September 21, 2021

Heavy cloudscape at 6:46 a.m.



"For many years, Yusuf Islam has been pretending he didn’t say the things he said in 1989, when he enthusiastically supported the Iranian terrorist edict against me and others."

"However, his words are on the record, in print interviews and on television programs. … I’m afraid Cat Stevens got off the peace train a long time ago.”:

Fishman, who is a culture writer, and who clearly wants to be able to indulge himself in the pleasures of listening to the wonderful old Cat Stevens recordings, goes on to say:

"... I’ve got a calling in life. And that is to inspire Americans to venture beyond Orlando. The practical goal is to get people who have been to Disney World four or five times to try Portugal. It won’t bite you...."

"I make dad jokes, and I’m a sucker for alliteration. I think people want to be put at ease. Like, it’s O.K. to be a little dorky. It’s O.K. to laugh in a museum. You can be looking at the 'Pietà' and you can still laugh.... For a lot of people, their default is, 'O.K., I want to drink, and my favorite drink is this Martini.' Well, you’ve got to get away from that when you’re travelling, O.K.? The question is not, Where can I get my drink? but, What do local people drink here?... When I’m in Greece, I go for a glass of ouzo. I never come home after a long day of work in Seattle and think, I’d like a nice cloudy glass of ouzo. That’s almost ridiculous.... When I’m in Belgium, I like a milkshakey, rich, monk-made beer. When I’m in Prague, I like a nice refreshing Pilsner. When I go to Tuscany, it’s a full-bodied glass of vino rosso. I don’t think I’ve ever made a pot of tea here in my house. It makes no sense to me. But when I’m in England, a spot of tea after a nice day of sightseeing feels just right. When I’m in Scotland, I have a little shot of whisky each night. This is a very beverage-forward world philosophy."

He's saying to timid Americans that they can be "cultural chameleons," and what does it really matter if they blend in from the point of view of the people of the traveled-to environment? They're getting tipsy — getting woozy — on the local beverage and with the encouragement of the ultra-accessible travel writer, their drink is a magic potion. Disney serves up the magic in Florida, but you can — you really should — go to Europe and drink your mind into a magical state....


What's the difference really — where you go or what you do to manipulate your mind? You could stream a Disney movie right there on this screen — why not that one in the clip? It's set in Scotland. Sip a glass of Scotch and travel the glens and moorlands of your mind.

"My teachers were always, like, ‘Who’s going to wear this? Who’s your customer?’ And I would say, ‘I hope I don’t know who my customer is, because they shouldn’t exist yet.'..."

"Reed describes himself as gender fluid: 'Not bang-smack in the middle of male and female, but fluid—literally anywhere on the pendulum.' Though Reed had been calling himself gay since he was nine, he began to struggle with the identity in London: 'I didn’t feel like I was a gay man. I didn’t feel like my gender fit. I didn’t feel represented by it.' For the first time, he had friends who were transgender or pansexual. 'I started meeting all these people that felt so confident expressing themselves in different ways,' he said. 'That’s when I came into the idea that being gender fluid suited me.' He adopted 'they/them' pronouns, though he was flexible. 'If I was doing stuff in Russia, it would be "she,"' Reed told me. 'If I was doing things in Latin America, it would be "he." And in very woke America and England it would always be
"they."' Embracing gender fluidity as an identity allowed Reed to preserve indeterminacy while also rejecting stereotypical categories of masculinity and femininity as they pertain to power and beauty....  Earlier this year, Reed returned to going by 'he/him.' He had grown concerned that the concept of gender fluidity, rather than being a liberation, might be its own limiting categorization.... Switching back to masculine pronouns was occasionally fraught; Reed discovered that some people were more certain about how he should be referred to than he was. But he held firm: 'I was, like, "I don’t owe anyone fucking anything—I’m just me."'"

ADDED: Notice the idea that the fluid gender flowed differently within different human cultures — Russian, Latin American, and Woke America. That makes sense. 

Gender doesn't exist within the individual alone: It's a relationship you have with the world around you. It's not possible to feel you are male or female without examples out there of other human animals expressing themselves in ways they are calling male and female, and the humans do that differently in different places, at least as Reed experienced it. 

Of course, he is also a participant in commerce, and in the commerce of fashion, the designer is integral the sales pitch, and it's savvy to vary the pitch for the customer... even when you're saying enigmatic things like My customer shouldn’t exist yet

Shouldn't! That's funny. Absurd authoritarianism.

"Just hours after the Spanish island of La Palma rumbled and the volcano erupted, a theory about its wider repercussions began to gain strength, again."

"And despite the fact that the authorities, professionals, the Instituto Vulcanológico de Canarias and geologists from the National Geographical Institute deny it, the aftershocks of these claims continue to be felt.... According to the theory, if the island were to split in two, it would create a wall of water that would reach the coast of Portugal and southwestern Spain, which both lie to the north east. The waves could be up to 25 meters high, and would even cause damage to the south of England further north and then to the west they would reach the North American coast, as well as 'destroy the West African coast with waves of up to 100 meters,' according to the research."

"The plumber placed the camcorder he used to record the beating up for auction last July for $225,000."

"Though it is unclear if it ever sold, [George] Holliday said that he never profited from the video...."

Have you been following the news? They say an Indiana man kept calling 911 to say that he is tired.

Are you tired? 

"This T-shirt has a straightforward message: 'i put ketchup on my ketchup.'"

"Now, that’s the statement of somebody who is seriously in love with ketchup. It kind of teases those Americans who put ketchup on everything, but I find it interesting that one of the companies that distribute these shirts is none other than Heinz. A little self-deprecatory humor going on here, but you can’t help feeling the American spirit in it, the optimistic, cheerful lack of introspection that says, 'Who cares about being sophisticated! I’m gonna do what I want!'"

I appreciate Murakami's appreciation of Americans, and I just used the rhetorical device the T-shirt uses. It's something I talked about before, back in 2019, prompted by a quote from Walt Whitman: "I live here in a ruin of debris—a ruin of ruins." 

I blogged that because I'd recently seen the idea of a cult following with a cult following:
This could be the kind of joke I've seen many times over the years. I remember hearing it long ago when some character on TV (I think it was Gidget's unattractive female friend [Larue]) said she was so excited her "goosebumps have goosebumps." 

That made a big impression on me when I was a teenager — "My goosebumps have goosebumps." Even at the time, I think, I wondered Is this a good template for humor or is it too dumb? 

One answer is Who cares about being sophisticated! I’m gonna do what I want!

September 20, 2021

A walk around Lockerbie Square.

I'm back home now, but I was in Indianapolis for a few days. Some photos from the Lockerbie Square Historic District. The last picture is the home of the "Hoosier Poet" James Whitcomb Riley (which got me to recite "Little Orphant Annie," something I've known by heart for more than 60 years):






"In his later years, however, he spoke and wrote at length not only about his belief in God but also, with more reluctance, about his opposition to abortion."

"('I don’t like saying it because it’s unpopular,' he said on Dennis Miller’s radio program.)... His comedy was remarkably free of malice, and in recent years it was marked by startling displays of mercy and humility.... By the end of his life, Mr. Macdonald seemed to have abandoned even his well-known animus against O.J. Simpson. 'All he’s guilty of to me,' he said on a Comedy Central program in 2019, was of being 'the greatest rusher in the history of the N.F.L. Maybe I was the greatest rusher — to judgment.'... Perhaps the most obviously Christian element of Mr. Macdonald’s legacy was his quiet acceptance of what we now know were nine years of cancer, from which he died without acknowledging his illness in public.... Unlike secular ethical systems — stoicism, for example — Christianity almost uniquely invites its adherents to find value in suffering because it allows us to unite ourselves with Christ in his Crucifixion.... In the early centuries of the church, Christians were mocked by their pagan fellow citizens for a kind of blithe silliness that reminded them of drunkards. Even in his final years of pain, Mr. Macdonald, too, exhibited an almost Falstaffian joie de vivre. 'At times, the joy that life attacks me with is unbearable and leads to gasping hysterical laughter,' he told his Twitter followers in 2018. 'How could a man be a cynic? It is a sin.'"

From "Norm Macdonald’s Comedy Was Quite Christian" by Matthew Walther (NYT).

"Little People, Big Dreams is series of illustrated books for kids of five and over that tells the life stories of what it considers history’s admirable men and women..."

"... Darwin, Mary Shelley, Marie Curie, Malala, Elton John, RuPaul… The books imagine what these high-achieving adults were like as children: bright-eyed and bravely refusing to be cowed. The back of each book explains the conceit: 'All of [these people] achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.'... It’s just plain untrue to say that the men and women of history started out by fantasising about some great achievement. Marie Curie didn’t spend her time hankering for a Nobel Prize, she just got on with studying the science. In no possible world was John Lennon 'the boy from Liverpool who dreamed of peace.' Lennon as a child, in his own words, ‘did my best to disrupt every friend’s home.' What unites great men and women isn’t a capacity to dream big but a love of what they do and a capacity for sheer graft.... [There's a] weird 21st-century idea that childish things are especially virtuous, and that it’s noble, not deluded, to dream of greatness...."

From "Is it cruel to crush your child’s dreams?" Mary Wakefield (The Spectator).

"A woman who speaks 'perfect English' has been found on a rock in the sea off a Croatian island but is unable to say who she is or how she got there."

"The woman, thought to be in her sixties, was covered in cuts and bruises when she was spotted by a fisherman on the craggy outcrop on the isle of Krk. She was on her own crying.... Officials said she had no passport, papers or phone....  A resident who lives near by [said]: 'It’s weird that she was in the area at all. It is an extremely inaccessible part of the bay with terribly sharp rocks — literally razors that cut the rubber on your shoes. There is no life or animals except maybe wild boars or bears which know how to swim here in search of food, but this is a rarity because there is no food, nothing. A woman that age certainly could not swim that distance, it needs exceptional strength.'"

"A man in his 50s with red hair and a beard allegedly approached another man to ask him if he wanted to help him 'take people.'"

"The man called the Kalispell Police Department to report the redhead who didn’t give any other specifics. A very intoxicated man seen lying on the ground reportedly turned down a bartender’s offer to call him a cab after they closed up for the night. The man did not want help from law enforcement either.... A white car containing a dog had reportedly been parked near garbage cans for two days and someone claimed they didn’t see the dog let out once.... Someone asked officers to check on the welfare of a teenage hitchhiker they picked up on the bypass and dropped off at a bike path. They said he was on a skateboard and was trying to get to Lakeside. Officers made contact with the skateboarder who was OK."
I don't know. There doesn't seem to be much news this morning. I'm reading The Daily Interlake police report and feeling vaguely encouraged.

"The Indictment of Hillary Clinton's Lawyer is an Indictment of the Russiagate Wing of U.S. Media."

 Writes Glenn Greenwald (at Substack).

The FBI... quickly concluded that there was no evidentiary basis to believe any of it.... The central role played by the U.S. media in perpetuating this scam on the public — all with the goal of manipulating the election outcome — is hard to overstate....

September 19, 2021

At the Confabulation Café...

... have a seat and talk all night.

The notion that it's an unfair burden on the black students of Madison to attend a school with the name Madison on it.

One of our high schools here in Madison is called James Madison Memorial High School, and, because Madison owned slaves, the School Board set up a committee to change that name — the name of the school not the name of the city. 

Now, the Wisconsin State Journal reports on the 4 finalists in the naming process. Those behind the petition to change the name were pushing for Vel Phillips Memorial High School. Vel Phillips, a black woman, was successful in Wisconsin politics. But Vel Phillips Memorial High School is listed 3rd in the committee's ranking.

In first place is Bruce Dahmen Memorial High School. Who was Bruce Dahmen? He's a white man, so you might think that would exclude him. But he was the school's principal from 2004 until his death in 2014. I suppose we'll need to hear all about this man's character and reputation, including from those who are pumping for Vel Phillips. 

In second place is Memorial High School. Of all the effrontery! Just not honoring anyone at all! I like that solution. I've always heard the school called Memorial High School, and the other high schools here have neutral names — West High School and East High School. Memorial High School solves the stated problem — eliminating the recognition of James Madison.