Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A first draft

Here is a first draft of an opening for the Book Barn story I'm playing with, after a drive up to the former site thereof. (The building is still there.) Everything, title included, is subject to revision.

Moonrise at the Tatamy Book Barn

by Michael F. Flynn

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested.
-- Francis Bacon, Studies.

THE LATE AFTERNOON had spread across the Valley, creating from the waving branches and leaves moiré patterns, all black shadow and orange sunlight across the hiking trail beside the creek. The upper sky was still pale blue, studded with high popcorn clouds, but shifting toward the more cobalt sort as the westerlies chivvied glowering cumulus ahead of them. The fishermen had abandoned the creek in a splashing of waders. It was a matter of luck, the locals said, whether storms would roll down the slot between Kittatinny Ridge and South Mountain.

But Cindy did not believe in luck, or at least not in the sort of luck that you didn’t make for yourself. Besides, the dark clouds seemed intent on rolling directly toward her and if the last couple of miles since leaving the diner were any indication, she really ought to give some thought to finding shelter for the night. She had a meal in her belly and some money in her purse, thanks in large measure to that same diner and its manager’s willingness to exchange clean dishes and clean rest rooms in lieu of payment. But there had not been anything resembling a motel along the miles since.

Not that she hadn’t slept rough before. She carried a bedroll and camping gear atop be backpack – they called it a rucksack around here – and she always enjoyed sleeping under the stars. When she had been younger, she had dreamed of being an astronaut and the night sky possessed a wistful allure. But the stars tonight seemed inclined to hide behind lint and she was less inclined to sleep under driving rain.

Nor was she inclined to beg shelter from the isolated houses she passed. Folks hereabout were generally hospitable, but that might not extend to guesting a stranger for the night, and Cindy had not survived the long road by being overly trustful on her part, either. You never knew when a nice-looking domicile might house a meth lab in its basement, or a young woman alone might prove too tempting for a middle-aged professional in his lonely country home.

Cindy did not know where she was going. Her long trek was more of a whence than a whither. A vast dissatisfaction had driven her from her mother’s house and her nowhere job and whatever it was she was looking for, she had demonstrably not yet found it.

Thunder rumbled in the west like God clearing his throat.

Cindy emerged from the shroud of trees that enfolded the hiking trail and found herself facing a paved road. Directly ahead was a ramshackle stone-and-wood barn with a gravel parking lot. To the right, the road crossed a short bridge over the creek and met the state highway. To the left, it curved north and out of sight. It didn’t look like there would be much in the way of accommodations either way. The fleshpots of Xanadu might be just around that bend, but she doubted it. A darkened residence stood on the left side of the curve and she gave it some thought.

A lot of homes had been foreclosed lately, so the place might be empty. Growing up in Wessex County, back in New Jersey, she had learned all the arts of B&E. But there were no sheriff’s notices plastered in the windows and it would be just her luck that the householder would return just as she was settling in for the night, and in this neck of the woods they were as likely to be the Three Bears as not. And armed. Didn’t they believe in the right to arm bears here?

That left the big stone-and-wood building across the road. A large board sign above the entrance named it the Tatamy Book Barn, Old and Used Books, and three equally old and used cars in the parking lot promised that the building was open. More importantly, unless the owner took a devil-may-care attitude toward his wares, the roof likely did not leak.

God dumped a truckload of scrap metal on the sky, which turned bright brass for an instant, and that made up her mind. Cindy hitched her backpack and strode confidently toward the entrance just as the heavens let loose.

Her strides broke into as fast a run as the weight on her back allowed, but she was drenched before she reached the door. She ducked through, slammed it behind her, and leaned her back against it, almost as if she feared the tempest would try to follow her inside.

The woman behind the counter looked up at this sudden eruption into her domain, took in Cindy and her bedraggled appearance, and cocked a rueful smile. “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”
#

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Possible Short Story

Succumbing to impulse, I have written 1300 words on a short story whose working title is "Midnight in the Tatamy Book Barn." Cindy is running away from home and her boring nowhere job and has been driven by an afternoon thunderstorm to take refuge in the aforesaid eponymous Book Barn. At one time she had dreamed of being an astronaut, but that that was not to be, she tells Robbie, the proprietor of the Barn. Robbie eyes the backpack and bedroll and asks where she is headed. "I don't know," said Cindy. "I haven't got there yet." Robbie asks if "Cindy" is short for something. "Jacinta," she is told. "Jacinta Rosario."

A neighbor, Henry Fogel, from up the creek has earlier come to the barn with several boxes of personal papers and notebooks. He is going away for a few days and is concerned about possible flash flooding on the creek and wants Robbie to store the boxes on the upper floor of the barn. Despite the "donnerwetter," he leaves. Robbie lets Cindy stay in the Barn overnight. And in their chatting Cindy learns that Robbie once had aspirations of her own: She had been a teenage poet calling herself Styx, but it had never gotten anywhere. As the night wears on, Cindy helps Robbie carry Henry's papers upstairs, and she begins glancing at them. And they are very strange.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Report from the Imperial Tailor

A morning newsitainment show with pretensions recently "interviewed" the Secretary of Energy over the President's decision to "withdraw" from the Paris Deal. Now, technically the US cannot withdraw because the agreement was never ratified with the advice and consent of the Senate, a requirement of that "scrap of paper" called the Constitution. (This document was once referred to as an "obstacle" to doing what was right by a constitutional law professor named Obama, who later won his way to higher office.) That's why it was called a "Deal" and not a "Treaty." The Constitution does not mention how Deals are to be handled, only how Treaties are to be handled. So, believing in Name-Magic, the handlers deemed that by calling it something else, it would become something else and the US could be committed to it by Executive Order alone. The other term for this sort of ruler is dictator, i.e., "he who dictates."

Now the pearl-clutching that commenced after the announcement of withdrawal was a wonder to behold. The NY Post ran the headline: Trump to World: Drop Dead, as if that would really, truly be the result of withdrawing from the agreement. But maybe not. Even if every jot and tittle of the agreement is carried out, even those things agreed to by China and Russia, the result might be a saving of 0.05°C by the year 2100. And that assumes that the models are correct. They haven't been yet; but who knows?
Anyway, on the TV show, the Sec Energy pointed out that the accord gives China, the world's biggest emitter of carbon (assuming CO2 to be a "pollutant") has promised to do exactly nothing while the US has pledged to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 -- only 8 years away.  China, whose emissions are already about double those of the US, agrees to no reductions whatsoever, and only to try to reach "peak" emissions by 2030. At this point, the interviewer interrupted to point out that China had pledged to reduce emissions by 60% after 2030. He said this with a straight face, too, as if he believed a) China would follow through on that pledge; b) his network would remember by then to hold them to it; or c) it would be technologically feasible to accomplish. Well, TV personalities are seldom taught to think quantitatively.

Thanks to fracking, the US has already reduced CO2 by 7% below the 2005 baseline, but this success (which actually exceeds the more preening Europeans) frightened the activists so much that they started an anti-fracking campaign. The EPA's Clean Power Plan was to shutter cheap coal power plants and cover the landscape with wind and solar farms.  A version of the strategy that has led Germany to residential electricity prices about triple the U.S. average. This sort of thing can result in the collapse of industries dependent on cheap power: Paper down 12 percent.  Cement down 23 percent.  Iron and steel down 38 per cent.  Coal down 86 percent.

No wonder they wanted China and India to be exempt.

Never fear. California announced they would on their own try to abide by the Paris accords. In fact, in September 2016 California's legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, SB-32 requiring a reduction of "greenhouse" emissions in California to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  That's about 12 1/2 years from now.

Now, California has been pushing to replace fossil fuels (boo) with "renewables" (yay) for 27 years, since 1990, covering the hillsides with wind turbines and the valleys with solar collectors.  So how much of the 40% reduction have they accomplished so far?  California's emissions for the latest year given (2014) were actually marginally above the 1990 level:

Does anyone really think California will accomplish this miracle in the next twelve years that it hasn't touched in the last 27? What will be the next strategy? Threats? Will household electricity become, as it is fast becoming in Germany, a luxury?

And will China, after doubling its emissions between now and 2030 really even try, let alone succeed in doing even more in the sixty years following?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Why There is No Bad Big Wolf

and clocks never go tock-tick.

The language rules we were never taught, but we somehow know them anyway, by Mark Forsyth.
“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.”
 Go ahead, try to write the sentence in a different sequence. It will sound wrong.  You cannot have an old little French lovely silver whittling rectangular green knife.Why this is TOF does not know. But we will say "a steel cutting die" (material-purpose Noun) and not "a cutting steel die" (purpose-material Noun).

There are also sound patterns.
"The Big Bad Wolf is just obeying another great linguistic law that every native English speaker knows, but doesn’t know that they know. And it’s the same reason that you’ve never listened to hop-hip music. If somebody said ‘zag-zig’ or ‘cross-criss’ you would know they were breaking a rule
You are utterly familiar with the rule of ablaut reduplication. You’ve been using it all your life. It’s just that you’ve never heard of it. But if somebody said the words zag-zig, or ‘cross-criss you would know, deep down in your loins, that they were breaking a sacred rule of language. You just wouldn’t know which one."
+++
If there are three words then the vowel order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words then the first is I and the second is either A or O. Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, tic tac, sing song, ding dong, King Kong, ping pong.

A Glance at the Holocene


Unless I should say the "Whole Scene." Reconstructed "proxy" temperatures shown in black and model output temperatures in green are compared to atmospheric CO2 in red and methane in blue during the recent interglacial phase. When CO2 began increasing some 7000 years ago, global temperatures did not actually change and when they did, about 2000 years later, the world grew cooler, not warmer. The model outputs grew warmer, however. Notice that in the Modern Warm period, temperatures did increase when a special magical kind of CO2 took over. Either that, or a random fluctuation. In any case, a 5000-year long slide back into an ice age seems to have been temporarily stayed and temperatures have returned to medieval levels, and perhaps almost to Roman levels, although not nearly to normal levels for the interglacial, which were closer to +0.9°C

Data sources noted for each series on chart.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Much is Hereby Explained

From 1980 to 2014, student headcount in public schools increased 22.6% while expenditures increased by a mere 115.2%  (in constant dollars)

The increased expenditures went to purchase more
130.0% more Instructional Aides (whoever they are)
 88.1% more School District Administrative Staff
 63.1% more Principles/Assistant Principles
 63.0 % more Guidance Counselors
 43.4% more Teachers
 40.0% more Support Staff
  7.1% fewer Librarians


The United States Department of Education began operating on May 4, 1980.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

The Creator hath endowed us with poetical minds, and we have been trying to rewire them as adding machines.
-- David Warren, "Sweetness and Light"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It was the Best of Times; It was the Worst of Times

Most creative use of the word "Despite"

Despite the less than generous Unemployment Insurance system, however, just 3.0% of Nebraska’s labor force was unemployed over the course of 2015, the second lowest jobless rate of all states.

Rankings of Best- and Worst-governed States

based on Debt per capita, unemployment rate, tax revenues, diversity of industry, Moody credit rating, poverty rate, rainy day fund vs. operating expenses, and other indicators. (See methodology, below)
Details at site:

Ten best-governed.
1. North Dakota
2. Minnesota
3. Nebraska
4. Wyoming
5. Utah
6. Iowa
7. Texas
8. Colorado
9. Washington
10. Oregon

Ten worst-governed
50. New Mexico
49. Illinois
48. Rhode Island
47. Mississippi
46. Alabama
45. Kentucky
44. Louisiana
43. New Jersey
42. Pennsylvania
41. West Virginia


Methodology:
http://247wallst.com/special-report/2016/12/06/the-best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-2/12/

The Triumph of Education

To graduate 8th grade in Bullitt Co, KY in 1912 required one to pass the following examination, the effect of which is spoilt by several typos scattered throughout. The reading and writing portion is lost. Notice that none of the questions are multiple choice; and all require serious thought on the part of rural Kentucky kids. The exam appeared on the Huffington Post.

Some of the questions are difficult for Moderns to answer because the historical and geographical background has changed since 1912. In Arithmetic Question 3, for example, "kalsomining" means "whitewashing" and whitewash was a calcium solution used by the poor as a cheap substitute for the paint they could not afford. In History Question 10, "magnetic" should probably be "magneto." Either that or it is meant to be the Magnetic Telegraph and the comma between the two is stray.

If the Electoral College were abolished

Presidential elections would be decided as below:

Indeed, winning a large majority in CA was enough to secure bragging rights for the "popular vote" in the most recent election. (Outside of CA, the popular vote seems to have been won by the other candidate.) Although, had the election rules specified a simple popular vote, then
  1. campaigning in CA and other places would have proceeded very differently, perhaps with different results; and
  2. we'd still be going through the nation-wide recount.
(The map is a cartoon and is not to precise scale.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Everything Old is New Again



The president fired the FBI director a few months after taking office.  (A director appointed, be it noted, by a president of the other party, and still had several years to go in his 10 year term.)  Perhaps the president had some skeletons in his closet that he did not want investigated. The excuse he gave for the firing seemed weak.  Surely, everyone remembers the uproar and outrage that followed  "A coup," said some. "A constitutional crisis!

Or not. The media accepted Clinton's sacking of Sessions in 1993 as being due to misuse of a government airplane (Oh, horrors!) and not due to any investigation creeping near to the Oval Office. Of course not. Alas, Clinton shortly thereafter got Ken Starr as a Special Prosecutor, so firing Sessions did not do him a whole lot of good.

 


Gary Varval in the Washington Times
But what is even more remarkable in the second-time-as-farce repeat of history, many of those now clutching their pearls over the firing of Mr. Comey were among those earlier calling for his sacking! Is a little bit of principled consistency too much to ask for? Granted, it is Washington and neither principles nor consistency are very thick on the ground there; but, still.

TOF feels lonely in stating that Comey was in a no-win situation once he saw the hand grenade roll into his foxhole. If he kept mum about the trove of emails that popped up in another investigation, after he had formally and publicly closed the Clinton email investigation, he would be accused of trying to influence the election by concealing possibly relevant information from the public. What if these were (some of) the missing 30,000 emails that had been subpoenaed and not turned over? OTOH, if he went public, he would be accused of trying to influence the election by keeping the email controversy alive. So he threw himself on the grenade. Keeping silent would have been worse.

David Horsey at the Washington Times
Despite the effort to blame her loss on anything and everything else, where are the post-election polls that show people switching from Clinton to Trump because of the last-minute email kerfuffle? Outside the Beltway and its aficionados, how many people were persuaded by that? Sure, anyone else who had handled classified material so carelessly would have had his security clearance revoked and kept far away from secured servers, and probably escorted from the building with his personal belongings in a box; but the real scandal is less the email contents than it is the privileged treatment of the offender. This, in a year when Privilege was an Issue.

She did not lose the election because the working class voters in the Rust Belt cared a great deal about Insider Football, but because they were worried about jobs and it seemed all she wanted to talk about was who could use which bathroom.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mothers on Parade

Mothers' Day is coming, and in its honor TOF will present a parade of Mothers. We will start with

1. The Incomparable Marge, who is the mother of the TOFsprings, shown here in their cute-and-innocent versions:
Sara, a/k/a Dear in the Headlights
 




Dennis: Wait, What's Going On Here...







 However, the I/M is herself the daughter of a mother, and while we have no digitized picture of the two in Madonna-and-child pose, we do have them individualized, as it were:
Elsie Vera Hammontree, mother of the I/M




The Marge, imitating a bean bag















2. Elsie Vera Hammontree (1924-1951) of Oklahoma died when the Marge was very young but she is remembered for humming Strauss waltzes while she did her ironing in the kitchen. Margie was her only child, and her dad never remarried. The Hammontrees had settled in colonial Virginia, fought in the Revolution (two were at Valley Forge, and one died there), went over-the-mountain into East Tennessee, fought with Andy Jackson at Horseshoe Bend in the War of 1812; fought in the Army of the Cumberland under Schofield in the Civil War (wounded at Resaca) and headed west to Oklahoma by way of Arkansas. She married Claude Lee White, whose mother was a Choctaw with the splendid name of Maggie Jam and who raised her two sons alone in Ft. Towson, Choctaw Nation (later part of Oklahoma). For her part, Elsie was the daughter of....

3. Ora Vanora Harris (1901-1967) of whom TOF has no digitized photograph. The Marge was largely mothered by this grandmother (and by multiple aunts) after Elsie died. Ora was a Holy Roller and spoke in tongues, a religious exercise which scared the bejabbers out of little Margie. But when Margie entered the Church, Ora came with her. The Harrises had once lived in Hardin Co., KY, neighbors to Thomas and Abraham Lincoln, and moved with the Lincolns to Spencer Co. IN. (One bore the delightful name of Greenberry Harris.) But when the Lincolns moved again to Illinois, where Honest Abe grew to become famous, the Harrises pushed on to Cold Springs, MO and thence to Indian Territory, where Ora married John Hammontree and bore three daughters and two sons in the bustling metropolis of Quinton, OK.  Ora's mother was...

4. Sadie Frances Holland (1884-1918), who had been born in Louisiana and moved with her parents to Chickasaw Nation in 1898, where she married Charles Harding Harris and had five sons and three daughters. She died young of bronchial pneumonia aggravated by measles after a 13 day illness. The Hollands seem to have moved through the Lower South, perhaps starting from Mississippi. Sadie was the daughter of...

5. Annie Eliza Helms (1861-1939), who had been born in Lee Co., Georgia of North Carolinian parents, was married in Claibourne, LA, to Henry Thomas Holland, with whom she had five children: two boys, two girls, and one unknown who died in infancy. They moved to Chickasaw Nation, where they farmed next plot to Charlie Harris, who married their daughter. She died in her late 70s of a brain hemorrhage brought on by hypertension. She was the daughter of...

6. Gatsey [Helms] (c. 1826 - after 1880), maiden name not yet determined, was born somewhere in North Carolina. About 1844, she married Henry Helms, of a prominent North Carolinian family [cf. Jesse Helms], bearing seven children, of whom Anne Eliza was the youngest. Between 1847-48 they moved to Georgia; in 1850 were in Chambers Co. Alabama; and by 1860 in Lee Co. Georgia, where Anne was born. She lived through the Civil War and (to go by her residence) Sherman's March to the Sea. She was widowed sometime between 1860 and 1880, when she was living in Claiborne LA, where her daughter married Henry Holland. Not known when or where she died, or where the somewhat odd name of Gatsey (or Gatsy) comes from.

n. Mitochondrial Eve. Okay, so she's everyone's eventual mother.....

TOF, meanwhile, is also the son of a mother; to wit:

1. Rita Marie Singley (1924-1993) a/k/a "The Mut"
Mut, displaying her bona fides as a mother
TOF is descended from a long line of German mothers. This is an especially daunting thing, for there is nothing more immovable than one. When the pastor at the church hesitated to baptize TOF on the grounds that the parish was German and the name was Flynn -- "Take him to St. Bernard's. That's where the Irish go." -- the Mut said that she would take me home and baptize me herself under the kitchen sink. She would have done it, too. The pastor caved. Some of her favorite expressions were handed down from Germany. When we asked her where a favorite toy or article of clothing was, she would respond: "Where is last winter's snow?" or "Do I wear it/play with it?" Complaints were met with a cheery, "Dry up and blow away." There were no snowflakes in our house, unable to deal with disappointments. Yet, neither was there more love and care.

The Singleys had come from Gemeinde Oberhausen (Upper Houses) in the Grand Principality of Baden around 1854, in the aftermath of the famine, turmoil and oppression following the failed Republican revolution of 1848. They had lived there or in the neighboring community of Niederhausen (Lower Houses) since the close of the Thirty Years War in the mid-1600s. The name had been originally spelled Zängle, which seems to mean "Little Brick." In Nockamixon Twp, Bucks Co, PA, the name became Zingley, later Singley. Her mother was...

2. Helen Myrtle Schwar (1896-1952) a/k/a "Big Mom"
Big Mom, with her smaller brood: Mut in arms, twins Ralph and Paul below
Big Mom is the literal translation of Grossmutter, the German word for grandmother. We lived in her house two doors up the street for five years. Technically, by modern standards, we were homeless while my father jumped through bureaucratic hoops to get the GI Bill money to build our house. Among my fond memories at life up the street, is Big Mom's theory that the cure to all illnesses was an enema. It was there that TOF suffered the chicken pox and several other now-moribund diseases. Come Christmas, she dressed up as Santa and brought gifts. She had married Harry Singley, a veteran of the Great War, and a bricklayer. There is a story about him and bricklaying which must await another day. They had three children: a set of identical twins and the Mut. Her three children eventually moved into houses that were only a couple doors away. Each received a tree, in the traditional German fashion of celebrating special occasions with a tree, sister sycamores, and though two of them have since gone to that Great Woodpile in the Sky, their offspring litter the south side to this day.
TOF (r) and his Milchgeschwester (c)
Milk-siblings were those who suckled at
the same breasts.

The Schwar family (the name rhymes with "swear" but lost its umlaut long ago) came from Niederhausen and see the brief recap of the Singleys, above. The name means "heavy," and in the records of Oberhausen/Niederhausen (now called Rheinhausen) the Schwährs were stone masons back to the late 1600s. The stone work on TOF's home was laid by Mut's uncle Leo Schwar. There is a story about Pere assisting him, which will await some other day.

The whole area on that part of South Side was once known as Schwartown for the obvious reasons, not least of which are the stone houses; and the plethora of interrelated families from Oberhausen/Niederhausen contributed to the firm conviction of TOF and his Milchgeschwester that every person we were introduced to was related to us in some fashion. Schwar, Singley, Metzger, Deck, Keck, Breiner, Raisner, Albus, und so weiter all went back to those same two villages on the Rhine at the edge of the Black Forest. Near Eifelheim, if you read famous SF novels....

3. Frances Hungrege (1870-1926)
Frances: I'll see your five and raise you ten
Big Mom on far right
Mut's grandmother, third from left in the back row, lived in the big stone house on the next corner. She married Francis Joseph Schwar, a stone mason, in 1894. The Hungreges, mirabile dictu did not come from Baden, let alone Oberhausen/Niederhausen, but rather from Westpfalz, which was then ruled by Prussia. Given that she died only a few years after Mut was born, not much else is known about her. She was the daughter of....

4. Magdalena Rieß (1836-1901)

Magdalena Riess,
No family shots
Magdalena emigrated from (you guessed it) Niederhausen in 1854 "to visit friends" and never went back. We have her passport from the Grandherzogthum Baden which, in the absence of passport photography, tries to describe her in that infinitesimal German style. So we know she was 5 Schuh and 1 Zoll tall [about 5'1"], slender figure, long face, healthy complexion, black/brown hair, low forehead, and so on. She married Conrad Hungrege, formerly a steamboat captain on the Rhine, in Haycock Run, Bucks Co, PA, and had eight children, six of them boys. She died only a few years after Big Mom was born, so not much is known of her. She was the daughter of....

5. Franziska Stefan (1799-1856)
Fishermen on the Rhine
who was born, wed, and died in Niederhausen. She married Johann Rieß, a fisherman on the Rhine and was mother to nine children, eight of them girls. Four of her children died in infancy or childhood, one indeed after four days. We are now in the days before antisepsis, when cutting edge medicine meant breeding superior leaches and measuring precisely the amount of blood let. Magdalena was the last of Franziska's children and lived to be 65 in America. Mater dolorosa, indeed. A fortunate thing she was not easily discouraged and did not succumb to grief.   She was the daughter of...

6. Maria Anna Pflüger (c.1772-1845)
who likewise was born, wed and died in Niederhausen. She was the third wife of Josef Stefan and had by him four children, two of whom died in infancy. Franziska was the second daughter of that name, her namesake having died  scant eight months earlier at just about a year's age. After Josef died, Maria Anna took a second husband, viz., Jakob Metzger. During her lifetime, Napoleon was running hither and yon across Europe, including across the Germanies. M. Anna's mother appears to have been

7. M. A. Schwörer (???-???)
who married Georg Pflüger, also a fisherman. But at this point, even German record-keeping falters and it may be that some records were lost during the Napoleonic wars. There is a gap in the microfilms. So far, TOF has not a clue about these more remote ancestors.

n. Mitochondrial Eve
Since she is everyone's maternal ancestor, this means the Marge and I are remote -- very remote -- cousins. But this is no surprise. Considering how many of TOF's ancestral mothers came from Oberhausen/Niederhausen, one is not astonished to learn that he is his own seventh cousin.



Other Mothers
We haven't even scratched the surface of those mothers to whom we must credit our mere corporal existence. This is only the pure maternal strain. There are also the mothers of fathers to be considered. Not only Sarah Jane Metzger from (where else) Niederhausen, but Pere's mother Blanche Jean Cantrel, whose ancestry wends its way back through the Pas de Calais, to the delightfully named Sinia Jane Chisenhall, who lurks on the Marge's ancestral tree, to Mary McGovern, of whom a photograph shows her playfully aiming a shotgun at the photographer. (The McGoverns came from the Glan in Co. Cavan, a then-remote and inaccessible valley where they made their own whiskey. She knew how to use that shotgun.) Then there was Nancy Holloway, who was a model for Mae Holloway (up to a point) in "Melodies of the Heart." But we have to draw the line somewhere or we will end up with every mother who has ever lived.

Though, on second thought, why not? Consider them, and yours, added as well.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Virtue Signalling


A house on the next block, half of a duplex, has two signs on its front porch, both identical. They read: "Hate Has No Home Here." Not that I suspect his neighbors on either side of harboring sinister sentiments; but I also suspect that the resident may actually hate such things as racism, sexism, or even Donald Trump. The message is repeated in Arabic, just in case anyone misses the signal, and also in Hindi and perhaps Urdu, as well as a script I did not recognize, in Hebrew, and in Spanish. Perhaps, by omission the resident is signalling a dislike for Germans or Russians or French or of speakers of Tamil. The irony is that people using one of the scripts displayed have oft-time exhibited murderous hatred for users of another of the scripts. Oh, well. The purpose of the sign is to signal the resident's moral smugness to members of his own tribe.



A house on the next block south (another duplex) has a sign in its window. This one features a line drawing of a revolver that seems to be pointed at the viewer and bears the inscription: "Never Mind the Dog; Beware of Owner!" This, too, is a kind of virtue signalling, albeit to a different peer group, and one which has a utilitarian bent in that the home may be that much less likely to be broken into by some of the local gentry.


I am trying to recollect whether the first house mentioned is the one that was raided by an armored car a couple years ago because the previous resident was selling dope to the kids on the playground behind the house. It was certainly within a few doors of the place.

Another block or so along, I saw on my daily stroll, a couple entering their home -- I assume it was theirs -- and the woman struck the man in the hear by swatting him with a sheaf of papers she had, shrieking (yes, shrieking) "Will you get that door open!!!" And the man replied testily, "I'm trying to find the hole!" I assume he meant the keyhole. The woman was casting shade. No one else was about, but still, when did people start airing their domestic concerns in this way. What's next: fistfights on airplanes? Oh, wait.

This is the same more-or-less daily walk on which I saw a fellow on a skateboard walking a pair of dogs, the which were pulling him along on the skateboard, like a team of Alaskan huskies. Except they were pit bulls.

You see all kinds of people. Sometimes you can use them in stories.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Phun Phacts

In the course of writing The Shipwrecks of Time, TOF has had occasion to look back and realize how much things have changed since those halcyon days of the 60s in which the narrative is so far set. An example:
  • In 1965, no more than 20 percent of Americans had EVER flown in an airplane. By 2000, 50 percent of the country took at least one round-trip flight PER YEAR. The average was two round-trip tickets.
  • In 1965, flying was a serious business, and people normally "dressed up" for the occasion, at least to the extent of wearing sports coasts or business suits.  
  • For you ynglings, people back then could walk down the concourse to the gates -- anyone, passenger or not. No identification need be shown, and no security screening was employed. Friends and family would often see the passenger off in this fashion.
  • Family members greeted returning passengers at the arrival gate itself by standing directly in the flow of disembarking passengers, as close to the gateway as possible. Business travelers would sometimes use their briefcases to club their way through the press. 
  • People routinely placed tightly-rolled tubes of tobacco in their mouths and lit them on fire while on board aeroplanes. A special section in the rear of the plane accommodated this practice. There was some debate as to whether sucking burning leaves into your lungs might not be an entirely healthy thing to do. 
  • In 1965, no airline passenger was dragged, screaming, by his limbs down the aisle of the plane.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Another kind word for "Nexus"

received at ANALOG:
Dear Mr Quachri,
I have just read the first Novella in this double issue - "Nexus" by Michael F. Flynn. I have not read anything else as yet in this issue - I wanted to write to you forthwith.
If I find nothing else worth reading in this issue, so be it.
"Nexus" is an Analog masterpiece! I have to confess that the first 2 or 3 pages seemed difficult to read and understand, had me confused and wondering what sort of rubbish is now being produced for consumption by readers. And suddenly it clicked for me, and I realised that I was reading the best Science Fiction story that has come my way in years. My congratulations to you for printing it and to Mr Flynn for having written it. It has originality, great characterisation, a superb writing style, the prose is beautifully-written, the plot sensationally bringing together so many Science Fiction memes, the imagination and ideas making a story that is about 95% narrative (breaking all the rules) fascinating, and all with great style and class. I absolutely loved it. This should become a classic in the genre and a master-class in how to write great fiction. More like this, please!
Sincerely,
Mel Anthony
(English but living in France)
TOF's reaction: I could not have said it better myself.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fake News Redux


The recent revelation that bomb threats directed to Jewish Community Centers in the United States and two Canadian provinces originated in Ashkelon, Israel, by an Israeli hacker "with a medical condition" raises once again the theme by Gilbert and Sullivan:
"Things are seldom what they seem
Skim milk masquerades as cream"
Scientists know -- or used to know -- that a fact is not self-demonstrating. What the fact means depends on other things and what seems to support one theory may in fact support another. So that bomb threats called into JCC centers seemed to mean a rise in antisemitism in Canada and the USA, but might mean instead a mentally disturbed hacker acting out. 

In the ever popular category of Fake News there was an item that popped up four months ago (2 December 2016) in the New York media. It was first reported in DNAinfo, a neighborhood newspaper.
MANHATTAN — A Muslim woman wearing a hijab was harassed by three drunk men on a Manhattan 6 train who called her a “f---ing terrorist” before trying to pull off her head scarf Thursday night, DNAinfo New York has learned.
The 18-year-old boarded a northbound 6 train at Park Avenue and 23rd Street after attending an event at Baruch College when three young white men approached her yelling "Donald Trump," sources said.
One of them screamed, "Look, there is a f----g terrorist! Get out of this country, you don’t belong here!”
...
The story naturally went viral, with other news outlets reporting her allegations and Yasmin Seweid [the young woman in question] giving interviews to local news stations.

Unlike other shocking stories, this article is not attended by the usual flotilla of "alleged" or "unsubstantiated" or "offered no evidence."  This is because any story that tends to reinforce a dominant paradigm is accepted with little question, as Thucydides noted a long time ago:
For the usual thing among men is that when they want something they will, without any reflection, leave that to hope, while they will employ the full force of reason in rejecting what they find unpalatable.
-- Thucydides IV, 108
We can see this in the media reactions to various stories regarding this vs that public figure.

The media did carry the follow-up story: viz., that the young woman, Yasmin Seweid, had made the whole thing up "because of problems she was having with her family," namely that she had missed a curfew.

A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that incidents like this were indicative of the "tremendous psychological stress and pressure" that Muslims are under. IOW, even if it was a false report, it darned well should have been true because Trump. Or something.

Her sister blamed the media for covering the story and blamed the NYPD for investigating the hate crime claim, apparently not aware that in the USA this is what these two institutions do. She wrote on Facebook:
“The NYPD should have never been involved in the first place
even if the incident did happen.”
But of course that is just what NYPD should have done if a crime has been reported. The police grew suspicious when no witnesses or surveillance footage could be found. The sister complained that:
"Things snowballed out of our control." 
which indicated a peculiar attitude toward the purpose of crime reporting. She wrote further:
"I’m deeply concerned about the mental state of young Muslim women who feel that they have to lie so intensely to survive."
To survive? Survive what? What was going to happen to her for staying out past her curfew? Why are we reminded so strongly of Tawana Brawley, who also lied about staying out from fear of consequences at home?

And why is one of the tags on the story "Donald Trump"? 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Nexus Reviewed

From a review of "Nexus" in Tangent Online, the remainder of which contains spoilers:
"What an amazing and exciting story! Each character is fully humanized, even the most alien ones; we even feel for the spider-alien. Normally I get annoyed by stories that jump from one point of view to another, but the way this technique was used here was just perfect—each point of view had a segue into the next, like carefully drawn lines from a center we can’t see—until the climax, which draws all the characters into the same scene and shows us the center in all its spinning, integrated glory. Time travel stories aren’t uncommon, but finding one that is so exquisitely paced is rare and so appropriate. This is the best piece I’ve read in a long time."
-- Colleen Chen
TOF supposes this is also technically a spoiler, as it reveals how wonderful the story is to those hitherto suspecting a dog, but we'll just have to live with that. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Letter to the Editor

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact received the following letter:
Hello,
I'm working my way through Nexus by Michael F. Flynn and am thoroughly enjoying the plays on words, the humor, the multiple plot lines and the excellent writing.
May I request the favor of you passing along my sincere "thanks!" and appreciation to Mr. Flynn for his work?
This story exemplifies why I subscribe to and read Analog.  It's great, entertaining reading!  And I've not yet come across a single obscene word in his piece.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best,
John Harcinske
Not a single obscene word? Forsooth! How the @#$%^& did I miss that?
 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The March of the Tabs

March comes in like a lion, the proverb says, and this is surely true of the march of the tabs, which have accumulated unpruned on TOF's tab-bar over the unruly winter months, frozen on the branches like cherry blossoms in global warming. Hereunder, with appropriately short shrift:

1. "Everything Old is New Again" Remember the torrential rains in California this past winter? The following article appeared in Scientific American back in 2013:
THE INTENSE RAINSTORMS SWEEPING IN FROM the Pacific Ocean began to pound central California on Christmas Eve in 1861 and continued virtually unabated for 43 days. The deluges quickly transformed rivers running down from the Sierra Nevada mountains along the state’s eastern border into raging torrents that swept away entire communities and mining settlements. The rivers and rains poured into the state’s vast Central Valley, turning it into an inland sea 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people died, and one quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned. Downtown Sacramento was submerged under 10 feet of brown water filled with debris from countless mudslides on the region’s steep slopes. California’s legislature, unable to function, moved to San Francisco until Sacramento dried out—six months later. By then, the state was bankrupt. 
It gives the usual nod to "but this time the rains will be worse because global warming blah-blah-blah," but it's hard to overlook the pre-emptive catatastrophes that look so much like those of today.  

However, when the "rivers in the sky" were reported during the California deluge this winter, none of this background was reported. This was not likely because they wished to conceal the context, but because the needed more air-time for commercials. These days, you may notice they sometimes don't have enough time to complete a sentence. 

2. La Grande Scazzottata Copernica is up. If you read Italian, enjoy it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nexus

The estimable Joseph Moore has posted a review of TOF's novella "Nexus" on his blog, Yard Sale of the Mind.

A: Review: Michael Flynn’s Novella Nexsus in this month’s Analog

A reconstruction of a conversation taking place around 12:30 a.m. last night, as my wife is entering the bedroom where I am just putting down the latest issues of Analog:

“Reading Mike Flynn?”

“Just finished. It has about every ridiculous pulp science fiction idea you’ve ever heard of in one place: time travel, appalling space aliens, space aliens that can pass for human, telepathy,  faster than light travel, transporter beams, androids…”

“What’s it about?”

“Aristotelian causality.”

 There is a woman who can’t die, a weather balloon cover story, ninja space cops, weird alien necrophilia (PG-13), alien invaders, aliens working under cover to protect earth from alien invaders. There’s Theadora the hooker-Empress, conflicting time-lines, the need to keep the cops and the military out of it, and super-ninja space cops.

Trying to remember if Area 51 gets a shout out.

And, yes, it all hangs on what Aristotle would call in Greek a ‘walking together’ – a series of coincidences – the component events of which are most definitely caused (they literally could not not be) but the walking together itself is just Fate, which takes the blame but is not, strictly speaking, a cause.

To sum up: Totally awesome. Mr. Flynn has made no direct comments on the whole Pulp Revolution stuff of which I am aware (wise man) – but, based on this, he’s down with it, at least conceptually.
++++++++++++++++

TOF would be a great fool to dispute this review.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Flynn Stories in the Queue

Coming to you in Analog

TOF's great opus "Nexus", a novella length something or other, has the cover in the March/April issue of Analog. Woo Hoo.
Also on the Analog web site is an extensive excerpt from the aforesaid tale. Read it and weep. Or else go out and buy the issue on sale now.

Future expectations 

relating to Things Flynnic, dates subject to change:
  • Sep/Oct: "Viktor Frankenstein's Bar and Grill and 24-Hour Roadside Emporium"
  • Nov/Dec: "Laminated Moose Zombies and Other Road Maintenance Problems"
    (w/Dennis M. Flynn)
  • Jan/Feb: "The Journeyman: Through Madness Gap"

In other news

A German contract is pending for a German-language translation of Eifelheim. I can't wait to see how they translate "Eifelheim".....



Russia Explained

If every person is the hero of his own story, then every country is the center of the world. Geography is not fate, but it will often do until Fate comes a-knocking on the door, so what does Russia look like when the world is centered on it?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friends Don't Let Friends Do Stats

A recent story by NBC News [sic]

Female Doctors Outperform Male Doctors, According to Study

Patients treated by women are less likely to die of what ails them and less likely to have to come back to the hospital for more treatment, researchers reported Monday.
If all doctors performed as well as the female physicians in the study, it would save 32,000 lives every year, the team at the Harvard School of Public Health estimated.
Thus does NBC summarize the paper "Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians" by Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD; Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD; Jose F. Figueroa, MD, MPH; et al.

(I wish I knew who Et Al. was. Gets his name on a lot of papers, it seems.)

NBC "News" tells us
“The data out there says that women physicians tend to be a little bit better at sticking to the evidence and doing the things that we know work better.”
Apparently male doctors practice medicine regardless of what the evidence dictates. Worse, they are paid more for their foolish and dangerous behavior.

Alas, Tsugawa and his co-authors did not actually measure how doctors practiced. So even if the 30-day mortality and readmission rates differed between male and female doctors, the researchers had no way of knowing why they differed; and ipso facto neither would NBC. Someone was blowing smoke because the newsmog cannot abide a story that doesn't give a paradigm-conforming reason. Sticking to the evidence? Forsooth..
Design, Setting, and Participants  We analyzed a 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries 65 years or older hospitalized with a medical condition and treated by general internists from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2014. We examined the association between physician sex and 30-day mortality and readmission rates, adjusted for patient and physician characteristics and hospital fixed effects (effectively comparing female and male physicians within the same hospital). As a sensitivity analysis, we examined only physicians focusing on hospital care (hospitalists), among whom patients are plausibly quasi-randomized to physicians based on the physician’s specific work schedules. We also investigated whether differences in patient outcomes varied by specific condition or by underlying severity of illness.
That just sounds scientificalistic as all hell, dunnit? And hospitalists? Who knew? TOF always thought they were "doctors."
Conclusion: Patients treated by female physicians had lower 30-day mortality (adjusted mortality, 11.07% vs 11.49% …) and lower 30-day readmissions (adjusted readmissions, 15.02% vs 15.57% …) than patients cared for by male physicians, after accounting for potential confounders.
It is important to realize that the researchers were not as bold as the newsreaders. They wrote under Key Points:
Differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians, as suggested in previous studies, may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.
TOF notes a few cautions:

Caution #1. The mortality difference was 11.1% vs. 11.5%. We caution you not to clutch your pearls too tightly over this chasm-like gap.

Caution #2. These were "adjusted percentages." That means the actual percentages were something else and the researchers tweaked the numbers to make them "all else being equal." That is, the reported %'s are the result of a model. The uncertainty of the model was not mentioned. One suspects it may have been more than 0.4%-points.

Caution #3. There were about 1,000 "all elses" that were equalized. These are called co-variates in stat-lingo. That's a heckuva lot of co-variates, leading to the possibility of multi-collinearity. This is when two or more covariates are themselved correlated with each other. If this happens, the model is over-determined and the estimates may be flawed. One is more likely to obtain an uninterpretable swamp. Did they check the Variance Inflation Factors and eliminate superfluous covariates? Inquiring minds want to know.


Caution #4. NBC simply said "patients," but the mean age of these patients was about 80 years old and the first rule of sampling is that the results cannot be generalized to populations that were not subjected to the sampling.

Caution #5. Female doctors were about 5 years younger on average, and female docs also treated many fewer patients on average than men. This implies women docs had more time per patient.

Caution #6.  The report says, “female physicians treated slightly higher proportions of female patients than male physicians did.” Since females tend to live longer than males, especially at advanced age, this would present as a higher survival rate for the patients of female doctors, not because of the doctors' skills but because of the patients' longevity. Is that the reason? TOF does not know, and neither do you or NBC.
One species of "Fake News" is when the reporter doesn't know what he's writing about, which is often the case, especially in technical subjects. The problem is that most scientific papers are wrong.
Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true. -- New Scientist
Most clinical researchers, while experts in their fields, are not experts in statistics and tend to find significant results that aren't there, especially if they want to find them. What is almost as bad, if not worse, is when they took Intro to Stats back in college and learned a cook-book approach to "number crunching." The on-going obsession with p-values and tests of significance often overlooks two things:
  1. Statistical significance is not causal significance.
  2. Statistical significance applies to the parameters of the model, not to the actual data.
Therefore, findings from such models tend to be overconfident.




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Iwo


When his step-daughter heard the news she reportedly told him, “My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero,” to which replied “No, I was a Marine.”


Last Sunday, we were having lunch with Pere at the Key City Diner, and Pere remarked that he knew exactly where he was 72 years earlier on that exact day. "I was playing in the sand," he said.

That sand was the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima.

He used to tell my brothers and me that in the famous photo above:
I just located a good spot and said “Put it right here guys”, then moved on to give them cover.

He was just joshing us. He was elsewhere on the island at that time, but one time in the Smithsonian when the flag was on exhibit, he recalled how much it meant to the Marines on the front line to see that huge banner go up. It meant they would no longer need to worry about being shot in the back by snipers on the mountain. There was an earlier flag, he told us, but it was too small to see at a distance, so they put one up that no one could mistake. 

Here is a post from the Auld Blogge from a decade ago, with some updates and corrections.:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The war on science continues some more: A tale of two headlines

"California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say."  -- NYTimes Aug 2015
Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up. . . .  The paper provides new scientific support for political leaders, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who have cited human emissions and the resulting global warming as a factor in the drought.
"A Climate Change Warning for California's Dams."  -- NYTimes Feb 2017
Scientists have said for years that a warming atmosphere should lead to more intense and frequent storms in many regions. 
So the theory predicts that California will become drier and that it will become wetter. Is there nothing this theory cannot predict, at least after the fact?

The war on science continues

This study explored the gendered nature of STEM higher education institution through a feminist critical discourse analysis of STEM course syllabi from a Midwest research university. I explored STEM syllabi to understand how linguistic features such as stance and interdiscursivity are used in the syllabus and how language and discourses used in the syllabus replicate the masculine nature of STEM education. Findings suggest that the discourses identified in the syllabi reinforce traditional STEM academic roles, and that power and gender in the STEM syllabi are revealed through exploration of the themes of knowledge, learning, and the teaching and learning environment created by the language used in the syllabus. These findings inform and extend understanding of the STEM syllabus and the STEM higher education institution and lead to recommendations about how to make the STEM syllabus more inclusive for women.
 
No foolin'. People get degrees for stuff like this, complete with the pseudo-scientific jib-jab intended to make it seem as if the conclusions were dispassionately arrived at. But does anyone suppose the "researcher" approached the subject with no expectation of what the "findings" would be? 
 
Of course, the author is not in university, but in the universities School of Education, which hardly counts as such. (/snark) 
Initial exploration of the STEM syllabi in this study did not reveal overt references to gender, such as through the use of gendered pronouns. However, upon deeper review, language used in the syllabi reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging, a view of teaching that promotes the idea of a passive student, and by promoting a chilly climate that marginalizes women.
IOW, there was no actual sexism in the course syllabi, so we have to read "deeper" in order to discover it, because the author dang-well knows it got to be there.
Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.
The idea that objectivity and scientific rigor are somehow beyond the women (and minorities, we are assured) is the most insulting and sexist comment TOF sees in the paper! How the student constructs the knowledge of, say, topological function spaces or particle dynamics is left as an exercise to the reader. Well, if there's no such thing as objective truth, then Nelly bar the door.
 
What's next? Creationists get to construct their own truths about biology?  Pfui, sez TOF.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rule of Law

PROLEGOMENON. Once upon a time, TOF noted that Jerry Falwell had accused the Inquisition of killing several millions of heretics during the Middle Ages. TOF merely observed that this now-forgotten figure would have meant the slaughter of virtually the entire population of the continent, despite the Inquisition not being present in about half the countries. (There was no Inquisition for example in England, Scandinavia, most of Germany and northern France.) Falwell's figures were therefore being used as exclamation points rather than as actual historical estimates. 

The response by far too many commentators was to accuse TOF of championing and supporting the Inquisition. It was as if some who had said "No, Hitler's minions did not kill 100 million Jews as you claim; it was closer to 6 million." And the reaction would be "So! You are defending Nazism!" 

But criticism of an argument is not a defense of the matter being argued. 

Given this caution, let us continue.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fake News of the Day

NBC (and one supposes, other outlets) reports that Kellyanne Conway, apparently a flack with the current administration, committed a serious breach of ethics by endorsing a product. She is reported to have said on a TV news show, "Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!" referring to a clothing line that uses Ivanka Trump's name for marketing. Nordstrom's, which had recently dropped the line, said that their decision was a purely business decision, and this claim was repeated without being verified.

There was no mention of the vociferous boycott movement initiated late last year that targeted (among others) Nordstrom's precisely because they carried good bearing Ivanka Trump's name. http://fortune.com/20…/…/14/boycott-targets-trump-retailers/

Noting the propensity of news shows to quote only isolated sentences or even one or two words, clipped and pruned, and often distracted by graphics-in-motion on the screen, it may be useful to look at Conway's entire statement. Finding people who speak in whole paragraphs is unusual enough, since thoughts are carried in paragraphs, not in individual words, that we should treasure the occasion. TV news evidently prefers the micro-sound bite because it leaves more time for shampoo commercials and other important stuff.

In the interview, Conway said in response to Nordstrom's action:
“I do find it ironic that you have got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they have done to her and her line, and yet, they are using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump’s, you know, most prominent his daughter, using her, who has been a champion for women empowerment of women in the workplace, to get to him. I think people could see through that. Go buy Ivanka’s stuff! I hate shopping, and I will go get some myself today.”
This sounds a bit different than a product endorsement. It sounds more like a defiance of the calls to boycott someone's wares because of what someone else (her father) has said or done.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Feast of St. Thomas

Today, 28 January, is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated. Do something logical in his honor.

His feast had been set originally on 7 March, the day of his death, as is customary. But it fell within Lent too often and so was shifted in 1969 to 28 January, when his remains were removed from Naples, where he had lived, and reburied in the Church of the Jacobins, the mother church of the Dominican order. This process is known as "translation." During the Revolution, the church was vandalized by the Enlightened: the stained glass windows were smashed and the medieval murals painted over with whitewash. The building was converted into an army barracks. In the early 20th century, the building was restored bit by bit and functions now as a monument and museum. It was called the Church of the Jacobins not because the leftist armies had vandalized and occupied it, but because the Dominicans had once been headquartered in Paris on the Rue St.-Jacques.

To celebrate the day, TOF will try briefly to recap one of his famous metaphysical demonstrations in as modern a lingo as possible; to wit, the Argument from Motion.¹

Whoa, What's This?