Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Image via Crime Scene Kansas City.

"Bristolnacht" is Tengrain's name for the Spilla in Wasilla, when the Clan of the Palins betook them in their limo to beat the shit out of everybody they saw and then retired in confusion on all sides, and I realized that's what it would be called if it was a German opera, which it really should be. And this is what it would look like, approximately:

Bless them all!

This is great, from Shane Harris at Foreign Policy: it seems that at the same time as General Keith Alexander was running the National Security Agency he was really busy speculating in commodities, potash and aluminum, with weird and unpredictable markets and connections to our favorite spying targets, China and the Russian Federation:

The Artside

Alice Goodman, in a Guardian interview of 2012:
"The guards at Auschwitz were able to do what they did because they had dehumanised the people who came through. It's that whole process of dehumanising that I hate. To have made Klinghoffer into the Klinghoffer the critics wanted would have been to play into that enterprise of dehumanising – dehumanising your enemy, dehumanising your friends as well."
I wasn't planning to see the new production of Alice Goodman's and John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met, not for political reasons. I can't afford to see even a small fraction of everything I want, and I saw the opera at Brooklyn Academy of Music in the semi-staged production of 2003, and frankly I thought it was static and the music weak. Then came Monday's twitterstorm in advance of the production premiere and the demonstration outside the opera house, and opera fan Rodolfo Giuliani pitted against Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill de Blasio, and I said to myself, boy, whose side are you on? and ordered tickets. For Guy Fawkes Day, as it happens.

The right to aspire

"Make that respect for me, not for you." Via somebody's tumblr.

Just about everybody you might want to hear from is on this astonishingly offensive remark by the governor of New Jersey, but I'd like to help pile on:
"I gotta tell you the truth, I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am," Christie said during an event at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, according to a recording of his remarks by the liberal opposition research group American Bridge.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear and Trembling and Republicans unto Death

Grzegorz Klaman, Fear and Trembling. Installation piece, Schmidt Center Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, April-May 2007.
David Brooks takes on the Quality of Fear:
There’s been a lot of tutting-tutting about the people who are overreacting to the Ebola virus. There was the lady who showed up at the airport in a homemade hazmat suit.

West of Eden: Syria update

Sheikh Rasho Rasho Hussein, keeper of the Yazidi temple in Khanka Kavin, Iraq. Photo by Julia Harte/National Geographic, July 2013.
The collusion of seemingly unrelated news items converging on the town of Ayn al-Arab/Kobanê is getting really interesting. It's not really part of the Rectification task to spend so much time covering these things, but I feel the press is not putting them together very well, so I hope readers don't mind. I'll get back to the literary criticism soon. (Tuesday is Brooksday!)

Airdrop supplies from the US included lethal weaponry for the first time, we heard first thing in the morning, with the weaponry being provided not by Americans but by Iraqi Kurds, and then over the BBC that the Turkish government has suddenly changed its mind about permitting volunteer Kurdish fighters to cross the Turkish border to Kobanê—only, officially, not Turkish Kurds, just those same Iraqi Kurd peshmerga, for whom a corridor will be opened along the border from Iraq.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A smylere with a knyf

The Temple of Mars Ultor, Rome, completed in 2 B.C.E., commemorating the Battle of Philippi. Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Lt. Col. Dr. John Nagl, Headmaster of the Haverford School, former president of the Center for a New American Security, worshiper at the Temple of Mars Armipotent, and all-round person who likes to find unusual ways of using the word "knife" in book titles—Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, 2002; Knife Fights, 2014—is on the book tour circuit mongering the latter, a Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice (you can catch him with his co-"author" on the army's revised counterinsurgency manual, Gen. Dr. David Petraeus, being interviewed by Max Boot, M.A., no military rank for some reason, at the 92nd Street Y for $45 if you don't mind one of the cheap seats, the night before Halloween).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

White House Fool Report: Ugh, lawyers

Barrel pillory, from Deadly Planet.
Hey Mr. President, you wouldn't be airing out the linens and dusting up the old black sites and revving up the racks and thumbscrews for a spin, by any chance? Because Charlie Savage is reporting in the Times that
President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view [on the United Nations Convention against Torture]. It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

West of Eden: Syria report

Kurdish wedding ceremony, Kobane, 1960s. Via ARA News.
Glad to be able to report that in his first press briefing since the war on the Caliphate began in June, commander Lloyd Austin stressed that US efforts to not kill civilians are not merely humanitarian, but part of the overall strategy:

Friday, October 17, 2014

American exceptionism

Harold Lloyd in Why Worry? (1923). Via Margaret Gunning.
David Brooks has decided he'd like to be an idealist in politics, but not a high idealist. He wants to be a low idealist, striving for low ideals:
I’m here to make the case for low idealism. The low idealist rejects the politics of innocence. The low idealist recoils from any movement that promises “new beginnings,” tries to offer transcendent “bliss to be alive” moments or tries to fill people’s spiritual voids.
What exactly are low ideals? Are they ideals without the incense and vestments, like low church? Or humble ideals, that keep their heads down in the presence of the squire? Or is low idealism a kind of idealism the way low speed is a kind of speed, a kind of build-up-your-self-esteem everybody-gets-a-trophy way of saying not very idealistic?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Retroactionary Tuesday!

Updated 10/15/2014
Image by The Daily What, via Slashfilm.
Shorter David Brooks, "The Sorting Election", New York Times, 14 October 2014:
I mean which do you prefer, the Bay Area and the quaint old backward-looking, high-regulation, walkable-neighborhood broccoli information economy of the 1990s, or Houston and the hot new forward-driving, petroleum-stained, big-freedom raw-meat energy economy of the 1980s? The country's big enough for the both of them, right?
He's in his highest-gloss nonpartisan just-sayin' mode today, calling forth wonderful peals of invective from Driftglass, who can be driven very nearly insane by that "who, me, conservative? Why I'm just an innocent bystander" pose, and the faux-barbaric yawp coming from someone who until recently believed Applebee's had a salad bar:
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