That Was My Understanding Of It, Too

I have not gotten into high dudgeon about President Trump’s executive order on social media “censorship” because my understanding of the situation is that Internet Service Providers and forums have long been covered under special rules that treat them like a utility rather than a content provider (or newspaper/television station) that gave them immunity from lawsuits for the content passing through their systems, and that because they’re starting to “monitor” and “fact check” their users’ content, they’re acting more like a publisher than a mere conduit for information.

Which is why when I saw this piece in the New York Post, Mark Zuckerberg criticizes Twitter for fact-checking Trump, I thought, Yeah, Zuckerberg knows what’s at stake here, and he does not want his company subject to those lawsuits.

But the new executive order came down, and now Zuckerberg has to go on the offense against it, which yields stories like Mark Zuckerberg says social media censorship not the ‘right reflex’, and my response is Yeah, it’s not censorship. Do what you want. Cut off who you want. But recognize that you’re now subject to the liability rules that other publishers are.

That’s what I thought. Hindrocket at Powerline, an actual attorney, seems to interpret it the same way. I guess he goes by his real name now, but I’m an old school blogger.

Like One Of Those Scrambled Science Fiction Memes

So I saw this in the grocery the other day:

And I thought, Firefly Star Wars? What is this, one of those scrambled science fiction memes?

I mean, everyone knows Firefly and Star Wars are different.

Or would know that if any of the damn kids remembered that television series which is seventeen years old now.

But I guess it’s not as funny as the mash-up as Firefly is a children’s electric toothbrush, and this set has Star Wars characters on it.

Never mind; it only amused me.

Sometimes You Have To Pay For It

Well, not really. But my youngest was bored and came into my office whilst I was trying to work (and not just write twee things for this blog, gentle reader), so I told him to shred the papers that my beautiful wife had brought in for document destruction.

“Do you have to pay sometimes?” he asked.

The shredder has a little slot where you can put your old credit cards in for destruction, but I don’t tend to use it as I prefer to grind my old credit cards exceedingly fine.

But the lad had only seen that sort of iconography on places where you use a credit card to pay for things.

And in this world of interconnectedness of things and pay-as-you-go models, perhaps it would not be at all surprising to have to pay extra to use something you’ve already bought. As a matter of fact, in this third decade of the millennium, that’s the normal for technology.

You Put A Capital On That Word Inappropriately, Methinks

Saw this meme on Facebook last week with undoubtedly adulation in all the wrong places:

Neil Ty, Science Guy, says:

I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true.

Okay, they’re all in caps, but you know some people hear The Truth capitalized. Which leads to some interesting speculation here: What is the truth? After all, science is not the answer to science; it is a process for testing hypotheses against reality via experiment to see what proves repeatable. Science has no answer to the ultimate truth; it only produces our best current approximation. I mean, real science does that. Social science does whatever it wants, however it wants.

Some classes of people, not scientists, often have an idea of Truth which comes through revelation or introspection or some other means of receiving that Truth, and yet I don’t think people who dig Neil Ty or post memes about f-n loving science really want people shaping their polity based on those beliefs, ainna?

And politics are not about truth; they’re about how to live together amongst people of differing opinions and worldviews without slaughtering them. It’s supposed to be about compromise and reaching consensus (someone said, and I forget who said it recently). It works best with a limited, localized government with more space to live and let live.

Because, to be honest, those whose politics dictate what they think is true have had their sway recently, and with decidedly poor results, ainna?

I Know That Feeling, Too

Would you dine with mannequins -in the name of social distancing?

Restaurants are having to cut back on the number of people allowed inside due to social distancing and guidelines from local and state leaders.

One dining establishment uses unique stand-ins for customers to sit next to instead of an empty table.

I didn’t have to go to a national news segment to know it. I mentioned that my beautiful wife and I went to dinner on Friday. The restaurant had removed the tables in the middle of the floor and told us to sit on the same side of the booth so that people sitting in the next booth on the same side would be six feet apart (but we were so early that the other booths were not yet in use).

For the bar seating, though, instead of removing stools, they put mannequins every other seat or so. Which did trigger my uncanny valley response sometimes.

But I was able to mostly focus on the food and the company.

Not A Fan

When I moved to the St. Louis area in the middle 1980s, when I introduced myself to the other children, they would invariably say “Like the taco?”

So I won’t be ordering this shirt any time soon.

I mean, not only was I scarred for life when my last name was confused with that of the chain, but I was further traumatized in learning that the chain name was misspelled in the Motley Crüe book The Dirt as my last name. In a not exactly encouraging passage.

Every couple years I see something about someone trying to revive the brand, and I think, here we go again.

Perhaps I should instead think people will ask, “Noggles? Like the blogger?” instead.

Oh, and Facebook? Although I’ve bought a couple of t-shirts from ads on your site, I probably won’t buy any more since the one I ordered a month before my son’s birthday and took two months after I paid for it to ship (it’s actual arrival yet to be proven). So I’ll not, thanks.

And to be honest I’m not really sentimental or nostalgic for anything in St. Louis.

Is Our Movie Critics Mathing?

From the story The Real Story Behind the ‘Star Wars’ Opening Weekend 43 Years Ago:

This was 43 years ago, a gap as great as 1924 was to 1977.

Bro, do you even add?

I suppose we’re just lucky he didn’t show the Common Core math techniques he used to get there with boxes and estimation and reduction and regurgitation until one goes through eight steps to arrive at the wrong answer. But you followed the process and will be rewarded!

(Link via Instapundit.)

Brian J., Unbalanced

It’s been last August since I’ve spoken of my musical purchasing balance.

As you might recall, I tend to end up buying fairly equal amounts between jazz songbirds and metal. When last we spoke, I’d boughten slightly more metal than jazz songbirds (eight to seven, I think, over four months) which sort of balanced a preceding year that was a little heavy on jazz songbirds.

But in the last, my goodness, ten months I’ve bought a lot more metal than jazz.

I’ve also boughten a couple of singles (and even an album or two) on MP3 because during the recent unpleasantness Amazon gave you big credits to the digital store for delaying your order.

So I’ve gotten:

  • Birth of the Cool Miles Davis
  • Generation Flee Connor Fiehler
  • Rival Seasons (EP) Hard Loss
  • “Wish You Were Here” (Single) Janet Evra
  • It Just Happens That Way Mindi Abair
  • “82nd All The Way” Amaranthe
  • Massive Addictive Amaranthe
  • “What Lies Ahead” Semblant
  • Weather Huey Lewis and the News
  • Lux Gemini Syndrome
  • Helix Amaranthe
  • Silent Machine Twelve Foot Ninja
  • Something Supernatural Crobot
  • Motherbrain Crobot
  • “Mere Shadow” Semblant
  • Battles In Flames
  • I, The Mask In Flames
  • Legends From Beyond The Galactic Terror Vortex Gloryhammer
  • Follow the Cipher Follow the Cipher
  • Fifth of Beethoven Walter Murphy Band
  • Welcome Home Hellyeah
  • Atonement Killswitch Engage

I don’t know why I have been hitting the metal so hard. I think it’s because I really get into an artist like Amaranthe, Crobot, or In Flames, and I buy a couple CDs from them.

But that’s 12 metal albums and three singles compared to one album and one singles for jazz songbirds.

Rival Seasons and Generation Flee are bands/artists whose parents I know. I got Fifth of Beethoven on the off chance that we would have to use a CD player for our disco-themed Trunk or Treat trunk instead of a mobile device. And I got the last latest Huey Lewis and the News album after reading another profile on him (strangely enough, a different profile than I linked in February).

And, cmon, man, I got The Birth of the Cool because Miles Davis (and hence doubling my score on this quiz.)

But the lack of balance ultimately gives me permission to buy one or more Lindsay Webster albums.

As if I need permission to be profligate. I have laid off of the K-Cups and Duraflame logs for months now.

Book Report: Naturally Nappy by Bonnie Lynn Tolson (1992)

Book coverThis book is dated 1992, and although it’s got a flat spine, it has a chapbook vibe to it, so I kind of think of Bonnie Lynn Tolson as a contemporary as those were my fruitful poetic years. The back cover says that she has written and performed many years, though, and I only got started in like 1993 with my performance days. The back cover also says she has a real job, too, and in 1992, I’m a ways off for anything like that. So she’s a little older than I am, and, well….

Most of the poems are built on lines of two or three words in a stream that flows down a full page. I can hear the poets like this reading-slash-performing poems of this type. A couple of words, a pondrous pause, a couple more words. With lines of just a couple words, you really can’t build up any performance rhythm or read images,

so we
just get
words of
blackness worth
something because
the poet
is black.

I mean, yeah. Most of the poetry is about being in the inner city, but it doesn’t take you there because it’s two words on a line, and maybe thirty to forty words in the poem, and that will not have much impact.

It’s not a race thing, it’s a poetry thing. I’ve seen a lot of poets who were young, who were old, who were in college, who might have been in college once, writing and performing this way and writing this way. But it’s not poetry. It’s the 20th century curse where expressing yourself trumps execution, where the canvas is more important than what it depicts.

I did flag a couple poems, “The Portrait of My Friend” and “Dancer”, which were a cut above the rest. I also flagged one called “Cha Cha” about what would then have been called a transvestite but now would be called transgender. I flagged the last because kids these days would not have believed anyone cared for the marginalized before they were born, and to point out that perhaps they’ve “won”? Time will tell.

At any rate, it doesn’t look as though Tolson went on to write much more. Also, although I thought I might have ordered this from ABC Books during the recent unpleasantness, it turns ought I bought this in that distant past of last November.

I Know The Feeling

Remembering loved ones at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery: ‘I get a little emotional.’:

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, scattered with people Saturday, remained a symbol of freedom and sacrifice for many laying flags on Memorial Weekend.

Traditionally, the cemetery is full of Boy Scouts before Memorial Day, as hundreds of Scouts from across the area plant a flag at each headstone, leaving a sea of red, white and blue waving in the wind. This year is different.

“Normally, I’m with the Scouts,” said Jerry Grunzinger of Kirkwood. Grunzinger serves as a scoutmaster, leading troops in activities including the Memorial Day Good Turn. Due to COVID-19, the event was canceled this year. Families are encouraged to lay flags on their own, instead.

Grunzinger said he stopped by to pay respects to his wife’s grandfather, Leo Joseph Unruh, who served in the Navy during WWII.

“I get a little emotional,” Grunzinger said through a wave of tears. “They served the country so, whether they lived a long life or they died during the war, they made the greatest sacrifice.

You know, I have mentioned that I did not travel to St. Louis for a couple years before last autumn, and on the first couple of trips to visit my aunt, I stayed in the St. Charles area–which meant that I did not travel to the south side of St. Louis (the metropolitan area, not the city itself) to visit my mother’s grave in Jefferson Barracks. So when I went “to see Janet Evra,” I had some time in the afternoon before the show, and I cruised down 270. I stopped at the Walmart right off the highway which was my home Walmart when I lived in South County, twenty-some years ago to get some flowers. It was a weird experience along with an acute fear that I would not remember where her grave was.

I rather worked myself up over it, that I had not been a dutiful son in leaving her alone for so long, but in the end, I found it despite how the cemetery has filled in in the passed decade and how the stones are all the same. I know the trash can to park by along with the bin of used flower vases and the right direction to go, and I can usually find her within a minute or two.

I never have this trouble with my father, as he is buried in a small church cemetery in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, far away from his sons now. But I still visit when I’m in town and leave a duck hunting hat. Strangely enough, up until this last autumn, I had been to my father’s grave twice between visits to my mother’s nearer grave.

And, strangely enough, although I get a touch choked up at my mother’s grave, I just get somber at my father’s grave. Whether that’s the time difference–my father has been dead more than half my life, and he was only an occasional figure for another quarter of it, and I saw my mother at least once a week until she got sick and then daily thereafter. Or I’m just a mama’s boy.

At any rate, neither of them died in the service or of a service-related injury, so perhaps it’s not the post for Memorial Day unless there’s a larger lesson in my fear that I might not remember. But probably not.

Springfield Makes The New York Post

But not in a good way: Two Missouri hairstylists may have exposed 147 people to coronavirus

Although it’s way up on the east side of town (from our perspective), we have taken our boys there for a haircut a time or two, but not recently.

Although my beautiful wife and I did celebrate our wedding anniversary at a restaurant in the same plaza on Friday.

I mused to my son whilst we were out running errands yesterday, if they (society, the government, so many theys, but just because I say they doesn’t mean I’m paranoid in saying it), if they want you to wear a mask because you might spread germs to someone else, when does it stop? This has happened since you were born and will happen until you die (and perhaps beyond). So when should people stop wearing masks? Later.

Book Report: Paul Cézanne by Carl Belz (1975)

Book coverI just read the book on Marc Chagall and didn’t care much for it. Cézanne is a generation earlier than Chagall, a contemporary and exhibitor with the Impressionists, and he differs from the Impressionists and especially the later Impressionists in his depth of representation–which means he doesn’t quite treat the canvas as a flat thing to look at instead of to look through.

Still, later he gets into some strange perspectives, and the text indicates that he is a forerunner of Cubism, so he has that going against him.

Like the Chagall book, this one has black and white images along with 20 slides that are five years younger than the Chagall slides, but they have also faded to red. I have to wonder why these slides are so much more faded compared to other slides I have inherited or bought at church garage sales.

At any rate, I like Cézanne better than 20th century painters, but I’m not sure I’m going to find anything of his to put on a wall in place of a Renoir print.

I noted two things in the book:

By 1870 Cézanne had been painting for nearly a decade, though without any kind of critical or public recognition. Still, he persisted, dividing his time between Paris and his family’s home in Aix

I guess that’s not quite Nevertheless, she persisted but you can see that basic formulation was out there decades ago.

Also, I could have written this:

On the other hand, Cézanne’s decision to separate himself from impressionism had an intuitive rightness about it. He once said that he “wanted to make of impressionism something solid and durable like the art of museums.” His remark was directed at an aspect of the style that began to appear toward the end of the 1870s, when impressionism increasingly became a style of dissolution. That is, it tended more and more to lose the illusion of three-dimensional space and of plastic, three-dimensional figures. The “losses,” however, were not intentional; they resulted from a natural process whereby the painters who invented impressionism conscientiously pursued the basic implications of their own method. As they sought to capture the effects of light falling on objects, their brushstrokes became increasingly divided and their palettes became increasingly varied. The surfaces of the things on which natural light settled assumed the greatest importance. But as the assault on surface and light continued, the impressionists’ pictures tended more and more to dissolve into a haze of flickering color incidents. Deep space and solid figures were forced out of the paintings, which became decidedly flatter than they had been at the outset of the movement. In addition, the gestural surfaces of the paintings compelled an awareness of the artists’ tools, particularly his brush and pigments, which gradually accrued interest in and of themselves instead of serving an illusionist purpose. In part, this development is the paradox of impressionism: conceived as a modern version of an Old Master premise–namely, that paintings are windows through which we see fictive images of the visible world–it eventually repudiated the Old Masters by proposing that paintings are discrete objects whose surfaces are to be looked at rather than through.

Which is pretty much the thesis that I’ve kind of developed to describe the breakdown of visual art and even literature/poetry in the 20th century, and I’ve also often suspected that the Impressionist movement proved to be the point where it all went wrong. So I guess it’s been noticed before I mentioned it.

Although the author of the book is the sort of person who writes books about artists, so he’s cool with the new things.

Apparently, This Will Now Be An Annual Tradition At MfBJN

As I mentioned, gentle reader, I mostly do this blog for my own entertainment, as I like to prowl through my archives, often using the visit counter’s note of a random search engine hit as a starting point, wherein I read the post that the visitor browsed, and then I start next posting or previous posting to see what else I might have been doing/thinking/reading at that time.

So somehow, I got to browsing my archives, when I got to a post from last March about Tide’s Fresh Linen scent called Unlike The Other Leading Brands.

In recent memory, I did another post with the same gag, albeit presented differently, this very month: What Do Clean Clothes Washed With Other Varieties Of Tide Smell Like?

Sorry for the reruns. I’m getting to be like that old guy who keeps telling the same stories over and over again. Just ask my children.

All Basketball Games To Be Played Under The Matterhorn

NBA says it is talking with Disney about resuming season:

The NBA is in talks with The Walt Disney Company on a single-site scenario for a resumption of play in Central Florida in late July, the clearest sign yet that the league believes the season can continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Basketball Players Association is also part of the talks with Disney, the league said Saturday. Games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a massive campus on the Disney property near Orlando.

Well, I guess not; the secret basketball court under the Matterhorn is at Disneyland in California.

Someone Played Dress Up

So the thing this last weekend on Facebook was for everyone to create “Avatars” to use in their, what, “rooms”? Dang this new fangled Facebook technology.

New fangled? I think Avatars peaked with Habitat on QuantumLink in the 1980s.

Now, I will spare you the speculation about how “avatars” on Facebook instead of actual, you know, profile pictures, further dehumanize and infantilize our online presences, but I realize that, again, that climbs the “Crackpot Mountain” which is the graph of how, if you get me started talking about how things might be crazy, it sounds like I’m nuts, but if you get to know me better, you know I’m just spitballing as I put my creative writer creativity to ill use. It’s kind of like the uncanny valley, but upside down. If you’re still reading this blog, gentle reader, you’re on the downhill side.

At any rate, I don’t use Facebook mobile applications, where I think that nonsense is hosted, and I don’t tend to follow Facebook trends/fads unless I make mock of them.

Which I did with this one.

I raided our winter closet for a brown jacket, a rather fancy scarf belonging to my beautiful wife, and a cap that fits underneath your bike helmet (well, my wife’s bike helmet) as well as my gear bag for my swimming goggles, and….

I shared my aviator.

It took me about five minutes before dinner; my wife was amused when she saw it, and said I certainly spent some time on it.

Well, not really, but I was inspired.

It didn’t get a lot of like-loving on Facebook, but I could go into my theory again about how Facebook’s algorithms probably hide me from my friends’ feeds (or my friends have done so, gentle reader, but how could I think that low of my friends’ sense of humor?), but you’re on the downhill slope of the Crackpot Mountain, and I’d hate to place another in your path.

Book Report: Tron: The Storybook by Lawrence Weinberg (1982)

Book coverClearly, I am not above reading children’s books to pad my annual total (I did just complete the Little House books, for crying out loud), so why not one of those movie-novelizations-for-children that were popular in the 1980s. I say popular based on the limited knowledge that the Star Wars Storybook was disseminated far and wide (I gave the copy from my childhood or from my beautiful wife’s childhood to our children and still see it at sales from time to time in the wild) and that this book exists for the movie Tron. Perhaps they’re the only two movie storybooks ever, and I just happened to chance upon them.

At any rate, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Tron–I must have rented it around the turn of the century. I know back then, I got into the habit of making sound schemes for my Windows computer, and I set a Tron theme that made it say, “Greetings, program!” whenever I launched an application and the Master Control Program saying “End of line” whenever I shut the computer down. I also had a sound theme for the original Battlestar Galactica, but that’s not relevant since I’m not talking about its storybook.

If you don’t know the story, it’s about a company called ENCOM that’s into artificial intelligence (although they didn’t call it that then). The head of the corporation is partnered with the Master Control Program, which is hacking into and taking over other systems. A renegade programmer, fired for his independent thought, now runs an arcade and is trying to hack into the system to find the goods on the corporation. A still-employed programmer, suspicious of the company, has created an independent security auditing program that he wants to run. So they break in to the offices, and the renegade programmer, Flynn, gets scanned into the system and learns about its whole anthropomorphized ecosystem under the control of the Master Control Program and his heavy Sark.

To be honest, even if you do know the story, that’s it.

The technology is steeped in mainframe metaphor, with all of the computer terminals connected to a big computer somewhere, so it’s a little different than what we experienced with the personal computer revolution. Although I suppose if you replace ‘mainframe’ with ‘cloud’ it’s not that dissimilar any more.

At any rate, the storybook rather indicates the prosaic vs. special-effect driven coolness in the movie in that the setup for the movie, before Flynn is scanned into the computer, is a full third of the book. Then the middle third is a bit of introduction to the computer world, but by the midway point of the book, the pages give over to pictures with brief descriptions of the action.

So it’s probably a better reminder of what you saw in the movie than a separate accounting.

But it reminded me that I haven’t seen this in a long time and that my boys (and, admittedly, my wife) have never seen it, so I have since ordered it. Amazon then proffered me several other science fiction movies of the time period, such as The Last Starfighter and others that I already own, thank you very much. I was almost ashamed to have Amazon suggest those films. More ashamed than I am at reading a kid’s storybook anyway.