Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Zippy and Kafka

[Zippy, February 21, 2018.]


You can withdraw from the sufferings of the world — that possibility is open to you and accords with your nature — but perhaps that withdrawal is the only suffering you might be able to avoid.

Franz Kafka, Aphorisms, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (New York: Schocken, 2015).
Venn reading
All OCA Kafka posts : Kafka and Zippy posts : Zippy posts

“Swept strangely clean”

On the boulevard, the wind is blowing:

Guy de Maupassant, Like Death, trans. Richard Howard (New York: New York Review Books, 2017).

Economy: like an Imagist poem in prose.

Also from this novel
“La belle nature” : “What was it around him” : “All that has been, is now, and ever will be done by painters until the day of doom”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Needed: a word other than meddle

To meddle in an election? There must be a word that better captures the enormity.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of meddle: “to interest oneself in what is not one’s concern : interfere without right or propriety.” M-W gives a sample sentence from George Bernard Shaw: “I never meddle in other people’s private affairs.”

From Webster’s Second, a more eloquent definition: “to interest, engage, or concern oneself unnecessarily or impertinently; to interfere improperly.” And from a W2 note on meddle and related words: “To meddle (with or in) is to concern oneself officiously or impertinently with another’s affairs.”

Notice: to interest oneself in what is not one’s concern; to concern oneself officiously or impertinently with another’s affairs. Meddle suggests individual interference in another person’s life. To meddle is to be a buttinsky or a Nosey Parker, to plant doubts, to offer unsolicited advice, to ask questions to which the only proper response is None of your B.I. bizness! To engage in a well-funded operation to sow national discord and sway an election: that goes well beyond meddling.

More appropriate words: to interfere in an election, to subvert democracy. “Russian meddling” is too trivial a description of what’s gone on. I’m going to avoid using it.

I don’t know what B.I. stands for either. But that’s what we said in Brooklyn.

Netflix as TLC

From an e-mail with the subject line “Michael, we just added a docuseries you might like.” It’s called Strippers :

Explore the personal and professional lives of the dancers who take it all off for cold, hard cash in Scotland’s three biggest cities.
I’m not sure what in my viewing history would prompt Netflix’s algorithms to push this “docuseries” at me. My best guess: the documentary Voyeur (dir. Myles Kane and Josh Koury, 2017) about Gay Talese and a peeping-Tom motel owner. If so, bad algorithm.

Earlier this month I had the thought that Netflix resembles a crummy video store. Now it seems to be turning into TLC.

[And the writing: “personal and professional lives,” “take it all off,” “cold, hard cash.” What really gets me though is “Scotland’s three biggest cities”: Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Glasgow?]

Boolean days

Just wondering how many families have reinvented Boolean operators when playing the children’s game Guess Who?

“Does your person have facial hair OR glasses?”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Naomi, teacher

A short film from the BBC, “What Babies Can Teach Us.” Naomi is a teacher with Roots of Empathy/Racines de l’empathie, a Canadian project that teaches students to care about others.

Thanks to Rachel for noticing this film.

Emma Gonzalez for Congress

Emma Gonzalez is a high-school senior. But I hope that when she turns twenty-five she runs for Congress. Here is her address Saturday to a rally for gun control. And here is a transcript.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Fred Rogers stamp

Coming in March, from the USPS, a Fred Rogers stamp. The New York Times has the story. NPR has a story this morning about Fred Rogers’s legacy. But they forgot the stamp. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired nationally fifty years ago tomorrow.

Related posts
Blaming Mister Rogers : Lady Elaine’s can : Off, or back, to school

[King Friday must be wondering why his stamp has some guy in a sweater on it.]

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Recently updated

Shame on John Shimkus A previous biblical tweet is causing him some difficulty.

Shame on John Shimkus

My representative in Congress, John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15), likes to post Bible passages on Twitter. Here’s what he posted today:

It’s possible that this tweet is the work of some automated verse-a-day service. But in that case, there would likely be contemporaneous tweets from other users showing the same passage. I find none. And hours after this tweet appeared, it’s still there.

I called John Shimkus’s Washington office to explain why I think that tweets about hanging people from trees are not appropriate: 202-225-5271. I left my number and await a reply.


2:50 p.m.: Shimkus is attempting an explanation of an earlier tweet that, in light of events in Parkland, Florida, struck some readers as utterly grotesque: “The one who touches the corpse of any person shall be unclean for seven days” (Numbers 19:11).

Shimkus’s explanation (that the tweet has nothing to do with Parkland) notes that the passages in his tweets come from his “daily Bible study” — in other words, he chooses them himself. He has finally commented on events in Parkland, offering “prayers” for “those victims, their families, and all who have suffered because of the evil in this world.” Nothing thus far about those who have suffered because of firearms in this country. Again: “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Shimkus has also said nothing thus far about his choice of a passage about hanging people from trees.

Related reading
All OCA John Shimkus posts