In the delicate 50-50 balance of the current US Senate, every Democrat vote is needed to pass legislation, and every Republican vote is needed to block it. As usual, the GOP is better at closing ranks than the Dems, but despite the potential Kingmaker/Spoiler role any member of the majority Party could choose to adopt, only two are playing that card: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
It’s hard to believe 2022 is knocking on the door. 2021 was a rough one, I’m not sorry to see it go, but somehow, the thought of 2022 doesn’t bring much comfort. I lost two dear feline companions this year, Cleo and Charcoal, and my own health has been precarious at times. I’ve had to bring in more help for the yard, and moving masses of heavy boxes of decorations up from the basement, but the masterplan for the garden proceeds on schedule, and the seasons continue to unfold inside just as they have always done, even if climate change makes the outside landscape a less reliable predicter of the times.
On Friday evening, 10 December 2010, some 30 tornadoes smashed through six mid-West states, creating havoc and spreading devastation, claiming upwards of 100 lives. The outbreak, apart from being one of the worst recorded, is all the more historic given the unseasonable timing, with most tornadoes occurring in the spring. Normally, cooler temperatures preclude the formation of tornadoes, and this December rampage is yet another sign of increasing weather instability stemming from unchecked climate change globally.
On October 21, 2021, police were called to the set of “Rust”, a western being filmed in Bonanza City, New Mexico. An accidental shooting with a prop gun, discharged by star Alec Baldwin, had killed the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded director Joel Souza. The cause of the incident is still under investigation, but somehow, live ammunition was loaded into a real revolver, not blanks in a prop gun. While setting up the next shot, with the gun pointed at the camera and the cinematographer, the weapon discharged; Baldwin’s statement is that he had cocked the gun, based on Hutchins’ instructions, but did not pull the trigger.
By which, I mean the movie franchise, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of its first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, on 16 November. Harry Potter the book series began publication four years earlier, and Harry Potter the character has been given a birthdate of 28 July 1980 by his creator, J.K. Rowling. Rowling herself was born on that date, fifteen years before, giving her a strong identification with the character that made her famous, beloved, and incredibly rich.
On Sunday, 21 November 2021, a man broke through barriers and drove his red SUV wildly through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring more than sixty others. The suspect, Darrell Brooks, 39, was well-known to local police, a repeat offender who had just been released from jail two days prior on a thousand-dollar bail after arrest on a domestic abuse charge. Brooks had been accused of trying to run down his girlfriend with the same SUV. Witnesses said that Brooks swerved through the parade route in a zig-zag pattern, apparently attempting to hit as many people as possible. Police recovered Brooks and the damaged SUV several hours later; he was arraigned on multiple counts and bail set at a more reasonable $5 million.