S&R at 10: Still thinking, ’cause it ain’t illegal, and we want to keep it that way

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim— George Santayana, 1863-1952

We’re not fanatics here at Scholars & Rogues. As our founder, Sam Smith, writes today on our 10th anniversary, our unruly mob of scholars and rogues believes in a “fierce commitment to confronting challenging questions facing ourselves, our society and our communities.”

S&R-logo-originalMany, if not most, of those challenges arrive at our digital doorstep because those who are fanatics have lost both their aim and their minds. We, as do you, routinely witness assaults on common sense, on dignity, on respect, and on intelligent public discourse.

We’ve tried to be more than mere witnesses here. When we’ve seen stupidity, we’ve shouted, sometimes whispered, “Hey! That’s not right. Don’t do that.”

But that’s not enough. To again paraphrase my favorite fictional president, Andrew Shepard, those who have lost their way or their minds on an issue do two things and two things only: Telling you to be afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.

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The Kennedy assassination: from Camelot to Clusterfuck

Yes, I know precisely where I was when someone murdered John Fitzgerald Kennedy. No, I do not want to hear where the hell you were. Nor do I want to read or watch any “retrospectives” on his assassination. Nor do I want to read or watch orations on what might have been had the shot or shots missed. I’m only concerned with what the hell actually happened in and to America since Kennedy died.

A half century has passed since my infatuation with Camelot. Fifty years have passed since the naïveté of my youth promised me wars will end, peace will reign, and society will be equitable. Even after the brutality of Daley’s thugs disrupted the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, Camelot sang as my siren. Even after gunfire from the National Guard killed four students at Kent State, I still believed in what the precisely cultivated mass mediations of JFK presented to me while he lived. Even after Nixon and his protect-me politics of Watergate, I had faith in process, politics, and people — even some politicians.
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Nota Bene #109: You Can't Tuna Fish

“It’s absolutely stunning to me, the contempt in which the network holds the audience. The idea that these people have standards is laughable.” Who said it? Continue reading

Ode to a 4×2 brick I found under my bookcase one midwinter's evening


OK, so this isn’t an ode. I’ve never written an ode, probably can’t write an ode, and even if I could it would probably be right up there with Vogon poetry, so it’s probably better all around if I didn’t even try. Instead, let me list for you some of my prouder moments, right up until I went away to college:

  • A bridge that spanned 6 feet of table with no support in the middle (we’ll call the brass wire I needed to keep the center from collapsing a “teachable moment”)
  • More towers than I can remember, including one that stood nearly 6 feet tall and had no central column for support (a la the Eiffel Tower)
  • A multi-generational starship with little robots and cars like from the movie Silent Running.
  • A Voltron-esque robot that broke up into multiple smaller robots.
  • An operational, motor-driven minifig-scale elevator that went up and down 3 feet.
  • A Klingon bird-of-prey, complete with moving wings, exit ramp out of the nose, and place for the whales, to minifig scale.

Yes, I was a Lego geek in high school. And today is the 50th Anniversary of the often-imitated but never exceeded LEGO brick. Continue reading