Category Archives: Miscellanea

It’s July 4, and I have nothing deep to say

Given the unpleasant results that are undoubtedly in the offing from Justice Kennedy’s retirement, I don’t feel inspired to pen a soaring hymn to America. But then again, I’m not ready to declare America’s experiment in democracy over. So I’ll turn this post over to some other speakers

“Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you.”—FDR

“Opposition to tyranny is obedience to God.”—Benjamin Franklin

“Unhappy the land that has no heroes.”
“No—unhappy the land that needs heroes.”—Bertold Brecht

An African had no doubts about the meaning of the word ‘freedom.’ It meant the right to public assembly, the right to physical movement, the right to make known his views, the right to elect men of his choice to public office, and the right to recall them if they failed in their promises. At a time when the Western world grew embarrassed at the sound of the word ‘freedom,’ these people knew that it meant the right to shape their own destiny as they wished.”—Richard Wright

“You know, there’s not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is successful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a successful country that looks like that.”—Bill Clinton

“We have to save the people in front of us, not murder the ones we’ve never met.”—G. Willow Wilson

“Law, when it ceases to be justice, ceases even to be law.”—G.K. Chesterton

“The American Dream is not that a few of us will get to be rich, but that all of us will have a fair portion of the good things in life. Time to be with our families. The chance for our children to get an education and the opportunity to make their own way in the world. Laws that protect us, not oppress us”—Richard Trumka

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory”—Howard Zinn.

“A nations of sheep will beget a government of wolves” – Edward R Murrow

“Evil, really, is the implicit in the narcissism of the illogical step that ‘because this is not mine, it is wrong.'”— commenter on slacktivist.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~ Desmond Tutu

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”—John Adams

“The powerful very often respond to a demand for respect by ignoring the content and saying ‘Shh, lower your voice!'”—Kit Whitfield

Cover images by Lou Fine — all rights remain with current holder.

 

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A thought for Sunday night

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” — Simone Weil

 

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Insights from my blog’s spam comments filter

I think the spammers like me! Just listen to what they say about my blog!

“Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges. ”

“You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects”

“If ou fіnd yourself thinking about a new profession as a paralegal, there are a number of options whih youll consider.” [misspellings in the original]

“Very quickly it will be famous, due to its quality contents.”

“How is the whole thing, and what you desire to say about this article, in my view its actually remarkable in favor of me.”

“I have discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads.”

I am deeply moved by their admiration. In response, here’s a Kelly Freas cover!

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Atomic Junkshop Debut (#SFWApro)

A post on buying old trade paperbacks vs. new. With some samples below (all rights to all covers remain with current holder).

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No movies but theater! (#SFWApro)

Normally The Grand Duke would have been the Durham Savoyards’ last production this year, but earlier this month TYG and I went to catch a special show, combining Gilbert and Sullivan’s first collaboration, THESPIS, or the Gods Grown Old with their second, a one-act called TRIAL BY JURY. The latter was their first work for D’Oyly Carte, who would go on to supervise their greatest works.

Sullivan’s score for THESPIS is lost, so the Savoyards’ music director wrote his own (not the first time someone’s done that). While not up to Sullivan’s best, he definitely caught the feel and rhythm of Sullivan’s music. The story itself starts with the Olympian gods (Roman, not Greek versions) feeling increasingly old, powerless  and cranky. Hermes is the only one still capable of doing much, so the other deities force him to do most of their work. When a squabbling troupe of actors stumbles into Olympus, the gods appoint them as their replacements, then go off to explore the mortal world (Hermes is stuck behind, continuing as Olympus’ general dogsbody). As you can probably guess, things go horribly wrong, for example having a teetotaller (my friend Ada Milenkovic Brown) chosen to play Bacchus. As a result, grapes now produce nothing but ginger beer. The results were fun and the cast gave it their talented all, but it’s definitely not up to G&S’ D’Oyly Carte work. “He hates you and wants to take your life — now run along and get married.”

The difference is easy to see in TRIAL BY JURY (photo from an earlier Savoyard version, all rights remain with the current holder). The story concerns a young man dragged before a court for failing to honor his promise of marriage to the attractive young plaintiff. This is slightly ironic since the judge is at least as bad, having risen in the legal world by dating a lawyer’s ugly daughter, then throwing her over as soon he’d gained advancement. Switching to targeting British institutions worked much better for G&S than taking shots at the English gods, and I guess they knew it. In subsequent plays they mocked stage pirate dramas (Pirates of Penzance), stage Naval adventures (HMS Pinafore), British exceptionalism (Utopia Limited) and prominent British poets (Patience). Even The Mikado is more about Britain than Japan (Pooh-Bah represents the impoverished British aristocrats trying to monetize their name and title).

Next year the show will be Ruddigore, a delightful satire of British melodrama. TYG and I are looking forward to it.

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Miscellaneous Links (#SFWApro)

Why corporations began relocating to the suburbs, and the effect it has.

•Soviet Russia’s occult research program. Having read Heather Pringle’s The Master Plan, which chronicles similar efforts by the Nazis (like discovering the secrets of the Aryan electrical weapon remembered in mythology as Thor’s hammer), I’m not surprised.

•Where did the idea of sequentially numbering comics come from? I’d always taken it as a given, but as the article points out, many magazines do fine without them.

•A look at a forgotten black cookbook author.

•Christian Science Monitor looks at the professionals who hunt for vulnerabilities in computer systems.

•New Dead Sea Scrolls discovered.

•Archeologists have found ancient Roman coins in Japan, suggesting the possibility of a trade connection.

•Stone-age crystal weapons.

•How they cleaned the sewers of Paris with giant balls.

•Historic firsts (escalators, cash registers, big box stores) in American retail. And here are some more first for online retail.

•And just for fun, some great Jack Kirby cover art. All rights reserved to current holder.

twogunkid076

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A few paperback covers I like (#SFWApro)

7777918First, this neat-looking one by Kelly Freas.

dailybCover art uncredited. But I like the faces-in-skull-eyes, the reverse of a common skull image (and an example of people staring out of covers that works)

hoffmanThis looks intriguing. Cover by H. Lawrence Hoffman, I think.

All rights to covers with current holders.

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Odd and interesting links (#SFWApro)

Yale has been working to document regionalisms around America such as “might could be,” the double negative and the use of “so” as an intensifer (“I would so sleep with her.”). At the link you’ll find links to a interactive map and a text guide to the topic. In the same vein, what is the origin of the Southern phrase “y’all?”

•Speaking of language, the Atlantic looks at the drawbacks to English as the dominant language of science.

•Airport baggage handling from the perspective of the suitcase. It’s a video, not a satire.

•A history of country music songs about cheating.

•IT security writer Brian Krebs looks at how vulnerable ATMs in Mexico are to skimmers.

•A history of 20th century fashion in two minutes of video time.

•Early books of geography didn’t have maps, just instructions how to draw them properly.

•A writer looks at the strange history of the Myers-Briggs personality test.

•A Kmart employee saved some of the stores adult-contemporary music tapes (not the stuff sold in the store, but the background music and muzak for shoppers). You can listen online.

•Abe Books lists the 25 most valuable paperbacks. Here’s a different selection of paperbacks—the covers show why paperback editions were once considered sleazy.

•Maria Konnikova, author of a book about scam artist discusses frauds and con-men — why we fall for them, how we can avoid it (for starters don’t be too confident you can see through them).

•A history of federal administrative agencies argues that contrary to the view of them as a modern-day encrustation on the state, they go back to the early 1800s.

•And here’s an odd and interesting Ross Andru/Mike Esposito cover for Wonder Woman (all rights to current holder).

wonderwoman148

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Never give up, never surrender! (#SFWApro)

Which is to say that after a day of intensive work and some necessary non-work activities (dental visit, play date for pups, cooking quesadillas for dinner), I’m too pooped to post anything intelligent.

But I’ve been keeping up daily posting for such a long stretch, I didn’t want to break it. So you get this instead.

justiceleague40And the cover to Justice League of America #40, because earlier today I was thinking about my reaction to it (art by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson, all rights to current holder). The blurb right above Superman was the first time I’d ever heard of “the irresistible force meets the immovable objects” and the concept just blew my mind. Seriously, what would happen? Nothing can stop a force if it’s irresistible … yet nothing can move something that’s immovable. That was … I wasn’t sure what it was and I certainly didn’t have an answer, but it seemed like a pretty damn cool question.

Like they say, you never forget your first time.

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Because I keep saving so many Richard Powers covers—

I’m just going to use some up here. Covers courtesy of Books From the Crypt.

dailyb-1Reach for Tomorrow‘s cover, I think, has an almost Lovecraftian feel.

dailyb-2And here we have a collection by one of my favorite authors, Henry Kuttner.

dailybThis one is a relatively normal cover for Powers, despite having his trademark squiggles.

So are there any covers out there currently as oddball as Powers? I’d love to see some. Perhaps next time I browse Barnes & Noble I’ll keep that in mind.

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