guns are illegal than, for example, listing them by model number or some other incidental characteristic. A ban on assault weapons, if we ever we enact another one, should be based on effective characteristics, not on model number, etc.

In the short term, Congress should pass a law banning bump stocks. Of course, the law must define a bump stock by what it facilitates, not by the means by which it does so. Unfortunately, in our current political climate, this won’t happen.

June 9, 2024

How Many Palestinians Is an Israeli Worth?

The big news from the Gaza war is that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have freed four hostages presumed to be held by Hamas. That operation is said to have wounded 700 Palestinians and killed nearly 200, many of them women and children. (The number of casualties has been variously reported, but it has clearly been substantial.) Israelis are jubilant. Presidents Biden and Macron praised the operation at a Saturday press conference in Paris.

Does no one see anything wrong with this picture? Are scores of deaths of innocents a moral price to pay for each Israeli rescued? Israeli leaders and citizens seem to think so. Israelis are dancing in the streets over the latest war news.

Israel, of course, was traumatized by the October 7 Hamas attack, which captured scores of hostages, of whom 120 or so are still unaccounted for. The passionate desire to repatriate those victims is understandable. But comparing IDF tactics to those of United States forces is instructive. When attempting to free hostages or to kill or capture high-value terrorist targets, the U.S. tries to avoid collateral damage, even aborting an operation likely to kill civilians. In light of this humane policy, it is distressing that President Biden seemed to give the IDF operation his unequivocal approval.

One may quibble as to whether Israel has established apartheid in the Middle East or whether the conduct of the current war amounts to genocide. Historically, however, Israelis have shown little respect or concern for their Palestinian neighbors either in war or in peacetime. Significantly, whenever there has been a prisoner exchange, dozens of Palestinians are exchanged for each Israeli released. This is possible because Israel collects Palestinian prisoners like tokens to be used as necessary and because Zionists view Palestinians more as vermins than as people deserving simple human dignity and respect.

I don’t know how many Palestinians constitute the moral equivalent of one Israeli in the Israeli mind. Whatever that number is, it is large, and that ethical calculus is a moral outrage. NPR quoted Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant as saying, “This morning not only did we have a successful operation but also an opportunity to fulfill the goals of this war.” A goal of the war appears to be to kill as many Palestinians as possible.

Concern for the hostages has become a justification for no-holds-barred aggression in Gaza. It is embarrassing that U.S. policy insists that hostages need to be returned but not that the killing of innocent women and children needs to stop immediately.

June 6, 2024

Why Is There a Refrigerator in My Bedroom?

The photo on the left was taken from my bed yesterday (Wednesday). It shows a refrigerator parked just inside the door of my bedroom. Therein lies a story.

I noticed recently that the freezer compartment of my refrigerator was collecting frost all around. At the same time, the compartment below seemed warmer than usual.

My Monday lunch consisted of a sandwich and some leftover potato salad. The potato salad, which was about a week old, tasted spoiled. I threw it away after one bite. Since the refrigerator seemed warmer than usual, I increased the temperature control to its maximum setting.

By Tuesday—in retrospect, I was slow on the uptake—after trying to measure the refrigerator’s temperature, I concluded that there was something seriously wrong. I reported the problem to the building’s maintenance man, Kyle, who suggested that my refrigerator had a bad fan. We went immediately to my apartment with a replacement fan in hand.

After emptying the freezer—this was an obnoxious operation—we learned that ice was blocking the passage of cold air into the compartment below. The reason for this was unclear, but the freezer was quite filled and the weather had been very humid. My adjusting the refrigerator temperature upward had only made matters worse.

At this point, it became clear that living in an apartment building has advantages I had overlooked. Kyle offered to deliver a refrigerator as a temporary replacement. Happily, he had one available that was empty but operative, so it was already cold. The plan was to transfer my food to the temporary refrigerator and defrost my own refrigerator overnight.

The matter of where to put the temporary unit was tricky. Many of my outlets were in use, and I couldn’t find an extension cord on short notice. The solution we hit upon was to unplug my portable vacuum and put the refrigerator just inside my bedroom. The placement allowed me to get in and out of the bedroom, but I couldn’t easily get to one side of the bed to make it up. This explains the unmade bed in the above photograph.

Once Kyle left, I began transferring food from one refrigerator to the other. I then cleaned the sides of my refrigerator and the floor area that had been underneath it. Mercifully, only a modest quantity of water accumulated on the floor.

On Wednesday, Kyle came back to put my refrigerator back together—he had removed a panel at the rear of the freezer—and to return it to its proper place. I cleaned the interior and, once it had cooled down, I moved food from the temporary refrigerator to my own. This gave me the opportunity to do a degree of triage, discarding old or seemingly useless leftovers. It also allowed me to better organize my refrigerator, both top and bottom. 

Today (Thursday), Kyle returned to retrieve the lent refrigerator. Having put my refrigerator back together, I now have to put my apartment back together.