Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mixed Metaphor Meaning Less

From a hopeless ignorant article on cycling and drugs comes this doozy of a sentence:
Despite all the scandals, the sport of professional cycling continues to power forward like a rider straining toward the crest of Alpe d’Huez, the famous French peak that has been featured in many Tours.
 So does this mean slowly, covered in sweat, and, as Tim Krabbe put it, like a "pantomime of strength" or lithely and quickly like an angel of the mountains. Are there no editors over to the NYT?

Also, too Baseball MVP nabbed for narco is Baseball now under a cloud? Or, much like cycling, coming out of one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Race, Racism, and the Right

 The next video is unwatchable. Deranged maniac conservatives at CPAC babbling about nothing sensible laugh when the Black man walks out after one of the horrid little men use the N-word.

Here is a CSpan call in:

The nut cases on the Right have no idea what horrid little men and women they are. When they speak in their natural voices they sound like the horrid little men and women they are and 99 % of us cringe in that weird combination of horror, loathing and disbelief that this horrid wretchedness calls forth.

Morning America

Years ago Ronald Reagan misunderstood, misrepresented, and distorted Springsteen's Born in the USA for narrow partisan reasons. A song and an album about the misery associated with neoliberalism and filled with stories of those Reagan's revolution would completely  discard became in Reagan's hands a paean to conservativism and evidence of America's new dawn. Today, of course, we know that Reagan and his fellow neoliberals and neoconservative had and have no interest in the 99% and were really interested in re-creating the 19th century. They spent the intervening years attempting to convince people that selfishness and disregard for the least among us are both 100% Americanism and real meaning of Christianity's social gospel.

Obama was elected because he promised something better and return to the communal values forged by wars against want and fascism. We are a long way from anything like that. But who knows, maybe the new Springsteen anthem is more than a stunt; perhaps it is, in fact, a promise that the next 4 years will fulfill our hopes and defeat our fears.

In any event, Bruuuuuce:


One reason I'm still glad to have voted for Obama, he is comfortable in his own skin:

And another, he married a real American woman.

David Brooks, on the other hand, is an  idiot. In the course of an "essay" on Mitt Romney as an inauthentic human being but an authentic robotic sociopath,[1] admits that
I don’t actually know what sort of person Romney is. He’s a reticent man. He’s unwilling to talk about his roots, home and family history, so it is hard to understand what’s really going on in his head.
And there you have it. He writes a column about someone's personality while admitting he knows nothing about it. True, I guess, Brooks really wants to offer Romney advice on how to overcome his "appearance" of being a robotic sociopath but isn't Brooks a little to comfortable about writing from a position of complete ignorance.

[1] Brooks, of course, used some vague sociological language from some ancient book he sort of remembers from his undergraduate days but that's what he meant to say.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The other day I used the word "neoslavery" to mock serial dolt Thomas Friedman. It is, it seems, an actual term that is the subject of an upcoming PBS documentary. Below are two videos on the issue of original neoslavery.

All it takes is for the state and industry to collude in forcing the Poors to "earn" their daily bread.


Internet Flanuer

This A.M. I was reading one of the Paris Review's "Week in Culture" dealios from one Matthew Thurber. I never finish the damned things as they are boring. However, in this version he mentioned Harry Stephen Keeler, a now obscure author of sci fi and detective fiction. As most everything out of copy right is available on the intertubes, I ran a quick search for him and found his "John Jones's Dollar." It's an odd little story told from the perspective of a historian at some point in the distant future when, of all things, education is broadcast via some kind of computer-based video system to students at all parts of the world and the galaxy. One aspect of the future is a lack of names, it's long numbers instead, and eugenics. However, the story of John Jones's dollar is, in fact, the story of a committed socialist who deposits one dollar in a bank account and bequeaths to his 40th generation child. The money grows, because of compound interest, until it is more money than exists in the whole of the know universe. The parent of the 40th generation John Jones has a fight with his girl friend and never marries. It is strongly suggested that he lives a life of bitter romantic disappointment.[1] Keeler's version of the federations of planets steps in and seizes the money and introduces socialism and, it seems, eugenics; although students being what they are, the eugenic future includes the usual lazy-bones. The short story's finale finds the Professor musing on Jones's prescience in creating a socialist future but wondering how he new the 40 John Jones would be born.

I also found this movie based on a Keeler novel in which serial cad, bounder, and warmonger Floyd Cooper is murdered by three men only one of whom is guilty. The guilty party, himself a warmonger, is caught by a slightly loopy scientist's lie detector. The internet is the 21st centuries Arcade.

[1] I urge, given the surname of the cartoonist who started this whole mess, that you find and read James Thurber's story of a relationship ending quarrel.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My God

Megan McArdle wrote a 10 bazillion word post on her kitchen. It is the oddest damn thing I have ever read and I read the whole thing. To be sure, it was the reading in a semi-hypnotized state; hypnotized by the bizarro detailed description of how she and her husband hired people to do things to stuff they bought and then they themselves actually stained wood.  It's like pioneer days .

It occurs to me that she spent nearly 2k on that mixer dealio and claims to have spent nearly 2k on the renovation, which means that she could have had the new kitchen some time ago but no mixer dealio or have twice the kitchen now with no dealio. All in all the highlarryittee of preaching inexpensive renovation while in the possession of a nearly 2k mixer dealio is hard to miss.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When I lived in Germany a pal and I were ambling, not to say flanuering, around town when he suggested a coffee. I waited outside while he went in to the cafe to get two to go that our drinking wouldn't interfere with our ambling. He returned sans coffee because they didn't have to-go cups in Germany. This was true everywhere I went in Germany, if I wanted a coffee it was into the cafe sit down and enjoy a Milchkaffee with the free sugar cookie

or find a Stehcafe

and pay the refundable rent, if I wanted to drink outside, on a porcelain cup and enjoy the coffee standing. At first I thought this was an odd custom but the advantages of being forced to relax and drink you coffee or tea quickly because obvious.

Later when I went into a grocery, I discovered that bags cost money. It was something like 12 American pennies for a plastic bag or 50 American pennies for a spiffy cotton sack.  Again an odd custom but one quickly adapted to. Not least because the cotton sacks, which are ubiquitous in German gift shops, when folded up fit in a regular pants pocket unlike the plasticine monstrosities here in the good ole US of A, long may her amber waves wave.

Why bring this up? Well today I took the crazy little dog

for a walk.[1]  Is was a 45 min maybe an hour walk with at least part of it through a park. In the park we ambled on a bike/walking path that threaded through a stand of trees to small be forest and too large to be a clump; on or next to this path I saw little piles of Starbucks coffee cups one after the other. They lay in piles of two or three between  five or ten feet apart. I was just going to walk on cursing the louts who still in this day and age litter. When I espied a large Trget  plastic sack. Consequently

One of them I picked up off of someone's front yard; the rest were scattered through the non-forest-yet-non-clump of trees miles from any Starbucks.

My point is simple, increase the costs of throwing crap hither and yon and fewer people will throw crap hither and yon; plus you will be forced to sit still and enjoy the warm and warming beverage of your choice, ideally with a free sugar cookie; one can arrive at this kind of a solution to an everyday problem if and only if one is the kind of anti-idiot American who thinks that while this is a great place to live it's not perfect and a good idea is a good idea no matter who comes up with it.

Enjoy your coffee.

I do it's true drink mineral water or seltzer which comes in nonreturnable bottles; however, when in Germany, where I developed the addiction, I drank Bismarck mineralwasser, which came with three degrees of bubbliness,

and everything had to be returned including the caps.

[1] I think of it as a walk she thinks of it as an extended opportunity to sniff things and chase squirrels.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The French Jon Stewart

is how The New Yorker's Lauren Collen describes this guy and his show:

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

The bit that matters is this:
“The battle of who has the most perfect family [in the upcoming American presidential race] has begun,” Barthès says. “We choose the Republican Newt Gingrich, having discovered his delicious wife, Callista.”
Next: “We have an image just of Callista!” She’s in blue. The hair is voluminous. “Good God!” Barthès sputters. He makes some gestures around his head. “But what is this crash helmet?” A moment later, he declares, “We have discovered the secret of this mysterious cut, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci.” Now it’s Caleesta again, with the Vitruvian Man superimposed on her face. Barthès rattles off measurements and radii in a tone of Dan Brown-ish portentousness. We see another image of Callista, on a day with “winds strong enough to tear off a cow’s horn,” standing alongside Newt. “It swells slightly,” Barthès says, “but nothing moves.”
And there you have it.

Ads and Super Bowl

I did watch the game and saw the Clint Eastwood ad. But this:

is a completely stupid idea. Here is a write up of the "thinking" behind the ad. The shorter version is show a non ad in a very small market and hope that it goes viral. Not, of course, that anyone is going to drink more or less Old Milwaukee because of the ad but rather because
despite its tiny TV audience, the Old Milwaukee ad managed to outperform some of the nationally broadcast Super Bowl commercials in an increasingly important metric of Super Bowl advertising bragging rights: chatter on social-media networks. According to a study by the Boston-based advertising agency Mullen, Ferrell’s Old Milwaukee ad has so far generated 1,640 mentions on Twitter. That’s significantly more buzz than was created by some of the national Super Bowl spots, including ones for Cadillac (which generated 345 Tweets), Century 21 (520 Tweets), Lexus (922 Tweets), CareerBuilder (1,001 tweets), and Hulu (1,191 Tweets).
How many bottles moved? Well obviously we can't know that yet. But surely waiting to see if the ad had the result ads are supposed to have, increased sales, would be the first step toward calling the whole thing "brilliant." No?

Who knows Farrell has been creating small niche ads for Old Milwaukee for a while and maybe they work. Here is one:

And here are some others.

But surely there have to be some kind of numbers for increased sales or not in those markets. Why, you ask, do I bring this up instead of mocking David Brooks' latest insult to the practice of reasoned argument? Simple, I don't think advertising works and this seems a perfect example of it not working. Also, who video tapes the tv show they are watching from a camera?

End College Sports Now

In today's WSJ find we the news that Chadima may have serially abused his or attempted to abuse his authority over subordinates for his personal sexual gratification. This isn't really news because Chadima has a long-standing practice of engaging in inappropriate behavior with the students and others under his supervision. At least one lawmaker, and a Republican at that, called for a thorough investigation of the UW's Athletic Department. To which I say yes and that right quickly. Ideally the investigation will not only focus on those who looked the other way at Chadima's abusive behavior but it will seek to find all the corrupt practices routinely associated with a top college athletic program.

And, ideally, the semi-professional coach and athletic director enrichment program will be changed or dissolved.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Via comes evidence thattThe Irish have all the good economists:
The good stuff starts after the weird song dealio.

Book Reveiw

Zift A Socialist Noir, Vladislav Todorov, trans Joseph Benatov (2010: Philadelphia, Paul Dry) (from library[1])

So this is the first Bulgarian text of any sort I have ever read. I thought that I had at least one Bulgarian student at Cave College, but now I think he was Albanian. In any event, this book won the prize for Bulgarian novel of the year and has been made into a movie. I cannot for the life of me remember where I heard about it but hear about it I had. I read id. Todorov teaches film and literature at the U Penn and it shows.  The  book, despite the back cover blurb's nonsense of its evocation of Sofia in 1963, is a pastiche of a couple of famous film noirs, DOA, OUt of the Past, Maltese Falcon, maybe Gilda, and the Ely comedy noir Kind Hearts and Coronets mashed up with Don Quixote or - at least - the picaresque novel.

The narrator moves from through a criminal underworld which is equal parts mafia and a corrupt Bulgarian nomenklatura that neatly recapitulates Raymond Chandler's claim, in one or another of the essays in The Simple Art of Murder, about the symbiotic relationship between criminals and the state, and he was talking about Los Angeles. The various scenes and characters are familiar to anyone mildly versed in the grammar of noir on film or the page. The prose is less lapidary than Chandler and more compelling than James M. Caine.

It is very much a MacGuffin novel in which who does what to whom and why are considerable less important than the aimless anecdotes the hero's various interlocutors provide. This means that all the characters are sharply drawn and the tales retold sound as if someone other than the author is speaking. The constant return to story telling and the consistently less than reliable narrators, for me -- in any event -- led to the book being less noir than quasi-philosophical discussion or, perhaps more precisely, invitation to contemplate the role of story-telling in the process of self creation as a means of escaping the future's uncertainty.

On the whole it is a clever little book, well written and well worth reading. It length, 185 pages, combined with the relatively lean but none-the-less convoluted prose means that its pages speed by. Not sure that I would buy it but I am definitely glad to have read it. Long live the library.

[1] About which more later.

Internet Scholarship and Observation

Some people claim the internet is dead or, at least, ossified. From here comes news of a free 3,000 plus page investigation of anti-smoking legislation in Iowa. If you go over here, here, here, or here, as by way of example, you can flanuer your way from here to there and back again. All this hand-wringing is more evidence that the author is either sick unto death of actually participating in the intellectual culture created by folks willing to use the internet to disseminate the information and knowledge they have created or refusing to waste time in a sufficiently creative way. The fault, in other words, is in ourselves and not our intertubes.