Monday, January 23, 2017

Dan Rather on these times

Dan Rather, writing on Facebook, says that “These are not normal times”:

What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. “A lie, is a lie, is a lie!” And if someone won’t say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar’s malignant reach into our society. . . .

Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.
[For whatever it’s worth, I’ve written to officials at Phi Beta Kappa urging them to make a public statement about truth, falsehood, and propaganda. Like Kellyanne Conway, I’m a PBK member.]

A Little Golden Book


[Click for a larger view.]

This new Little Golden Book cover has been credited to “Internet user Tim O’Brien.” This cover is an inspired piece of work. Kellyanne Conway (a Phi Beta Kappa member, by the way) referred to “alternative facts,” not “alternate facts.” I would suggest thinking of the book’s title not as a mistake but as an alternative fact “to,” as Conway says, “that.” “That” being the truth.

See also René Magritte. See also 2 + 2 = 5. See also Harry Frankfurt on the bullshitter: “He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

[Can PBK revoke one’s membership?]

National Handwriting Day


[Wally Cox. Photograph by Yale Joel. 1952. From the Life Photo Archive. Click for a larger view.]

It’s National Handwriting Day. Mr. Peepers is sharpening in preparation. At least in my imagination he is. His knuckles are bandaged, perhaps because of sharpener mishaps. How will you be celebrating?

This photograph was one of many taken for a Life feature on Wally Cox and the television show Mr. Peepers. The feature, without this photograph, ran in the July 7, 1952 Life. Nearly all the pencils in the photograph appear to be Eberhard Faber Mongols. You can see the name Mongol on two boxes in front of the books. The ferrules though are giveaway.

Sharpen. Write. Repeat. Happy handwriting.

Related reading
All OCA handwriting and Mongol posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dickinson at the Morgan

At the Morgan Library: I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson. The New York Times has a review, with many photographs.

[Are you — Nobody — too?]

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On the march in Champaign, Illinois

In Champaign, Illinois today, an estimated five thousand people participated in a Sister March held in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington. Five thousand people. It was exciting and inspiring to be among them. (The organizers had begun by planning for a crowd of two hundred.) The gathering began in a park not far from a corner where in 1870 Susan B. Anthony spoke on “work, wages, and the ballot”.

Our daughter Rachel points out that Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration concert drew a crowd estimated at ten thousand. So in just one midwestern city, a crowd half that size. My favorite signs: those made and held by children. Youre not doing even a very good gob.

But the question (always): Where do we go from here?

E. B. White on America Firsters

Fascism, nationalism, and America Firsters:

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), there is a certain quality in Fascism which is quite close to a certain quality in nationalism. Fascism is openly against people-in-general, in favor of people-in-particular. Nationalism, although in theory not dedicated to such an idea, actually works against people-in-general because of its preoccupation with people-in-particular. It reminds one of Fascism, also, in its determination to stabilize its own position by whatever haphazard means present themselves — by treaties, policies, balances, agreements, pacts, and the jockeying for position which is summed up in the term “diplomacy.” This doesn’t make an American Firster a Fascist. It simply makes him, in our opinion, a man who hasn’t grown into his pants yet. The persons who have written most persuasively against nationalism are the young soldiers who have got far enough from our shores to see the amazing implications of a planet. Once you see it, you never forget it.

E. B. White, The Wild Flag: Editorials from “The New Yorker” on Federal World Government and Other Matters (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1946).
See also: “With Echoes of the ’30s, Trump Resurrects a Hard-Line Vision of ‘America First’” (The New York Times). That Trump claims no grounding in the history of “America First” isn’t “liberating,” as a scholar quoted in the Times article claims. It’s frightening. Words have history. History has history.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Zippy panel for the day


[Zippy, January 20, 2017.]

That’s the God of Zippy, a triune God in today’s third panel. Perhaps Bill Griffith was thinking of a line from Tom Waits’s song “Heartattack and Vine”: “don’t you know there ain’t no devil, there’s just god when he’s drunk.”

Related reading
All OCA Tom Waits and Zippy posts (Pinboard)

[Lyric from the LP’s inner sleeve.]

A song for the day

“And in a city of tents those with no recompense
are encamped on the broad White House lawn.”

Two performances, 2012 and 2013: “I’m History,” words and music by Van Dyke Parks.




What to post today? I tried a passage from Thomas Paine. The words seemed out of proportion to the occasion, though I liked what Paine had to say about the folly of swearing allegiance to “a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.” I tried a passage from Abraham Lincoln, warning that “our common country is in great peril.” Okay. But Lincoln was attempting to persuade border states to go along with gradual emancipation, to be followed by freed slaves’ departure for colonized territory in South America. No thank you, President Lincoln. And then I thought of the idiotic claim about Cabinet IQs, remembered the story that begins Van Dyke’s lyric, and knew what to post. It’s the intensity of the live performance that especially gets me.

More about this song in this post. And if you like the music, buy something.

Related reading
All OCA VDP posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Things to do on Friday

In The New Republic, a writer suggests not watching: “A mass refusal to watch Trump on TV will deprive him of big ratings, which he routinely uses to create a false impression of widespread popularity.” An uncredited message circulating online suggests changing the channel: “if we turn off the TVs, it looks like a large majority of viewers tuned into Trump. But if our TVs are tuned to other shows, the percentage drops.” Snopes has discredited the change-the-channel tactic by pointing out that only Nielsen families make a difference to ratings. If you’re not a Nielsen family, turning off the television makes no difference either.

I too would like to think that changing the channel or turning off the television will somehow bruise a certain outsize ego. But it’s not happening. What I plan on doing late Friday morning: talking a walk, perhaps to the library and the supermarket. And on Saturday there’s a march to attend.

Recently updated

Make it known Now with a source for Walt Whitman’s “Make it plain.”