Archive for March, 2015

the troubles with historical parallels

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The letters to the editor page in the Nation magazine a few weeks ago, about the Nation’s hoped for study of Elizabeth Warren for President draft movement…

One asks “What’s so bad about Hillary Clinton?”
One points out that Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly said she’s not running, while Bernie Sanders is exploring the idea.
One posits the idea that Bernie Sanders might serve as Eugen McCarthy, Elizabeth Warren as Robert Kennedy… with Hillary Clinton the role of Lyndon Johnson.

That last one fascinates me in its day-dreaming of historical parallels.  Hopefully the letter writer doesn’t want to draw it too tightly to its 1968 precedent.

why is superman aping ant-man?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Thought of the day…  A cover of Action Comics number 296.

supermanantman  Cover date, January 1963.

Synopsis…  A colony of giant ants, mutated by a nuclear war on another planet, comes to Earth with a warning, and Superman uses Red Kryptonite radiation to give himself an ant’s head in order to communicate with them.

Skip to the wikipedia page on Ant-Man.

Ant-Man is the name of several fictional characters appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. Ant-Man was originally the superhero persona of Hank Pym, a brilliant scientist who invented a substance that allowed him to change his size. Hank Pym was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962); his first appearance as Ant-Man was in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sept. 1962).
After Pym retired his Ant-Man identity, successors Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady have used Pym’s technology to take on the role of Ant-Man.

Wait.  Does that mean Superman ripped off Ant-man?

Whatever.  It Looks like a blockbuster this summer, considering there’s the Mr. Potato Head Ant-man

Someone gave me a dirty look as I was reading this…

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

From Generation of Vipers, Philip Wylie, 1942 with added notes in 1955 (congratulating himself on being right), page 24.  A hypothetical history textbook from the future explains the state of then present day American culture…

The brutishness and filthiness of the people was equaled only by their ignorance and credulity.  Every mind was clogged with superstitions that had to do with ladders, black cats, hunchbacks, the new moon — an infinitude of objects.  Yet, the people believed themselves to be enlightened — the strangest superstition of all!  They indulged in mass myths of a great variety.  Everybody, for example, “loved his mother” — it was a tenet, and a man would smash your jaw if you said your mother was a back-biting hypocrite — although, likely, in that age, she was was.  Moreover, public opinion would stand behind the man who had smashed the jaw of the critic of his mother — rather than behind the man who had told the simple truth.

Then there’s firemen, (in a section about the evils hats do to man) page 106-107.

The fire hat makes the fireman into a chopping demon whose zeal is highly regarded by the mob but whose effectiveness in putting out fires is open, usually, to question.  This hat, however, is useful for hiding small valuables picked up on the premises where fires are being attacked.  I have heard it said that all firemen are kleptomaniacs, and I doubt this, but the hat may have in it some small part of that special magic or legerdemain.  What the fez does to to the noble of a Masonic order is another thing that fascinates and frightens me.  It makes him, ordinarily a man of aplomb and conservatism, able to parade the streets in outlandish costumes, for one thing.  It also gives him the magic power to jab electrical shocking devices betwixt the glutei maximi of pretty girls — a power he certainly did not have under his fedora.

A bit of an aside on grocers in a chapter about doctors., page 168.

and if the grocer did a tenth as much to you you would have him in the clink, even though we will agree that grocers, as a class, are a collection of choice thieves and liars too.

Back to Mom, though, who is really at the heart of the book…  Page 195

But mom never met competition.  Like Hitler, she betrays the people who would give her a battle before she brings up her troops.  (and etc.)

This is 1942, by the way.  Back when Hitler was a real human being, and we all decided we really hated him.

Note his explanation in an interview with Mike Wallace in 1953.

WYLIE: Well, let me… let me say, that if you had read on, through those pages of indictment, you’d have realized Mike, that I was talking about not mothers, all of them, but a certain kind, whom I classified as I did, and whom I outrageously lampooned, deliberately, from a psychological background, that was well informed.

Just for effect…
Note this phrase from a decades later retrospect.  Probably true.  “Warmed over H.L.  Mencken.”

campus politics

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Trying to make sense of this story.

Reed College student Jeremiah True drew national attention March 19 after claiming he was bounced from the discussion portion of his Humanities 110 class for arguing that sexual assault statistics are inflated. His story got weird from there. After BuzzFeed reported his claims and rape culture deniers championed his cause, True, 19, posted increasingly aggressive rants online, prompting fellow students to report feeling unsafe on campus. In an interview with GotNews posted on YouTube on March 24, True claimed he was purposefully acting like a “jerk wad” to draw more attention and parlay the controversy into a career in media. As of March 24, Reed officials were standing by their decision to bar True.

Hm.  I hate to slide into any cause championed by Charles Johnson, but unless he interceded on some allotted time limits in the class discussion to “not let everyone in”, I’m stuck on some things…

I suppose there’s a decent case to slam anyone arguing on about a 6 Thousand year Earth in a biology class, or…

the new new york times magazine

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

When The New York Times Magazine issued a new “redesign”…

a publication within a publication, I may add, that has had some reasonably in-depth articles addressing this and that issue that you’re hard-pressed to see in the “regular” newspaper of the New York Times.  Long Form Journalism and all that…

… as well as our blog-o-listo-thingy of the moment trend …

But be that as it may… the query.  Expressed in In These Times here.

The Editor’s Letter gushed about new typefaces and heavier paper stock, and boasted, “You will also find, I am pleased to say, more pages of advertising than in any issue since October 2007” (a line that has since been changed in the online version).

Who are they trying to impress by pointing out that they have a whole whole whole lot of advertisements?  Because you know… generally speaking, those things are at best necessary evil and …

… unless they’re trying to impress potential advertisers.  Wait.

Putin back off the Appalachian Trail

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Long National Nightmare is over.  Vladimir Putin suddenly re-appeared after an eleven day absence.  He was off on Russia’s version of the Appalachia Trail — around Krasnoyarsk, I suppose — and is back.

Not A Coup.  Or maybe it is in the sense that he was working out some matters with the inner chambers of power.

I saw a curious news commentary about Putin’s disappearing, claiming that the great amount of on the edge of their seat wondering in Russia about “Where’s Putin” shows how much the man has become a dictator and “indispensable” gnabbing power.  Without saying anything about Putin one way or another, I find this example ludicrous.  Imagine Obama disappeared for eleven days… the result in America would be… roughly the same.  I mean, remember that governor and the Appalachian Trail…

Didn’t Do It, Nobody Saw Me Do It, Can’t Prove Anything.

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Ah, the Perils of Reality Programming.

Mr. Durst was acquitted in the Texas killing, and was never arrested in the disappearance of his wife or the death of his friend. But on Saturday, he found himself in custody once again, arrested on a charge of murder as he walked into a New Orleans hotel he had checked into under a false name.
On Sunday night, in the final moments of the final episode of a six-part HBO documentary about him, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Mr. Durst seemed to veer toward a confession that could lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds the deaths of three people over the course of three decades.
“What the hell did I do?” Mr. Durst whispers to himself in an unguarded moment caught on a microphone he wore during filming. “Killed them all, of course.”

He does have a good alibi, of sorts.  Nobody believes anything on Reality Programming is “Real”, and everybody who does these shows always goes into “acting” mode, acting for the cameras.  If you remember, Jim Carey on the Truman Show veered into camera-mode when he knew everything about him was being staged.

So he can make his situation similar to the hip hop artist who talked of doing big bad things.  Or go the OJ Simpson route and suggest they missed a caveat of “IF” or a hypothetical before “Kill them all, of course” or “I Did It”.

Why is he having HBO follow him around for a long in-depth show?  Is that Just Narcissism?


Monday, March 9th, 2015

This actually is pretty hilarious.

The Wall Street Journal is positing that the Justice Department of Democratic President Barack Obama has siced Democratic Senator Robert Menendez his disagreements on Iran.  Just look at the timing.

So too says Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Curious.  Logic dictates that the fall of a DEMOCRAT on corruption can only harm the political standing of other politicos on Team DEMOCRAT.  But nay.

Wait.  They’re defending a liberal (in their eyes)?  I suppose they might have done the same with Lieberman, hypothetically.

At least we have some odd sense of policy over party politics in this conspiracy mongering.

And I imagine that Chris Christie is either defending Menendez covertly  or loving that it disinfects him somehow — it’s either Just another case of New Jersey politics or someone that shines greater than he to shade back into “corrupt” moonlight.

Dud of Late Night

Sunday, March 8th, 2015


Before he was busted for inventing war stories, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams had pitched NBC and CBS about making him the next Jay Leno or David Letterman.

He didn’t try for a new talk show on Fox?