Clarification on Net Neutrality posts

Everything I’ve written recently about the issue of Net Neutrality is as accurate as my understanding of the issue can make it.  I need to make one correction:  contrary to what I wrote, noting the custom of net neutrality from the inception of the internet, new FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not lie when he spoke of an existing government regulation requiring net neutrality.     

The FCC regulation in question determined that the internet is a “common carrier” for purposes of regulation by the FCC, like the publicly owned airwaves that make telephone, radio and television transmission possible. [1]  You can see why a former corporate attorney for an Internet Service Provider like Pai, now chairman and FCC regulatory swing vote, would want to nip that shit in the bud.

 

[1]   On 26 February 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service and thus applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 as well as section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996[88] to Internet service providers.[89][90][91][92][93][94] On 12 March 2015, the FCC released the specific details of its new net neutrality rule.[95][96][97] And on 13 April 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new regulations.[98][99] The rule took effect on June 12, 2015.[100]

 
 

 

 

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Post-factual Reality 101

“That ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ locker room banter thing I apologized on nationwide TV for saying?  I never fucking said it!  Fake Trump!​  SAD!” 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (announcing largest roll-back of federal land protection in U.S. history to a presumably Native American audience): Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don’t know your land. And truly, they don’t care for your land like you do. But from now on, that won’t matter. I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens. … Therefore, today, on the recommendation of Secretary Zinke, and with the wise counsel of Senator Hatch, Senator Lee and the many others, I will sign two presidential proclamations. These actions will modify the national monuments designations of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

source

Trump “unveil(ed) his plan to open up protected federal lands to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears Monument by more than 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent.”

source

As that hideous, yet still somehow perversely sexual zombie-eyed scarecrow Kellyanne Conway described Trump’s preference for a lie: alternative facts.   You have facts that are just regular, garden variety facts, what you might call empirical, or verifiable facts, and you have, you know, “alternative facts,” which biased purveyors of “fake news” call “lies”. 

Once people can no longer make distinctions well enough to discern the difference between facts that can be verified and alternative facts, you can effectively do whatever you want to these people, for any reason or no reason, or for any alternative reason the imagination of a psychopath might devise.   

This chat between billionaire mercenary Erik Prince and then radio talk show host Steve Bannon struck me the other day, and I made note of it to bring to the attention of any curious reader:

The Intercept reports Prince may have foreshadowed his new proposal [private contractor spies to capture or assassinate high value terror suspects– ed.]  in a 2016 interview on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s radio program, in which Prince proposed reviving a version of the CIA’s Vietnam War assassination scheme, known as the Phoenix Program.

Erik Prince: “Two: a Phoenix-like program. OK, remember the Phoenix Program was a root canal done to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. It was a kill—”

Stephen Bannon: “You mean, this is the Phoenix Program—this is the Phoenix—hang on. This is the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.”

Erik Prince: “It was a vicious, but very effective, kill-capture program in Vietnam that destroyed the Viet Cong as a military force. That’s what needs to be done to the funders of Islamic terror, and that would even the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities therein.”

source  (see The Intercept: Erik Prince headline)

the story in much greater detail, reported by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, here

Prince, who shared a $1,350,000,000 inheritance with sister Betsey (DeVos) and two other sisters, and is the founder and former CEO of now corporately reorganized Blackwater, speaks of the Phoenix Program, a long-running, systematic, un-prosecuted war crime, as destroying the Viet Cong as a military force.  You dig?  This is the reason America won the war in Viet Nam, because we had committed patriots with the will to do whatever vicious things had to be done to defeat and utterly destroy the unscrupulous enemy.   You see how this works?

And, you understand, whatever the fact, or alternative fact, of the matter may actually be, if you have a billion dollars and no-bid government contracts, and the right committed people in place, and the right contacts within the military, and the right party in power, you can secretly, and lucratively, hunt down and kill whoever the fuck you want, anywhere in the world. 

You read it here first.  Or not.

Conspiracy of Interests

Most conspiracies do not happen in the manner set out in the sensational, influential, wholly fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  There is no sinister midnight meeting of eternally scheming characters in an ancient cemetery, where they set out their devilish plans in painstaking detail, assign roles, map out larger strategies for global domination.   Most conspiracies happen on a much more subtle level, based on common interests and shared goals. 

A powerful group with a particular interest will automatically advocate for that interest, without any need for an actual meeting of principals or any assigning of particular roles — they just pursue identical self-interests simultaneously.  Very little systematic coordination is needed.  We see this, for example, in the recent return to Gilded Age style tax policy orchestrated by a loose coalition of Republican legislators, an insane chief executive and a small, determined band of billionaire “Libertarians”, corporate “persons” and upwardly mobile multi-millionaires.  Many super-wealthy people, and wealthy corporate “persons” made it happen, but it’s hard to call their efforts a conspiracy in the classic sense.   

The same thing can happen even within a small group, among people of limited individual power.  I’m reminded of this by a personal experience, brought to mind by the recent odd blind cc of an email string from an emotionally challenged person I long considered a close friend.  A person I now would not hesitate to punch in the face with the full force of cathartic American violence, that face triggering a hard-earned exception to my deeply held belief in the rightness of Ahimsa. 

It was a few years ago, Sekhnet and I were going to take Sekhnet’s then 90 year-old Aunt Lillian to dinner at a great vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Main Street called New Bodai.  Shortly before we were to pick up Lillian this friend called to say that he would like to take his daughter to the same restaurant, along with a mutual friend of ours, an angry and bossy woman he had suddenly become close friends with.  We told them what time we would be at the restaurant; they countered that they’d like to eat a bit earlier, they were all hungry.  We told them how long it would take to pick up Lillian and get to the restaurant.   They agreed to meet us at that time.

When we arrived there were several empty plates on the table.   They cheerily told us not to worry, they’d ordered the same for us, it was already on its way.  We endured a joyless meal, eating dishes we had not ordered, and Lillian was largely ignored during the meal.  We split the tab with these two inconsiderate creatures I eventually came to understand I was no longer friends with.   

It strikes me now that they had not “conspired” in the classic sense of planning to serve an old lady a plate of warmed over shit by way of throwing down any kind of gauntlet.   They had not consciously decided to shit on Sekhnet’s feelings, or her aunt’s, or mine.  They were just feeling giddy to have discovered each other, two long-time friends of somebody they were both in the process of actively alienating anyway.   

The guy, I learned from his bizarre email string, is in the process of divorcing his longtime wife, Hitler.  His sex life with his new girlfriend, he reports, is frustrating and joyless, sad to say.   I haven’t heard from the woman since her mother-in-law’s funeral, which I idiotically attended, though it is certain she still publicly whips her hapless husband in the face with the same sickening gusto as always.

If you deeply share interests with somebody, more likely than a plainly laid out plan of attack, all you will need is a nod and a wink to put things in motion.  As much as many of the super-wealthy hate Trump, a crude, lying, ill-bred boor, when he abolishes the “Death Tax” and they can give every penny of their fortunes without any tax payment required of their chosen heirs, they will nod quietly, savoring their fleeting taste of immortality.

Briefly Describing the Indescribable

Yesterday I had a basal cell removed from the left side of the bridge of my nose.  I’d detected the cell myself, pointed it out to the dermatologist who said it was probably nothing.  I told her I’d only felt this particular intermittent pin-prick of pain twice before, on the other side of my nose, and each time it had been a basal cell.  The pore eventually bleeds and then it is easy enough to detect.   By then, past experience shows, a skin graft is needed after the basal cells and surrounding skin are removed.  The dermatologist told me she’d never known a patient to diagnose a basal cell, took a precautionary biopsy, which hurt like hell, and later called with the bad news– it was indeed a basal cell.  She sent me to a surgeon.

The surgeon who operated yesterday was a diminutive red-haired woman whose card identifies her as “Director of the Comprehensive Skin Cancer, Director of Dermatologic Surgery, Dermatology Department.”   She too expressed surprise that I’d been able to feel the presence of the basal cell at such an early stage.   She assured me that since it had been detected so early only a tiny line of stitches, and no skin graft, would be required to close the wound.  I’ll take my good news wherever it can be had these days.  No skin off behind my ear.

During the surgery, my eyes shielded from the high intensity light by a towel draped over them, she asked me what I did for a living.  I borrowed the phrase of a former judge friend (who always claimed it was my line), to tell her and two other doctors, and their nurse, that I was a “recovering lawyer”.   

I briefly described my subsistence law practice, defined subsistence for the nurse who was unfamiliar with the word (“like a farmer who grows just enough to pay the rent on his land and feed his family”) and was praised for my noble work protecting the city’s most vulnerable from eviction, a compliment I shrugged off sincerely as they were burning and cutting my nose. 

“If the smell bothers you, breathe through your mouth for a minute,” said the surgeon as the waft of seared flesh hit my nostrils.

In response to the follow up about what I am doing now I told them that I am writing a book about the remarkable life of my father.   

“How is it remarkable?” asked the surgeon, poking unseen at the basal cell.  I felt only minor pressure, after the painful injections of lidocaine.

A canny self-promoter would have had the canned thirty second elevator pitch talking points ready to go.  Always be selling, the mantra of the salesman.  If you have talent, sell it, otherwise you are a failure.  I paused for a second and said:

“He worked in the Human Relations Unit of the Board of Education in the sixties and early seventies, intervening in schools where there had been race riots.”   

Everyone was very impressed, by the sound of their collective reaction.  It didn’t occur to me then that the life of every individual is remarkable, for uncountable reasons.  We are trained from birth, in a commercial society like our own, to believe that some lives are remarkable, the life of a baby born a billionaire, for example, a baby!, while others, well… the only remarkable thing is that these determined fucks hang on for as long as they do. 

I described to them some of the things I learned researching my father’s life.  I told them that there were no child labor laws in the U.S. until my father was twelve, that, but for the worldwide Depression, he could have been legally employed as a chimney sweep or something.  I described the NYC Division of Human Rights’ report on an early seventies riot in a Brooklyn High School that my father and his team had been called in on afterwards.   

That report, I told them, would be unimaginable today.  It was a candid and detailed search for the causes and solutions of the tensions that led to the riot.  There was no blame or finger pointing, there was no agenda, except to try to honestly understand the dynamics and solve the problem that led to the violence. 

“Did they solve the violence?” one of the doctors asked, foolishly.   

“My father would take the gang leaders off for sensitivity training and he said the rivals often became friends, or at least no longer enemies. Peace would reign at the school, until those kids graduated and their little brothers and sisters began stabbing and shooting each other.”

Then I went into the domain that makes the man truly remarkable in my eyes.   This part of my answer they were neither prepared for, nor particularly interested in.  I reasoned, if it can be called that, that they had asked me a question and I was doing my best to answer it.   That the question had been asked out of mere politeness, and for the purpose of having me talk as another way of measuring whether I was experiencing any pain during the surgery, did not occur to me then.

“One remarkable thing is that this idealistic peacemaker, sensitivity trainer and advocate of social justice was called the Dreaded Unit by his children.   He had this bottomless reservoir of anger, which is, in a way, hard to reconcile with his social conscience, although, blah blah blah….”

I rattled on in this manner for a while, telling them of the pseudo-closure of the last night of his life conversation, and then summed up, saying the ms. was now almost 1,100 pages and that I was going to try to sell it and have it published.  They were even more clueless than I am as to how one goes about doing this.  I explained that I need to find a literary agent, who would then shop it to publishers.  I’d prepare a sample of the book, send it out in hopes of interesting an agent.

“You might have a black eye,” said the surgeon, which sounded about right.  She explained that since the basal cell was close to my eye, blood from the operation might show up in the eye.  I’d heard it metaphorically as well.   They will beat the fuck out of you, and make you wait, panting and full of dread, before they finally finish taking care of you.

An hour or so later I was roused from my drowsing in the waiting room with the good news that only the one slice would be necessary,  that they could stitch me up now.   

Back in the operating room I had another painful poke in the nose with a needle.  The doctor explained that many people would not need additional lidocaine for the stitches.  The next injection was also painful, as was the one after it.   I winced meaningfully.  The doctor’s next question surprised me.   

“Did you have red hair when you were a kid?”   

I told her it had been dirty blond, but my beard had always been red (it’s now white).  She told me she thought she saw some red in the mustache.   People with red hair, it turns out, have more sensitive skin and it’s much harder to anesthetize them for dermatologic surgery.   A person with dark hair, apparently, would probably still be good with the lidocaine injected an hour earlier.  Another injection, another stoic, but determined wince from me.

The notes they sent me home with a few minutes later told me I could expect mild discomfort and that I should take tylenol for it.  I was already experiencing some pain before I even left the hospital, it was beyond mild discomfort.  The nurse gave me two tylenols.   By the time I got home, twenty minutes later, the pain was excruciating.   

Sekhnet stood crying in the local pharmacy as I called the doctor twice to get a prescription for pain medication sent over.   The bridge of my nose felt like a snake had just finished biting it over and over.  I was told the doctor was in surgery.  I told the receptionist that it was irresponsible for a doctor to send a patient home in pain without pain medication.  After a little less than an hour from my first call the prescription reached the pharmacy and Sekhnet rushed back with the pills in hand.  A half hour later I had some relief.   

An extroverted L.A. lunatic named Larry Fisher spent some time in mental hospitals.  When he was not institutionalized he’d sing songs for change on the street, often making them up on the spot, custom jobs for a quarter or fifty cents.   Frank Zappa ran into him, liked the guy and produced an album called “An Evening With Wild Man Fisher.”  Interesting work, this double album (if I recall correctly).   At the end of the record Frank asks Larry, from the control room, “what’s the matter, Larry, don’t you like making records?”   

Wild Man Fisher says “they’re all fucking bastards, Frank, they’re all fucking bastards.”

The Gifts that Keep on Taking

Here is a little illustration of my father’s generosity.

“Careful,” said the skeleton of my father.

Sometime in the mid-1980s my father gave me a car, his 1978 Buick Regal, a slightly sporty two-door car he bought after my sister and I were out of the house.   He replaced the Regal with a Buick LeSabre, I believe, on his way to a series of leased Cadillacs.   He liked a powerful engine, eight cylinders if possible, and the Regal had a borderline powerful six cylinder engine.  In any case, the car he gave me was in fairly beat up shape.   

“It was a nice car,” said the skeleton of my father.

It had been a very nice car.  When I was done scrubbing the black crud off the steering wheel, I….

“That’s a low blow,” said the skeleton.   

I never understood where that black gunk came from, I never knew you to be a grease monkey, never thought your hands were particularly dirty.   

“Move on, I assume you have a point here,” said the skeleton. 

The car cost me over a thousand dollars a year in repairs to keep on the road, a series of increasingly larger repairs, until I finally donated it to some charity a few years later.   

Caveat emptor,” said the skeleton with a shrug, “nobody held a gun to your head and made you take the car, plus, you didn’t pay a penny for it, outside of the thousands in repairs.” 

OK, let’s just move on to Exhibit B– the couch and Lazy Boy. 

“Is there no limit to your pettiness?” said the skeleton.  “Is there no statute of limitation for these, apparently timeless, de minimis grievances of yours?” 

Mom was lamenting the fact that you had to throw out all of your beautiful furniture when you sold the house.  She couldn’t believe that nobody even wanted it as a donation.  There was a new pull-out couch in what used to be my bedroom, and a reclining chair that was in excellent shape.   

“This is exposition, I suppose, for the reader, I know very well what couch and Lazy-Boy you’re referring to,” said the skeleton. 

Astute observation.  Anyway, I spent several hot afternoons and evenings up in that filthy attic, removing grime encrusted articles, the things were literally blackened, and disposing of most of them.  You were very grateful for my help and urged me to take the new sofa-bed and recliner to my minimally furnished apartment.   You told me you’d arrange to have them trucked over. 

“And I did, those two Russian Jews Benjie recommended, and they brought the stuff right into your then empty living room,” said the skeleton.

Yes, and then handed me their bill, which I paid, a few hundred dollars, and a tip on top of that.

“You’d complain if you were hung with a new rope.  I always said that and it’s as true today as when you were a kid,” said the skeleton.   

I suppose so.

A King Ain’t Satisfied

“Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain’t satisfied
til he rules everything.”

The Poet Laureate of New Jersey, saying it all.   This rich man we have in the never whiter White House is cantankerously unsatisfied with a job that does not have a Divine Right to rule attached to its job description.  Fuck that puto, in the stirring words of George Lopez, fourth generation American.

There was only one reason to vote for this lying fucking puto that was not irrational: naked self-interest.   Sure he got the vote of every hater of “minorities”, sure he got the desperate, uneducated vote.  “I love the uneducated,” he said, on the campaign trail.  He also famously bragged that he could go out on to Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and that his supporters would be too fucking stupid to realize what a bad hombre, in the whitest sense of the word “bad”, he is.   But the haters didn’t actually get shit from this billionaire celebrity asshole, nor will they ever, unless they are also very rich haters.

There was only one rational reason to vote for him: greed.    It was rational to vote for him if his/the Republicans’ tax plan would net you an extra million, or in the case of someone like multi-billionaire opinionated ignoramus Betsey DeVos, ten million or more, every year in unearned, but richly deserved, tax savings.   The rich had a good reason to vote for this puto, if also a despicable one.   The never-Trump wing of the Grand Old Party held their noses for this glorious moment, when they’d get to ram a massive, multi-trillion dollar deficit fueling, Obamacare-sabotaging tax break for the super-rich through a spineless, partisan Congress. 

I know, predictable outrage from a powerless fuck.   It’s not as though the Kenyan-born secret Muslim did not ram through a health care bill, after long one-sided debate, benefiting no rich person in any conceivable way, using his narrow majority in Congress to get a hated health care law passed that benefited mostly “takers”.  It’s not as though Obama didn’t sign plenty of Executive Orders to get around a determined, organized, highly principled opposition party of corporate persons and their human counterparts.   

Take a look at this list, recognize anyone?

20170810_233631_1512286536441.png

Ha ha, it’s the old psychopath test used by FBI profilers when chasing serial killers.  I captured this frame from a brilliant documentary about the modern corporation which I recommend to everybody.   You can see the entire movie for free here.   The filmmakers point out that corporate persons routinely display every trait on this psychopath list.   In fairness to corporate persons, they have only one duty, to increase profits, the Supreme Court said that in the 1940s and it’s the law in this land.  There are people, some of the best people, the best, like Trump, who also fit this definition of corporate personhood.

Now, I was never a big fan of “The Boss,” though he’s a hugely popular musician and, apparently, a very smart and sensitive man who has taken progressive political stands over the years.   I never liked that he was called “The Boss”, for one thing.  I can’t think of a boss I ever met who wasn’t something of an asshole.   Then there’s the white soul man routine he does sometimes when he sings.   I was relieved to hear him at least acknowledge his great love for Sam Cooke, but still.   His voice, a bit macho and Jim Morrison-like for me.  His guitar playing and songwriting are both top notch, but I was never a big fan.  For one thing, I’m not from New Jersey, for another, and odd for me to say, I rarely register the lyrics of songs, no matter how evocative or poetic.

The Boss has made millions and millions of dollars and I do not begrudge him a dime of it.  Good for him.  I was happy that he was not mentioned in the Paradise Papers or the Panama Papers, those leaked reports of all the rich people who legally hide their fortunes in shady off-shore entities that allow them to avoid paying tax, in a fully legal, if also highly shameful and secretive, manner.  It would have made the news if The Boss had his money stashed tax-free on some island paradise like the rest of the fucking richest of the rich.  Bono, for fuck’s sake.  Hey, Bono… fuck that puto.

My few wealthyish friends (most still likely victims of the “Alternative Minimum Tax”[1] under the new law) are not thrilled by this massive giveaway to the already rich that a gang of determined partisan reptiles gang-banged through the narrowest of majorities.  “We drive on the roads, call the fire department when our house is burning, call the cops when there’s violence, send our kids to school, like electricity delivered to our homes, and water, and the toilets to flush and the sewage be treated, we like emergency health care for everyone, and homeless shelters and programs that feed American kids growing up in poverty, all the rest of the comforts of a civilized society that Libertarians, staunch defenders of freedom like Charles and David Koch, pretend have nothing to do with government or the tax coffers,” say my friends who have money.  “What the fuck is wrong with rich people?”

I have an old friend who has always worked very hard.   He makes a very comfortable living yet he has the same strong social conscience he always did.  I suspect this would be true if he had ten times what he has now, or a hundred times.  Not everyone who has a lot of money is as despicable about it as the many cynics who voted for an ignorant billionaire who wants to be dictator, the boss of everyone, with their collective “fuck you” to anyone not already wealthy, just so they could become a little bit richer.

He told me there are many of our fellow Jews, wealthy ones, living in the Pale of Settlement not far from Mar-a-Largo, who voted for Trump strictly because they wanted the tax break.  Rational, if also despicable, we agreed.  Check this out– they apparently hate Trump now.  Yeah, a little less now that they got their cash from him, but they still hate him.  Why?  He comes to his Florida White House often, and every time he does, there are massive traffic jams on their affluent roads.  Fuck those Jew putos, seriously.   

Steve Bannon, a person who needs no introduction, spoke before the Zionist Organization of America during their annual awards dinner recently.  I sent my friend the photo of Bannon sitting under a big Mogen Dovid with the subject: all a Jew can say is “oy, yoy, yoy.”   My friend wrote back:  and then– vomit. 

Dig it.

 

[1]   Each year a taxpayer must calculate and then pay the greater of an alternative minimum tax (AMT) or regular tax.[2]

This tax does not apply to the truly wealthy, nor has the income limit to trigger it been adjusted in the decades since it was enacted in 1970.

 

How You Do It

“What difference did it make to Azrael?” I asked him, when he told me how upset Azrael had been when an insect drowned in hot water while he was running a bath.   

“I asked him that after he came out of the bathroom,” he said.  “He’d been running hot water to rinse the tub when a bug he realized was alive a moment too late to save it died a horrible, plunging, drowning death in the pipes.    What he said to explain it to me was so simple it still strikes me.   He said ‘picture your own moment of death — would you like it instant and painless or prolonged and painful?’  I always think of that when I kill a bug, to this day.  That bug desperately swimming for his life away from the sucking drain could have instantly been put out of his mortal terror and unavoidable death by a merciful finger.  

“Azrael had been too slow to react when he saw the bug, at first he didn’t realize it was even alive.  Then he saw it struggling to swim in the hot water away from the drain.  Then he’d watched the bug get swept over Niagra Falls to die an agonizing death by drowning in the churning, unbearably hot water.  It impressed me how awful he felt about not sparing that bug such a miserable death.”  

“Instant and painless or prolonged and painful,” I said.  “I like that.  A no-brainer for a marketing/branding scheme exploiting that no-brainer:   ‘Quick/no pain or slow/maximum pain, your choice.’  It’s appealingly philosophical, too.”    

“Of course, life is not so black and white,” he said.  

“Exactly, which is why such idiotically phrased choices are so irresistible, anyone who’d choose the wrong choice is so obviously wrong.   I like the phrase, and I think we can monetize it, I think it’s a good choice phrase,” I said.  “Plenty of imagery and punch, the rubes will love it.”

“The phrase is fine, monetize away, I’m just sayin’,” he said.  

“You know, it’s not like Azrael was exactly into Ahimsa or any ascetic religious practice that would have made him so sensitive to a bug’s soul.  He ate meat, he’d curse, he was always rough breaking up a fight,” I said.   “He certainly didn’t shrink from hurting anybody.”

“He didn’t, but when you say Azrael ate meat, that’s funny, yeah, he ate meat.  He lived on meat, ate almost nothing besides meat.   He was a shoichet’s assistant, at a place down the street from the butcher’s, from shortly after his bar mitzvah, if I recall correctly, until he started working at the delicatessen,” my brother reminded me.  

“He was one tough son of a bitch,” I said.  

“Yiss,” he said.  

“And he always kept a dog.”  We both remembered Azrael’s dogs.

“Yiss,” my brother said.