Syd and Neil

 

Two obits today that made me sigh.

Syd Mead, who defined the optimistic look of the consumer-friendly techno-future. (Blade Runner as well, but that’s another story.) Atom-powered chrome-trimmed hoverers in a perfect California – he reinterpreted the soul of the auto for an era we hoped we’d see.

Robby Soave, senior editor at Reason magazine, author of 2019’s Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, and someone who is (just) over 30, (finally) joins Young Americans to discuss whether the political activism of young people today, especially on campus, is uniquely dangerous and poised to spill out into the culture as a whole. (Also, some LOST references sneak in.)

Memories: Books, Books, Books

 

As a solitary child, books were my best friends. I loved their friendship because they were quiet, fascinating, non-judgmental, and, as companions, they were always available. So I decided to honor my memories of my childhood books.

Money was tight in our household, so except for a tiny allowance, I rarely asked for spending money. To keep my reading habit alive, my mother would take us weekly to the Garden Grove Library, in those days a tiny building with a charming children’s book section. We were allowed to check out seven books at a time, which I easily finished before the week was out. At the library, I discovered that many books were written in series. Thus, I began my love affair with L. Frank Baum’s Oz books (which I wrote about here a couple of years ago). As an adult, I have only a fragmented recollection of the stories (although I remember many of the characters); instead, I loved the artist of many of the later books, John R. Neill, and have a small collection of those books.

I was a huge fan of books that ran in series, because launching into each book was like continuing on a delightful journey, especially those that were mystery stories: The Happy Hollisters and Nancy Drew mysteries. I adored fairy tales, too, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I didn’t realize how popular several of the Grimm brothers’ stories were until I discovered in my research that they wrote Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstilskin, and Snow White.

Like a two-man flash mob of International Men of Mystery you never know when you’re likely to get an extra dose of Delingpole & Young. We hadn’t planned on a show until the New Year – but with stuff this good you can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.

What brings our gentlemen to the mic? How about the mental state of Jolyon Maugham QC, the anti-Brexiteer, who tweeted about wielding a baseball bat and killing a fox on Boxing Day? And if that’s not enough, how about Greta Thunberg’s historic meeting with David Attenborough?

Duty Always Has a Price

 

In some ways, the path of the public narrative assigned to Christopher Carson’s life illustrates how simple truth can be shaded according to a “story tellers” viewpoint or motive. He was, by most worldly standards, uneducated. He spoke at least five languages with ease and simple clarity but didn’t write in any of them. In mid-lif,e he did learn to sign his name with a plain “C. Carson” to be applied to dictated letters and government documents. In real life, he was direct and plain-spoken and modest almost to a fault.

Meeting him for the first time, many who knew of his almost beyond-human exploits (both real and fictional) were taken back by his soft-spoken manner among strangers as well as his mere 5’6″ height. The “Christian” name given him at birth is seldom remembered and for the most part, he is known by the nickname hung on him by the rugged breed he became a part of when in his teens – Kit.

Over more a century and a half, his “mass media” image has flowed from one of an early comparison to Hercules to a more modern politically inspired one of a darker, violent, even racist archvillain. He was, of course, a much more complicated and simple man – as most of us humans are.

‘You Will Be on the Front Page of the Newspaper for Better or Worse.”

 

I was appointed to represent “Miguel Sanchez” (not his real name) in the Maricopa County Juvenile Court. He was a skinny African-American child whose mother had dumped him when he was nine when she moved back to Chicago. (While Miguel had a Hispanic first name and surname, he was 3/4 or more African American.)

Before my appointment, Miguel had been in eight different foster homes and had spent dozens of nights in emergency shelters. Just before I was appointed, Miguel was placed with an African American pastor in a distressed neighborhood. He immediately ran away 40 minutes later. His caseworker asked him why. He said that he didn’t want to live in the “hood” and that this neighborhood was worse than living in the projects in Chicago. He was placed in a family with a black foster father and white foster mother in Phoenix’s far north suburbs where the schools were almost entirely white.

FISA Court: NBC Reports, Kimberley Strassel Comments

 

Earlier this month, the secret FiSA court publicly rebuked the FBI. From NBC’s report:

The secret federal court that approves orders for conducting surveillance on suspected foreign terrorists or spies issued a strong and highly unusual public rebuke to the FBI on Tuesday, ordering the agency to say how it intends to correct the errors revealed last week by a Justice Department report on one aspect of the FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI made serious and repeated mistakes in seeking to conduct surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

“Poorly Trained Paramilitaries’ and Occupiers”

 

On December 22, The Oregonian published an essay written by Portland Police Officer Peter Braun. I didn’t comment on Officer Braun’s guest column essay three days before Christmas; after all, a break from the news of the day, as short as it might be, is a welcome relief from the winter of our discontent.

Opinion: Sworn to protect and serve a city that doesn’t welcome it

In Light of Anti-Semitic Attacks, What Can You Do to Help?

 

In light of the most recent anti-Semitic attack in a suburb of New York City, where a man broke into the home of a prominent rabbi holding a Hanukkah celebration with a machete, I’ve heard from many friends “What can I do to help?”  I wanted to offer some tangible suggestions for those horrified by the slow-moving pogrom happening in New York City and wishing to act:

    1. Contact your local Jewish community and ask if they would accept volunteers from outside the community to provide security.
    2. The cost of upgrading security has been enormous for many Jewish institutions across the country. Off-duty police officers are paid to work shifts on holidays and on Shabbat, but many buildings have undergone serious renovations to install new security systems, panic buttons, auto-locking doors, new windows, and more. Consider donating to your local synagogue, Jewish community center, Hillel, schools or Jewish Federation’s security fund.
    3. Another worthwhile organization worth noting is the Community Security Service. You can donate to their efforts to train Jews to protect their community, or contact them to ask how you can get involved in their work.
    4. Shop at Kosher supermarkets and restaurants. It’s a scary time to run a business that is a potential terror target, and it’s encouraging for those working there to have the support of the wider community.
    5. Contact your local representatives and ask them to step up to the plate, especially if you live in a district with a Jewish population.
    6. Lend support and encouragement to officials doing the right thing, like here:

India Meets the Internet; Wedded Bliss or Marital Strife to Follow?

 

When I was growing up in India we lived in a semi-socialist, planned economy. “Semi-socialist” because India always had a private sector, and essentially unshaken patterns of inherited privilege and oppression. “Planned” because we had five-year plans and the Government controlled “the commanding heights of the economy.” One such height being telecommunications.

So, Indian telecommunications were awful when I grew up. We only had landlines. Landlines were scarce (there could be a ten-year waiting period), expensive, and frequently functioned badly (wrong numbers = incorrect connections) when they functioned at all (often not). This reflected a broader media space where the only television station was run by the government, and where print media was an oligopoly.

Does Someone Have to Die?

 

I’ve been reaching a point where I dislike beating the drum about anti-Semitism. But the recent crimes in New York City and the denials that have accompanied them have convinced me that I can’t beat that drum enough. The media is reluctantly covering the story of the latest attacks on Jews in New York:

In Rockland County last night, during a Chanukah celebration at a synagogue a man stormed in with a machete and stabbed at least five victims, who were taken to the hospital. This is the latest in a string of antisemitic attacks in the New York City area, coming in the wake of the tragic killing of four people during an attack on a Jewish grocery store in Jersey City.

Several excuses have been given for the most recent attacks: Bill DeBlasio has blamed a white supremacist group; others have blamed the rhetoric of Donald Trump inciting people (which is absurd, given the fact that his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish). But it’s a good idea to look at some facts:

Group Writing, Memories: The Welsh Boys Hit the Emerald Isle

 

Since we’re talking about memories, I need to add some context and continuity in this tale of the Welsh invasion of Ireland. I’ve mentioned before that, in this day and age, I feel profoundly grateful for the fact that I’m a man who viewed his father as a personal hero.

During the First Gulf War, well before Desert Shield transitioned to Desert Storm, my Dad had a heart attack. My dad and wee little brother were on the way home from the gym, little brother driving them in his classic (i.e., used, got-it-for-a-good-price) Camaro. The Old Man started feeling some pain in his chest and left arm, and started rotating it in the car as if to relieve a cramp. He made the joke, “Jeez, either I did too much in the gym today, or–HAH!–this is the big one.”

Is Trump Presidential?

 

I heard on a recent podcast Fred Barnes criticize Trump for not being presidential. Let’s examine the post-WW2 Democratic presidents:

1. Truman: Threatened to punch a critic who gave a poor review of his daughter’s singing.

Thought-Bubbles, Sketches, and Words Yet Unwritten

 

In Pixar’s Ratatouille, the great Peter O’Toole voiced the character of Anton Ego, a food critic who, toward the end of the movie, had this to say about his nemesis, Chef Gusteau:

“In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*.”

Story of Decade: Afghanistan Papers

 

Glenn Beck tells a story about a conversation that he had with President George W. Bush at the end of his time in office.  Glenn was concerned that Barrack Obama was going to take over as commander-in-chief and mess up the recent progress in the Iraq war.  Bush responds with, “Don’t Afghanistan (orthographic projection).svgworry.  He’ll get the same intelligence I was given and the same options I was given and he’ll make the same decisions.”  The. Same. Decisions.

A decade later, the Washington Post would print a story “The Afghanistan Papers” that I consider the story of the decade.  This story was built on information (2000+ pages) obtained by WaPo through Freedom of Information requests and it shows that for most of the decade, the US military knew the strategies in Afghanistan were not working and that the culture of the military was to fake the metrics and to pretend that things were fine. The money kept being spent and the body count continued to climb and the message to the American people was that all was well-and-good and that we should stay the course.  The article says, “Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.”  The financial cost of the Afghanistan debacle is at least $0.97 trillion.  That is a lot of blood and treasure for a backward land-locked country half a world away.

Quote of the Day: Reading

 

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” – Mark Twain

I may have some advantages. I have been a reader since first grade, nearly 60 years. Over that period I have been an engineer, a quality-assurance manager, a navigator, a technical writer, and an author. Reading has been the key to all of those careers. My ability to absorb information through the printed word has allowed me to succeed in each of those fields.

That’s Why It’s Only Called an Analogy

 

Senators in an impeachment are not like jurors. That courtroom analogy is only useful up until the point where it is not useful anymore.

An actual jury selection allows for the rejection of any prospective juror for bias. By that measure, every one of the 100 Senators would be dismissed for cause. But the Constitution doesn’t allow for rejection of any Senators in trying an impeachment. That’s because impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. The analogy that equates the two is flawed and breaks down at this point.

Silly Fears

 

All of us, regardless of how brave and rugged we may appear to others, have to deal with fears of all sorts throughout our lives. This post is about a fear I experienced. At its core, I think the fear I’ll be describing was about my being able to make it through what is a rite of passage in modern life: obtaining a Driver’s License and becoming a legal car driver.

At the time (late 1960s/early 1970s) and place (California) one could secure a Learner’s Permit at age 15-1/2 and a Driver’s License at age 16. The Learner’s Permit allowed you to drive a car only if you were accompanied by a responsible adult, while the Driver’s License allowed you to drive a car without any such restriction.

But His Tweets

 

Via Twitter, a list of Trump accomplishments. 

Let me channel the dead-enders: It’s not like he was doing the LBJ routine in the cloakroom, twisting arms. It’s not like he was calling in Congresspeople to request a bill increasing funding for AIDS and Historically Black colleges. He signed what was put before him. A Rubio administration would have done the same.

Working Against Your Boss

 

Is it OK to lie to your boss? To plot against him or her? If so, when? For what reasons?

I’ve been there. I have had had staff working directly against me because they did not think I deserved the job. Making things up, fudging numbers, spreading rumors. They helped sow the seeds of my ultimate “Termination without Cause.” Ugly.