B12 Solipsism

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Lorem fucking ipsum: A Good Fucking Design Advice Service

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words at the Seattle Public Library
random words at the Seattle Public Library.

Sometimes standard Lorem ipsum is not the right choice. Lorem fucking ipsum might be.

Here is 156 words worth:

You are not your fucking work. Respect your fucking craft. Creativity is a fucking work-ethic. Don’t worry about what other people fucking think. You won’t get good at anything by doing it a lot fucking aimlessly. Practice won’t get you anywhere if you mindlessly fucking practice the same thing. Change only occurs when you work deliberately with purpose toward a goal. Paul Rand once said, “The public is more familiar with bad fucking design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.” When you sit down to work, external critics aren’t the enemy. It’s you who you must to fight against to do great fucking work. You must overcome yourself. To go partway is easy, but mastering anything requires hard fucking work. Form follows fucking function. Intuition is fucking important. Why are you fucking reading all of this?

(click here to continue reading Lorem fucking ipsum: A Good Fucking Design Advice Service..)

Create your own

Written by Seth Anderson

June 2nd, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Posted in humor,Links

Tagged with ,

You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby

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Stop The Witchcraft
Stop The Witchcraft

Names are power, but still, paying someone $30,000 to come up with a name seems excessive. What happened to randomly opening a dictionary? Or a Bible?

Professional services have popped up in the U.S. and Europe to aid parents with naming their children for a fee. Last year, Marc Hauser, who runs the Switzerland-based naming agency Erfolgswelle, went from solely serving brands to also branding children. His firm charges over $29,000 for every baby it names, devoting two to three weeks and around 100 hours of work to the process. Though Hauser thinks that approaches rating baby names strictly by data (and not emotion) are “overrated,” his firm does check to ensure that a baby name has not already been trademarked. “Even when it’s a little close to an existing brand name, it will not survive,” he said. Historians also vet the name to ensure it goes not have “an aggravating past.” Hauser admits that his own first name, Marc, would never make the cut at his firm because it’s connected to the name of an ancient Roman god of war.

Sherri Suzanne, who runs My Name for Life in New York, said her services begin at several hundred dollars. She spends around 30 hours on a single name report. 

Baby-naming experts have been around since long before Western specialists started marketing the service to nervous parents with high disposable incomes. In South Korea and India, for example, spiritual leaders can offer advice on what to name a child by reviewing scripture, astrology, and local culture. Just as with a wedding, a donation is offered to the spiritual leader in exchange for the service. In some cases, the baby is not named until after it has been born. “A shaman came over to our place and did a ceremony when I was a couple weeks old,” said Seung Lee, a 23-year old San Francisco resident who was named through this process in South Korea. “The shaman gave a couple names for us to mull over.” While the practice is not entirely common, it’s important to those who participate, said Lee.

Some experts recommend a more data-driven route. “I’ve seen parents do just incredible things with their poor children’s names because they were creative and thought they were going to be unique,” Mehrabian said. “If you are getting somebody who really knows the evidence, then I’ll say it’s worth every penny, whether its $500 or $5,000. Believe me, you don’t want to name a child with an unattractive name and have them go through life and suffer the consequences.”

(click here to continue reading You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:38 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

The Short-fingered Vulgarian Named Donald Trump

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Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

I used to subscribe to Spy Magazine for a few moments in my callow youth, and I remember this epithet of The Donald, but had forgotten about it until recently…

[Donald Trump] has one proven weakness over the course of his four decades in overly public life: stubby fingers.

Trump has presumably had short fingers for as long as he’d had fingers, but it wasn’t until 1988 that anyone called attention to it. That year, Spy magazine began the practice of needling Trump at every  opportunity by referring to him in virtually every story as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” (“Queens-born casino profiteer” would also do.) Trump defended his honor in the New York Post, stating that “my fingers are long and beautiful, as, has been well-documented, are various other parts of my body.”

In an essay last fall, former Spy editor Graydon Carter revealed how much this pissed Trump off: To this day, the Republican presidential front-runner continues to mail Carter photos of himself, and “[o]n all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers.” …

On Friday, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska even joined in on the fun, responding to an insult from Trump by joking, “you’d think I asked Mr @realDonaldTrump abt the length of his fingers or something important like that.”

(click here to continue reading What Donald Trump’s Short Fingers Mean for His Presidency | Mother Jones.)

Short Fingered Vulgarian - Spy - April 1988

and Graydon Carter’s article includes this laugh line:

Like so many bullies, Trump has skin of gossamer. He thinks nothing of saying the most hurtful thing about someone else, but when he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret. Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.” Which I can only assume gave him fits.

(click here to continue reading Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian” | Vanity Fair.)

Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Posted in humor,politics

Tagged with ,

Decoding Daesh: Why is the new name for ISIS so hard to understand?

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https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5680/22700235717_2811781995_z.jpg

Duly noted. Though using the phrase ISIS and sometimes ISIL has been going on long enough that most people will continue to use it for while, and will be confused to hear the phrase Daesh…

Over the last few months, there has been a concerted effort by several senior global politicians to give a new name to the group known as ISIS, or Islamic State, IS or ISIL. That new name is ‘Daesh’. If you’ve followed coverage of this attempted official linguistic sea change, you’ll have gathered that the new name, although it’s just an Arabic acronym equivalent to the English ‘ISIS’, apparently delegitimises the organisation, mocks them, and thus drives them to threaten taking violent retribution on anyone who uses it.

But why does this acronym have this power, and what’s so offensive about it? If your access to news media is only in English, you might still be none the wiser. You may have got the impression from this coverage that the exact meaning and connotations of the word cannot quite be fathomed by anyone – that this word is a nebulous drifter, never to be pinned down. Basically, the coverage seems to imply, it’s obscured by a veil, like so much else in the Arabo-Islamic world, and we can’t hope to get it spelled out for us. It’s far too Eastern and weird for that.

Well, I’m an Arabic translator, so my work revolves around pinning down and spelling out Arabic words and explaining them in English, and I’m here to let you know that there’s nothing mysterious about this new acronym: it may be from a language quite different to English, and an Eastern one at that, but trust me: it can be explained.

And so if the word is basically ‘ISIS’, but in Arabic, why are the people it describes in such a fury about it? Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be ‘a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are. Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status. Khaled al-Haj Salih, the Syrian activist who coined the term back in 2013, says that initially even many of his fellow activists, resisting Daesh alongside him, were shocked by the idea of an Arabic acronym, and he had to justify it to them by referencing the tradition of acronyms being used as names by Palestinian organisations (such as Fatah). So saturated in acronyms are we in English that we struggle to imagine this, but it’s true.

All of this means that the name lends itself well to satire, and for the arabophones trying to resist Daesh, humour and satire are essential weapons in their nightmarish struggle. But the satirical weight of the word as a weapon, in the hands of the Syrian activists who have hewn it from the rock of their nightmare reality, does not just consist of the weirdness of acronyms. As well as being an acronym, it is also only one letter different from the word ‘daes داعس’ , meaning someone or something that crushes or tramples. Of course that doesn’t mean, as many articles have claimed, that ‘daesh’ is ‘another conjugation’ of the verb ‘to crush or trample’, nor that that is ‘a rough translation of one of the words in the acronym’ – it’s simply one letter different from this other word. Imagine if the acronym of ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ spelt out ‘S.H.I.D’ in English: activists and critics would certainly seize the opportunity to refer to the organisation as ‘shit’ – but I think it’s safe to say that no serious foreign media outlet would claim that ‘shit’ was another conjugation of the verb ‘shid’, nor a rough translation of it. Of course, that analogy is an unfair one, given the hegemonic global linguistic position of English, not to mention the heightened currency of scatological words; but there is a serious point to be made here about the anglophone media’s tendency to give up before it’s begun understanding non-European language

(click here to continue reading Decoding Daesh: Why is the new name for ISIS so hard to understand? | Free Word Centre.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2015 at 10:18 am

Posted in News-esque

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Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World

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Now that I’m no longer a vegetarian, I’m a member of the chicken-eating hordes. I don’t think I eat 80 pounds of fowl a year, but maybe…

Essence of Chicken
Essence of Chicken

Andrew Lawler, author of Why Did The Chicken Cross The World, is interviewed by the National Geographic:

Humans can’t do without chickens. Chicken is the most popular meat today. Americans eat more than 80 pounds a year, more than pork or beef. So we tend to think people must have domesticated the chicken because it was good to eat, right? Well, no. Scientists now believe chickens were not domesticated to eat in the first place.

Every chicken you see on Earth is the descendant of the red jungle fowl, a very shy jungle bird that lives in south Asia, all the way from Pakistan to Sumatra and Indonesia. It’s a small, pheasant-like bird hunters like because it’s very hard to find, so it poses a great challenge. The strange thing is that these birds are so shy that when they’re captured in the wild, they can die of a heart attack because they’re so terrified of humans. So the question is, How did this bird, that is incredibly shy, become the most ubiquitous bird on Earth?

(click here to continue reading The Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World.)

Rooster and angles
Rooster and angles

Chicken or religion, which came first?

But when I started to dig into it, I discovered that the chicken has actually played more roles across human history, in more societies, than any other animal, and I include the dog and the cat and cows and pigs. The chicken is a kind of a zelig of human history, which pops up in all kinds of different societies.

If you go back to ancient Babylon, about 800 B.C., in what is now Iraq, you find seals used by people to identify themselves. Some of these have images of chickens sitting on top of columns being worshipped by priests. That expanded with the Persian Empire. Zoroastrians considered the chicken sacred because it crowed before dawn, before the light appeared. And in Zoroastrian tradition, the coming of the light is a sign of good. So the chicken became associated with an awakening from physical, as well as spiritual, slumber.

Big Cock
Big Cock

and finally one last tidbit, one that I was unaware of: roosters don’t actually have a penis!

Do roosters really have no penis?

This is true. And the odd thing about it, of course, is that roosters are the byword for the male reproductive organ. Yet they don’t have penises. Ducks and a lot of other birds do. But chickens are among those birds that don’t need a penis. When two chickens get romantic, they have a cloacal “kiss,” pressing their cloaca against one another. The reason the rooster has been for so long the symbol for sex as well as the male organ is because they’re randy creatures. They will mate continuously, and with different partners. In the ancient world, that was considered a sign of vibrancy and fertility. So they became associated with human sex.

In Puritan America, we tried to stamp the word “cock” out of our English language. It used to be you would call a weathervane a weathercock or a water spigot, a water cock. But in the 17th and 18th centuries in New England, people decided that they shouldn’t even use the word cock, because it was too suggestive. [Laughs] Luckily, it didn’t catch on.

(click here to continue reading The Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 22nd, 2014 at 10:43 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with , , ,

Sock Puppets, Online Trolling and The Dead Sea Scrolls

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History Books Tell It
History Books Tell It

What a strange story. Norman Golb, a professor at the University of Chicago, had some theory about the Dead Sea Scrolls, other scholars had different ones, so Raphael Golb spent a good many hours attacking his father’s rivals via the internet. I wonder if this ruling will be applied to the political realm, say, to serial aggressors like the folks at Breitbart dot com or The Daily Caller? or in the Shirley Sherrod trial? Mr. Golb was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation for doing what happens on right-wing websites and news organizations each and every day1

The ancient religious texts have much to say about the divine obligations of a son toward his father, but they are silent on the propriety of using computers, blogs, pseudonyms and Internet sock puppets to fulfill them. For this, there is only the law.

On Tuesday, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, heard arguments in Albany applying the law to Raphael Haim Golb of Greenwich Village, in Manhattan, who for three years used the electronic means at his disposal to impersonate, belittle and accuse the academic rivals of his father, a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. The law in this case dealt Mr. Golb, 54, a felony conviction and 28 misdemeanor convictions for identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment and unauthorized use of a computer.

(click here to continue reading Court Hears Appeal by Son of Scholar on Dead Sea Scrolls – NYTimes.com.)

Thank You Puppet Theatre
Thank You Puppet Theatre

He is appealing, of course.

According to Mr. Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, internet trolling is no big deal as long as no money is made:

“Are you really saying this is legal, to send emails in my name, confessing to the assassination of President Kennedy or whatever?” Judge Robert S. Smith asked.

“I wouldn’t,” Mr. Kuby said. “But it would not be criminal. Would it be rude and boorish? Yes.”

What would make it illegal? Mr. Kuby was asked.

Economic benefit, he said. Merely getting “psychic joy” and “savage pleasure” did not count. “Intent to annoy, intent to be obnoxious — that, in and of itself, cannot be criminalized.”

Mr. Rivellese countered that Mr. Golb’s behavior was clearly malicious and criminal, intended to mislead recipients and damage Dr. Schiffman’s career.

Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. pushed the point with Mr. Kuby, asking whether it would be all right for someone to pretend to be Alex Rodriguez and confess to using banned steroids, which Mr. Rodriguez has denied.

“I don’t actually see a criminal problem with that,” Mr. Kuby said.

The ancient texts are silent on the question of steroids and suspensions. On the conviction for impersonating a scholar, the judges will decide.

Footnotes:
  1. and some left-wing sites too, to be fair, on a smaller scale []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 26th, 2014 at 8:51 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Phony Class warfare theme

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Class Warfare
Class Warfare

Sometimes I forget that the Chicago Tribune is a Republican-friendly newspaper. On many topics, they are decent source of non-biased news, but every so often, the visage slips. Last Friday, the print edition of the Chicago Tribune had this inflammatory headline:

“Democrats up class war ante”

The online version available today has slightly toned down the headline, but not much

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns.

(click here to continue reading Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme – Chicago Tribune.)

Either way, calling Democratic Party initiatives to reduce income inequality, slightly, as class warfare is offensive, and straight out of Frank Luntz’s dictionary. Circa 2008, Frank Luntz started labeling every economic-related Democratic Party position “class warfare” whether or not it actually applies.1 Raising the tax on millionaires isn’t going to bankrupt the millionaires. Increasing the minimum wage isn’t going to force Bruce Rauner to sell off one of his many, many mansions. No Democratic politician is calling for the guillotine to be rolled out, though plenty of us peons chuckle at the idea. 

As Senator Bernie Sanders has been saying for many years, the real class warfare is being waged ruthlessly by the 1% on the rest of us. Focusing on tax breaks for corporations, flat tax proposals, allowing someone like Mitt Romney (or Bruce Rauner) to pay tiny amounts of income tax; these are tools of the rich, these are actual battles of class warfare. Cutting food stamps is class warfare, cutting education assistance is class warfare, cutting Social Security is class warfare, eliminating the minimum wage is class warfare, you could make a big, long list.

“What kind of nation are we when we give tax breaks to millionaires but we can’t take care of the elderly and the children?” Sen. Bernie Sanders asked on Monday. He was reacting to a new report that more than 18 percent of Americans last year struggled to afford food. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are calling for deeper and deeper cuts in food stamps, a program that provides help mostly to children and seniors. We are living in “a very ugly moment,” the senator told the Rev. Al Sharpton.

 

Later Sen. Sanders ripped Republicans for claiming that the problem is that children get too much help from the federal government, “These are the same people who want to eliminate the estate tax, which applies to only the top three tenths of one percent of all Americans, which is the richest of the rich, then they are going after kids. The politics of this, Al, is what they are trying to do is deflect attention away from income and wealth inequality. Attention away from the fact that the rich are doing extraordinarily well, and tell their supporters that the real problem in America is that children are getting too much help from the federal government, and that’s the kind of mentality that we have got to fight back against.”

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Quivers as Bernie Sanders Outs the Dirty Secret Behind His Poverty Propaganda.)

Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

Speaking of wealthy class warriors, check out this list (from the Tribune, in fact) of some of the properties that the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, owns

There’s the 6,870-square-foot Rauner mansion on a half-acre lot in Winnetka; two units, including a penthouse, in a luxury high-rise overlooking Millennium Park; a waterfront villa in the Florida Keys with a 72-foot-long pool; ranches in Montana and Wyoming; and a condo in an upscale Utah ski resort.

Most carry price tags well into the seven figures. But topping the list is a penthouse in a landmark co-op building along New York’s Central Park, which property records show Rauner bought in 2005 for $10 million.

Rauner has amassed a larger stable of high-end residences than Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee whose plentiful and opulent homes lent ammunition to foes who portrayed him as an out-of-touch elitist.

Rauner dismisses any such comparison to Romney…

Rauner said he likes recreational properties where he can practice land or water conservation. He often buys and pastes parcels together in areas he thinks are beautiful to “have an investment that appreciates over a 20- to 30-year period.”

That includes his property in Wyoming, he said, where he grows barley, alfalfa and winter wheat.

When he takes his family West, they most often go to his New Moon Ranch in Livingston, Mont., near Yellowstone National Park. It sits on hundreds of acres of grazing and cropland and includes a nearly 6,000-square-foot home, according to property records. It has five bedrooms and four baths and is currently valued by the Park County, Mont., assessor at $2.2 million.

In the winter, Rauner and his wife, Diana, have their pick of both hot and cold weather getaways. For snow sports they have a condominium in the luxury Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, east of Salt Lake City, purchased in 2003 and currently valued by the assessor there at $1.75 million.

The Rauners also own an oceanfront home in Key Largo, Fla., currently worth almost $7 million, according to property records there. It has a private boat dock, four bedrooms, four baths, 5,370 square feet of ground-floor living space and a patio nearly half that size.

The Rauners also have a New York penthouse on Central Park in a century-old Beaux Arts style building known as The Prasada. They paid $10 million for it eight years ago. A billionaire neighbor recently put the adjoining penthouse up for sale and is asking $48 million, according to realty postings.

In Illinois, Rauner holds title to three homes in Cook County, including two condominium units on East Randolph Street. Records show Rauner paid more than $1.2 million for the smaller unit in late 2008, where one of his daughters now lives.

The Rauners bought the penthouse unit a couple of months earlier, in August 2008, for $4 million, according to county records. …

The Rauners still own their Winnetka house and consider it their primary residence. Its current market value is estimated at $3.3 million by the Cook County assessor’s office.

(click here to continue reading Bruce Rauner has many million-dollar homes and a campaign that touts frugality – Chicago Tribune.)

Footnotes:
  1. I’m not sure Frank Luntz is the first to use this talking point, but he came up with Death Tax, and other Republican “hits”, so it stands to reason []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 25th, 2014 at 10:07 am

Dude: Etymology of the word is traced to “doodle”

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Dudes
Dudes

Important, nay essential research being conducted in our ivory towers…

The project belongs to Barry Popik and Gerald Cohen, described by Metcalf as “Googlers before there was Google.” Along with the help of other colleagues, they have been combing through 19th century periodicals for years, slowly amassing the world’s biggest collection of dude citations. The latest issue of Cohen’s journal, Comments on Etymology, lays out, in 129 pages, the most solidly supported account yet of the early days of dude.

So where does dude come from? Evidence points to “doodle,” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He’s the fellow who, as the song has it, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.” “Macaroni” became a term for a dandy in the 18th century after young British men returned from their adventures on the European continent sporting exaggerated high-fashion clothes and mannerisms (along with a taste for an exotic Italian dish called “macaroni”). The best a rough, uncultured colonist could do if he wanted to imitate them was stick a feather in his cap.

“For some reason,” Metcalf says, “early in 1883, this inspired someone to call foppish young men of New York City ‘doods,’ with the alternate spelling ‘dudes’ soon becoming the norm.” Some of the early mocking descriptions of these dudes seem awfully familiar today: “A weak mustache, a cigarette, a thirteen button vest/A curled rim hat — a minaret — two watch chains cross the breast.” Yep, sounds like a hipster. But that word has gotten so stale. We should all go back to “dood,” or maybe even “doodle.”

(click here to continue reading Dude: Etymology of the word is traced to “doodle,” as in Yankee Doodle Dandy..)

Self Confidence In a Suit
Self Confidence In a Suit

and

Here’s a poem, courtesy of the Brooklyn Sunday Eagle for April 22, 1883:

“What is the dude, papa?” she said, with sweet, inquiring eyes,

And to the knowledge seeking maid,

her daddy thus replies:

A weak mustache, a cigarette, a thirteen button vest,

A curled rim hat—a minaret—two watch chains cross the breast.

A pair of bangs, a lazy drawl, a lackadaisy air;

For gossip at the club or ball, some little past “affair.”

Two pointed shoes, two spindle shanks, complete the nether charms;

And follow fitly in the ranks, the two bow legged arms.

An empty head, a buffoon’s sense, a poising attitude;

“By Jove” “Egad!” “But aw” “Immense!”

All these make up the dude.

(click here to continue reading Dude! – Lingua Franca – The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Prisoner of Fashion
Prisoner of Fashion

Bill Cunningham Ready, in other words, or BCR – our private code to point out a stylish dresser approaching on the street. As in “He’s BCR!” – meaning, if Bill Cunningham saw this person, he’d take the dood’s (or doodine’s) photo. 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 5th, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Posted in humor,science

Tagged with ,

What Is a False Flag Attack

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I have nothing to add to the discussion re: the horrible events at the Boston Marathon, so I’ll echo what Wittgenstein wrote in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

United States of Peace
United States of Peace

I did wonder what the phrase: false flag attack meant. The right-wing nut jobs accuse the government of setting the bombs off for whatever twisted reason the nut jobs came up with. Seems ludicrous to you and me, but then we are sane. 

Philip Bump of the Atlantic explains:

What is a “false flag” attack?

The term originates with naval warfare. For centuries, ships have sailed under a flag identifying their nationality. During times of war, ships would sometimes change the national flag they flew in order to fool other vessels that they sought to attack or escape from. They would fly, in other words, a “false flag.” The term then expanded to mean any scenario under which a military attack was undertaken by a person or organization pretending to be something else.

What the questioner was asking, then, was: Did the United States government orchestrate this attack, pretending to be a terrorist organization of some sort, in order to justify expanded security powers?

Is There Historical Precedent for Such a Move by a Government?

There is.

The most famous example, however, is contentious. Conspiracy theorists (of which there are a lot in America) often suggest that the 1933 fire at the Reichstag in Berlin was a “false flag” operation by the Nazis to consolidate power and undermine the Communist Party. This is still a subject of debate among historians, some of whom think the man convicted of the crime, Marinus van der Lubbe, was actually responsible. In 1998, a German court exonerated van der Lubbe.

The nexus of fascist government manipulation and phony disasters has proven difficult for theorists to resist. Following most attacks similar to Monday’s bombings, there have been accusations that they serve as a tool of government oppression.

For example, the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary were quickly labeled a “false flag” operation by conspiracy theorists, the implication being that the Obama administration wanted to use the tragedy to tighten gun restrictions. If that was the president’s goal, the Senate wasn’t on board with it.

(click here to continue reading What Is a ‘False Flag’ Attack, and What Does Boston Have to Do with This? – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire.)

I guess I knew what that meant after all, just didn’t know the exact historically accurate phrase. I truly doubt the government decided to use Boston marathon runners as fodder in expanding the War on Terror, or the War on Gold, or whatever the nut jobs are speculating about.

Flag

From Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon:

On his radio show, Jones speculated that it may have to do with the sudden drop in the price of gold, a favorite commodity of paranoids everywhere. “With gold plunging, what could this signify?” he asked rhetorically. He also noted that Boston has special significance in American history, and because it’s where one of the planes took off from on 9/11. “I said on air that they’re getting ready to blow something up. To fire a shot heard round the world like at Lexington and Concord, and then they do it at this same place on the same day!” he said.

As Alex Altman of Time noted on Twitter, “Today is Patriots’ Day, which has significance for militia movement. McVeigh bombed Murrah Bldg on Patriots’ Day in 1995.” Patriots’ Day, a civil holiday in Massachusetts, commemorates those battles outside Boston that sparked the American Revolution. The holiday is now celebrated on the third Monday of April, though the battles actually took place on April 19, meaning the two dates are often conflated.

In addition to the Oklahoma City Bombing, which occurred on the 19th, the date also coincides with the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. As John Avalon wrote for the Daily Beast in 2010, the day has “emerged as a ‘Hatriot’ holiday for some anti-government activists and militia groups.”

This year, Patriots’ Day also falls on Tax Day, another important date for right-wing extremists. For all these reasons, Jones predicted that while “they might blame it on the Muslims, they’re going to blame it on the Tea Party.”

(click here to continue reading Alex Jones: Boston explosion a government conspiracy – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 16th, 2013 at 8:28 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

America’s Slippery Slope Into Britishisms – NYTimes.com

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Earlier today…

MITT ROMNEY is not the “bumbling toff” he’s made out to be, wrote Daniel Gross, an American journalist, in a recent Daily Beast article. The latest iPad is a “lovely piece of kit,” in the words of John Scalzi, an American science-fiction author writing in his blog, Whatever. The Chicago Bulls were mired in uncertainty less than a “fortnight” after their star player Derrick Rose went down with a knee injury, according to an article in The Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, last spring. Crikey, Britishisms are everywhere. Call it Anglocreep. Call it annoying. Snippets of British vernacular — “cheers” as a thank you, “brilliant” as an affirmative, “loo” as a bathroom — that were until recently as rare as steak and kidney pie on these shores are cropping up in the daily speech of Americans (particularly, New Yorkers) of the taste-making set who often have no more direct tie to Britain than an affinity for “Downton Abbey.”

The next time an American “mate” asks you to “ring” her o

Via:
America’s Slippery Slope Into Britishisms – NYTimes.com
[automated]

Written by eggplant

October 11th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Posted in Links

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Songs We May Have Forgotten

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Songs We May Have Forgotten
Songs We May Have Forgotten (click to embiggen)

Sunset in the West Loop.

A Flickr pal asked me how I named this photo.

My response:

Short answer, I don’t know.

Longer answer: Titles are hard, especially after coming up with over 8,000 already1. I try not to repeat myself when naming the photos that I upload to Flickr, but it is a challenge. Some photographs name themselves, others have only a tangential, tenuous relation between subject and title. I’m a bit of a magpie, snatching up fragments of phrases from wherever I find them, or sometimes just from turning off my conscious brain for a second, and seeing what emerges from my subconscious.

Footnotes:
  1.  8,891 items uploaded to Flickr as of 8-31-2012 []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 31st, 2012 at 11:08 am

Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy

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Whitney - Graceland
Whitney – Graceland

Dr. Juan Cole discusses a bit of European history in context of Romney’s Aryan Nation remarks.1 Talk about dog whistles: Romney is talking to a very specific type of racist, whether intentional or not.

Anyway, Dr. Cole writes, in part:

I really dislike Nazi references. They are for the most part a sign of sloppy thinking, and a form of banal hyperbole. But there just is no other way to characterize invoking the Anglo-Saxon race as a basis for a foreign policy relationship, and openly saying that those of a different race cannot understand the need for such ties. It is a Nazi sentiment.

If you would like some evidence for what I say, consider Adolf Hitler’s own point of view:

For a long time yet to come there will be only two Powers in Europe with which it may be possible for Germany to conclude an alliance. These Powers are Great Britain and Italy.”

Of the two possible allies, Hitler much preferred Britain because he considered it higher on his absurd and pernicious racial hierarchy. Indeed, Hitler held Mussolini a bit at arms length while hoping for a British change of heart, a hope only decisively dashed in September, 1939, when Britain declared war.

Hitler complained that colonialism was in danger of diluting Aryan European strength, weighing down the metropole powers. He contrasted this situation with that of the white United States, blessedly possessing its “own continent.” Indeed, it is, he argued (genocidal crackpot that he was), Britain’s special relationship with the Anglo-Saxon-dominated United states that kept it from being overwhelmed by its subhuman colonials:

“we we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.”

The argument of Romney’s advisers has exactly the same shape as Hitler’s, only it is being made from the American point of view rather than the European.

And, if we had a Jewish president at the moment, couldn’t the Romney camp make exactly the same argument, that the person didn’t appreciate the importance of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and ties? Is this really the discourse you want to engage in just before you arrive in Israel?

Romney has to find out who told Swain these things, and fire them. He has to publicly disavow these racist sentiments. They pose the danger for him of raising again the question of his own attitude to African-Americans as a young man in the 1970s before the Mormon church stopped discriminating against them on the grounds that they bore the mark of Cain.

Beyond the distasteful resemblances of this white supremacist discourse to the worst forms of rightwing extremism, the allegation astonishingly neglects to take account of who Barack Obama is.

Obama’s maternal grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, had English ancestry (among others), and some genealogists trace him back to the Earl of Norwich, who was a surety baron of the Magna Carta. Moreover, Stanley Dunham served in the US military in London and then on the continent during World War II, and was involved in saving Britain from Nazi Germany. You’d think that would be a basis for pretty warm feelings. And remember, it was Stanley Dunham who actually raised Barack Obama; he did not know his father.

In contrast, the Romney clan’s only practical relationship to Britain aside from ancestry was trying to convince Scots in Edinburgh in the 1920s to give up alcohol and caffeine and become Mormons. Aside from explosive mirth, I don’t know what other emotion that record might evoke among English Anglicans of the sort Romney appears to want to rub up against, but it certainly would not be warmth.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the whole idea of “Anglo-Saxon” England is a myth. Historical geneticist Eric Sykes has found in hisSaxons, Vikings and Celts that the genetic mix in England is not for the most part different from that in Wales and Scotland and Ireland. There are, here and there, signs of Norse or German (Angles and Saxons) settlement, but they are minor and have to be looked for and are mainly in the y chromosome markers, i.e. on the male side of inheritance. The women are virtually all “Celts.”

But even “Celts” are a historical construct as a matter of “race.” In his Seven Daughters of Eve, Sykes had found that almost all Europeans are descended from only seven women who lived sometime in the past 45,000 years, one of them from the Middle East. These seven haplotypes or genetic patterns show up in all European populations, including the Basque (in the mitochondria, the power plant of the cell, which is passed on through females and does not change in each generation).

There simply are no distinctive “races” in Europe.

(click here to continue reading Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy | Informed Comment.)

Footnotes:
  1. quote: “suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa. “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney” []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 25th, 2012 at 9:57 am

Posted in politics

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Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era

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Whatever Gets You to the Light
Whatever Gets You to the Light

Amusingly, Jacob Weisberg has much the same reaction as I did to the nonsense phrase: Chicago Style politics, but expresses his disdain a bit more forcefully, in an article that begins…

If I hear one more person accuse the Obama campaign of practicing “Chicago-style politics,” I’m gonna kick all his nephews off the park-district payroll.  I’m gonna send some precinct captains over to straighten him out. Mitt Romney and his surrogates don’t understand what Chicago-style politics means. No one seems to have told them that it’s been gone for 25 years. And they don’t get that Barack Obama, in his Chicago days, never had anything to do with it.

Chicago-style politics, in common parlance, refers to the 1950s-1970s era of the Richard J. Daley machine. If you want to read a great, short book about that world, I recommend Boss by Mike Royko. The strength and durability of the Daley machine was its ethnically based patronage network, a complex system of obligations, benefits, and loyalties that didn’t depend on televised communication with a broader public.  It was a noncompetitive system that in its heyday had a lock on urban power and the spoils that went with it.

One of the most memorable phrases from that era comes from a story often told by former White House Counsel Abner J. Mikva, who described attempting to volunteer on a local campaign in the late 1940s.

“Who sent you?” asked the cigar-chomping 8th Ward precinct captain.

“Nobody sent me,” replied Mikva. “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

The machine was dominated by the Irish and centered in Bridgeport, the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that was the ancestral home of the Daleys. Bridgeport’s antithesis has always been the liberal, multicultural enclave of Hyde Park, the University of Chicago neighborhood where the Obamas—and Bill Ayers—live. (The other thing the precinct captain told Mikva was, “We don’t want nobody from the University of Chicago in this organization.”) Hyde Park’s 5th Ward was the only one out of 50 to elect an independent alderman until the late 1960s, when political reformers like my parents and their friends on the North Side began to challenge the Daley machine. 

By the mid-1980s, the independents had mostly finished off the Daley machine—thanks mainly to the Shakman decree, still very much in force, which prevents any political consideration in hiring, firing, and promotion, with the exception of a thin layer of policy positions. This meant that when Harold Washington, a black machine politician turned reformer, was elected in 1983, he controlled only a few hundred city and county jobs, instead of the 35,000 Daley had at his disposal. By the time the younger Richard M. Daley was elected mayor in 1989, the Chicago machine was, like the Italian Mafia, more legend than force. Chicago-style pizza still exists. Chicago-style politics, equally deplorable in my view, no longer does. 

(click here to continue reading Mitt Romney’s campaign is attempting to link Barack Obama to the corruption of Chicago-style politics of a different era. – Slate Magazine.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 24th, 2012 at 8:38 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,politics

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One of our trucks is burned (sic)

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Snowy Delivery
Funny spam I received just now, which purports to be from FedEx, and reads:

We apologize, but it seem so, that we not can deliver your package. One of our trucks is burned tonight. In attachment you can find a form for insurance. Please fill it out and send it us urgent, because we must told amount of damage to the Insurance company

Ok! I’ll get right on that.

Written by swanksalot

July 23rd, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Posted in humor

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Chicago train system: Called the L not the El

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Station hopping shuffler
Station hopping shuffler

Since I was looking for this Chicago Transit Authority citation recently, I’m posting it here so I can find it easier in the future. Proper usage is important, especially if you know there is a proper usage.

As far as I could tell, Grid Chicago didn’t actually make this a blog post, but their Twitter conversation was picked up by a few outlets, including the Chicago Tribune:

You may have wondered, as you climb aboard a CTA train: Are you about to ride the “El” or the “L”?

Grid Chicago, a blog devoted to energy-conscious transit issues in the city, asked on its Twitter feed last week which usage people prefer — the single “L” or the longer “El.”

Among the responses came one from the official CTA Twitter account:

That’s not to say the “El” isn’t used, despite the fact that only parts of the city’s rail system are elevated. Time Out Chicago, a publication devoted to covering arts and entertainment in the city, is among those preferring “El.”

“El” can also be found in some book references. For instance, in his 1947 collection “The Neon Wilderness,” Chicago author Nelson Algren refers repeatedly to the “El.”

“She put her hat on the dresser and sat by the window, looking out at the night-fuming neon all the way down Congress to the El,” Algren writes at one point. Though, in fairness, some credit (blame?) East Coast editors for changing the usage.

(click here to continue reading Chicago train system: Is it the L or the El? – Chicago Tribune.)

I’ve had a few of my photos published by Grid Chicago – they are good people, and have a good mission. Check ’em out…

Written by Seth Anderson

June 30th, 2012 at 9:03 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

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