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Jerry Lewis

[ 0 ] August 21, 2017 |

R.I.P.

His perfect performance as Jerry Langford is critical to one of my favorite movies, The King of Comedy.

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Mazda isn’t Wankeling around this time

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

2 views of cork cells from – Micrographia: or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses: with observations and inquiries thereupon, Robert Hooke, M.A., Fellow of the Royal Society, 1665

Mazda is at it again. The auto manufacturer – famous for its rotary engines – has moved on to breeding hybrid compression/spark ignition engines.

Set to debut in 2019, Skyactiv-X is Mazda’s next-generation engine that uses Spark Controlled Compression Ignition. In other words, it’s a homogenous charge compression ignition engine sometimes, but it seamlessly changes over to a regular spark-ignition engine under certain engine operating conditions.

In other words, a gasoline engine that behaves like a diesel engine. Except when it doesn’t. Dogs and cats living together can’t be far behind.

Mazda hasn’t released mileage estimates yet but it has released some numbers.

Mazda claims the engine is 20 to 30 percent more efficient than its current gas engines, and at least as efficient, if not more so, than its diesel engines.

This Skyactiv-X is part of Mazda’s goofily titled “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030” plan that includes a shift toward electric cars beginning in 2019. But Mazda knows EVs won’t dominate the market anytime soon, and this engineering breakthrough suggests the auto industry isn’t quite done improving internal combustion.

It makes sense that auto manufacturers would continue to work on cleaner, more efficient fuel burning cars. The technology for electric autos – including places to plug in the all electrics – is still very much a work in progress. Loomis has written at length about the dirty business of clean emissions.

Also, bragging rights.

On the topic of cars of the future, here is the Mercedes-Maybach 6, an all-electric 18 footer that should be spared come the revolution. Assuming they’re in production by then.

Democrats Are Doomed

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

I think it’s safe to say that when you lose 3 states by 70,000 or so votes you are pretty much permanently locked out of the Electoral College in those states:

In the 2016 presidential election, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin accounted for a combined 46 electoral votes which helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. But, how do residents of these Rust Belt states think President Trump is doing now?

In each of these states, majorities disapprove of the president’s job performance. His approval rating hovers in only the mid-thirties. In Michigan, 36% of residents statewide approve of his job performance, and 55% disapprove. In Pennsylvania, 33% approve of how President Trump is doing in his post, and 52% disapprove. Among Wisconsin residents, the president’s score is similarly upside down, 33% to 56%.

“For residents of these three critical electoral states, the reaction to the first round of the Trump presidency is decidedly negative,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Residents are clearly dissatisfied in how candidate Trump transitioned into President Trump.”

And this is with the economy in decent shape.

Still, it’s safe to say the Democrats will never win another national election again unless they adopt exactly my policy preferences and run on them in every jurisdiction.

Template Revision

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

Hey all,

Tomorrow we’ll begin shifting towards our new template.  Much will remain familiar, but a few things will change place, and the feel will be somewhat different.  In particular, we’ll be shifting the bulk of the text of the posts off the main page, leaving more open links to posts and more pictures.  This will mean (dread) that you have to click to read an entire post. We’ll also be changing the dropdown menu system quite a bit, although it may take time to get the content all filled in.

Social media linkage should work better, and some of the parts that haven’t been working lately (latest comments) should begin to work again.  All in all, the hope is that the site will be faster and easier to navigate.  We should also be able to resume importing the old comments into Disqus. The process of transition will be chaotic, of course, so we thank you for your patience. 

I predict everyone will hate it.  But please give it time!

Best,

The Management

The chief causes of TrumperTantrums: Lawyers, Mondays, uneven paint jobs, surprises, warm woolen mittens that make his hands look small…

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

People who work with the #WorstPresidentEver and reporters who write about him keep trying to find sense in the nonsense that is the abusive personality. They’re more likely to find a pony in a pile of horseshit.

For Trump, anger serves as a way to manage staff, express his displeasure or simply as an outlet that soothes him. Often, aides and advisers say, he’ll get mad at a specific staffer or broader situation, unload from the Oval Office and then three hours later act as if nothing ever occurred even if others still feel rattled by it.

Saying Slump uses anger to express displeasure circles the point but misses it. Expressing anger can be a normal response to displeasure. Expressing anger to attack people who have little or nothing to do with the cause of anger is abusive. As is being careful to attack people who can’t strike back.

Saying he uses anger to manage employees could be true, if being a dick to one’s employees was an effective management tool. It isn’t, especially when there’s no connection between the outburst and what the employees are doing.

According to people who work with him, here are some things that make the bloviating bludwurst angry:

  • He thinks someone is lying to him.
  • Negative television coverage.
  • Lawyers.
  • Being caught by surprise.
  • Criticism.
  • Someone attempts to control him.
  • He believes someone is being disloyal.
  • Monday.

Here’s how to convince an abusive egotistical liar who projects like a broken fire hydrant that you aren’t lying to him: Don’t communicate with him. In any way. At all. Ever.

That’s not an option for people around him, so every encounter must be like juggling grenades with loose pins. In the same way, there’s nothing his staff can do to prevent negative television coverage, lawyers, criticism or surprises; four things that come with the job of being president. But that doesn’t matter to the abuser. They’re there, they’re targets.

Trump has also become angry on several occasions with McGahn, sometimes for matters entirely out of his control, such as the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign, or the poorly received rollout of the president’s first immigration and travel ban. That executive order was written by Bannon and senior adviser Stephen Miller and is tied up in the courts.

Other notable targets of the president’s frustrations have included national security adviser H.R. McMaster, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and Spicer, who was often on the receiving end of profane criticisms when Trump did not approve of something as innocuous as the chyrons on the TV news shows he watched.

As an aside, a reasonable person who is driven into a rage by lawyers would arrange his life so that he doesn’t need to have contact with so many of them, numerically speaking. Perhaps by not being such a huge fucking crook. However, the lurker in the White House doesn’t do reasonable. Or intelligent. He does bluster, bigotry and bad ideas.

To say he gets angry when someone tries to control him is very vague, but vagueness is standard when a person’s goal is to lash out at other people. At any rate, it’s obvious he interprets anything less than full-throated support for the noises coming out of his face as criticism, an attempt to control him and disloyal.

The article makes it clear that the putative controller doesn’t necessarily bear the brunt of his anger.

In one stark example, the president’s dislike of being told what to do played a role in his decision to abruptly ban all transgender people from the military: a move opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, and the head of the Coast Guard, who vowed not to honor the president’s decree.

The president had grown tired of White House lawyers telling him what he could and could not do on the ban and numerous other issues such as labor regulations, said one informal White House adviser. While multiple factors were in play with the transgender ban, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by the lawyers’ calls for further study and caution, so he took it upon himself to tweet out the news of the ban, partly as a reminder to the lawyers who’s in charge, the adviser said.

Mostly as a reminder that they’re working for a total dickhole who makes no effort to control his temper. This man is not decisive, he’s impulsive. And never a nice, Let’s declare today Hug a Puppy Day impulse. It’s Let’s declare today Punch Down Forever impulses all the way.

Even though the article tries to make sense of the senseless and includes some many-sidesing about presidents with bad tempers, it contains a couple of good takeaways.

The first is that the shitty people who enable this shitty president get yelled at for no reason on a regular basis. I hope they wind up with ulcers bigger than their boss’ big ugly denture hole.

The second is that anyone who wants to oppose the DOPUS should take advantage of his easily pressed buttons. To quote a book Racist Bannon and Dr. Seb Gorka, PhD both claim they’ve read “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.”

With tRump, that’s as easy as breathing.

The World’s Most [Your Descriptor Here] Mansion

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

As some of you know, I am fascinated by the places people live. Weird, humble abodes and houses with bowling alleys in them. More modern, “classy” monuments to wealth. I love it all. In that spirit, please enjoy this tour of the world’s Trumpiest, weirdest mansion.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 130

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

This is the grave of LeRoy Neiman.

Born in 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Neiman had a rough upbringing. His father walked out when he was young. His mother married and divorced and then married again. He joined the Army in World War II. Already a talented artist, when he returned, he attended the St. Paul School of Art and then used the GI Bill to attend The Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduating, he was instantly hired by The Art Institute and taught there for a decade. He put his art in competition and won prizes. He got to know Hugh Hefner, who is somehow still alive, and his work began appearing in Playboy in 1954, which I understand is why most people began reading the magazine. But what made Neiman famous was his paintings of sporting events. He became perhaps the first major painter to focus on American sports and painted boxing matches, the Olympics, the NFL, and many other sporting events. Here are a couple of examples.

It’s possible this is the greatest relevance a Jets-Dolphins game has ever had.

Here’s a painting of Muhammad Ali.

And here’s the Opening Ceremonies for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, an event which LA is unfortunate enough to have to repeat in 2028.

He made a lot of money on these works. He used a good bit of it to support poor kids who wanted to be artists, remembering his own past. Neiman worked until the end of his life in 2010, when he died of a heart problem.

LeRoy Neiman is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

This Day in Labor History: August 20, 1976

[ 0 ] August 20, 2017 |

On August 20, 1976, the Grunwick Strike began. This strike showed the potential of the British trade union movement to embrace immigrant workers for the first time, but its defeat was a critical moment in the rise of the vociferously anti-union Margaret Thatcher and began the decline of the British labor movement that would suffer so much in the 1980s.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Great Britain saw a major influx of immigration from people of South Asian origin. However, they were often not moving directly from Pakistan and India, but rather, were the descendants of previous migrants to Africa, where they were no longer welcome after Britain’s African colonies gained independence. Idi Amin in Uganda was perhaps the most notorious instigator of violence against south Asians, but there was a good reason that they left throughout the ex-British colonies. Many came to Great Britain, providing employers a cheap, exploitable labor force. One of those employers was Grunwick film processing factory in Dollis Hill, northwest London. It targeted these Asian migrants, in this case largely Gujarati Indians, because it could work them hard, pay them little, and intimidate them in a way they could not with highly unionized native-born English workers. The pay averaged 28 pounds a week, when the average wage for the nation’s workers was 72 pounds and for female manual laborers in London, 44 pounds. Grunwick would turn away white applicants, telling them they couldn’t pay them enough. Moreover, it would do this in front of the Indian workers, which they considered an enormous insult to their dignity. It was also a very hot summer in Britain and the lack of air conditioning made the work miserable. Jayaben Desai remembered the atmosphere of intimidation:

They had made the rule that you had to get permission from the managers to go to the toilet. This woman said to me that she felt ashamed to ask. I said, When he has no shame making you ask loudly, why should you feel ashamed?

Desai became a leader against these embarrassments and the total control over their lives by Grunwick. On August 20, 1976, she led her fellow workers off the job and into the streets. This began when a male worker was fired for laboring too slowly. His fellow workers protested and when the sacked worker was not reinstated, things escalated quickly. They were not particularly well organized and unconnected to a union. But that quickly changed when they joined the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff (APEX). This was somewhat ironic because APEX had a reputation as perhaps the lamest, most conservative, and most anti-communist union in the nation. The strike started with just 6 workers, including Desai. After they got APEX support, 50 more workers walked out and the strike was on for real. The demand became union recognition. Meanwhile, Grunwick fired all of strikers, giving them nothing left to lose.

This small action soon gained support across Britain. The cause of these workers inspired other workers and other unions. This was important for both the Grunwick workers and the larger labor movement. The British unions, much like their American cousins, were considered hotbeds of anti-immigrant sentiment and unfriendly to the new immigrants. Previous immigrant led strikes in the early 70s had not created solidarity from the British trade movement. The Grunwick actions helped break down those barriers. By June 1977, up to 20,000 people a day were marching to support the Grunwick workers. Three Cabinet ministers joined the picket line as well. The Union of Postal Workers refused to deliver mail to Grunwick. This was enormously important because it crippled the business operations of Grunwick, in which people sent their photos by mail to the factory for development. This nearly destroyed the business entirely and it significantly raised the politicization of the strike, as the local Tory member of Parliament wanted to charge the postal union with violating the Post Office Act of 1953, which made it a misdemeanor to refuse to deliver the mail. The Mineworkers under powerful labor leader Arthur Scargill bused in supporters. Fights broke out between the strike’s supporters (not so much the strikers themselves as they were mostly Indian women) and the police, who were dressed in riot gear. Over 500 people were arrested in these actions.

The strike also galvanized the Tories and in particular helped lead to Margaret Thatcher’s rise. Thatcher urged Grunwick owner George Ward personally to resist the strike. He needed little help, having previously busted an attempt to unionize his shop in 1973. She hated Scargill and with the British economy tottering in the mid 70s (as was happening in the U.S.) and the overall sense of weakness from the Callaghan-led Labour government (also indicative of the Carter government about to begin across the pond), Thatcher used what was initially a small strike of oppressed immigrant workers to raise her standing nationally. Callaghan’s government created the Scarman Inquiry to suggest a solution to this strike. It urged union recognition and the reinstatement of the fired workers. But with significant support from the Tories and from the right-wing National Association for Freedom, the employer refused.

All of this made the strike much more than about a few Indian immigrant workers and a relatively small factory. The strike became about the makeup of the British working class in the late 20th century, the ability of unions to expand the welfare state they had helped create after World War II, employers’ right to hire and fire who they chose, and the sheer nature of power in that nation. This was a battle for control of the nation.

In the face of this resistance, the strike eventually failed. For Thatcher, it helped make her argument that she could bust British unions. After 23 months, the workers could fight no more. Its most successful legacy was in bridging the anti-immigrant divide that by the mid-70s had led to the murder of Sikhs and the rise of xenophobic political parties. But it also helped pave the way for Thatcher’s decimation of the British labor movement after they won the 1979 general election.

This is the 234th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

Dick Gregory, RIP

[ 0 ] August 19, 2017 |

The great Dick Gregory, one of the most amazing living Americans, has died. Gregory was both a pioneering comedian who influenced people such as Richard Pryor and someone who was at the front lines of civil rights and racial justice for decades.

More than a comedian, Mr. Gregory was driven by an unwavering commitment to front-line activism. He marched in Selma, Ala., was jailed in Birmingham, Ala., was shot in the leg during the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, and had counted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X — all slain campaigning for their cause — among his confidants. At one protest, Mr. Gregory said, his pregnant wife was kicked in the stomach by a white sheriff.

Mr. Gregory’s entertainment career increasingly took a back seat to his activism.

Protesting de facto school segregation, Mr. Gregory led a march in 1965 from Chicago’s City Hall to the home of Mayor Richard J. Daley. He and several dozen peaceful protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct — they had refused to obey police orders to disperse, and hundreds of hecklers began pelting them with rocks and eggs.

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed those convictions, saying there was no evidence they were responsible for the violence.

Amid that legal case, Mr. Gregory ran for mayor against Daley in 1967 and for U.S. president in 1968 as a write-in candidate with the left-wing Freedom and Peace Party, campaigning against what he saw as rampant political corruption in the two major parties.

Mr. Gregory said he was appalled that the Democratic Party would host its national convention that year in Chicago, a city where black demonstrators were regularly brutalized by the police. The convention drew a large contingent of white anti-Vietnam protesters, and the outbreak of violence that ensued prompted Mr. Gregory to take mordant glee in the melee.

“I was at home watching it on TV, and I fell on the floor and laughed,” he told GQ magazine in 2008. “My wife said, ‘What’s funny?’ And I said, ‘The whole world is gonna change. White folks are gonna see white folks beating white folks.’ ”

I’ve long felt that Gregory was never remembered publicly as the absolutely critical figure he was during the 1960s. Given that he was still alive, I was always surprised there was not more of a conscious attempt to raise his standing as one of the last living civil rights movement heroes. It’s not as if he disappeared. He was still giving talks until the end and had to postpone an upcoming Atlanta gig because of his illness that did him in. On the other hand, his embrace of conspiracy theories perhaps made him a bit of a tough sell in the present.

Anyway, Gregory is a great loss. Not too many of the leaders from the 1960s era civil rights movement left, outside of the aging SNCC core.

Mar-a-Nogo

[ 0 ] August 19, 2017 |

“For weddings, galas and private parties, The Mar-a-Lago Club is beyond compare.” The same could be said of a sewage treatment plant, but whevs.

Here’s a list. What do these organizations have in common?

  • The Red Cross.
  • The Salvation Army.
  • Susan G. Komen.
  • The Palm Beach Preservation Foundation.
  • The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation.
  • Cleveland Clinic.
  • The American Cancer Society.
  • American Friends of Magen David Adom.

They have all canceled events at Boobla Con’s sleazy pleasure dome in Palm Beach.

Three major national organizations — The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen foundation — and one local charity all said Friday they were canceling events at the Palm Beach resort.

That came after three charities and organizations made similar announcements on Thursday.

The cancellations follow the spectacular implosion of Trump’s business councils this week over the president’s insistence that counter-protesters shared the blame for violence at a white nationalist rally.

Stand by for a tRumpTweet announcing that he has dozens of groups waiting to take their place.

Followed by an announcement that he has cancelled all events at Mar-a-Lago. #MAGA.

While a couple of organizations that decided to pull their business from Mar-a-Lago did not cite a reason, most named the current political climate as the reason for the move.

Current political climate serves as a euphemism for That lurid fascist fuck in the White House.

In a letter to staff Friday, chief executive Gail McGovern said, “The Red Cross provides assistance without discrimination to all people in need — regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or political opinions — and we must be clear and unequivocal in our defense of that principle.”.

[…]

Some of the club’s most notable local boosters, with long fundraising histories and deep Palm Beach roots, were also in outright rebellion Friday against the club. Lois Pope, a Mar-a-Lago member and philanthropist who heads the Lois Pope Life Foundation and Leaders In Furthering Education, said she had told her foundation’s board to move its well-known December gala from the club.

“The hatred, vitriol and anti-Semitic and racist views being spewed by neo-Nazis and white supremacists are repugnant and repulsive — and they are antithetical to everything that this country, and I personally stand for,” LIFE President Lois Pope said in a statement. “And anyone who would demonstrate even a modicum of support for them by insisting that there are ‘good people’ among them is not deserving of my personal patronage or that of my foundations.”

Big mouth strikes again, oh ho.

The Washington Post delved into the financial impact, and included a possible scenario that is sure to enrage the Confederate-in-Chief.

Those losses could reduce the club’s revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars by each event, and deny President Trump his dual role as president and host to the island’s partying elite. If he returns to the club for weekends next winter, the president could often find its grand ballrooms quiet and empty.

And when he sticks his head around the door, the cleaning crew all stop what they’re doing and stare at him until he goes away.

Trump’s club earned between $100,000 and $275,000 each from similar-sized events in the past.

But the cancellations also reveal a widening vulnerability for Trump, who, unlike past presidents, refused to divest from his business interests when he joined the White House.

I don’t think he’ll bloviate his way into insolvency. For all I know he’s already there. However, there’s no such thing as too much rejection where tRump is concerned.

Treason in Defense of Slavery Statue Problem Solved!

[ 0 ] August 19, 2017 |

Now this my friends is what you do with statues of horrible people who oppressed and killed others.

Himmlerian Slip

[ 0 ] August 19, 2017 |

Today, the fine people of Boston overwhelmed a Nazi rally. The President of the United States has some thoughts on the subject he wishes to share:

Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America.

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