As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead.
A while back we discussed some of the incoherent thinking, if that’s actually the appropriate word, surrounding the Borough of Camden’s approach to fixing what they saw as a problem with the district libraries—they weren’t providing what was called, by the expensive design consulting team hired by the Borough, a “memorable library experience.” The grisly details are here. As you might expect, there have been developments. And as you might also expect, they have not been positive.
Let’s start with what the Borough decided to do with my own local library, the Heath Library. Gone is the checkout desk staffed by people who could be helpful and knowledgeable about the library contents and the services offered. Instead we now have two large black box machines with which one now checks books in and out. They also look as if they could dispense a pretty classy cup of coffee, but I haven’t checked too closely. And instead of several helpful staff, known to all, we now have one or two new people—well, one is an old familiar, but most of the staff that had been there for years are no longer part of the local landscape. Continue reading →
So last weekend we finally finished the Capital Ring walk. This is a 75-mile walk around London, in fifteen separate walks, that takes you through a whole raft of neighborhoods, parks, and interesting sites around London. London is such a big city geographically that you tend to forget how large it actually is. But this was a wonderful way to experience how much diversity and geography London actually has. We haven’t actually updated since we finished the halfway point, many months ago, so this seems opportune.
We started about a year ago at Crystal Palace, the southernmost point of the walk, and that’s where we finished up as well. The Crystal Palace, remember, was the great Pavilion erected for the Royal Exhibition of 1851, which showcased Britain and its empire to the world. The Exhibition was originally held in Hyde Park, but was so popular that the Palace itself was moved to the region now known as Crystal Palace in 1854. It remained a major cultural attraction for decades, until the great fire that destroyed the palace in 1936. It was never rebuilt, but you can still see the place where it stood, and a number of the original stairways, that were not destroyed during the fire. And boy, it was big. Continue reading →
First, England should have gotten that goal. Why the Uruguayan referee didn’t see it will be a subject of heated discussion in England for some time.
Second, it wouldn’t have mattered, really. Germany just tore through England in the second half, and while there was the occasional moment of hope (Lampard’s shot bouncing off the post), there was nothing sustained about the way England were playing. They were just a bunch of very highly paid footballers out there who were unable to adapt to more aggressive playing. And I say this in full appreciation of how England played against Slovenia to get to this round, which was very well. But Germany is a vastly superior team, as should now be clear. This was the form Germany displayed against Australia, which, based on today’s performance, could have given England a good run. So I’m looking for Germany to do well from here on out. Could Germany go all the way? They’re disciplined, they don’t incur unnecessary fouls, they don’t take cheap shots (hey Spain, are you listening?), and they’re young, so they can run like hell, as they did against an increasingly tired looking England side. Granted, England is one of the older teams in the tournament–but that should mean they have the necessary experience to deal with a young attacking team. They didn’t. Continue reading →
THE DEPROLIFERATOR — If a nuclear weapon is an evil fruit of the times we live in, its “pit” is like a dollop of brimstone ladled out by Satan with love from hell.
Didn’t know a nuclear weapon has a pit? First, it behooves us to note that the word “pit” has a number of definitions. In fact, even when applied to fruit — “a seed covered by a stony layer” — it’s of two faces like Janus. To humans, it’s waste material to be discarded, but from a tree’s point of view (on whatever level, such as cellular), it’s a means of ensuring the future of its species.
The nuclear-weapons industry adopted the word “pit” for the weapon’s core, which is power-packed with the varieties of uranium or plutonium isotopes capable of a warp-speed chain reaction. Yes, it’s a seed for the a chain reaction. But instead of ensuring anything or anyone’s continued existence, the pit instead serves as a cache for — drum roll, please — a seed of destruction. Continue reading →
The US takes on Ghana in the Round of 16 today, and we realize that soccer is a game whose nuances are alien to many American sports fans. SVR offers this brief primer on the basics of the game so as to enhance our readers’ enjoyment of today’s match.
You remember this tableau, don’t you? It’s Monday, March 10, 2008, and the governor of New York state is standing in front of reporters and beside his stoic wife. In a CNN.com story, Eliot Spitzer, the reporter wrote, “confess[ed] to an undisclosed personal indiscretion, saying he had acted ‘in a way that violates my obligations to my family, that violates my or any sense of right and wrong.’”
We learned that, on Feb. 13, 2008, Spitzer spent three hours and $4,300 on a prostitute. She was “Kristen”; he was “Client 9.” On March 12, in a CNN.com story, we learned Spitzer had spent $15,000 on prostitutes. Continue reading →
We Funkateers are in mourning. Starchild (Gary Shider) has returned to the Mothership. Just 56 and unable to pay for cancer treatments, so this could be used as an opportunity to decry America’s shitty health care system. Never mind that. Glenn’s gone, Eddie’s gone, and now Gary’s gone too. The founding fathers of One Nation Under a Groove have – all too early – met the sweet chariot swinging down to take their ride. Sad, but funk is both a joyfull process and its own reward. RIP, Starchild. And for the rest of us here’s a clip of the man doing his thing.
“A prime number is a lonely thing,” says the book jacket for Paolo Giordano’s The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Primes can only be divided by one and themselves, which make them interesting mathematical phenomena.
Prime numbers also serve as the metaphor for Giordano’s lonely protagonists, Alice and Mattia, forever unable, it seems, to articulate their love for each other.
Mattia, a brilliant mathematician, studies primes, in part because they fascinate him and in part because he relates to them. “He suspected that they too would have preferred to be like all the others, just ordinary numbers, but for some reason, they couldn’t do it,” Giordano writes. “This second thought struck him mostly at night, in the chaotic interweaving of images that comes before sleep, when the mind is too weak to tell itself lies.”
His brilliance might have been the socially isolating brilliance that beleaguers many grade-school nerds, but a childhood tragedy magnifies that isolation to crippling proportions. Continue reading →
You know how we are. Bunch of shrill liberal crybabies who hate freedom and love terrorists, wish we could destroy all vestiges of American business and give every hard-earned penny that you earn to welfare queens, etc.
All of which is true, especially the parts about how George Soros is secretly paying us all (anybody want to chill on my yacht this weekend?). In fact, George is funding this venture himself in an attempt to further undermine the fabric of American society.
What is less known, though, is that us dirty hippie liberals also love sports. No, seriously. Baseball, football, hoops, soccer, Lithuanian goat rodeo, you name it. Continue reading →
Note to the sport-specific prescriptivists out there: not only am I an American, I live in Texas, where calling any game that does not include 300-pound men in Spandex slapping each other on the ass “football” is a Class B misdemeanor. Seriously. Look it up. I will therefore be referring to the sport played by the rest of the world as “soccer,” because your pantywad is not my jail time, pal.
World Cup soccer appears to be played by extremely fit and flexible men with incredible stamina (more on this later). They rarely stop running, and when they do, it’s only long enough to kick a ball while spinning sideways through the air or to collide artistically with one or more other players four feet off the ground. Continue reading →
The Dad went to work at age 12, and he made a vow that his sons would never have to choose between work and education. Never. The Dad would choose for us.
June 3, 1971. My older brother and I were lounging in the yard enjoying a perfect late spring day. The Dad had promised us a surprise, and all our friends came by to help us ponder what the surprise might be. Fishing rods, perhaps, or a car of our own. So many possibilities. Glenn had just graduated from high school and I had completed my sophomore year. By 4:00, there were about 30 kids in our yard when we heard a rumbling, like distant thunder. There was dust, smoke, a wheezing diesel cough, the grinding of old gears. Our neighbor Ray looked down the length of Fourth Avenue and said:
“Hey, look. That’s a hay truck. You haul hay in a long flatbed like that. Man, that is the worst job in the world, hauling hay. Running to keep up with the truck, throwing 100-pound hay bales up, and sometimes there’s a snake or skunk caught in the twine. You get blisters on your hands that don’t heal, and when the bales are next to a creek, they can weigh up to 250 pounds. I feel sorry for whoever has to work that truck. Look at the size of it! That truck will hold 400 bales at least and… and… say, isn’t that Mr. Hargrove driving?” Continue reading →
It wasn’t the first time in this game that there were odd calls – all going against the US – in and around the Slovenan box. One play Dempsey was wrestled to the ground in the box, no call. On another, he was body check as Altidore got off a snap shot. Altidore was blocked off just outside the box by the last defender that only drew a yellow card. One earlier decision saw Altidore thrown down this time near the midway line only to find the infraction whistled on the American. You might think the ref just plain didn’t like the United States. Continue reading →
THE DEPROLIFERATOR — You’re passionate about the abolition of nuclear weapons. But isn’t owning up to an uncompromising position on disarmament just a way of marginalizing yourself? Perhaps not. In the long run, those in the margins — grassroots types sprouting by the side of the road — may have a better chance of implementing disarmament than those steering policy limos down the middle of the road.
Take the Obama administration’s nuclear initiatives — the new START, the security summit, a revised nuclear posture review. However tentative, they might seem like steps in the right direction toward disarmament. Yet, in what can only be called a perverse experiment in cognitive dissonance, that same administration is requesting a 10 percent increase in funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration over the year before. Now fold that $7 billion into the $180 billion it’s requesting to upgrade U.S. nuclear weapons production for the next ten years. You can be forgiven for wondering what happened to the “dis” in disarmament. Continue reading →
The San Diego Union-Tribune laid off more than 30 staffers on Thursday in what Editor Jeff Light called in an editor’s note an effort to build “a lean, creative, multi-platform team that can lead the industry.” [emphasis added]
E&P reports that this is the U-T’s seventh round of staff cuts since 2006.
In April 2008, when The Seattle Times cut 200 people, its publisher said: “Strategic and thoughtful changes to the way we do business will allow us to be positioned for the future.” [emphasis added]
When The New York Times cut 100 jobs in 2009 (after whacking 100 jobs in 2008), its executive editor said:
These latest cuts will still leave us with the largest, strongest and most ambitious editorial staff of any newsroom in the country, if not the world. … I believe we can weather these cuts without seriously compromising our commitment to coverage of the region, the country and the world. We will remain the single best news organization on earth. [emphasis added]
Why is that the MBA-driven leadership of the newspaper industry, after cutting 35,000 mostly newsroom jobs between October 2007 and June 2010, continues to insist that the future (for whom?) is bright, and news (about what?) will multimedia its way to us day after day, quantity and quality unaffected?
There are words for that kind of image-driven happy talk: Reality challenged. Misrepresentation. Delusion. Outright lies. And, of course, bullshit. Continue reading →
In fact, like many Americans, the only reason I’ve ever even heard of Nanjing is because of Iris Chang.
Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking had a profound effect on me when I read it a couple years ago. Ever since, I’ve wanted to visit the city, to walk the ground, to hear the whispered cries of the war-dead who’d been so long forgotten until Chang finally wrote their story. She wanted to make sure no one ever forgot that story—ever.
On 31 May 2005, the US Supreme Court overturned accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s conviction for obstruction of justice. It would be a pyrrhic victory as, by then, a company which once employed 85,000 people around the world had been reduced to penury.
The rush for victim’s justice in the aftermath of the Enron fraud scandal led to the deliberate instruction of the Texas District Court that the jury find Arthur Andersen, Enron’s auditors, guilty “even if petitioner honestly and sincerely believed its conduct was lawful.”
Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated in his opinion for the Supreme Court: “The jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing. … Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the instructions required. … Only persons conscious of wrongdoing can be said to ‘knowingly corruptly persuade’.” Continue reading →