Saturday, December 28, 2013

Manhattan Lullaby

On City Streets is an anthology of poetry. It was taught to me in high school in the mid-seventies. My sister and I liked it very much, and we read it together frequently. Here is a poem that I think especially captures the cozy feel the city can elicit. Incidentally, I thought of this poem when DBQ's and Freeman's new grand-son and son were born.

Manhattan Lullaby
(for Richard, one day old)

Now lighted windows climb the dark,
The streets are dim with snow,
Like tireless beetles, amber-eyed,
The creeping taxis go.
Cars roar through the caverns made of steel,
Shrill sounds the siren horn,
And people dance and die and wed-
And boys like you are born.

-Rachel Field

Twitter Praise for our own Tari's Take on Phil's Victory

When news broke yesterday afternoon, that Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson had prevailed over the pressure GLADD had exerted over A&E. Tary tweeted ...

She got 52 re-tweets and 55 Favorites. How big is that?
Later she tweeted ...

And then finally...

Love sure does win and for that I'm glaad.

Dreamers Nightmare or Higher Calling

"In the Texas incident earlier this month, Border Patrol agents arrested six Mexicans — two adults, two 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old and the 12-year-old — smuggling more than 300 pounds of marijuana."

“They were carrying the marijuana on their backs and when arrested it was discovered that the 12-year-old boy had the heaviest load at 80 pounds,” the Border Patrol said in a statement describing the arrest."

The youngest was made to carry a bigger load. Do you think Phil Robertson would quote from Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Or would he take a different tack?


I call him Phil because he and I, we're tight, like that:

Apologies for posting so much but this guy is bugging me because his face is all over the place and his beard is skank. 

I would like to tell Phill,

With great beards come great responsibility you cannot allow them go wild like this, and just because the prophets looked like that and you sound like a prophet when you get on a roll in a church as we've been shown, and use the amusing excuse the cousin of Jesus, what's his name, you pause for the answer, John, went around in a hair shirt, all that  does not mean you must be the same way. John ate locust, will you too? John had his head chopped off will you follow that example? No, that was then and this is now. And we have products now. 

The hair is flyaway and scraggly. I would assure Phil women do not like it. Dry. Hands always in it. Fiddling with it. Digging around. One expect insects or animals, bats to come flapping out, debris to drop out. It apparently itches because it is scratched constantly. The color transitions look like drips. Rust. The drippy dead hair color transitions of pubic-like scraggly hair resemble an old dog's mouth when the drippy hair color transitions are not resembling an old sheepdog's ass. I'm trying to say what I see.

I'm not big on products but a beard like this needs conditioning. Lots of conditioning. The kind that sits in the beard over time and changes the texture, restores moisture without being oily. And the gentleman must persist with this lavish beard treatment regimen forever. And trimming the tips off and keeping them trimmed and shaping will make the whole beard appear much fuller and healthier more masculine, more together, more with it, worn by a man with more gravitas more worth listening to. A little moisture, a little trim, a little wave and he'd take on the appearance ancient royalty, a groomed Nebuchadnezzar, instead of a crackpot. I'm tired of seeing his face actually. Apologies for showing it, but here are the before/after examples. 

marines, pullups

Stetson hats

Much has changed over time in the manufacturing of Stenson hats.



What has changed? Color. Music. Narration. Number of employees. Integration, apparently.


Some things make so much sense they become instantly encoded and impossible to forget. Until you die. When I was young, so young that I could not reach the knobs of a public bathroom sink to turn on/off the water, my older brother and I were standing next to each other meticulously washing our hands soaping them up, making an "o" with our fingers and blowing air through to float bubbles, and trying to get them to be big. We stopped and Barry said, "Hey Chip, look over here. I'm magic. Look! Look into my eyes." 

So I did. He flicked his fingers directly at me and I felt the power of his magic all over my face and I was awestruck dumbfounded by my amazing brother's magical abilities. I want to be magic too! I clamped onto his shirt.

"How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat? How'dyoudothat?"  As little brothers do, until he relented and revealed the secrets to his magical Jedi-ninja ways. His hands were wet. Bastard.

And turns out, that is how you say magic.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Remembering Erwin Knoll

Erwin Knoll (1931-1994)
"Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true except for the rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge" ~Knoll's Law of Media Accuracy

A few days ago, I linked to a video I made from a 1988 radio broadcast by the late Erwin Knoll. If you listened to that recording through conservative eardrums, you probably bristled a bit at Knoll's take on the topic. Knoll personified the sort of Madison liberal I knew well growing up Wisconsin. But in fact, I once met Erwin Knoll, and we probably nodded heads over something at the time.

Knoll used to come into the tiny grocery store where I worked during college. The store was just around the corner from the former offices of The Progressive on W. Gorham St.  He used to come in to buy snacks and whatnot.  I remember his colleague Howard Morland better -- I used to sell him his smokes -- he was the guy who wrote the piece "The H-Bomb Secret, How We Got It -- Why We're Telling It" -- a story which landed them both in a 1st Amendment lawsuit in which they prevailed. They didn't tell me what they were up to at the time, even though this was 1979.

Why the praise for Knoll? He stood adamantly opposed to squelching anti-abortion views of contrarian progressives. This enraged some of his readers. Said one: "I'm always intrigued at how few people understand that free speech encompasses a little more than the speech you like." link

[added: Young Hegelian links to The Progressive article about abortion which Knoll published in 1980]

Remington 870

I found a long-unused Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun in my late father's belongings when we cleaned out his apartment and storage locker.  He must have bought it, I don't know, maybe 50 years ago when he would go grouse hunting with friends. 

I put it aside as a winter project, and it's now winter.  The gun needs disassembly and a good cleaning, a few metal parts need a bit of re-bluing, and the wooden stock and pump would benefit from re-finishing.  There was no factory instruction manual; I found one in Remington's website and printed it.  The case was old and disintegrating so I went to Cabela's and bought a new one, plus some gun cleaning supplies and a tool kit. 

Since I'm a visual learner I thought I'd see if there were YouTube videos for disassembly.  And I found this video of a man having a heckuva fun time shooting bottles, gongs, cans, zombies and other things with his Remington 870.  Zip past the one-minute mention of an eBay sale at about 2:00, and enjoy the rest of the video.  I'd like to be on his property!

The guy is a pretty good marksman - hitting a gong at about 100 yards with a shotgun slug is not an easy thing to do.
When I have finished reconditioning my father's shotgun, I'll keep it next to a 1917 Stevens 10 gauge that I inherited from my grandfather a few years back.  That gun was given to him by his father (my great-grandfather) when my grandfather was 12, because his job was to go into the woods and not come home without meat for supper.  While neither gun is especially valuable, they are filled with priceless memories.
Enjoy the video.

lost and found

I had a dream that left a deep impression in which I am lost, utterly lost in a vast expanse of barren landscape. My shirt is off. I am walking without knowing where I am going exactly and I realize I am with other people who are also quite hot. We are all walking, trudging along and hopelessly lost but oddly I am not feeling hopeless and I do not understand why everyone appears to be so without hope. So, although surround by people, in the dream I am isolated among them. They are all speaking Spanish and my Spanish is crap and my attitude of well being is not contagious. 

I notice someone in the crowd that I know and my heart leaps up with joy. Now in life this person is a positive fellow. Nothing gets the guy down that I know of. This guy gets smacked down and smashed flat and bounces right back, frankly, like an idiot, like the inflatable toy punching bag. Tubthumping was written for him, I think, possibly, maybe, it could happen. 

He drinks a lot too. When he gets going. Binger. Spills wine all over the place. I can mention for instance one time as a youngster he hooked up with a fellow in Las Vegas and took off for Hawaii. Within a few days the FBI burst into the hotel room arrested both in their underwear, took the fellow off. Permanently. A criminal apparently, bank robber, now that I'm recalling it, and left my friend stranded there on the island with no clothes no money just his resourceful impervious self. 

How did you make it back? And that is a whole 'nuther story. 

Oddly not an entirely stupid fellow. Lengthy escapades in Central America led to him speaking Spanish ably and it was at this point in the dream I was attempting to convey to the down and out mass an acceptance of abundance, and failing. We were now passing by abundance but the people around me were resolutely not allowing themselves to see it. The people had formed into a line and as we move through a town and the colorful fruits all wet and juicy are stacked up I am trying to say this is yours but their mindset is slavery. Their minds are different. They think differently than I do. They are not paying attention to me. Like a body or plant having available minerals but unable to use them due to some other lack, that along with being completely lost. We trod along in a line, there was nothing left in this dream as I departed and woke up in stages it seemed I drifted off from the scene backward and upward and outward away and just as quickly off planet to see from above the view that Apollo moon mission provided and I know as I waken fully, aware of myself as a living dot somewhere down there on that planet now itself a dot in this vast universe loaded with such gigantic dots that I am assuredly located properly my position known, I am sensibly placed and most comfortably completely serenely and profoundly found.

I told my friend this and he goes, "Oh, thank you for telling me that. I'm thrilled being the happy person in the dream. It's like I'm there, man." 

"I am actually turned off when I look at an account and don’t see any selfies"

"But a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking. In this age of too much information at a click of a button, the power to attract viewers amid the sea of things to read and watch is power indeed. It’s what the movie studios want for their products, it’s what professional writers want for their work, it’s what newspapers want — hell, it’s what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power. And if you are someone people are interested in, then the selfie provides something very powerful, from the most privileged perspective possible."  Says James Franco, in a selfie parody for the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Slate has posted a cartoon from 20 years ago, it says to find "disturbingly prescient".

Name The Countries

Name the countries made safer, better or more secure by the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton/ John Kerry foreign policy.

Go ahead, I'll wait.   *pours fresh cup of coffee*

Never mind the obscure little countries that nobody ever hears about,  just look at the medium to larger countries.

I did this last night during an hour of sleeplessness.  I sat down next to the globe (outdated because some countries keep changing their names) and looked at each continent. 

South America?  No real improvements here, and much economic decline.  Lots of al-Qaeda  movement into some areas to set up footholds.

Africa?  No good news here, either in sub-Saharan Africa, or northern Africa.  Too much violence, too many wars, too much poverty.  And al-Qaeda is making big, violent swings through some parts.  Don't forget the Chinese, who are making a very big presence in the mineral rich parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Europe?  Germany is the only European nation that is showing some signs of improvement, but only because of the economic conservatism of Angela Merkel.  And the smaller Eastern European nations are less secure because the umbrella of American protection against Russian hegemony is beginning to fold.

Asia?  Japan is feeling threats from China and has taken steps necessary to build its own massive military.  India is being infiltrated by Muslim terrorists, as are smaller Asian countries.

North America?  Mexico is still a drug-addled mess.  Canada is benign.  The US is floundering economically and has a weakened military.

My late night list of countries made better/stronger/ more secure by the administration's policies came down to these:




North Korea

They told me that if I voted for Mitt Romney, the axis of evil countries would become stronger.  And they were right!


Christmas shipping nightmares.

This is the entrepreneur linked by Insty. The premise is both UPS and FEDEX are being excoriated for delays in holiday shipping. That the companies erred twice by planning poorly and over promising. In reality, Ray Hennessey says we are responsible because 1) We are procrastinators (true here) 2) Retailers are discounting later 3) Americans are generous (eh, maybe).

Are the companies blameless? Hennessey asks. No. Hennessey answers. They should have known better.

From what I saw UPS plan brilliantly and Amazon cannot be criticized.  I am amazed this year. Impressed beyond expectation. These people are good. They did plan, and brilliantly. They were ready and showed it. They under promised at every point in every way, and that is quite a few leaning over words there just now proving how good they are.

I did not deserve a free return that I caused but Amazon gave it to me anyway. I was told the money would show up when the item is returned but the money transferred immediately. The return item picked up at the first moment of the 4-day time span provided. The replacement items delivered before the promised delivery time, at the same time as the return pick up, scheduled for two days earlier. An altogether impressive experience through Amazon and UPS. I saw substitute drivers for things delivered here.

sheep rally protest

Fantasy Quotient

I saw this piece at House of Eratosthenes, a blog hosted on Peekinthewell. By this guy, I do not see his name.

The author's idea is that IQ is calculated a certain way, a commenter corrected him about how, apparently, but that is not important, in his model the measure is related to age.

The writer goes on about his observations regarding the healthcare act and the site rollout, how all that happened, observations about how the Act's  proponents see things and what all that means, then the more value he sees in measuring what he calls F.Q. for fantasy quotient.

In his model he uses to understand people an engineer would have F.Q. of zero and a healthy F.Q. would be oh, he doesn't really know, maybe somewhere in the 10's or 20's.

If your F.Q. is 100 you cannot learn anything and that is what the author sees now. In his model such a person never grows up.

Eratosthenes is an interesting place.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On the road back home

We should be back in NJ by morning, God willing.

Teaching birds to sing

The Bird Fancyer's Delight, a title first used in 1714 by Thomas Ward, is a collection of tunes intended to coax birds to sing music not natural to them, but within their vocal range.

Teaching birds to sing "lessons properly composed within the faculty and compass of each bird," was a popular and lucrative hobby in the eighteenth century. The instruments used were the bird-flageolet and the recorder and other small home-made pipes.
Here is are a few examples of songs played on the recorder by Sarah Angliss. (Play button in top bar.)

Many thanks to MamaM who first introduced me to the subject.

"Snowden cites Orwell in Christmas message"

"Speaking directly into the camera from Moscow, where he took refuge after leaking vast troves of information on NSA spying, Snowden said government surveillance methods far surpass those described in Orwell’s dystopic novel “1984.”

“The types of collection in the book — microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go,” he said. “Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.”

New York Post via Drudge tweet (Read more for video)

A Curious Omission...

...present in Bob Dylan's original but absent in The Byrds' cover:
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

50 Years Ago To The Day...

...December 26, 1963, was the day Capitol Records released The Beatles' song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" along with "I Saw Her Standing There" as a single 45 RPM in the US.

Ever wonder who those NYC girls going crazy on the Ed Sullivan show in February of 1964 were? They weren't imported from England where The Beatles were already throbbing hearts; they were girls savvy enough to have heard and bought that first release, driving "I Want To Hold Your Hand" to #1 less than a month later.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"There is something profoundly anti-Incarnational about it all"

"Incarnation is a process; it is actually a succession of processes — an ongoing pursuit of becoming. Incarnation involves intention and then consent, but not in isolation, and not just once; the consent happens again and again. It is a consent to be present; a consent to see, to hear, to listen, to respond, to love, to ache, to surrender in order to attain the fullness of that intention with which it all started."

"The narcissism on display in these “holiday greetings” suggests no intention to seek out a greatness beyond ourselves; it consents to only the barest engagement with an ever-diminishing sense of social obligation. As such, it is empty and void; the “nothing” that is only possible without God. For with God — the angels tell Mary — “nothing” is “impossible.”

The anchoress Elizabeth Scalia, posting for the National Review.

"Iron Maiden found its worst music pirates -- then went and played for them"

"In the case of Iron Maiden, still a top-drawing band in the U.S. and Europe after thirty years, it noted a surge in traffic in South America. Also, it saw that Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, and Chile were among the top 10 countries with the most Iron Maiden Twitter followers. There was also a huge amount of BitTorrent traffic in South America, particularly in Brazil."
Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary "Flight 666." After all, fans can't download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.

And in a positive cycle, Maiden's online fanbase grew. According to Musicmetric, in the 12 months ending May 31, 2012, the band attracted more than 3.1 million social media fans. After its Maiden England world tour, which ran from June 2012 to October 2013, Maiden's fan base grew by five million online fans, with a significant increase in popularity in South America.
"Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day 1975 by bassist Steve Harris shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band's name to a film adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, which he saw around that time and which had a verbal connection to the iron maiden torture device."

Citeworld, Wikipedia. via Instapundit

These are a few of my favorite things...

plaid flannel pajamas
apricot jelly
the scent of lilacs

What are some of yours?

caramel vs toffee

Toffee is sugar and butter cooked to 300, caramel is sugar and butter and cream, and cooked to 248, hardens at 270.  

Heath bar VS Enstrom's 

   readily available
   neatly packaged in individual servings
   tastes like crap
   I meant to say just now not so great chocolate

   reliably made with real ingredients
   makes great gift
   shows you know good candy and appreciate craftsmanship involved
   contains serious chocolate and healthy nuts
   always carefully handled
   top quality all around
   gift and holiday packaging available
   online store
  well, it's all butter and sugar, innit. 

It occurred to me, those Heath bars are toffee, a hard caramel, more hard than pralines, draped with chocolate. And we did all that before.

The thing that made the Heath bar I ate taste so bad is the chocolate coating. It is such a bad chocolate it nearly made me barf. I bought two because they are in the Ben & Jerry's ice cream and the chunks of Heath bar are excellent that way, but not as a candy bar unfrozen outside of ice cream encasement. And it is so bad I do not want the second Heath bar. The chocolate coating is oily. 

We know about chocolate, I buy it in large boxes of couverture, and that is not good chocolate. Anything would be better. I think they do that so it coats easily.They spray it on or drip it on by a chocolate enrobing machine. Hard toffee rectangles travel along a chain belt and pass under  a chocolate waterfall, a chocolatefall that recycles. The bottoms already coated. The Heath bar enrobing machine apparently goes very fast. It is chocolate for children who do not know any better Same as Kinder Surprise chocolate, great when you're little, not so much when you're grown. 

Homemade would be better than that. 

Enstrom's out of Grand Junction makes this spectacularly. Their toffee is thicker and holds toasted almonds, their chocolate coating is much better quality and not oiled down, and then an additional coating of powdery toasted nuts. 

It is excellent.

I gave a box to Ed Merrill to give to his dad because he mentioned toffee is his dad's favorite candy.

Months later I saw Ed and I asked, "How did that go?"  

Ed said, "Oh, Chip." He paused dramatically and looked at me sternly. "Now I have to admit I stole your present." He broke eye contact and hung his head, also dramatically, then looked back up. "Our whole family gathered in Bermuda to settle some more of Mom's things and as usual Sis started a dispute at home at the table. It was Valentine's Day besides, and Dad became despondent really down right then because his kids were being so ugly again and arguing over things. Sis wanted the Bermuda place for herself and said so right there. Dad stopped eating, flounced off to sit behind his desk in the dark by himself. I waited then followed and went in and handed him your box of toffee. He became emotional and told me nobody ever gave him a Valentine's gift before. Nobody. That was a first. I felt ashamed. I did not have the heart to tell him it wasn't' intended for Valentine's and it wasn't from me. Sorry. Ha ha ha ha ha."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Contemporary Dance by Contemporary Eric

Come on, let's dance! Who wants to be my bich?

Merry Christmas... Again

Note to Self

Self, when making krumkake do not touch the base of the krumkake iron with your bare fingers.

What I was making:


3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla, or almond, or lemon, or cardamom
1/2 cup flour

Do the usual stuff with the butter and sugar, flour and eggs, and flavoring.
Cook a teaspoon at a time on a krumkake iron over low-ish heat until they are golden.  Roll onto a tapered dowel while hot.  Slide off the dowel.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you must.

Don't Cry Over Spilt Nog

This wretched holiday is soon ended...

In Winter In The Woods Alone

In winter in the woods alone
Against the trees I go
I mark a maple for my own
And lay the maple low. 
At four o’clock I shoulder ax,
And in the afterglow
I link a line of shadowy tracks
Across the tinted snow. 
I see for Nature no defeat
In one tree’s overthrow
Or for myself in my retreat
For yet another blow. 
~Robert Frost (1962)

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Very best wishes to every one on Lem's blog.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Letters From Stalingrad

It's that time of the year again for me...time to reflect on Last Letters From Stalingrad.

Many years ago (1988), I recorded a piece of what had become a Madison radio tradition. I posted the recording as a YouTube video which has over 4,000 views now, nearly all from people searching for it.  The voices are those of Erwin Knoll and George Vukelich.

I originally split the half hour recording into three ten minute parts to conform to YouTube's then 10 minute limit.  Here I have linked the three together:

I also blogged the text of most of the 39 letters in the book. I recently looked back at each of the letters and tried picking a few words to characterize each one. The gamut of human emotion comes out in these letters:

#1: helplessness and insignificance
#2: love and loneliness
#3: resignation and loss
#4: remorse
#5: defiance
#6: entrapment
#7: absolution
#8: obliviousness
#9: doubt and faith
#10: cynicism
#11: fatigue
#12: false pride
#13: homesickness
#14: optimism
#15: disbelief (George reads this one in Part 2)
#16: faith and perseverance (George reads this one in Part 3)
#17: nihilism
#18: friendship
#19: jocularity
#20: love and sacrifice
#21: stoicism
#22: selflessness
#23: cynicism
#24: divorce and betrayal
#25: parental love; fatherhood
#26: obliviousness and denial
#27: false pride
#28: to be done
#29: to be done
#30: rebellion
#31: regret and futility
#32: to be done
#33: to be done
#34: to be done
#35: guilt, murder, and remorse.
#36: to be done
#37: to be done
#38: This one is my favorite, because I too love words and sounds. George reads this one in Part 2.
#39: This was George Vukelich's favorite. The young man writing to his father had what the Germans call Pflicht which means obligation and duty. George reads it in Part 3 of the linked video.

Others have considered whether the letters are forgeries but I think each person is entitled to form his or her own opinion.

Merry Christmas


The sun slips behind the mountain range and darkness of night descends upon the Queen City of the Plaines. It is a weird feeling all around because the weather is perfect, and I mean perfect, and calm as all h-e-double-hecksticks like another planet because it is dark where I'm at but light over there, within driving distance, and the clouds are dark on top and bright on the bottom. WoOOOoo. It makes you want to go out there and yell, "Merry Christmas!" 

The Airing of Grievances

Today is Festivus and its time to begin the celebrations. 

The celebration of Festivus begins with Airing of Grievances, which takes place immediately after the Festivus dinner has been served.
Frank Costanza:  And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!
Each participant tells friends and family of all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year.
Frank Costanza: Welcome, new comers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!

Don't forget to include guests (newcomers) to your list of people you may have grievances about, especially if you have a boss of a company that really stinks.
Frank Costanza: You, Kruger. My son tells me your company stinks! You couldn't smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe...I lost my train of thought.

If you have to, write your grievances out on note cards beforehand, just in case you lose your train of thought.

I've got a lot of problems with you people!

Stop the cavalry

Doubledouble dumdum doubledouble dumdum wish I was at home... for Christmas.

This is my new favorite thing. I had it playing accidentally in two windows and it is absolutely delightful as a round song. 

TheSundaeLunch draws Jona Lewie's song.

Freedom's Just Another Word...

I can't honestly recall whether Sixty Grit likes or dislikes Janis Joplin -- whether he'd call her a skank or an artist.  Kris Kristofferson gave her her best song (though I'm sure he collected royalties like Willie did from Patsy Cline's "Crazy").  I picked this song tonight because I can really really relate to the lyrics.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Orwell On Speech

Rabel linked to a piece by Jason Lee Steorts called "Steyn On Speech:"

I admire Mark Steyn’s gallantry in defending freedom of speech and thought, but his weekend column is less than illuminating. It seems to have been 200 percent felt and half thought. Sorting through and categorizing the jumble of quite different examples that provoked Mark’s dudgeon was nonetheless a useful exercise. Here are my undoubtedly boring conclusions. 
When it comes to the legal restriction of speech, or the legal coercion of dissenters, I’ll storm the barricade with Mark. It amazes me that any soi-disant free people tolerate that sort of thing
The use of speech to criticize other speech is something else, and the distinction between state coercion and cultural coercion is one that Mark typically doesn’t acknowledge, to the detriment of his arguments. That distinction can get pretty blurry in our present legal arrangements, but in principle the people have every right to make pariahs of whom they will, and to slug it out among themselves, so to speak, when they disagree. 
Still, Mark has a point, and we should ask ourselves what sort of culture we’d like to live in. The readiness to ostracize those who offend our sensibilities is stifling and unhealthy. Except in very extreme cases, we should criticize speech rather than condemn speakers. This is also prudent. Martyrs are popular; better to make an argument. 
On the other hand, I can’t agree with Mark that anything of value is lost when derogatory epithets go out of bounds in polite society. They tend to be bad even for humor, substituting stereotype and cliché for originality. People who used them in different times need not be regarded as monstrous, nor must the canon be censored; we could instead feel good about having awoken to a greater civility and make generous allowances for human fallibility. 
By way of criticizing speech, I’ll say that I found the derogatory language in this column, and especially the slur in its borrowed concluding joke, both puerile in its own right and disappointing coming from a writer of such talent.
I boldfaced the Anglo-Saxon (A-S) nouns and underlined the A-S verbs to emphasize why I think this is a particularly poor piece of writing. Out of the whole piece, only the most vague terms come from Anglo-Saxon: freedom, speech, thought, time, slur, blurry; only two verbs, "slug" and "storm" are Anglo-Saxon, and "storm the barricade" is terribly worn metaphor.

George Orwell wrote in his wellspring of wisdom, Politics And The English Language:
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find -- this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify -- that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

Pushback In Chicago

Reverend Al Sharpton called for a community meeting in Chicago.  The Reverend Al didn't hear what he expected to hear.  And he pretty much wasn't allowed to speak.

Very interesting pushback.

Be sure to watch the video, which for some reason, will not link to this blog just now.

We are almost there

Annie Lennox

This forces me to sing.

medical procedure

Why? Because this is Lem's Learning Levity, that's why, and because you never do know what trouble this might save you, and because he stops with those two o's.  (<-- changed that from "O's" to "o's")