Hugh Miller

1.

In the kitchen, the colorful magic begins.
From red burners comes boiling water
and steam softens the air and clouds the light
tertiary colors rise like smoke in the clean glasses
to nail the vividness, a dash of vinegar
like a slap to the senses
as the eggs are lowered out of sight

2.

In the great vaulted room, the beautiful windows hide
the swelling sea of buds just outside
and the talk is of scourging, and nails through flesh
and a forsaken man
with gall and vinegar on his breath

3.

Great doors roll open and at last
the children burst across the cool grass
seeking sweetness, baskets held tight,
to gather the jewels hidden almost in plain sight.

Hugh Miller

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American Nazi organization rally at Madison Square Garden, 1939

American Nazi organization rally at Madison Square Garden, 1939

One of the best minds of the Roosevelt administration outlining fascism in a way that holds up scarily well.

 

The Danger of American Fascism

Henry A. Wallace

An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

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You know when you are at a family gathering and someone mentions something that you know is just an argument waiting to happen? Someone has stepped on a landmine and internally you race through your options: Should I placate, distract, argue, or maybe just run? My thought experiment is about race and culture, subjects that make almost everyone feel this way. At a minimum they make you brace for impact.
These hot button words make people dumb because they either snap into combat mode with arguments locked and loaded or they go all “deer in the headlights”.  It literally initiates a fight or flight reaction which means there is no thought or learning taking place. But I need to get at what these things are and mean, so here I go.

 The Experiment:

  Aliens randomly gather 200 men and women and take them to a faraway island or hidden valley and wipe their cultural memories while leaving personality, basic knowledge and survival skills intact. They leave them alone for 500 years and then return to check on them.
Would they have:
  • some recognizable “racial” traits?
  • a leadership structure?
  • a standard of beauty?
  • a spiritual / religious framework? And some sort of representative (priest, shaman) role?
  • stories they like to tell?
  • music?
  • unique styles of clothing?
  • an attitude towards outsiders?
  • some sort of roles for men and women?
  • a story about death?
  • richer and poorer? Or higher and lower caste?
  • a warrior/defense group?

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New Word:

Satisfaction +  Fiction

Satisfiction

= Short-lived perfection; The happy ending you believed in completely…until you realized the mistakes you made.

 

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  • I think if you look at a person and remember that they are probably no more than about 40% rational you’ll do OK.
  • “Offensive” in current usage means “Shut Up!”.
  • Got a new product idea: A “5 Hour Energy” type product called “Workahol”. Investors welcome.
  • One of those nights where sleep can’t be found but every single thing you’re worried about comes to chat.
  • Anyone with an ongoing interest in Ayn Rand has such a low ceiling over their imagination that they literally can’t imagine anything more important than what they want.
  • Sometimes when I get done teaching a night class and say goodbye, and watch the backs get smaller, and turn off the lights, and lock the door and step out into cold streets that don’t know anyone, I turn into a small dog, that nobody loves.
  • My state is an inch from legalizing gay marriage. I’m not against it, I just feel that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.
  • How can you tell if you’re talking to a Finnish extrovert? He’s looking at YOUR shoes.
  • If triangles had gods they would be three sided.
  • I have decided to adopt a doctrine of personal infallibility. I believe you will come to see that I was right to do so.
  • So this magician is walking down the street, and he turns into a grocery store.
  • Your first phrase in Irish: “Whale Oil Beef Hooked.”
  • Citrus fruits are useful for locating paper cuts.
  • Call me old fashioned but I believe marriage is between a man and his goods and chattels.
  • That which doesn’t kill us makes us hyper-vigilant and traumatized.
  • I read somebody complaining that they forgot to bring their phone into the bathroom and they had to spend several minutes being bored and I thought: We’re Doomed.
  • Blame it on the boogie.
  • Giving midterm exams ALL day today. I have this weird desire to dress up like Professor Snape and hover darkly near anxious students.
  • I just want to wish Kim Kardashian the kind of Princess/Storybook divorce she so deserves!
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A sixteen minute video on the devastation caused by income inequality probably won’t excite anyone. But this is really clear, concise, even heartbreaking information about the damage it does. I’m not sharing it in a “Let’s all say the usual things” way but because it shocked me. It’s like a clear accounting of the cost. 

 

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I love nudes and I have a weakness for ordinary, daily scenes. My artwork has developed considerably since I made these, but it’s one of my most popular pages, so I’m leaving it as it is for now.

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Because 9 isn’t enough and 11 is too many.

The 10 Commandments (hereafter known by their DJ name, 10C) are often cited as an important foundation of morality for the west: Sort of the moral grandfather to western civilization. This makes the assumption that without them we would behave badly, that if we are behaving well it is partly due to their influence, and that people without them must behave measurably worse.  Since they are treated as a collection I assume that they are all viewed as good and basically equal in worth. Conservative politicians have made enormous efforts at times to connect them with our government and put them in front of us in as many places as they can. It’s always amusing when a reporter asks them to recite the 10C and they can pull together maybe two of them. 

Since I could remember about the same number, I decided to read them over and evaluate their worth as a moral compass. 

1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is a message addressed to ancient Hebrews, why it should concern anyone else is unclear. They certainly would not have considered Christians (when they came along) as an appropriate audience for this message. In fact they might well have been outraged. The last bit is interesting because it implies that there ARE other Gods but you mustn’t put them first. Theoretically, it seems to hold out the possibility of worshipping demigods if you don’t get all carried away. As far as western morality is concerned the only link I see here is too monotheism and Christianity in particular. 

2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.”

This appears to be a restating of the first one with a sudden very strong disapproval of arts and crafts. The emphasis on jealousy reinforces the “other gods exist” idea because otherwise, what is he jealous of? Finally there is a sub clause explaining that if you violate the arts and crafts rule he will kill your grandchildren and beyond. Message for western morality? Be very serious about Christianity. 

3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Perhaps it means don’t speak the name at all, again a Hebrew thing. Perhaps it means don’t use it out of the context of worship and adoration because that is blasphemy. Perhaps it means don’t pretend you love me: YOU HAVE TO REALLY LOVE ME! In any event it’s a carrying on of rule number one as additional sub-clauses. I think the vagueness inherent in this one may even be intentional, since one is uncertain what it even means, speaking the name is fraught with the danger that one MIGHT be doing something wrong. This serves the whole “tremble before me” thing. Also, this one seems to suffer from a little self referential thought circle e.g. “Don’t do it because… I’ll consider you guilty if you do it. Because I hate it when you do that.” Continue reading

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I get daily updates of people’s bad ideas about websites.

Here are simple answers to the fundamental questions and mistakes.

The Uncertainty of the Web: What your design looks like on your computer guarantees nothing. Your site has no REAL, TRUE appearance because it isn’t a hard copy. Your website only really exists when it is opened up by a browser on some device. Different browsers and different devices interpret the code differently and affect the appearance. If built well there won’t be many problems, but there is no way to know to a certainty that everything about your site will perform as expected. 

The site itself: You should know exactly what it is for. It’s a machine. What does it do, or make, or accomplish? Avoid mission creep. You should be able to describe its purpose in 3 short sentences. 

Design:

  1. Design is based on serving the target audience. It comes from knowledge of who they are, and what they will find welcoming and reassuring in the appearance. It’s not about you and what you like. 
  2. Design isn’t just appearance, it is appearance and function. 
  3. There are not really a lot of different ways to lay out navigation. It’s going to be either vertical, left side, or horizontal, top. Why? Think of yourself at an unfamiliar ATM: Do you enjoy not knowing what to do next? 
  4. We shouldn’t make your website radical and totally different because it would most likely suck. 

Navigation: The simplest, clearest menu is best. Can things be coupled and condensed? Do it. Classic example: “Home” and “About Us” How are these different? And ask yourself, “Is the wording on my navigation crystal clear?” We tend to take familiar concepts for granted, so be careful not to baffle your customers. The best navigation is barely noticed because no pause is required to understand it. 

Search Engine Optimization: There are a LOT of ways to polish and improve this but as the site owner you have the most important role. Write well. The entire site should be as well organized as a research paper. Write succinctly and with intention behind each word. ALSO: Consider your target audience, what words and phrases do they type in search engines to find you? Be realistic about this and include them (gracefully) in your writing. 

Social Media: Again consider the target audience. Think strategically about this and include social media in the machine concept from the beginning of this article. You don’t need to be everywhere and irrelevant social media is a stupid waste of your time. What role do they play in the machine? Understand it, or don’t do it. Don’t over-commit to social media responsibilities, include your available time and energy in planning. The same goes very much for a Blog. If a blog is part of the machine, OK. But don’t add one because other people do. If you can’t keep it fresh and updated it will work against you. 

As far as building the site itself, which many people want to do themselves, you probably can’t. I’m not trying to be a downer. But it’s a skill set most people can’t add given the available time and energy. The exceptions are people who regularly achieve easy- breezy successes in complex computing situations. If you struggle with any basic computer issues, in my experience, you can’t do this. 

That’s it. Done. 

 

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