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Odds and ends






It’s a lazy-ish Sunday, and I’m overdue for a little writing, but not up for some long involved piece. NEWS ITEM: Ever since mentioning my purchase of a vintage safety razor, my buddy Buddy has been pushing me on the benefits of wet shaving, and gifted me with a cake of soap, a brush, and…

Remembering Chuck Berry






As most of y’all know I publish my Raw Story videos here at Still Calling when I get the chance. We recently switched platforms, and now I’m using Powtoons. I’ll immediately concede I’m not the best animator out there (thank god I don’t have to draw my own characters, or I would be well and…

Weights and Measures

News item:

A U.S. Senate staffer allegedly dabbled in drug importation, according to law enforcement. Fred W. Pagan, a staffer for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) allegedly told law enforcement agents that he imported drugs from China in a plan to exchange them for sexual favors, according to new documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Yesterday, officers from Homeland Security and the Metropolitan Police Department raided Pagan’s home on the 5700 block of Colorado Ave. NW. Inside, they allegedly found 181.5 grams of meth, which Pagan allegedly told officers he received on behalf of “his distributor.”

A gram weighs about as much as a paper clip, a very tiny little thing that barely registers on a scale:
paper clip

So assessing Pagan’s haul in grams… well, it kind of minimizes the seriousness of the crime, at least to me. I mean, how bad can it be, 181 paper clips?

But when we put it into a more appropriate measure, we learn Pagan got popped with a nearly half a pound of meth. Kinda changes things, doesn’t it?

This is Not Jimi Hendrix’s Machine Gun

Now that I’ve got your attention, here’s the Sunday line-up:

Progress Pond has some commentary on Ted Cruz, the first Republican to officially throw his hat in the ring:

Cruz will get the attention he craves, and that won’t be a good thing for the Republican Party. I don’t think he plans to leave any room on his right for his competitors to maneuver in, and his schtick is going to be that everyone else is a weak-kneed conservative wannabe. I expect this to get very personal, very quickly. Because the other candidates will be more comfortable attacking Cruz than the outlandish conservative ideas he espouses, I think they will talk about his knowledge, temperament, and effectiveness rather than challenge him from an ideological point of view.

The exception will be Jeb, who will attempt to be the voice of reason. He’ll have to hope that his opponents divide up the majority into enough pieces that he can win with a small plurality.

Here in Philly, Kenyatta “I take grants I’m not eligible for” Johnson got caught on video ranting about Union Kingpin Johnny Doc’s “plantation mentality”… which may or may not be true, but whch is pretty rich coming out of a guy who treats his district like his personal fiefdom, steering juicy development opportunities to his cronies.

Speaking of cronyism, Isaiah Thompson nails Tony Williams to the wall over ties to charter schools:

But a review of years’ worth of campaign finance filings, lobbying disclosure reports and other public documents by PhillyVoice suggests the ties between Williams’ political campaigns — particularly the Susquehanna International Group and the organizations it has founded to push pro-voucher legislation — run deeper than a few donations, however large.

None of these relationships, according to multiple experts interviewed, violate rules governing campaign finance or lobbying rules.

But they do, perhaps, show a proximity between Williams’ candidacy and the money backing it that challenges the degree to which Williams downplays those connections.

Williams’ mayoral campaign manager, Dawn Chavous, for example, has worked not only for Williams as a political consultant but also for his biggest donors.

Chavous, who is married to City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, was paid to assist the same political action committee, the Susquehanna International Group-sponsored Students First PAC, that’s supported Williams for years. She also consulted for Williams’ political campaign even while lobbying the state on behalf of Students First Corp., a nonprofit established by the Susquehanna International Group members, in favor of legislation Williams helped sponsor — and while its affiliated PAC donated generously to Williams.

The New York Times has a profile on Monica Lewinsky, who I always felt sorry for and continue to have a crush on. Sue me.

We all know that Florida is f*cked by climate change, and New York and Boston are screwed as well. But Philadelphia, about 60 mils inland from the shore, won’t be immune either:

Over the next five years, aided by $87 million from the Federal Transit Administration, SEPTA will spend $116 million on seven projects to battle the effects of extreme weather:

Railroad power reinforcement, $42.7 million. To reduce vulnerability of uninsulated cables and aging power systems, this project will insulate 99 miles of cables, upgrade 24 motor generators, and install a new signal substation at Doylestown.

Rail embankment stabilization, $25 million. To reduce mudslides, SEPTA will reinforce the slopes on three 19th-century railroad cuts in Montgomery and Delaware Counties that serve the Warminster, West Trenton, Lansdale/Doylestown, and Media/Elwyn Lines.

Jenkintown flood mitigation, $20 million. To reduce frequent flooding and washouts near the Jenkintown rail hub, SEPTA will build a new culvert and water-detention system just south of the Jenkintown train station and rebuild or replace a bridge north of the station.

Ancillary control center, $12 million. SEPTA will build a backup control center at the Frankford Transportation Center to allow dispatchers to continue to operate bus, train, trolley, and subway service if the main control center at SEPTA’s Center City headquarters is shut down by power failure or other calamity.