As I was reading this post by Don Surber, I came across this oft-repeated nostrum:
The pen is mightier than the sword.
By Edward Bulwer-Lyton (more).
You know the other quote Edward Bulwer-Lyton is known for?
It was a dark and stormy night.
The latter has spawned annual writing contest.
One wonders if there should be a similar floridly written fiction contest for journalists who think that their keyboards would best an actual tyrant’s sword, guns, or Polonium, or if perhaps those in the trade who quote the first Bulwer-Lyton confuse their own egos with “the pen.”
(Link via Instapundit.)
As Ms. K. likes to say, gas stations and convenience stores are like watering holes on the Serengeti for criminals (or something like that).
On Wednesday, November 22, somebody called the police on a suspicious looking young deer loitering outside the Casey’s General Story (famous for pizza). Probably asking for money or for someone to buy some beer.
The police responded less brutally than the Carbondale police department handling an emu, but still, when the deer gave them a little lip, they brutally assaulted the innocent piece of Bambiana.
The question on my mind, though, is who called the police on a wayward deer?
The answer, I think, is the manager of the Casey’s, who wanted to get free publicity for the fact that he or she is currently hiring.
It’s only the Black Friday deals that have kept the protesters otherwise occupied than to organize marches in Ozark.
You know, as I mentioned, I’m going through old posts and whatnot, and I notice that I used to comment on the news of the day every day.
Lately, though, my posts have been mostly music, mostly books, mostly life.
Why is that, you ask?
Well, it’s partly because I don’t want to sound like a crank on the Internet, and I don’t devote enough time to my commentary to not were I to jot a couple things here and there. Also, in the modern world, I can’t help but wonder if I would lose career opportunities based on my commentary. Although this site with its rich archives is still here, so any job opportunities I would lose I have already lost. And I’m thinking that the field that I am in has changed enough to leave me behind a bit as it were anyway.
Also, it’s partly because like reading a Rogue Warrior novel, I see the same things come up over and over again over the years, and I’d just be repeating myself.
A couple cases in point: From 2012, stories about local governments in St. Louis County and Republic looking to consolidate trash hauling to a single government-selected option. I know I’ve written at length about this as far back as my Suburban Journal days. Well, look, here the issue is again in Springfield. I wrote about it earlier this year even. What more do I have to say about it except to point out further examples?
I also spotted a story from 2008 about the Hidden Valley ski resort in St. Louis County clashing with local governments about blocking an amenity, and the resort threatened to or it will have no choice to shut down.
It just seems so dull to keep posting the same things, year after year, with little change.
BOOM! MYSTERY BLASTS RATTLING THE GLOBE:
Those are the questions experts and non-experts around the world are asking themselves in recent weeks as curiously loud mystery BOOMS have not only been hear around the world, but felt – shaking buildings and rattling nerves from Alabama to Michigan, Idaho to California, Russia to Denmark.
The Alabama boom last Tuesday at 1:39 CST was heard and felt through 11 counties, but an earthquake event has been ruled out.
The day after Alabamans were shaken by that incident, something similar occurred in Idaho. No explanation has been forthcoming from law enforcement officials there.
Then, last Saturday, much the same thing was reported in Michigan, according to various local newscast. Still no explanation.
Clearly, it is Robur the Conqueror in his Clipper in the Clouds:
Never had the sky been so much looked at since the appearance of man on the terrestrial globe. The night before an aerial trumpet had blared its brazen notes through space immediately over that part of Canada between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Some people had heard those notes as “Yankee Doodle,” others had heard them as “Rule Britannia,” and hence the quarrel between the Anglo-Saxons, which ended with the breakfast on Goat Island. Perhaps it was neither one nor the other of these patriotic tunes, but what was undoubted by all was that these extraordinary sounds had seemed to descend from the sky to the earth.
What could it be? Was it some exuberant aeronaut rejoicing on that sonorous instrument of which the Renommée makes such obstreperous use?
No! There was no balloon and there were no aeronauts. Some strange phenomenon had occurred in the higher zones of the atmosphere, a phenomenon of which neither the nature nor the cause could be explained. Today it appeared over America; forty-eight hours afterwards it was over Europe; a week later it was in Asia over the Celestial Empire.
Hence in every country of the world—empire, kingdom, or republic—there was anxiety which it was important to allay. If you hear in your house strange and inexplicable noises, do you not at once endeavor to discover the cause? And if your search is in vain, do you not leave your house and take up your quarters in another? But in this case the house was the terrestrial globe! There are no means of leaving that house for the moon or Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter, or any other planet of the solar system. And so of necessity we have to find out what it is that takes place, not in the infinite void, but within the atmospherical zones. In fact, if there is no air there is no noise, and as there was a noise—that famous trumpet, to wit—the phenomenon must occur in the air, the density of which invariably diminishes, and which does not extend for more than six miles round our spheroid.
If you think history began in the year 2000, I suppose you wouldn’t see anything wrong.
For the second time this year, human body parts have been found at a location named in my poetry.
First, it was Bee Tree Park. Now, it’s Okauchee Lake in Wisconsin:
A body found floating in Okauchee Lake near Road J on Oct. 26 appears to have been missing its head, part of an arm and a foot, if a photo circulating on social media is to be believed.
Police declined to comment about the photo, but Police Chief James Wallis said, “It does appear that the body may have been in the lake for an extended period of time.”
The relevant poem: “Okauchee Light”:
Across the dark Okauchee lake, a light,
the marker for the end of someone’s dock,
is strangely lit at nearly twelve o’clock
and breaks the solid black that is the night.
From here, across the chilling April lake,
through busy bar room glass I see that glow,
but life or rooms beyond I’ll never know.
One light does not a utopia make.
Quite like your smile, that single man-made star:
Up there, on stage, you flash a smile at me,
and crinkle eyes to give the gesture weight,
but like the dock-end light, you are too far;
your glow is there for someone else to see,
and now, for me at least, it is too late.
If anything happens six miles south of Tonica, Illinois, I will probably be interviewed.
Weird that “Okauchee Light” did not appear in one of my chapbooks from the middle 1990s. It will appear in my forthcoming volume Coffeehouse Memories, due out whenever I get around to it.
As you might know, gentle reader, I met my beautiful wife on the Internet when I posted a poem on a Usenet newsgroup (ask yer grandpa), and she liked it (fuller story here).
This is the poem I posted (and which should appear in a forthcoming volume of poetry when I get around to finishing it up.
Exploring, we discovered Bee Tree Park.
Tree branches laced like lazy fingers behind our head,
above the trail, above the naked rock,
where neon graffiti was worn to earthen tones.
The slow Mississippi whispered by.
Fingers woven like dreams and the night
before falling asleep.
Her warm palm pulsing, we paused
to watch the barges wander down
and sip the summer breeze.
Her voice murmured cooly in my ears,
she spilled her hair over my shoulder,
maple syrup dripping down my chest,
“This would be a great place to make love.”
I smiled, ruffling kisses through her hairs,
a butterfly on a field of clover,
and rustled in her ear, “We are.”
The whole scene and setup would definitely be less romantic with a severed human foot in it.
In a column decrying the how the elite are ruining America and destroying the Middle Class entitled How We Are Ruining America, he says:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
Forget the parochialism in thinking his friend was freaked out by the high class vittles (the text does not mention that he asked her if she was put off by the offerings or, mayhap, the erm, exuberant pricing for such fare or whether it just wasn’t to her taste–he assumes it’s because she’s uneducated).
He says, and no editor corrects, high school degree.
That’s not what we call it out here in the middle class hinterlands.
(Link via Instapundit.)
An email touting a Webinar:
“Kaspersky-KSV -How a Light Agent Gives You More Capabilities.” I dunno, putting “Kaspersky” and “agent” in the same sentence when marketing Kaspersky seems a little risky given recent news headlines that do the same, such as Documents could link Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky to FSB spy agency.
But who knows? Maybe any publicity is good publicity, and marketing people who might find themselves out of work soon can disavow any particular email subject line in five seconds.
Home Depot, Menards face lawsuits over lumber size description:
Two home improvements stores are accused of deceiving the buyers of four-by-four boards, the big brother to the ubiquitous two-by-four.
The alleged deception: Menards and Home Depot (HD) market and sell the hefty lumber as four-by-fours without specifying that the boards actually measure 3½ inches by 3½ inches.
. . . .
The retailers say the allegations are bogus. It is common knowledge and longstanding industry practice, they say, that names such as two-by-four or four-by-four do not describe the width and thickness of those pieces of lumber.
Rather, the retailers say, those are “nominal” designations accepted in government-approved industry standards, which also specify actual minimum dimensions — 1½ inches by 3½ inches for a two-by-four, for example, and 3½ inches by 3½ inches for a four-by-four.
Mein Gott, this has been that way forever. People who use lumber know it. But apparently not some people easily influenced by trial attorneys. When these suits are resolved, the attorneys in question will get the money from it, the plaintiffs themselves will get coupons, and Home Depot, Menards, and all smaller lumber yards will have new signage that indicate the actual size (and, perhaps the calorie count of various types of wood just to be on the safe side).
Meanwhile, I’m preparing my paperwork for a suit of my own: A monkey cannot actually use a monkey wrench except to bash things a la 2001: A Space Odyssey. I WANT MY CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT COUPON!
An alarmist story about a new Amazon patent filing:
People have been using Amazon to compare prices since the site made its debut in 1994, but soon Amazon may kill customers’ ability to do just that in its own brick-and-mortar stores.
Amazon — which just announced the nearly $14 billion purchase of upscale grocer Whole Foods on Friday — was recently granted a patent that could be used to track customers’ web surfing in stores and interfere with where they go online.
Hijacking cellular data? Unconscionable! But wait:
The patent, aptly titled “Physical store online shopping control,” details a system that would prevent customers from comparing prices in Amazon stores by watching any online activity conducted over its wi-fi network, detecting any information of interest and responding by sending the shopper to a completely different web page — or even blocking internet use altogether.
So this patent is about altering content delivered on their network. You know, like hotels do when they ask you to sign in. Or what your workplace does when you join it. What schools do.
You know how you get around Amazon’s patented Internet-filtering? Pay for your own Internet. Use cellular data if you must go to an Amazon store and comparison shop online. Otherwise, you’re expecting–as the author of the article might–that you have some sort of right to wi-fi access without any strings attached. Which you do not.
Which would be turn around, hey? Real stores have forever claimed that people come into the shops to see what they want to order on Amazon.
Once again, it’s the trash service thing, this time it’s Springfield:
A study of Springfield’s trash and recycling collection finds it is not the most efficient system available, and city council members are looking at some potential changes.
Springfield has a free market system, with 12 licensed residential haulers within city limits. Citizens had previously expressed concerns about wear and tear on streets, noise and traffic congestion. A Kansas City consulting firm, Burns and McDonnell, hired by the city, gathered opinions from people by phone, in a survey and in open houses.
They found Springfield residents pay more than people in some surrounding communities, without added services like recycling or yardwaste and bulky item pickup. It found most citizens care about the environment, but only 55 percent recycle.
This is only a preliminary study, but the city has given waste haulers the two year notice that would come along with a change eliminating the citizens’ choice.
It seems a small thing, the trash hauling bit, that I harp on it over and over, but that’s because, at the root, the principle that the city can mandate a single provider for mandatory service flies against a whole lot of liberty and limited government. It’s not even that the trash trucks provided the roads they run on, which is the rationale behind government-granted monopolies in cable television, telephone, and electrical service. The “principle” as it is is not limited to trash service and could be extended to grocery stores and gas stations (whose trucks use the roads too, donchaknow it would be more efficient if there were only one set of trucks on the road every day!).
But I guess that ship has sailed.
Meanwhile, watch as I, like Natty Bumpo, have to move further and further into the country as “civilization” advances.
Late 20th Century Journalism: Media runs press releases from companies and special interest groups verbatim as news.
21st Century Journalism: Media runs social media posts and tweets verbatim as news.
Man, I miss complete sentences and capitalization.
The Springfield News-Leader featured this violin-backgrounded, heartstring-tugging story: Developer: Plan to renovate Springfield’s historic Bailey school up in the air:
A Springfield developer who recently bought the Bailey school with the intention of turning the historic building into urban lofts said the project is now in jeopardy.
Jason Murray, the Bailey Lofts LLC developer, blamed the uncertainty on a shift in the political climate at the state and federal levels. Not long after Murray finalized the sale — paying Springfield Public Schools at least $305,000 for the property — talk intensified about the possibility of scaling back or eliminating tax credits available to renovate historic properties.
Murray, who owns 11 other buildings in the downtown area, was counting on tax credits to help finance up to 45 percent of the $2 million renovation. He planned to apply for the maximum tax credits allowed, 20 percent in federal and 25 percent in state.
If the project cannot be profitable without special government deals, it should not be done.
Suddenly, presidential executive orders cost money!
Executive orders have been a hot topic in the last year or so. Often, an executive order (or “EO” for those of us who dig acronyms) is touted as a quick and decisive tool used by the president to influence or enact policy without the time, expense and inevitable conflict of creating law more traditionally through the legislative branch. But when executive orders wind up in our court system, the expense of the process can quickly become enormous and taxpayers are the ones funding both sides of the fight.
How big of a problem is this suddenly? An attorney is writing an op-ed against executive orders.
South-side YMCA pool closes due to parasite:
The pool at the YMCA in south Springfield has been closed after an individual who used it tested positive for the parasite cryptosporidium.
The Pat Jones YMCA, located at 1901 E. Republic Road, said on its Facebook page Tuesday that it received word of the positive test from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The facility said the individual used the pool as recently as Feb. 1.
Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the play The Courtship of Barbara Holt, the protagonist puts the ailment somewhere closer to love than to the flu:
RICK What’s wrong?
MARK I don’t know. It might be the flu or something. I have a pounding head and I’m rather sick to my stomach.
RICK Could be gastroenteritis.
MARK I don’t think it’s that serious.
RICK An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis.
MARK No, no. Could be more serious.
RICK More serious than crypto in the water?
MARK It could be love.
RICK Oh, that.
This kind of started out as an in-joke for my fellow Marquette University students after the 1993 outbreak in Milwaukee.
Did I survive that outbreak? Yes. Have I been in the YMCA pool since February 1? Yes. So far, so good.
Tech giants have united to make noise about President Trump’s travel moratorium:
A total of 97 companies — including Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30), Google (GOOGL, Tech30), Intel (INTC, Tech30), Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30), Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) and Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) — filed a court motion Sunday night declaring that Trump’s executive order on immigration “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution.”
Only the cynical amongst us, which should include all of us by now, would suspect that the tech companies are making a lot of noise about this policy not because of a principled stand but because they want to disrupt Trump’s other plan to curtail H1-B Visa abuse by tech giants. You know, the ones who have so Bravely Opposed An Unjust Policy.
The longer and louder we talk about the first, the less chance for the second, they hope.
(Second link via Instapundit.)
An article about the principals, past and present, of Lululemon, an athletic apparel manufacturer and retailer, delves into their Objectivist-themed principles:
Potdevin has created a fiercely loyal group with virtually no ties to the founder. The only thing that’s the same: Wilson’s insular culture (Atlas Shrugged still adorns company bookshelves). The new human resources chief, Gina Warren, a whispery-voiced ex-Nike executive, likes to refer to the staff as a “collective.”
You might think it poor Objectivism to call your brain trust a “collective.” As you know, gentle reader, Ayn Rand was an individualist of the first order and railed against altruism and collectivism in everything she wrote–for Pete’s sake, in the middle of her signature, on every check she signed in her life, it says Ayn Collectivism is for Sissies Rand.
But what only real serious Objectivist students and excommunicants such as your humble narrator know, Ayn Rand referred to her circle of students in the 1960s and 1970s as "The Collective".
So the HR Chief at Lululemon is a serious Objectivist indeed, whether the Forbes writer knows it or not.
Full disclosure: I own Lululemon stock. Not so much because I like Objectivists, but I do like yoga pants and wish my beautiful wife would buy more. For our future.
The headline and lede are written to get your attention and to slant your response to the story. Headline: House GOP Guts Ethics Panel
House Republicans voted 119-74 Monday night in favor of a proposal that would gut Congress’ outside ethics watchdog and remove its independence.
But if you go past this, you get:
Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s proposal would place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics — an initial watchdog for House members but without power to punish members — under oversight of those very lawmakers.
. . . .
The proposal would bar the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring that it turn over any complaint to the House Ethics Committee or refer the matter to an appropriate federal law enforcement agency. The House Ethics Committee would also have the power to stop an investigation at any point and bars the ethics office from making any public statements about any matters or hiring any communications staff.
So violation of criminal law will be passed onto actual, you know, law enforcement for investigation, and ethical violations will be sent to the organization that sets up the “ethics” rules?
Honestly, I don’t see the problem here. What this is designed to do is to eliminate an avenue for hounding Congressional members, creating press leaks, and providing veracity for claims in political ads that “Congressman Smith is under investigation by an independent ethics board for franking violations” that run on a loop in political advertising.
I’m all for ethics in government and in personal lives, but this thing looks like it was ripe for abuse in making the process of investigation a weapon. After all, it had no power in its own to punish. All it could do was make recommendations and noise in the papers.
Red Kettle Campaign About $175,000 Short of Goal:
The Salvation Army is running short on it’s [sic] goal to raise money for its year-round programs in the Springfield area.
Red Kettle co-chairs Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said with just a few hours left in the Tree of Lights campaign,
the project is $178,000 behind on its goal of $800,000.
In the past, I’ve given all the change in my pocket whenever I’ve passed a bell-ringer. I guess that holds true now, but I don’t have any change in my pocket most of the time because I’m paying with a credit card for everything these days.
Charities like this that depend on micro-donations and impulse coin drops (generally in the ubiquitous vortex collection devices) suffer. If a society goes cashless, a lot of places that get cash donations, like churches, will run into funding problems, too.
Of course, if you’re depending on the government to handle all of the nation’s helpless and homeless, this won’t be a problem at all.