26 Dec

One of the aspects of being a Crank is what I shall term Early Onset Geezerhood (I have no idea what the female equivalent is, though I know it exists). EOG means that a Crank finds himself reacting in a way that might be expected of somebody well into their “Golden Years”, while still too young to retire.


If you find that you no longer have much patience with pretentious pop-band names, and think of, for example, Depeche Mode as Depressed Melba, you might have EOG.

If you are in a mall, watching the female teenie-boppers ripple past and your mind reacts to your hormonal interest by saying “Yes, but they’d want to TALK afterwards, and they have nothing to say.”, you might have EOG.

Teen Music

19 Dec

Each generation has its own popular singers who warble, in an adenoidal whine, about the angst of being young. This is as inevitable as the pain of childbirth or the decay of the grave.

No generation has much patience with the whine of any other generation. This is as it should be.

No generation pays the slightest attention to the criticism of its whines by any other generation. This is also as it should be.

No, I am not going to go into detail about which particular whine of which generation it was that set me off. It doesn’t matter.


12 Dec

My Lady has a number of prescriptions. At least six, and maybe as many as a dozen (I don’t keep track of them beyond a certain point). I have seven. No doctor I have ever met seems to be willing to write prescriptions one to a sheet unless he’s only writing one. Prescriptions, even those that were all written at the same time, do not naturally run in sync. So, inevitably, one ends up bringing in multiple prescriptions on the same sheet, asking for one, and leaving the rest “on file”.

My personal experience has been that chain drugstores cannot find prescriptions that have been left “on file”. Since the ability to find things in a filing system is a basic skill, not part of a pharmacist’s specialized training, I can only conclude that chain drugstores, as a matter of policy, hire the bewildered.

My personal experience has also been that chain drugstores are incapable of taking your information, calling the doctor involved, and straightening the matter out while you do your other shopping. You have to stand in the center of their counter, throwing a tantrum, and interfering with their sales or they lose track of what they are doing for you.

I thought that this was universal for pharmacies. For years the only drug stores I had available (that I knew of, anyway) were chain stores. Then, in 1998, I moved into a rural area where the nearest drugstore was a small, locally owned operation. And they could file things without losing them, and be trusted to do what they said they would do without immediate oversight. It was WONDERFUL. Since then I have move again, and go to another small, locally owned pharmacy. And they are the same. HEAVEN!

If you only get occasional prescriptions, this doesn’t matter. Even the worst CVS is capable of filling one written prescription while you wait. But as we get older (and the lucky ones will) the old Dupont slogan “better living through chemistry” becomes more and more of a fact of life.

Local Pharmacies are a little more expensive than the big chains. But, let me assure you, anything extra you spend you will certainly save on ulcer medication.

A Short Rant About Turn Signals

5 Dec

The point of turn signals is that they tell other drivers what you intend to do, so that they have a good chance to NOT RUN INTO YOU.  I understand that there are places where using them marks you as weak, such as Manhattan, but in most places in the United States they will make you safer if you use them.  Starting to signal after you have started to turn is next to useless.

And don’t get me started on all the cars designed with turn signals so lost in the rest of the car’s lights that they can’t be seen.

A Thanksgiving Note

28 Nov

I would like, just once in my life, to read about an American President who said to the press (of the White House turkey), “Pardon him? Hell, we’re gonna chop off his head, gut him, and roast him up for dinner!”

Stuff Too Cool to Keep to Myself #1

28 Nov

My Lady likes to watch BBC documentary programs.  A while back we ran into Howard Goodall‘s Big Bangs (, which details the five major advances that musician and music historian Howard Goodall believes enabled Western music to virtually swamp all other musical traditions. I’m not going to go into detail, because Mr. Goodall does it so much better, but I will note that two of them would simply never have occurred to me, because nobody told me about them.

The first Big Bang is Notation. I knew that musical notation is important. What I didn’t know is that the western musical tradition is the only one to develop such a sophisticated method of writing down music.

The Second Big Bang is Equal Temperament. This you simply have to watch Mr. Goodall’s explanation of.  I know that it is the reason that modern Western music has so much range and power that medieval music seems to lack.  I can’t explain it in any way that won’t muddle you until you watch Mr. Goodall.  And nobody even mentioned it to me in school.

There are three more. I highly recommend the DVD.

Crank’s Rules # 10

21 Nov

There is no technology, no matter how established, trusted, and stable, that cannot be ruined with an upgrade.

Zero Tolerance, Precious Snowflakes, and the End of Western Civilization.

14 Nov

If you even casually read the news, before too long you will run into a story about some ordinary Public School student being suspended for some totally harmless behavior, under one insane “Zero Tolerance” policy or another. A little more in-depth study will quickly uncover tales of bumptious parents raising holy hell because their child has been held to some kind of objective standard, instead of being given the deference  to which they are sure said little snowflake is entitled.

And this, in a nutshell, sums up what is wrong with the Public School System, and why it isn’t going to get fixed.

There was never a time when Public Schools didn’t include a degree of indoctrination. Never. But there was a time when there was an unspoken agreement between the Parents and the Teachers; the Teachers would indoctrinate the little house apes, and in exchange would also teach them to read, write, and do basic math.

At some point this broke down. Maybe it was when Education Policy became a Federal matter, and the Parents no longer felt they were in substantial control of the curriculum. It also might have to do with the failure of ‘modern teaching theory’ to pound the basics into pointed little skills. It doesn’t matter. The agreement is broken. Parents no longer feel powerful social forces pushing them to allow teachers to discipline their kids, so they are ready to raise Holy Hell if a teacher does something they wouldn’t (or wouldn’t have the guts to). In reaction, schools try to develop systems of regulation that allow them to maintain some kind of order, without opening them up to lawsuits. So they make “No Tolerance” policies that they can point to when they are in trouble.

And, predictably enough, in the midst of all this idiocy, the good, kind people who are attracted to teaching children for good reasons, are repelled from it by runaway stupidity. And that leaves the kinds of people who are attracted to teaching for the wrong reasons; the ones who like to exercise petty power over children. Who are even more inclined to make up “Zero Tolerance” policies. And who Parents are less likely to tract. And so on, and on.

It doesn’t seem to me that there is a way out of this downward spiral. Parents don’t trust the schools to discipline their kids because the schools keep proving that they can’t be trusted. At the same time, until Parents are willing to trust the schools again, the schools are going to be so anarchic that desperate Administrators are simply going to overreact at every opportunity.

School vouchers might break the cycle, if the schools that TAKE the vouchers make their policies clear and have the authority to expel students. Otherwise, that’s it. We’re doomed. In a generation or so, so little will actually be learned in Public Schools that the vast majority of high school graduates with be semi-literate simians.


9 Nov

The problem isn’t that those who would trade Liberty for Security deserve neither; so few of us are deserving. The problem lies with those who offer Security in exchange for Liberty; even when they themselves are honest, they can seldom, if ever,  control the behavior of the successors.

The Crank answers the pressing questions of the day….#2

7 Nov

“Why do you care about surveillance? What do you have to hide?”

The government is clumsy, incompetent, greedy, corrupt, and prone to suddenly decide that behavior that has always been legal is now criminal. Not our government now; all governments, ever. For these reasons it is nearly always in the citizens’ interest to keep the State blind, deaf, and crippled.