October 30, 2011

You know, for kids

Volunteers needed.

Tebowing Tebow

Jesus wanted Tim Tebow to be sacked.

Normal groveling

Dr. Kapital tweets:

Perfectly normal...for a client state.

Great idea!

A laser powerful enough to tear apart the fabric of space could be built in Britain.

October 28, 2011

Flawless Victory

Capitalist entertainment

Dr. Kapital tweets:

Funny, if it weren't so sad.

October 27, 2011

The Return of Sportswriting

Grantland.com has a lot of good stuff.

October 26, 2011


Paul "Bearer" Krugman, extra scary for Halloween.

October 25, 2011

Spot the Ringer

Eisengeiste Football League:  number of players on the Can't Cut List -
  • Hammer of Talc:  6
  • Kleptocrats:  5
  • Aggressionators:  4
  • Rally Cap Timers:  4
  • Hairy Limes:  4
  • Desmo Retards:  4
  • Steaming etc.:  3
  • They Might Be Dwarfs:  3
  • Expatriates:  3
  • New Quay:  2

October 24, 2011

In May's Britain, a lonely authentic voice

We're now on the third generation of Englishmen A.E. - After Empire. The 40-somethings of the UK are the grandchildren of the Men Who Lost the British Empire, somewhere between Jutland and Malaya.

Even more than their elders, this generation seems slightly discombobulated by the resulting vacuum. I've never had anyone actually stand up during a business meeting and scream "what the hell happened?!?" but wouldn't be surprised if they did. It weighs heavily. It is particularly noticeable for an American, as they tug at your sleeve, looking at you urgently as if there were something you must understand, but they are forbidden by their masters to tell you what it is.

Even as a tourist walking around London the memories impose themselves. It's a bit daunting to walk down the street and see Clive looking down on you: "Credited with securing India." Well done. Or Chinese Gordon, who put down the Taiping Rebellion, refused financial compensation (except for an imperial yellow jacket), and, if paintings are to be believed, died in the Sudan while checking his wristwatch.

So it is sobering to think that, with the Scots threatening to opt out and the Welsh inclined to do the same, the City that once ruled the world might soon command only England, a landmass approximately the size of Iowa.

As its armed forces atrophy, the U.K. sinks inexorably into dependence on others for its security. Thatcher was able to arrest the process briefly, but the view today is that the U.K. could not fight a Falklands war with its current capability, another bitter pill for the Admiralty. Admiral Woodward says the Falkland Islanders “are more deserving of our continued support than the wretched citizens of Afghanistan and Libya”. His view is unlikely to prevail, however. Chances are the U.S. will have its way, and the Falklands will one day become the Malvinas.

After that awkward pause in the 60s and 70s, American hegemony is a reality once again for the Anglo-Saxon nations. "American English has a global role at the beginning of the 21st Century comparable to that of British English at the start of the 20th". Anyway, the UK fits right into our territorial plans, and with Fox News running their newspapers, all should be well.

It leaves a bit of a problem around cultural identity. You can't be dethroned from the ultimate fighting championship and then drop 50 spots down the rankings over the next few years and keep the same attitude on life. You're not the big dog anymore. Adjustments, however humbling, must be made.

Some handle it well, some don't. I count three adjustment strategies, each one well-exemplified by a presenter from the wildly popular BBC television series Top Gear:

Anger: One might lash out, full of bravado, hoping that the resonance of one's voice will communicate that however bloodied your nation might be, it remains unbowed. Jeremy Clarkson plays this role in the show, and while I am very fond of his gift for hyperbole (a perfectly brilliant example is here), the overcompensation becomes seriously distracting when he descends to baiting Mexico, or the poorer citizens of whatever country they're filming in. For those who imagine that  Britain has become a nation of impotent, abusive cads, Clarkson, alas, presents a fine target.

Audacity: Well, if you can't shout down your neuroses, you could try standing up to them. A better example of courage, if not cultural sensitivity, is The Hamster, Richard Hammond (all 5'-7" of him). Probably the best driver among the three, he has pulled off some truly daring stunts, pushing the limit so hard that he crashed and nearly died in 2006. Small wonder he idolizes Evel Knievel. I've known more than a few Brits like this. Once they're away from the nanny state they go a little bit crazy, running all sorts of risks. The ones who survive bring some good stories for their mates back home.

Keep Calm and Carry On: But Anger and audacity, however tempting or entertaining, are not really British characteristics. Think of an Englishman you admire. Loudmouth? Showoff?  No...chances are he spoke in a level voice and deflected credit to others, even when he singlehandedly held the position, killing the last Hun with a thrown Wembley.

No seriously, we were at the Tower of London, and they had a list of VC winners. It was this sort of thing, over and over again. Ordinary men, mostly, unexceptional but for one common characteristic: extraordinary calm in the face of greatest adversity. I'm talking about the sort of fellow who, knowing he is slowing down the Scott expedition, decides to go for a walk in a blizzard, saying "I am just going outside and may be some time." Groups of men with this attitude can do amazing things.

I don't wish to suggest that James May is the sort of fellow who would singlehandedly hold off an attacking force of Germans with his Lewis gun, but he is no coward, either. He's driven a Bugatti Veyron to the limit and traveled into space. While doing so, he has generally had the decency to speak in a civil tone. He, or his scriptwriter or agent or image-maker, have worked out that there's room for someone on tv who acts the way the English are supposed to act. The way they used to act when their country mattered.

This is not to say he is David Niven - he can be witty and sardonic, but also sarcastic and profane, although his use of the expletive "oh, cock" is generally well-judged. Some praiseworthy aspects of James May:
  • His approach to picking up women.
  • His disregard for fine distinctions.  "All this is yours for 140,000 pounds. Now that is quite a bit more expensive than Porsche's four-door, the Panamera, but, there are two very good reasons why you should choose the Aston Martin. Firstly, and unlike the Porsche, it does look rather magnificent. And secondly, most importantly, this is quintessentially British. Despite the fact that it's made in Austria. Which I think is in Germany."
  • His Lego house.
  • He's had his delinquent moments, too, but with a few exceptions they affirm a positive view of the man.
Most importantly, he is not constantly straining to stay in character.  While Clarkson is at pains to convince you he is an asshole, and Hammond is overcompensating for God-knows-what, James May is just James May.  More Britons should follow his example.

May's book Car Fever, a compilation of recycled newspaper columns, is lightly entertaining.

Stewart Lee on Top Gear

October 23, 2011

Memo from Europe

Dr. Kapital tweets: Not good.  The Australian analysis is spot on.  I am a contrarian, but it is hard to take a long position in a hostage with a gun held to her head.

Clarkson celebrates the E-Type

Economics of car collecting

Dr. Kapital tweets:

Purchase price in 1978:  $14,631
Value today:  $50,000
Value in 1978 dollars:  $14,368

"Of course if you were to sell it you would have to pay capital gains tax, so you would end up with an inflation-adjusted loss on the transaction."

October 22, 2011

The Invisible Hand of the Market

Them: "It's the Invisible Hand of the Market."
You: "You mean the Invisible Pull-My-Finger of the Market?"

October 21, 2011

That odd feeling again


I know, it might be a cynical lie by his handlers, or a calculated leak of true events by someone on his staff for political gain...

Don't care.  Still feel proud.

Review of Jamie Bollenbach's "The Amplitude of Time," From Visual Art Source

From Visual Art Source..

Seattle painter Jamie Bollenbach exhibits sixteen paintings that began with that traditional cynosure of male artists, the female nude, and evolved during the painting process into abstract landscapes or skyscapes — swelling, undulating membranes or tissues composed of flickering, fluttering black and white brushstrokes in perfect balance: M.C. Escher meets Roberto Matta. The artist’s multiple responses to the motif (“sound, scent, color, glimpses and memories of intense but uncertain emotions – fluid, eternally transforming, winking in and out of being”) are recorded in works like “Population,” “Intracosm,” “Manifest Interstices,” “Forms of Man and Woman Against a Cyclic Landscape,” and “Priscilla.” As a group they stand midway between figure-based abstraction (from cubism, futurism, and abstract expressionism) and ambiguous figuration (from surrealism).

Bollenbach, who studied with the contemporary portraitist Ann Gale, takes her analytical, fragmentary approach — it’s also that of Cézanne and Giacometti — and uses it to explore the “inscapes” of the psyche. A pair of World War II sky paintings (“The Bombers” and “Americans’ Planes Are So Mush Prettier Than the Germans’”) featuring minute but deftly summarized B-17s (which veterans in Seattle and elsewhere are quick to decipher) summon historical memory. The title for the show derives from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself:” “To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, / All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.... I laugh at what you call dissolution, / And I know the amplitude of time.”

October 20, 2011

Thanks for noticing: Eisengeiste's first link to Fox News

For President Obama, after the death of Bin Laden, Al-Awlaki and now, indirectly, Qaddafi, he's left with a terrific narrative in terms of making the case that Democrats aren't weak on national security and that he has pursued a number of President Bush's policies in terms of being aggressive. This has been in service to America's national interest and the best outcomes for every American. If you look at the president's use of drones, for example, the decision to keep using Guantanamo Bay to house detainees, these are things that have absolutely antagonized the left in this country.

But if you're looking at results, you can't argue with the results. A man who was America's enemy, who was a destabilizing force in the Middle East and a supporter of anti-American forces has been removed from the stage.



Random thought

How do we get started on a constitutional amendment that says corporations aren't people?

Have a good Veteran's Day

NFL Films is there for you.

October 19, 2011

How about this

The first draft pick goes to the third-worst NFL team. 

The worst two teams get relegated to the Canadian Football League.

October 18, 2011

Rabbi Nachtner says

The teeth?
We don't know.

Sign from Hashem?
Don't know.

Helping others...?
Couldn't hurt.

October 17, 2011

Bound to end well

"Although Iran continues to stockpile enriched uranium in defiance of U.N. resolutions, two new reports portray the country’s nuclear program as riddled with problems as scientists struggle to keep older equipment working." (link)

October 16, 2011

Gone to Earth

October 15, 2011

Great story, also true

Almost 9 year-old guest blogger says:

"This new book, Heart of a Samurai, is filled with so much action that in the first five minutes of reading it I almost fainted.  It does have some sadness, but it does have some funny parts, too.  If you want to read a book about the first Japanese boy to ever set foot in America, you've got the right book.  All his adventures will make you crack up.  If a romantic book is also what you had in mind, then go ahead and get it - it has a bit of everything."

Map of His Travels - Nakahama Manjirō

Also, interestingly, the story is true.  The Japanese remember him pretty well.

Einstein says: Get Off My Lawn

Relativity stands.  Who's next?

Elaine May interviews Woody Allen and Ethan Coen

"My challenge will be to ask the probing questions that will reveal the deeper, more complex nature of both men in a way that will not hurt ticket sales."

October 14, 2011

This country is so fucked up

Goat doping. Really?

You heard me. Goat doping. Fucking goat doping.

It has come to this.

Goat. Doping.

Gramps: And then, it got so bad, they had to resort to goat doping.
The Twins: Was that before or after they had to drink their own urine?
Gramps: Right before...just a few weeks before.
The Twins: Goat doping? Really? Come on, Gramps.
Gramps: Goat doping. I kid you not.
The Twins: (holding their heads in mock anguish) Graaamps!

Interesting proposition

But they'll get the Laird's Tatupu jersey when they pry it from his cold, dead, fingers.


Movie screenplays edited for realism

In his review of the just-released remake of Footloose, Roger Ebert points out that the premise of the film is unrealistic:

Was there then, or is there now, a town in Tennessee or any other state in which the city council has passed a law against "dancing in public"?

A valid, thought-provoking point.

One of my favorite films is Fight Club, even though not every plot point is grounded in the sort of realism I demand from movies. Here is my edit of the screenplay, adjusted for realism.


Jack, eyes puffy, face pale, sits before the Doctor,
who studies him with bemusement.

No, you can't die of insomnia.

Maybe I already died. Look at my face.

You need to lighten up.

Can you give me something?

Okay... (writes) here's a prescription for Ambien.








October 13, 2011

Tweet from Latouche

Oui, s'il vous plaît. (link)

October 12, 2011

Mitt's gotta round up the crazy vote

[C]onsiderable obstacles stand in Romney’s way to the nomination, namely winning over social conservatives and tea party activists who have been uneasy with the health-care overhaul he championed as governor of Massachusetts, as well as his shifting positions on abortion and same-sex marriage.

My new motto

Great Conservative Writers

Too Involved for a Comment, But There's No Money for Comprehensive Research. And "No money for comprehensive research" is where a lot of these posts are going to stop.

I'm trying to think of great conservative writers in English: Churchill comes to mind, and a limitless fucknut on India was he, but he was also conservative of liberal democracy at shall we say a key moment.

Some I can think of many would be conservative if transplanted in time, but absolutely not relative to their time: say Kipling. I've heard puddingheads argue, quite stupidly, that Mark Twain was conservative. Shakespeare- Liberal catholic, I suppose by modern standards.

Now Patrick O'Brien comes to mind- a shelf of books in love with the British navy of 1810. He's anti-revolutionary as far as Napoleonic France; but that doesn't qualify you as a modern right-wing conservative. With his unflattering portrayals of aristocratic privilege, at best, he's basically Whigish- and approving of the need of defined social roles. He's conservative in the long-gone literal sense of conservation- the slightest reading of Maturin shows no possible love of anything in the GOP.

Here's your test: would Patrick O Brien have voted for George W. Bush? How about Winston Churchill? No? How about Ezra Pound?

People argue Shakespeare was essentially conservative because he did not challenge the state. But of course he did: he presented kings as flawed, doubt-twisted human beings, as something far, far short of the divine.   Radical really, and beloved of Elizabeth I suspect for that deniable but humanizing recognition.   People also argue he was secretly another man, an aristocrat, because a commoner could never be that educated.  People say all kinds of self-inflating things. And by people I mean actual elitists.

Great writers do not idolize wealth and power - that's as dull as the souls of the saved praising God all day forever. Great writers attempt universal empathy. That's pretty well it. When they don't, they aren't great.  I mean that literally- their ideas and stories and subjects are not large, lasting, in-depth or encompassing, nor are they potentially valuable to any reader that might come along.   If you are short of some form of attempted universal empathy, your concept is going to be small and forced and limited. Even Homer, HOMER, covered both sides of the war with empathy.

There are of course exceptions, no doubt you can think of some- in the same way there are Vatican Astronomers.  Maybe the guy that wrote all those "Left Behind" books.

October 11, 2011

Bachmann's onto us

She outed our mole!

Today in Fuckwittery #2: David Brooks


David Brooks, NY Times toolinist, caricatures Occupy Wall Street to make a further caricature of critics of American plutocrats, all wrapped in glowing gauze of let's all work together-  of course completely ignoring the gigantic shift of economic and political power that is making political desperation necessary.

As the Laird pointed out recently, Brooks skipped-to-my-lou'd down the path of triangulating centrism after being a reporter who satirized and then worked for William F. Buckley, because he was very, very impressed by wealth and power. 

Compare and contrast with Beardy on the same topic.

October 09, 2011

My Pandora thinks I'm dead

I set up a station on Pandora based on the Miles Davis tune "Freddie Freeloader".  As it plays, it is displaying ads for...
  • Meet women over 50 in your area (with picture of exceptionally hot middle-aged woman)
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Aetna Medicare coverage
  • Safeway: get your flu shot
Couldn't take it anymore - switched channels because they started pitching me on them Costco coffins.

End of an era

Most of what I love about football happened in the 70s and 80s, and most of it is gone now.  Al Davis brought me:
  • The AFL
  • John Madden
  • Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks
  • Jim Plunkett's comeback
  • And a few hundred other cool things
Chuck Klosterman says: "He was my favorite owner, ever. I have no idea if he was a good person."

Me too.

October 07, 2011

An Eisengeiste dedication to "Angela"

October 06, 2011


Tomas Tranströmer wins the Nobel Prize for literature. Bless him, Baltics is as good as modern poetry gets. The opening bit (mostly Robin Fulton's translation, but I can't leave well enough alone):

It was before the time of radio masts.

Grandfather was a new-made pilot. In the almanac he wrote down the vessels he piloted –
names, destinations, drafts.

Examples from 1884:

Steamer Tiger Capt. Rowan 16 ft Hull Gefle Furusund

Brigg Ocean Capt. Andersen 8 ft Sandöfjord Hernösand Furusund

Steamer St. Petersburg Capt. Libenberg 11 ft Stettin Libau Sandhamn

He took them out to the Baltic, through the marvelous labyrinth of islands and waters.

And those who met on board and were carried by the same hull for a few hours, or days,
how well did they get to know each another?
Conversations in misspelled English, understanding and misunderstand­ing but very little conscious lying.
How well did they get to know each another?

When it was thick fog: half speed, half blind ahead. At one single stride the cape emerged from the invisible and was right on them.
Every other minute a bellowing signal. His eyes read straight into the invisible.
(Did he have the labyrinth in his head?)
The minutes passed.
Shallows and skerries he memorized like psalm verses.
And that feeling of "we're right here" that must be kept, like carrying a full pail without spilling a drop.

A glance down in the engine room.
The compound machine long-lived as a human heart toiling with great supple movements, steel acrobatics, and the smells rising as if from a kitchen.

There is a good article on Tranströmer here, and Robert Hass wrote an excellent piece about him in Twentieth Century Pleasures.

Apple store, Palo Alto

IAYPA Update

League average IPYPA ytd: 6.2 yards.

Plus One Standard Deviation and Up
  • Aaron Rodgers (8.7) - Best QB Green Bay has ever had
  • Tom Brady (8.0) - Rains fiery death on his enemies
  • Eli Manning (7.7) - ytd interceptions: 2
  • Matt Hasselbeck (7.6) - but he's not Tarvaris Jackson
  • Matt Schaub (7.2) - Matt Schaub. Has. Seven point two.
Minus One Standard Deviation and Down
  • Colt McCoy (4.8) - Leads league in attempts (172).
  • Tarvaris Jackson (4.8) - How much did Hasselbeck want again?
  • Kyle Orton (4.5) - Big letdown from stellar 2010, 6 INTs ties for league lead. But...8 TDs.
  • Kerry Collins (4.4) - Only one pick, but no one's catching the ball: 49% completion percentage.
  • Blaine Gabbert (4.2) - Same as Collins. Only two interceptions, but league-low completion percentage of 47.8%.
  • Matt Cassel (3.9) - Worst in league interception percentage of 4.5%.

This operative...has outlived her usefulness...

Palin quits.

"Within five years, she'll be selling real estate." - The Laird

October 05, 2011

Me too

"I enjoyed the movie." - Roger Ebert

New Feature: Today in Fuckwittery

1. Herman Cain. It's Your Own Fault.

Today on Eisengeiste, we introduce this handy graphic logo as a mark of quality for examples of unambiguous ignorance, maliciousness, bigotry, cruelty, naked prevarication, stupidity, arrogance, bull-headed foolishness, avarice, sociopathy, boot-lickery, and all the many flavors and smells of the fuckwittery for which the word "fuckwittery" had to be invented.

Today it's Herman Cain, with the timeless fuckwitted classic: it's your fault if you're not rich, or if you're jobless. If only the unemployed would just go out and get to work!

2. Tom Friedman. President Obama has once again, like he always does, run back to his far left-wing base, which is why they are so happy with him, and doomed all those prospects for that moderately-moderate centrally centrist centrism which everyone is begging for, and by everyone I mean me and David Brooks.

October 02, 2011

The nightmare to come

I was at UCLA last week, and encountered some awkward moments when their parking personnel noticed the Palo Alto address on my driver's license (which must be submitted if you want to park). After assuring them I had no affiliation with Stanford University, and no desire to have one, they let me leave my car with them.

Why the bad vibes? Why the static? I suspect the Jungian subconscious had already let them in on the Very Bad Saturday waiting for them, as Andrew Luck faced off against the Vespa Clowns:
Stanford: 45
UCLA: 19
Luck: 23 of 27, 227 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, IAYPA: 8.4

Stanford has now won twelve in a row, the longest streak in the country, an observation that will be filed in the Mean Regression Archives. This too shall pass, my Bruins friends, although I hope not too quickly.

October 01, 2011

That stubborn concept

I always twitch a little when I agree with Ron Rosenbaum, so it feels odd to acknowledge I'm mostly on board here.

But there are some whoppers:
Marks' paper warns of "aggressive marketing" of fMRI scans by intelligence-contractor types as "lie detector" substitutes that could be used to select candidates for "enhanced interrogation" if their fMRI indicates potential deception under ordinary interrogation.
And he offered what I thought was one of the wisest responses to the debate over the existence of evil (and thus free will):
What he suggested is that we ought to act as if we had free will to choose good or evil.
As the kids say nowadays...

Your check, sir

Next time we suggest you skip the baccarat table...