"Deserted Cities of the Heart" (opens in separate window)

russia collusion hoax, pt-1

friday, march 1st, 2024

Last year, John Durham, a special prosecutor for the Department of Justice (DOJ), concluded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should never have opened its investigation of alleged collusion by then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and Russia in late July of 2016. Politics is war,
just by other means.

[FULL TITLE: "CIA Had Foreign Allies Spy On Trump Team, Triggering Russia Collusion Hoax, Sources Say".]

Now, multiple credible sources tell Public and Racket that the United States Intelligence Community (IC), including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), illegally mobilized foreign intelligence agencies to target Trump advisors long before the summer of 2016.

The new information fills many gaps in our understanding of the Russia collusion hoax and is supported by testimony already in the public record.

Until now, the official story has been that the FBI’s investigation began after Australian intelligence officials told US officials that a Trump aide had boasted to an Australian diplomat that Russia had damning material about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Inside Every Liberal/Progressive Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out.

In truth, the US IC asked the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance to surveil Trump’s associates and share the intelligence they acquired with US agencies, say sources close to a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HSPCI) investigation. The Five Eyes nations are the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

After Public and Racket had been told that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, had identified 26 Trump associates for the Five Eyes to target, a source confirmed that the IC had “identified [them] as people to ‘bump’, or make contact with or manipulate. They were targets of our own IC and law enforcement -- targets for collection and misinformation.”

Unknown details about the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and raw intelligence related to the IC’s surveillance of the Trump campaign are in a 10-inch binder that Trump ordered to be declassified at the very end of his term, sources told Public and Racket.

If the top-secret documents exist proving these charges, they are potentially proof that multiple US intelligence officials broke laws against spying and election interference.


A Day In The Life.

Up at 8a on Friday, a not-so-cold 37°, I fired-up the furnace and garage heater, did the finger stick to check my BSL (Blood Sugar Level) and recorded it on my Diabetes-2 chart, made coffee, took two 50mg Tramadol and a 300mg Gabapentin for various pains, fired-up the Win-7 Pentium HP desktop to let 32 million lines of code load, had a couple smokes in the very cool garage and checked the day's to-do list. Busy day ahead. I tuned into the "Chris Stigall Show LIVE" (CS Show) from 6-9a, and then the "Chris Plante Show LIVE" (CP Show) 9-12noon, and finally to the Rob Carson Show LIVE (RC Show) 12-3p.

The rain continued overnight and thru the morning -- at least it wasn't more snow -- the fog had set-in, the overcast sky remained, and the forecast was for a little warmer weather until tomorrow, when the bitter cold night temps return for a day or so. Hey, it's still Winter! I did a load of laundry, had a 2hr snooze on the LR couch, made BBQ on Croissant Sandwiches for dinner, and watched the evening news. Discovery's "Gold Rush" Marathon was on the afternoon and evening, and I joined-in after the news, until 11:30p. Lights out.

Sleeping-in until around 8a on Saturday, a nippy 36° morning, I upped the heat to 74°, made coffee, had some smokes in the garage, fired-up the desktop to scan the weather and news headlines, and settled-in with some "CS Podcasts" from the past 5 days.

I turned on my trusty, old (2014) AT&T Cingular SmartFlip IV U102AA 4G LTE and it was locked at 8:03 AM, and totally unusable; I couldn't get anything to work. Dead in the water. I'll have to go to the nearby AT&T Store and try to get some help. This has never happened before. Damn. Irony: my AT&T auto-pay bill just processed this morning at 8AM, according to the email I received from them Heh. So, I'm SOL (Shit-Outta-Luck) for now. The phone's display screen went dark, when I next checked it, and I got the message that the battery was 0%, so I put it on full charge for the next 2hrs.

After breakfast, I listened to the "CS Podcast" until the repeat "CP Show" came on local WSBA910am for 3hrs, while the phone was charging. After lunch, and amazingly, I rebooted the phone, and it was 100% charged, and WORKING AGAIN. No need to go to AT&T for anything; I was back-in-business. Weird.

By mid-afternoon, temps were dropping quickly, and with the dampness from last night's rain, it felt 20° colder. I buttoned-up the condo, watched a FNC afternoon news program and had an early dinner. I added several new channels to the local xfinity (Comcast) streaming line-up, and watched two movies on the newly-added to my line-up on SyFy Channel -- "The Hunt" and "Freaky". Both weird, but good. By 8p, the SC Primary results were coming in, and I had some paperwork to do. By 12:30a, I was fading and called it a day.

Awake at 8 and up at 8:15a on Sunday, it was a bitter cold and damp 24° outside, so I got the heat on right away, started coffee, had a couple of smokes in the cold garage, With coffee, I scanned the weather and news sites, and played some "CS Podcasts" from last week. I had Bacon, Egg & Cheese Toast, slathered with copious amounts of KerryGold Irish Butter, lots more coffee and lounged around until 11:30. I started one load of laundry after a light lunch.

At around 1p, my next door neighbor knocked on my door, telling me that her 93yr old mother had pulled the front door shut behind her, and locked them both out. Damn. I replaced the 9v battery in her garage's outside keypad, but her inside door was also locked, called 5 or 6 locksmiths for *Emergency Service* over the next 3 hours, and finally got a very nice Russian/East European immigrant locksmith to come out and get her front door opened. Apparently, most locksmiths YELP listings advertise *Emergency Service*, but NOT on Sundays. Cost was $295, which she paid by CC. Then I could get some lunch at 4:30, fold laundry and watch some TRASH-CAR "racing", with so many unnecessary, but fun to watch, 'accidents', that I lost count at the Atlanta 400 Speedway. What a joke.

I skipped dinner, watched the evening news, watched Motor Trend's "Junkyard Empire" until 11, and called it quits for the day.

Up at 6a as the garbage truck came thru the complex, a 28° start to the morning. I did the usual routine, tuned into the "CS Show" until 9. After some smokes in the warming garage, I scanned the morning's weather and news headlines, and saw too many articles which got my blood boiling, I had to break-off reading any further. Before leaving for my usual weekly trip south and a few errands, I called Sherry to catch-up from her weekend. I finally left around 12:30p.

What would normally be a 45-55min round-trip w/ 3 stops, turns out to be (u>almost 2hrs these past 4-5 weeks, due to construction chokepoints, all over York County. Sucks to be me. Back by about 2:15, I unloaded the Jeep, had some lunch, and finished listening to the "RC Show", and dialed-up his podcasts page on iHeart Radio. With 60° temps outside, I opened-up the condo, to get some fresh air, and grabbed a 2hr snooze on the LR couch.

It was dark when I got up, closed down the condo, and had some dinner. I watched the evening news on FNC, switched over to Discovery's "Iron Resurrection" for the rest of the evening -- saw a couple of episodes I'd somehow missed over the years -- and unplugged at midnight.

Awake and up at 7a on Tuesday, it was a fairly mild morning in the low-40s, but heat was needed, so I fired-up the furnace and garage heater, made coffee and logged on to the desktop computer. Scanning the headlines and forecast just made me irritated: another gov't "shutdown" looming, illegal alien invaders getting "rights" against American Citizens and on and on and on it goes, 'ad infinitum ad nauseum'. The treasonous demonKKKrats are truly destroying this Country, one inch at a time.

Mild weather is here for the day -- 53° by 10a -- with showers and t-storms tonite and tomorrow, followed by Winter temps; hopefully not snow. Hey, it's Winter! By 11:30a, it was 62°, but the huge t-storm was moving-in from the west, and we'd be under some seriously wet weather by 2p. Sherry ould be here around 1p, and if it was pouring outside, we'd probably skip a walk in the nearby Springettsbury Twp Park and forgo going to the Gigantic York Galleria Mall, and just stay here. I had Rye Toast, with plenty of KerryGold® Irish Butter and Philly® Cream Cheese.

Sherry and I spent the afternoon at my place, and had our always great time together. Any time we have together is both fun and precious; I value it highly. She left around 4:30 to get some shopping done, and it would be getting dark earlier than usual, due to the heavy cloudcover and light rain. The heavier rain would come tonite and tomorrow, with very cold temps following. I had some dinner, watched History's "Curse of Oak Island" and then Discovery's "Iron Resurrection" until midnight, and unplugged.

Up at 7:30a on Wednesday, I did the usual routine and had coffee with some smokes in the warm garage. It was a rainy, windy 56° morning outside -- warmer than when I went to sleep last night, as the massive stormfront from the South was moving up and thru. LOTS of yellow and red on the radar maps. We're in for a day of warm, but rough weather. I tuned into the "CS Show", scanned the news headlines. I had a small food shopping list put together last night, and rechecked it. I'm planning on leaving after 12noon, after the "RC Show" starts, as usual.

• WHAT... West-Northwest winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph expected.
• WHERE... Portions of central Pennsylvania, including the Susquehanna Valley.
• IMPACTS... Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.
• PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

After checking with my WF Broker yesterday, it 'looks like' I now have all 2023 Tax Docs that I will get, to finish-up the taxes and get the raw data to my CPA. So, I'll work on that for the next few days and get it down to the CPA's Dallastown office, next week. We're having some pretty heavy thunderstorms -- also called "Thundersnow" -- right now, which shake the earth and condo, they're so heavly-concentrated overhead, with much more to come. Awesome in February, and I'm glad it's NOT snow. I left for Weis Market around 12:30p, got 4121 in food and Gold Peak Tea (sugar free), stopped at Rite Aid to p/u 2 waiting Rxs, and was home by 2p.

The strong winds arrived around 7p, and I could hear storm windows rattling slightly. Temps dropped from the low-60s into the mid-30s within 2hrs. The weather maps showed snow squalls following the massive east-moving t-storm system. After dinner, I opened a bottle of BUTTER Chardonnay, watched the news, History's "American Pickers" and Discovery's "Expedition X" until 2:30a. Lights out.

Sleeping-in until 8:30a, a sunny, bright, windy 31° Thursday morning, I did the usual daily routine, tuned into the "CP Show", having missed the "CS Show", and had lots of fresh-brewed coffee. After a load of laundry, I left aroun d 1:30p, to run a couple errands, get 2 cartons of Marlboros, and Half & Half at nearby Rutter's Convenience Store, and another loaf of Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bread, and some Apple Fritters, at Flinchbaugh's Orchard & Farm Market in Hallam. Beautiful day, nice drive, but no BE&C Bread or Apple Fritters until tomorrow. So I got Apple Bread w/ Icing and Pulled Pork BBQ.

After dinner, I watched the news, then Discovery's "Full Custom Garage" until midnight, and called it a day.

Tomorrow starts a new week here in the "Journal", and another round of Lab Tests are on my schedule; for what reason I don't know. Jusat that time of the year, I guess. The month ahead looks like Spring is "almost here", but we're still way past due for a blizzard... I hope it holds off until next Winter.

Biden Rewrites ‘An American Tragedy’.

In Theodore Dreiser’s novel “An American Tragedy” (1925), one of the characters tells the hapless protagonist, “Time, which sees all things, has found you out.”

We can now say the same of President Biden. He is poised to become the most discredited American president since Richard Nixon -- and with far more reason. The reason goes beyond a special counsel’s report confirming what many of us already knew about the president’s diminished mental and physical capacity.

Instead of uniting Americans as he promised in 2020, he has made us weaker and more divided, in large part because he lacked the strength and integrity to do his job. Those closest to him knew it and let it happen. In the end, it isn’t Mr. Biden’s tragedy, or even theirs. It’s America’s.

We can say it’s infuriating that those around Mr. Biden know he is failing mentally and physically and have worked to cover it up, just as those around Woodrow Wilson, including his wife, tried to cover up his strokes. It was infuriating to see Mr. Biden publicly blame Donald Trump for the border mess he himself had created by reversing Mr. Trump’s policy in the first place.

Infuriating, yes, but also disheartening. Not least because we have seen three years of a presidency wasted, at a time when America needed to make a fresh start and show the world we were back, stronger than ever. Instead, we are more divided and weaker than ever, with a world more dangerous than at any time since World War II. It’s an outcome as tragic for its wasted opportunities as it is for its dismal results.

Any tragedy is tinged with irony. So it is ironic that Mr. Biden was elected in 2020 on the theme of coming together: “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” he said in his first speech as president-elect. Given his more than three decades in the Senate and his reputation (earned or not) as a moderate Democrat, one would have expected President Biden to be a compulsive deal maker on domestic issues like energy, tax cuts and the border, with one policy nod in the direction of the GOP, and another toward the Democrats.

At the same time, one hoped he would stay on course with what had worked for Mr. Trump in foreign affairs. That would mean treating China as a strategic threat, restraining Russia after its unprovoked invasion of Crimea in 2014, and countering Iran by extending the Abraham Accords between Israel and its Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia.

Instead, Mr. Biden turned out to be a compulsive deal maker on foreign affairs, in which he and his team treated America’s enemies as if they were colleagues across the aisle. From his first days in office, Mr. Biden handed out concessions to anyone who seemed to threaten American interests, in hopes they would leave us in peace. Some called this appeasement; I call it the Art of the Bad Deal. Among them: deals with the Taliban by abandoning Afghanistan, with Russia by not blocking the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, with China by allowing it to buy Russian oil and natural gas after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with Iran by not enforcing Trump sanctions.

All this brought disaster. The U.S. now finds itself drawn into regional conflicts in Ukraine, Israel and the Red Sea, with the threat of a fourth in the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, the defense secretary has been in and out of hospital and the military is unsure it can fulfill its missions.

On the domestic front, instead of a deal maker we got a rigid ideologue on issues like green energy and open borders, while soaring government spending gave us the worst inflation since the 1970s. Mr. Biden has used the bludgeon of woke ideology to silence critics, including opponents of Covid vaccine mandates. He has resorted to law-fare to cancel Mr. Trump, even as many Americans look back with nostalgia to the presidency of the man Mr. Biden wants to destroy.

Instead of realizing that his policies are alienating voters, Mr. Biden made things worse by blasting the 70 million or so people who voted for Mr. Trump as racists and insurrectionists.

As a biographer of Joe McCarthy, I could have told Mr. Biden that being a successful demagogue demands manic energy and drive. It’s not a role for a president more enfeebled than any since Wilson.

The shame is that Mr. Biden could have used his age to his advantage. At times he seemed to play an avuncular, even grandfatherly role, standing up for old-fashioned virtues and values, while sternly dressing down those who threaten the American family. Instead, we got King Lear, railing against fate and blaming everyone except himself for the train of disasters during his presidency, starting with Afghanistan and continuing most recently with the border.

Worse, a Lear who, it seems, sold his office and honor to enrich his own family and his unworthy son, while developing a 15-year habit of hiding classified documents in his garage.

The shame of the Biden presidency has been a tragedy for the rest of us. A tragedy of three years wasted, and worse, by someone from whom -- whatever his faults -- we had a right to expect more.

© 2.20.2024 by Arthur Herman, "Wall Street Journal".

Obama Poised to Pull the Plug on Biden? He May Have No Choice.

Special counsel Robert Hur did a great service to America last week in two ways that fundamentally and irreversibly transform the Presidential race. As a result, just like in Hillary Clinton’s ‘3 a.m. phone call’ television ad in the 2008 contest, the iPhone is buzzing in Barack Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard compound, and he had better answer it.

Number one, by declining to charge President Biden for “willfully retain[ing]” classified materials, Hur blew up any pretense of fairness when it comes to how Biden’s Department of Justice treats its own boss, while it throws the book at President Trump.

Not only did Hur decline to prosecute Biden, he made clear that the facts surrounding Biden’s retention of documents were far worse – not even in the same solar system – compared with President Trump’s case.

To review the bidding:

– As a former President, Trump was covered by the Presidential Records Act that allows the chief executive to retain some personal records from his time in office, as it did with former President Bill Clinton in the infamous “socks case,” as well as “broad authority to formally declassify most documents that are not statutorily protected, while they are in office,” according to the American Bar Association. As a former senator and vice president, Biden was not covered by the Presidential Records Act, and has no case whatsoever for retaining classified personal materials from his time in either office.

– Biden had no protection whatsoever over his custody of the classified documents he possessed illegally, many of which he squirreled away in his unlocked garage next to a non-electric Corvette. President Trump’s documents were kept under lock and key at his Mar-a-Lago estate that even some in the media acknowledge is “built like a fortress,” and guarded around-the-clock by Secret Service officers

– Hur’s report noted that Biden’s documents were recovered by FBI agents “from the garage, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home,” and at the Penn Biden Center, Biden’s lucrative Washington perch after leaving office in 2017. (This latter facility is otherwise known as the “Penn China Center,” because the University of Pennsylvania mysteriously received at least $30 million from anonymous Chinese donors within weeks of establishing the center for Biden and his former aides the year he left office, including future Secretary of State Antony Blinken.)

– Trump’s possession of his records in the year-and-a-half after he left office was made plain to authorities from the DOJ, FBI and the National Archives, and Trump and his staff met with their representatives to discuss his retention of the documents, and what he could do to keep them secure at Mar-a-Lago. This was only weeks before Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a surprise, sirens-blaring, pre-dawn, multiple-SUV raid by FBI agents on Trump’s estate with media in tow and news cameras rolling overhead from a number of helicopters.

– In Biden’s case, he held on to his documents illegally for at least 15 years, in some instances going back to his 36-year tenure in the Senate. Hur noted that one of the boxes in Biden’s garage “contained marked classified documents from the late 1970s.”

– Hur reported that during the years Biden retained his classified documents, he even shared them with a ghostwriter, telling the scribe that he had “just found all the classified stuff downstairs” during a recorded interview in his Virginia home after leaving office in 2017.

– Amazingly, when Biden’s lawyers disclosed his illegal possession of the documents, Merrick Garland’s FBI somehow arranged a quiet visit to the president’s Wilmington home to conduct a friendly inspection – no dramatic unannounced pre-dawn raid, no breathless live-streams from media embedded in a long convoy of armored cars or hovering overhead.

On its own, Hur’s refusal to prosecute Biden for far more serious allegations than Trump faces in his own case transforms the race for president because it obliterates one of the central arguments Democrats have pushed in their effort to defeat him – that somehow Trump has committed serious crimes for which he must be held accountable through four unprecedented prosecutions. In sum, it lays bare the ludicrousness of the lawfare Democrats are waging on the former president.

Second, and even more significant, Hur’s report knocks down in plain and irrefutable language the other pillar of Democrats’ case for victory in November, namely that the obvious, long-running and steep decline in Biden’s cognitive abilities should be ignored and that he is mentally fit to stand for re-election.

Earlier last week, Russian leaders and state media were laughing openly at Biden for his diminished mental function, including taunts over his lack of firm command over U.S. nuclear launch codes, for mistaking long-deceased 1980s French President François Mitterrand for the current leader Emmanuel Macron, and for losing track of his own defense secretary Lloyd Austin for six days in January.

In typical fashion, the White House spin team attempted to deflect questions over Biden’s regular stumbles and bumbles, and compare favorably his dizzying cognitive slide with what even Trump’s detractors admit is the former president’s strongest suit – his undisputed energy, verbal facility and command of communication on the public stage, including hosting a top-rated reality TV show for over a decade.

Then the Robert Hur bomb dropped. The special prosecutor wrote that one of the main reasons he decided against prosecuting Biden for “willfully retain[ing]” classified documents was for precisely the cognitive decline that the White House and Democrats have been denying desperately for the past year. Hur argued that in any prosecution, “Mr. Biden will likely present himself to the jury, as he did during his interview with our office, as a sympathetic, well meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

In other words, Biden’s own DOJ is refuting in clear and direct language the song and dance the White House has put forward publicly this election year that the incumbent President is mentally fit to fulfill the duties of his office, both presently, and in a second term. Biden himself validated Hur’s claim by calling a last-minute audible and holding a news conference following the report’s release that even the New York Times called a “political disaster,” and in which Biden mistook the Mexican president for the president of Egypt.

Thanks to Hur’s report, the Democrats’ two strongest arguments for keeping Trump from another four years in the Oval Office – that the former president is a crook worthy of prosecution, and that Biden is mentally fit to serve as the nation’s chief executive – lie in tatters.

Which brings us to President Obama. The last Democrat president has been warning Biden and party leaders for months, privately and publicly through former aides like David Axelrod, that he faces an uphill fight to win a second term. Now that Hur’s report has detonated like a shaped charge in Biden’s political bunker, Obama is the only man on the planet who can talk Jill and Joe Biden out of standing for re-election.

Obama actually performed this duty for his party twice before, when he convinced his sitting vice president not to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016, and counseled Biden against running in 2020 as well when he was out of office.

Obama has a short window to take that course a third time and arrange to have Biden, in a fig-leaf speech sometime in the next few weeks, “declare victory,” announce that his “great work restoring American democracy is complete,” and that he is no longer running for another term.

Since it’s too late to get other Democrat candidates on remaining state primary ballots, Biden would declare a “fair and open primary fight” to be decided in August with a vote of delegates at the Democrat convention in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and announce he will refrain from endorsing any candidate before the convention “to preserve the fairness of the process.” In this way Obama will finesse the party’s Kamala DEI problem and let Democrat delegates decide, as voters did in the 2016 primary, that she is not fit to serve as their standard-bearer on the basis of merit rather than through the prism of identity politics.

A far-fetched scenario? Possibly. But with Biden on life support both mentally and politically, there’s no question Obama is already fielding calls along those lines from Party pooh-bahs at his Martha’s Vineyard mansion. And Obama may soon conclude, that for Democrats to have any worldly chance to retain the White House in November, he has no choice but to pull the plug.

© 2.23.2024 by John Ullyot, "Front Page Magazine".

Things Used to Work In This Country... An Appliance Used To Be A Machine. Now It’s A Bureaucracy.

On the windowsill above the gas fire sits a surprisingly heavy square box. Its back is dirty, thick plastic; its battered and much-dented front is metallic, with rows of tiny ridges and microscopic holes creating a nubby texture if you run your hand across it. A leather strap is buckled into the top for ease of carry, in front of a retractable metal antenna. When the antenna is fully outstretched above the squat rectangle, it looks comical. In the top third of the box’s face, a vertical orange needle moves across the rows of numbers denoting frequency scales. You move the needle with a metal knob. There are four knobs in total, and a switch, and a few helpful legends: am/fm, volume, and, in neat, raised letters, general electric.

This is the family radio. It is at least fifty years old. My mother remembers her family listening to it after dinner; I remember sitting on the porch, hearing the Phillies playing in the background, summer after summer. The other night we turned it on again to catch the first game of the National League Championship Series. A few of the technologically savvy younger generation were home, and at first we tried to get the game on the big-screen Internet-enabled TV. Something was wrong with the pirating site, which is a tough situation for appropriately-directed complaint filing. You could get the game on the MLB app, but the app wants to know your cable provider, which precise lack was the reason we were on the app. Hulu was streaming it, apparently. We tried to sign up for a free trial that we could cancel before they’d get around to billing us. (This is not taking advantage of the free option, because we would have forgotten to cancel; if anything, Hulu is taking advantage of our rosy-eyed good intentions.) Of course it turned out that everyone had already at some point or other created a now-lapsed account; we would have to pay. No problem. We’re big like that. One of us tried to log in. None of us remembered our passwords. The message on the screen directed us to visit some variant of hulu.com/forgotpassword/idiot. We weren’t messing around with that. By now we were fifteen minutes past the start of the game.

Radio it would have to be. But at least we had our ­Internet-enabled big-screen TV speakers. We would listen to Internet radio and pipe the game through the whole downstairs. What was the name of the Philly station? How did the search function work? How long could painstakingly scrolling to and clicking on each requisite alphanumeric character with the touch-sensitive Apple remote possibly take? The answer to none of these questions mattered because, as it turned out, three increasingly incredulous searches later, Internet radio had never heard of our local broadcast station.

We pulled the long spindly antenna all the way up. We flicked the switch to FM. We twisted the volume knob as far as it would go. The warm familiar crackle — then Kyle Schwarber was in our living room, hitting a home run.

Things used to work in this country.

When we think of heirlooms, we usually think of objects cast in friendly and graceful materials: wood, wool, crystal, silver. We do not think of utilitarian confections of alien plastic. But our GE radio, our unstoppable GE radio, is one of our family heirlooms. It’s true that there is something pleasing about its design. Its amiable proportions and cleanly delineated squares and circles are coupled with a kind of serious banality in color and texture. It has the mystique of telephone wires, of walkie talkies, of legal pads, of Dana Scully’s suits, of playing “grownups” as a child: carrying briefcases, writing endless loops that were supposed to be cursive, in a world where it was and would always be the 1980s. As an object of nostalgia, its look will probably never match the jaunty brightness of the 1950s. But its already substantial following will doubtless continue to grow.

The GE radio is not a family heirloom for its design features, however. It is an heirloom because it has accompanied us through three generations of baseball games and school closure announcements and Saturday morning public radio folk hours. And it has accompanied us not because it had any particular emotional significance to begin with, but because it just works, and has worked, and continues to work. You can take it anywhere, plug it in anywhere. It does one thing perfectly. Well, not perfectly — it’s probably a little more prone to static than it was fifty years ago. The other day, when I turned it on, it made a noise like a gunshot and started shooting sparks out the back. But here’s the important thing: when the sparks died down, it worked.

I cannot think of a single piece of personal technology that I expect to be able to give to my grandchildren in working order. Some cars fit this bill, because there is an expectation and infrastructure of ongoing repairs. But in terms of smaller items? Apple, to give the devil his due, is probably the closest. I ran my iPhone over with a car last year; a quick trip to the electronic repair store and it may last me ten years, if Apple does not sabotage me with operating systems updates or charger modifications. But there’s nothing like the GE radio, nothing that I can expect to use, day in and day out, for fifty years, without touching it.

Things used to work in this country. This is the stock complaint of the Baby Boomers, and if you are lucky enough to inherit a piece of their technology, you may find yourself agreeing. But when I say “things used to work,” the object of inherited nostalgia is not only manufacturing standards before planned obsolescence and offshoring. Things used to, literally, work. You turned a knob, and sound came on, because the knob controlled the mechanism that tuned the radio to the broadcast that the big metal radio towers dotting the landscape beamed at you. I am not a gearhead of any description and don’t care much about how the insides of electrical devices work, but I know exactly what I, personally, have to do to operate my end of the GE radio. There are no downloads, no platforms, no passwords, no little pull-down menus, no verifications or account recovery protocols. There is no streaming. Personal technology used to be a machine. Now it’s a bureaucracy.

I like simple machines. I do not take “simple enough for a woman to use” to be a put-down. I take it as a vote of confidence that I will never be enough of a nerd (sorry, sorry: high-IQ techno-optimist) to think that syncing the smart refrigerator to the smart TV to the Alexa is a good use of any human being’s limited time on this earth. I like the way simple, sturdy machines unite generations rather than dividing them — because they are capable of being passed down, because their interfaces are built off broad intuitions about a limited range of actions (turn knob, push button), and because they can be mastered via direct experimentation that will not immediately take you down a hopeless rabbit hole of arcana and administration.

I like simple machines. But most of all I like the General Electric radio that connects us to the beneficence of public broadcasting, beaming out of the silent towers that stand like guardians of civilization. Trends come and go; cutting edges dull; shows get canceled; startups collapse. But our General Electric radio remains.

© Winter 2024 by Claire Coffey, "The New Atlantis".

Punk's Not Dead.

If you're interested in the punk movement of the 90s, you might want to check out the Vintage Detroit Punk Rock Flyers. The collection of flyers from various shows and artists in the Metro Detroit area showcases the outspoken and creative work of that time. The collection has over 200 saved flyers for the public to enjoy as a body of work and evidence of an important cultural movement of that time. (NOTE: Never listened to that awful, ear-damaging Punk, Disco, Grunge, Heavy Metal etc etc etc, myself...)

© 2020 by Patrick "Scruff" Shaw, "InterNet Archive".

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