February 15, 2011 - February 8, 2011
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Lake is a teacher. A
you wish you knew where this school is?
AND UPDATE. Some of our comments are so good they have to be
reassigned as posts. That's true of this one by Lake, who has dug into
the nuts and bolts of the AGW scandals with the ferocity of a committed
science teacher, which he is. He's offering good information here, and
I thank him for sharing after I suggested I'd done enough work on the
subject to put some of the
onus for further debunking on everybody who doesn't want their lives
run by the Green
You don't owe me anything, but
you and the
original Climategate have dominated my thoughts and research work since
November. I have a lot of mindspace invested in this, in part because I
am a science teacher looking for a golden opportunity. If I can
disabuse some of the die-hards in the next generation who have bought
into the farce, I'd be happy. Our school is in the midst of a 'green
cup challenge' that has some kids studying in the dark with a
flashlight and such...
My moment might come in the
upcoming spring term, as our department chair may be starting a new
class to study the issue. I've already pushed to get at least a class
period worth of time to present some of the shockingly obvious problems
with the whole field.
Two things for those of you who are
inclined to read further:
a fully documented look at the ridiculous decline in instruments that
are used to generate these climate models. Not only are they down from
6000 stations to fewer than 1500, the trimming has been intentional and
selective for lower latitudes, fewer mountains, etc. It's right there,
on the GISS website, in the middle (click graphic for page link):
POLICY DRIVEN DECEPTION?.
It's co-authored by Anthony Watts, the guy who took it on himself to
lead the volunteer-driven survey of all the surface stations in the US
-- you know, since the government agencies responsible for them didn't
think it was necessary, I guess.
Second, here's an
email-by-email fisking of the entire Climategate correspondence dump.
Screw the 'hide the decline' sound bytes -- this document tells an
incredibly damning tale, and while it's 148 pages long, it read like a
thriller to me. PDF: Climategate Analysis.
At the very least, read the introductory essay and then pick a page at
random and read the email, the context, and Costella's fair but dead-on
If the subject of these emails comes up in
debate with any believers you know, challenge them to lower their gaze
from the quotes perched at the tip and read the whole black iceberg. I
can't imagine someone trying to explain it all away.
There. What HE said.
Tried to interest Hotair in Lake's beautifully concise science post for
nonscientists. No takers. (Allah responded but said he'd been busy, no
time to look at it. You know. Otherwise engaged on important stuff. Ah well.
fever, no doubt. No hard feelings.) However: here's a fitting
a contribution I have a hunch will become better known and frequently
referenced by truthseekers in future:
THINKING OF AN INTRO LINK FOR THESE POSTS GETS TIRESOME, TOO. I must be the only guy under 90 to read the physical newspaper. I can't afford a better phone and need something to read at lunch. So I can be... not forgiven, exactly, but maybe waved away silently, and with pity, for caring about them. For thinking it's important that they not be trash.
Laugh at my naiveté, as newspaper staff across the world would if they knew how I feel. Proof: A local columnist-- I won't name him, he's abominable-- recently left my hometown paper after 25 years of gossippy fluff. The clip above is barely satire. "Rumor has it the city's planning on installing more parking meters downtown! An exclamation point makes it exciting!" "I ran into the director of the Oregon Zoo while I was wating in line for coffee... END OF ANECDOTE."
How did he sleep at night, pulling down what must have been six figures for that? Hell, how did his editors live with themselves? "Sure, it's stream of consciousness, but it's LOCAL stream of consciousness"? I can't imagine filling a newspaper page with text truly so laborious that they'll let any old monkey come in and bang away at a typewriter. And I refuse to imagine that readers clamored for this key-jingling for a quarter of a century.
I can hear you laughing, too. You're damn right it's professional jealousy! I can tap keys for a full twenty minutes too! Give me money I don't deserve! My half-baked blatherings are superior! And I can prove that, too:
[IP: He does this on purpose, I'm convinced. Mess up the format so I'll have to come in and fix it for him. Not going to do it this time. A purposeless indent is not youthful creativity. It's just, uh, Brizoni. I'm sure he thinks of it as leaning stylishly towards the right. Phooey.]
There's been a flap over the President's eeeevil Vegas comments. So much flap. Flap flap flappin' around, flappity flap flap:
President Obama is catching heat from Nevada lawmakers and business leaders regarding his comments Tuesday criticizing trips to Las Vegas.
During the president's town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, he discussed the need to curb spending during tough economic times. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."...
His statement Tuesday drew sharp criticism from Nevada lawmakers. "The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. "Las Vegas is suffering through one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and we cannot afford for the President to bring us down any further," added Republican Senator John Ensign. "Nevada has one of the most distressed economies in the country, and the President has done little to focus on job creation over the past year. Discouraging people from coming to our state to make a political point adds insult to injury," said Republican Congressman Dean Heller.
Spare me, gents. "Making a political point" by attacking Obama for a rare lapse into common sense sullies the entire conservative movement. Everyone who isn't a Nevada politician knows that Vegas is "the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money" during a recession. Duh. I don't think this President is worth a second flush, but it's not his fault your economy is 100% dependent on desperate losers and moneyed bacchanalia.
Kudos to Congressman Heller for illustrating the other problem with picking only the lowest-hanging fruit: unintended ideological collateral damage. With his "done little to focus on job creation" gaffe. Way to go, conservative. You've perpetuated the myth that the President creates jobs. Was your cheap, content-free shot worth it? Maybe next time think before you speak. Retard.
...but his characteristically colourful language has only just been reported, drawing immediate fire from Left and Right, including Sarah Palin, the conservative heroine and former Alaska governor who is the mother of a Downs' Syndrome baby.
She called on Mr Obama to "show decency" by sacking Mr Emanuel, a former Chicago congressman who is one of the most combative figures in Washington.
"Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm's stature ever used the 'N-word' or other such inappropriate language, Rahm's slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities - and the people who love them - is unacceptable," she said.
Recently my mother-in-law forwarded a joke that had obviously been making the rounds among her friends. It was a silly story about children who mistake words they hear, not worth repeating here. But the subject line of the email was "retarded grandparents." I took a deep breath. Then I clicked on "reply all" and wrote this message:
"For years I've received jokes like this and kept quiet, but one of my New Year's resolutions this year is to speak up, so here goes. As the parent of a developmentally disabled child, I find the use of the word "retarded" personally offensive. So-called jokes like these reinforce the discrimination and intolerance children like mine face daily. 'Retarded' is not a synonym for 'stupid.' It's time to retire the 'R' word from everyone's vocabulary."
I'd like very much to not hate Sarahcuda. 99 and 44/100 percent of the antipathy towards her comes from either ill-informed snobbery or the deep personal insecurity that drives someone to the Left in the first place. But when she echoes a HuffPost contributor calling for more political correctness and thought-policing, how else can a reasonable man feel?
Aaaaand end. That's as far as I got. No punchline, no tying together of various mental threads, none of that. Just ran out of steam and didn't care. Could have thought of a better metaphor than "picking the lowest-hanging fruit," but those Netflix envelopes aren't going to watch themselves. But my semi-interested effort was The Lion and the Unicorn, both in scope and ambition, compared to the twice-weekly two column inches of gibber that let Jonathan Nicolas unnamed retard hack retire from letters a millionaire corporate executive (true, but this time I won't bother to prove it).
Speaking of running out of steam...
got to be a way to figure out what they'll do next.
We've got new information to digest. The earthshaking election of Scott
Brown. The stubborn "stay the course" (non)response by the Obama
administration. The sudden Biden
Blitzkrieg (funny but not really) which seems designed to offend
absolutely everyone. A new poll
being touted by Drudge which suggests that 52 percent of Americans don't
think the president merits a second term. A new
interview which suggests that Obama is exactly who his most extreme
always thought he was.
My impression is that a lot of you still want to have it both ways.
He's a ruthlessly clever Marxist ideologue. And he's also a
self-absorbed cipher who can't get over the mirror image of himself
climbing into Marine One in his perfect suits while his handlers
schedule the next magazine cover and fawning MSM interview. But it
can't be both. And I'm the only one asking the question this starkly.
Is he a 21st Century Marxist Napoleon or a puppet of his cynical
campaign advisers? The correct answer matters more than all the
flailing, indeterminate fulminations you can pack into the Comments
section and all your emails, twitters, and private conversations with
one another. It can't be both.
So now I'm going to use the intellectual pop culture against itself.
There's a TV show called Numb3rs.
Its whole premise is that advanced mathematics can explain everything
from where the next criminal act will occur to what the decision making
process of networks of terrorists will choose to do next. As a liberal
view of the universe, it's kind of perfect. We're all just
pattern-makers, which makes us explicable to the pattern identifiers in
the science community. A taste:
thing about the show? Seeing the wizard in a wetsuit.
Mrs. CP (the math major) likes the show more than I do, I confess. I find the math
genius at its center dull, charmless, and dim-witted. It's simply a
pose, in my opinion, that human behavior -- anymore than, say, climate
behavior -- has ever been accurately described by mathematics.
BUT. Isn't this the ideal opportunity to put it to the test? What's
going on in the White House? If human behavior is about math rather
than, uh, human behavior, shouldn't we be able to discern how and why
the Obama White House is committing political suicide? You know.
Network theory. Matrix calculations. Statistical domino theory in a
gaming algorithm? Something to explain why an intelligent man cannot
perceive reality and so dooms his entire agenda to destruction when
dumb ordinary folks would choose to take a step back and compromise
Are you getting my point? If human behavior is really reducible to
patterns, algorithms, and mathematical models, then it should be
possible to analyze what is going on in the White House amongst Obama,
Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett. It really should. Some dynamic that
explains why they can't see the catastrophe that's building before them.
You see, it's my own suspicion that math has nothing to do with human
behavior at all. Math relies on logic. And logic has nothing to do with
what's presently happening in the White House. I think it has more to
do with the recently rediscovered mystery of weather. We're looking at
a perfect storm of personalities. A perfect storm of passive aggressive
My theory. (Numb3rs aside.) We have a president who is constitutionally
incapable of making a decision. His experience has always been to wait
for others to make decisions and then, like a community organizer, use
their decisions against them. He has three constant companions, two of
them go-for-the-throat political campaigners and one a pure racially
Doesn't this seem like the kind of scenario that the Numb3rs guy could
dial into his math mind? Has anyone in the intellectually superior
party done it? No. So I'll do it in his place.
This is a formula for executive paralysis. A perfect storm of
passive-aggressive self-destruction. The decision maker cannot make a
decision. The factotums cannot compromise or yield even an inch when
attacked. Their whole being urges them to destroy the opposition. So
what do they do when faced with the absolute necessity of negotiating
with the enemy? They choose to attack in defiance of reality while the
prize they're protecting, the decision maker, continues to waffle and
delay and defer even the most necessary clarities. Obama is the
Dauphin, defended by Joan of Arc. Who will
be burned at the stake.
But it would be so much cooler if a CalTech professor explained all
this in terms of network matrix math. Bummer. None of them are
What we're doing here is gasping.
I had to hire heavy equipment to lift my car out of the snow. Today.
More than a week after the double blizzard.
Just to warn you. I'm going to punish you all with a Rolling Stones
post. And a blow-by-blow of how they, and some other bands, have been
intimately bound up in my life.
If I didn't do that, I'd have to show you cute videos of my new
granddaughter, which Mrs. CP won't let me do because
and which I won't do on the general principle that the Stones, V-8s,
motorcycles, boot chains, and all-around hellishness are more
reflective of my life than the
newest girl who likes me better than her parents.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
critical event occurs 1:44 into the clip.
ADVICE. At this point nobody in the administration seems to know
why security was so lax at the Veep's undisclosed location, but we
should be used to that by now. Still, it was astonishing to be reminded
just how much damage the man can do when he goes on one of his crazed
media sprees. In just a few days time he managed to infuriate both
Democrats and Republicans by claiming a stable, democratic Iraq as one
of Obama's great
achievements, piss off a majority of New York Democrat politicians
by accusing them of exaggerating
the costs of a KSM trial, increase his boss's exposure on terrorism
by declaring another 9/11 attack unlikely,
irritate a huge Dem donor by forgetting the name of his blockbuster
movie, and insult Blue State Massachussetts (and the military) by
treating their new
senator like an ignorant schoolboy. That's a lot of constituencies
to rub the wrong way when your president and your party are way
upside-down in the polls.
Appalled as they must be behind closed doors, the Obama White House
will probably try to spin this as part of their new (!?) communication
strategy of not taking any crap from anybody and smacking them upside
the head if they get out of line. But please. The Veep is a lot less
like a SWAT sniper than he is like a suicide bomber, taking out friend
and foe in about equal measure while making a bloody mess of himself in
To focus on just one example, what on earth did he have in mind
starting this particular fight -- and in such a recklessly snotty tone,
say Anthony Hopkins conceived Lecter's voice as a male version of Katherine Hepburn's. I admit Biden's
doing something different. Maybe an inarticulate male version of Gore
Vidal's. He's got the blind, arrogant egotism down cold, that's for sure. But the low-class adolescent sneer
sort of ruins the effect.
I mean, when you leave the door open to get taken down as tersely,
factually, and completely as this...
“He’s trying to give me a lesson on
military law, and I didn’t think it was appropriate,” Brown told
POLITICO. “And I thought he was off base when it comes to explaining to
the American people that somehow I need a lesson on whether people get
attorneys — of course they get attorneys. There’s a difference as to
what type of attorney they’re going to get and when they’re going to
get that attorney, and how are they treated, and what rights do they,
in fact, get.”
Brown said he is particularly incensed by Biden’s remarks because he’s
served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for more than 30 years
and is currently the Guard's top defense attorney in New England.
...people are just going to laugh at you, regardless of their political
Try as I might, I can't think of any rational reason why it helps the
Obama administration to have turned Biden loose in this way. All I can
do is give them a hint, again, on how best to contain this fool and the
unending source of embarrassment he represents:
Mum's the word. A pretty good word, too. When you think about it.
. Some of you savvy
web wanderers may have noticed this
gem floating around about Captain America* from Marvel Comics
bashing the Tea Party movement:
In issue number 602 of Captain America, a new story line
called “Two Americas.” In it the current Captain…is on the trail of a
faux Captain America that is mentally deranged and getting chummy with
some white supremacist, anti-government, survivalists types going by
the name of “the Watchdogs.” While investigating this subversive group,
Captain America and his partner The Falcon — a black super hero — have
decided to try and infiltrate the secretive organization.
In preparation for the infiltration, Marvel Comics depicts the two
super heroes out of costume and observing from a rooftop a street
filled with what can only be described as a Tea Party protest. The
scene shows crowds of people in city streets carrying signs that say,
“stop the socialists,” “tea bag libs before they tea bag you,” and “no
to new taxes.” Naturally, the people in these crowds are depicted as
being filled with nothing but white folks.
The black character asks the out of costume Captain, “What the hell is
this?” And follows that with, “looks like some kind of anti-tax
protest.” The Falcon character then snidely tells his partner the
Captain, “So I guess this whole ‘hate the government’ vibe around here
isn’t limited to the Watchdogs.”
The two then discuss their plan to infiltrate the subversive group that
Marvel comics seems to be linking to the Tea Party movement. This
discussion culminates in The Falcon wondering how a black man would do
such a thing. “I don’t exactly see a black man from Harlem fitting in
with a bunch of angry white folks,” he tells the incognito Captain
The Captain tells him, “no it’s perfect… this all fits right into my
plan.” After this we find that the Captain’s plan is to send the black
man into a redneck bar to pretend to be a black man working for the IRS
and to get everyone all mad… because… well, you know that every white
person is a racist that hates black civil servants, right?
Not long after this story made its way around the intertubes, Marvel
owned up to their, uh, “mistake”. Quoth Marvel’s editor in chief:
There was zero discussion to include a group that looked
like a Tea
Party demonstration. Ed [Brubaker] simply wrote in an anti-tax protest
into his story to show one of the moods that currently exists in
America. There was no thought that it represented a particular group…
Where Mr. Houston [sic] is correct is in our accidently [sic] identifying in
one of the held up signs, the group as being a part of the Tea Party
instead of a generic protest group. That’s something that we need to
apologize for and own up to, because it’s just one of those stupid
mistakes that happened through a series of stupid incidents.
There, you see? It’s just one of those innocent, stupid mistakes. Could
have happened to anyone. They just randomly, on a whim, decided that
the plot called for a group of people staging a “generic” protest
against taxes because that’s a current mood in the country. There was
never a single thought in their head that they might actually be
representing a real, high-profile group whose name is derived from a
famous tax protest, and slandering them as racist, white supremacists.
Case closed. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. As is usual with these
people, it’s all bullshit.
Those precious few that happened to visit the Shuteye Nation Underverse
before its untimely death already know where I’m going with this. For
everyone else, let me show you why this is just another in the long
line of examples of dishonest liberal media bias.
The year is 1991 and the U.S. media is still having wet dreams
nightmares about the Rodney King beating. Li’l Eduardo, an avid (but
waning) Marvel Comics fan, opens up the latest issue of The Avengers (a
team of super heroes led by Captain America) to see:
as subtle as a sledgehammer to the left temple.
A sober, handcuffed, Hispanic, teenage boy is caught on tape being
mercilessly beaten by white cops. Just like what happened with Rodney
King. This causes a whole lot of people to stage angry protests outside
of police stations (which Captain America and the Falcon are apparently
OK with, come to think of it), but then the unthinkable happens. Evil
white people show up:
Conservatives are incapable of
using racial slurs, kiddies. Just so you know.
Don’t worry, though. The Avenger named Rage sends them packing:
I love how"Constitutional rights" is
in air quotes. What does that mean, exactly?
And a parting Nazi jab for good
To make things even more ridiculous, it's discovered later on in the
story that this small
group of town hall protesters white supremacists is not
genuine, but is being astroturfed by health insurance companies/Big
Oil/Halliburton one malevolent bad guy named Rush Limbaugh
The Hate Monger or something like that who simply enjoys making
people hate each other to the point of violence by using his radio
mutant power. Hmmmm... sound
Look, the Avengers are supposed to be fighting interdimensional aliens
and teams of super powered villains, not American citizens exercising
their first amendment rights when they disagree with what they’re
saying. This recent issue of Captain America is not the first time this
happened. The comic I’m referencing was published almost twenty
ago. Aside from making me feel old, this perfectly illustrates who
these people are.
They are dishonest cowards. Their real message is so repulsive and
illogical they have to dress it up and disguise it in comic books and
cartoons so they can attempt to indoctrinate kids. When they’re caught,
they apologize without admitting they did anything wrong. They never
admit they did anything wrong, period, whether it’s slander, global
warming, DDT, economics, mass murder, etc. No matter how blatant the
lie or how catastrophic the failure, I still have to put up with people
like Noam Chomsky putting out excrement like this. I’m
sick of it. SICK. OF. IT.
The silver lining here is that twenty years ago Marvel was churning out
propaganda like this in every one of their series, from the Punisher to
X-Men to Spider-Man. Trust me, I know. It's why I stopped reading
comics (even though there's not really any liberal media bias,
Noam). Back then, nobody noticed. A week from Sunday, though, a blogger
made a post about this new issue of Captain America and a few days
later Marvel scrambled to cover its ass and will hopefully be more
reluctant to propagandize in the future. Significant? I think so. You
EDITOR'S NOTE FOR THOSE WHO EITHER DON'T KNOW OR REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT
CAPTAIN AMERICA. From the same article Eduardo referenced above:
Marvel Comic’s Captain America is the
mightiest soldier with the super powerful secret soldier formula that
makes him a super man. Sadly, this muscle bound hero that took on the
whole Nazi army during WWII seems to be afraid of those American people
who’ve joined the Tea Party movement. Not only is Cappy quaking in his
little red booties, but he’s sure that the Tea Party folks are
dangerous racists, too.
Isn’t it wonderful that a decades old American comic book hero is now
being used to turn readers against our very political system, being
used to slander folks that are standing up for real American principles
in real life — and one called “Captain America” at that?
Ironically(?), this website has done battle in the past with another
America." Somehow it seems to fit right in to this context. And if
you read the Comments, you'll discover that this particular Captain
isn't American so much as, uh, Canadian. Serendicity
The Global Warming
they seem tired out? They're not the only ones.
. Do any of you have any idea how many Global Warming
I've read in the last three days? No. Of course not. Ingrates. I did it
all to find you the best one.
Which I've done. It's the one that
actually enumerates the size and scope of the shatter-ing of
so-called "consensus" of "settled science":
It has been tough to keep up with all
the bad news for global warming alarmists. We're on the edge of our
chair, waiting for the next shoe to drop. This has been an Imelda
Marcos kind of season for shoe-dropping about global warming.
At your next dinner party, here are some of the latest talking points
to bring up when someone reminds you that Al Gore and the U.N.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won Nobel prizes for their
work on global warming.
The operative number is nineteen separate
but interrelated scandals:
Just from the names we can see that the record of fraud, dissimulation,
and scientific corruption is worldwide. It comprises academic,
political, corporate, and individual malfeasance. It's huge.
Start from the article linked above to initiate your searches. This is
a hoax that has to be hammered into a million pieces. It's not over
yet. Get to work.
P.S. I know I've posted this
before. But a commenter suggested I needed to write more explanation
about the problems with Global Warming and the politics that produced a
hoax and why and what to do about it. Truth is, I nailed it the first
time I wrote about it 13 years
ago. I wrote about it then in the context of a nation that was
flirting with cultural disaster. In the Clinton years. Before the hated
W. Before most of you were
on the Internet.
Friday, July 25, 1997
Awakening once again to NPR, I heard crime news -- the serial killer
believed dead in Florida and some new development in the Ira Einhorn
case, possibly an extradition fight. Science was making news this
morning, too. Evolutionary biologists have come up with a neat new
explanation of the Cambrian explosion, which has been a thorn in their
side forever. Apparently, the whole earth flopped over on its side 500
million years ago and somehow made random genetic mutations at the
cellular level happen faster(?) Funny we hadn't heard about this
before. You'd think an earth flop-over would have been discovered by
the guys who know so much about tectonic plates. I also heard an
extended NPR segment on the Greenhouse Effect -- a.k.a. Global Warming
-- which has made the usual invisible transition from hypothesis to
scientific fact. As a result, the president has decided we all need to
worry about this. It sounded like a remedial seminar on the subject had
been conducted at the White House, with the Pres taking on the role of
simple-minded questioner while various scientists played the role of
patronizing know-it-all. I got the impression we're all supposed to be
feeling guilty because we still get in our cars and drive to work.
There must be some evidence in support of Global Warming, but the only one
the mass media like to cite is far from convincing to me. This has to
do with a reported rise in average temperatures of one degree
(Fahrenheit, I think) during the last hundred years. No expert in
climate, I'm willing to concede their argument that one degree has
pretty serious implications. It's how they get to the one degree that
leaves me a little skeptical.
Let's think about this for a minute. What is the 'average' temperature
on earth right now? Yes, I mean at this very moment. One hundred two
degrees, as the thermometers in Arizona might report? Fifty below, as
the ones in Antarctica would claim? Neither, obviously.
It's not as if there's one definitely correct number that represents
the answer to this question. The word 'average' always means that we're
going to perform some calculation. To begin with, the discipline of
mathematics gives us at least three different definitions of what an
'average' is. The 'mean' is the arithmetic average, which we calculate
by adding up all individual instances of something and then dividing
that total by the number of instances. The 'median' is a function of
counting -- we take all individual instances of something, then count
up from the bottom until we reach the halfway point. The 'mode' is the
most common number found in all individual instances -- we gather
together all the instances of something and see which value occurs most
I apologize. I know this is boring, but it's got to be important. The
scientists are talking about the melting of glaciers, the flooding of
thousands of miles of coastline, the forced migration of major
populations, the devastation of our agricultural equilibrium, and
dozens of other effects of their one degree 'average increase.' So
there's a quite valid reason for asking whether they're as certain as
Back to the math. All the definitions of 'average' assume that that
there is some finite number of instances to be used as the basis for
calculation. In the case of temperature on earth, this is not strictly
true. The atmosphere is made of gases, not subject to counting like
dollars or stones. It must be that we can artificially create enough
instances by the act of measuring to eliminate the difference between
gases and stones. How do we do that? Is it sufficient to record the
airport temperature of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, add those
temperatures together and divide by three? Probably not. Maybe we need
to add Paris, London, Tokyo, Moscow, Sydney, and Little America in the
Antarctic. Would that do? Again, probably not. That leaves out a lot of
places, and measurements in the city are tricky anyway, because
artificial structures like asphalt paving have a tendency to soak up
additional heat. So we'd better add in a bunch of pure countryside and
farmland -- put some of our thermometers in fields, forests, mountains,
ocean-top oil rigs, deserts, prairies, and plateaus. Still, this
doesn't tell us much about how to weight the number of instances we
measure, so that we balance arctic and Antarctic cold properly against
tropical and temperate zones. And even then, we're taking a lot for
granted -- having read Admiral Byrd's Alone,
I've learned that temperatures vary pretty considerably only a hundred
or so miles apart in the Antarctic.
I suppose we're going to have to concede that whatever number of
instances we record, the 'average' number we arrive at is not
necessarily going to be objectively 'right.' Because no matter how many
thermometers you have out there, say one hundred thousand, you'd get
more accurate data if you put another million in the spaces in between
the hundred thousand, and more accurate data still if you put another
hundred million in between those. It doesn't take a weather wizard to
know that the temperature can be at least a little bit different one
hundred yards from where you're standing now. Which would be the right
number for the location listed under the name of your home town? Is
that in the shade? In the sun? Or somewhere in between. You decide.
Considering all this, it looks as if we're computing some theoretical
average which we must assume bears some definite relationship to the
objectively 'right' number we can't measure. Which is another way of
saying we're sure the amount of our unmeasurable and uncorrectable
error will never change. Everyone happy so far?
But the Global Warming hypothesis depends on far more than our
theoretically correct though 'not right' average temperature on earth
at this moment. The one degree change we're looking for has occurred
over one hundred years. This must mean that our theoretically correct
number is actually determined by the number of instances -- and the
standard of measurement precision -- that was already established in
the year 1897.
Eighteen hundred and ninety seven. William McKinley was President of
the United States. The automobile was a curiosity that frightened the
horses. The continents of the world were connected by steamship travel
and the telegraph. Charles Lindbergh hadn't been born. There weren't
any airports anywhere. The North and South Poles hadn't been discovered
yet. But the worldwide temperature recording system was already in
This means, for example, that the New York City measurement has to be
coming, year after year, not from the state-of-the-art instruments at
LaGuardia, but from a thermometer that's been religiously maintained on
the lefthand tower of the Brooklyn Bridge. I hope nobody accidentally
broke and replaced that thermometer at any point during the last
hundred years, or moved it to the righthand tower, or forgot to record
the readings while they were away on vacation for a month, or ever made
up any readings because they got behind or just didn't care enough
during that ugly divorce in nineteen-ought-seven. Because the one
degree change we're after is less than two percent of the theoretical
average, which is already just a bit flimsy as a computation strategy.
Bad data would ruin everything. Equipment changes, human carelessness,
or changes in measurement location might invalidate the numbers
completely, and that would never do because we're talking
You have to admire the discipline of science. To think that they were
able to assemble all the thermometer readers all over the world in 1897
and train them to be unfailingly accurate and reliable is pretty
impressive. To think that over the whole hundred years, no Tibetan
shepherd ever said, 'oh, about thirty-two degrees,' when -- thanks to
his untreated nearsightedness -- he was inclined to guesstimate a
likely reading for those pesky western meteorologists. Amazing.
But the most astounding thing of all is that this degree of accuracy
has been achieved in a field whose practitioners claim is not an exact
science. Meteorologists who can't tell us for sure if the tornado
they've sighted is going to mow down my hometown or the City of South
Bend, Indiana, are certain they know what the average temperature on
earth will be forty years from now. This is made all the more
miraculous by the statistical concept of standard deviation -- meaning
the amount of normal built-in variability -- which is pretty high when
it comes to temperature. That's why we continue to set record highs and
lows in temperature on individual days in every single year. Christmas
in New York can be as warm as sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit or as cold
as ten below zero. It's this kind of variability that makes it
difficult even to compare seasonal averages. Was last summer five
percent cooler than this summer? In my neck of the woods we had more
cool days last year but hotter hot spells. How should I compare this
year to last year in terms of average. Who the hell knows for sure?
All we do know for sure is that it's one degree hotter in summer, on
average, last summer aside, than summer was, in general, a hundred
years ago. Or is it winter that's getting warmer instead? Like the one
a few years back when the northeastern U.S. got raked by five ice
storms of a severity not seen since they began taking weather
measurements. Which reminds me -- how long has that been? Of course.
About a hundred years. The temperatures on earth have been pertinent to
the Global Warming question since the end of the last ice age about ten
thousand years ago. This means we're depending on data from one percent
of the relevant time period to calculate the standard deviation. And
the standard deviation we come up with has to be so dead-reliable that
it can be used to verify a less-than-two percent change in 'average'
Scientists like thought experiments. I have one I'd like to try on
them. Ask a friend to record the mileage of all (or most) trips he
takes in his automobile during the last week in December. Then
calculate the percentage change in length of trip, up or down, from the
beginning of the week to the end of the week, and use this number to
project the average length of an automobile trip on January second.
Now: would you bet your life that this prediction will be accurate
within one mile? Really?
There's always the possibility, I guess, that scientists are citing the
temperature change 'evidence' to us because we're too stupid to
understand the real evidence. I know they've been busy calculating the
number of tons of carbon dioxide in the air, and they've got their
chemistry down cold -- except, of course, when the number of variables
gets too large. Which is the only reason their projections about how
much impact atmospheric events like volcanic eruptions have on the
earth get a little overstated at times. Or am I wrong about that? Was I
mistaken when I heard the dire prediction that the area surrounding
Mount St. Helen would be a wasteland for decades? But maybe what I'm
wrong about is the extent to which the area has already recovered from
the devastation of the eruption.
You see, not being a scientist, I can't prove anything. My duty is
therefore to shut up and nod vigorously when the scientists talk. And
then to feel ashamed and fearful because I'm not doing anything to
prevent the environmental catastrophe I'm causing by driving to work,
buying a Christmas tree once a year, and exhaling carbon dioxide every
day. I know I should prefer the worldwide depression that would follow
the prudent shutting down of the entire fossil fuel industry and all
the markets and products and jobs that flow from it. I know I should.
One of the scientists at the President's Global Warming Nursery School
said that those of us who don't care about the Greenhouse Effect are
like passengers on a bus bound for disaster: we think there's nothing
to be afraid of as long as the bus is surrounded by fog. Whose fog,
buster? Ours or yours? And does the bus driver have the foggiest idea
where he's taking us? Sorry for asking.
As I said, I'll keep following this story. But it's also time for the
rest of you to do some work I did a long time ago. It's called
thinking. And your thinking is the solution to the problem, all the problems.
OLD OLD NARRATIVE. I don't know why I should be surprised. I guess
I'm not. They were rooting all out for Communist China during the
Summer Olympics. Now they're rooting for Canada. Who? NBC. Bob Costas.
Al Michaels, Tom Brokaw. Brian Williams. Chris Collingsworth. And all
the dumb munchkins they've dredged up from every remote and ancient
corner of NBC sports history to bring us their usual mangled coverage
of events they seem to know nothing of and care less about -- except
the vital question of "When, O when, will Canada breaks its storied(?)
curse of never winning a gold medal on Canadian soil?!"
I know it's impolite to break into this hysterical narrative with a few
wet blanket observations. The "storied" curse is about a generation old
(encompassing only two recent Olympics) and I never heard about it. And
I still don't care about it. So what. Canada came in third behind the
U.S. at the last winter Olympics, so it's hardly the case that they weren't going to win a gold medal
at some point in a venue where their athletes got to practice 20 or
more times as much on courses like, say, the luge, as the (sometimes
unfortunate) foreign competition did. I repeat: So what.
But Bob and Al and Tom and Brian and Chris and the munchkins seemed so
invested in Canadian success that it seemed -- at least to my lying
ears -- they were actually crestfallen when an American chick(shudder) stole the gold away from
that disappointed, over-pressured Canadian lass on the women's mogul event.
Then, when a Canadian finally won the first gold in the men's moguls,
you'd have thought that it was 1980 all over again and the purely
amateur American kids had just defeated the grimly professional Soviets
to earn the most improbable gold medal in Olympic history. 24 hours
later, they were still
talking about it, exclaiming over it, and hugging themselves with glee.
I concede NBC cut us all a break by not enlisting Keith Olbermann with
all the other has-been and never-were correspondents they're using to
report on the Olympics. But it still feels like he's the producer
behind the scenes. I can't think of any particular reason why we should
respond with tremendous joy when another Canadian(!) makes it into the
finals against Americans in events like the Snowboard Cross. It's our sport. If any Canadians are
good at it, it's because they're down here learning from our jocks, practicing on our courses, and thriving on our prize money. I'd much rather
see a final between our guys and the upstart Austrians and French. At
least I can respect their underdog grit. While still hoping for their
abject and humiliating defeat. I'm an American.
You see. (And this is something I've had to explain to Mrs. CP, who was
initially under the impression that NBC is the reporter of record for
the entire world, which it it isn't.) NBC
is the American network covering the Olympics for Americans.
What kind of business model tells them rooting for opponent countries
is good economics? There is no such business model. There is only the
delusion of their damaged educations and social affiliations. They
favor Canada -- uncles and cousins who fled there from Brown and
Dartmouth during the Vietnam War after burning their draft cards?
Anglophile-Europhile yearnings toward the nihilists who thought George
Bush a Hitlerian criminal for defending the west against fanatic
knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?) And it doesn't even
occur to them that the potential 300 million-strong television audience
that provides all their (steadily declining) advertising revenue might
be rooting overwhelmingly for American
athletes. NOT Canadians. NOT the sullen northern neighbor who
contributed 500 troops to the entire war on terror and have libelled us
and our last president obscenely while still clinging pitifully to us
whenever something important to them is on the line. Like the life of a
premier who got the operation here he couldn't get at home while all
the superior Canadians were trashing us for noticing that their
socialized healthcare system was killing Canadians faster than
Americans think acceptable for our own wives, children, fathers,
If NBC were truly an American network, there are some calculations they
could perform for us ordinary Americans. They could start keeping track
of how much of, say, the Winter Olympics actually occurs here in the
United States before competition begins in some politically chosen
location. The athletes who train here, the coaches who immigrate here,
the facilities located here, the technology originated and disseminated
from here (seen some Nike swooshes anywhere in Vancouver, folks?), the
dual-citizenship Americans who can't make our teams and so compete for
other nations from their digs in L.A., the foreigners who want to live
here and become overnight Americans in order to jump to the head of the
Hell. Based on pure geography, America wins somewhere between 40 and 60
percent of all the medals in
the Olympics. Is there any way you would know this from the
internationalist elitists of NBC? No.
They're killing their own business, and soon enough, they'll be
expecting us to bail
them out too. For our own good.
It's not all about sport. It's also about soul sickness. Please don't
let the contagion infect you too.
Enjoy the events. The best thing I can say is that the nations of the
world continue to produce remarkably attractive and determined
youngsters who are a credit to our much maligned species. They make me
proud to be human.
. I had no idea -- no
idea! -- there would be so much to say about the Vancouver
Olympics. So this post is just getting started. Call it the Opening
Ceremonies. Speaking of which, I actually watched a lot of them with
Mrs. CP, and after a lot of thought I've determined that the best way
to limit my scorn is to fisk one of the more succinct reviews.
Olympics Opening Ceremony: Best and Worst
Before we offer our usual playful take
on the televised spectacular, we need to acknowledge the serious side
of last night’s Olympics Opening Ceremony. It was dedicated to
21-year-old Nodar Kumaritashvili, the luger from Georgia who died
Friday after a 90 mph crash at the end of his final training run. When
his seven teammates entered BC Place, and the crowd stood to applaud
their decision to honor him by competing, it was by far the most moving
moment of the evening. For many athletes who have no hope of medaling,
walking in the Parade of Nations is their podium, which made the
absence of Kumaritashvili, who was ranked 44th in the world, all the
more poignant. The Olympics are about nations coming together to
celebrate the human spirit; watching 82 of them pay tribute to
Kumaritashvili’s and his countrymen’s was reaffirming. We'll have a lot more to say about this
unfortunate eventuality later. Maybe today, maybe not.
Now, the show must go on…
Ceremony mastermind David Atkins spent somewhere between $30 million
and $40 million on the production, roughly a tenth of Beijing’s budget.
He wanted it to feel intimate and personal as the story of Canada
unfolded before our eyes, starting with a welcome from the Four Host
First Nations. He succeeded. Eh? No.
He didn't. There was no "story of Canada." There was a story of
political correctness, beginning with the pretense that Canada's
history is a function of a bunch of IndianAboriginal tribes nobody anywhere has ever
heard of. Which was so weird that it almost made us forget the bizarre
performance of the Canadian National Piano
Bar Background Music Anthem by the girl in the red dress who
knew all 42 verses (and five minutes) of a song most of us think of as
the drab 38 second beer jingle sung before NHL games. Color us surprisedred-faced embarrassed for our northernmost 3rd
world neighbor. But we forgot all about her when we saw the endlessprotracted,
made up dance rituals of the Tribes of the Colors of Benetton (although
some of the feathers were clearly by Armani), who are apparently solely
responsible for the cultural nonentity of a nation that has no head of
state (a governor-general from Haiti?), no common language, and no
national emblem more enduring than a 50-year-old placematflag
named after a suburban Detroit hockey team.
Best entrance: Snowboarder
Johnny Lyall, who jumped through the Olympic rings after a stunning
video-taped mountain run. Wrong.
Other candidates? Nellie Furtado, widest-hipped pornstar with the most
mediocre vocal cords in the Americas. Those strappy stiletto heels
almost but not quite distracted attention from a pelvis so expansive it
could have birthed a keg of Molsen without breaking stride. But it
didn't, so no Best Entrance Stanley Cup for her. Bryan Adams,
stupefyingly weird in his little black suit. Who was he trying to be?
The blanding of the pop vampirism fad, Canadian style? The U.S. North American rocker voice of the New
World and the aboriginal drums that gave us the Inuit backbeat of
Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young? Too confusing. No prize. The tattooed
acidhead version of Michael Flatley
whose supporting cast of sloppy Irish step dancers were somehow
supposed to suggest, in their kilts and Harley conchos, the merging of French [stet] French (?!) and British cultures
in Quebec? Eh? Sorry. Donald Sutherland, who intoned forgettable
Canadian poetry that had nothing whatever to do with what was occurring
onstage? But "no entrance" can't qualify for Best Entrance, can it? The
half-man (face and waist to neck), half-woman (face and hips to thighs)
androgyne who twirled in mid-air to the lyrics of the famed Canadian
Lesbian has-been Joni Mitchell? No. If he'd been the only androgyne of
the evening, maybe. But we're reliably informed k d lang showed up,
too, (still in suitable lower case attire) long after Morpheus blessed
us with healing sleep... Was it the fat YouTube star who plagiarized a beer commercial
into what now passes for a Canadian Pledge of Allegiance -- unless it's
really the confession of a nation-wide Inferiority Complex so deep and
disturbing that none of its 33 million sufferers realize what a jackass
they are to admit preferring "zed" to "zee" and claiming to have
invented "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome." Bi-lingually no
less (except for the "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" part,
which are definitely not French.) Can't be sure. Can a semi-literate
viral fluke make a Best Entrance on a world stage? Don't think so. Who
then? Gandalf. When he showed up and stomped his staff on the stage and
lit up the whole floor with his light effect. That was the Best Entrance. Now if somebody
could just tell us what the hell Gandalf has to do with the history of
Canada, we'd be all good with it... eh?
Worst entrance: The fourth leg
of the indoor cauldron that failed to rise. Nobody saw it. We were all asleep by then.
Best effect: More than 100
projectors were used to create the ceremony’s “landscape of dreams”
theme. The orcas spouting across the ocean after the ice broke up = the
night’s first rewind. Honorable mention: The faux precipitation that
made Matt Lauer feel like he was sitting in a 60,000-seat snow globe.
Noteworthy: The rising bear constellation that deserves its own Coke
commercial. OOOOOH. That was the ice breaking up. WE thought it was the
continents getting devoured by rising sea levels caused by Global
Warming and the greedy planet-killing Americans not euthanizing their
citizens with bad government healthcare. And we thought the bear was an
endangered-- oh, never mind. We understand now. That's not so bad. We
liked the orca effects too. But we've always liked whales. Never thought whale avatars
swimming under faux snow would be the highlight of anybody's evening...
until we remembered it's Canada we're talking about. Sure. Best Effect.
Worst effect: The collective
groan heard throughout living rooms in America when we found out we
were about to hear spoken word. But slam poet Shane Koyczan’s
Canada-defining, stereotype-defying “We are More” was better than
expected. You felt the pride, and suddenly wanted to say “zed.” The
transcript. Honorable mention: The disappointment at seeing the
Mounties not on horseback. It would have sped up their walk with the
Canadian flag, but I suppose they couldn’t risk a horse going potty on
the floor, which was such an integral part of the show. Shane Kyczan? That was his name? At any rate, there is NO
time when we'll ever want to say "zed." Sorry. You can call it "pride"
if you want. We call it horseshit caribou merde. As for the Mounties, have
to admit we didn't notice the no horses. What we noticed was the
politically correct representation of the sexes. Not that female
Mounties aren't an interesting idea. But they do beg the question of
what sort of mounting is going on. Come to think of it, maybe some
horses would have clarified things a bit. Still, does anyone really
think that half of all mounties are smallish women with aquiline noses?
Hardly the Worst Effect of the evening, regardless.
Best less-is-more performance:
Proving the quality of the song was more important than the presence of
a singer, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” was the perfect soundtrack
for the prairie tribute, which featured aerialist and Ècole
nationale de cirque student Thomas Saulgrain walking, running, then
soaring through fields of gold. Honorable mention: k.d. lang, who
captivated the arena singing Leonard Cohen’s ”Hallelujah” barefooted,
as the audience lit up the stadium. Noteworthy: Donald Sutherland’s
voiceover. uh, still waiting for
some mention of "best" candidates in this list. That tapping sound you
hear is our foot, tapping. As we wait.
Worst less-is-more performance:
Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams, who failed to pop, even on a bare white
stage, during their duet of “Bang Your Drum.” (Sarah McLachlan’s
necklace saved her.) Honorable mention: The dancers in all white who
lined the tunnel for the athletes’ entrance. Aside from the guy who
kept doing the Molly Ringwald Breakfast Club move — he was at peak form
during Spain and Tajikistan — their enthusiasm had a certain ebb and
flow. Covered most of this already.
Except for Sarah MacLachlan. Her necklace saved her? Hell. We thought
it was a miracle she could sit upright at the piano wearing that series
of quartz boulders around her neck. Of course, we've probably made it
obvious to sophisticates that we are completely lacking in what
Canadians would call "taste." Grace a Dieu.
Best trivia shared by Bob Costas and
Matt Lauer during the Parade of Nations: It really is one of our
favorite parts of the ceremony. They’re good when they’re sharing
vaguely relevant information, like the fact that in 1964, a group of
Mongolian cross-country skiers showed up unexpectedly at the Innsbruck
Olympics but were allowed to compete anyway, or that Poland’s flag
bearer has a museum in his hometown where he charges $2 admission to
see his skis and bibs. They’re better when they’re riffing on the fact
that Finland hosts the World Sauna Championships. We agree about the Mongolians. Everything
else mentioned here seemed belittling and, well, trivial.
Worst trivia shared by Bob Costas and
Matt Lauer during the Parade of Nations: New Zealand was largely
responsible for the visual effects in Avatar. Reaching! You want "reaching"? How aboot this: That anything Bob COstas and Matt Lauer might choose to
observe about anything is worth subjecting us to their self-satisfied
Best outfit: Italy. Sleek and
stylish jackets, but the athletes still looked comfortable and sporty.
Honorable mention: Bermuda, which opted for Bermuda shorts. uh, the Italians looked like they were
tuning up for the return of Mussolini. The Bermuda shorts won in a walk.
Worst outfit: Azerbaijan. Loud,
loud pants, which caused Costas to joke that as president of the
country’s figure skating federation, their flag bearer was allowed to
make whatever sartorial decision he wanted. Honorable mention: The
pants on the Czech Republic. Full
agreement on the Azerbaijan excrecence. Don't remember the Czech
Republic duds. Which suggests: see Italy above.
Best discovery: Split decision:
Newfoundland’s punk tap dancing fiddlers or this rum they call Screech?
uh, no.We liked it better (a LOT better) when the
elf of Celtic
Woman did it years ago -- without the poisonous Canadian moonshine.
Worst discovery: Jamaica did
not send a bobsled team. Agreed.
Best reaction shot: Honestly,
any one of Shaun White, but we’ll go with him and Louie Vito enjoying
the aerial snowboarders during the tribute to the Rockies. Please. Just quit it with the Shaun White
crap. He needs a haircut. Women who think a man with a Rita Hayworth
hairdo is sexy are wrong. Period.
Worst reaction shot: Wayne
Gretzky couldn’t hide the worry on his face during the mechanical
malfunction. Fortunately, we’ll remember a different image of him:
Riding on the bed of a truck through the streets of Vancouver to light
the outdoor cauldron with people spontaneously running behind him. It
was like a scene from Rocky. Didn't
see it. As we said, we were compelled to give up when the Molsen beer
commercial took center stage. If Gretsky was worried, he was almost
certainly right to be. He's the only Canadian we like.
Your turn!How nice of you. In our humble opinion,
the whole thing was a laughable, ludicrous bore, except where it was
positively offensive in terms of its oafish political correctness
("aborigines," Lesbians, etc) and even more oafish Canadian
resentfulousness of Big Brother U.S.A. We're sorry they have so little
to boast of -- no female singers who like sleeping with men, no poets
anyone's ever heard of, no history that doesn't require a mile of
half-apologetic explanations there's no time for in a $30 million
Day, the Queen who's too busy with her Corgis to show up, the
flag(s), etc), no visible proof, even theatrically, that the
French-British schism which will eventually destroy the nation has ever
produced a blend capable of creating a distinct cultural identity that
hockey, and forgettable TV stars. But there are things we were
thankful for. Celine
Dion didn't perform. (Vegas commitments? Or Branson?) Helen Reddy
didn't either. Or Neil Young or Gordon Lightfoot. Don't ever accuse us of
being ungrateful for small favors. Here's the best one of all. The
Canadians who make their money down here in the U.S. go back to Canada
when they have the opportunity to boast to the world how much better
Canada is than we are. This was such an opportunity. Now -- if they
would only stay there...
We'll get to the sports part later. And the NBC part. Count on it.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
GUILTY. Our whole staff has been snowed in, besieged by illness and
computer failures, and generally downed by winter in this wintriest of
global warming stepping stones to disaster. But the queue builds
nonetheless, things we have to say and will.
This post is a placeholder only. However. At the moment I write it,
there are 22 comments on the first post CP wrote about Guilty
Pleasures. And 22 comments on his second post about Guilty Pleasures.
I'd just like to point out that if there is one magic number in The Boomer Bible, it is 22. The Number of Harry. Which,
to my biased mind, means that everything you have all had to say
adds up to an indispensable part of the sum, including Helen Reddy and
Think about that.
Then we'll be back. Sorry for the silence. Much to say about the
Olympics, and what's really going on with the Obama administration,
guest posts, and, uh, the nature of life itself.
. Freezing rain has just turned to snow
and we're battened down
for our second great blizzard within the week. As usual, serendicity
has just played another card from its enormous deck, reminding me that
I've always had a silly crush on Esther Williams, who (as my mother
used to say) couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. But at this very
moment TCM is showing a celluloid souffle called "Neptune's Daughter,"
Esther in some of the most gorgeous duds any woman ever had the
privilege of wearing. (Mrs. CP is exclaiming over her wardrobe in each
unfolding scene as I write this. Edith Head, she muses? Has to be.)
Interestingly, her love interest in the pic is
Ricardo Montalban, a man whom most people still confuse with her real
husband, Fernando Lamas. Sigh. I guess that means she'd never have
fallen for a charmless Scot who's about as far from "tall, dark, and
handsome" as it's possible to get without being formally listed as an
exemplary antonym in Roget's Thesaurus.
It's easy and acceptable to have a crush on Rita Hayworth (which I do).
So why is it faintly ridiculous to have a crush on Esther Williams?
Don't know. But it is. And I don't care. Which reminds me of two other
female movie stars I'm embarrassed to love. One is virtually forgotten,
and the other is, well, I'll get to that in good time...
You know. Jimmy Stewart's on-screen wife. No neck, awful
hair, and a collection of shirtdresses that would have made June
Lockhart expire of envy in Lassie's paws. This
the credits, she makes her first appearance 6:30 in.
What about her then? Her voice. That husky murmur. Her voice and her
eyes. Demure but absolutely resolute. She's the "good woman" of the
adage about what a great man always has behind him. For many years I
wondered, "Why was this plain Jane a movie star?" As I've grown older
I've learned why. The world has grown full to bursting with Megan
Foxes. But the June Allysons are a vanishing breed. Faithful, loving,
invincible, and beautiful from the soul out. And how about this
completely accidental YouTube find?
Yup. I'm also carrying a torch for Judy Garland. And, no, I'm not even
gay. As with June Allyson, it took me a long long time to appreciate Judy
Garland -- at least the Judy who matured away from the adolescent
prodigy who sang so heartbreakingly in the Wizard of Oz. A lot like June.
No neck, perpetually bad hair, and weirdly frumpy clothes the whole
time. I always thought her adult voice was harsh. And whatever anyone
says, she was never a good-looking woman. But looks matter less and
less as you get older. I began to understand that she wasn't really the
victim her biographers seek to make her. She had a gift and she knew
it. She kept on going, no matter how, to keep sharing that gift. A
different kind of love but one I admire without even the slightest
trace of pity. Like June. Vulnerability as strength. Who do we have today?
I rest my case.
Another writer I've repeatedly slammed. Because he so completely
disdained meaning. But lawdy lawdy, what
a writer. One of the very few I can always enjoy reading out loud
(along with Cynewulf, Swinburne, Verlaine, and some of Poe's poetry).
single piece in City
Life I've declaimed to my private ceiling, just wishing I had that
touch with words. He systematically, immorally even, uncouples words
from their meanings and finds new meanings inside the empty space he
creates thereby. At his best he's just plain gorgeous under a mask of
plain. My objections
are all philosophical, which can and probably should be translated as
"second rate." On the other hand, like Eliot, Joyce, and Hemingway
before him, he's flung the door wide open for talentless imitators. I'm
content to be the stolid sentinel at the door, saying, "No. You haven't
earned the right to rewrite the scripture of genius."
From the sublime to the ridiculous? Yes. That's what self-revelation
consists of. There's no excuse whatever for liking Tijuana Brass. But
hearing their songs make me happy. I don't care that Herb Alpert had
no more talent as a trumpet player than the average high school band
member. I. Just. Don't. Care.
You got a problem with that?
You're flying over the world in all your omniscient
super-sophistication. Then you spy an Aborigine village where the
natives, or their shaman, seem to know as much somehow about the
universe as you do. But without your hubris. That's Patsy Kline. Even
Johnny Cash put on some airs from time to time. Patsy never did. She
lived in the dreamtime for sure, but she did the earthbound thing
better than all her dimwit contemporaries. Why she had to die young.
Some people know everything.
I do. That's how I can recognize the others.
Don Johnson couldn't act and the fellow who played Tubbs was even
worse. But the best series television episode in history was the pilot
of Miami Vice. I'll listen
politely to your rebuttals, but you're wrong. This was the absolute
apogee of dramatic TV in America.
Jeez. Still not done with this confessional torrent. uh, did somebody
mention Glenn Miller?
I'll end with the self-immolating admission that
I loved the big band my own father dismissed as the closest thing to
Lawrence Welk his generation ever produced (apart from Kay Kyser, that
is). But I can't help it. I like Glenn Miller. I like the sound.
Despite the extensive training I've received in jazz from people who
know, I still feel a bump of optimism when I hear the unmistakeable
timbre of the band whose leader perished without a trace in the second
war to end all wars. And isn't that an irony even Alanis Morissette
Worse, it looks like there'll be a Part 3 before this blizzard
concludes. My most obsequious apologies. How much confession can any
audience be expected to endure?
By popular demand -- who'd a thunk it? -- Instapunk commenters
love ABBA. A movie I'd never have put on my list without this nudge is
Muriel's Wedding. A chick flick
even a guy could like. Anyway, here you go:
Hey! Here we all are. Naked as jaybirds, just like that ABBA album cover. Is it great? Not here it isn't. The blizzard is
ubiquitous and cold. Brrrrr.
Just for those who haven't heard of him, here is Roger
And one of his gigantic hits you could
get on one of his reasonably priced CDs.
There. Duty done. He has many fans. You could be one too.