January 16, 2018

"Hello Police? Chris Paul tryin' to beat me up!"

January 15, 2018

I heard that was an exciting finish

I feel this is what rock music has been missing

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, from their 2016 album Nonagon Infinity

Dan Gurney (1931-2018) was Hard Core

It always amuses me when I hear men disparage minivans as though they are to be driven only by women. I think so often of our friend Dan Gurney, racing legend extraordinaire and a man to be taken seriously in every way. For the past several years Dan has been driving Toyota minivans and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. He says he always orders his with as few trinkets or extras as possible to keep the weight down, but does get the good wheel/tire package.

"Some time ago I was driving up toward Mammoth Mountain ski area when a guy in a BMW X5 went by me. So I raced with him all the way to Mammoth and took him quite by surprise. I had a similar episode on the local toll road when a Mercedes M-Class AMG went by and I tucked in behind him and we had a lot of fun until I finally blew on by. If you keep the weight down, minivans are really a kick to drive."


Gurney began racing in 1955 and won in nearly every racing series he attempted. He drove for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche and Brabham in Formula One, then formed his own team. He won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1967 in his own car, the first and only time an American won an F1 race in a car of his own design.


"[At Spa in 1967] our car ran 196 on the fastest part so...you had your work cut out for you."


January 14, 2018

Not bad

One thing I had not noticed is that Allman manages to play slide guitar in duet with a horn section (extra credit: without crowding Aretha). Does it again here with King Curtis (I never gave that version a chance but geez, listen to that note they hit at 0:40 and the band groove at 1:25).

The language will lead them

[The] attempt to capture likely lads and train them up as interpreters was never a great success, although persisted with for thirty years or so. It caused resentment when candidates were taken by force—the native populations of Taino Indians already had bitter experience in their own culture of raids by neighbours for enslavement and human sacrifice—and far too often the apprentices died in the unnatural setting of life in Europe. 

More effective was the natural process whereby an isolated Spaniard, shipwrecked or on the run from his own people, would take up life in an Indian village, and so get to know their language, before returning to actas interpreter. There are a good dozen such cases on record. One of these turned out to be crucial for the first Spanish advance into the interior of America, when in 1519 Cortés penetrated to the heart of the Mexican empire. He communicated through a relay of two interpreters, one of them Jerónimo de Aguilar, a Spaniard who had spent eight years in a Mayan village after a shipwreck on the coast of Yucatán, the other the famous Malin-tzin, a Nahuatl-speaking woman from Coatzacoalcos who had been traded to a nearby Mayan community, Xicalango, in childhood...

After the conquests were achieved and Spaniards installed in positions of power, there was little in the new economic order that was established, with native inhabitants of a region assigned to work on the land or in mines, that would have encouraged widespread diffusion of the Spanish language. Repetitive duties among static populations would minimise the need for communication between master and subject. There was nothing analogous to military service in the Roman empire, or the spread of monasteries and universities in medieval Europe, which would diffuse the language of the Spanish masters around their domains. There was, in any case, a constant flow of Spanish speakers emigrating from Spain itself to boost the speaker population. Yet a substantial number of bilinguals would have been needed to organise the work of the natives. They would have arisen naturally as the Spanish immigrants, overwhelmingly male, took Indian wives or mistresses (mancebas) and began to raise families with them. Their children, known as mestizos, would learn both languages from their parents. ‘As early as 1503, the Court recommends to the governor of Hispaniola that some Christians should marry some Indian women, so that they may communicate with and teach one another.’

1770 painting of Spanish man, Indian woman, & Mestizo child (source)

It has been claimed...‘that always language was the companion of empire’.  Garcilaso certainly held the view, still widely held today though not among knowledgeable linguists, that a shared language makes for common understanding and good mutual relations: ‘because the likeness and conformity of words almost always tend to reconcile people and bring them to true union and friendship’.

- Ostler, Empires of the Word

January 13, 2018

The Fool Factor, or Tail Risk Haunts the Warriors Backcourt

The 2017-18 Warriors made various changes to their championship squad, but one of the most important was the addition of Nick Young.  Young is a fool, but a fool who shoots extremely well.  Here he is last night dialing long distance against two defenders:


The moment was indisputably swaggy, and apparently life with Nick Young is full of these.  Steve Kerr, for whom Joy is an organizing principle, has good things to say about the perennially disappointing man-child:
Nick brings a joy to the game and to the team,” Kerr gushed after Monday’s 124-114 win over Denver. “He’s just one of the most care-free guys I’ve ever seen. He wears that joy on his face when he makes shots. He just loves playing basketball and gets it going a little bit. Our whole team enjoys watching that process. He’s great. A really fun guy to have on the team and he’s playing really well for us.

But is he Steve?  IS HE?

Credit Where Credit is Due

Well...(mumbles under his breath), yes.  Yes he is.  There is a problem, but before we get to that,  give credit where credit is due.  Just after the halfway point, the Warriors have played 43 games.  Steph Curry has been out a lot, missing 15 of those.  Kevin Durant has been out a lot as well, missing 10.  And the Warriors still lead the Association in winning percentage, sporting a record of 34-9.  A local radio host marvels that "they're on pace to win 66 and they're not even trying."

Young has to get some credit for this.  As much as I love Shaun Livingston, he cannot be a full-time backup because of his physical limitations.  He gives you 16 minutes a game, but you don't want to push it.  Also, despite his many virtues, Livingston has one major weakness: he will not shoot threes.  Young is a great complement because his range is actually similar to Curry's, which makes it harder for the opposing defense to crowd the paint when the two-time MVP takes a breather.  Curry has an effective shooting percentage this year of 60.8%, Klay Thompson is 58.1%, Young is 57.5%, so there's hardly any drop-off in shooting accuracy when he comes in.

Early in the season, Young didn't know the offense, but he seems to be getting the hang of it, and his cumulative +/- is now solidly positive (although -20 the past two games pulls it down a bit):

If you add Livingston and Young together you get a perfectly adequate third guard:  29 minutes a night, 12 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds.  Both are 6-7 and can defend (Livingston better than Young, obviously), and both create matchup problems against smaller opponents when the ball is in their hands (Young's threes, Livingston's midrange attack).  It all adds up to a plus/minus of +198 season-to-date, so both men can claim a share of the team's success so far.

The Problem

I went back into the game-by-game data to investigate something I thought I was seeing with my own two eyes.  The Warriors don't get blown out often, but, I thought, when things are going sideways Young always seems to be in the mix (Livingston, like Eliot's Macavity, is not there).

So I sorted each man's games by +/- score.  What emerges is: from a +/- perspective Livingston and Young are the same player, except for one thing:

Tail risk.  The bane of America's hedge fund managers, the angel of Victor Niederhoffer's destruction.  Swaggy P is as good a team player as Sensible Shaun most of the time.  But...six times this year Young has been a direct participant in regrettable incidents, unpleasant occurrences, mishaps, and misadventures that Livingston seems to have a knack for avoiding.  Here is the same data visualized another way:

Young gets you range, but also the small but nonzero probability that his airheadedness will help turn that night's Warriors effort into the Poseidon Adventure.

Long ago, Seneca said "joy can only be attained by the wise."  Be careful Mr. Kerr, be very careful.

January 12, 2018

U.S. ambassador to Netherlands is WEAK. Sad!

The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.

Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.

“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”


January 11, 2018

Here is a good "web page"


Small hole found in universe*


* been waiting 35 years to use that one

Greenland blues

An archaeologist at Hunter College of the City University of New York, McGovern has spent more than 40 years piecing together the history of the Norse settlements in Greenland. With his heavy white beard and thick build, he could pass for a Viking chieftain, albeit a bespectacled one. Over Skype, here’s how he summarized what had until recently been the consensus view, which he helped establish: “Dumb Norsemen go into the north outside the range of their economy, mess up the environment and then they all die when it gets cold.”

. . .

But over the last decade a radically different picture of Viking life in Greenland has started to emerge from the remains of the old settlements, and it has received scant coverage outside of academia. “It’s a good thing they can’t make you give your PhD back once you’ve got it,” McGovern jokes. He and the small community of scholars who study the Norse experience in Greenland no longer believe that the Vikings were ever so numerous, or heedlessly despoiled their new home, or failed to adapt when confronted with challenges that threatened them with annihilation.

“It’s a very different story from my dissertation,” says McGovern. “It’s scarier. You can do a lot of things right—you can be highly adaptive; you can be very flexible; you can be resilient—and you go extinct anyway.”


538 analyzes my second-favorite basketball player

#1 now and always is Shaun Livingston.  However, 538 has done a wonderful analysis of my second favorite player and one of his most interesting...quirks:
Perhaps better than anything else, player statues exemplify what NBA greats were known for during their careers. A bronzed Michael Jordan is soaring over defenders for a dunk in Chicago; John Stockton and Karl Malone look as if they’re completing another successful pick and roll in Utah; and Magic Johnson, who led the Showtime-era Lakers, is leading a fast break. 
If Jusuf Nurkic ever reaches this level of immortality — which, OK, is probably a long shot — his statue would display him getting elbowed in the mouth. The 23-year-old Trail Blazers center is good at many things, but he stands alone in the NBA when it comes to getting whacked in the face.

Apart from his unique ability to get hit in the face, there are many other good things about Nurkic.  In the era where the big man is supposed to be obsolete, he gives you Bogut-lite defense, shot-blocking, and passing, but is also quick on his feet and has an actual low post game.  He can even do a spin move.  Three and D?  How about a dunk in your face AND ONE?

The Bosnian Beast.

Signature quote 1
“We set Zaza screens [in Slovenia].  You set a screen and someone gets injured immediately."

Signature quote 2
"We know I'm not the same guy that I'm supposed to be right now [2017 playoffs].  We all decided to give it a try. The start of the game was pretty OK, a little pain but I tried to fight through. The pain level was high. I played with a broke leg tonight, yeah, I played with pain."

Signature quote 3
“I’m not going to say names, but some of my good friends are OK with scoring 20 points and losing.  I’m not that guy."

Signature quote 4
"If I don't fight for myself, who is going to fight for me?"

Origin story
...is more truth than myth. His cop father, Hariz, really was written up in the local newspaper for his starring role in a brawl that landed 13 people in the hospital. His first agent, Enes Trnovcevic, really did travel to Tuzla, Bosnia, to seek out Hariz and ask whether the larger-than-life policeman (6’10”, well over 400 pounds) had any children interested in translating their genetic advantages to the hardwood. His mother Rusmina, a housewife, really did agree to let Trnovcevic ship off 14-year-old Jusuf to a boarding school in Slovenia, even though her child hadn’t studied the Slovenian language, hadn’t yet hit his growth spurt, and had rarely spent a night away from home. There was also the little matter of Nurkić’s lack of formal basketball training. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I was a minus-10,” he said. “I didn’t even know how to run.”  (link)


Career line so far:  20 minutes a game, 10 points, 7 rebounds, a couple of assists, a block.

He is 23, 6-11, and as pure as a Counter-Strike headshot.  Come to think of it, he'd look good in a Warriors jersey...

Every damn day

CNN Analysis: This is a new rock bottom


January 09, 2018

BBC: Lemurs ripped my flesh

Interesting article on deleted articles

Thing we were happiest to learn: There are some great band names in here. Ant Tantrum. Atoms In Bulgaria. The Beef Seeds. Confederate Air Force. Drugbunny. Evil Pig. Fake Fake. Improper Fraction Arena. Men Without Pants. Monkey Wedding. Peanut Butter Jones. Stoned Jesus. Super Panda. Vegetable Monsters. And everyone’s favorite Brooklyn hipsters, Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die.


January 07, 2018

When an Empire falls

The history of western Europe after the German invasions is the tale of how the kingdoms established by the conquering tribes went on to become distinct nations. Dialectal differences in the Latin that people spoke widened, and wide-ranging travel became less common, as the road system decayed and public order became unenforceable far from cities. No longer was there a Roman army with a common tradition, and troops that might expect to be transferred anywhere. Where literacy survived, principally in the Church, so did written Latin. But this was not enough to maintain any spoken standard. The gap between spoken and written language widened, but without people having any sense of what was really happening, namely that the spoken language was changing. Little by little Latin spelling came to seem more and more irregular and perverse: but this obscurity was acceptable, even desirable, as reading and writing were the preserve of a small elite, mostly clerics and lawyers.

This period, the second half of the first millennium AD, gives us our main evidence of what happens to a universal language in the western European, Christian, tradition, when it begins to lose currency, when people, although still speaking it, begin to lose sight of its vast scope, and live above all in their local communities. Three hundred years after the Goths and Germans had divided up the territories of the empire, it had become extremely difficult for the people of Spain, France and Italy, when they did meet, to understand one another’s speech. The learned, the only ones who would be conscious of the problem, came to call anyone’s ordinary speech an idioma, to be contrasted with the universality of grammatica, which was the normal word for Latin in the Middle Ages.

- Ostler, Empires of the Word

January 06, 2018

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Today the Clippers, tired of watching Curry rain down threes on them, tried a new approach, fouling him at every opportunity. The result: Curry goes 15-16 from the line, scores 45 on 21 field goal attempts in 29 minutes, Warriors take a 30 point lead before the mop-up crew comes in.

Curry's 15 points on foul shots were higher than any teammate's total points.

All of this with Durant out.  Madness.


When the Roman Empire stopped being Roman

There is an interesting pattern to the Byzantine losses in the mid-seventh century. The places that held firm were precisely those where Greek was the majority language, spoken by the people at large and not just elites. 

ca. 650 AD

This had an effect on the linguistic self-image of the Roman empire (for they still considered themselves Roman). Latin had been dropping out of use for some time, losing even its last redoubt in the law: since the time of Justinian, a century before, most legislation had been drafted in Greek; and the emperor’s second-in-command, the praetorian prefect, was now often a man who knew no Latin. The empire still held much of southern Italy, and would hang on to parts of it for another four hundred years, until the middle of the eleventh century. But now for the first time Greek, not Latin, was seen as the unifying language of the whole community...

[L]ooking back from the mid-tenth century, the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus remarked that it had been in the time of Heraclius that the Romans ‘had been Hellenized and discarded the language of their fathers, the Roman tongue’.

- Ostler, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Byzantium still had gas in the tank, though.  Wikipedia reckons the late peak was 1025, after Basil II's reconquests.

January 05, 2018

Phil Hill's son on the GTO (good with headphones)

Froze my ass off in Chicago, now wind and rain tonight in California, I'm all like...

Showdown at St. Peter's

I enjoyed, perhaps a little too much, the In Our Time podcast on the Concordat of Worms (12/15/11).

As every schoolchild knows, the Concordat of Worms - "an agreement between Pope Callixtus II and Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor on September 23, 1122" (Wikipedia) - tied up some ecclesiastical loose ends and helped clarify the roles of church and state, and, more specifically, the relationship between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.

The Concordat itself is not without interest, but what I found most diverting was the series of events leading up to the agreement, which included:
  • The excommunication of Henry IV in 1076, which greatly weakened his political position.  (Fun fact:  During his colorful reign, Henry was excommunicated five times by three different popes.)
  • The election by the Germans of Rudolf of Rheinfelden as anti-king of the Germans in 1077.
  • Henry IV's defeat of Rudolf (accompanied by Rudolf's death) at the Battle on the Elster in 1080.
Rudolf dis-armed

  • The betrayal of Henry IV by Henry V in 1106, the defeat of Henry V's army by Henry IV, followed by the illness and untimely death of Henry IV in that same year.

At this point, Henry V has won the field and is clearly the rightful Holy Roman Emperor, both by right of hereditary succession and because the other contestants are dead.  Now all he has to do is get the Pope to crown him.  In Our Time picks up the story:
  • Melvyn - We've got our horse now, because Henry V was the emperor who went to the Concordat of Worms in 1122, so, briskly, what sort of emperor was he?
  • Henrietta Lyser - Well, he gets bad press because he betrays his father.  But, equally, he's also very careful, because he knows what the game is.  So he's very careful, actually, during one of the protracted negotiations with the Papacy...he gets absolution for his father, and he manages to get him re-buried with considerable dignity at Speyer cathedral.  There are so many different fights going on.  So I think Henry V does what he can for imperial dignity.
  • Melvyn - Fine, now we're going to drive towards the Concordat through the investiture controversy. John Gilliam, the Pope at the time of Henry V's coronation was Paschal II, and Henry tries to strike a deal with him over the investiture controversy.  Can you just say what moves they made?
  • John Gilliam - Well, because Henry V had managed to rescue his dynasty - the family dynasty -  by portraying himself as a man willing to make a peace with the popes, unlike his father; a man very sympathetic to the cause of Church reform.  In order to follow logically with that he had to come to terms, negotiate with Pope Paschal II.   And the obvious occasion to do that is when he wants to be emperor, wants to get crowned in Rome.  And so in the year 1110 he marches south with a huge army, perhaps the biggest army the German emperors ever had, thanks to a lot of money he had got from England because he had been betrothed to Matilda, the daughter of Henry I.  And with all that money he goes south with a huge army and meets the Pope's envoys not very far out of Rome at the beginning of February, 1111.
[A deal is negotiated to resolve in the investiture controversy, under which bishops focus on souls, and give up their worldly rents and emoluments.]

  • Melvyn - And then what happened, Kate Cushing?
  • Kate Cushing - On Henry's coronation day, there is an uproar in St. Peter's.  
Welcome to Thunderdome
  • Melvyn - Inside the...
  • Kate Cushing - Inside the the basilica.  The clergy, the magnates, are are horrified.  Henry V then refuses to sign the documents, Pascal refuses then to crown him.  In the uproar, with his very large army, Henry V seizes as many cardinals, magnates, priests, and the Pope, as he can.  

After turning back various rescue attempts, Henry "left Rome carrying the Pope with him. Paschal's failure to obtain assistance drew from him a confirmation of the king's right of investiture and a promise to crown him emperor.  The coronation ceremony accordingly took place on 13 April, after which the emperor returned to Germany..." (Wikipedia)

The moral of that story being, I think: don't fuck with emperors who have large armies in your basilica.  This is one of those special rules that is applicable only on certain occasions, but sure to give good service when those occasions arise.

Later on they patched it all up with the Concordat of Worms.

All good?
All good.

And let history note that Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, was a straight-up badass playa who redeemed his father and his dynasty, compelled Rome to recognize his rightful status as Holy Roman Emperor, and reconciled with the Church, through the judicious use of the  Biggest Army Ever.

And also a faithful servant of God

Respect, sir.


Is everyone enjoying our Fox and Friends presidency?

For those who are not, I suspect the basis of effective countermeasures will be:
  • Respect for the intrinsic value of a human person.
  • Respect for science.
  • The courage to confront.
It should be an interesting year.


The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having been destroyed by rioters.


January 03, 2018

To be fair, Anatolia, Egypt, and Syria have a combined area of 750,000 square miles...

A vast expansion of the world where Greek was spoken had come about in this way; but outside Anatolia, Syria and Egypt there is little evidence for its everyday use having spread much beyond the community of Greek émigrés.

- Ostler, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Yeah, as bad as you'd think

Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. "I got as far as the Fourth Amendment," Nunberg recalled, "before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head."


December 30, 2017

The unforgettable Dennis

DENNIS BERGKAMP and his manager Marcel Keizer have been sacked by Ajax... by his former Arsenal team-mate Marc Overmars.  (link)

Dennis Bergkamp...Dennis Bergkamp....Dennis - now where have I heard that name before?  Oh yes:

December 25, 2017

Not exactly nostalgia

We caught a show Friday night in Los Altos called "The 1940s Radio Hour", a jukebox musical set in New York in 1942.  We (and about 50 other audience members in the tiny theater) were the studio audience as the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade's last holiday show went out on radio station WOV.  Hilarity and drama ensued, but mostly very good music.

"The 1940s Radio Hour" had a run on Broadway, but it's really perfect for college or local theater groups.  You've got 15 parts, five female and 10 male.  Lots of solos, but nothing too demanding.  You do need a pro (faculty member?) to play Clifton Feddington, the beleaguered producer and announcer for the show, and you need a decent band.  But apart from that, the show is flexible enough to adjust to whatever talent is or is not on hand.

There was a fellow in our show who could sing and play the trumpet.  He hadn't done much acting before, but did a good job with his part.  The local group had a couple of ringers, but also some impressive amateur talent, notably a chanteuse who is, by day, a lawyer at Apple.

Some numbers from the show (my favorite performances, many pre- or post-war):

Let me just add: Brigitte Losey can sing.  You heard it here first.

He is the chosen one

49ers score 44 points on the NFL's best defense, team now 4-0 in the Garoppolo era.

Carlos Hyde says 49ers will win 2019 Super Bowl (link)

UPDATE:  There is an MVP argument to be made for Jimmy Garoppolo (link) ]

December 24, 2017

Christmas Garland, 2017

For many years now I have made it a bit of a tradition during the Christmas season to sit down with Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland.  First recommended to me in a news-paper article written by Robertson Davies (reprinted here), the book took some finding, but it was worth it in every way.  If you would like to read it but would prefer to avoid scouring dusty old websites, the full text of the book is online at Project Gutenberg.

A 1990 review of Davies' Enthusiasms offhandedly remarked that "when he edges into more recent territory, Davies naturally goes for eccentrics: Nabokov, Salinger, Ivy Compton-Burnett, John Cowper Powys, Iris Murdoch, as well as minor writers who took major pains with style, like Max Beerbohm and P. G. Wodehouse."  Since 1990, of course, both Beerbohm and Wodehouse have seen significant critical rehabilitation, and a wonderful volume of Beerbohm's essays appeared in 2015 with the diabolical title The Prince of Minor Writers.  

Even after rehabilitation - after the biographies, special editions, and Teller's completion of the tale of Enoch Soames - Beerbohm is still no more than a good secret in the literary world.  But the truth is that he is just too good to be minor.  As Updike says, "minor artistry became in him a creed, a boast; like Ronald Firbank and Nathanael West, he remains readable while many mightier oeuvres gather dust. The filigree is fine, but of the purest gold."

It is not easy to selectively quote from this year's annual reading, from the chapter by H.G. W*lls entitled "Perkins and Mankind".  The excerpt will give you a sense of Beerbohm's genius at style:
It was the Christmas party at Heighton that was one of the turning-points in Perkins' life. The Duchess had sent him a three-page wire in the hyperbolical style of her class, conveying a vague impression that she and the Duke had arranged to commit suicide together if Perkins didn't "chuck" any previous engagement he had made. And Perkins had felt in a slipshod sort of way—for at this period he was incapable of ordered thought—he might as well be at Heighton as anywhere.... 
The enormous house was almost full. There must have been upwards of fifty people sitting down to every meal. Many of these were members of the family. Perkins was able to recognise them by their unconvoluted ears—the well-known Grifford ear, transmitted from one generation to another. For the rest there were the usual lot from the Front Benches and the Embassies. Evesham was there, clutching at the lapels of his coat; and the Prescotts—he with his massive mask of a face, and she with her quick, hawk-like ways, talking about two things at a time; old Tommy Strickland, with his monocle and his dropped g's, telling you what he had once said to Mr. Disraeli; Boubou Seaforth and his American wife; John Pirram, ardent and elegant, spouting old French lyrics; and a score of others. 
Perkins had got used to them by now. He no longer wondered what they were "up to," for he knew they were up to nothing whatever. He reflected, while he was dressing for dinner on Christmas night, how odd it was he had ever thought of Using them. He might as well have hoped to Use the Dresden shepherds and shepherdesses that grinned out in the last stages of refinement at him from the glazed cabinets in the drawing-rooms.... Or the Labour Members themselves.... 
True there was Evesham. He had shown an exquisitely open mind about the whole thing. He had at once grasped the underlying principles, thrown out some amazingly luminous suggestions. Oh yes, Evesham was a statesman, right enough. But had even he ever really believed in the idea of a Provisional Government of England by the Female Foundlings? 
To Perkins the whole thing had seemed so simple, so imminent—a thing that needed only a little general good-will to bring it about. And now.... Suppose his Bill had passed its Second Reading, suppose it had become Law, would this poor old England be by way of functioning decently—after all? Foundlings were sometimes naughty.... 
What was the matter with the whole human race? He remembered again those words of Scragson's that had had such a depressing effect on him at the Cambridge Union—"Look here, you know! It's all a huge nasty mess, and we're trying to swab it up with a pocket handkerchief." Well, he'd given up trying to do that....

But then there is a moment of crisis:
One of the big conifers from the park had been erected in the hall, and this, after dinner, was found to be all lighted up with electric bulbs and hung with packages in tissue paper. 
The Duchess stood, a bright, feral figure, distributing these packages to the guests. 
Perkins' name was called out in due course and the package addressed to him was slipped into his hand. He retired with it into a corner. Inside the tissue-paper was a small morocco leather case. Inside that was a set of diamond and sapphire sleeve-links—large ones.
He stood looking at them, blinking a little. 
He supposed he must put them on. But something in him, some intractably tough bit of his old self, rose up protesting—frantically. 
If he couldn't Use these people, at least they weren't going to Use him! 
"No, damn it!" he said under his breath, and, thrusting the case into his pocket, slipped away unobserved.

But H.G. W*lls comes to the rescue:
He flung himself into a chair in his bedroom and puffed a blast of air from his lungs.... Yes, it had been a narrow escape. He knew that if he had put those beastly blue and white things on he would have been a lost soul.... 
"You've got to pull yourself together, d'you hear?" he said to himself. "You've got to do a lot of clear, steady, merciless thinking—now, to-night. You've got to persuade yourself somehow that, Foundlings or no Foundlings, this regeneration of mankind business may still be set going—and by you." 
He paced up and down the room, fuming. How recapture the generous certitudes that had one by one been slipping away from him? He found himself staring vacantly at the row of books on the little shelf by his bed. One of them seemed suddenly to detach itself—he could almost have sworn afterwards that he didn't reach out for it, but that it hopped down into his hand.... 
"Sitting Up For The Dawn"! It was one of that sociological series by which H.G. W*lls had first touched his soul to finer issues when he was at the 'Varsity. 
He opened it with tremulous fingers. Could it re-exert its old sway over him now? 
The page he had opened it at was headed "General Cessation Day," and he began to read.... 
"The re-casting of the calendar on a decimal basis seems a simple enough matter at first sight. But even here there are details that will have to be thrashed out....

The full piece is a powerful, modern take on the meaning of Christmas, as clear as the black snow in a photographic negative

December 20, 2017

Current mood

December 19, 2017

New sheriff in town

Importantly, by the time that the contracted Gladstone coal unit had gotten out of bed and put its socks on so it can inject more into the grid – it is paid to respond in six seconds – the fall in frequency had already been arrested and was being reversed.

Gladstone injected more than Tesla did back into the grid, and took the frequency back up to its normal levels of 50Hz, but by then Tesla had already put its gun back in its holster and had wandered into the bar for a glass of milk.


December 17, 2017


In world where debt collectors act with impunity... They pushed him too far... They made it personal... Now he's making THEM pay!

The targets were shocked by Therrien’s doggedness. In their world, complaints are common, but most victims give up after being promised they won’t be called again. One shady-debt player tells me he suspected Therrien was an undercover federal investigator because he’d gathered so much information on his business. “It’s an obsession, it’s unbelievable, an outright vigilante crusade,” another says...
.  .  .

“If it’s just about me, I don’t particularly give a f---,” he tells me, with an incongruous laugh. “You call my wife, and you call my grandparents? You just opened up a door that got really f****** ugly, and now I’m going to make sure that I just ruin your life.”


Also relevant:

December 16, 2017

Black Thought drops the Freestyle H-Bomb

Update: the transcript was up on Rap Genius within 24 hours.

December 14, 2017

Box score surrealism

A third of the way into the NBA season, and the Warriors are already quite banged up.  Tonight Curry, Green, Pachulia, and Young all had to convalesce.  Ordinarily, when a team loses an MVP and an All-Star it faces serious problems, but when the Warriors lose an MVP (Curry) and an All-Star (Green), they still have...an MVP (Durant) and an All-Star (Thompson).

Nevertheless, without Green and Curry they have to go to their bench, and the good news is that there is one.  I loved the mid-80s Celtics, but man, when the Hall of Famers sat down it got ugly fast.  Against the Lakers you had the likes of Greg Kite and Jerry Sichting squaring off against Mychal Thompson and Michael Cooper, and this did not lead to good outcomes.

The Warriors, by contrast, have an interesting bench full of high character role players.  They always play well, but you wonder how they'd do in real life, like if they were on a regular team?  Tonight we found out, as the Two-Star Warriors (just Durant and Thompson) were supplemented by the likes of Omri Casspi (7-9), David West (4-5), Jordan Bell (4-5), and Shaun Livingston (4-6) against the Mavericks.  That group collectively shot 19-25, or 76% from the field, Iguodala added ten assists, and the decimated Warriors won by 15.

This is nuts, just surreal.