Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Reckoning by David Halberstam.

#1 Choice of Fortune 500 CEO's -- Wall Street Journal Survey

That's one of the things written on the front cover of this Avon paperback copy of The Reckoning by David Halberstam, copyright 1986, first Avon printing, September 1987.

On the first page of the book there's a reference to "eggheads who subscribe to Consumer Reports" on the second page, to the "rare combination of practical experience and theoretical expertise." I can find no indication that either of these things was written with an ironic wink or chuckle. Indeed, it seems to me that Halberstam's familiarity with irony extended possibly as far as his having been able to spell it.

The Reckoning is a book about the Ford Motor company and the Nissan corporation. Looking for "climate change" in its index. It's not there. Well, it was published in 1986, "global warming" may have have been a catch-phrase for longer -- but it's not in the index. How about"pollution"? No. "air pollution"? No. "Water pollution"? No. "Environment" or "environmentalists"? Huh... No.

There's an entire chapter about Ralph Nader, but it's about how different he is than a Detroit auto executive, and crash safety. Nothing in there about pollution or the environment.

Wait a minute -- "emissions"! Surely "emissions" is in the index! But no.

Almost a full page of the index is devoted to Lee Iacocca. There are 5 references to OPEC, 1 to India and 0 to Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. 14 to Wall Street and 5 to The Wall Street Journal.

5 to the New Your Times, 3 to the New Yorker, 1 to Newsweek, 3 to Time. Okay, Halberstam's starting to make sense now. His book entitled The Powers That Be is about, not heads of states or CEO's of automotive or oil companies, but the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Time Inc and CBS.

When I say that Halberstam's starting to make sense now, I don't mean that he makes a lot of sense. I mean that I think that I've figured out something about him, which is: if it didn't appear on the front page of the Los Angeles Times or the Washington Post or on the cover of Time or on the "CBS Evening News," then for Halberstam, and maybe also for a lot of Fortune 500 CEO's in the mid-1980's, it pretty much didn't exist.

Okay then.

This has also big a big help for me in understanding that other cultural monstrosity -- or should I say, that other monstrosity which so severely clogged the flow and breadth and depth of our culture -- John Kenneth Galbraith.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump Will Be Defeated, The Only Question Is How Soon

I've mentioned before that I'm not a pessimist because optimism feels better, and because (I believe) I have free choice, (Some believe that they have made airtight logical cases that there is no free choice. I think this is merely an example of how logic is not yet perfect.) and I choose not be more miserable than I have to be. But I also believe that optimism is more logical than pessimism.

Let's take the case of Donald Trump. Pessimists are saying that humanity is doomed, that we're done, because Trump is the President-elect. I think that's an irrational outlook. Trump and his cheap hucksterism, and the stupidity which supports him, will be overcome, and thoroughly rejected. The only question is, how quickly. There are many perfectly sound reasons to believe that politics is Trump's last refuge, his last place to try to hide, and that he has not much further to go before he's out of politics for good.

The only age demographic in which Trump has more support than Hillary is 65 and older. In the 18-29 age group, Hillary leads by 60% to 30%. Trump's support is literally dying out while the Left wing grows.

More and more people are learning that Trump is a liar and a sociopath. Next up: the millions of people who believed in one or the other of his campaign promises. Some of those promises, like forcing Mexico to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, are obviously impossible to keep. Many more of his promises directly contradict other promises. Trump will burn millions of his voters with broken campaign promises at the least. It's quite conceivable that almost all of them will feel betrayed on one issue or another which is very important to them.

Democrats gained seats in both the House and Senate. Republicans still hold majorities in both houses -- but does Trump? Republican weasels who denounced Trump during the election campaign and suddenly started to support him after he won have been getting a lot of press coverage. Getting less space in the headlines are some Republicans who opposed Trump before the election and still oppose him. Senators McCain and Graham sound like they will be consistent, and continue to oppose Trump's policies, putting human decency and common sense above party loyalty when the party has gone insane. Republican opposition could grow as Trump's popularity erodes. Not every one of Trump's appointments is a shoe-in.

And Trump's appointments are only an issue if he actually takes office. He hasn't taken office yet. The recount still seems like a long shot to actually overturn the election and give the Presidency to Hillary, but who knows. The hope that a majority in the Electoral College will not actually vote for Trump seems very far-fetched -- at this point. But who knows how much less popular Trump will become before the electors vote? Who knows how many more bad deeds, including criminal deeds, and how much more disgusting behavior of his will come to light? [SOMEBODY LEAK THE #$%#&*$#&%$#$ "APPRENTICE" VIDEOS!] How many more utterly buffoonish tweets will he produce, how many more idiotic public statements?

People are not basically suckers for the truth, as Mr X asserted in Oliver Stone's JFK -- but if it's presented to them thoroughly and persistently enough, eventually some of them notice it. Keep digging, keep posting, keep leaking. Don't just give up.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Insiderwitze

Ich mag Insiderwitze nicht besonders. Ich finde meistens, dass wenn und wann ich sie verstehe, die Muehe sehr viel groesser war als die Lustigkeit des Witzes. Ich mag Clicqes nicht sehr. Nein, eigentlich, ich mag sie ueberhaupt nicht. Ich habe sie nie vermocht, nicht in High School, nicht jetzt and auch nie in den 40 Jahren inzwischen. (Und natuerlich werden viele Cliquemitglieder mir das gar nicht glauben und einen Fall von sauren Trauben nennen. Natuerlich.) Und ich frage mich vergebens, wieso ich dann und wann in Cliques engeladen worden bin, wo es manchmal von Insiderwitzen wimmelt, und es gibt gar keinen Grund warum ich diese Witze verstehen sollte, und wann und wenn ich mir die Muehe mache es war die Muehe nicht wert, und ich verlasse noch eine Clique und vermisse sie nicht. (Gehoert es meistens zu Cliques, dass sie einigen Mitglieder haben, die die Witze verpassen? Macht das fuer sie die Witze noch lustiger? Wenn dem so ist, macht es mir Cliques noch weniger verlockend.)

Ich schreibe fuer die Oeffentlichkeit. Ich lese und diskutiere am gernsten als Mitglied einer Oeffentlichkeit.

Aber gerade ist mir eingefallen, dass ich unversehens in noch eine Clique eingeraten bin, und die Leute da lachen sich schief ueber etwas, worueber ich unneugierig werde. Einer da sieht Nachbars Katzen bei sich. Und alle finden es -- finden etwas -- enorm lustig and lachen darueber and sagen Dinger die niemand sonst verstehen wuerde.

Und ich war im Begriff, zu sagen, dass ich da moeglicherweise etwas verpasst haette. Zu fragen, ob das Ueberraschende und Unerklaerliche da war, dass Nachbars Katzen bei ihm waren. Ob er moeglicherweise die Wohnungstuer offenstehengelassen habe. Oder vielleicht ein Fenster. Oder ob er vielleicht eigentlich seit einer Weile zusammen mit Nachbar und Nachbars Katzen zusammenlebt, aber von Amnesie leidet.

Dann fragte ich mich, ob dass alles vielleicht gar zu persoenliche Fragen waeren, besonders die letzte.

Dann fiel mir ein, dass alles da mir so mysterioes ist, weil ich unversehens ich noch eine Clique hineingestolpert bin.

Fuer mich ist die Welt schon mysterioes genug, wenn alle sich aufrichtig anstrengen, alles so klar zu erklaeren wie es nur geht -- was, mir nach, nich oft genug passiert. (Einige Leute aber sind gar voll von Wissen und brennen mit der Leidenschaft zu erklaeren, tun es vollzeit, tun wenig sonst. Die besten Wissenschaeftler und Historiker und Philosophen sind so und waren immer alle genau so, und auch nicht wenig von den groessten Kuenstlern. Eine der Verwandtschaften der Groessen in verschiedenen Bereichen des Lebens. Ein Fernsehprogram oder Buch zu einem historisches Thema mit "Geheimnisse" in seinem Titel ist fast sicher gar kein richtiges Werk von Historikern, und schon gar nicht von den besten Historikern, die davon brennen, Dir mitzuteilen, nicht nur dass dem so und so war, aber auch, dass Fachleute es alles zeit Anno so und so wissen. Nichts mit Geheimnisse also. Im Gegenteil.) Fuer mich mangelt es auch in den besten moeglichen Umstaenden nicht an Mysterioeses. Echt Mysterioeses gibt es haufenweise. Ich fuehle keinen Bedarf an gekuensteltes. Nichts fuer ungut.

"And I'm done, done, on to the next one, done, done, on to the next one, done, done, on to the next one..."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Try Too Hard To Put It In A Delicate Way

This Trump-won-because-people-ignored-the-Heartland stuff is nonsense. No one has ever ignored the Heartland. Ever. There's a particularly stupid piece by Ben Stein in The Norton Reader, 5th ed, shorter, copyright 1980, using an episode of "The Rockford Files" to supposedly demonstrate how liberal Hollywood elites were out of touch with the paradise of rural America. I've never watched "The Rockford Files," but from the way Stein describes it, it sounds unusually in touch, for a network TV drama, with the way that you can be ripped off and abused in a small town for the sin of being a stranger who needs help. Not all small towns are like that, naturally, but a lot are.

But the crap about not understanding the Heartland wasn't new in 1980: it goes back at least as far as Nixon's "silent majority" in his 1968 Presidential campaign, which was not a majority and hardly silent, but just a bunch of rubes who were afraid of hippies for no good reason, often without even having met any hippies. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if it went back much further in time than that.

Not only has no-one ever ignored the Heartland for one minute: also, many people in the Heartland voted for Hillary, and a lot of people in non-Heartland areas voted for Trump.

Very often, Leftists are much too easily led into feeling guilty for no good reason. We didn't cause the rise of Trump by ignoring the Heartland. The real explanation of Trump's success is much simpler: he's the King of the idiots.

Fake news readers are dumb as dirt. Trump voters? Idiots, end of story. Nazis? The lights are on, nobody's home. ISIS? A few clowns short of a rodeo. France's National Front? An experiment in artificial stupidity. The Alliance for Germany? All foam, no beer. The Brexit movement? No grain in the silo. American militias? The elevator doesn't go all the way to the top.

This is not good news, because stupidity is extremely difficult to overcome. But it's the truth. We can't solve the problem without calling it what it is. Calling it what it is, of course, will greatly upset the readers of fake news and the supporters of Trump. Nobody hates being called stupid more than stupid people. But it's time to stop tiptoeing around the truth.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

I Don't Understand Jill Stein's Recount Effort

Is Jill Stein raising all this money and going to all of this effort to have recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania because she doesn't want Trump to be President?

If so -- is she really so dumb that she doesn't realize that Hillary might very well have been elected if she, Stein, had dropped out of the election and endorsed Hillary?

What about all of the people donating money to Stein's recount campaign -- how many of them have noticed things such as that the number of votes Stein got in Michigan is several times as large as the difference in votes between Trump and Hillary?

How many of these people, if I were face-to-face with them and saying such things, would honestly have no idea what I'm talking about?

Maybe Stein's recount crusade actually has nothing at all to do with preferring one candidate over another. Maybe she really believes that Hillary would make just as bad a President as Trump, and for her this is just all about correctly counting every single vote, and she could give a flying squirrel about the end result of the election.

All I know for sure is that I think that Jill Stein is a huge moron. There's no possible explanation for her current behavior which doesn't leave her looking like an idiot in my eyes: 1) If she really believes that Hillary would not be a better President than Trump, she's an idiot. 2) If she wants the recount because she sees that Trump will be a terrible President, but she's only grasped that since the election, she's an idiot.

3) If she's thought all along that Hillary would be a much better President than Trump, and honestly can't understand how her candidacy helped Trump, then she's an incredible idiot.

There's no doubt at all that there are many idiots in all of those three categories among Stein's voters.

I hope that Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania all flip and that Hillary is elected President. If that happens because of Jill Stein, I'm still going to think she's an incredible idiot. But I'll still take it, very happily.

Having Hillary take office rather than Trump would be a huge big deal for me. It would be much, much more significant than anything to do with Jill Stein.

Nevertheless, I'm very curious, and very puzzled, about Jill Stein's behavior.

And also, I'm puzzled as to why I'm not seeing a great number of news stories expressing the very same puzzlement.

Is this our old friend, "objective journalism," once again? Is my reaction to Jill Stein very much the same as the personal reaction of nearly every political journalist on Earth, but they're avoiding saying it publicly because that would violate this imaginary "objectivity" which they prize above all other things?

Notebooks

Like many, many other people, I've been writing in Moleskine notebooks for years. Currently I'm writing in a Shinola notebook. Like the Moleskines I use, the Shinola is pocket-sized with a soft cover, designed for comfort as I take it with me everywhere I go.

I got the Shinola notebook when I went into the Shinola store in downtown Ann Arbor to look at the Shinola watches. All very good-looking watches, and all way out of my price range. And if I did have that kind of money, I'd be looking for a mechanical watch, and all the watches Shinola makes are still battery-powered, unfortunately.

But I saw the notebooks while I was there, and I bought one.

Compared to a Moleskine, it's good. The cover has a completely different texture. Not sure which one I like better. The Shinola feels tougher, more solidly-made, but I don't know that I can actually quantify the relative toughnesses of Moleskine and Shinola. The elastic band on the Shinola broke, which never happened to any of the approximately 2 dozen Moleskines I've filled up with my scribbles. However, I don't know whether that means that the strap on the Shinola is not as tough. Since I got the Shinola, my writing habits have changed significantly: a lot which previously might have gone first into a notebook and then into this blog has been into the blog without being written in a notebook first. But I still keep my rule about writing something in a notebook every single day. This means that it's taking me many more days to fill up the Shinola than it ever took me to fill up a Moleskine. So the strap on the Shinola may have been as strong as those on Moleskines, and may have broken simply because I opened up closed the Shinola so many times.


By the way: although the Moleskines had gotten me thoroughly used to having an elastic strap to hold the notebook shut, and although it was rather traumatic for me when the strap on the Shinola broke -- I haven't really missed it much. Not having the strap anymore really hasn't made much difference to me, hasn't led to any inconvenience or spilling or what have you.

Anyway: using the Shinola notebook, and not finding it to be grossly inferior to a Moleskine, may have been what it was which started me thinking about still other brands of notebooks. Something I would really like would be a notebook which is pocket-sized or smaller, with plain, unruled paper, and a lot of pages. Twice as many as your usual notebook, or even more. Moleskine has items which fill all of these requirements except for the plain paper: some of their yearly planners have as many as "400" pages or more. I put "400" in quotation marks, because Moleskine -- and some or most or all other manufacturers of such items -- count each piece of paper twice, once for the front and once for the back. So, a Moleskine with "400" pages has 200 sheets of paper in it.

So I did a Google search for better than moleskine, found some other brands which some other people like better than Moleskine (Leuchtturm appears to be especially well-liked), and looked at what was available in those brands on Amazon -- and I still haven't found that elusive notebook, pocket-sized or smaller, with "400" or "500" or so plain pages in it.

And then I reminded myself that I don't have all that much money, and that I do have 4 Moleskines which I had bought before I got the Shinola, and that it's taking me longer these days to fill up a notebook, so that it will be quite a long time before I actually run out of the notebooks I have.

If I were to win a Nobel Prize, or something like that, it might be less extravagant for me to hunt down exactly the kind of notebook I want -- or even to have them custom-made for me. But of course, if I won the Nobel Prize, the chances would increase tremendously that I would be showered with any and every kind of swanky notebook absolutely free of charge, because, as the Tom Petty It's-Ab-So-Lute-Ly-Back-Wards Law of Microeconomics teaches us -- it's ab-so-lute-ly backwards. (It occurs to me that Tom Petty said that around 1985, when he and his band had been rich and famous for a relatively short period of time, and the memory of poverty was still relatively fresh. I wonder whether today, after 3 more decades of being more and more rich and famous, and therefore receiving ever greater big piles of stuff for ab-so-lute-ly free, he has changed his mind completely, and now finds that this arrangement makes perfect sense and is thoroughly just and fair and right, and therefore doesn't want some nobody blogger reminding people of what he said once in 1985 about certain things being backwards and whatnot. I doubt it, but who knows.)

Did you notice all the fancy-looking pocket-sized notebooks with elastic straps used by the reporters in the press conferences in "Boardwalk Empire"? Did you wonder whether they were all Moleskines or all some other brand, all given to the production company for free, because very often companies give big piles of groovy stuff to people making movies and TV shows, absolutely free, and that's sometimes why those companies' names are in the big lists of "Thanks To:" in the end credits, and did you squint and try to find Moleskine in those lists which whizzed by so quickly at the end of each episode of "Boardwalk Empire," and did you wonder what the actors playing those reporters actually wrote in those notebooks, imagining that the method actors tried to actually write what a reporter in Atlantic City or New York City in the 1920's might write, while the non-method actors wrote entirely different things, or perhaps drew satiric doodles of the method actors? Not to mention all of the above, but with the pens they were writing with, whether they were all given to the production company by Cross or what have you? And whether some of those actors might have turned down the free stuff because they already had their own stuff which they liked better? And how much of the free stuff the actors are allowed to keep after the show raps, and how much stuff they keep that they're not supposed to keep, and whether maybe some actors are having career difficulties and they don't know why, and the reason why is because the word has gotten around that they steal way too much of the stuff they're supposed to give back? (There were also some very cool-looking notebooks in the first Guy Ritchie-Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movie.)

If you don't notice and wonder and squint looking for and speculate about those kinds of things, my friend, then you are very different than I.

Friday, November 25, 2016

"You Must Go Now"

For someone who is a fan of both the Detroit Lions and Notre Dame football, this has been a strange season: the Lions are 7-4 and leading their division, and the Irish are 4-7.

Brian Kelly has been very good overall in his time as head coach at ND, but I -- and many other people -- would like to see him go after this season. It's nothing against him. It seems that almost all coaches, including almost all of the best ones, get stale after too long with one program. It's time for Kelly to go be great somewhere else -- right now, before he does too much damage, while Notre Dame fans can still remember his time as head coach fondly.

Maybe I'm to eager to pull the trigger on Kelly.

Then again, maybe I'm not. It's more than just the 7 losses. It's the way that the team, over and over this season, has pissed up a rope: started off a game with a huge lead and still somehow managed to lose. A really good team will do the opposite: if you're pulling for them, and it's the 4th quarter and they're within 10 points of the lead, you're not worried, because pulling it out is what they do. They seal the deal. They just win, Baby. 4th-quarter comebacks what Matthew Stafford, for example, has done a bunch of times with the Lions since 2010. You don't want other teams to be doing it against you, over and over.

But what upsets me the most is that Kelly doesn't seem upset. You know what he reminds me of, right now? George Costanza bringing oranges to those Japanese TV executives and pitching Jerry's show to them. Kelly has been misinformed that oranges are extremely rare in Japan. He doesn't seem to sense the tension in the room, the annoyance of the executives whose time he's wasting.


He just grins at us like a fool and says things like, "You've forgotten what it's like to have no oranges." We -- the rest of the world -- have been muttering to each other in Japanese things like "Again with the oranges," and waiting impatiently for the senior Japanese exec to lean forward and say to the foolishly-grinning, uncomprehending Brian Kelly/George Costanza, speaking slowly and enunciating each word very carefully,

"You must go now."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Aber Was Weiss Ich Von Deutschen Woerten, Ich Bin Nicht Mal Deutsch

Zu dem Wort "Ueberfremdung," und den damit verbundenen Ideen:

Der Gedanke, dass Menschen, weil sie von verschiedenen Teilen der Welt stammen, mit verschiedenen Kulturen und Sprachen, sich nicht respektieren, verstehen, moegen, lieben koennen, dass sie keine Neugier vor einander haben wuerden, vor dem Essen, der Musik, den Sagen, den Witzen, den Redensarten des Anderen Heimat, dass sie nicht voneinander lernen moechten, dass sie sich nicht heiraten wollten, nicht Kinder miteinander wollten, dass etwas daran falsch waere, wenn sie Fussball miteinander spielten, neben einander auf einem Bus oder Zug sitzen wuerden, oder in einem Restaurant -- der bloesse Gedanke ist mir fremd.

Man koennte sogar sagen: Ueber-fremd.

The Time Between November 8 and January 20

People have been calling on Obama to go ahead and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, without the Senate's confirmation. A couple of points:

* He would need to wait until the Senate was in year-end recess (they're not yet), and they would have to be in recess for 10 days before re-convening on Jan 3.

* Garland was a compromise appointment on Obama's behalf. Garland is a moderate. Like so much else that Obama has done, the Garland appointment was a conciliatory gesture toward the GOP, and that's a lot of the reason it was seen as so unreasonable on behalf of Senate Republicans that they refused to even consider Garland's appointment. I assumed that Hillary would be elected, and I wasn't upset by the Republicans screwing Garland over, because I hoped that Hillary would appoint someone more progressive. No offense to Judge Garland, but if Obama is able to make an appointment while the Senate is in year-end recess, and if he takes advantage of that opportunity, I'd like to see him appoint a 30-year-old black lesbian Communist in great physical shape, all 8 of whose great-grandparents are over 100 years old, all still alive and at least 6 of them not senile yet.

* Whether Obama will have the chance to make a recess appointment, and, if he has that chance, whether he will take advantage of it, and whether he will appoint Garland or someone to the Left of Garland, I can't say. I have not been good at all at predicting what Obama will do.

Well, look at Jill Stein go, raising money for a recount of the Presidential election in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. And look at Hillary's vote lead grow. Will enough more votes be counted for Hillary to win Michigan? I don't know, I don't know how many more votes are expected to come in, I can't find anybody even willing to guess. However, people seem to agree that the more votes come in, the more Hillary gains on Trump, but they also seem to agree that Michigan is the only state where Trump's ahead that could possibly flip to Hillary. That would give 248 electoral votes, still 22 shy of victory. If Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all flip, Hillary wins. 2 out those 3 won't do it.

I do know this: the latest tally in Michigan is 2,279,210 votes for Trump and 2,267,373 for Hillary, a lead of 11,837 -- and shrinking, it seems -- for Trump. And I also know that Jill Stein has gotten 51,420 votes so far in Michigan. And I know what irony is, but I don't know whether Jill Stein does.

But you know what? Bygones. Not because I don't consider Jill Stein to be a colossal fool and screw-up -- I do consider her to be exactly that -- but because as far as I know, no time machines have been invented which would allow us to go back in time and somehow cause Jill to drop out, endorse Hillary and thus ensure Hillary's election. In the lack of such time machines, we can only face toward the future, and deal with it.

And in that future, I can't see any good reason to believe that Jill Stein or anybody else can put Hillary in the White House at this point with a recount. Especially since it was the Democrats who did such an intensive, exhaustive and convincing job of explaining to us why this election couldn't be rigged.

But you know what? Who knows. One thing this Presidential campaign has been is unpredictable. And if there is a possibility of re-counting, an Obama appointment to the Supreme Court could be a big help to the forces of sanity and humanity.

I can't predict how much more scandal will come out, tarnishing Trump's already heavily-tarnished brand, before Dec 19 when the Electors vote. I can easily imagine that enough more scandal will emerge that it will convince Trump's electors not to vote for him.

I don't think it's likely that Trump won't take office on Jan 20 (although who knows?), but Hillary's huge and growing lead in the popular vote will weigh heavily on a Trump Presidency. Steve Bannon will weigh heavily, unless Bannon suddenly decides that, Hey, you know what? He wants to spend more time with his family. Jill Stein's campaign for a recall may make no sense and be doomed to failure, but it could still cause Trump a lot of grief -- the same way that Stein's campaign for President made absolutely no sense and was doomed to failure, but still caused Hillary a lot of grief.

The way that Trump constantly lies and is abysmally ignorant -- more and more people will notice that. More and more people will see how little interested he is in working with anybody, or in helping anybody.

All of that will weigh on him.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Really Sick Of People Equating Hillary And Trump

Recently glimpsed:

"[...]neither candidate advanced their interests, but[...]"

No. No. No. If you voted for Trump, you're a -- I was going to write a very offensive synonym for "dummy," but I'll just say: if you voted for him, you're a dummy.. If you voted for Jill Stein, you're a very special and precious dummy. And if you're trying to tell me that Trump and Hillary are basically the same, you're a complete dummy.

The part about Trump not representing the interests of his voters, that part is accurate. Apart from his plans to massively embezzle from the US, apart from his exploitation of people's self-destructive hatred and stupidity -- what does this guy who's spent his whole life in big cities, most in the biggest city on the US, have to do with the rural Heartland again?

Hillary planned to expand and strengthen Social Security and other parts of the social safety net, increase funding for education, raise the minimum wage, massively expand solar and wind and other form of clean energy, especially solar, and all of that advances not only my interests, but everybody's interests. You can't have a clearer example of advancing the interests of the entire human race than literally making it easier for everyone to breathe.

Recently I read a comment by someone who had voted for Jill Stein, addressing those of us who had voted for Hillary, showing not one bit of remorse for having supported Stein, refusing to acknowledge that Hillary was one bit less bad than Trump, and referring to

"your Saudi overlords."

The Saudi overlords of those of us who had voted for Hillary. How exactly were diabolical Saudi oil merchants supposed to have been overjoyed at the prospect of Hillary backing huge expansion of solar, wind and other non-oil forms of energy?

An Italian Leftist published an article after the election about how Italy had managed to survive Berlusconi. He advised people to focus less on Trump's personality and more on his policies. I don't know how anyone even vaguely familiar with the political platforms of both Trump and Hillary can claim that they were remotely similar. Maybe this Italian guy is right. Maybe Hillary's campaign took for granted too much that people new the difference between her plans and Trump's, and didn't talk about those differences enough. Maybe they ran too many commercials saying things like: everyone on this long list of generals doesn't want Trump anywhere near the nuclear button, and not enough commercials saying things like: Hillary wants there to be enough solar panels in the US to power every single home.

Obviously, I'm not referring to people who only think that they were familiar with Hillary's platform, but still refer to her as being a tool of the Saudis. Oh, by the way, here's her platform. I don't see anything in there that's similar to the crazy stuff Trump has in mind. Does this sound like Trump to you?

"We must continue to expand opportunities for people with disabilities."

"America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

"As president, Hillary will: Overturn Citizens United. End secret, unaccountable money in politics. Expand background checks to more gun sales. Take on the gun lobby. Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Restore collective bargaining rights for unions and defend against partisan attacks on workers’ rights. Strengthen overtime rules."


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Libel And Public Figures

public figure n. in the law of defamation (libel and slander), a personage of great public interest or familiarity like a government official, politician, celebrity, business leader, movie star or sports hero. Incorrect harmful statements published about a public figure cannot be the basis of a lawsuit for defamation unless there is proof that the writer or publisher intentionally defamed the person with malice (hate). -- Law.com

Here's what Brandon Victor Dixon said onstage after last night's performance of Hamilton:

“You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out [...] Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ We really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for (sharing) this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations."

Trump responded this morning with 2 Tweets:

"Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!"

and

"The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!"

Res ipse loquitur.

I hope Trump tries to sue every one of the crowds which will boo him. I hope he actually is that much of a crybaby and an idiot, because it couldn't help but shorten his time in office.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"If We All Gave $3, The Fundraiser Would Be Over In An Hour"

If every millionaire in the US gave me a dime, I'd be a millionaire.

If pigs had wings, frogs wouldn't bump their butts so much.

If I had a million dollars and a gave a penny to every starving person in the world, I'd run out of money before I was 1/8 done.

If Wikipedia were an actual encyclopaedia written by professionals instead of a completely random collection of whatever written by absolutely whomever, the quality of its information would be immensely improved, and the quantity of that information would be a tiny fraction of what it is now.

If the US had spent more on education we wouldn't be in this mess right now.

If the average baseball fan in the US weren't racist, Barry Bonds would have been in the Hall of Fame for several years already.

If the US placed a greater emphasis on education, maybe Barry Bonds would never have become a professional baseball player, but a climatologist instead.

If Donald Sutherland's character in JFK, "Mr X," was right about people being suckers for the truth, Hillary would've won the West Virginia primary and Donald Trump would've been in prison decades ago. People are just suckers.

Would I rather be deaf or blind? No!

Would I rather forget who I am or who everyone else is? No!

How can I put an elephant into a refrigerator? I wouldn't!

Would I rather get uglier or dumber? No! But unless the entire process of aging suddenly changes completely, it's out of my hands to a certain extent.

Would I rather lose an arm or a leg? No!

Would I prefer to live in the Sahara or the Antarctic? No!

Would I rather have a man or a woman kick me in the crotch? Definitely not!

Would I accept $1 million to leave the US and never come back? Well, I hope this doesn't get around, but I'd do it for less! I've been to some other places, the US doesn't have a monopoly on cool stuff by any means.

Would I rather climb high, treacherous, freezing mountains or march through burning deserts? No!

Am I glad that I don't waste a lot of my time on stupid hypothetical questions like those, preferring to deal with what is than what might hypothetically be? Yes!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

He Hasn't Taken Office Yet

I consider the calls for the Electoral College not to elect him to be rather far-fetched at this point: Trump's electors are Republicans, and in hindsight, in seems that the biggest problem Republicans had with Trump is that a lot of them were convinced he couldn't win. In fact, it seems to me that no demographic was more solidly convinced that Hillary would win decisively, than Republican political professionals. Now that Trump has won, Republicans who went on the record calling him unfit for the office and a horrible person are scrambling for positions in his administration.

However, he actually hasn't taken office yet. And public opinion can change a lot in 2 months.

It seems that the biggest single opinion-changer during the campaign was the "Access Hollywood" video. It was well-known that Trump was a misogynistic pig, but actually hearing and seeing it was different than just knowing it. It would still be a great time for those video outtakes from "The Apprentice" to be released, which by all accounts are much worse than the "Access Hollywood" video. Please, somebody do your civic duty and leak all of that stuff now. I may seem superhuman at times, but the sad fact is that I actually can't do everything myself.

Aside from things like audiotapes and videos, jury selection in the Trump University fraud trial is set to begin on November 28. [PS, 18. November 2016: According to the Washington Post, Trump is nearing settlements which will end the Trump University fraud case.] A civil lawsuit alleging Trump raped a 13-year-old girl was re-filed in September, and no doubt more legal action will be taken in the cases of the women coming forward in the wake of the "Access Hollywood" tape and alleging that Trump assaulted them. How many more women will come forward, and how much legal action will be taken because of it, and how much of it will be civil actions like the lawsuit involving the 13-year-old girls and how many actual criminal charges will by filed against, the President-elect, no-one can say.

We don't know how much people who voted for Trump will regret doing so as they learn of his legal troubles, or his stance on the environment and energy, or Steve Bannon, or something else they didn't know about Trump. No doubt some of them were low-information voters. How many, and how low-information they were, and how much more they were learn, and how soon, is very hard to predict.

We know that Trump will break many of his campaign promises simply because so many things he promised during the campaign contradict other things he promised during the campaign. He's already broken his promise to "drain the swamp," appointing many Washington lobbyists and insiders to positions in his administration -- but how many people who voted for him will notice such things?

Hopefully a lot of people who voted for Trump will regret it very much for one reason or another, very soon.

People keep talking about how bad the next 4 years will be. It doesn't have to be 4 years. Aside from the possibility of him actually not becoming President because the Electors are simply too appalled by him, and have spines, which as I say I think is a very slim chance, since Trump's electors are Republicans, and Republicans since the election seem very eager to work with Trump, and to have forgotten their animosity toward him -- aside from the possibility of him actually not taking office, which becomes more likely the more scandals explode before the electors vote on December 19, there is the possibility that he will be impeached. The possible grounds for impeachment are many and well-known, and more possible grounds keep coming to light.

Being President of the US means being under the brightest spotlight in the world, and it seems that the more clearly people see Trump, the less they like him.

LEAK THE "APPRENTICE" VIDEOS, SOMEBODY!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"Brauchen Wir Eine Renaissance Der Aufklaerung?"

Das fragt uns die FAZ. Es ist o tempora o mores-Zeit wider bei der FAZ. Oder vielleicht ist es vielmehr immer o tempora o more-Zeit bei der FAZ.

"Renaissance der Aufklaerung," mmm... Das klingt es gaeben es einmal ganz vollkommen aufgeklaerte Zeiten. Das glaube ich nicht. Nein, das klingt es ob es zweimal vollkommen aufgeklaerte Zeiten gab, erst in der Antike, dann in der Aufklaerung.

Oder vielleicht gar dreimal: in der Antike, dann wider in der Renaissance und dann in der Aufklaerung.

Ich glaube nicht daran. Wer erinnern uns an Plato und Aristotle, Leonardo and Machiavelli, Voltaire und Hume. Die alltaegliche Arschloecher, welche diese Grossen umringten und sie plagten genau wie alltaegliche Arschloecher uns umgeben und plagen, haben wir zum grossen Teil vergessen, in den meisten Faellen kennen wir nicht mehr ihre Namen. Die Bluetezeit der antiken griechischen Dichtung und Philosophie, die Renaissance, die Aufklaerung, diese waren jeweils die Sache von einer Handvoll von Menschen. Und auch heute gibt es einige Genies, und...

Was wir nicht brauchen, ist eine Verklaerung der Aufklaerung. Ja, es ist gut, dass wir Hume and Gibbon lesen, aber, um sie wirklich zu ehren, muessen wir uns daran erinnern, dass Hume ein Lehramt nicht finden koennte, und dass Gibbon ueberall angefeidet wurde. (Eigentlich etwas leichter in Gibbons Falle, da die Anfeinding ja noch nicht gaenzlich aufgehoert hat.)

Und muss ich Euch eigentlich daran erinnern, was der Staat, die strahlend aufgeklaerte antike Athen, mit Sokrates tat? Nein? Gut!

Fuer den Begriff "Renaissance" habe ich ueberhaupt wenig uebrig: das antike Griechenland brauchte nicht wiedergeboren zu sein, es war nicht gestorben, nur weil das Abendland es vergessen hat.

Und die Aufklaerung betrachte ich als etwas, was noch in seinen Anfaengen steckt. Voltaire und Diederot und Hume & co machten einen guten Anfang, aufbauend auf einigen frueheren Denker, Marx und Nietzsche und einige mehr haben wiederum auf sie gebaut, und das ganze war noch nie annaehrend fertig. Wir muessen noch einiges tun, einiges aufklaeren.

Silvio Berlusconi

In 2016 Forbes magazine declared that Silvio Berlusconi was the world's 188th-richest person, with a net worth of $7.1 billion. I have no idea how Forbes goes about investing the net worths of rich people, I have no idea how accurate their estimates are, but for whatever it's worth, there it is. Also in 2016 Forbes estimated that Trump was worth $3.7 billion.

Berlusconi was Prime minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, again from 2001 to 2006, and again from 2008 to 2011. He was a member of the center-right Forza Italia party, but was criticized for alliances with the far-right parties Lega Nord and Alleanza Nazionale. He says things like

"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."

"When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said, 'Yes', while the other 70% replied, 'What, again?'"

"It's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay."

"I am without doubt the person who's been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man."

"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance... The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilisation, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."

"Women are lining up to marry me. Legend has it, I know how to do it."

"Mussolini never killed anyone, he just sent dissenters abroad for vacation."


and a variety of other racist, sexist, homophobic, absurdly conceited and neo-Fascist things.

By his own estimate in a statement made in 2009, he had made 2,500 court appearances in 106 trials. He has complained that he has been unfairly targeted by the legal authorities in his native city of Milan.

In case after case he either avoided conviction, or a conviction was overturned on appeal. Then in 2013 he was convicted of tax fraud, and in 2015 of bribing an Italian Senator, and because of this conviction, Berlusconi has at long last been banned from participating in the politics of Italy. (Will he be arrested for violating this ban? Who can say.)

Berlusconi's lavish sex parties, known as "bungs bunga," are notorious. One of the consequences of these parties is that Berlusconi was convicted in 2013 of involving an under-age Moroccon girl in prostitution. This conviction was overturned in 2014.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Band 3 Vom Prinzip Hoffnung Habe Ich Schon

Das habe ich in dem letzten Post nicht erwaehnt. (Gestern bestellte ich die 3baendige suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft Ausgabe bei Amazon Marketplace und heute sah ich: "order cancelled.")

Ich habe auch Band 2 von einer 2baendigen suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft-Ausgabe von Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Ich habe auch den ganzen Kritik der reinen Vernunft in einem kleinen und ganz dicken Reclam-Band aus den 80ern Jahren..

Ich denke, ich habe Band 3 des Prinzips Hoffnung und Band 2 der Kritik im selben -- wie sagt man eigentlich "used book store" auf Deutsch? -- im selben Laden gefunden. Seltsam, dass nur diese Bruchteile der ganzen Werke da angeboten wurden, findet Ihr nicht? Ich argwoehne, dieser Laden weiss eher wenig ueber seinen sehr vielen Buechern, trotzdem ist er so riesig und erfolgreich dass er mehrere deutlch besseren Laden in dieser Stadt zur Pleite geholfen hat. Stell Dir vor, Buchladen gewoehnlicherweise waeren um so erfolgreicher, je mehr sie von Buechern wuessten. (Ich uebe mich im Blochschen Utopiedenken, trotzdem ich nur Band 3 habe.)

Ich moechte, wenn ich bei Amazon kaufe, nur Amazon Prime benutzen. Aber unuebersetze Bloch hat Amazon in den US gar nicht. Da muss man sich an Amazon Marketplace wenden, und Amazon Marketplace ist wenig mehr als ein Aerger. Einige Suhrkamp-Baender kann man hier direkt durch Amazon Prime kaufen. Zum Beispiel einige Baender von Hesse, weil ja der gewoehnliche durchschnittliche Arschloch in den US Hessens Name kennt und Blochs nicht, und der riesigste Buchladen der Welt, Amazon, bekanntlicherweise von gewoehnlichen amerikanischen Arschloechern geleitet wird, und nicht von Leuten die sich im Buchbetrieb auskennen. Die haben nicht mal die meistbegehrten Sachen von Hesse, Steppenwolf und Siddhartha, bei Amazon Prime in den US, sondern Demian -- mehrere verschiedene Ausgaben von Demian sogar -- und Unterm Rad und noch exotischere Titel.

In Berlin koennte man wunderleicht und wunderschnell zackzack eine ordentliche Portion Bloch finden. Wenn ich in Berlin lebte wuerde ich schnell Dinge vermissen, welche ich hier in Michigan zackzack leicht und schnell finden, ohne das Wunderbare daran zu sehen? Wahrscheinlich. Ich lebte ein Jahr in Bonn und die kuerzeren duetschen Ladenzeiten gaben mir wirklich zu schaffen. Der menschliche Elnde ist weit und viefaeltig.

Naja. Es ist ja nicht, als gaebe es nicht allein in Band 3 des Prinzips Hofffnung reichlich viel, mit dem ich mich verwirren kann. Und wenn Bloch in einem Recht hat und Schopenhauer Unrecht, dann haben diese rumliegende Baender von Hegel einiges Nutzen. -- ich lachte, als ich Letzteres tippte. Nein, ich kann das noch nicht glauben.

Ich kann auch nicht glauben, dass, wenn ich steinrich waere, so dass ich mir auch von Michigan aus ganz leicht alle gewuenschten Buecher besorgen koennte -- oder einen Assistant bezahlen, der sowas fuer mich zackzack besorgte, und sich darueber hinaus an vielem von meinem Geld vergriff, und ich wusste davon aber es stoerte mich nicht, weil er so geschickt waere dass er es eigentlich verdiente, und vor allem weil ich so endlich vielem Geld haette dass nicht mal der geschichteste Assistant der Welt in seinem Leben mehr als ein kleines Bruchteil davon stehlen koennte -- oder steinreich und auch so beruehmt dass die Verlage mir alles schickte ohne dass ich einmal bitten muesste, geschwiege denn bezahlen -- es faellt mir sehr schwer zu glauben, dass in einem solchen Falle, als der Aerger mit Buechern geloest wird, dies nur Platz machen wuerde in meinem Bewusstsein fuer noch schmerzlichere Aergere.

Aber ich moechte es erleben und es einmal wissen, so oder so, und Euch meinen Lesern ausfuehrlich darueber berichten.

Ich moechte auch wissen warum sie suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft und edition suhrkamp und suhrkamp taschenbuch und insel taschenbuch und einiges mehr alles kleinschreiben! Was zur Hoelle soll das?!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hoffnung

Soeben bestellt, aus naheliegenden Gruenden:


Was meint Ihr, wird das helfen? Ich bin nicht ganz sicher. Ich habe ein wenig hierin


geblaettert. Erlaeuterungen zu Hegel also. Ich habe den Eindruck, dass Bloch Hegel eigentlich gut findet. Wertvolles Lektuere. Bisher habe ich gemeint, dass Schopenhauers Urteil zu Hegel, zB

"Hegel, ein platter, geistloser, ekelhaft-widerlicher, unwissender Scharlatan, der, mit beispielloser Frechheit, Aberwitz und Unsinn zusammenschmierte, welche von seinen feilen Anhängern als unsterbliche Weisheit ausposaunt und von Dummköpfen richtig dafür genommen wurden[...]hat den Verderb einer ganzen gelehrten Generation zur Folge[...]die größte Frechheit im Auftischen baren Unsinns, im Zusammenschmieren sinnleerer, rasender Wortgeflechte, wie man sie bis dahin nur in Tollhäusern vernommen hatte, trat endlich im Hegel auf und wurde das Werkzeug der plumpesten allgemeinen Mystifikation, die je gewesen, mit einem Erfolg, welcher der Nachwelt fabelhaft erscheint und ein Denkmal Deutscher Niaserie bleiben wird[...]Es ist unmöglich, daß eine Zeitgenossenschaft, welche, zwanzig Jahre hindurch, einen Hegel, diesen geistigen Kaliban, als den größten der Philosophen ausgeschrieben hat, so laut, daß es in ganz Europa widerhallte, Den, der Das angesehen, nach ihrem Beifall lüstern machen könnte."

es ziemlich genau getroffen hatte, mit der Ausnahme, dass Hegel leider viel laenger als nur eine Generation lang gewirkt hat.

Bloch, dagegen, scheint -- ich wiederhole, ich habe bisher nur ein wenig rumgeblaettert -- Hegel fuer einen grossen Denker, der gut schreibt.

Ich weiss nicht also. Ich will stets Optimist sein. Wenn es nichts sonst tut, macht es mehr Spass, und ich bin ueberzeugt, dass es tatsaechlich mehr als das tut. Den Hegel aber fuer jemanden, der nicht ein geistloser, widerlicher Scharlatan, fuer jemanden, der mehr als Unsinn zusammengeschmiert hat zu dem rasenden Beifall von Unmengen von Dummkoepfen -- das klingt als ob es vielleicht sogar mir gar zu hoffnungsvoll ist.

Wir werden sehen.

PS: EIN TAG SPAETER: KEINE HOFFNUNG MEHR "Order cancelled." Kein Grund gegeben. Kein email von Amazon. *seufz* Hoffentlich kommt es doch, und "Order cancelled" steht da irrtuemlicherweise.

Ich weiss, dass ich oft blogge von Buechern, welche ich noch nicht gelesen habe. Und ich weiss, dass dies ungewoehnlich ist. (Oder ist es nur ungewoehnlich ehrlich, dass ich es zugebe?)

PPS: 6. Februar 2017. Heute, endlich, nach fast drei Monaten, und nach vielen weiteren Witzen a la "Hoffnung aufgeben" und "die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt," beim vierten Versuch bei Amazon -- warum sollte es vier Versuchen brauchen? Genau! Es sollte nicht, hat aber! -- habe ich alle drei Baender. Ich warne zum zweiten Mal dagegen, Geschaeft mit The Book Depository zu machen. Und jetzt endet das Klagen und beginnt das Lesen. ... "Der Affekt des Hoffens geht aus sich heraus, macht die Menschen weit, statt sie zu verengen, kann gar nicht genug von dem wissen, was sie inwendig gezielt macht, was ihnen auswendet verbuendet sein mag," gar nicht schlecht...


100 Million People Didn't Vote

According to the Washington Post, about 100 million people who could've voted in the US elections last week didn't.

According to a study by the United States Election Project, about 232 million people could've voted, and about 132 million did.

Politico claimed back in October that the US had passed the 200 million mark in registered voters. If that's accurate and the Election Project numbers are accurate, it means that about 68 million Americans were registered to vote last week and didn't, and about 32 million more could have registered but didn't.

It seems to me that we Democrats have some room for improvement when it comes to getting our campaign messages across. Very often in the run-up to the election I encountered the claim that Hillary and Donald are pretty much the same. Obviously, the differences between them are huge, and Democrats described these differences accurately and eloquently -- but apparently millions of people who despise Trump and didn't vote for him either never heard us, or heard us and didn't believe us. They despise Hillary too.

How do we improve at getting information across? How do we convince people that leading Democrats are honest, and that we did not, in fact, just nominate history's greatest monster for President?

I don't know. But it's something that we should be thinking about very seriously. How to get through.

I would've thought that a great majority of Americans are by now very concerned about climate change. If that were true, then it would have been an example of American voters not realizing that one Presidential candidate -- Hillary -- shared their concern and had all sorts of plans to deal with the issue, while the other candidate -- Donald -- is completely out to lunch on the topic. However, this web page from the Pew Research Center seems to indicate that barely a majority of Americans are greatly concerned about climate change. Only 68% of Democrats surveyed, and 20% of Republicans, agreed with the statement "global climate change is a very serious problem." Okay, so there's obviously a very serious weakness when it comes to basic scientific education in the US -- a catastrophic weakness among Republicans, but a very serious weakness among Democrats as well. We need to get people to understand science better.

The incoming Republican administration is not going to be very helpful with education. Fox and Breitbart and the "History Channel" are not going to be helpful at all. I'm sorry, I wish I were just brimming with helpful suggestions about how to turn this all around. The only hopeful thing I can say is that I see numerous surveys suggesting that younger voters vote Democratic more often, are well-educated on climate change more often, are more in favor of equal rights for women and ethnic minorities and LGBT's -- they're just more Democratic. That gives me hope that this is all turning around. Just not as quickly as we'd like.

Having a distinguished professor and pre-eminent intellectual such as Elizabeth Warren in the Oval Office would be tremendously helpful. Warren 2020!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

"Patriotism Is The Last Refuge Of A Scoundrel"

"Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' But let it be considered, that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest. I maintained, that certainly all patriots were not scoundrels. Being urged (not by Johnson,) to name one exception, I mentioned an eminent person, whom we all greatly admired. JOHNSON: 'Sir, I do not say that he is not honest; but we have no reason to conclude from his political conduct that he is honest. Were he to accept of a place from this ministry, he would lose that character of firmness which he has, and might be turned out of his place in a year. This ministry is neither stable, nor grateful to their friends, as Sir Robert Walpole was, so that he may think it more for his interest to take his chance of his party coming in.'" (emphasis mine)

-- Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, recording a conversation in a tavern on the 7th of April, 1775, between Johnson, Boswell, Joshua Reynolds, Bennet Langton, Jr, Bishop Thomas Percy and possibly others. The "eminent person whom they all greatly admired," according to David Womersley, was Edmund Burke.

Samuel Johnson (1709--1784), often referred to as "Dr Johnson," was one of 18th-century England's most highly-esteemed writers in many genres, including poetry, literary criticism, biography (especially biographies of writers) and translation from Latin and Greek. He also was the author of a Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, the standard English dictionary until the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published in 10 volumes from 1884 to 1928.

Despite his many and mighty accomplishments as a writer, Dr Johnson may be best known today because of The Life of Samuel Johnson, a biography written by James Boswell (1740-1795). They first met in 1763, when Johnson was in his 50's and Boswell in his 20's, became good friends very quickly and remained so for the rest of Johnson's life. One of the many great charms of Boswell's book is its portrayal of the many great contrasts between Johnson and Boswell, not just in age but also in background, Johnson having faced poverty and worked furiously to attain a more secure life, while Boswell was born rich and never really worked at all except at his diaries and the biography of his friend; in their temperaments, Johnson rough and emphatic in praise as in condemnation, Boswell calm and suave; and in their attitudes toward religion and morality and politics and a host of other topics, and how these great differences appear not to have interfered in the slightest with their great friendship and mutual respect. An enormous amount of Dr Johnson's brilliant conversation has been made known to the world through Boswell, as well as a lot of information about the charming Boswell himself (as has been often said, Boswell thinks very highly of himself, but it's hard to disagree), and about their many illustrious friends and acquaintances.

By the way, beware: many abridged editions of Boswell's Life of Johnson have been published. Go for the good stuff, the whole thing, the unabridged version. Abridging this work is a horrid thing, like abridging Finnegan's Wake. There is no superfluous material in it.

Beware also: if you do not already love the Classical Latin poet Horace, the many quotations of him, in Latin, in the Life of Johnson (at least in the unabridged editions) may make you love him.

Where was I? Ah yes: patriotism and scoundrels. Well, let's hope it's the last refuge for some of them, at least, and not a permanent one.

Am I surprised to learn that the "eminent person whom they all greatly admired" was Edmund Burke? Yes, but keep in mind that I haven't actually read anything by Burke yet, so that any opinion of him which I have is still second-hand. Keep in mind also that Johnson didn't say that Burke was dishonest, only that politics would afford him cover if he were.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Warren 2020

-- and try to keep the world from blowing up in the meantime.

Donald is just so amazingly wrong about everything. In addition to the well-publicized racism and sexual predation and fraud and pettiness and lunacy about things military, he's also anti-environment. While fewer and fewer people still doubt that global warming is happening or that it's caused by human activity or that it will kill us all if we don't quickly and drastically convert away from fossil fuels, Donald has called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to sabotage American business, and his pick to head the EPA is Myron Ebell.

Myron Ebell, before becoming one of the world's leading opponents of environmental sanity, worked for Philip Morris to fight regulation of and penalties against the tobacco industry before turning his attention to supporting greenhouse gases. As an example of the latter: in 2006, in a piece he wrote for Forbe's, Ebell wrote of global warming, "the higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway."

Okay. Ebell hasn't actually been appointed to run the EPA yet. Donald hasn't actually become President yet. Looking ahead, #warren2020 has become a popular hashtag. Matt Vogt, @mattvogt, tweeted on Wednesday: "Don't move to Canada, move to Florida. #Warren2020". Don't move to Canada, move to Florida: thank you, Matt! That's using your head!

Elizabeth Warren in 2020. Spread the word. Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel: after the (soccer) game is before the (next) game.

Or maybe Michelle 2020, or maybe somebody else. The main thing is, do something, don't just allow yourself to lie back and become paralyzed by the horror.



Thursday, November 10, 2016

I Give The Press A Lot Of The Blame

If they had spent much less time and energy trying to understand and empathize with Trump's voters and much more time and energy trying to warn them that Trump is an exceptionally dishonest liar who has no intention of helping them at all, then we might not be in this mess.

A house catches fire. "Objective journalism" is careful not to let any opinion show about whether the fire is good or bad. A helpful person, on the other hand, screams: "THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!" and calls 911.

Chris Matthews was especially unhelpful about Trump. Yes, Matthews has always thought that Trump would be a disaster as President. But for every moment he's spent on the air saying so, he's spent minutes marveling at what a good politician Trump is. If you tend to just channel-surf past "Hardball," Matthews' program on MSNBC, you might well think that Matthews was a Trump supporter. Matthews is an especially bad offender, but most of the other people on his show and similar shows have spent much too much time trying to understand the Trump phenomenon and much too little time trying to warn people about Trump.

And the news intake of most voters is much closer to channel-surfing than attentively watching an entire news program from start to finish, much less reading entire op-eds. And if anyone should know that, it's journalists.

And the news programs which are most watched start to finish in the US, the broadcast network news half-hours, are probably the most careful of all to be "objective," and to avoid screaming that the house is on fire. A few journalists in the US may have been sufficiently shaken by the disaster of this election to wake up from the illusion of "objective journalism." I'm afraid, however, that most of them are patting themselves on the back and telling each other that they "presented the facts" and did all they could do and oh well.

I call bullshit. A typical headline in this campaign has been: "Trump has connected with millions of people who feel frustrated" about this or that. A much more factual, much more true headline would have been "Trump is lying non-stop to millions of people who are frustrated, conning them into thinking he'll help them. That's what he does, he lies and cons people and uses them and abuses them and rips them off."

This huge mistake which is called "objective journalism" is hurting us very badly. We can do so much better than this so-called "objective journalism."

The United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4

"The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Sexual assault is a crime. So is fraud.

And so is hate speech. The US has laws against it.

Inciting violence is a crime. Already back in March I was asking why Trump hadn't been arrested for that.

And I continue to ask law-enforcement officers: what are you waiting for? (The end of the world, maybe?) Why don't you enforce the law?

There are more than sufficient grounds to arrest Trump. The longer people wait to stop him, the harder it will be to do it. Hitler could've been stopped relatively easily in 1933. Instead, people decided not to stick their necks, and sat back and relaxed and waited and told each each other that his bark was worse than his bite.

They sat back and waited. Estimates of the number of people killed in WWII range from 50 to 80 million.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 1 Of The Resistance

I'm shocked and appalled, sure, but I'm shaking it off and thinking about what can be done, and the more people think about that the less damage Trump will be able to do.

For a long time people have been comparing Trump's candidacy to Britain's Brexit vote. That's actually an encouraging comparison, because, as you may have noticed, the UK still has not actually begun the legal procedure of leaving the European Union, and probably never will, and the Conservatives who rammed Brexit down their nation's throats will very likely lose power in the next elections.

The day after the Brexit vote many British voters were interviewed who hadn't realized what they were voting for until the interviewer told them. I imagine a great many of Trump's voters don't realize what his policy positions are -- unless a journalist has interviewed them already and told them.

Those day-after-Brexit interviews show how easy it would've been for journalists to explain Brexit before the vote. Many people who'd voted for Brexit were appalled to learn what it actually entailed, and wish they could've changed their votes. Journalists also could've done a much better job of explaining Trump. "He lies nonstop, exploiting and duping voters who are frustrated" would've been a much better bullet point than "he appeals to many voters who are frustrated."

Maybe some journalists have grasped that now. Hey, learning takes what it takes.

Speaking of learning, I wonder whether Trump actually thinks that when he takes office he can actually order a wall to be built between the US and Mexico, without getting the co-operation of Congress. I wonder if he realizes that he can't actually arrest people.

I wonder whether he's thought about the consequences of having the entire Democratic Party and a great deal of the GOP already solidly aligned against him, even before he begins to officially fuck things up as President. I suppose we can't actually impeach Trump before he takes office, but we can certainly start preparing to get rid of him.

And "we" most certainly includes some Republicans.

It may be that Trump will be in serious trouble as President no matter what he does: if he keeps his campaign promises, there should be ample grounds for impeachment; and if he doesn't keep them, the hard-core of his support will be furious, and he may quickly lose that support. Here's hoping the Trump Presidency will last much less than 4 years.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Great Big Fat Guy Voted Today (Great Big Fat Guy, Day 374)

The polls opened in Michigan at 7AM. (Michigan has no early voting, and heavy restrictions on absentee voting.) A few minutes before 7AM, I set off on foot for my polling place, which is about a half-mile away. I walked because it was still dark and I don't like to drive at night anymore.

At the polling place, I got into the longest line I've ever seen up close and personal at a polling place. I went early thinking I might beat the rush, and then on the way I thought, But what about the people showing to vote before they go to work? That might account for some of it. But I'm also pretty sure I heard an election official saying on the phone that he'd never seen lines like these.

I stood in line for about an hour, voted a straight Democratic ticket, and walked home. Michigan has a Republican governor who signed a bill into law abolishing the straight party ticket option on Michigan's ballots, but a Federal judge overturned that law. Now if we Michiganders could just get into the habit of voting more often than every 4 years, and vote these Republicans bums out of office, and vote in a majority of some people in the state and local offices -- Democrats, that is -- who actually want to encourage voting instead of making it more difficult!

I did not see any Trump thugs attempting to intimidate voters. I've still only seen one Trump sign in town, in my next-door neighbor's front lawn. This, and the voting history of our town through the decades, made me hope that maybe the big turnout meant a nice result for Hillary. It seemed that most of the people in line were women.

I saw only one clear indication of someone's political sympathies: a women in line ahead of me was wearing a Hillary button.

If you've read all of my Great Big Fat Guy posts you might think I go out walking every day, which would lead to my not being so huge anymore. And it very likely would. The thing is that I don't go out walking every day. It seems that after I've come back home from a long walk I feel like writing a Great Big Fat Guy post. Probably because I know that walking is a very healthy thing for me to do.

I haven't written a Great Big Fat Guy post every single time I've taken a walk. But close enough, unfortunately.

Still doing the push-ups and crunches every day, and attempting a bridge (see photo) every day.


I'm continuing to have the same result with the bridge every day: every day, starting from lying on my back with my legs bent and my hands on the floor under my head, I get everything but my hands and feet off of the ground, and keep it off of the ground for a while, but fail to straighten out my arms and extend the bridge fully.

Your turn, Katy:



Monday, November 7, 2016

Jesters

In many a Medieval court, so I gather, the only one who could safely say the truth to the monarch was the jester, the fool. We've come a long way since then, eh?

Except maybe not at all. Maybe we've gone backwards since then. Maybe today the simple plain truth about many extremely important things is hidden from us, the public, and not just from the most high and mighty. And no, I'm not saying that global warming is a hoax or that lots and lots of aliens have been chillin' underground in a huge secret government complex underneath Roswell since 1947. I'm not talking about secrets held by the government at all. I'm talking about the press, and how much they suck at reporting on politics. Generally speaking.

F.B.I. Regretfully Announces That Hillary Committed No Crimes

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—James Comey, the F.B.I. director, held a press conference on Sunday to “regretfully announce” that Hillary Clinton had committed no crimes related to her e-mails while Secretary of State.

“It is with a deep sense of sadness in my heart that I report that Hillary Clinton committed no crimes,” a visibly emotional Comey said.[...]


That's from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker, one of the best sources of info on the 2016 Presidential campaign. A humorist, a satirist. "Not even" a "real" reporter. And it's understood that those are not authentic quotes from Comey. But Horowitz nails Comey and brilliantly sums up his role in the campaign, better than all or almost all "real" reporters, almost all of whom are afraid to openly denounce Comey. It's not their place to be as direct as the clown Borowitz, and to say that it's obvious that Comey has tried to use his office to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign, that it's obvious that he's biased in favor of Republicans.

Only jesters like Horowitz are allowed to get right straight to the heart of such important matters. Jesters like Horowitz and Bill Maher. Or to put in another way: those who report on politics and make altogether much sense about it, the way Hunter S Thompson did in 1972, are dismissed as clowns. I'm autistic, I can always be easily dismissed as a clown whether I succeed in being funny or not.

We've come a long way since the Middle Ages when it comes to openly criticizing our leaders? Really? Seems to me that we're in about exactly the same spot.

How To Prevent Nominees Like Trump

How can the US best strive to insure that an absolute Bozo and sociopath like Donald Trump is never, ever again nominated for the highest office in the land?

1. Education. Donald Trump himself said, into a live mic before a crowd of cheering morons at one of his rallies: "I love the poorly educated." Makes sense: he's also been going around saying things in public such as that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese in order to hurt American business. A well-educated public simply isn't going to elect anyone who says things like that, or like many of the other things Trump says. The Mexican wall? Well-educated people aren't buying that one. Trump's claim that Mexico would pay for it? They're buying that one even less. Ladies and gentlemen -- I implore you!

2. Education.

3. The US must invest much, much more in education.

3a. Education includes art, music, and, yes, also gym.

4. EDUCATION!!!!!!


5. Um zukuenftig einem Disaster wie Trump als Praesidentschaft-Kandidat vorzukommen, muessen die Vereinigten Staaten sehr viel mehr in Bildung investieren.

6. Education.

7. Wee shud spen mutch more ahn skoolz an buk lernin. Cuz havin sumbuddy lahk Trump fur ah Prezzidenchuhl kandidait? Thass jest puhthetik!

8. Education.

9. Education.

How many different ways can I say it? But the point is to keep saying it the same way.

10. Education. The US needs much, much more of it.

10a. And it should all be free like it is in some other countries. Kindergarten to grad school. Free.

10b. Even in Wyoming? No, ESPECIALLY in Wyoming!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

So You Admire Obama? Or Sanders?

All of these people who say they love everything Barack Obama has ever said or done, but don't seem to have seen or heard almost everything he's said and done in the past couple of months, which has been: enthusiastically endorsing Hillary and campaigning for her non-stop, saying that there has never been anyone more qualified to be President than she is. Saying things like,

“Everything’s we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to someone who believes in the same things I believe in. So if you really care about my presidency and what we’ve accomplished, then you are going to go and vote.”

Or:

“Even in the midst of crisis, she listens to people. And she keeps her cool. And no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. That is the Hillary I know.”

The people who hung on very word of Bernie's, until he endorsed her, mentioning things such as:

"Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.

"But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different view. He believes that states should have the right to lower the minimum wage or even abolish the concept of the minimum wage altogether. If Donald Trump is elected, we will see no increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour – a starvation wage.

"This election is about which candidate will nominate Supreme Court justices who are prepared to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision which allows billionaires to buy elections and undermine our democracy; about who will appoint new justices on the Supreme Court who will defend a woman’s right to choose, the rights of the LGBT community, workers’ rights, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government’s ability to protect the environment."


Listen to these people you say you admire so much. Listen to them trying to tell you how huge the difference between President Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump would be.

LISTEN TO THEM!!!!

And then go vote for Hillary.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Theodor Mommsen

One Nobel Prize in Literature I won't be complaining about is the one given to Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903) in 1902. The list of this guy's accomplishments is not merely impressive, it's frighteningly vast. In fact, I don't know if there has been a complete list of his accomplishments: there are so many of them, you're bound to miss a few.

The work for which he may be most widely-known, and the one singled out by the Swedish Academy, is his Römische Geschichte, his history of Rome, the first edition of which was published in 1854 and 1855, when Mommsen was in his late 30's. Before that, he had been a journalist for a short while, and a law professor at the University of Leipzig, a position from which he was fired in 1850 because of his involvement in the revolution of 1848-49. He held other academic positions after that, most notably the chair of Ancient History at the University of Berlin, to which he was appointed in 1858.

Mommsen kept revising and expanding the Römische Geschichte, with the 9th edition appearing in 1902, the year he turned 85 and received the Nobel Prize. A 1998 paperback edition from dtv based on the 9th edition has over 2750 pages in 8 volumes.

According to his bio on the Nobel Prize website, Mommsen felt contempt for Cicero. If this is true, it makes me so happy. I was beginning to think I was the only one who had ever felt contempt for Cicero. The Nobel page sez:

"His contempt for the senatorial oligarchy and the «weakling» Cicero, as well as his boundless admiration for the energy and statesmanship of Julius Caesar, for a long time dominated the standard view of the history of that era."

That dominated the standard view for a long time? and this is the first time I'm hearing about someone else who just can't stand Cicero? Hm. Someone's gotten something wrong here. Might be me.

Onward. The Römische Geschichte was just one of Mommsen's accomplishments. He made an edition of the Corpus Juris Civilis or Justinian Code, the summary of ancient Roman law made in the 6th century under the Emperor Justinian, an edition which is still widely used by lawyers and scholars of things legal today. In addition, he wrote many books and articles on Roman law, and was considered the leading authority of his time on the subject.

He edited and made great contributions to the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, a catalog of ancient Roman inscriptions. An inscription is writing on a hard surface, such as stone, metal or wood, as opposed to writing on a soft surface such as paper or parchment. In the case of ancient Rome, many of the inscriptions are words carved into stone. The first volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, often referred to as the CIL, appeared in 1853, the year Mommsen turned 36, and the year before the first part of the first edition of his Römische Geschichte appeared. The CIL is still being updated, and currently contains about 180,000 items.

Technically, words which appear on coins are inscriptions; however, the CIL does not include Roman coins; however, Mommsen wrote extensively about Roman coins and was considered the leading authority of his time on the subject.

In addition, from 1875-1903 Mommsen was one of the directors of the MGH, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, a vast series of publications of Medieval German writing in all genres: histories, chronicles, letters, theologies, charters, laws, etc, etc, which defines both "Medieval" and "German" very broadly. In the MGH, Mommsen was the director and one of the leading editors of the Auctores Antiquissimi division, which is devoted to Late ancient and Early Medieval authors. (That's right: is, not was, because, like the CIL, the MGH is still publishing new editions today.)

Mommsen edited many Latin works in addition to those in the MGH, and was considered one of the greateast classical scholars of his time.

In addition, Mommsen was a member of the Prussian Parliament, first with the National Liberal party, and the with the Liberal party, or "Secession," which broke away from the National Liberals.

And, like everyone else who's attempted to summarize Mommsen's achievements in a couple of pages, I've probably left some major items out.