Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Omnis homines, qui sese student praestare ceteris animalibus, summa ope niti decet, ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora, quae natura prona atque ventri oboedientia finxit. Sed nostra omnis vis in animo et corpore sita est: animi imperio, corporis servitio magis utimur; alterum nobis cum dis, alterum cum beluis commune est. Quo mihi rectius videtur ingeni quam virium opibus gloriam quaerere et, quoniam vita ipsa, qua fruimur, brevis est, memoriam nostri quam maxume longam efficere. Nam divitiarum et formae gloria fluxa atque fragilis est, virtus clara aeternaque habetur[...]

Pulchrum est bene facere rei publicae, etiam bene dicere haud absurdum est; vel pace vel bello clarum fieri licet; et qui fecere et qui facta aliorum scripsere, multi laudantur. Ac mihi quidem, tametsi haudquaquam par gloria sequitur scriptorem et actorem rerum, tamen in primis arduum videtur res gestas scribere: primum, quod facta dictis exaequanda sunt; dehinc, quia plerique, quae delicta reprehenderis, malevolentia et invidia dicta putant, ubi de magna virtute atque gloria bonorum memores, quae sibi quisque facilia factu putat, aequo animo accipit, supra ea veluti ficta pro falsis ducit.

Sed ego adulescentulus initio, sicuti plerique, studio ad rem publicam latus sum ibique mihi multa advorsa fuere. Nam pro pudore, pro abstinentia, pro virtute audacia, largitio, avaritia vigebant. Quae tametsi animus aspernabatur insolens malarum artium, tamen inter tanta vitia imbecilla aetas ambitione corrupta tenebatur; ac me, cum ab reliquorum malis moribus dissentirem, nihilo minus honoris cupido eadem, qua ceteros, fama atque invidia vexabat.

Larry The Cable Guy Critical Of Hillary

Uh-oh: it seems that universally-respected intellectual heavyweight Larry the Cable Guy has grave misgivings about a Hillary Clinton Prsidency.

Generally speaking, Hillary enjoys the majority of support among the highly-educated and deep thinkers. It had seemed to be a demographic which was solidly in her corner. No more: the Guy's comments represent a break in the solid trend of the large-brained backing the Democratic candidate. "Hillary will be the end of the country, that's all I got to say," he says.

He then goes on to say: "I like Trump, some of the things he says, then he's outrageous so you just don't know [...] It's not like it used to be. If you pick somebody, they want to beat you up, they want to give you death threats. It's like nobody's civil. Ever since social media came along, everybody's a jerk [...] So if you say, I kind of like Trump, I kind of like some of the things he says and I think I want to vote for Trump — 'You racist!' You're always a racist, no matter what. If they don't agree with you — no matter what you say — they throw that out."

Deep, powerful, carefully-chosen words, and quite a shock, surely, to everyone who had assumed that the founder and most prominent member of the Git-R-Done school of existentialism was in lock-step, politically, with his fellow intellectuals. As of this posting, a distraught Clinton campaign could not be reached for comment. It will be interesting to see what sort of ripple effect Larry The Cable Guy's words will have among the world's philosophers, economists and political historians.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

And The List Of The World's Greatest Books Is --

-- not something I really believe in.

The Telegraph's 100 Books to Read Before You Die

People have been writing books for thousands of years. In hundreds if not thousands of languages. If I'm not mistaken, a third to a half or more of the books on the Telegraph's list were originally written in *ahem* one language. I'm not saying it's a bad list, I think it's an an interesting list (ie, I've read many of those books.) But are there any books on the list in Spanish written before Don Quixote or between Don Quixote and late-20th-century Latin America? Are there any books at all in Portugese? I believe Arabic is represented only by Naquib Maufouz' Cairo Trilogy and the Tales from 1001 Nightsi and Turkish only by Orhan Pahmuk's My Name is Red. What about Chinese? What about anything written in India in a language other than English? Okay, there's one of those, a book by Rabandrath Tagore.

What about this?

It's a novel in 2 volumes by a Lithuanian author who lived from 1940 to 1980. On the dusk jacket of my copies he's compared to Faulkner, Wolfe, Camus, Rilke, and, strangely enough, Cezanne. Will I ever have any idea how much sense those comparisons make?

Also, most the Telegraph's 100 books are novels. I'm just saying, history, philosophy, science -- poetry! Hello!

I've mentioned how Spanish (Galdos, for example, and Lope de Vega and El Cid. Just for example), Portugese (Sergio) and Lithuanian might be under-represented in this list of 100 mostly novels, but that's just because, beyond the French, Italian and Russian literature which has happened to have become famous among English readers, and that in other languages, such as the work of Tagore and Maufouz and Pahmuk, which has come to the Anglophone public's attention via the Nobel prizes, I happen to have poked around a little in the literature of those languages. I mentioned Chinese and Arabic and Indian languages only because huge numbers of people have read them, not because I know anything about their literatures. I'm also devoid of knowledge of literature in -- just for random example -- Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Romanian, Japanese, Albanian, Serbo-Croation, and hundreds if not thousands of other languages equally deserving to be considered in the compiling of such lists.... One interesting Polish writer has been urged upon me, Witkiewicz -- unfortunately in a very bad translation of his novel Insatiability. Other than Witkiewicz and Milosz I'm pretty blank about Polish.

What about ancient Greek and Latin?

Again, I'm not saying the Telegraph's list is a bad list. What I'm saying (other than mentioning that there's a reason the ancient Greeks and Romans are referred to as the "Classics") is that to compile a list of literature which would be representative of the best which ever been written in the world, would be very difficult.

Perhaps impossible.

But that's actually a good thing, because it means that the world is so big and so overflowing with worthwhile things to read.

Dream Log: Museum Visit With My Brother

Last night I dreamed I was in a museum, not any museum I knew from waking life. It was somewhere in the Detroit area, and it was mostly focused on late-20th- and 21st-century art. It was early evening, a little before twilight in summer, and the museum was crowded with people who'd been let in for an opening or some other special event. Like the identity of the museum, I was fuzzy on what sort of event it was exactly, but I was glad to have been let in. It was my first time there, and I was more interested in roaming the entire building, looking at as much of the entire collection as I could, than in focusing on whatever the opening or special event might happen to be.

Unlike the Guggenheim or a museum designed by Frank Gehry, this building seemed to be made deliberately in order not to compete for attention with the artworks it contained. The building felt new, but it was reminiscent of the Mies and the International Style: very rectangular, very subdued.

Just as I didn't know what museum it was or what the evening's special event was, so too I didn't recognize any individual artworks or know which artists had made them. There were a lot of paintings in monochrome and/or subdued colors, reminiscent of some of the less-colorful work of Marden, Martin, Soulanges and Motherwell. I liked these paintings very much. Then I came upon an artwork which completely covered all four walls of a very large room with a translucent grey-ish substance which looked like plastic which had melted, or like some sort of sugary candy in the process of being cooked -- but no, that's the wrong way to describe it, because it seemed neither warm nor sticky. On the contrary, the overall impression was quite inorganic and cool. Nor was there any smell of plastic. I had never experienced anything like it and I was quite impressed.

Not long after walking through that room, suddenly, my brother was walking along beside me. This was quite surprising, because in waking life, I have never known him to have any appreciation for, or curiosity about, modern art. He's always been a representative of the "my-5-year-old-daughter-paints-better-than-Picasso-did" school of art criticism, Picasso being one of perhaps only three artists, modern or not, whose names he knows, along with Leonardo and Michelangelo. In the dream, he didn't saying anything at all, appreciative or not, about all the non-representational and abstract art all around us. But the museum did contain some pre-modern art, and my brother said something positive about a painting which looked as if it was from the 17th century, showing a man with a grotesquely oversized chin a la Habsburg, astride a white horse.

My brother said he liked this painting, but pointed to the crude and unconvincing depiction of the horse's head, saying he thought this picture was probably made while the artist was still very young. A more mature painter, he said, would have painted the horse in a more realistic manner.

I tried to get my brother to look at the plaque on the wall beside the painting, giving its date and the dates of the birth and death of the painter. It had, in fact, been made when the artist was an old man. I tried to explain to my brother that artistic representations of animals generally had grown much more sophisticated since the 17th century, as mankind's knowledge of biology became more sophisticated. But I wasn't sure whether he was listening to me at all.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Heute Auf Facebook Geblockt

Einer, der erklaert -- waehrend Krieg tobt und Kinder verhungern -- dass Halbaermelhemden fuer Maenner "verboten" seien. (Waehrend hungrige Kinder modische Kleider in Sweatshops naehen.)

Zwei, die einen Video von Philipp Moeller, einem deutschen New Atheist posteten. 77 Posts zum Thema New Atheists. Und hier der 78ste: es ist schrecklich, dass jetzt Deutschland seinen eigenen New Atheism entwickelt: Leute, die -- ganz aehnlich Modetyrranen und Moechtegern-Modetyrannen -- sehr wenig bis nichts zu sagen haben, und es unaufhoerlich sagen. Leute, die vollzeit, berueflich, neben jede Menge Quark auch das sagen, was sich in ein paar Minuten sagen laesst: "Es gibt kein Gott oder goetter oder Geister." -- Entschuldigt mich bitte. Von wegen Minuten, das laesst sich leicht in 3 Sekunden sagen -- und grosse Menschenmengen die ihnen dabei zujubuln und sie genial nennen. Als ein eigentlicher Genie kraenkt mich letzens besonders.

Noch jemand, die denselben Video postete, blockte ich nicht, weil ich mit ihr seit 15 Jahren oder mehr befreundet bin. Aber es ist erschreckend: eine kennt mich seit 15 Jahren und begeistert sich immer noch fuer solches. Soviel Zeit, so wenig Wirkung!

Aus der Sicht der Modetyrannen sind die meisten New Atheists Modesuender. Wenn die zwei Gruppen aufeinderquatschen koennten, und den Rest von uns verschonen!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Christie Defends Trump's Immigration Policy"

That's a headline I read just now: "Christie Defends Trump's Immigration Policy."

Which immigration policy? The one with 11 million deportations and forcing Mexico to build a wall along its entire border with the US? Or the one after his recent flip-flop, in which he claims he will be somewhat reasonable, which would be incompatible with the wall and the 11 million deportations?

Or is it the policy of leaving all foreign and domestic matters in the hands of the Vice-President?

Or the policy of pulling policy statements out of his ass without worrying whether they make sense in and of themselves, or are compatible with other statements he's just pulled out of his ass?

Okay, maybe if we go beyond the headline, we will know a little better just exactly which immigration policy Christie means.

Okay: Christie says that Trump has been "completely consistent" in his immigration policy positions.

Here's the video in case you can't believe Christie actually said that.

So, the headline I quoted in the title of this blog post is not strictly accurate: it's not a matter of Christie defending a particular policy: what Christie is doing is following Trump's policy of pulling stuff out of his ass and expecting no-one to notice that he's not making sense.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Ironic Incident And An Attempt To Do Better

I'm not convinced that Jesus existed. I think maybe he did, or maybe that someone (leading candidate: St Paul) made him up, or had a dream about him and concluded he was real; or maybe that the nonfictional John the Baptist gradually morphed, in the minds of several people, into a mythical character, Jesus. The overwhelming majority of academics who specialize in the New Testament and related fields insist that Jesus existed. The problem I have with them is that they seem unwilling even to discuss the possibility that he never existed. Several times on this blog, I've characterized the response of many of them toward people who aren't convinced that Jesus existed as, "We're right, you're wrong, shut up!" And I've complained that this sort of response does not amount to an argument. I've complained about the unwillingness to discuss the matter.

This morning, it suddenly occurred to me that "I'm right, you're wrong, shut up!" is exactly what I said to someone in my previous post on this blog, in which I responded to someone who'd said that there are 5h-century Viking maps of Canada.

That's ironic. And I shouldn't do exactly the same thing I complain about other people doing. So, does that mean that I'm going to explain in this post in painstaking detail why I'm so sure that the assertion that there are 5th-century Viking maps of Canada is mistaken? No, not right now, because that would require some effort. Hard work made me quit. But I'll provide some references to the work of some other people. For example, there is this book, also linked in yesterday's post:

Does this embarrassing ironic incident make Jesus' existence seem more likely to me? Also no. Does it give me more sympathy for the academics who are convinced Jesus did exist, and respond to us who aren't convinced by saying, "We're right, you're wrong, shut up!" ? Yes.

I'll try not to repeat yesterday's behavior. I'll try to improve upon it with this:

Am I aware of any plausible evidence of Europeans sailing to the Western Hemisphere as early as the 5th century AD? No. (That's how I should participate in debates: not by saying, "You're wrong! Get out!" but by saying: "I am unaware of any plausible evidence which supports what you're saying." That's not merely nicer: it's also much more precise. It is open for the possibility that there may be evidence of which I am unaware. Such openness is the way to be.)

Now, when we come to the 6th century, I am aware of some things: namely, St Brendan and some other Irish monks sailed west from Ireland, and as far as I can see, no one knows with anything approaching certainty how far west they journeyed. Samuel Eliot Morison's book The European Discovery of America: the Northern Voyages, AD 500-1600 is an excellent introduction to the subject, and has superb bibliographies following each chapter, with a heavy emphasis on the primary sources. Morison is completely convinced that the Vinland Map is a fake.

Morison also wrote an excellent book about the southern voyages, ie, Columbus and those who followed him.

Friday, August 26, 2016

No, There Are No Fifth-Century Viking Maps Of Canada

In some cases,

who's right and who's wrong depends completely upon your point of view.

In SOME cases. In other cases, I'm right, you're wrong, and you're also wrong about it being a question of point of view, and you're a huge pain in the ass, because I've spent years carefully studying the primary sources relating to this question, while you got your information from the so-called "History Channel" and you don't even know what a primary source is, and you're telling me that everything is a matter of point of view.

Like when you tell me that there are 5th-century Viking maps of Canada. No. Shut up, sit down and listen: There is one map which may be from the fifteenth century (you left out the "teenth"), before 1492, and appears to show Greenland and parts of the west coast of Canada found by the Vikings around AD 1000. It's known as the Vinland Map.

It may be from the fifteenth century, or it may be a twentieth-century forgery of a fifteenth-century map. There are a couple of huge reasons for suspecting forgery: 1) The Vikings in 1000 didn't use maps, didn't have maps. Any maps. 2) The entire outline of Greenland is shown. The Vikings landed on the south-eastern coast of Greenland, but no one is known to have sailed all the way around the island until 1900.

It's either a fifteenth-century map, in which case it is an extraordinary artifact which leaves all sorts of unanswered questions about the geographical knowledge of some Europeans before Columbus; or it is a twentieth-century forgery, in which case it is an extraordinary forgery. After a huge amount of scrutiny, no one has yet definitively proven that it is a fake (although it probably is). If it's a fake, it must have been made by someone who was an expert in 15th century manuscripts and in spotting fakes (but who made a big mistake in including the entire outline of Greenland, because that just screams "FAKE!!!" although it doesn't quite prove it's a fake).

I'm right -- everything I've written in this post is correct -- and you're wrong, and it's not a matter of opinion. Shut UP!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." -- Nietzsche (Not True!)

Nietzsche himself delivered a very dramatic demonstration that it's not true. What didn't kill him drove him completely insane and left him a helpless invalid for the last 11 years of his rather short life. He wrote many profound things, but "Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich staerker" ("Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger") was not one of them. It's the last of 8 aphorisms on page 11 of the insel taschenbuch edition of Goetzen-Daemmerung, and it's the weakest, least authentic thing on the page. And to make the demonstration of its untruthfulness even more dramatic, and the whole case even more ironic, Nietzsche wrote that just weeks or months before his final, permanent, irreversible breakdown.

Nietzsche was in very deep denial about himself and the state of his health. It would have been much more accurate and honest if, instead of "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger," he had written something like, "I am in very delicate health, and I must be very careful about what I eat and drink, where I go and what I do. And it would be a great stroke of good fortune for me if I were to meet a physician who is a genius -- soon!"

"Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich staerker" ("Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger"), although completely false, is snappy. And so it has been one of the handful of sentences which have made him known to millions of people who have not read his books.

Nietzsche's breakdown occurred very suddenly, early in January, 1889. Still more irony occurs to me: In the last year before the breakdown, Nietzsche wrote and published a great deal, several books, full of swaggering lies about how robustly healthy he now was. He admits that he had had periods of poor health before -- but now, he insists, he is much more than merely okay. The irony is: what if he wouldn't have broken down if hadn't been working so hard on all of those brilliant books (they all contained much brilliance, besides the false swagger and denial about his poor health)?

What if "Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich staerker" ("Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger") was actually the very last thing Nietzsche wrote in any of his published works, and was actually the last straw of effort which, although not killing him, utterly snapped all of his remaining strength?

Please, everybody, take good care of yourselves.

Hamburgs Kupferdiebe

Ist es nur ich, oder kommt es auch Dir dann und wann vor, selbst wenn Du ein grosser Fan und Freund der Kuenste oder sogar schon selbst Kuenstler, dass fremdspraechige Kunst besonders schwierig ist, richtig zu uebersetzen?


Das Ganze beruht auf einer wahren Begebenheit und begann eines Samstag Abends, im August 2007. Denn dann sägten ein paar echte Verbrecher die Hauptgasleitung in unserem Haus an, höchstwahrscheinlich um die erbeuteten Kupferrohre anschliessend beim Schrott zu verscherbeln. Als sie aber feststellten mussten, dass die Leitungen noch intakt waren und Gas aus dem Loch strömte, machten sie sich vom Acker. Wäre dieser Vorfall unentdeckt geblieben, wäre am darauf folgenden Montag ein „warmer Abriss“ garantiert gewesen. Zum Glück ist der Vorfall durch unsere aufmerksamen Nachbarn aus der Hauptwache gegenüber bemerkt worden, womit durch deren Einsatz das schlimmste vereitelt wurden. Dieser Anschlag auf unser Haus war nun der entscheidene Auslöser für unsere Initiative - und wir brauchten auch gar nicht lange über einen für uns passenden Namen nachzudenken. Denn der Name ist Programm. Ebenso cool wie einfach ist auch unser Logo entstanden - die Sägen. Aus dem Grund der Tatsache - und weil Sägen etwas bewegen. Genauso wie wir nun etwas bewegen.

Somit begann unsere Geschichte der Kupferdiebe, Mitte 07, als sich mehrere kreative Köpfe mit dem festen Willen zusammenschlossen, anzufangen etwas zu tun, damit endlich etwas im Gängeviertel passiert. Und wenn man will das etwas passiert, dann muss man es eben selber tun. Aus diesem Grund haben wir damit begonnen uns (erstmal) um unser Haus und die direkete Umgebenung zu kümmern - alles in Absprache mit der Hausverwaltung und alles auf eigene Kosten. Direkte Zusprüche für unsere Aktionen gab es von allen Fußgängern und Nachbarn, die sich sehr darüber freuten, dass sich jemand dem Viertel annimmt und es wieder revitalisiert. Gearbeitet wird nach dem Motto: Jeder macht das, was er kann.

Also ich Du Auslaender habe das gelesen und weiss eigentlich noch nicht, worum es geht. Die haben eine Gallerie, anscheinend, diese Kupferdiebe,

und sind vielleicht auch in Hamburgs Gaengeviertel:


Noch bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts erstreckte sich das Areal des Gängeviertels vom Hafen über die Neustadt bis in die Innenstadt und bot tausenden von Arbeitern und deren Familien eine Heimat. Die letzten noch erhaltenen Häuser befinden sich zwischen der Caffamacherreihe, Valentinskamp und Speckstraße. Der Bestand verfällt zusehens, während in der direkten Nachbarschaft Konsum- und Büroflächen aus Stahl und Glas wachsen. Einerseits Zeichen einer florierenden und modernen Stadt, andererseits Symbole einer Kultur des „9 to 5“. Unser Haus ist umzingelt von solchen Neubauten und es wirkt wie aus einer längst vergangenen und vergessenen Zeit.

Das verbliebene innerstädtische alte Gängeviertel ist geradezu prädestiniert das Prinzip von Leben und Arbeiten in der Stadt zu revitalisieren. Und genau da kommen, als letzte "Gäng im Viertel" die Kupferdiebe ins Spiel. Denn wir haben die Vision eines Kupferdiebe-Haus vor Augen, als ein Pilot Projekt für das Gängeviertel und mit dem ernsten Willen, dieses mit vereinten Kräften, für die Kupferdiebe und das Viertel und somit für Hamburg zu realisieren. Denn hier bietet sich die einmalige Chance, Hamburgs ältestest Viertel, wieder als ein ganz besonderes Viertel aufleben zu lassen.

Des öfteren liest man über die Planungen der Investoren, deren Bauanträgen und Verlängerungen, über Finanzierungs- probleme - bis zur Scheiterung aller Projekte. Was sich anscheinend jetzt doch alles wieder geändert haben soll (Stand August 2008). Der holländische Investor hat sich nun doch bereit erklärt, sich dem Gängeviertel anzunehmen und es zu sanieren - inklusive Abriss und Neubebauung. Wann es nun genau los geht, steht immer noch in den Sternen. Genauso ob es überhaupt los geht.

Das die letzten Reste des noch erhaltenden Gängeviertel nur noch aus drei alten Hinterhöfen besteht, ist sehr schade. Einen direkten Zugang zu unserem, hat man von der Caffamacherreihe Ecke Valentinskamp. Die beiden weitere, zum Beispiel die alte Schierspassage, erreicht man vom Valentinskamp aus. Drum herum stehen alte Lager- und Wohnhäuser, seit Jahren leer, ebenso wie die wunderschönen alten kleinen Fabrik Gebäude. Alles zerfällt zusehens. Die nachfolgenden Fotos sind vom Zwischenhof und von der Schierspassage.

Usw usf blablabla, also um ganz ehrlich zu sein sind deutsche Feuilletons mir immer noch heute ein wenig mysterioes, obwohl sie sind und war schon immer das mir mit Abstand interessanteste Teil der ganzen Zeitung.

Aber Glueckwunsch, Kupferdiebe, und Daumen Druecken usw usf, wer immer Ihr seid.

Die Idee aus dem gesamten Gängeviertel ein Kunst- und Kulturviertel zu machen,

okay. So etwas dachte ich mir schon. Von mir aus. Warum nicht.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BBC: Beste Filme Des 21. Jhdrts.

Hier die ganze Liste. 100 Filme schon und es ist nur noch 2016.

I'm sorry.

Ich habe von einigen diesen Filmen schon gehoert. Ja, solche Listen sind bloed. Aber manchmal sind sie auch interessant. Diese Liste ist uninteressant. Und das war wiederum Bloedsinn -- der Bloedsinn, der "meine Meinung zur Kunst und zu Listen von Kunstwerken" heisst.

Aber wartet, ich habe noch mehr von solchem Quark anzubieten: warum sieht man selten oder nie Listen der besten Gemaelden eines Jahrhundeten? Ich habe nie eine solche Liste gesehen. Jede Mange von Listen der besten Filmen und besten Rock n Roll Albums, aber keine Liste der besten Gemaelde, oder der besten Skulpturen? Warum? Kann es sein, dass Liebhaber der bildenen Kuenste eigentlich ein klein wenig weniger bloed sind in dieser oder jener Weise?

Hoffen wir doch. Aber: jetzt ich es gedacht habe, ist die Katze raus and geht nicht mehr wieder drin: nicht nur Listen der besten Gemaelde und Skulpturen muss ich haben. Sondern auch ein Art Hall of Fame. Und jaehrliche Award-Shows fuer Maler und Skulpturen. Und fuer Performance-Kuenstler.

Die wollen solches wahrscheinlich gar nicht. Wie gesagt, die sind nicht so. Their ways are not our ways. Die haben ihre eigene Arte, bloed zu sein.

Trotzdem, as wrong as it is, niemand kann mich stoppen. Hier sind die 10 besten Gemaelden des 20. Jahrhunderts:

10. Composition with Blue and Yellow, 1929, Mondrian.

9. Rolling Power, 1939, Sheeler.

8. The Surrender of Barcelona, 1934-37, Lewis.

7. Red on Maroon, 1959, Rothko.

6. Waterlilies, ca 1920, Monet.

5. Campbell's Tomato Soup, 1961-62, Warhol.

4. The Dance, ca 1910, Matisse.

3. Moonrise and Sunset, 1919, Klee.

2. Full Fathom Five, 1947, Pollock, and of course, the completely-predictable #1 is

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, Picasso.

Once again: I'm sorry.

Milli Vanilli Doesn't Upset Me

Their music is crap, no matter who made it.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about: Milli Vanilli were a pop duo who made really lousy, wildly popular music in the late 1980's, won a Grammy for Best New Artist early in 1990, and then later in 1990 were revealed to have sung none of the vocals on their records or in their concerts, which led to widespread outrage. They were sued by ex-fans and at least one class-action lawsuit was successful.

What really surprised me about the whole fooferah was that so many of Milli Vanilli's fans hadn't realized that it's very common for the music industry to deceive people about who has sung or played what. Granted, they usually admit that they're doing it, which makes Milli Vanilli's case a little bit different. A little bit.

For example, Stevie Ray Vaughan is credited as lead guitarist on the title track of David Bowie's Let's Dance. However, the video of the song strongly implies that it's Bowie himself laying down those hot tracks. Similarly, look at the liner notes for Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love, and you will see that that amazing guitar solo on the title track was perpetrated by the one and only Nils Lofgren; however, in the video, it looks as if Bruce is playing the solo.

Deceptive? A little. Does it matter? Eh. Probably depends how big a Stevie Ray or Nils fan you are. I'm a huge fan of both so it bugs me a little, but I'm not so upset that I'm currently planning to sue anyone over it.

At least in both of those cases, the actual soloists are credited on the album liner notes. However, it has been known to happen that musicians don't get their props on the liner notes.

In the case of "I Want a New Drug" from the album Sports! by Huey Lewis and the News, I've long wondered just exactly who the wonderful horn section are. That is a bad horn jam, Daddy! It sounds like Tower of Power, a great horn section, who are credited on later Huey albums like Small World. In the video, at one point there are 3 sax players onscreen. Back in 1984, when the video first came out, those 3 guys looked like Huey and 2 other guys to me. Then again, back in 1984, I was taking a lot of drugs. In a lot of cases, when I look at things I looked at in 1984, they look a lot different now. I looked at the video again just now, and the sax player on the left in the shot with 3 sax players looks a like Johnny Colla, the only regular member of the band who plays sax; and I'm not completely sure, but the other 2 guys look like they might also be Johnny Colla, but in different outfits and wearing shades. Colla is the only sax player mentioned on the album notes, and if that's true, it would mean the horn section was all him, overdubbed. In the video, from left to right, the Collas are playing a tenor saxophone, an alto saxophone and a soprano saxophone.

But who knows. Maybe it was Colla plus Tower of Power, and they weren't credited because of some contractual nonsense. That's been known to happen: musicians have contracts which don't prevent them from playing on other people's records, but do prevent them from officially, publicly being on the liner notes. Why? Because record company executives were put on Earth to screw things up for no reason while doing tremendous amounts of coke.

But if the liner notes are correct and that horn section is all Colla -- blending very nicely with the keyboards, I ought to add -- and in the video, that's Colla standing next to Colla and Colla, then that would be a rare case of neither the liner notes nor the video being misleading.

Except for the last part of the video, where the whole band are onstage, and there's only one Johnny Colla playing saxaphone instead of 3 of him, while we continue to hear several horns.

But hey, nobody's perfect. Not even *shiver* Jeri Ryan.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Being Autistic, Part 47

I used to wonder whether my life would have been better if I'd made a different decision in this or that situation. I no longer think that way: Now it's not a matter of "if," but of "how much, and in how many unsuspected ways." Of course my life could have been better if I'd made better decisions.

And I'm autistic, which compounds the whole thing. It means that I constantly misunderstand people. It means that they constantly misunderstand me. These misunderstandings can go on for years before they're straightened out. And of course that's not counting the misunderstandings which I never even notice. I sometimes notice a misunderstanding years after it happened. Who knows how many I've never noticed?

A very significant sub-category of these misunderstandings is humor. I think I do okay, generally speaking, in understanding humor having to do with 3rd parties. But when someone makes a joke about me, suddenly things become very mysterious. What is the intent of the joke? Is it friendly or unfriendly? Does it come from affection for me and mean to make me laugh, or from frustration with me, meant to make others laugh at me? There seem to be very frequent misunderstandings when I make a joke about someone else too. A group of us may be joking around and laughing our heads off, and then I chip in with a joke and suddenly no-one's laughing any more, and I'm all, Oh no, I did it again. And explaining that I was just trying to joke around, and really meant no harm, can be much easier said than done.

Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so interested in history: no matter what I say about Julius Caesar or Charlemagne, I know that it's not going to bother them.

I know that there are a whole lot of things I understand as well as the average person or better. I realize that many misunderstandings happen all over the place all the time which wouldn't have happened to me, and wouldn't have happened to others if I been there to explain things. But then there's this other category of things, where most people are operating at a level of communication that's way over my head, and always will be.

All my life people have been talking about how intelligent I am. For most of my life it was very hard for me to believe that they meant it. Now I realize that they usually do. However, now I also realize that very often, the context in which people pay me these compliments is some situation or occurrence which has made it seem as if I'm pretty stupid. They're saying that I'm very intelligent in spite of something which would suggest that I'm not. And even more than that: now I realize that they may be referring to something of which I'm completely oblivious: for example, I may have just said something which seemed really stupid. And the person paying me a compliment is saying, implicitly -- sometimes just to me when no one else is around, sometimes to a third party: "Yes, if you'd just met Steven this minute, and were judging him just from that, you might reasonably conclude that he's an idiot -- but he's actually very intelligent." Except that they just say the last 4 words.

The rest of it, they say non-verbally. Maybe they implied it by clearing their throat and doing something with their eyebrows, or with the tone of their voice, or in some other non-verbal way which most of you never give much thought to, because for most of you it's all instinctive and it all works. And if they don't know me well, or if they don't know I'm autistic or understand very much about autism -- or even if they do -- they may have no idea that there's a very good chance that I will miss most or all of the non-verbal part of the statement.

The truth, the part of the truth which people seldom say to my face, is that I actually am an idiot. That's seldom said to anyone's face. The truth is that I'm brilliant part of the time and an idiot part of the time. That's how an autistic person can seem to most people. You might be confused because you've known me for just a little while and up until know I've seemed pretty smart, and now suddenly it seems like I'm 5 years old. Or maybe for most of the time you've known I've behaved like a 5 year old, and now you're confused because I've just said something which sounds very intelligent. That's autism. Some of the time, if you want me to understand something, you're going to have to explain it to me like I was 5 years old. And of course, that means that I'm just not going to be able to understand some things no mater how they're explained to me. Other times, I'm way ahead of you. And there's no clear set of signals to tell you whether you're dealing with the genius or the 5 year old at any given time. There's also no clear set of signals to tell you that I get what you're implying non-verbally. Maybe there's something going on which ordinarily you wouldn't have to spell out, and maybe spelling it out is extremely uncomfortable for you. But if you don't spell it out, maybe I'll never understand what the problem is. And it's exhausting for both of us sometimes, and I'm sorry.

Carry On And Keep Smiling!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Is Usain Bolt Clean Or Has He Just Not Been Caught Yet?

Same question for Michael Phelps.

Remember back when Lance Armstrong was a great guy and a wonderful role model?

I was a big Barry bonds fan. Well, I still am. I haven't turned from loving him to hating him. It's just that I finally stopped kidding myself about the overwhelming evidence that he was breaking the rules -- and, for example, paying a friend to spend years in prison to help him break the rules. My denial about Bonds lasted a long time, but not as long as some San Francisco Giants fans. I do believe some of them still think Barry's innocent, God bless their innocent, trusting hearts. I still believe that Barry is a whole lot of amazing things (Lance, too, for that matter), but innocent is no longer one of those things.

Reggie Jackson is Barry's uncle. Back when I was still standing up for Barry in arguments over whether he was juicing, I kept saying that some men just get much more muscular when they're in their 30's, which is true, and I pointed to Reggie as an example. Reggie bulked up big-time late in his career (1967 to 1987 in the bigs.) When I stopped fighting the accusations against Barry, my entire view of sports and athleticism just collapsed, and I figured anybody could be doping, including Reggie back when he had played. If Reggie did it, would that even have meant he was ahead of his time? Accusations of doping in Major League Baseball weren't yet flying in the late 70's when Reggie was the remarkably-buff Mr October,

but steroids and human growth hormone had already been used in bodybuilding for some time, and had taken that sport from this

to this:

and even before 1980 a few baseball stars had sudden eye-popping muscle growth. They said it was Nautilus and free weights. And no doubt it was. Just ingesting roids won't grow muscle on you. The roids just allow you to work out more often by making your muscles recover faster.

Not only do I now suspect pretty much every successful athlete of using banned substances, I'm sort of in favor of sports just not banning substances any more. Why? Because the bans are not being successfully enforced. The steroid era is not over. Let everybody juice as much as they want. Yes, using that stuff is dangerous. But so is chronic denial of the obvious.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Clinton Foundation Will No Longer Accept Foreign Or Corporate Donations

When Hillary is elected, the Clinton Foundation will no longer accept donations from corporate or foreign sources. To avoid any appearance of impropriety.

What a colossal pile of BS: the Republican Party is owned and operated by oil companies, hedge funds and conspiracy theorists, but let's make sure no one can contribute to this foundation which fights poverty, illness and climate change all over the world, if there's a chance that it might look shady to Republicans, who are owned and operated by oil companies, hedge funds and conspiracy theorists.

The Clinton Foundation has done nothing wrong, outside of the Breitbart parallel universe. Nothing is gained by enabling the Right every time they make up another story about Democratic wrongdoing. That's right: I said: when they make it up.

Sometimes, when Republicans are driving the narrative, as in this instance where they've been riding the idea that there is something wrong with the Clinton Foundation, Democrats really need to grow a pair and tell them to go... Just go. Be not so aggriev-ed by the speck in thine own eye that thou see-est not the beam in thy neighbor's eye. Imagine if Bill had told Kenneth that Monica was none of his business. Imagine if Hillary had said that Congress had wasted enough of the public's time and resources with BS about Ben Ghazi and emails, and she was not going to co-operate and help it waste more. Democrats who stood up to Republicans, can you imagine such a thing? I can.

Economist Veroeffentlicht Liste Von Den Staedten Wo Es Sich Am Besten Und Schlimmsten Lebt

Hier ist die Liste. "Liveability" wird exakt gemessen, der Welt ueber. Wie jedes Jahr seit 2011 ist Melbourne die most liveable Stadt der Welt. Dann Wien, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary. Adelaide, Perth, Auckland, Helsinki und Hamburg in den top 10. (3 Staedte in Kanada, 3 in Australien, je 1 in Oesterreich, Neuseeland, Finnland und Deutschland, na ja.)

Solche Listen von irgendwie besten und schlimmsten Staedten sind stets interessant und unvermiedbar total subjectiv. Kennst Du mich nicht, und zwar ziemlich gut, dann hast Du eigentlich keine Ahnung wo ich mich wohl und unwohl fuehle, so einfach ist das.

Ich lebe in Detroit, weil ich will. Ich zog hier von 6500 Kilometer weg in 2008, absichtlicherweise. Vielleicht werde ich Detroit noch moegen in 2025, als die Stadt ganz cool und tendy wird, wie Cleveland 1995 oder so, nachdem sie jahrzehntelang angeblich die reinste Hoelle war. Vielleicht nicht. Aber ich werde fuer mich selbst entscheiden. Die Leute, welche sich die Meinungen vorschreiben lassen, tun mir eigentlich ein wenig leid. Live here. Buy this. Drive this. Eat this. Fear this. Like this, dislike that. Want this...

Where I See Myself In 5 Years

I'm 55 years old, and last night, for the first time in my life, when I tried to picture myself in 5 years I actually came up with something.

Many times over the course of my life I've been asked, "Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?" and I've never been able to come up with anything. Then last night, channel-surfing, I saw Danny McBride, playing one of the title characters in "Vice Principals" (I was going to watch the entire series but was unable to keep up past the first 2 episodes, because there is simply too much to watch. There is too much good stuff on TV to watch it all! Think about THAT, and compare it to the 1970's, if you ever start to think that the world can't be changed!), posing the question to an actress playing a high school student in a time out. The student was clearly drawing a blank, so McBride snapped at her: "Just make something up!"

And that is how, 55 years in, I finally was able to do the in-5-years thing: I just made something up.

5 years from now, at age 60, lean and fit, a man who runs 30 or more FAST miles in an average week, outdoors, not in a gym, I will be an extremely rich and famous writer, the author of several huge best-sellers, books translated into more than 40 languages. 40 and growing fast. I'm a frequent guest on the big-time celebrity talk-show circuit, a big wheel in the Democratic Party, an unofficial advisor to the Clintons and Obamas, a guy who plots and schemes with Gates and Buffet and Musk, a Nobel Prize winner, a MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient, a member of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and the French Legion of Honor, a Fellow of the British Academy and the Leopodldina and pour le mérite of Germany and a whole bunch of other things.

But mostly I am known for stomping on the dying ashes of the petroleum industry and replacing it with solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and other means of energy production. By virtue of my great fame I am able to spread knowledge of the lies and dirty tricks of Big Oil and have just about shamed them to death. Through my many connections I've put solar panels on many millions of buildings from Peoria to Peking, windmills in many a windy place, built tidal and geothermal power plants. I've put oil out of business. We mainly just use it for lubrication now, and we've got plenty for that without ever having to drill any more.

I've built a few hydroelectric plants too. I'm aware that huge dams cause problems, but sometimes it's been either that or oil, gas and nuclear, and I stamp out oil, gas and nuclear.

(I confess that I still don't understand hydrogen fuel cells. Whenever I read or hear about them I always think: "Oh the humanity" etc. I still don't know how to categorize them: dirty, clean, safe, dangerous?)

I promote research into ever more efficient and clean ways for humans to do what we do, both by writing and speaking inspirationally about the importance of this transformation, and, through my political connections, by making sure that the educational and research infrastructure in technology and engineering thrives.

5 years from now I will have become the first person to win Nobel Prizes in both the Literature and Peace categories. 5 years from now the weather already will have begun to calm back down, and people will already be able to breathe easier again, literally, and to see more stars again at night. Because of me. All because of ME.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


1. ARE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE? -- Yes, I'm named after St Stephen, the martyr who forgave the people who were stoning him to death, and that's always completely weirded me out. Please don't stone me to death!

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? -- I'm crying right now.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? -- Nobody has ever liked my handwriting or my brother's handwriting. We're both major brains, but you'd never know from our handwriting.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? -- I refuse to pick just one. I have many favorites.

5. DO YOU HAVE ANY KIDS -- Not that I know of, heh heh heh!

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? -- Depends which other person I was.


8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? -- No. Not even in a jar or anything.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? -- The idea totally intrigues me, but I think maybe I should lose 50lbs or so first. Don't want that cord to snap. Or stretch too far.


11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? -- No, BEFORE I take them off. When I tie them they're on way too tight to come off.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU'RE STRONG? -- Yes, but only physically.



15. RED OR PINK? -- Red, and damn you for making me choose!

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? -- Not being immortal. Literally immortal. This whole dying thing, I'm against it. Aging sucks also. I mean it.

17. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW? -- Blue denim shorts, no shoes.

18. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? -- A club cracker with melted mozzarella and queso grande and kielbasa.


20. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? -- But I'm NOT a crayon, don't you SEE?! *sob*

21. FAVORITE SMELL? -- A beautiful woman up close.


23. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? -- Something with beautiful women in it. And it doesn't even have to be a sport.

24. HAIR COLOR THATS REAL? -- Dark brown and grey.

25. Eye color? -- Brown.

26. Do you wear contacts? -- NEVER! NOOOOOOO!!!!

27. FAVORITE FOOD? -- See my answer to #4.

28. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? -- Happy happy joy joy, happy happy joy joy, happy happy joy joy joy!

29. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? -- Hitman: Agent 47 (Excellent cast, pretty snappy action flick. MUCH better than Hitman.)


31. SUMMER OR WINTER? -- Winter.

32. HUGS OR KISSES? -- If I'm in the mood and I like you that way, sure!

33. FAVORITE DESSERT? -- Not gonna narrow it down.

34. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? -- Enchiridion Patristicum.

35. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? -- A cup of coffee.

36. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST? -- Robot Chicken.

37. FAVORITE SOUND? -- A really good tenor saxophone. Getz, Rollins, Webster, somebody like that.

38. ROLLING STONES or BEATLES? -- Yeah, okay.

39. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE TRAVELED? -- Depends which starting point you measure from.

40. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? -- Are you kidding? I put the "special" in "Special Olympics"!

41. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? -- On Earth, oddly enough. There has been some mistake, clearly, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

Robert Redford Turns 80 Today

I met him once. I was a flunkie in an Off-Broadway house staff and he was producing a play upstairs in the same building, I happened to be spazzing in the lobby after curtain-up when he came in off of the street and punched the up button on the elevator. No doubt he hoped to slip into and then out of the little theatre upstairs unnoticed. It was a dark and stormy night. I wonder how many of his fans realize that he's only 4 feet tall? With some short actors, like Tom Cruise, they don't try to hide their actual size in their movies. With others, like Redford, they do. All the President's Men, for instance: they made Redford appear to be a foot taller than Dustin Hoffman, and that simply can't be true. In the title of another movie, Little Fauss and Big Halsy, Redford is actually referred to as "big." I'm telling you, once you're aware that he's a little person, watching Redford's movies becomes an entirely different experience. You become aware that almost every shot is an exercise in distortion and deception. Nothing wrong with that. That's what the movies have always been.

We didn't speak during our brief encounter, but Redford stared fiercely at me as if to say, "If you ever tell anyone, I'll find you and kill you!"

I wasn't too alarmed. I'm quite a large person and I wasn't afraid of an angry elf trying to kill me. Redford would've have to climb a ladder just to try to punch me in the face. And it wasn't as if I'd done anything wrong anyway. I hadn't harmed the little leprochaun.

Anyway, he's quite a good actor even if he is overrated as a director and extremely short. I appreciate all of the liberal activism too, sincerely. Happy Birthday, little guy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ground Zero

Es Scheint Dass Politische Nachrichten Langsam Fahren

Oder warum auch immer: viele Leute mitten in Europe machen sich Sorge, Trump koennte eigentlich noch President werden. Hier in den US ist diese grosse Angst eigentlich schon meistens vorbei.

Es spricht sich doch herum auch in den US, was fuer einen miesen kleinkarierten luegenden Arschloch Trump doch ist. Seine Fans waren zahlreich genug, um ihn zum Sieg in den Republican-Vorwahlen zu tragen. Es sind nicht genug derer, um ihn President zu machen. In Wyoming ist er noch sehr populaer, dort wuerden ihn 65% waehlen. Wenn er wollte, koennte er vielleicht noch Governor von Wyoming werden. Aber sehen wir, ob er 65% in Wyoming in November kriegt. In den ganzen US liegt sein Umfragewert unter 40% und sinkt sehr schnell. Jeden Tag sagen noch mehr prominente Republicans oeffentlich, sie wuerden Trump nicht waehlen. Oft sagen sie, sie wuerden Hillary waehlen, oft Johnson, oft sagen sie nicht, nur, dass es keinesfalls Trump sein wird. Massiven Schaden fuegt Trump der Republican-Partei zu. Jeden Tag mehr. Verlaesslicherweise. Er muss nur den Mund auftun und (sozusagegen) haarstraeubenden Unsinn reden und/oder diesen Unsinn tweeten. Und anders sprechen oder tippen scheint er nicht zu koennen.

Es ist genugtuend, zuzusehen: Trump ist sein ganzes Leben lang ruhmsuechtig gewesen, wollte beruehmt und immer beruehmter werden. Jetzt ist er vielleicht doch endlich der beruehmste Mensch der Welt geworden, und seht da: die Meisten moegen ihn gar nicht. Er hat, und hatte immer, eine betraechtliche Anzahl von idiotischen Fans. Aber die meisten Menschen, so scheint es, sind doch nicht so dumm. Die meisten -- vielleicht doch nicht die meisten Republicans, aber gewiss die allermeisten Leute -- sehen diesen Gauner durch. Und ohne besondere Schwierigkeiten, scheint es.

What We Leave Behind

Don't worry, everybody, I'm not dying. I'm fine. I'm just in a reflective mood.

40 years ago, in an interview, James Caan was asked what he'd like to leave behind, and he said, "A warm glow." I think that's an excellent answer. In fact, I've been thinking about it for 40 years, and I can't think of a better answer. May people smile and feel good because you were around. (Animals, too, except they don't actually smile, they just look that way sometimes. Dogs don't pant because they're happy, they do it in situations where we would sweat, and for similar reasons. May people smile, cats purr and dogs wag their tails because you were around.)

Obviously, some people disagree. Some seem to believe that the way to go is to leave confusion, anger and significant amounts of missing cash behind, while other prefer to leave venereal disease and bastards behind. Some leave confusion, anger, large amounts of missing cash, venereal disease and bastards behind, while others see no real point in leaving confusion, anger, large amounts of missing cash, venereal disease and bastards behind if you don't also leave lots and lots of broken dishes, broken windows and shattered nerves as well.

It's also obvious that some people have much easier lives than others, and that it has been known to happen that one person will judge another for breaking a window in order to steal a pie in the attempt to keep his family from starving to death, while the judgmental person has many people committing all sorts of much worse violent acts every day for him in order to finance his privileged judgmental lifestyle. A lot of people are just doing what they gotta do. But what if you really have a certain amount of choice -- what will you do then? Rob and plunder every day via the financial markets, and squeeze poor people who just want to keep their families from starving? Force some of those poor people into working for you and doing contemptible things in the name of your net worth, although they're much more morally aware than you? Or will you maybe try to solve other people's problems? Not for the highest bidder -- for no charge? Will you maybe even try to change the world so that people are generally in less danger of starving, and less tempted to give in and take part in the dog-eat-dog madness?

Or maybe you'll try to create something beautiful. If so I'll try to get your back if I can. I think this recording is beautiful:

I love Stan Getz. "A warm glow" is a pretty good description of the effect a lot of his music has on me. Some people equate the lack of a constant concentrated effort to get rich and then richer and richer with being unambitious. I think it's more ambitious to try to change the world. I think the arts will last a lot longer than capitalism. I think they will be a large part of what gives people the strength and determination to evolve past capitalism. Capitalism is fear, basically. Large-scale, highly-organized fear: we've got to get them and crush them before they get us and crush us. It's effective, no doubt, but it's primitive, and it won't serve people's needs forever, because -- assuming we survive it -- we simply won't stay that primitive forever. Good works of art, like good music, like this recording, can inspire us to aim a little higher.

Getz and Gilberto made that recording in the mid-1970's. I first became interested in Getz's music in the late 80's when he recorded a track with Huey Lewis & the News, and then just a few years later he died. Maybe that's why I associate Getz with what people leave behind.

There is music which is crude but tries to sound complex, and music which is complex without trying to be flashy. This recording of "Águas de Março -- Waters of March" may seem quite simple at first to some, but it's gloriously complex. It's just that the complexity isn't there to impress crowds with cheap effects, but to make the music solider, more complete, rounded, polished. The complexity doesn't reach out and bash you in the head, it's just there, you can come to it if you so choose. You can, for instance, pay more careful attention to the drums and percussion and bass and piano snuggling underneath the vocals and guitar and sax for the most part, no flash at all, just solidity and the comfort of highly-skilled people working closely together. And those vocals, so sedately, subtly communicating a tremendous amount. If anybody here was planning to bash anybody else over the head and run away with their pie, they waited until the recording was over.

And that's probably much more than enough of me trying to describe a piece of music to you beyond saying, I like this, check it out.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Christoph Harting Sorgt Fuer Wirbel

Waere es zu gewagt, gerade jetzt zu erwaehnen, dass das allermeiste, was Spitzenathleten zu sagen haben, gehirnlos, langweilig oder schlimmer ist, und dass man deshalb die Schweigenden unter ihnen fuer ihr gutes Beispiel danken muessten? Waere das deplaziert? Wirklich, sollten wir diesen wunderbaren Athleten nicht zusehen and anderen Menschen, ganz anderen, zuhoeren?

Und bitte regen wir uns auch nicht auf wenn Schriststeller nicht fuer unsere Unterhalting um die Wette rennen, springen oder werfen wollen.

Ich gebe nur nur zu bedenken und bin wie stets Ihr ergebener Diener.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Who Is Wacław Liebert?

I have a copy of Ewidencja W .16.

I think it's a novel -- mostly because the word "powieść" is under the title on the title page, and "powieść" is Polish for "novel."

My Polish isn't that great. I can't really tell for sure what kind of a novel this is -- a pedestrian thriller? A satire so refined that only 4 people so far have really been able to understand it, but it made all 4 laugh so hard that they literally rolled on the ground? (Have you ever laughed that hard? I have -- when reading Mark Twain.) A post-impressionist character study of expatriates which is pretentious and overrated but not completely terrible, and still miles better than your average bestseller? (Or are Polish readers actually very sophisticated, so much so that their bestsellers actually tend to be good?) Of the 27 chapter titles, I've figured out what 4 mean, and none of those 4 are in Polish: "Bueno notte," "Ordnung muss sein," "Hydra" and "Corrida." Are the other 23 in Polish? I don't know. I'm pretty sure some of them are.

Is this the kind of novel that wins awards and makes bestseller lists? That wins awards but is obscure? That sells tons but wins nothing? That neither wins awards nor sells many copies and is just very, very mediocre and sad? It was published in London in 1980 by the Polska Fundacja Kulturalna. Don't know much about them either. The fact that a book written in Polish was published outside of Poland in 1980 might be a good or a bad sign regarding its quality, or neither, depending. If a Polish person sees me with this book, will they think, "Oh no, a barbarian!" or "Oh no, an intellectual!" or "Oh no, that big doofus who can't even read Polish who blogged about this book for some unfathomable reason!" or "I've never heard of that author" or "Wow, that guy's big! By which I don't mean merely tall!" or something else?

Borges would've understood me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cheer Up, Everybody

And by everybody, I mean: Democrats. Republicans: don't cheer up. You have no reason to do so. As FiverThirtyEight, Nate Silver's website, points out, Trump really is losing badly.

The main question now is how many Republican Senators, Congresspeople, governors, mayors, judges, city councilpeople, dog catchers, etc, etc, Trump will drag down to defeat with him. And there's nothing for Republicans to cheer up about there, either. A few months ago very few people were talking about the possibility of the GOP losing control of the Senate. Now we see headlines like: it's possible the GOP will keep the Senate, despite Trump.

Yeah, and it's also possible that your guy won't keep shooting his mouth off, GOP. And that the huge and growing wave of prominent Republicans renouncing Trump will convince a lot of people that Trump isn't really your guy. It's possible, in sort of the same way that monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Also possible, and much more likely, in my opinion, is that Trump has peaked, and that his peak looked a whole lot bigger in the GOP primaries than it will from here on in, and that it's all downhill from here for him. Nothing gets more people more intimately familiar with someone than running as a Democrat or Republican for POTUS, and it's possible that the better the general public gets to know Trump, the less they will like him.

It also seems that as people get to know Hillary better, less of them hate, distrust and fear her. Seems some people are beginning to see through some of the bullshit which the GOP had flung at her over the decades and which stuck. Trump's base may never get tired of hearing nonsense about Hillary's emails and about Ben-Gazhi; the general public seems to be getting tired of that sort of thing.

And that's just more bad news for Republicans, because, unlike the jaw-dropping things Donald says, the smear campaign against Hillary is mainstream Republican stuff. The less Republicans succeed in making Hillary look bad, the more dishonest and unprincipled they themselves seem.

And all of this is before we even get to the actual issues of policy on things like women's health and freedom to choose, green energy, tax breaks for Big Oil, labor unions, whether one fears that the government has too much control over corporations or that corporations have too much control over the government, whether the best way to help all of us is to help the poorest and weakest or the richest and most powerful, whether or not everyone should have access to affordable health care, whether too many tax breaks are available to corporate CEO's making 8 figures a year or more or to teachers and firemen making $50,000 a year or less, whether GLBT's don't have enough rights or whether they have too many, whether or not it's time to revoke the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, whether or not drilling for oil and gas in national parks would be a good idea, whether it should be easier or more difficult for people in the US to obtain guns and ammo, whether or not Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim Communist, etc. On every single one of those topics, the majority of voters favor Democratic positions more than Republican ones.

Imagine if undecided voters actually educated themselves on things like candidates' positions on things like those, and voted accordingly... *sigh* That'd be sweet.

Straight Democratic ticket is what I recommend. On some ballets you can still choose a straight party ticket. On others you have to try a little harder to make sure you actually voted the way you wanted to. Resources like Vote 411 are helpful with that. Or ask your local Democratic Party HQ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I've Finally Started To Read Sigried Lenz' Deutschstunde --

-- and it's a tremendous disappointment. I'm not at all sure I'll finish it. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've had this copy of Deutschstunde for 20 or 25 years and never read past the the first page and the description inside the front cover. Well, a couple of days ago I finally got past the first page, I'm 16 pages in (pages 7-22 in the 1973 dtv edition), and Joswig the guard is insulted by the boys' bad behavior, and Dr Korbjuhn is hundreds of years old, and Siggi's father, who is about to deliver the official notice to the painter Nansen that he is forbidden to paint, is obsessed with duty, and the reform school is always swarming with psychologists pathologically interested in boys who are difficult to educate, and the entire region, in the delta of the Elbe River flowing into the North Sea near Hamburg, is very windy, and did that take me 16 friggin pages? No. And although Lenz, if he were here, might think I've left out some significant details, I disagree.

And I'm only disappointed because I finally read the entire first page. That was what first raised some hope that I might enjoy this book. But, in my opinion, if you've read the first page, you've already read the first 16. Which sort of makes me think that, in a way, if you've read the description inside the front cover, about a half of a page, you've read, in a way, the entire book. Some descriptions of the plot of the entire book here and there on the Internet make me think I'm pretty much right. It's disappointing, because I always want to discover that writers are wonderful and not pedestrian and overrated.

The discussion of Celestino Piatti and dtv which led to my previous post led not only to my finding my copy of Deutschstunde, but also to looking at the covers of some of my copies of books by Heinrich Boell. Maybe I'll re-read Boell's Ende einer Dienstfahrt and some other of his books, see whether I like them better than when I read them for a class in grad school in 1991. I've always wondered whether I would have liked them better if I had read them slower. These days I don't know what to make of Boell. I went through a phase of being a Boell fan back when my German was still so undeveloped that my opinion of German prose didn't mean much yet. Then after a few years of that, and reading Doeblin, Goethe and Doeblin, Boell was sort of embarrassing. I read a description of Boell once by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who said he was sometimes brilliant and sometimes embarrassingly bad. you never knew from one page to the next.

Which is a lot like Norman Mailer. But I should say: that's a lot like my opinion of Norman Mailer. And the thing is, with my German reading skills somewhat more developed these days -- more developed than during my Boell phase, and also more developed than when I became embarrassed by him, a few years after I was done with grad school -- I'm curious about what my opinion of Boell would be now. I don't just want to rely on Marcel's opinion, which, frankly, as my German has gotten better, has itself become somewhat embarrassing. (Anybody understand why he turned on Grass like that?) Speaking of people's opinions of authors: Boell did, after all, win the Nobel Prize. They rarely get it wrong when they award the Literature Prize to a non-Scandanavian.

I see the new dtv edition of Ende einer Dienstfahrt, as I suspected, no longer has Celestino Piatti's striking cover:

Which is a shame. But my copy does.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Deutschstunde By Sigfried Lenz, dtv And Celestino Piatti

I found my copy of Deutschstunde by Sigfried Lenz. It looks like this:

I had been looking for it for several days, and was beginning to think I must have lost it, sold it or given it away. Then I found it right next to my copy of Max Frisch' Tagebuch,

which I had found months ago after thinking for years that I must have lost it or sold it or given it it away. The irony.

We had been discussing the covers of dtv paperbacks online several days ago. We were discussing the ones which had covers designed by the late Celestino Piatti, like the edition of Deutschstunde shown above, and like these:

Piatti designed thousands of covers for dtv (Deutsche Taschenbuch-Verlag, which translates to German Paperback Publisher) from the early 60's until the early 90's, maybe longer, and for hundreds if not thousands of those covers he drew or painted an original picture. Piatti really had some style, and because of him, most of the paperbacks published by dtv back then really had some style. In their appearance, at least. I don't think Piatti had any say about their contents.

Anyway, now that I've found my copy of Deutschstunde I don't want to read it. I've had it for over 20 years, probably over 25, and i don't want to read it. I don't know why. I guess the main reason is that something about Lenz' face

makes me not trust him to write what I would consider to be a good novel. I don't have a rational reason for not reading it. I've read the first page or so several times, and the description of the book inside the front cover, where it says that the narrator, Siggi, is in a reform school and has been sent to his room after failing in German class (Deutschstunde), and must stay there until he finishes a paper on the subject of duty, and how in 1943 his father had been chief of police in the fictional town of Rugbuell and had delivered to the famous painter Nansen the official notice that he had been forbidden by the Nazis to paint, and how Siggi, 10 years old in 1943, had helped Nansen to smuggle painting after painting out of his home, and yes isn't that ironic how Siggi and his father have different ideas about duty.

Anyway, it was nice to be reminded about the Piatti dtv's.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Republicans Aren't Much Different Than Trump

These same Republicans who are saying how they oppose Trump are the same ones who've been making it harder for ethnic minorities to vote, who oppose a woman's right to choose, who want to raise taxes on poor people and lower them on rich people, who oppose raising the minimum wage, and oppose full human rights for LGBT's, and take money from oil companies and deny that global warming is happening, etc.

Don't let them fool you. What they dislike about Trump is his complete lack of subtlety and tact about his plans to screw over everybody except rich white straight Republican men. The main difference between them and Trump, and also the reason that Trump did so much better in the GOP primaries than he's doing with the general voting public, is that they're a little bit sneakier about it.

Only a little bit.

Is Trump falling in the polls because of the Republicans distancing themselves from him, or are they distancing themselves from him because he's falling in the polls? I think it's the latter, and that the Republicans who distanced themselves from Trump earlier just had a hunch earlier that Trump was going to lose big.

Don't forget how much Obama's hands have been tied because he faces Republican majorities in Congress, and also among the country's Governors and city councils and so on. You like Hillary's policies better than Trump's? Then you need to vote for the rest of the Democrats too, not just for her, because all of us Democrats have pretty much all the same positions. (Bernie was never special and different. Never was, isn't now, never will be. Progressive politics are Democratic politics, and Bernie has only been a Democrat since 2015.)

You also need to vote more than just once every 4 years! Republicans are much better at getting to the polls in all of the elections in between the ones for President. That's why they have those majorities in Congress, and among the Governors and so forth. I'm starting to feel very optimistic about Hillary beating Trump, but Democrats need to win those other elections too. We need to get into the habit of showing up for every single election: primaries, Governors, mayors, judges, city councils, budget proposals. I know, it's a lot of work keeping track of all of those things. And all we would get for going to all that trouble is a completely different world.