This, via my sister, the music theorist, always makes me laugh:
What’s your favorite bad music take? (No viola jokes. Too easy.)
Also: this thread. It is open.
Tom has been a Balloon Juice writer since 2010.
This, via my sister, the music theorist, always makes me laugh:
What’s your favorite bad music take? (No viola jokes. Too easy.)
Also: this thread. It is open.
Today, The Guardian reported on an analysis of life expectancy by neighborhood in 500 American cities. In that study, Chicago stood out, for all the wrong reasons. The predominantly white, lakeside Streeterville district is a lovely place to live — for a long time, to ninety. A few miles away, in the mostly black, Englewood neighborhood, average life expectancy is just sixty. That thirty year gap is the largest within a single city in the study.
“There’s a concept that is increasingly being understood, that your zip code has as much to do with your health as your genetic code,” said Dr Marc Gourevitch, chair of the NYU department and the principal architect of the health dashboard.
“Another way to look at that is that your zip code shouldn’t determine whether you get to see your grandkids. And at some level, that’s how I see and feel about these kinds of data. It’s shocking.”
Among the likely factors accounting for the disparity are the usual suspects: violence, trauma associated with fear of/proximity of violence, environmental and public health deficits, which can in turn feed back into social strife — as the Guardian story notes:
But health inequities also drive violence. Take lead poisoning. For decades, Englewood had one of the highest rates of residential lead contamination in the country. Research has shown that lead poisoning in children is associated with dramatic spikes in impulsiveness and aggression.
The larger interpretation: access to health care is only one piece of the health inequality puzzle. An important one, to be sure, but not the only one, and likely not in itself close to sufficient to deal with something like a full-generation gap in the amount of time each of us can hope to spend on this earth. Addressing poverty, access to city services, open space, good schools, and absolutely clean air and water are all part of the puzzle.
This is, btw, why Elizabeth Warren keeps impressing me so much. Her theory of government is one that encompasses not just a specific program or policy need, but a view of how government can address root causes and broad enabling possibilities. I get some of that of Harris too, and some of the others, including a couple with whom I disagree on the specifics, similarly have an idea of what government is for. Sanders and Biden, not so much.
But back to the matter at hand: poverty kills, early and often. We know (as the Guardian article goes into a bit) at least some of the things that work to defang that toxin. That the GOP doesn’t see the necessity to do that is kin to the same impulse that doesn’t see what’s wrong in refusing soap and toothpaste and minimal care to those it stuffs in the American Gulag. We can do so much better.
Image:Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn – Christ with the Sick around Him, Receiving Little Children (The ‘Hundred Guilder Print’), c. 1646-50
…’Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’…”
And, for us as well as Voltaire, “God granted it”:
More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel – unfortunately addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime.
The six-part series was released last month, starring David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, who collaborate to prevent the coming of the antichrist and an imminent apocalypse.
The petition is the work of Return to Order — a program of the American Society for the Tradition, Family* and Property, which is itself a project of the Foundation for A Christian Civilization — all of which is tied up in radical right anti-Vatican 2 revanchism in its modern guise. The group(s) is/are deeply offended by contraception, all things to do with same-sex relationships, and the entire notion of a secular democratic state. to be replaced, according to the Brazilian founder of the movement, by a feudal form of governance in which the husband exercises authority over his family, more powerful family heads over their lessers, and kings over all.
There is, of course, a whiff of sexual scandal in and about these defenders of family, tradition and all that property — the speediest of google searches turned up an abuser at a school run by one tentacle of these folks.
They are, in other words, radical authoritarians who want to establish religious dictatorships in which women are subordinated and non-extremely-conservative Christians (perhaps all non-Catholic followers of Jesus) will have a very rough go of it indeed.
So, nasty bits of work, but, as it appears from their so-well-placed howls of rage about a satiric comedy in which neither Satan nor his counterpart come off that well, not the sharpest implements of torture available to the Inquisition.
TL:DR — you can’t fix stupid, which we knew. You can’t repair self-righteousness either, and the stew you get when both combine is…
*Approved traditions do not, it seems, include the Oxford comma.
Image: Hieronymus Bosch, inner right wing (Hell) from The Garden of Earthly Delights, between 1480 and 1505.
I believe I hold anti-vaxxers in the same regard I do gun-worshippers. It’s all ok until you put someone else at risk…which you do all the time.
What triggered this latest outburst of dismay and disdain? This Washington Post report on a new front in billionaire fuckery:
A wealthy Manhattan couple has emerged as significant financiers of the anti-vaccine movement, contributing more than $3 million in recent years to groups that stoke fears about immunizations online and at live events — including two forums this year at the epicenter of measles outbreaks in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Of course the folks at the epicenter of this malicious nonsense are hedge fund MOTUs:
Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have long donated to organizations focused on the arts, culture, education and the environment. But seven years ago, their private foundation embraced a very different cause: groups that question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
I don’t know what it is about the thrill of ultra-successful rent seeking, but somehow that much money gained so incommensurately with effort or social utility seems to convince those dancing in its golden shower that they are absolutely suited and even obligated to set the terms of social life for all of us. Which means they get to kill folks with impunity.
And I do mean kill, as in blood on their hands; in this case, often that of children.
Nine At least two reportable vaccine preventable deaths in the US in 2017, the last year for which I could easily find CDC data. Add to that the suffering (and expense) of all the non-fatal cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, including the record-breaking number of cases of measles in 2019 – 1044 as of June 13, more than any year since 1992, and thus the most since measles was briefly and optimistically declared eradicated from the US in 2000.
Oh those halcyon and innocent days when we thought that folks would rejoice at being released from a once epidemic reaper of children!
Why are these reckless rich pukes doing this? No one seems to know:
How the Selzes came to support anti-vaccine ideas is unknown, but their financial impact has been enormous. Their money has gone to a handful of determined individuals who have played an outsize role in spreading doubt and misinformation about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The groups’ false claims linking vaccines to autism and other ailments, while downplaying the risks of measles, have led growing numbers of parents to shun the shots.
There is an increasingly direct line between such funding and the actual harm produced by anti-vax propaganda:
The Selz Foundation provides roughly three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, a three-year-old charity that describes its mission as promoting drug and vaccine safety and parental choice in vaccine decisions.
Lisa Selz serves as the group’s president, but its public face and chief executive is Del Bigtree, a former daytime television show producer who draws big crowds to public events. Bigtree has no medical credentials but holds himself out as an expert on vaccine safety and promotes the idea that government officials have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to cover up grievous harms from the drugs. In recent weeks, Bigtree has headlined forums in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., both areas confronting large measles outbreaks.
And here’s the quote that made me think Sing Sing is too comfortable for such folks:
“They should be allowed to have the measles if they want the measles,” Bigtree told reporters outside the Brooklyn meeting on June 4. “It’s crazy that there’s this level of intensity around a trivial childhood illness.”
I used to think we needed confiscatory estate taxes so that, for example, the Koch brothers would have had to go out and actually earn some scratch before they got to buy the US judiciary. I still think that’s a necessary corrective to wealth inequality, but I’m now wondering if a pre-mortem levy might be necessary if we’re ever going to recapture the public space from the depredations the wealth-makes-me-smart crowd.
Oh, and one more thing: adults need vaccines too. I realize I haven’t asked my PCP if I’m up to date in my last couple of check ups, and plan to correct that omission STAT. Free advice, worth what you paid for it…
Image: attr. to Philippe de Champaigne, Portrait of a Dead Child, c. 1650.
This news out of Hawaii explains so much!
Hawaii’s health department has released fresh warnings about a parasitic worm that can infest human brains after officials confirmed that three more visitors to the state picked up the infection.
Not just any worm, either, but one perfectly named in the context of Republican political gamesmanship:
The parasitic worm in these cases is the rat lungworm, aka Angiostrongylus cantonensis. As its common name suggests, the wandering worm primarily takes up residence in rats’ lungs, where female worms lay their eggs. Young worms leave the nest early to find their own windy homes, though. Larvae get coughed up into rats’ throats then swallowed. The hosting rat eventually poops out the young parasites, which then get gobbled up by feces-feasting snails and slugs (intermediate hosts). When other rodents come along and eat those infected mollusks, the prepubescent parasites migrate to the rats’ brains to mature before settling into the lungs and reproducing. The cycle then starts again.
Except, when intercepted by an allegedly wise primate, the journey shifts:
Humans are an accidental host, typically infected when they inadvertently eat an infected slug or snail that has slid into their salad fixings or other produce…
In humans, young worms make their way to the brain as they would in a rat. But the rambling invaders rarely survive long enough to make it to their final destination in the lungs. Instead, they usually die somewhere in the central nervous system. In some cases, the infection is symptomless and resolves on its own. In others, the worm meanders around the brain, and its presence, movement, and death in the central nervous system all contribute to symptoms.
I wish I could here paint a precise picture of the symptoms afflicting, say, Nazi-sympathizing Fox News hosts, but I’m guessing the actual sequence would be enough to irritate many into similarly bad behavior:
Those can vary wildly but sometimes include headaches, neck stiffness, tingling or pain, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, the infection can lead to nerve damage, paralysis, coma, and even death.
All apparatchik-rat lungworm jokes aside, this sounds truly nasty; something to avoid; and the latest reason to distrust a salad-based lifestyle.
This thread! It is open!
Image: Luther before the Diet of Worms, 1877
Our Maggie Haberman is not the only reporter at the Grey Lady to use the framing of facts to create crap journalism. Kevin Carey writes on higher education from time to time at The New York Times, and in his latest he describes a new move to show which choices of majors are the most lucrative in order to deter students taking on debt for frivolities like…wait for it…social work.
Here is the lede, the nut graf and the first sentences of the body of the piece:
The Department of Education on Tuesday released detailed information showing the average amount of debt incurred by graduates of different academic programs at each college in America. This focus on programs, rather than institutions as a whole, is gaining favor among political leaders and could have far-reaching effects.
With anxiety about student debt soaring — the billionaire Robert F. Smith made headlines last weekend with his surprise promise to pay off the debts of Morehouse College’s 2019 graduating class — the program-level information has the potential to alter how colleges are funded, regulated and understood by consumers in the marketplace.
The new, more detailed debt information was created in response to an executive order issued in March by President Trump.Other lawmakers have called for similar approaches. In February, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a former university president, gave a speech outlining his plans to revise the federal Higher Education Act.
There’s a lot of fig leafs within that second paragraph. “Has the potential” does a lot of work, and “consumers in the marketplace” accepts a whole conception of higher ed., that is, to put it most kindly, in dispute.
But there’s more than merely a boatload of unexamined assumptions within the piece to raise concerns. Here, Carey clearly lays out what he thinks the story is emerging from the facts (not in dispute) that people are collecting information about income and majors (not in fact a new thing) and are doing so in the context of a phenomenon, college debt, that has economic, social, and political implications.
Carey’s story is that more data will enable policymakers and would be students to tailor decisions about money in the most efficient manner; more information will lead to better approaches to what slices of higher education gets funded and by whom.
Carey does hint that there might be something else going on around the undisputed facts (this information is being gathered and politicians are making choices):
There are still many disagreements and details to resolve. The Trump approach relies on the idea that if students have better information, choices in the higher education market will be enough to ensure quality. But there is little evidence to support this view. Even with program data, students will still be vulnerable to the deceptive marketing and aggressive sales tactics that remain widespread in the for-profit college industry.
The measures matter, too. Mr. Alexander’s plan is to evaluate programs based on loan repayment rates. But it isn’t known whether those rates are a good measure of program quality. The Obama method of comparing debt levels to student earnings, by contrast, was so accurate that many colleges pre-emptively shut down their low-performing programs before the sanctions were even applied. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is now working to repeal those regulations.
Of note: these two paragraphs are numbers 17 and 18 of 20 in this piece. Now go back up to the opening passage above: the two measures he cites as evidence for this new move to apply data to college major choice are those he here decries as likely to be ineffective, at best: Trump’s executive order, which relies on, inter alia, the market behavior of for-profit colleges, and Senator Alexander’s, which replaces a (Carey-attested) effective Obama policy with one that reeks of bullshit.
Again: I’m not arguing with Carey’s facts. I’m quite sure that if I re-reported this piece, it would check out. But only children and John Chait (see the GoS link re Haberman above) believe that journalism is merely the accumulation of stacks of facts like pebbles in a cairn. The order in which a reporter lays out those facts; the qualifiers and modifiers employed; and above all, the explicit choices made about which facts to emphasize (the lede!) and which to bury (paragraph 17) construct a never-neutral account of reality. Every story is shaped thusly, and it can be done well, clumsily, and, often maliciously — whether that malign outcome is intended or not.
And so it is here: it would seem to me that the story is the Trump and GOP allies are continuing to use bad or at best untested criteria to emphasize technical education at the expense of not just of the liberal arts’ ideal of students equipped for civic and moral reasoning — but of anything that bears on social life as well, all those low-paying jobs (social work!) that do not serve the machine.
More, this version of the story fits with another, larger story: the way the Trump administration and the GOP are pursuing a broad, government-and-society-wide attack on institutions and government policies that have a conception of society large than the nuclear family. The use of selectively acquired or deployed data to undermine, say, social work (hey–it’s his example, not mine!) is not a neutral assessment of the economic value of this program or that.
There’s a lot to be argued about the liberal arts, of course, and some academic disciplines and individual departments do indeed go off the rails on occasion — no argument there. But the point I’m making here is that Carey had a choice about how to construct his story, and he decided to present it as another advance of a data-driven approach to life, and not at least highlight in his opening the gap between the rhetoric (data! economic efficiency!) and the actual measures being offered to address the alleged problem. A better edited newspaper might have caught some of this.
TL:DR Framing matters. And in this case, the choice of frame glosses a set of pre-existing beliefs never clearly stated or interrogated, while burying the actual news of more GOP taking advantage of a crisis (student debt) to achieve other goals (fucking higher ed)(.. It’s bad journalism, in other words, not because it’s wrong or even because it points to stuff I don’t like, but because it makes it harder, not easier, to understand what its facts actually mean on the ground.
Image: Gerbrand van der Eeckhout, Scholar with his Books, before 1674.
I spent Memorial Day on holiday with the extended family, touristing around Chania, the old Venetian stronghold on the western side of Crete* — which meant that the holiday mostly passed me by until reading Adam’s post.
As it happens, though, my book for the day was Pat Barker’s Regeneration, the first of a trilogy. The work uses the historical encounter between anthropologist and psychologist William Rivers and the poet-officer Siegfried Sassoon to explore (among much else) the impact of realizing that a war limned in the language and cant of glory or duty or courage is, instead, a meaningless meat grinder.
It’s very good…I’d heard of it for years but it took a stop at the Tank Museum in Dorset, with a discount paperback in the gift shop and a sun-and-sand vacation in prospect to get me to read it. I’m sorry to have waited so long, though given how much the Battle of Crete still comes up in local historical memory, maybe I got to it in just the right time and place.
But all this meandering ambles to this point (I do have one!): I’ve never served. I do not presume to speak for or at those who have. I try to think and feel like a citizen who must give consent to the government that orders others to fight for the polity as a whole. My minimum responsibility is to try to understand what war costs before giving even tacit assent to conflicts entered into notionally on my behalf.
So, over the last six decades, my sense of war began as one of XY kid fascination — with my dad’s and my uncles’ service, and with all the minutiae of World War II naval warfare in an obsession that lasted to a couple of years past puberty — and opposition to the Vietnam War picked up as local and family culture growing up in Berkeley.
But then came the books. In my teens I began to read books on war that weren’t straightforward military history or kids’ versions of Jane’s Fighting Ships and its ilk. There were two that had a decisive impact on my thinking about war: Robert Graves’s Goodbye to all That and Sassoon’s George Sherston trilogy, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man; Memoirs of an Infantry Officer; and Sherston’s Progress. Graves’s book was memoir; Sassoon fig-leafed with a pseudonym, but his is similarly an account of a pre-war life spent as an unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible, transformed by what came after August 1914. Both, appear in Barker’s novel, where she made good use of the way Sassoon in particular tried to express the daily intolerable, and, more awfully, the mundane inhumanity of the war in ways even the most complete home-front hero could grasp.
He and Graves failed in that, of course; the war drumming about Iran from men and a political party that won’t for a moment put themselves or their own kids at risk is only the latest case in point. For me, though those books had a profound impact on my 16 or 17 year old brain. I can’t claim to be a complete pacifist; wars always represent failures to achieve ends by other means, but when such failures occur…
But the message I drew from the “Great War” remembrances, and then later from works like Herr’s Dispatches; and still later, O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, read pretty recently to keep company with my son’s high school reading list; and novels like Catch 22, which even at 17 I realized wasn’t actually a comedy, hilarious as it was, and so on…is that asking folks to fight for any reason but the most utterly compelling is the ur-war crime. That’s how I see it still.
All of which is prelude to the question for all of y’all. “Favorite” isn’t quite the right word, but perhaps this will do: what is the book that makes war most real to you? What work or works of literature or remembrance or history has moved you or altered views or simply made a difference to you? What would you have me read to understand how you think and feel and reason morally around violence and conflict?
And with that: over to the Jackalteriat!
*Dirty job and all that, but someone’s got to do it.°
°Well, in fact, no one has to do it. But I’m happy enough to volunteer.
Image: John Singer Sergent, Gassed, 1919.
Everything the Shitgibbon touches turns to…well, merde:
Late last year, in a Miami conference room, a consultant for President Trump’s company said business at his prized 643-room Doral resort was in sharp decline.
At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent.
But what about that Trump economic boom? Alas:
Even in a vigorous economy, the property was missing the Trump Organization’s internal business targets; for instance, the club expected to take in $85 million in revenue in 2017 but took in just $75 million.
And what could be the reason that a venerable, once-much-admired, landmark property would do so poorly?
“They are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a Miami-Dade County official in a bid to lower the property’s tax bill. The reason, she said: “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”
I have never met Ms. Vachiratevarunak, but I already admire her greatly. That last line? Olympic-level shade.
The WaPo article linked above is full of similar delights:
On one recent weekday in Miami, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa — a top competitor of Doral’s — was bustling with families eating dinner and children playing in the pool.
A few miles away, Trump’s Doral was shining, spotless and heavily branded. The Trump name was on chocolate bars ($5) and shot glasses ($10), and even on the paper inserts at the bottom of the bathroom wastebaskets.
But it was also much quieter.
Carl Goldstein — a retired butcher, visiting as part of a Passover tour group — had the lobby almost to himself.
It turns out that racism and viciousness drive away sponsors and guests? Whodathunkit?
TL:DR Incompetent grifter’s grift cracks.
This thread…it is open.
Image: Jan Steen, Dancing Peasants at an Inn, 1646
Without doubt, these fine soldiers win Olympic gold in the straight-face event:
In these troubled times, there’s no limit to the amount of absurd we need as a daily counterpoint.
This thread: it is open.
So here’s a center-left white dude of somewhat more consequence that Seth Moulton about to render the latter’s candidacy yet more risible:
Former Vice President Joe Biden will join the crowded Democratic primary field with an online video announcement on Thursday, followed by an event with union workers in Pittsburgh on Monday, NBC News reported Tuesday.
I think Joe’s making a big mistake here.
He’s the Muskie of this year’s cycle (I’m an old) — the instant front runner whose candidacy will not survive much contact with the primary process.
The dynamics are fascinating, if likely depressing. Does the media now treat the D race as Biden v. Sanders? Some will…though I think that the narrative frame that so many in the elite political press have labored so long and hard to preserve is beginning to fracture. In my hopeful moments, I see this as a cage match between those two that allows the best of the others to rise.
I should add — there’s lots I like about Joe, and lots I don’t, and while I’d be fine with him as president in place of the incumbent, we can do better.
Right now, for me, that’s Warren, though Harris is impressive as hell too. I’m interested in Castro, and really will walk over broken glass for any of them (barring Gabbard) come the day.
But Joe, Joe, Joe…you had a chance to be a queenmaker. You’ve given it up for a third, likely doomed bite at the apple yourself. Alas.
Image: El Greco, St. Peter in Tears, by 1596
So, been a while…day job and family and existential dread. But I’m back…if only to point folks to a piece of mine up just now in The Boston Globe. Despite the headline, I’m not writing about current tech, nor do I argue that China has already won that race.
Rather, what’s got me going is the longer game that we’re playing — and possibly losing — in basic, curiosity-driven science. The TL:DR version of this is a quick recap of the 20th century story of the idea of government funded “useless” research that emerged in the US after scientists helped win the war with such science-derived developments as the atomic bomb, radar, and penicillin, to name the greatest hits.
I then point out that while US research funding hasn’t gone down much as a portion of GDP in recent years, others, especially China, have ramped up their investment, until now, when in absolute numbers they’re coming close to US spending, and by some measures are exceeding our effort. Add to that the tax we place on ourselves by becoming daily less hospitable to immigrants, and there’s a clear danger, ISTM, that US will cease to be at the forefront of at least some big areas of basic science.
Does this matter? Well, there’s this:
Though Nobel prizes are an imperfect measure, with 269 science wins through 2018, US-based researchers have utterly outpaced the second-place nation, Britain, with its 89 Nobels.
More importantly, money spent on basic research produces more discoveries, enhancing a nation’s soft power. US astronauts on the moon may not have affected the price of eggs, but did establish America as the most technologically culture on the planet for the next few decades.
Unexpected technological advances have also flowed from seemingly impractical pursuits. For one classic example, the polymerase chain reaction, a Nobel-winning discovery in the 80s that enables the creation of an unlimited number of copies of a stretch of DNA, is one of the basic, essential tools of the modern bioengineering industry. The key to the process was found in the 1960s, by two microbe researchers taking samples in Yellowstone’s hot springs, just to find out how bacteria could survive in the heat. Transistors, invented in the 1950s, turn on quantum theory. GPS relies on Einstein’s general theory of relativity to make the corrections needed to locate your phone to the stretch of sidewalk you’re passing. Some studies suggest that the economic return on science spending may range up to $80 for each dollar invested.
As in: science is both a cultural good and, even if the path from question to invention isn’t always obvious, an impressive driver of human wealth and well being.
The obvious outrages of Trump and the GOP fuel my daily rage. But it’s their less visible, but constant and insidious neglect and ignorant disdain for learning and inquiry that both carries me to the edge of despair, and astonishment at the reckless abandonment of one of America’s critical sources of power. It’s true that over the decades Democrats have mustered their own share disdain for taxpayer-funded science (anyone remember Proxmire), right now, we’re in an era in which Republicans have set the baseline…and it is, in its way, a surrender.
Fortunately, as I conclude in my piece, this is one folly that has an easy solution: more money. Not even all that much. It will still take time to make up ground abandoned in this know-nothing age, but it’s doable. If and only if we win in 2020.
With that…open thread.
Image: Joseph Wright of Derby, An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump, 1768.
Can’t stand the news anymore. The FAA, Boeing, and the Trump shutdown — enabled by the GOP Congressional Kopromat Caucus — all contributed to the deaths of the Ethiopian Airlines 737-Max. Trump, risibly, fantasizes about thugs crushing…well, you and me. 41 GOP senators saying, “yup. Let’s gut the Constitution and abandon the American experiment so that a wig-wearing, orange-faced, not-quite-good-enough-to-make-it-in-the-Mafia faux Don can dream walled dreams, all the while the world burns and the Trumpanzees seek only to throw coal on the flames…
Hell, the sheer erosion of my synapses is wearing me out.
Thus it was a relief to realize there is an alternative, a new leader to acknowledge and follow.
Ladles and Jellyspoons, my fellow jackals…
I give you Robot Cheetah, with backflips:
Happy Pi-day, everyone, from the omphalos of Nerdistan.
Image: A hunter on horseback, with a cheetah trained for hunt on the back of the horse (Detail of Khubilain Khan Hunting, painting attributed to Liu Guandao, about 1280)
Mr. Baron and Mr. Miller, you may recall, have a close relationship with the cheetoh-faced, ferret-heedit shitgibbon.
We don’t know the name of anyone who may have displaced Miller and Baron in the Orange One’s heart, but he is clearly keeping busy:
A total of 329 candidates — 217 individuals and 112 organizations — are being considered for this year’s prize, which will be announced in October…
But a wrinkle in this time-honored process — the peace prize was first awarded in 1901 — emerged on Tuesday, when the committee announced that it had uncovered what appeared to be a forged nomination of President Trump for the prize. The matter has been referred to the Oslo police for investigation.
Mr. Baron or whatever the alias now may be is, it seems, a recidivist:
…the forgery appears to have occurred twice: Olav Njolstad, the secretary of the five-member committee, said it appeared that a forged nomination of Mr. Trump for the prize was also submitted last year — and was also referred to the police. (The earlier forgery was not disclosed to the public at the time.)
What kind of person is at once so disdainfully fraudulent and so hilariously inept at his con? Who could it be?
Well…Trump, recall, was the man who put his lens-shattering mug in fake Time Man of the Year covers, so there’s form here.
I’d file this one under “Point and Mock”…but then I remember that the entire GOP stands in thrall to this pathetic, hollow, terrified tosser. And then I weep for the Republic, and worry, desperately, for my son.
(Also too: I would so love an appendix to the Mueller Report dealing with all this.)
Image: Jacob Willemsz de Wet, Allegory of Peace triumphant over War, 1650
Kareem Abdul Jabbar:
Via a post on his Web site, KareemAbdulJabbar.com, the legendary Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks center said he will be selling his championship rings from 1980, ’85, ’87 and ’88. All of those titles were earned while he was a member of the Lakers. In addition, he will be auctioning other items including game-worn uniforms and jerseys. One such item is the game-used and signed ball from his final game in the NBA in 1989.
Why is this sporting legend unloading the tangible reminders of his glory days?
“My sports memorabilia also have a history. My history. My life,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “And, oddly, since my life is still happening and ever-evolving, I am less personally attached to those items than I am to my desire to create new history for myself — and futures for others. Much of the proceeds from my auction will go to support my charity, the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to ‘give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.’
“So, when it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Sell it all. Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That’s a history that has no price.”
Abdul Jabbar was an unfairly brilliant athlete. He has been an awesome post-athlete for a long time. This is just the latest in a story I hope goes on for many years to come.
I thought we could all use a story of a good human doing good. Open thread.
Abbot Handerson Thayer, Lunar Caterpillar, study for book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, 1909, revised 1918.
Or not: Vice President Pence, speaking today at the Munich Security Conference, told our allies that he brought greetings “from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.”
He waited a little longer.
And then one beat more.
Four seconds in, Pence gave up, and picked up his speech.
American power can be measured in all sorts of ways — including the degree to which we are valued, trusted and respected by our allies.
The US under Republican misrule has squandered an enormous amount of that informal power. We are not an irrelevant nation — any more than the United Kingdom was after the half a century in which its empire dissolved. And we haven’t gone all the way to the position Britain found itself in by, say the late 1950s, an unmistakably second rank power.
But any delusions about an American 21st century are pretty well exploded now, as indicated by the utter disdain for the President of the United States felt by everyone sentient observer — and for the political party and movement that still, against all reason, stands by him.
We won’t see an America that can persuade as well as bully the world until the Republican Party rubs shoulders with the Whigs.
Image: Umberto Boccioni, Laughter, not later than 1916.