Day 72 of 1,461 (or 2,922)

No links today, just the UNVARNISHED TRUTH.

  • “Irregardless” is a better word than “apparently.”
  • Apples to Apples is better than Cards Against Humanity in every way.
  • The Ewoks are cute and a great part of the Star Wars universe.
  • Red Delicious apples are an abomination.
  • Chocolate milk made from powder is better than chocolate milk made from syrup.
  • The New York Times deserves to go bankrupt.
  • History will smile far more kindly on Hillary Clinton than on Bernie Sanders.
  • Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time.
  • Jurassic World was good.
  • Jurassic Park III was good.
  • Orange is an appropriate color for everyday officewear.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a genius.
  • Hamilton is a bona fide American masterpiece that has entirely earned the praise which it has accrued.
  • Ron Weasley is a great character and Hermione did well by landing him.
  • Crispy M&M’s are the best M&M’s.
  • Gmail is Google’s best April Fools’ joke.

Days 70 and 71 of 1,461 (or 2,922)

  • Michael Flynn is asking for immunity, which isn’t the same as being granted immunity. Still, it’s something.
  • The Nazi frogs have finally realized that Trump may fuck them over like he does literally everyone. There needs to be a word for negative sympathy.
  • Devin Nunes is the awful Republican du jour, but Jason Chaffetz still sucks.
  • The Deep State spilled my coffee! The Deep State burst my pimple! The Deep State canceled Silent Hills!
  • Jared Kushner has been given everything and earned nothing (h/t Anne Laurie).
  • Ashley Feinberg did some great Internet sleuthing and found James Comey’s Twitter account. E… mails?
  • North Carolina’s terrible bathroom bill was repealed by a bill that’s also awful. But it might be the best that can be done for now.
  • The “only 50 permanent jobs” argument against the Keystone pipeline runs into a problem when we realize that all construction jobs are temporary. I’m fine with a little logical looseness in the service of winning political battle, but we shouldn’t have to be sneaky. The irreversible warming of the earth should be reason enough to not build oil pipelines.
  • Americans do in fact know that Lincoln was a Republican. Some of us even know that he was a Whig!
  • Scientists aren’t going to attend conferences in a country that might detain them for being foreigners. God Bless America.
  • Colleges are quietly doing their part in helping undocumented students. Might have to stay quiet until Cockwork Orange is gone.
  • It turns out that those nifty baby boxes may be as relevant to infant mortality as green packaging is to the taste of Crispy M&M’s.
  • Glenfiddich did something rad with its latest Scotch: inviting 20 brand ambassadors to pick out individual barrels that the malt master then combined into a single malt.
  • The history of museums is utterly fascinating. Witness, for instance, the rise and fall of plaster casts. It was a different time.
  • The American Scholar:

    “Not that I thirst for violence in any way, but I have to wonder: What piece of classical music today could incite a riot? What does it say about the waning influence of this particular art form that even the most avant-garde works of our time would barely raise the blood pressure of the public?”

  • Istanbul is swarming with cats. But in a good way! The documentary Kedi is all about those cats, and it’s awesome.
  • Netflix is making an R-rated animated feature.
  • If you wanted to know the differences between all those movie producers, but were afraid to ask, I have good news for you.
  • One more thing… in Wikipedia’s category on “living people,” one man out of the seven billion people that walk this earth got a sub-category all to himself. You of course know who it is… former Senator Evan Bayh?!?!?! O… K.

Books You Oughta Read: March

March - John Lewis - Cover
Buy it on Amazon.

John Lewis is a Civil Rights hero. Do you know why he is a hero? Until recently, I couldn’t really answer that question. Thankfully, Congressman Lewis wrote a graphic novel: March, with help from aide Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell. The third and final volume was published last year. March primarily covers Lewis’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement from 1960 until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, with a framing story set on the day of President Obama’s first inauguration.

My biggest takeaway from the book was the sheer extent of Lewis’s participation. It seems like he had a hand in everything. A non-exhaustive list of his actions during the Civil Rights Movement:

  • Working to desegregate the lunch counters of Nashville as a 20-year-old college student in 1960
  • Riding with the first cohort of Freedom Riders in 1961, then organizing a continuation of the ride after the first bus was firebombed and destroyed
  • Directing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966
  • Speaking at the March on Washington (He was the youngest speaker and the only speaker still alive today.)
  • Organizing voter registration and community education in Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer
  • And of course, Selma

March: Book One opens in media res, showing Lewis’s march at the head of the first Selma march on March 7, 1965, a.k.a. Bloody Sunday, for which he got his skull cracked, after which March: Book One goes to the framing device, leaving the Selma story to be picked up not in March: Book Two, but in March: Book Three, which shows Martin Luther King’s march at the head  of the second march on March 9, a.k.a. Turnaround Tuesday, during which Lewis is still hospitalized for the injury he sustained during the first march, then the third march, for which Lewis had sufficiently recovered, allowing him to march in the front line of the third, successful, Selma-to-Montgomery march, the last significant Civil Rights action depicted in March, on March 21, March 22, March 23, March 24 and March 25.

The graphic novel doesn’t show anything after the ’60s other than Obama’s inauguration, but it resonates with current events as good books tend to do. Some of the things that struck me:

  • Just how fractured the Civil Rights Movement could be. Being composed of students and other youth, SNCC was frequently impatient with the slow pace of progress and relative conservatism of the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Even Lewis wasn’t safe — during March: Book Three in particular it feels like SNCC is breaking up from under him. He marched at Selma as a private citizen rather than a representative of SNCC. Lewis’s guiding lights were always MLK and nonviolence as a philosophy, rather than as a tactic. Many disagreed.
  • How John Lewis’s speech for the March on Washington had to be rewritten because the other march organizers thought it too harsh and combative. The original called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “too little too late,” questioned the Kennedy administration’s commitment to civil rights and threatened a march through the south “the way Sherman did.” The speech he delivered supported the Civil Rights Act “with great reservation” and left out the other inflammatory parts. Was it censorship, or was it good tactics? Or was it both? Or was it censorship and bad tactics?
  • How white allies in civil rights organizing spurred conflict as well. “N—-r lovers” were beaten up as badly as, or even worse than their black compatriots. But this violence against white people in the movement always received much more coverage than violence against black people, which naturally fostered resentment. SNCC debated at length about the role of white people, whether they should take visible leadership, whether they should be allowed in SNCC at all, etc. In the end, the coalition did not last long, though long enough.
  • And finally, the intensity of the training and preparation that organizers went through. Nonviolence requires that you refrain from the natural response to indignity and abuse. You say thank you when someone dumps garbage on you. You curl up when being attacked rather than fighting back, yet you still maintain eye contact. The organizers blew smoke in each other’s faces. They called each other “n—-r.” They practiced everything that might happen to them, in order to prepare themselves to resist, and to sift out the ones who could not handle that level of abuse. Those people still had a role in the movement, but they couldn’t be on the front lines. Contrast this with a deliberately improvisational movement like Occupy Wall Street.

Lewis is diligent in giving credit to the many people he worked with, and takes the time to depict events for which he wasn’t physically present, so the book also functions as a decent history of the Civil Rights Movement. The framing device is moving and the illustrations are great. The story really benefits from being a graphic novel. One “issue” is that the book is about real, realistically depicted people rather than weirdos in colorful costumes, so if you share my, er, talent for faces, sometimes you might have trouble remembering which characters are which.

Overall, March is a fantastic book, and it seems that people agree with me, because it’s won a boatload of awards. Buy it, or check it out from your local library.

Day 69 of 1,461 (or 2,922)

  • If you read anything today, read this piece from Washington Monthly about monopoly and the collapse in the number of black-owned businesses.
  • Trump should be booed early and often, and it’s a shame that he seems to have caught on to that. Hence him skipping out on the enduring American tradition of throwing the first pitch.
  • The Russia news just keeps coming. Now we know one of the sources of the infamous dossier.
  • The House of Representatives voted to hamstring the EPA. If there are future historians, I hope they recognize just how monstrously our government behaved when we needed them most.
  • Hating Uber is a worthy use of your time, but sadly, Lyft is not much better. When the consumer is powerless to act, the voter must step in.
  • Classic articles from The Onion are part of a balanced media diet.
  • The Wreck-It Ralph sequel has a title, and it’s wretched — Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. However, if they follow that up with Ralph Breaks the Internet III and Ralph, it will be the greatest franchise of all time.
  • A mysterious figure has superglued protractors to signs and other surfaces all over Pittsburgh.
  • Muskmelons are great. I can attest to their taste. Would you pay THOOOOOOOOOOUUSANDS of dollars for one? Decide for yourself.

Building statues of living people sucks

It’s creepy and I don’t like it. And it’s probably bad luck. NBC Sports agrees with me, so I am not alone on this. I’m fine with busts. Portraits are great, less so if you commission one of yourself, but still OK. Wax figures are a bizarre edge case that I’m inclined to let slide, owing to their inherent impermanence. But traditional statues go too far. Just look at these monstrosities.

Gyah! It looks like they encased real people in metal. And cloned them beforehand to keep up the ruse. It’s disgusting, perverse and I won’t have it. U.S. law prohibits presidents from appearing on currency until two years after death. A similar law, executive order or constitutional amendment should be enacted for statues. THUS SPAKE I.

Joe Paterno Statue
Though maybe they SHOULD have encased Joe Paterno in metal.

Day 68 of 1,461 (or 2,922)

The first comment on this excellent scene is rich.

  • When confronted with the greatest crisis ever to hit our species, our country surrendered to it out of spite. The most consequential thing the Green Party has ever accomplished!
  • Devin Nunes canceled all of the House intel meetings. The Trump regime is trying to block Sally Yates from testifying. What did Trump know, and when did he know it?
  • In the grand list of things that smart-SOUNDING people say, “Obamacare was written by the Heritage Foundation” is up there with “Nixon was a liberal” and “Frankenstein is the scientist, not the monster.” Such people should be shunned with extreme prejudice.
  • Michigan’s Senators did the right thing. They will oppose Neil Gorsuch ascending to Merrick Garland’s seat.
  • Bill O’Reilly behaved cartoonishly racistly toward Maxine Waters. This behavior isn’t new.
  • Comic Sans still persists in our society like a staph infection. Perhaps making its use a capital crime would cure this scourge.
  • If the earth were flat like Shaq claims, given a decent telescope we’d be able to see London from New York. That would actually be really cool, like the Silmarillion.
  • And finally, thieves stole a giant gold coin from a German museum. Did they know that they were stealing Canadian currency?

Day 67 of 1,461 (or 2,922)

Back to the fight.

  • The automation “crisis” is going to get worse: 38% of jobs in America could be replaced within 15 years. Forget The Right to be Lazy, the necessity to be lazy may be upon us. We have to do something. (h/t Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money).
  • Donald Trump is the culmination of everything the GOP has been moving toward since, arguably, the Nixon administration. Nothing matters but winning, dominance and sticking it to liberals. No wonder he doesn’t care about actual governance.
  • I thought it was obvious that anyone who insists on their greatness is not really so great. But more than 60 million people didn’t know this, or were OK with it. I’m sad.
  • If you’ve been wondering about how exactly Trump and Tom Price might go about sabotaging the ACA through the executive branch, David Anderson at Balloon Juice has you covered. The next battle will be fought for the cost sharing reduction subsidies which made silver plans the best deals on the exchanges.
  • Call your Senators and ask them to filibuster Neil Gorsuch! Or call to thank them for filibustering Neil Gorsuch! How will you know which action to take? Check the list.
  • Steven Mnuchin seems to be Trump-lite in terms of creepiness and corruption. Where do they find these assholes?
  • Trump’s chosen a horribly anti-gay, anti-trans zealot to run the fucking civil rights office at HHS. There’s always more bad news.
  • The au pair program has some problems.
  • Awesome Wikipedia article of the day: “Sneakernet”

    In September 2009, Durban company Unlimited IT reportedly pitted a messenger pigeon against South African ISP Telkom to transfer 4 GB of data 60 miles (97 km) from Howick to Durban. The pigeon, carrying the data on a memory stick, arrived in one hour eight minutes, with the data taking another hour to read from the memory stick. During the same two-hour period, only about 4.2% of the data had been transferred over the ADSL link.