Monday, May 29, 2017

On Independent Lens

Farmer/Veteran: “Home from three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton forges a new identity as a farmer, hatching chicks and raising goats on forty-three acres in rural North Carolina.” Tonight on PBS.

Memorial Day


[“Ashland, Aroostook County, Maine. Even with gasoline rationed, many people attended the Memorial Day ceremonies in cars.” Photograph by John Collier. May 1943. From the Library of Congress.]

Ashland was and is one small town among others small or smaller. The drive must have cost some drivers a good part of their weekly gasoline ration.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Representative Adrian Smith
on “the necessity of nutrition”

On Weekend Edition Saturday this morning, Scott Simon asked Representative Adrian Smith (R, Nebraska-3) whether he would vote for a budget that eliminated SNAP (food stamps). Smith, who supports farm subsidies, dodged the question:

SS: “Well, let me ask you this bluntly: is every American entitled to eat?”

AS: “Well [laughing], nutrition, obviously, we know, is very important, and I would hope that we can look to — ”

SS: “Well, not just important; it’s essential for life. Is every American entitled to eat?”

AS: “It is essential. It is essential.”

SS: “So is every American entitled to eat, and is food stamps something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?”

AS: “I think that we know that given the necessity of nutrition, there could be a number of ways that we can address that.”
Perhaps he’s thinking of nutraloaf?

Smith might have had a career as a character in a Dickens novel. Say, Hard Times.

Seth Godin’s “I don’t care”

From a Design Matters interview with Seth Godin. Godin notes that his blog’s readership is half what it was five years ago:

“Is my blog half as good as it was five years ago? I don’t think so. So what does it mean? It means that consumption trends have changed. Fine. I don’t care.”
I like this guy’s attitude. Godin has also said that even if no one were to read his blog, he’d still write it. Seth’s Blog began in January 2002.

[“Five years ago”: that’d be before the disappearance of Google Reader.]

Friday, May 26, 2017

Veterans read from Sophocles

United States veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq read from Sophocles’s tragedies Ajax and Philoctetes: “U.S. Veterans Use Greek Tragedy to Tell Us About War” (The New York Times).

Related reading
All OCA Sophocles posts (Pinboard)
Theater of War (“Presents readings of Sophocles’s Ajax and Philoctetes to military and civilian communities across the United States and Europe”)

Iambic beer?

For the splittest of seconds, I misread a word in the definition for Kriek, the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day: “A style of Belgian beer with a distinctive sour cherry flavour, traditionally made by slowly fermenting lambic beer with morello cherries.”

Iambic beer! Offhand, I can think of only beer that is even faintly iambic: Beerlao, from Laos, which I know from Thai restaurants. A quick scan of a list of beer names brought me just one true iambic beer: Prestige, brewed in Haiti. My favorite beer is, like Haiti, trochaic: Dogfish. Cheers.

*

12:36 p.m.: Another iambic beer: Labatt.

1:43 p.m.: One more: Phuket. (Not a trochee. Not.)

“Gardening is the new stationery”



In other words, there will be supplies. Seen here, the Fiskars Softgrip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip. Why use scissors to cut lettuce leaves when you can use the Fiskars Softgrip Micro-Tip Pruning Snip?

Thanks to Elaine for her y-is-the-new-x observation.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gmail: “Mark as read”

Did you know that it’s possible to add a “Mark as read” button to Gmail? Click the cog in the upper right corner, choose Settings, choose Labs, and scroll down. The “Mark as read” button is the seventh option. After you enable it, the button will appear when you click on a message’s checkbox.

I find this button useful for archiving blog comments. Over weeks and months, the “Mark as read” button is likely to save me whole seconds of archiving time. Yes, I’m being facetious, but still, seconds are seconds.

Big Bosses

Althea McDowell Altemus (1885–1965), a secretary to “big bosses” in Miami, Chicago, and New York, wrote an account of her working life, recently discovered and now published with detailed annotations and minimal editing. Altemus begins:

Neither beautiful not dumb I had received my first assignment as private secretary to probably the world’s oldest and wealthiest bachelor playboy.

With the mature judgment of twenty lovely summers and fewer winters, fortune had come my way following three years of the now elapsed matrimony which bequeathed unto me a tiny liability of the stronger sex. It was 1922, America had been at war, money was tight, work was scarce, and years loomed ahead in which to furnish the wherewithall for cute little Tidbits.

I wasn’t hard to look at, i.e. if you didn’t look too hard, and here was opportunity as secretary to the Ex-President of Teaser and Reaper, Inc.

Althea McDowell Altemus, Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir Of Jazz Age America, ed. Robin F. Bachin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).
Though Altemus passed for an unmarried college graduate (years younger than her age), she entered the workforce as a divorced mother of one. “Tidbits” is her son Robert.

Big Bosses has wonderful scenes of conspicuous consumption and workplace intrigue. And what dialogue. Here Altemus is about to reveal Tidbits’s existence to a co-worker:
Miss Hewitt shook me and said “What’s that - did you say something about going home - snap out of it Kiddo - drink that coffee straight and lets get going. Well for crying out loud - what are those tears for - for heaven’s sake whats eating you?”

“Nothing, I’m all right but I was just thinking of something. You know, Miss Hewitt, I like you and you’re my friend and I’m going to tell you a secret - that is, if you won’t tell.”

Miss Hewitt - “Well if its interesting, shoot, but make it snappy.”
My favorite episode: Altemus is hired by a big boss’s wife to find out where he spends his nights and ends up hired by that boss as well. Complications ensue, complete with a secret passageway. Drink that coffee straight and lets get going.

Related reading
Big Bosses (University of Chicago Press)

[“You know, Miss Hewitt”: That’s the way my paternal grandmother would recount a conversation. No one does that anymore.]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The unmysterious Art of Discarding

Reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2015, I became curious about the book Kondo credited as her inspiration, Nagisa Tatsumi’s The Art of Discarding, which hadn’t yet been translated into English. Such a mysterious title: it suggested to me a meditation on object impermanence, a book that might be found in the gift shop of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, next to In Praise of Shadows.

The Art of Discarding is now available in English. And guess what? It's a book much like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

A related post
Tidy? (Marie Kondo’s book on a messy endtable)