Wednesday, January 4, 2023

aborted events

Things besides pregnancies that have been aborted:

1. Though I'd introvertedly skipped out on the online New Year's events, I was looking forward to the Tolkien Society's annual toast to the Professor's Birthday, and the conversational breakout rooms afterwards, on Tuesday. But by the time I connected, the Zoom had reached its maximum capacity for the event and I couldn't get in. However, at dinner I did finally break out a bottle of Suffolk cider I'd brought home from my last trip to England, and B. and I toasted him with that.

2. Our newly-established city council district had its first-ever councilar election in November and it turned out to be the closest ever. After a mandated automated recount, Candidate A was ahead by one vote (out of some 5600 cast). Candidate B asked, unsurprisingly, for a manual recount. This made Candidate A grumpy. He said asking for a recount was tantamount to accusing the registrar of voters of incompetence (a theory I've never heard before floated, and not accepted by registrars). He said it was outrageous that the public had to pay for this indulgence. Candidate B pointed out that the cost of the recount was out of his pocket, and he'd only be reimbursed if he won. Meanwhile, the local paper ran an editorial saying it was outrageous that the right to a manual recount should depend on whether a candidate can afford it: they should be publicly funded.
In the manual recount, the previously-counted votes came out the same, but a very few votes that had been set aside for irregularities were re-examined and found valid. As I recall, there were 5 of them: 2 for Candidate A and 3 for Candidate B. Now it was a tie.
The city charter says that in that case, you draw a name out of a sack. Candidate A won. Candidate B does not feel crushed, nor do I, though I voted for him. This was not a high-stakes election even by local standards.

3. Meanwhile, back where the stakes are high - where DT lost three elections in four years, Kevin McCarthy has now lost three elections in one day. What happens next? Both groups of Repubs declare they're digging in for the duration. If that's true, they could go on for two years without organizing the House. That means no bills get passed, but they wouldn't anyway; but also they couldn't spend two years investigating Hunter Biden's laptop. More likely one side will give in - and don't expect any help from the Democrats, who are literally chortling in their popcorn (a couple of them brought bags to munch on as they watched the show) - and whoever gets the Speakership is in for an even less enjoyable time than had Boehner or Ryan, both of whom quit in frustration.

4. Much rain this week has built up the mountain snowpacks and caused local flooding, with the usual assortment of people who drive into water and then their cars stall. But so far it hasn't had much effect on the parched reservoirs. Wait till the snow melts, I'm guessing.

5. Deaths of the week:
Elayne Jones, whose a) female and b) Black face at the timpani in back livened up the visual impact of the then otherwise all non-Black and mostly non-female San Francisco Symphony for a while in the early 70s. I remember seeing her there. She was a good timpanist, too, despite which a musician committee denied her tenure as completely incompetent, a decision with more sexism and racism than will easily fit in one box. But the SF Opera orchestra, which co-existed with the Symphony in those days, kept her on.
Suzy McKee Charnas, an sf author who also met with some sexist pushback in her attempt to publish a feminist dystopia. I also remember her vampire stories, in which - every author handles the physiology of this differently - vampires were essentially six-foot-tall, elegant, talking mosquitoes. I met her a few times, notably on a bus when the airline decided that was a better way to deliver us to Wiscon than flying us from O'Hare, and found her a lively and interesting conversationalist.
Walt Cunningham, last survivor of Apollo 7, the most frustrating of all moonshot-era spaceflights. It was a shakedown cruise for the mooncraft, leaving three men circling the Earth for a week with nothing much to do except suffer from headcolds and grump a lot. Cunningham did write one of the livelier of astronaut memoirs, including telling the joke that everyone else declines to recount, explaining why they called publicity tours "a week in the barrel."

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