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July 19, 2019


From what I remember, the Curse of Ham was also very helpful to the Dutch Reformed Church in justifying apartheid.

But Genghis Khan etc etc etc

Modern nationalist Hinduism blah blah blah

Wahabist Islam yadda yadda yadda

With a share buy-back, demand is temporarily increased. So the price goes up, and the insiders sell at the increased price. (Which means that the company gets less value for money, of course.) And then the price of the shares that everybody else owns drop back.

That's possible if the shares are sufficiently illiquid: otherwise the market will not allow a price rise which it knows to be temporary. But buybacks have to be announced, so selling into them is not restricted to insiders. And the effect on the share price will be negative once the buyback finishes.

...why doesn't the business just declare a special dividend and return the money to the existing shareholders

As an equity investor, I prefer not to be paid (taxable) dividends.

Executives holding deferred shares, or call options, have an incentive not to pay large dividends (unless their holdings are structured to compensate them for such dividends).

people romanticize what they will never have to experience. they look at a life they will never live and use it as a template to tell a story about themselves - leaving out the unpleasant parts.

in the 1700s it was cool to have your own resident hermit. build him a little nook in the woods and let him life his romantic life of moral purity and good honest suffering.

from which we get hobbits and Tom Bombadil. so, an even trade.

As a former ceo of a publicly traded company, two things:

The increased focus on shareholder value was a reaction to insiders taking advantage at the expense of shareholders. This also caused a higher percentage of executive compensation to become stock. This increased even more as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley etc. After Enron.

All this insider trading stuff is not so easy these days. Blackout periods in most publicly traded companies are longer than the times you can trade. If there is any discussion of a purchase, sale, special dividend, split, repurchase, the list is pretty long of material events that lockup insider shares until at least three days after public announcement. Often one of these prevents trading in the aftermath of another. Not to mention that without a preannounced and filed plan to sell shares it is pretty frowned upon for insiders to sell shares on the news.

There was a homeless guy for a while who slept under some shrubbery near my apartment building.

He looked comfortable. His nest looked like a fort that we would cobble together as kids in the woods and the foliage served as great cover.

I rousted him out of there the other week, threatening to call the cops, because I wanted HIS spot too on alternate nights when I don't sleep in my own bed in my apartment.

I don't have enough. I have aspirations for more, sure, but less strikes a romantic chord in me, so I want that too.

I want it all. I'm envious of downward mobility.

Just so:


The Republicans are bringing their own upmarket garbage, heroin, and vermin from home to litter the streets of Baltimore for their soiree.

And their personal out of town hookers, the local talent not being up to snuff and so ... well ... disrespectful. I mean, I would expect Kelly Ann Conway and Tucker Carlson to be there as well plying their trade, wouldn't you?

Maybe staying in a p/kushner subsidized townhouse recently emptied for the occasion via evictions. Spot of paint there, some new drapes, caulk the bathroom tiles, and quadruple the rent. Dress the rats in butler and maid costumes. Bob's your uncle.

Course, leave it to the Democrats to lose the "optics" game on this as well. Their retreat

Walker Percy speaks in his essays and occasionally in his novels, as an example of existential displacement and rotation, of the contemporary habit of renovating old southern plantation slave quarters and time-sharing them out to vacationers, the latter probably from the north, instead of letting the structures moulder and rot in the southern humidity.

It's a little like the current phenomenon of jails and prisons renting out cells to weekend vacationers for the experience.

"Honey, whaddaya say we head down to the shore this weekend? We can rent that cute bungalow like we did on our honeymoon."

"Oh, that's so been there, done that. Tell you what, I was reading the other day they'll let you stay on the old death row at the state prison. You get a last meal and you can leave notice at the desk to have a screw come by early in the morning and rake his billy club across the bars for an up and at 'em wake up call and an early expresso in the yard. They'll even let you carve your name on the shower wall."

Next up, a night in the Bastille. The very cell the Marquis de Sade stayed in. You can have yourself shackled and hung from a dank stone wall by your wrists with your feet dangling. They say it does wonders for the spine.

The dormitories and other structures at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson have been left to rot. Seems a waste to me. I mean, you get a Marriott or P Enterprises in there to spiff it up, maybe build a golf course on the periphery, think of the coin. You would be met at the gate after disembarking from the luxury train, organic straw thrown down in the boxcars for your delectation, by bell captains, bellhops, valet car parkers dressed as Nazis and they send the wife and kids off in one direction and you in the other .. just like the movies ... your luggage disappears and right off the bat, they'll take your clothes for laundering and jewelry for safekeeping and you are proffered a complimentary apertif as you are ushered into the hot tub jacuzzi building.

Showers first, then the hot tubs.

The re-living of it would be even better than the actual living of it you've read about in the history books.

I'm told, by Rush Limbaugh, I think, that many of the original Nazis who worked the camps envied their prisoners and their ordeals. Himmler himself would visit, upchuck a little in his mouth, and while holding a silk handkerchief over his olfactory noseholes, commiserate with his adjutant that THOSE PEOPLE, no matter what we do, always manage to get treated better than we treat even ourselves.

Why, in a way, it's something to aspire to, he thought.

"Their retreat ..."

To finish the thought:

Their (the House democrats) retreat will take place at an exclusive, isolated resort, with a private airport for the private planes maybe in Barbados.

FOX News will report it. Tucker Carlson will show footage of himself crawling out of a dumpster in Baltimore, some of his teeth blacked out with a magic marker, a couple of hairs in disarray, a half-eaten dead rat in one hand, and say, "Eat your heart, Elijah Cummings," and then look into the camera like a slightly constipated and befuddled poodle.

p's poll numbers will inch up even more.

"The increased focus on shareholder value was a reaction to insiders taking advantage at the expense of shareholders. This also caused a higher percentage of executive compensation to become stock. This increased even more as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley etc. After Enron."

The secret is to game whatever the fix is.

If the government would just stay out of it, we could return to whatever the natural law originalist corruption happened to be.

"If the government would just stay out of it, we could return to whatever the natural law originalist corruption happened to be."

Hostile takeovers with torches and pitchforks.

[email protected]: a masterpiece, even by your standards.

In 1204 Constantinople fell not to the Muslims but to the Crusaders, who tried to bring about the end of the world (having failed to accomplish this previously with the sack of Jerusalem) by placing a singing dancing whore on the altar of Hagia Sophia, and, having failed in this as well, despoiled and deflowered their way through the queen of cities, and then (before they grew poor and disappeared) ruled her for fifty-seven years and squabbled with and killed one another. “And once again,” recorded the contemporary historian Nicetas Choniates, “Polyarchy spread over the East, a three-headed monster constituted of the stupid.”

I would dearly love to post a link to a most beautifully written Harpers article about Byzantium by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, but since I can't I excerpt the paragraph above and commend it to you. The link would end archive/2012/05/byzantium/?single=1

Designer pitchforks and certifiably hand-made luxury torches for the well-to-do connaisseur.
Do the peasant-equivalents in the cities even know how to handle* or craft either.

*as in wield. The other 'handling' is part of the crafting. In case of pitchforks it would rather be shafting what those who will get the shaft like can't do either properly. You'll need angry-rural-folks-for-hire, I fear.

Who could have predicted Schindler's List would become a bucket list?

The Kroll-Zaidi article:


It's behind a paywall, but if you rid yourself of cookies on your browser, you should get access to it.

Thanks for that, JDT.


I can't help but wonder if the whole 'dressing down as peasants' trick is obsolete, though.

If it's rooted in a fantasy about escaping the social duties and obligations of privilege, there's been, erm, technological innovation on that front.

Nowadays, we've got libertarianism.

I can't help but wonder if the whole 'dressing down as peasants' trick is obsolete, though.

not a chance.

here's a T-shirt that proclaims "Corporate Magazines Still Suck A Lot" - it's a copy of a shirt that Kurt Cobain made for himself to wear on the cover of Rolling Stone. €430.


US slavery became particularly brutal not because of racism, but as it was an essentially industrialised system which treated slaves as components in the machine.

Actually I think racism did make it worse. In lots of cultures with slavery, anybody could end up a slave. Your odds varied with your wealth and social standing, of course. But you could lose those. That vulnerability constrains just how awful the institution is allowed to be.

Whereas in the US, if you were white nobody was going to try to make you a slave. And the kinds of indenture, etc. that could happen were all things that you could successfully run away from if they got too horrible. ("Go West, young man!") When in can't happen to you and yours, it takes more to really care about it.

Do the peasant-equivalents in the cities even know how to handle* or craft either.

Pitchfrorks and torches? No.

- tire irons
- road flares
We can contrive.

people romanticize what they will never have to experience.

In various times and places in Europe, this was done with Native Americans. For example:

"Native Americans in German popular culture are largely portrayed in a romanticised, idealized, and fantasy-based manner, that relies more on historicised stereotypical depictions of Plains Indians, rather than the contemporary realities facing real Indigenous peoples of the Americas."
Native Americans in German popular culture

not a chance.


The question is, is the putative buyer interested in that shirt *because* that's what they think the ordinary poors wear? Are they fantasizing about putting on their new purchase and subsequently disappearing into anonymity, where they can live a simple life, free from the burden of guilt about all the poor people who will die from untreated kidney disease because they're avoiding a couple billion dollars in taxes by funneling profits through a Caribbean tax shelter?

I'm thinking, no. For one thing, there's no reason to feel guilty about perfectly legitimate tax shelters. Why? Because f*** you and your "human society", it's my money, that's why!

Instead, I think the buyer of that shirt is planning to immediately wear it to their TED talk, or to show off their laid back style at the hippest new underground endangered-species-meat restaurant or whatever.

IOW, stuff like that isn't really dressing down, it's dressing up *by* dressing down. Demonstrating you've got so much money and status, you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want, including a t-shirt that costs more than an ordinary person spends on an off-the-rack suit. See also: black turtlenecks.

The 14th century equivalent is maybe more like courtiers abandoning the elaborate kirtle in order show off their figures in more streamlined, less modest outfits. Not like fantasizing about wearing sack cloth and being forgotten.

Demonstrating you've got so much money and status, you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want

You mean like the First Lady visiting a disaster scene wearing a jacket reading "I really don't care, do U?"?


Roughly the same numbers as when Andrew Johnson and the southern Democrats torpedoed the 40 acres and mule reparations arrangement in 1867 or whatever year it was.

Stolen labor being the only profitable business-as-usual labor there is and, in fact, something even republicans aspire to for themselves as a sentimental attachment to our hallowed past.

If you read the small print, however, as an alternative, you'll learn that republican/p supporters offered to dress up in blackface minstrelsy, hit the cotton fields, and subject themselves to fake whoopins and receive reparations on the black race's behalf.

Ya can't beat em, join em, and besides the slaves looked like they were having so much fun under the whip.

We want to be strange fruit too, say p conservatives.

Make that two mules and 100 acres, if you would, please.

I'm reading a book of Flannery O'Connor's essays, which are mostly about writing as a devout southern Catholic, along the lines of Walker Percy's experience, and I love both writers, as writers, though O'Conner was not an existentialist.

But, as a product of her time and place, she was privately, in letters, which were, and may still be, not included in her collected writings, down on the niggers, despite making initial favorable noises elsewhere about integration and the Civil Rights movement.

I just finished a really lovely book by Paul Elie, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own -- An American Pilgrimage" which interweaves the intersecting life stories and writing careers pf O'Connor, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic worker, and Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, and Elie points out that in her letters O'Connor lamented integration as interrupting the customary "manners" that whites and blacks had developed over time.

Percy had this "manners" subject on his mind too, but coyly.

I can't help but think what they think of as southern manners between the races is simple relief that the black race had the mannered forbearance to not butcher and slaughter them in their fucking beds for what was done.

She also had this to say in her letters, a "cool observation" as Elie puts it, after a black worker who was maimed in an accident received worker's compensation ... "this a very demoralizing situation. A wealthy sitting Negro."

O'Connor with own disability, Lupus, which tragically killed her in her prime, sounds envious, like maybe SHE would like in addition to have a hand lopped off in a farm accident so she can get wealthy like a nigger too.

Regarding her decision not to meet with James Baldwin in his travels in Georgia, she wrote that the meetings "would cause the greatest trouble and disturbance and disunion" among the whites of Milledgeville. She wrote, "about the Negros, the kind I don't like is the philosophizing, prophesying pontificating kind, the James Baldwin kind. Very ignorant but never silent."

You hear the conservative, white reaction to Barack Obama of present days in there. How dare that man speak to us like that, and in better English complete sentences than we speak. You can hear Ronald Reagan, that rouged racist, at the Neshoba County Fair.

You can hear James Earle Ray's thoughts as he checked into the motel across the way within shooting distance.

And, again in the unpublished letters, suggestions that she doesn't like Negroes and they should all be sent back to Africa, or Baltimore, where they come from.

But alright, the statute of limitations is up, like it is for my racist grandfather, on O'Conner.

There's a lot of this going around among conservatives, this victim envy.

More later on that.

Talk among yourselves. As you were.

there's always "glamping"

Whereas in the US, if you were white nobody was going to try to make you a slave. And the kinds of indenture, etc. that could happen were all things that you could successfully run away from if they got too horrible.

No idea if this is actually true, but I read it somewhere once:

In the *earliest* days of the US colonies, at least some Africans were brought over not as "slaves" per se, but onstensibly under the auspices of limited-term indentured servitude contracts, on more or less the same terms as many poor English/Irish/German/whathaveyou colonists.

The thing was, while *some* of those indentures ended up being discharged more or less on schedule, others were extended, under one pretense or another, eventually indefinitely.

One guess about the distinguishing characteristics of those released vs. those retained...

John Punch was the first man in the English colonies to end up an actual slave. he'd been brought to America, from Africa, as an indentured servant, but when he tried to escape, the Colonial VA legislature sentenced him to slavery for the rest of his life.

Christians can't enslave Christians. but he wasn't a Christian. therefore... slave.

You mean like the First Lady visiting a disaster scene wearing a jacket reading "I really don't care, do U?"?

Yes, although that reportedly only cost $39. I'd almost be willing to believe that was actually a genuine, if deranged, attempt to blend in and disappear.

Of course, I'm not sure escapism is actually the only theme. IIRC, a lot of the fairy tales and other stories I think we're talking about (Norse myths are full of gods wandering around in human drag) have more a sort of "undercover boss" vibe to them. The prince needs to hide out among the common people for a time, but thereby later learns to be a better king. The returning lord (I see you over there, Odysseus) infiltrates his own castle as a wanderer and ferrets out corruption, etc.

Haven't seen enough (any) minstrel acts to know if that's a thing with them as well.

John Punch is thought to be Barack Obama's 12th-great grandfather, though on his white mother's side rather than his African father's side. Despite the superficial irony (if that's the right word), it makes sense that John Punch would be on the American side of Obama's family.

From Jefferson's Pillow, by Roger Wilkins (the setting is Virginia in 1675):

The noisily expressed resentment of the landless men at those who presumed to rule them began to create a tangible danger. Nathanial Bacon, a well-connected young man who had come to the colony and been appointed to the governor's council, stepped into the crisis [which involved Native Americans]...

Bacon, who now had a fervent band of supporters that included both black and white dispossessed men, proceeded anyway, but now in a different direction: frustrated by the governor's bumbling, he and his men turned their martial attentions from the Native Americans to the elite...

After a few months of plunder and pillage, which terrified the ruling class, Bacon fell ill and died. Without its leader, his revolution soon petered out. Although he left no political credo, the events taught powerful lessons on the dangers of class antagonisms within the population...

The elite would subsequently turn racial hatred inward and use it to stifle class consciousness among the whites. The power of Bacon's rebellion had sprung from the union of poor blacks and whites against a perceived common enemy; when the Native Americans, at least at home in Virginia, proved too elusive to serve as an effective distraction, the role fell to blacks, whose utility as slaves was already being demonstrated in the colony.

Power would continue to be concentrated in the hands of the wealthy and the system would be fine-tuned to diminish the number of landless (and therefore dangerous) white men entering the society. These men had proved how hungry and aggressive they could be, and how much of a threat they posed to the social order and to the security of the ruling class. Blacks would now be clearly installed at the bottom rung of the ladder, and what little freedom and few rights they enjoyed would be stripped away. The legislature and the courts began codifying slavery....

As for those hungry, dangerous, aggressive white men, they were just like (per Wilkins's earlier portrayal) the hungry, aggressive men who now constituted the ruling class. The only difference was that one group had gotten there first.

Janie, your 12:49 reminds me of this (one of the best exchanges during the not-so-good final episodes of GoT):

Jaime Lannister: "Highgarden will never belong to a cutthroat!"

Bronn: "No? Who were your ancestors? The ones who made your family rich? Fancy lads in silk? They were fucking cutthroats! That's how all the Great Houses started, isn't it? With a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred people, they make you a lord. Kill a few thousand, they make you king. And then all your c**ksucking grandsons can ruin the family with their c**ksucking ways."

The increased focus on shareholder value was a reaction to insiders taking advantage at the expense of shareholders.

Correct. And it was likely a good idea to do something about insiders skimming value out of the corps.

It has, however, become a perverse incentive, in practice.

What is assumed, whether you think it's a good idea or not, is that shareholders ought to have pride of place among stakeholders in the enterprise.

That's the part that needs to be reconsidered. IMO.



hsh -- yes, that's apt. I've seen other fictional treatments, including one where the Superior General of the Jesuits is challenged to admit that the foundation of his family's fortune was drug-running. I've also seen non-fictional treatments, e.g. GBS, who has one particularly pithy quote about it that I haven't been able to find.

The prevalence of the belief that "Might is right," and whatever you can grab and hold is yours, explains a lot, and not just the Gilroy festival murders. Racism has been given permission to be out and proud, what with Clickbait and all, but other closeted motivations remain...in the closet. The Gilroy killer seems not to have gotten the memo:

He also posted a photo of a Smokey Bear sign warning about fire danger, with a caption instructing people to read an obscure novel glorified by white supremacists: “Might Is Right” published under the pseudonym Ragnar Redbeard. In his profile, which has since been deleted, Legan identified himself as being of Italian and Iranian descent.

He also didn't get the memo that Italians and Iranians aren't really white, or soon won't be at the rate we're going.

Forbes weighs in on maximizing shareholder value....from a capitalist perspective.

Rand Paul continues to demonstrate that he is a vile and despicable POS. It never ceases to amaze me that wingers can disparage our government and our culture in the crudest and ugliest terms, up to and including advocating violence, but they are somehow the "real amerkkkuns".

F*ck them.

yeah, but Ghengis Kahn was a Democrat. so...

that's Madeline Kahn's brother, Ghengis. he was a dick.

Hence the large number of children.....


Hence the large number of children.....

1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan.

But then,

Ten Other Men Left Genetic Legacies So Huge They Rival Genghis Khan’s.

Explains a lot, when you think about it......

I was going to add a smiley, but the slaughter of millions and the rape of thousands upon thousands isn't exactly a laughing matter. "Don't judge people by the standards of our time" doesn't quite cut it in this case.

Of course it does rather make a difference how long ago you look. At some (distant!) point, we're all descended from a little band of a few thousand hunter-gatherers. Doesn't take much, in a life fraught with peril, for a bunch of those to die off.

If you're only a few hundred years back, it's a different story.

Well, old Genghis died ~800 years ago. Is that "a few hundred years back"? It's certainly not a time frame when humans were a little band of a few thousand, since the Mongols may have killed as many as 40 million people, or ~10% of the world's population at the time.

But not as recently as Giocangga, who was only about 500 years back. But doesn't have Genghis' spectacular reputation. Comes, I suppose, of conquering China rather than Europe. Even though his descendants are not among the Han population.

To continue along the lines of where I left off with: "there's a lot of this going around among conservatives, this victim envy."

Mitch McConnell is now calling criticism directed at him for blocking all attempts in the Senate to get to the bottom of Russian interference in elections and attempts to steal elections at all levels on behalf of his political Party by the Russian government ... McCarthyism, and he doesn't mean the Charlie or Eugene varieties.

This is so fucking rich I want to spit.

After 65 years of every fucking conservative in this land hyping and bragging about Republican racist southern Senator McCarthy and his ruination of innocent lives and careers in that dark time and accusing every liberal endeavor since, tax hikes, public schools, increased subsidized healthcare coverage, Medicare, Social Security, every fucking public expenditure of money, as socialism, creeping socialism, creeping communism, Martin Luther King was a Soviet plant, it never fucking stops, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are pinkos, no, now McConnell, the conservative, who would have been an attack dog on the McCarthy committee had he been available wants to be the victim of liberal "McCarthyism", when the evidence of open, blatant collusion, which if done by any political figure left of center would have been portrayed as the biggest traitorous episode since Dreyfus in conservative fucking minds, with Russia, you know, the goddamned enemy of all things American according to conservatives and many liberals who we point thousands of nuclear weapons at .... McConnell is like the old Chevy Chase/John Belushi bit on SNL 45 years ago in which Chase is the Customs Officer searching luggage at the airport and the suitcases are filled to the brim with cocaine, he's pulling underwear and other clothing out covered in the powder and great clouds of the stuff are billowing around and his face is white with it, nothing to see here, sir, you may go on your way.

McConnell will be executed. I fucking mean that.

I see racist lout Rush Limbaugh (all of those guns out there and he's still shooting his mouth off) and was on FOX and Fiends the other day going after Kamala Harris' brown-skinned bonafides, she's not black, she's not African American, why she owes us for her success, we gave it to her, cough, affirmative action, cough he's more black than she is, by God, who is the victim here?

Like Flannery O'Connor's "wealthy sitting Negro" is Harris in Limbaugh's mind.

Why, no, it's Rush Limbaugh who deserves reparations.

He will be executed as well. Enough of his racist vermin mouth.

By the way not one day after one of the lying fucks on FOX and Friends protested that minimum wage jobs should have LOWER wages because those jobs aren't supposed to be careers, I was driving down the boulevard and right there on the Arby's sign was a "We're Hiring" notice.

It said: "CAREERS available with us. Join our team.

You know what is not a career? Sitting next to an airhead right wing blonde showing massive leg on a couch and projectile vomiting one lie after another into a TV camera and being paid in excess of six figures for it.

No, it should be a death sentence.

Then, we have this piece of work:


Never believe lying vermin conservatives when they tell you they want to devolve government to the state and local levels. No, they don't. Those budget babies are being drowned in the bathtub too, just in case someone gets the idea that maybe the states might take over some of the federal government's priorities.

Money quote:

"Another Alaskan who had scheduled a dentures appointment four weeks after having his teeth extracted was left with gums flapping in the wind, after the governor eliminated Medicaid dental coverage for adults. That saved the state $27 million."


I'm calling for massive violent resistance in the State of Alaska to these filth.

Something on the scale of Genghis Khan's half-hearted conservative efforts.

The Alaskan with no teeth should steal money and skip the next trip to the dentist and spend the money on guns and ammo and take that right wing piece of female crap (she's the victim, not the toothless one) out for some target practice.

Am I gettin thru to ya , Mr Beale?

None of those guys are a patch on Sooty the hamster.

Hey, russell, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Right?


Genghis Khan, all joking aside.

Will Attila the Hun do? Or isn't he up to snuff on the body count scale?

As part of a made up bullshit ahistorical mythology about the Hungarian racial and nationalist past now being imposed by nationalist, conservative, racist, anti-Semitic crypto-Christian filth on that country.


These aren't liberals. These aren't socialists. They are right wing killers who will murder hundreds of thousands and millions of the OTHER.

P, our own nationalist racist right wing lout, and Putin, p's model for nationalist, racist right wing louts, love the Hungarian motherfuckers asses.

The Hungarians must rise up and burn that country to the ground to rid the world of these filth.

And then replicate that resistance in Russia, India, and the United States against their sister conservative movements.

I've cited this article before, by a thoughtful conservative, Annie Applebaum, regarding similar murderous right wing rumblings in Poland:


Applebaum's no Stalin lover either, like Barbara Streisand and bobbyp who covered a lot of Joe's greatest hits in duets and want to apply his methods to Medicare Advantage for all.

She wrote this, which I read recently:


I mean, Stalin wasn't Genghis Khan, but ..... not for a lack of trying. Hitler was a mere Enterprise car rental joint to those previous two Hertz's and Avis's.

Basically the same ideological distance between AOC's Squad and Venezuela's Maduro, as in light years and galaxies apart, right?

By the way, let me repeat.

If ANY harm comes to anyone of the Squad from conservative republican murderers, the killing in this country will never stop.

Yes, my post praising both Janie and McKinney Texas awaits.

"When the Venetian merchant Marco Polo got to China, in the latter part of the thirteenth century, he saw many wonders—gunpowder and coal and eyeglasses and porcelain. One of the things that astonished him most, however, was a new invention, implemented by Kublai Khan, a grandson of the great conqueror Genghis. It was paper money, introduced by Kublai in 1260. Polo could hardly believe his eyes when he saw what the Khan was doing."
The Invention of Money: In three centuries, the heresies of two bankers became the basis of our modern economy.



I bet that wasn't figured into the business model.

The food delivery stocks trade at multiples way above, say, life saving drug manufacturers.

They deliver french fries, and they call it cutting edge, innovative capitalism.

America is really just the wet dream of a carnival barker.

I bet that wasn't figured into the business model.

Any time a new business comes along, it takes a while for everybody (inside the business as well as outside) to suss out all the bugs. Maybe the business figures out how to fix the really bad ones. Maybe the customers start going elsewhere as they discover unaddressed issues.

Not being a business hotshot, I have no idea how it could be addressed successfully. But happily, I'm not in that business. So I'll settle for continuing to not order delivery when it comes to food. (At least ready-to-eat food -- groceries might be another discussion, especially packaged ones.)

Finally, the secret of the underwear gnomes is revealed:

1. Collect underwear
2. Write an app about the underwear
3. Profit!

russell, I thought I heard about a 'service' that send you regular shipments of 'wear a week or two, then toss' underwear.

Sounds like a stinky business model, but what do I know? Underwear Gnomes, they're here.

Food delivery, huh? I've been seeing strangers walking up to my neighbors' houses with pizza boxes for decades now.

Remember when the milk man and the egg man used to come to the house? I hear there's a new niche model for delivery of goods in reusable containers that get sent back when they're empty. Isn't that what happened with the milk bottles when the milk man used to bring milk to people's houses?

I have this new idea for planting trees for shade, and even some evaporative cooling. Did you know it's cooler if you sit under a tree on a hot summer day? Sounds crazy, but it might just work!

'wear a week or two, then toss' underwear.

Have these people never heard of recycling?!?!?!?

Food delivery, huh?

Actually we have tried out a couple of times something called Butcher Box. Bulk meat delivery to the door. But it all comes packaged, with a list, so pilferage would be a challenge.

Trending in my paper today: editorial cartoons from around the country featuring "Moscow Mitch". An appellation which, unusually, seems to have gotten under McConnell's skin.


Reagan=racist conservative.

Former Democrat who moved into the Republican Party because the latter vermin party needed all of the vermin Democratic Party's racist, lynching bonafides to gain a majority and slash taxes.

True, he slapped a knee when Sammy Davis Junior was on the dias cracking wise at the Dean Martin roasts.

But I think he might have been under the impression that Davis was a white guy doing a minstrel act.

To this day, the Republican Party recruits racists up and down the line, and those who vote republican do so to confirm and institutionalize their political leaders' and their own racism and they are paid for their loyalty by not paying taxes.

Of their time and place?

Yes, on this day, July 31, 2019.

The Republican Party will be wiped off the face of the Earth, just as the Southern Democrats should have been wiped off the face of the Earth.

Joe Biden should have not been humoring the Southern lynching filth, he should have been shooting them in their heads.

Clean it up, now.

"Moscow Mitch".

If Alger Hiss was working at the State Department today, he'd be Pompeo's second in command, not in spite of, but because of his Moscow connections.

Buchanan and his filthy, fascist lieutenants at The American Conservative would place Hiss in the their pantheon of untouchable vermin assholes along with Stephen Miller and p.

The entire Republican Party has been recruited and turned by Putin's KGB.

McConnell knows he won his last election in Kentucky with Putin's help.

He will be executed.

We'll try to observe to rule of law proprieties with trials and such, but the new post rule of law standards implemented by conservatives far and wide over the past number of years will likely influence how they themselves are destroyed.

We've now officially moved beyond the point where reality and the Onion are indistinguishable, and have achieved some kind of bizarre singularity with The National Enquirer.

The LGM synopsis if you get caught by the paywall.

There is a grad school thesis somewhere in the correlation between being stupid-wealthy and being barking mad. Maybe it's inbreeding?

I saw that piece on Epstein but it's not within my exhausted means to make fun of it.

It's like Meat and Beyond Meat merged to form Beyond Explanation.

It's Kurtz up the river, it's the spawn born of the human and the Alien, it's like Walker Percy's sequel to Love In The Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome, had he lived long enough to envision it.

There is a grad school thesis somewhere in the correlation between being stupid-wealthy and being barking mad. Maybe it's inbreeding?

I think the research for the thesis will reveal that some percentage of the population, at all levels, is barking mad. All that wealth does is give scope to their implementation. (And, of course, the nut cases make far better headlines than the sane and sensible ones. So we hear far more about them.)

So no correlation, let alone causation. At most, the stories about those (relative) handful of nut cases makes those of us with lesser means feel better about our fate.

Stupidity comes in many varieties and is sprinkled pretty liberally throughout the population. We hear about the stupid-wealthy more than the others, I would guess, simply because we tend to hear about the wealthy, or the celebrated, more than the less wealthy and less celebrated.

I'm more fascinated by the stupid-smart, or even stupid-brilliant, who tend to be people who are in fact brilliant at one thing, or even more than one, and who therefore think they're brilliant at everything. (I've known several of this variety in my life....)

In fact, some of those really really smart and famous people Epstein was cultivating were stupid-smart, weren't they? Or else, what were they doing at his gatherings?

There's also the post hoc reasoning that says if you're wealthy, especially if you didn't start out that way, that just proves you're brilliant.

I think most of us are smart about some things and relatively stupid about others. That's only human. It's the unjustified extrapolation outward from the things we're good at that can cause a lot of problems. I would put Elon Musk high on this list. I would be hard put to it to give a conventional example of him being stupid, but that outsized ego is a form of stupidity in its own right, IMVHO. That's probably why they invented the concept of hubris.

Here's an example of stupid-probably-not-so-wealthy. It's hard to believe it isn't staged. (HT rikyrah at BJ.)

Epstein is terminally creepy more than anything else. Could people not see that? Maybe not. Sociopaths are often charming, I hear.

All that wealth does is give scope to their implementation.

er...I believe that is precisely the point. Such wealth is not merely the result of "the market", it is the deliberate outcome of deliberately chosen public policies.

At most, the stories about those (relative) handful of nut cases makes those of us with lesser means feel better about our fate.

(Way too) Small consolation if you ask me. I fail to understand why we should be asked to simply put up with it.

I fail to understand why we should be asked to simply put up with it.

I wasn't (at least I didn't think I was) suggesting that we just put up with it.

Just that, until something gets done about it, that sense that the rich are crazy may help ease the pain. As long as it doesn't ease the motivation to deal appropriately with the lunatics, that's fine. We invented anesthetics for a reason, after all.

"Or else, what were they doing at his gatherings?"

Well, I suspect they were sniffing out money/funding.

I doubt Stephen Hawking and Oliver Sacks were in attendance for the poontang, excuse me, breeding with all of the females in the human race to pass their genes on.

I also think now that some constellation of fame, wealth, intelligence, and social media conspires to cause people like Elon Musk to assume the persona of an asshole is somehow entertaining or enlightening.

Unfortunately he's read the Zeitgeist correctly.

Just as Milton Berle did when he would drop trou down to some ridiculous boxer shorts and walk around the stage, cigar in hand, with a "What... What' so funny?" expression directed at the audience.

It beats writing new material.

I mean, what were the actresses doing at Harvey Weinstein's auditions.

They thought they were legitimately auditioning/applying for jobs.

Even half way through the assault, many were thinking, is this a rehearsal for a scene in the movie, of what?

Rodney Dangerfield took in a hockey game once in a while. That fighting broke our every few minutes during the hockey didn't make him a boxing fan.

He probably would have been stupified if the hockey players on both teams had turned to the fans and announced half time would be given over to a sexual orgy out on the ice, for scientific purposes only, of course.

But he'd stick around because he paid for the damned tickets.

Epstein thought himself some sort of impresario, gathering people from all walks of life together.

And now for the orgy, folks.

What did he just say?

Is an orgy some kind of black hole?

I'm more fascinated by the stupid-smart, or even stupid-brilliant, who tend to be people who are in fact brilliant at one thing, or even more than one, and who therefore think they're brilliant at everything.


See “Political Views.”

Not that I think Janie is unaware. He’s just the poster boy for the stupid-brilliant phenomenon IMO.

what were the actresses doing at Harvey Weinstein's auditions.

They thought they were legitimately auditioning/applying for jobs.

Even half way through the assault, many were thinking, is this a rehearsal for a scene in the movie, of what?

Nah. They were thinking, I want to work in this business. And apparently this is the price of admission. Which, on the evidence, it was.

Call it an (un)cover charge.

hsh -- yes, he's a great example. He made the news a lot when I was young.

Fascinating footnote to that article:

Eysenck 1998, pp. 127–128 "Terman, who originated those 'Genetic Studies of Genius', as he called them, selected ... children on the basis of their high IQs; the mean was 151 for both sexes. Seventy–seven who were tested with the newly translated and standardized Binet test had IQs of 170 or higher–well at or above the level of Cox's geniuses. What happened to these potential geniuses–did they revolutionize society? ... The answer in brief is that they did very well in terms of achievement, but none reached the Nobel Prize level, let alone that of genius. ... It seems clear that these data powerfully confirm the suspicion that intelligence is not a sufficient trait for truly creative achievement of the highest grade."

Story of my life. ;-)

Interestingly, echoingly, I'm about halfway through science blogger Carl Zimmer's "She Has Her Mother's Eyes," on heredity.

I haven't followed Zimmer at all faithfully over the years, but the book is readable and fascinating. I've just finished some chapters on eugenics. Smart people being stupid all over the place.

It's "She Has Her Mother's Laugh" -- not eyes.


"It seems clear that these data powerfully confirm the suspicion that intelligence is not a sufficient trait for truly creative achievement of the highest grade."

Too right. Intelligence is a tool. Having that tool makes it easier to do things, no question. But for "achievement of the highest grade" (creative or otherwise), you have to be driven. That's a psychological characteristic, not part of, or even particularly related to, intelligence.

Does make life easier, though, for those of us who are bright but basically lazy. 😁

cheers to all of you fellow childhood geniuses: long may your achievements be reasonable!

wj: But for "achievement of the highest grade" (creative or otherwise), you have to be driven.

It's more complicated than either intelligence or drive will account for. I'd say there's no one formula, much less one trait, that determines "achievement of the highest grade."

One of my grad school friends was awarded a MacArthur grant in later years, and she was the last person on earth you would describe as driven. She was intelligent, yes, and hardworking enough, although she was more or less a laid-back California hippie in general. But there was a quality of whimsy about her that I think made all the difference. A certain variety of creativity, I suppose, plus a stubborn fearlessness in not toeing a conventional line.


@cleek: My mother once simpered to someone we were meeting with that I was a "math genius."

That was bad enough when I was five and eight and thirteen; I hated being her pet performing dog, even though I also got an oversized head out of it.

But on this particular occasion I was sixty years old, and the person we were meeting with was the director of the funeral home where we were ordering a stone for the family plot.

I have had the notion that I'm oh so smart beaten out of me by real life (it would have been better if I had never been led down that garden path, but wishes aren't horses and the world is messy). But my mother never got the memo, or more accurately refuses to absorb the message. I was tempted to just get up and walk out of the room, but one is supposed to grow up sooner or later, no?

A friend of mine since high school got into the habit of telling people I was "Good Will Hunting" smart after seeing that film. I still keep trying to tell him I'm not even nearly as smart as the professor who discovered Will Hunting and was in awe of his genius (within the universe of the film, of course, since it's fiction).

But there was a quality of whimsy about her that I think made all the difference. A certain variety of creativity, I suppose, plus a stubborn fearlessness in not toeing a conventional line.

I think we've established in the past that one of the things we all have in common is uncommon potential, resolutely not lived up to.

The above quotation reminds me of something, I think it was in the documentary about Andrew Wiles and his solving of Fermat's last theorem, where he talks about the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture, and then Goro Shimura, talking about Taniyama, says the following wonderful thing:

He was not a very careful person as a mathematician. He made a lot of mistakes. But he made mistakes in a good direction. I tried to imitate him. But I've realized that it's very difficult to make good mistakes.

Or, on a similar note, the following story (one of my absolute favourites) about the great mathematician Paul Erdos:

Upon being told that a very promising graduate student had left mathematics to become a poet, Dr. Erdos remarked, "It’s just as well. He wasn’t creative enough to be a mathematician.”

With the right regulatory environment, the market could do rather a lot towards replacing fossil fuels.
The scale of these sort of plans could be transformative - and is an indication what determined governments might do, given the very low costs of borrowing:

I can attest to the fact that writing poetry does not require a creative mind.
Admittedly, it's debatable whether writing lots of verses alone qualifies for the name of poet. My (imo) best verses were/are a pure excercise in style.

It's more complicated than either intelligence or drive will account for.

To me, it seems like it has to do with whether you enjoy doing whatever the work is that will lead to excellence. If you don't enjoy it, at least in some way, you probably won't do it.

For "enjoy" I don't mean fun, I mean something more like do you embrace it. Will you take it on. Will you engage with it. Will you get it between your teeth and not let it go until you've shaken whatever it is you need to shake out of it, in order to get to excellence. Does *that part* of it make you want to get out of bed in the morning and dig in.

If that part of it is as compelling to you as the end result, maybe you'll be great. If not, probably not. You might be enormously talented, and perhaps show brilliance at times. But that isn't really the same thing.

I have a good friend who is a composer. Like, a real composer, his work is published performed and recorded, by significant ensembles.

He always sang in church choirs, but did not read music until he was 17.
He heard Brahms' German Requiem and decided he needed to write something like that. He's been at it for 45 years now. He's starting, now, in the last couple of years, to get noticed.

He is a talented guy, but if you ask him he will tell you that his greatest talent is the ability to sit in the damned room and worry the material until it begins to hang together. Dig dig dig, play with the material, try it one way and then the other way. Put it away for a while and do something else, then come back to it.

Every day. Over and over and over and over and over.

And basically, that's the part he likes. It's the part that drives him. He loves finally getting some recognition, he loves hearing his work performed by really good ensembles. But the thing he really loves to do is to sit in his office and dig away until stuff begins to make sense.

You have to love the hard part. Not "be willing to put up with it", it has to grab you and make you want to do it. The hard part has to make you want to suit up and get in the game.

If you have that, maybe you'll be great. Maybe not, but maybe.

I know a handful of people who actually are great at their thing. Like, really and truly. They all have the same story.

I'm truly great at my thing. The problem is that my thing is frittering.

writing poetry does not require a creative mind.

Writing doggerel does not require a creative mind. (As I know first hand.) Writing poetry, however, is a whole different story.

Writing poetry, however, is a whole different story.

This is true. What you are talking about, I believe Hartmut, is writing doggerel or versifying. Writing poetry is an entirely different thing, and probably equates much more to what Michelangelo is supposed to have said about sculpture, i.e. "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." And I think one of the Russian poets (Akmatova? Mandelshtam? Perhaps someone else knows the quotation I mean, I cannot find it) said something very similar about writing a poem, that you had to chip away all the words there were, until only the right words were left - obviously an even more monumental task than the sculptor's.

Will you get it between your teeth and not let it go until you've shaken whatever it is you need to shake out of it

This of russell's. So I should have made clear (to Hartmut at least), that all the foregoing of mine is why that Erdos quote is so extraordinary and counter-intuitive, and probably only really understandable by pure mathematicians (or people who hear the music of the spheres).

wrs. With the side note that there is no guarantee of greatness either way. But I suspect that anyone who is used as an instrument that way (as GBS would put it) is after something other than greatness in the first place. In fact, russell already said that, about his friend appreciating getting noticed, but not having done the work for the purpose of getting noticed.

Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

This isn't exactly a propos, but I love this quote from John von Neumann: "Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them."

I'd say doggerel is a bit too harsh a term, since (at least to me) it implies verse that is also technically deficient.
And there is good poetry that deliberately violates rules (I apply the Kishon rule though: first show that you can do it in accordance with the rules then I will take your violations as a deliberate expresssion not as ineptitude).
I see my own verses not as art but as a self-imposed challenge. And I am terrible at free form (that's for other arts too).
Versifying comes close to German Verseschmieden (lit. verse forging, i.e. hammering verses into shape) and that fits my approach. A poet I am not but I can do some solid imitation.

Understood, Hartmut. No insult was intended, I meant doggerel to imply verse which was all about the form (usually rhyming), and making sense but with no other pretensions, and it seems that your verse more or less meets this definition. I agree with you about (what I had no idea was called) the Kishon rule, however.

Janie, I love that John von Neumann quote!

Something between doggerel and poetry.

"Straight from the news, his subjects he'd choose: Martha Teichner with an ode to CBS News' resident wit and poet laureate, Charles Osgood."
Charles Osgood: Poet-in-residence

"There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass..."

Pretty Good —by Charles Osgood

"To me, it seems like it has to do with whether you enjoy doing whatever the work is that will lead to excellence. "

cf Venus Williams v. every other professional tennis player. She's the only one who I've ever seen look like she's enjoying playing tennis.

@john no mccain -- great point. I always felt that way about Diana Taurasi when I watched her play college basketball. Not so much that there weren't other players who enjoyed it, but that with her it was just so obvious and central.

I feel that way about Steph Curry. He just loves to play, which in my opinion is the only way he got to the NBA.

GftNC, Kishon (who was originally a learned sculptor before he became a writer) came up with that rule in the context of modern art. He wrote two interesting books (and a play) on the topic. But imo it can be easily applied to writing too. He uses Picasso as his prime example of a talented and skilled artist who showed what he was capable of and then decided to go a different way. Most importantly (as his artistic last wills show) Picasso loved to bait professional art critics by producing pieces of garbage and then rotfl in private about the highfaluting 'deep' stuff they wrote about it. Kishon liked that but he hated other 'artists' whose only talent was selling the products of their own lack of skill to the gullible and critics that considered technical skill at best as reactionary and at worst as inimical to 'true' art (i.e. craftsman(ship) can by definition be no true art(ist)).

he [Picasso] hated other 'artists' whose only talent was selling the products of their own lack of skill to the gullible

Somehow Jackson Pollock leaps to mind. Although I suppose there may be a case that he was, himself, too ignorant to know how unskilled he was....

Don't know about Picasso's feeling about scam 'artists'. That sentiment was definitely Kishon's.

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