November 2023

From Beatles to ballots, icebergs to incumbents

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

Old Guys Rock!

Or at least they attempt to.

Like a dream that won’t end, two bands from a generation ago (if not more) emerged with chart-topping releases.

The Rolling Stones released their first album of all new material in decades. The Stones have sold more than 250 million albums worldwide and earned countless awards and honors. Their new album, ‘Hackney Diamonds,’ is their 25th studio album with 12 new songs. And yes, they are preparing for a U.S. tour in 2024.

The Beatles released their first new song in about as many years with their “new” song, “Now and then”. It was released on vinyl – with a stereo remix of the band’s first single, “Love Me Do” (1962)” on the “B” side.

In politics, local and beyond

November 7 was the last national election until the much dreaded/anticipated presidential election of 2024.

Our local elections mirrored national sympathies with close votes on many issues and candidates. You can see the full details on Pierce County’s 2023 election here. This includes the number of ballots not counted (and why).

Since election credibility has been an issue lately, here are a few numbers from our neighborhood.

Pierce County has 554,515 registered voters. Of those, 30% (168,324) of us took the trouble to vote. And 4,200 were not valid or counted (that’s about .02 percent – or about two out of every hundred). And for fine-print Pierce County election background you can look here.

Local election interference

Election offices in King, Pierce, Spokane and Skagit counties were evacuated the morning after the off-year election when workers opened mail containing an unknown white powder. No one was affected, but scheduled ballot counts and posted results were delayed,

Rep. Derek Kilmer not running

Rep. Derek Kilmer, 49, announced he would not run for reelection in 2024. Kilmer served Washington’s 6th Congressional District since 2013, when he took the seat held by Norm Dicks. He previously served in the Washington state Senate for five years and the Washington state House for two.

Rep. Kilmer is not alone. For a variety of reasons, several House lawmakers have decided that now seems to be the time for a change of scenery.

Vermin “R” us

In his ever increasingly passionate bid for re-election, former President Donald Trump has labeled anyone who opposes him as “vermin”.

Students of history might recognize that exact term as one of the inflammatory phrases that have incited some of the ugliest, most violent and murderous movements in the past century or so.

From Cambodia’s killing fields to the Rwandan genocide to the rise of fascism in the 1930s across Europe, these emotionally dense words have preceded acts and philosophies that have unleashed the worst of human impulses that threatened to consume both advocates and proponents of such belief systems.

In Trump’s defense, his campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung both disputed that accusation as “ridiculous” and warned that those who liken Trump to the 20th-century dictators will have “their entire existence…crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

Mr. Trump’s vitriolic speech was his way of commemorating Veteran’s Day.

I’m not sure what era or nation he sees himself as making “Great again”, but it is no America I’ve ever known.

The irony, of course, is that in a time of unprecedented divisiveness, further and more intense divisiveness seems to be an effective political strategy.

It’s going to be an interesting election year.

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. -Aldous Huxley

Our former president was not the only public figure to wax eloquently about the non-human attributes of those who oppose them.

The Hamas-Israel “war” which dominated the news services, and more than a few heated conversations, gave us a whole range of active participants urging us all to ignore the humanity of some, and the vulnerability of others.

Among other things, internationally as well as locally, these heightened tensions did not remain within the intended borders.

The month ended with a several-day cease-fire based on a mutually agreed-upon exchange of hostages and prisoners.

Those expressing allegiance to or identity with either side (however accidental or intentional) were subject to threats or assault at a far higher rate than usual.

As always, war is a blunt instrument, destroying and endangering lives of civilians as much (or more) than combatants.

And equally enduring, no matter what “side” you find yourself on, consider where the money comes from. As is the case far too often, “follow the money” is the defining feature of the integrity of virtually any news source.


And even though it is far from most of us, and few of us will ever see it, the planet’s biggest iceberg is on the move after more than three decades stuck to a peak that emerged from the ocean floor.

This is no regular triangular shaped iceberg. This one is called an “ice island”: it’s about 1,500 square miles in area and about 1,300 feet thick.

It’s adrift in the Southern Hemisphere and is expected to drift toward South Africa where it can disrupt shipping, among other things.

Icebergs, you may recall, are made of compressed snow – which means that they are freshwater – not saltwater. As a piece of ice of this size melts, it will certainly impact the salinity of the ocean. If you want to see more on this historic berg (not burg) look here.