Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The perils of Julian

Poor Julian Assange!  Like Cardinal Mindszenty in the US Embassy in Budapest, he is under self-imposed housed arrest in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, hiding out from the authorities while he pursues his life's goal of releasing documents to embarrass the United States. (Well, the cardinal of course was not a document-leaker. He was, as his Wikipedia biography describes him, a Servant of God.) Bad enough to be confined to a room, dependent upon the kindness of strangers, but now Ecuador has shut Mr Assange off from the internet!

The Wall Street Journal phrases it nicely:

Mr. Assange’s predicament is unique because his origins and activities cut across at least six countries. He was born in Australia, lives now at Ecuador’s U.K. embassy, is publishing documents allegedly stolen by Russia that affect the U.S. election, and is being pursued by law enforcement in Sweden over sexual-assault allegations that Mr. Assange denies.
The Wiki-leaker has been holed up for four years now. The cardinal toughed it out for fifteen, 1956-1971. And he didn't have wi-fi!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Haute couture for the deep woods

I love the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal (which is actually titled WSJ). Like the Sunday papers of old, it provides a lot of reading, generally enough for two days, with the additional advantage that I can start on Saturday. Among the sections is "Off Duty," which today is given over to the the fifty reasons why we should celebrate autumn. As it happens, fall is indeed my favorite season, so I was eager to see if the editors in New York shared any of my avocations. I was somewhat chilled to come upon this: Because ... fashion is elevating the L.L. Bean look.

The featurette is illustrated by a handsome young man of the politically correct cafe au lait complexion, with an axe, standing beside a chopping block. The text, with the web addresses omitted, reads like this:

Your cabin-bound weekend wardrobe has been luxed up. Jacket, $1,995. Battenwear shirt, $205. Polo, $125. Pants, $590. Abloh boots, $685. Axe, $350.
That comes to $3950 without socks, underpants, cabin, or chopping block.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

And the lesson for today is . . .

Vanderbilt University has created a Faculty Senate Gender Inclusivity Task Force, and the task force in turn has created a poster entitled "What Should I Call You?" It contains these useful guidelines:
Proactive Ways to Affirm Vanderbilt’s Commitment to Gender Inclusion:
When introducing yourself, offer your name and pronouns—even to familiar colleagues and students. Offer your name and pronoun in faculty meetings, committees, and other spaces where students may not be present.
• “I’m Steve and I use he/him/his pronouns. What should I call you?”
• “My pronouns are they/them/theirs. May I ask yours?” . . .
Include your pronouns in your email signature and on the class syllabus. . . .
Graciously accept correction. Apologize and learn for next time. Take initiative. Do not expect others to remind you of their name and pronouns. “Thank you for reminding me. I apologize and will use the correct name and pronoun for you in the future.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Neither of the above

The Wall Street Journal today has come up with the most pointed analysis yet of the 2016 election:

We’ve sometimes thought that the best thing about this election is that one of them will lose. But that still means that one of them will take power for four years. Perhaps we need to open ourselves to new possibilities. If “neither” could make it onto the November ballot, maybe we’d reconsider our longstanding editorial policy of not endorsing candidates.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Taildragger Tales

I am always surprised at the perennial popularity of Taildragger Tales, a collection of essays I wrote about learning to fly a 1940s Piper Cub just as I was turning seventy. Now it's available as a one-hour Audible book as well as in e-book format. Amazon has links to both

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The problem of Islam, in one photo

For me, this is the iconic photograph of the Rio Olympics. The Jew extends his hand in friendship, or at least in comity, and the Muslim turns away. Mr El Shahaby was booed for his snub, which shows that some in the audience know anti-semitism when they see it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The protected and the unprotected

Peggy Noonan is the wisest opinionator we have. In Saturday's Wall Street Journal she ponders the disaster of Angela Merkel's decision to invite 800,000 immigrants to find new lives in Germany. (Of course twice that number came, and the vast majority have no intention of finding new lives. They simply brought their old lives with them.) Ms Noonan sees this as just another example of how our elites live in a world of their own, wholly insulated from those at the bottom who must live shoulder to shoulder with the newcomers:

Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.
Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street—that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending—because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.
For "Merkel" we can substitute Obama or Jeb or Hillary or Romney. They don't get it, and they presume to lecture the masses on right behavior. (The one image I will take away from the Obama presidency is that wagging forefinger.) Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders live magical lives as well, but something in each of them has turned the wagging finger into a shaken fist, directed at the powers that be. Thus the turmoil of our endless 2015-2016 presidential campaign.