Saturday, June 17, 2017

82. 6/17/17

Off to paradise. 

See you in July!

June 17, 1899
118 years ago

"As the outcome of quarrels over the Dreyfus affair, two duels were fought here to-day between two officers, naval and artillery, and two professors at the public school. One of each profession was wounded."

Surely, the brest of all possible outcomes ...

A report fit for a screenwriter:

A crowd of what is known as the Reece faction was in a saloon. All were armed, and just as a party of the opposing faction came down the street a gun of one of the Reece band was accidentally discharged. There was a rallying of forces on both sides immediately. Ranger Taylor was near the saloon, and, single-handed, he disarmed all the members of both factions ... The feud commenced in 1891, and has so far resulted in the killing of six prominent citizens of the town."

"The first outbreak [of rioting] occurred ... when the street railway company sent a car from Lake View filled with non-union employes and guarded by a force of policemen, to attempt to operate the Holmden Avenue line. The south siders did not take kindly to the imported motormen and conductors, and bricks, stones, and eggs were hurled at the car."

Friday, June 16, 2017

81. 6/16/17

"'You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history -- led by some very bad and conflicted people!' President Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning."

Very bad = gave campaign $ to Dems
Conflicted = professional

"For the fourth time in 12 weeks I marked myself safe on Facebook. In Britain."

I imagine we're going to see something like The Patriot Act on steroids soon in the U.K. Lacking strong First Amendment-type firewalls, civil liberties might start flying out the window.

He stole a poster.

They nearly beat him to death.

Ever since I read this book, nothing like this surprises me. Shock and disgust, yes. But surprise -- 

a good surprise would be regime change in the North.

And why blame Obama, Mr. Warmbier? I would think his anger should be directed at Young Pioneer Tours -- sales pitch: "budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from" (still on the website after all this) ...

Pakistan and geopolitics is the key.
  • $30 billion in aid since 2002. Time for some quid pro quo;
  • "such 'sticks' are unlikely to change Pakistan's behavior, because its existential concerns are tied to broader regional priorities ... we must understand and address Pakistan's strategic anxieties."
  • Key geopolitical factor: India. Randomization of possible scenarios, including scary nuclear;
  • Pakistan's ultimate desire: the Taliban "back into the political fold," without allowing them to control Afghanistan -- counterbalancing the Indian possibilities, while preventing the Taliban from spreading their influence across the border;
  • US must stoke India-Pakistan dialogue;
  • US must get serious about a political settlement in Afghanistan, including the Taliban;
  • now bring in China: " ... the U.S. should work closely with China to encourage Pakistan. They risk losing their $60 billion investment if the region "remains unstable."
Does 45 have a Henry Kissinger or a Dennis Ross to make this shit happen?

Chinese Cloverleaf:

June 16, 1873
144 years ago

"The expedition now in Moab as at present organized, consists of Lieut. E. Z. Steeon, A. M., United States Army, chief engineer and commander, and a staff of nine assistants. Including eighteen muleteers, the caravan numbered twenty-seven men and sixty-two animals."



What was happening in big city 144 years ago.


Today this article seems so out-of-place; it is ridiculously condescending. But in 1873:

"[In] negro-cars -- in which, by the way, it was no uncommon thing to find whites sitting."

"Their stories were sufficiently amusing, and were told with such good nature ... that I tried in vain to conjure up the spirit of evil and hate which I had once thought possessed the heart of every 'Johnny Reb'."

"True, the blacks are not permitted to occupy the same cars upon railroads with whites, except where they appear as servants, nurses or attendants; but how long is it since in our own City of New-York colored cars were an institution?"

"As I see these people busy in their avocations, contented, happy, prosperous in various degrees ... I find it hard to realize that only a few short years ago they were slaves. What a strange, wonderful transition it is!"


A vivid description that brings John Ford into focus:

"The Commission found that it was unsafe to travel without protection. They were accordingly given a regiment of cavalry as an escort, of which, however, they were soon deprived by the epizootic. They subsequently were attended by a detachment of infantry, and traveled in ambulances drawn by mules. In this way they traversed the entire border from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the western limits of Texas. They found society in a greatly disorganized state. Life and property were constantly in jeopardy. Natives do not venture beyond the immediate limits of their homes except with companions and arms."

"The Comanches, in the Indian Territory, are implicated in this purchase and sale of captives. One boy had been tied to a wild buffalo that was let loose, to teach him bravery."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

80. 6/15/17

" ... if 20 little children can be shot in their Connecticut school without triggering national gun law reform, it's not likely that the wounding of several adults in Virginia will do the trick."

so sad but so true

have a terrific thursday

June 15, 1943
74 years ago

"The ruling was handed down while the nation was celebrating Flag Day in commemoration of the 164th anniversary of the Stars and Stripes."

Oh those justices sure were good at setting up ironic coincidences like that!

Check out this picture:

"Objections to the salute as 'being too much like Hitler's' were raised ... some modification appears to have been made ..."

Looks like a fascist salute to me.

A hand-drawn map shows German incursion attempts at various points south of Moscow.

The Donets River:

"He was sentenced to be shot, but was commuted to fifty years' imprisonment at hard labor."

And in five years time, he and his entire family would be "deported" to Germany. Why was he given such lenient treatment? I found only one article, from Communities Digital News, which said that the original sentence (death) was reduced to 50 years "because of his cooperation with American intelligence personnel."


" ... [I]t must be plain to the Italian people that Italy herself is in fact the last Power on earth that can afford a German victory, and that there is an alternative to the suicide of the Italian nation."

Pretty melodramatic stuff, but with the "production and sale of radio sets having been prohibited in Italy" ... necessary.


Of all the war articles in today's paper, this one struck me as the most poignant (and gruesome):

"Lieutenant [Samuel S.] Logan [22, of Paola, Kan.] was flying a Corsair with United States fighters that intercepted from forty to fifty Zeros and enemy bombers over the Russell Islands on June 7. As he attacked a Zero that was firing on an Army P-40, his own tail surfaces were ripped apart. He climbed from the cockpit and jumped.

The Zero swooped on Lieutenant Logan. Firing machine guns, the Japanese made four passes under the falling flier, coming so close the first two times that Lieutenant Logan had to lift his feet to escape.

When the Zero made the third pass Lieutenant Logan was busy trying to manoeuvre the chute and failed to pull up his feet. He was hit. The enemy pilot made one more attack and then was chased away by a United States Army plane.

Lieutenant Logan fell into the sea, inflated his life raft, took sulpha and morphine tablets and applied a tourniquet to his right leg. With a metal mirror he signaled to a reconnaissance plane. It landed on the water, picked him up and flew him to a base hospital."

Holy shit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

79. 6/14/17

Early this morning, a mental defective with a gun attempted to massacre 25-30 Republican lawmakers.

Without any hard evidence or statements from the police at this early stage, what I say is obviously pure conjecture. But I'll bet it turns out to be true:

This animal seems to have deliberately targeted the two Capitol police officers who were there because of Scalise (in the presidential line of succession).

If he had been a better shot, we would have had a massacre.

So thank God that 1) this lowlife failed to kill and only wounded the police officers; and 2) that the officers managed to take him down, pistols vs. rifle. That's some brave shit.

I'm glad everyone's (apparently) alive -- even the gunman. I hate it when they take the "easy way out." I want to see this idiot grilled slowly over a low flame.

Oskar really gives it to The Times!

"Q: Do you think that what's happened illustrates something about our culture today?

A: I don't want to criticize anybody except The New York Times ...

which he then does.

"During his confirmation hearings this year, he told lawmakers that he had no contacts with Russian officials during the campaign ... in March, Mr. Sessions was forced to acknowledge meeting Ambassador Kislyak on two occasions. On Tuesday, Mr. Sessions attributed the confusion in part to 'a rambling question' at the time from Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota."

So we go from zero contacts to two, to "the SNL guy confused me."

A medieval fable:

"A criminal is hauled before the king to plead for his life and successfully does so by promising that if the king spared his life for a year he could teach the king's favorite horse to sing.

When the criminal got back to his cell, his cellmate scoffed at him: You could never teach the king's horse to sing if you had a lifetime. And the man said: 'No matter. I have a year now that I didn't have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die. And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing.'

And that is our North Korea policy. Waiting for something to solve this insoluble problem. Waiting for a horse to sing."

June 14, 1868
149 years ago


"Prince NAPOLEON ... is traveling strictly incognito."

"LONDON, Saturday, June 13. The question of the succession to the sovereignty of Servia, made vacant by the assassination of Prince MICHAEL a few days since ...

BELGRADE, Saturday, June 13 -- Evening. The nephew of the murdered Prince MICHAEL was duly proclaimed Prince of Servia to-day."

Someone didn't check their email until "Evening."

The steamship, not the country. Fantastic account of a near-disaster on the ocean, in a spot as remote as one could possibly get from civilization.

A curious op-ed from The Jewish Messenger which basically says Jews should keep religion and politics separate.

"We ask our brethren of the Press to take cognizance of this platform, which represents the sentiments of the better class of Israelites, without distinction of party."

Grant won in November, with a majority of the Jewish vote.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

78. 6/13/17


"Of the 966 inmates who were held in the prison ... only 30 remained."

Violence, chaos, the daily brutality of life ...

All caused by poverty and social malaise. Could we help? No oil here, no geopolitical hotspots ...

Besides, "America First," remember?


The article checklists all the reasons it ain't gonna happen:

  1. This was a nonbinding referendum;
  2. Only 23% of eligible voters cast ballots;
  3. Republicans in Congress "highly unlikely to do something that could result in five more Democrats in the House and two in the Senate;
  4. " ... not even Putin gets 97 percent of the vote";
  5. WH statement: "only Congress can change Puerto Rico's status" seems definitive.

"The Mesopotamians believed the liver was the seat of the human soul and emotions, and the ancient Greeks linked the organ to pleasure. The Elizabethans referred to their monarch not as the head of state, but as its liver."

My brother is a scientist. I never went to college and my memories of 9th grade biology is my teacher who talked in a low monotone, like this:

theliveristhemostimportantorganinthebodyandpleasewriteapaperaboutit ...

So every Tuesday, I dive into the Science Times section and devour articles like this one:

Did you know
  • there is no machine to replace a liver's function ... the best you can hope for is a transplant;
  • the liver grows and shrinks by up to 40% every 24 hours, while the organs around it barely budge;
  • the liver "dictates our dietary choices, particularly our cravings for sweets";
  • [here comes the technical stuff]: "hepatocytes, the metabolically active cells that constitute 80% of the liver, possess traits not seen in any other normal cells of the body" ("superunique," says one scientist);
  • the liver holds 13% of the body's blood supply at any given time;
  • "everything you put in your mouth must go through the liver before it does anything useful elsewhere in the body ..." IOW, your liver is like Sean Spicer;
  • "The liver keeps track of time"

From now on, I'm going to insist that my wife and children begin each day by either calling or texting me to tell me how great I am. The message must be a 100 words or more, and must include the word "awesome" at some point.

"About a third of counties nationwide have only one insurer, according to data released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a figure that has more than doubled since 2014."

And the bad news is even worse.

45 is poised to make it all much much worse.

Unless you happen to be in 45's tax bracket.

"The cyberattacks on Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, begun in the George W. Bush administration, destroyed roughly 1,000 nuclear centrifuges and were code-named 'Olympic Games'."

The article delves into the many reasons cyberwarfare is not that successful against ISIS. But -- once again -- a seemingly somewhat innocuous action by 45 can make things worse.

"Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago ... the intelligence was so exquisite that it enabled the US to understand how the weapons could be detonated ... this was part of the classified intel that 45 is accused of revealing when he met in the Oval Office last month with the Russian foreign minister ... his disclosure infuriated Israeli officials."

"Qatar is the size of Connecticut and one-seventh its population."

Great article -- a geopolitical primer on the confusing, tangled state of affairs in the Middle East since Saudi Arabia and their closest allies initiated a boycott against Qatar.

"Though few expect the standoff to escalate to violence, it remains far from clear how it will be resolved. This may be the end of the two-decade Saudi-Qatar rivalry, or it could bring just another layer of instability and crosscutting alliances to a region that already has plenty."

And there's always the unexpected 3AM tweet that could set who the fuck knows what in motion?

"Senate leaders are rushing to pass a bill before their July 4 recess, and they seem to be making headway."

Meanwhile, the man behind the curtain is trying to confuse you with secret tapes, Russian hookers and the neatly-manufactured Qatar crisis.

Please, senators -- do not allow him to destroy millions of lives.


June 13, 1984
33 years ago

"'Reagan's belligerent arms control attitudes, his failure to grasp the dangers of nuclear weaponry, and his lack of judgment and restraint in the use of military force disqualify him from the office of President' ..."

If only we had known how much worse it could get ...

"YOUR mother may have told you that fish was 'brain food' (and there is now evidence she may have been right), but folk wisdom missed a valuable asset of fish that medical scientists have only recently discovered: its apparent protective effect on the heart and blood vessels . . . fish oils have been found to contain fatty acids that can lower harmful fats and cholesterol."

Interesting to see how long we've taken these facts for granted.

"The SFPD, who have recovered 63 bats and other equipment stolen from the Houston Astros at Candlestick Park last weekend, said they would try to cut some of the usual red tape in an effort to get the equipment back to the Astros as soon as possible. 'We wouldn't want to hold up a major league team ... noting that players often develop a special attachment to their bats and gloves.

[T]he Astros apparently don't need any special favors. Using equipment borrowed from the Giants, they beat San Francisco, 7-4, on Sunday, and using replacement equipment from their own supply stocks, they beat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2, in Houston Monday night."

"Two youths were arrested in the break-in."

Hopefully sentenced to sit in the upper deck at Candlestick for every home game in April and September.

A continuation of the Meyer incident, in which the orchestra freaked out over Karajan's decision to hire a female clarinetist.

Monday, June 12, 2017

77. 6/12/17

"But where the 'darkening cloud' metaphors piled up in those provinces [mainstream lib media], there were clearing skies Friday night on Fox, as the host Tucker Carlson assured his audience: 'This whole story is a hoax'."

Back then there were four television channels. Today? ... a lot more.

If Mueller eventually finds any actual wrongdoing,

"how much of the country will believe it?"

"For their first date, in 1949, Leon Watson and Rosina Rodriquez headed to the movie theater. But each entered separately. First went Ms. Rodriquez, a fair-skinned woman who traces her roots to Mexico. Mr. Watson, who is black, waited several minutes before going in and sitting next to her.

'We always did it,' Mr. Watson said. 'They looked at you like you were in a zoo. We just held our heads high and kept going. If we knew there would be a problem, we stayed away from it'."

Happy 50th anniversary, kids!

"The game produced the longest home run in the major leagues this season ... measured at 495 feet."

Here come da Judge!

Stone: have you ever seen Dr. Strangelove?

Putin: No.

" ... Mr. Stone gets him to watch the 1964 nuclear-war satire in a conference room: a little Nyetflix-and-chill."

That was very clever.

"He has told his staff that he wants to avoid a marathon overseas trip like his nine-day trek to the Middle East and Europe, which he found exhausting and overly long."

Ah, poor baby.

Talk about anxious:

"[E]ven a Trump impeachment would leave America with a President Pence, a nightmare of a different stripe but no less a nightmare."

And of course, Mr. Blow neglected to use the correct phraseology, which should have been "conviction on impeachment."

June 12, 1998
19 years ago

"The cantors took pleasure reminiscing about the days when cantors were the stars of the Jewish world and people taking a break from High Holiday worship would argue the comparative virtues of Yossele Rosenblatt, Moshe Koussevitzky and Richard Tucker while their sons compared the center-field skills of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider."

"The Yankees are without shortstop Derek Jeter, [Bernie] Williams, and now, maybe, Pettitte. But there is this: If they win even just half of their remaining games, they will win 97 games."

They ended up winning 114!


What a treat! I was perusing this day's paper for this section, when I ran across this review. I had never heard of Chucho Valdés, but I am very glad to make his acquaintance.

Cancionero Cubano

Sunday, June 11, 2017

76. 6/11/17


"It's illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland."

Good ol' humane, neutral Switzerland!

Oh, and -- by the way -- don't even think about getting a single mouse, gerbil, rat, chinchilla, large parrot, cockatoo, ara 
, large parakeet, canary, estrildid finch 
, small parakeet or agapornid 
. Know your local Lonely Bird Laws.

"Of the world's 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China."

During the campaign, 45 continually spoke with hushed, reverential awe about all the beautiful new airports, bridges and roads in China. He compared La Guardia (admittedly, a mess) to these gleaming, new structures all over the many large Chinese cities.

This article details the (hidden) costs beneath all this infrastructure renewal.

Which brings up the U.S.A.

Is he going to build all these gleaming new bridges and highways on an infrastructure bill funded by ...

... what? Tax cuts for billionaires?

"All beaches in Texas are considered highways ... we pulled over to the shoulder, threw on the hazard lights and mulled the intelligence of continuing ... already without cell service, I'd recently heard a cautionary tale that ended with a $1,300 towing bill."

"I remembered the ranger's advice: bring a stick and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes -- all three types."

"Some 24,000 commercial flights take off and land in the United States every day, most at or close to capacity."

"How did air travel, which once seemed so glamorous and exciting, turn into a sadomasochistic pas de deux between the industry and the passenger?"

I am so looking forward to getting there and I am so not looking forward to getting there.

"If there's going to be an auto-da-fe on the Potomac, Trump would prefer to light the match. He doesn't want some shrewd, fired, leaking, taller-than-thou swamp creature to take him out when he can self-immolate."

I predict this is exactly what 45 will ultimately do. When the time comes, he will resign and claim victory.


"The Volkswagen Beetle was originally called the 'Strength Through Joy Car' and was part of Hitler's plan to provide an affordable car to every German."

I miss my father, who passed away in 1978. He was a brilliant man, inspiring, loving -- and to this day, I treasure the memories of our interactions so many years ago.

One, I will never, ever forget.

I was 16 or so -- driving age -- and Dad sat me down and asked me to please honor one simple request:

That was that I would never buy or even ride in a Volkswagen.

He told me about much of the history which is detailed in this book review; some facts I already knew (Porsche designed the Beetle; the factory was staffed by forced Jewish labor); some I learned just a moment ago (the contemporary stuff) ...

I was in my 30's when I rode in my sister-in-law's VW for the first time. By that time, I had concluded that as politically sensitive as my father was, he was -- in fact -- sort of a mild hypocrite.

That same year we had that talk, he bought himself a brand new Ford.

What about ol' Henry's politics? I thought ...


"Witch hunting declined in the 1800s, becoming a distant-enough memory by the end of the century that pantomime 'witch hunts' were performed to entertain the queen of England."

45 has been denouncing one "witch hunt" or another on his Twitter account for months now. This terrific article details the historical usage of the phrase and political ramifications.

"[Witches] were thought to be devil-worshipers who had sex with demons. Old women and young girls were stripped and searched for evidence of third nipples ..."

Sounds like a bunch of horny old witch "finders" ...


Typesetting note:

On Page 14 we find the following line -- the last one in the first column:

hunt" in a 1915 collection of World War

then the reader goes to the next column:

I stories (he is ...

That's a big no-no, separating anything in the phrase "World War I." You just cannot leave the "I" sticking out there by itself like that...


"According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder."

"It was seventy years ago that the poet W.H. Auden published 'The Age of Anxiety,' a six-part verse framing modern humankind's condition over the course of more than 100 pages, and now it seems we are too rattled to even sit down and read something that long (or as the internet would say, tl;dr)."

Another great article today.

When I think of anxiety come to life on film, I think of Akira Kurosawa's severely underrated 1955 film, "I Live in Fear" (it is also known as "Record of a Living Being").

The brilliant Toshiro Mifune (35 at the time) plays a 70-year-old man who owns a successful factory. But he is terrified of the atomic bomb and wants to move to Brazil, where he thinks he and his large extended family might be safe. Kurosawa shows the man's anxiety as it really must be -- completely paralyzing him and wreaking havoc with all the people around him!

Paul Ryan: "He's just new to this ... he's learning as he goes ... he wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between D.O.J., F.B.I. and White Houses."

Is this guy kidding?

First of all, duh -- "the president obviously knows that it's wrong to interfere in an investigation." See Bill Clinton & Loretta Lynch on the tarmac.

And how 'bout this beauty from Christie, still the faithful little lap dog:

"'What you're seeing is a president who is now very publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal New York City conversation.' (As in: People in Chicago talk about the weather; in Los Angeles, movies. In New York City, they say, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty')."

Book review 14 THE BEST-LAID PLANS

"To escape arrest after the failure of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin shaved his beard, fled to Finland and did not appear in public for four months."

His thesis basically states that the success of the Soviet revolution was "largely a matter of chance." Eventually, the book swings around to the present and Putin:

"Putin's Russia still faces many of the same fundamental problems: rigid authoritarianism, widespread poverty and deeply rooted corruption. Little wonder the Kremlin has been at pains to play down celebration of the revolution's centenary this year."

I hear this.

"He never expected Mr. Cañizales, who had expressed no political views to him, to be at the march. The viola had seemed to be the only thing on his mind."

I do hope that Dudamel -- an international star -- will use whatever influence he has to condemn this vicious government-sponsored killing. Venezuela produced and nurtured El Sistema. It can and must do better than this.

June 11, 1960
57 years ago

"Stone-throwing demonstrators imprisoned James C. Hagerty, Ambassador Douglas MacArthur 2d and Thomas E. Stephens, White House appointments secretary in their limousine for an hour and twenty minutes yesterday at the Haneda International Airport.

The three men were rescued in a United States Marine Corps helicopter with great difficulty."

A great Japanese film about these times is Night and Fog in Japan by Nagisa Oshima.

"Mickey Mantle's booming bat produced another Yankee victory last night. The limping slugger's eighth-inning home run defeated the Indians, 4-3, before 46,030 at the Stadium. It was New York's largest baseball crowd of 1960.

Mickey raced back to the running track in left center to haul down Hank Foiles' bid for a triple in the third.

The Yankee center fielder also took a nasty spill trying unsuccessfully for a diving catch of Vic Power's double in the fourth. When he picked himself off the turf, the limp he has had for most of the season (the result of a right knee that has become chronically sore because of repeated wrenchings) was more pronounced than ever."

Time of game: 2:14!

82. 6/17/17

Off to paradise.   See you in July! TIME MACHINE June 17, 1899 118 years ago Page 1 DREYFUS DUELS FOUGHT AT BREST "As...