Thursday, April 27, 2017

Franks on Drugs

Border fence between Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona, a few years ago. "Arizona Governor Janice... Brewer’s office had received complaints from Nogales residents that illegal activity is happening everyday at the border in plain view of both Americans and Mexicans. Initial investigation by the agents confirmed that Americans and Mexicans on either side of the border have been playing volleyball using the fence as their net. The activity has gained popularity in recent weeks and agents fear that it might spread to the rest of the entire Arizona–Mexico border. Agents dispatched to the scene are now on a 24-hour watch over the border to ensure that at the end of each game, the Mexican ball does not end up on U.S. soil, which would violate customs regulations." (The Adobo Chronicles, October 8 2013)

Via Josh Marshall—Trent Franks, the Arizona Congressman from the Metro Phoenix region (180 miles or so north of the border and some 79% white, which is coincidentally not much more than what Franks scored in the 2014 election, though he's fallen off a bit since then) with the comic porn star name, explaining what terrorists would do if they wanted to smuggle a nuclear weapon across the Mexican border (because it would be easy to get it from their weapons factory in Lebanon or wherever he thinks it might originate to Mexico):

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I watched him interviewed

Image via EurWeb.
There's a new spareness in Donald Trump's poetic diction, a sheer terrifying verticality, dispensing with the merely pretty or ornamental, a new aim at the bare sublime of alp or iceberg. The critics seem a little baffled by it: they're calling it "incoherent", as if it hadn't been incoherent before, but I think we may see in the end that it's mostly spinier. The repetition is more and more an architectonic device: where syntactical incompleteness conveys the fragmentary character of experience, repetition binds it together.

Lament on Unexpected Treachery
by Donald J. Trump

well he said you’ll be the greatest
president in the history of

but you know what
I’ll take that also
but that you could be

but he said will be the greatest
president but I would
also accept the other

in other words
if you do your job
but I accept that


then I watched him interviewed
and it was like he
never even was here

it’s incredible

I watched him interviewed
a week later and it’s like he
was never in my office
and you can even say that

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Jane Addams Precept

Jane Addams, 1915, via Wikipedia.
Former New York Times columnist David Brooks has been thinking about the Progressive-era Chicago activist Jane Addams ("The Jane Addams Model"):
These days everything puts me in mind of Jane Addams.
Everything, David?
Many of the social problems we face today — the fraying social fabric, widening inequality, anxieties over immigration, concentrated poverty, the return of cartoonish hyper-masculinity — are the same problems she faced 130 years ago. And in many ways her responses were more sophisticated than ours.
Oh, that. We're back on the Road to Character and those individuals who radiate something or other through their lives, etc., etc., though I would question whether the Addams model of conducting one's life is a suitable model for those of us who are challenged in the aspect of being born rich, and able to take time out traveling through Europe looking for good ways of spending it all.

Which is not intended to diminish the accomplishments of Jane Addams in founding and running the Hull House settlement in Chicago, because she was a truly extraordinary woman—and Brooks doesn't even mention her work as philosopher, social researcher, and public intellectual, hmm, wonder why that is.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Pictures from Saturday, where I had the opportunity to meet up with our friend the Big Bad Bald Bastard, an actual scientist by training, and help defend our community against the plague of ignorance and vicious profit-seeking.

Central Park.
People really were chanting, "What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!" I'm so glad I'm a nerd.

"Shame! Shame!" outside the Trump International at Columbus Circle.
"Science doesn't care what you believe, Carol!"
We felt good about it.

Sure you want us to look at that poll, Donald?

Watchmen's Ozymandias, via Comic Vine

Popularity-obsessed Trump bragging on the results of the latest survey from ABC-Washington Post:

If they blew it so badly five months ago what makes him trust them now? As you know, they didn't blow it; their finding, that Hillary Clinton would have won a national election if the US had national elections, by a handy 2 or 3 million votes, was correct. The forecasters who were wrong (and not big but very narrowly), were those who studied the 50 separate state elections and missed the results in three, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where a hundred thousand or so votes gave Trump an unexpected 46 electoral votes and the presidency.

In any case, is he sure he wants us to look at that poll? Because 53% called him a strong leader? Sorry, all sorts of politicians are strong leaders, including Mussolini and, um...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Puffed Tweet

Photo by Libération. Looks like Macron 23.7% and Le Pen 21.9% to the second round, with Fillon and Mélenchon in the 19s, third and fourth respectively, and the ci-devant Socialist pretty much dead for the moment.
Not the worst result you can imagine, by any means, especially since the polls for the deuxième tour favor Macron very strongly, as if Obama's intervention for Macron and Trump's for Le Pen may have made a difference (Trump's in the opposite direction from the one intended).

Most enjoyable Schadenfreude point is the way rightwing Twitter is unable to understand that the first-round numbers—not an exit poll but a statistically valid sample of real votes—are real, and keeps reporting partial numbers from the officials as if they were going to last:

Hope to post something more funny or profound later, but in the meantime have some more Puffed Tweet and useful links:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Annals of Derp: The Normalizing

Image via Steamspy.
So one of the twitterers I follow is a horrible hasbarist called Omri Ceren, who keeps you up to the minute on the propaganda messaging of the Netanyahu government. I don't usually address him directly, because he's very deep into the ugly, and there are usually about ten presuppositions you'd need to shoot down before getting to his point, but he's been wallowing into the Trumpery lately, naturally, and this particular slur, against former ambassador Michael McFaul, got my goat. It's also a case of The Normalizing, where the author indignantly rejects evidence of the Trump incompetence as if they were just making stuff up out of spite. Happily, Ceren turned out to be just as wrong as you might have hoped.

Civilization and its Malcontents

This dude in the illustration run at the top of yesterday's David Brooks column ("The Crisis of Western Civ") is a Giant—extremely strong, in the ancient Greek cosmology, and maybe violent, but not huge in stature like Germanic giants—getting roughed up by a goddess, Doris, the consort of the sea god Nereus, in the colossal mythological battle of the Giants against the Olympian gods, the Gigantomachy, depicted in the frieze from the altar of Zeus of the Anatolian city of Pergamon, 2nd c. B.C.E., now at the Pergamon-Museum in Berlin, which was closed down when I was there a couple of years ago—I really wanted to go not so much because I knew what was there as because I love the sound of the name, and its hum of German classicalism. It's a huge moment in art history, though, of the transition between the calm majesty of the high Athenian moment and the violence and spectacularity of later Hellenism, like that from Mannerism to the Baroque in the 16h century.

The context in which the face is set can be seen below, from a somewhat different angle, where you can recognize the extent to which Doris (whose head has been lost over the millennia) is not simply pulling the unnamed Giant's hair, but has yanked his head back hard enough, maybe, to break his neck, and you can see the intensity of his pain in the way his eyes are rolled back into his skull as he tries desperately to pull her hand away:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Friday

Via L'avenir en commun, website of the Jean-Luc Mélenchon campaign.
I've felt pretty dispirited about the French election, and was heartened by this Mélenchon campaign cheer by one key supporter, Olivier Tonneau, in The Guardian, which may help talk you out of any fears inspired by reportage from the bothsiderist mafia that the only plausible leftist candidate is where Left meets Right around the back of the circle if you believe in that particular myth, or that Mélenchon is a Putinist or that he wants to destroy Europe:
we don’t plan to leave the EU: we aim to force the renegotiation of its treaties by means of unilateral disobedience. From the moment we come to power, we will implement a massive, environmentally focused Keynesian stimulus funded via a public bank, thus kickstarting the French economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
We will not apply privatisation directives. We will opt out of the posted workers programme, but we will not reduce freedom of movement. We will implement a salary scale: the highest salary will never be more than 20 times the lowest. We will cap revenues at €400,000 a year. We will regularise the situation of all working illegal immigrants, and we will not implement quotas for refugees.