I Visualize Myself Between Pictures Two and Three

… in the Twitter thread starting here:

Really, it's a hoot. Check it out.

Also of note:

  • Eat me, AARP. USPS "Informed Delivery" tells me I have two pieces of incoming mail today, both from AARP.

    1. An envelope marked "Respond immediately to take advantage of special reduced membership rates."
    2. An envelope marked "Take action. Protect and save Social Security.", "PETITIONS ENCLOSED", and "RESPOND IN THE NEXT 14 DAYS."

    Both bossy. I'm sure both asking for money.

    And both going in the shredder unopened.

    If you'd like to know why, it's the second one. My previous response to what I'm sure was the exact same thing is here.

  • Martin Gurri saw it coming. And now he's watching it unfold, writing in the Free Press about: When Things Fall Apart. Focusing on the ongoing response to the October 7 atrocities:

    Anti-Israel protests erupted across Europe and the United States, many of them blatantly antisemitic in tenor, involving threats and physical attacks on Jews. As if a curtain had been pulled back on a shameful scene, the horrors in Israel revealed the nihilism and moral perversity of the educated classes everywhere—and the crack-up of institutions, from the university to our halls of power—that once served to sustain the modern world.

    Venerable American institutions, already tottering, deeply distrusted by the public, gave every indication of having chosen this conflict as the moment to leap into the abyss.

    The news media in particular seemed intent on self-destruction. Response to the false Hamas claim that Israel had bombed a hospital, causing 500 deaths, was telling. The paragons of the news business—The New York Times, the BBC, the news agencies—swallowed and regurgitated this narrative of civilian suffering uncritically. Western journalists weren’t simply duped by Hamas. They became organs of Hamas propaganda, eager to believe Islamist gangsters with blood still fresh on their hands. Driven by sectarian fervor, they desperately needed to view the “militants” as victims and the Israelis, for all their mutilated dead, as oppressors. The New York Times accompanied its story with a photo of a bombed hospital that was not the one in question. That’s how propaganda works.

    Universities outran the media in the race to institutional irrelevance. The identity virus was first incubated in academia; a moral atrophy has reached pathological levels there. Students in the most prestigious schools seized on the killing of Jews as a reason to rage against the eternal oppressor: the Jewish state. At Harvard, a letter supported by more than 30 student organizations held “the Israeli regime responsible for all unfolding violence.” George Washington University students projected Hamas propaganda on the walls of campus buildings; one projection read “Glory to our martyrs.” The Hamas paraglider graphic adorned more than one campus flyer.

    The fuss at the University Near Here seems to have died down, with only our usual advocate for Israeli suicide still issuing demands on her voluminous Twitter feed:

  • Equally inept at both. Alison Somin wonders if the United States Commission on Civil Rights is more accurately characterized as a Watchdog or Lapdog?

    Taxpayers fund the bipartisan United States Commission on Civil Rights to be “a watchdog, not a lapdog” when overseeing other civil rights agencies, just as its former Chair, Mary Frances Berry, once said. Unfortunately, its most recent report—“The Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism”—ignores decades of federal agencies turning a blind eye to anti-Asian discrimination in education. It is the product of a lapdog, not a watchdog.

    Discrimination against Asian-American students in admissions at selective universities has been an open secret for decades. An entire cottage industry even coached ambitious applicants on how to be less Asian. Data produced in litigation showed that for applicants with academic credentials in the top 10 percent of Harvard’s pool, the odds of admission were 56.1 percent for African Americans, 31.3 percent for Hispanics, and 15.3 percent for whites, but only 12.6 percent for Asian Americans. In emails uncovered in the parallel lawsuit against the University of North Carolina, admissions officers were candid about preferring applicants of other races over Asian Americans. One representative exchange: “perfect 2400 SAT All 5 on AP one B in 11th” “Brown?!” “Heck no. Asian.”

    Fun quote:

    "Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

    "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

    "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

    "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

  • Euclis, the Greek God of Walks. Well, that's what people called him. Dan Shaughnessy catches up with him: In a difficult time, Kevin Youkilis speaks out for unity and positivity, and other thoughts.

    In another tweet, dated Nov. 13, Youkilis wrote, “I’ve had a lot of great convos with Jewish friends & family over the past few weeks. The hatred that has been displayed in public and online has only brought us closer together. A flame has been lit and we’ve never been as proud as we are now of our Jewish heritage.”

    “As a baseball player, you develop thick skin from words,” said Youkilis. “I can laugh about some of this stuff online. But some of it is not funny because it’s absolute lies and falsehoods. Oct. 7 will go down as one of the worst days in Jewish history. And the amount of hatred being shown toward Jewish people is astronomical.

    Brought to my attention by Jeff Jacoby's emailed newsletter. An early version of which misquoted the last word above as "ecumenical". Hey, these things happen.

    Excercise for the reader: use your Google skills to find out what Terry Francona said about Youk being called the "Greek God of Walks".

  • For me, it's mostly music. James Lileks asks the question: What Are We Nostalgic For? Excerpt:

    We have a nagging feeling that our urge for reinvention makes us lose something we’ll regret when it’s gone. The newspapers of the ’20s, an era of astonishing energy and sophistication, are full of laments for the loss of the old ways. The ads of the ’30s had amused affection for the Gay ’90s. Simon and Garfunkel wondered where Joe DiMaggio had gone. Tony Soprano was haunted by the fact that he’d come in at the end of something. Every American era will be reviled as it unfolds and admired when it is over.

    The difference now is that we’ve stopped evolving and entered a remix culture, where the vast past is just a thrift store of costumes and artifacts, consumed in solitude through glowing glass rectangles, shared in an incorporeal community where avatars speak in unpunctuated text, memes and algorithmically selected TikTok moments. It’s a level of hell Dante never named, the one populated entirely by willing volunteers.

    I'm not asking for much, just an AI that would churn out songs in the style of these guys.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-10 7:13 AM EDT

Dr. No

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Continuing my mini-project to read/re-read Ian Fleming's James Bond books. I wouldn't say this is Fleming hitting his stride, exactly. But Dr. No is (I think) the first true Diabolical Mastermind that Bond has encountered, outside his previous foes, spies, and ordinary crooks. Dr. No also embodies a couple of genre clichés: (1) a long monologue in which he discloses to Bond his biography, criminal past, current projects, evil plans, and general madness; (2) instead of just shooting Bond in the head, sets up an elaborate course of torture that he's pretty sure will end with Bond's demise.

Spoiler: it doesn't. But almost!

The book opens with the grisly murder and disposal of the representatives of the British Secret Service in Jamaica: John Strangways and his secretary, Mary Trueblood. Most assume that they've run off together. That's what M thinks anyway; since Bond has just recovered from near-death at the end of From Russia with Love, he views sending Bond to investigate will be a cushy near-vacation. Bond, looking at the same set of facts, correctly thinks otherwise.

Other stuff of note: birdwatching. (Note the roseate spoonbill on the cover of my edition.) A major female character with a joke name ("Honeychile Rider"). A reminder that you do not want to accompany Bond on his investigations, trusting that he won't tell you to do something that will get you killed. (RIP, Quarrel.)

I couldn't find a reasonably-priced edition of the book for sale at Amazon; I purchased one of the new ones, where "terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers" have been polished out. (Don't worry, modern reader: if you're sensitive to such things, there's still plenty of invidious racial stereotyping and colonialist cheerleading.)

Last Modified 2024-01-09 6:49 PM EDT