Thanks, Coach

RNC/Geezer robocall in Va., today: “Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats aren’t who you think they are.

Newly hired Geezer hack Dennis Green, press conference, Phoenix, Nov. 5: “They are who we thought they were! And we let ’em off the hook!

If the shifting nature of the Geezer campaign holds, this must happen.


Breaking/Brit Hume to give up anchor position after election, per Air America, NYDN.

@redmanlaw: I hope Fox News implodes. And O’Reilly’s head a-splodes.

Breaking hard

Chicago as good as confirmed for Obamapalooza election-night party celebration!

Get your plane tickets, Stinquers! I’m sure between Homofascist, Be Right Back, and myself (noble Chicago Bureau will be off trying to prevent fraud in a swing state, alas), we can find couch/floor space for everybody. P.S. Pack a scarf.

@redmanlaw: Brit who? Call me when Ailes retires.

@flippin eck: Got Text? We’ll have an Election Night open thread, and I’d love to include reports from the scene.

(Email even better, if somebody has a Crackberry or iPhone. Saves me the retyping…)

/Long TJ:
While much of the attention has been on the Presidential election, Congressional races, and an assortment of state ballot initiatives, I almost forgot that we voters here in San Francisco have an assortment of city-wide ballot initiatives. In addition to voting on the decriminalization of prostitution, the annual sense of the voters proposition condemning the war in Iraq, this year we have a ballot initiative that would rename the City’s sewage treatment plant after George W. Bush. I was flipping through the election guide, and the arguments for and against are so funny I wanted to share them with you. My favorite is the haiku at the end:

Proponents’ argument in favor of proposition R
Just as France presented the Statue of Liberty as its gift to the
nation, the citizens of San Francisco may now bestow their own
special gift to the country by renaming our award winning waste
water treatment plant in honor of outgoing President George W
Bush. We think this is a fitting memorial for a truly outstanding
Commander-in-Chief. On matters ranging from diplomacy to fiscal
and environmental stewardship, no other President has had
such a dramatic impact on the country and the Constitution in
such a short time. Most presidents wait years or decades to receive
their memorial airport or highway. We think President Bush
deserves immediate recognition for his eight years of public service.
Critics of this measure point out that the initiative unfairly
maligns the talented and hard working staff at the award-winning
plant or that it memorializes an administration best forgotten. To
this we simply say that those who forget history are condemned to
repeat it. President Bush has left us with a gigantic mess, and that
this facility symbolizes the city’s deft ability to clean up its share
of the financial and diplomatic mess left in this administration’s
wake. It will also become the world’s first presidential sewage
plant, a potential tourist attraction, and therefore an opportunity
for the dedicated plant workers to educate visitors about this
essential and heretofore unknown public works. This measure will
have a minimal fiscal impact and may increase tourist traffic to
the plant, Zoo, and nearby attractions in southwest San Francisco,
creating yet another quirky must-see destination along with our
cable cars, Haight St, and Beach Blanket Babylon.
Fellow San Franciscans, we urge you to vote Oui! On November

Brian McConnell
Chairman, Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco

Opponents’ argument against proposition R
As of this writing, 4139 servicemen and women have been
killed since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The number of Iraqis
who have been killed as a result of the invasion and occupation of
their country cannot be measured. The proponents of this measure
may consider the Bush Administration to be a joke. However, the
consequences of the decision to invade are not a laughing matter
for families of those who have died during the past five years.
This measure, whatever its intentions, disrespects them.
I agree that the invasion of Iraq is the worst foreign policy blunder
in the history of the US. I also agree that Bush has been the
most ignorant man to ever occupy the office of President. To call
him the worst President since Warren Harding is to insult the
memory of Harding, who at least did not enter this country into
any unnecessary wars.
Moreover, the federal debt at the end of this Administration
totals over $9 trillion, not including the recent guarantees extended
to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose liabilities may constitute
an additional $5 trillion to be paid by the U.S. taxpayer. Aside
from Iraq, Bush’s legacy will be the addition of a prescription
drug benefit of at least $1.2 trillion without any mechanism for
funding the new Medicare entitlement. Bush’s minions had specifically
ordered the civil service from disclosing the true cost of
the benefit from Congress before it had been voted upon. Maybe
it would be more appropriate to name the local bankruptcy court
or a consumer credit counseling center after Bush?

Besides, if we name the local sewage plant after Bush, then
what’s left to name after Jesse Helms?

Colin V. Gallagher

Rebuttal to opponent’s argument against proposition R
Fellow citizens, Mr. Gallagher’s opposing argument does as
good a job as any we’ve heard at highlighting why George W.
Bush deserves this unique civic tribute. Since we can’t say it better
ourselves we’ll share this haiku, submitted by one of the many
supporters of this effort from San Francisco, around the country
and abroad:
Need Bush memor’l?
Sewage plant available
How appropriate

Brian McConnell, Chairman
Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco

Deep breaths, stinquers. It ain’t over until the fat lady singshockey mom concedes.

@redmanlaw: He’ll keep it warm until Palin, under threat of impeachment in Wasilla, Juneau Anchorage, is available for the job. What could be more perfect for America’s Oh Golly Sweetheart?

They’ve added something new to

See if you can find it. It has to do with last night’s debate.

@flippin eck: CBS 2’s slide show of Republican celebs confirms it: their celebs suck so much harder.

@SanFranLefty: You may have to remind me as we near Fat Tuesday, but I think that’s a vote we need to follow.

I’m not exactly sure yet how Stinque Team Coverage is going to work — I won’t be liveblogging as such, but Notable Developments should be highlighted above the text-that-indicates-the-time-the-post-was-published. I forget what that’s called.

@SanFranLefty: I love your city and people who don’t take themselves too seriously!

@JNOV: Especially inserting a haiku at the end of an official guv’mint document that’s not a Court of Appeals or SCOTUS opinion, for which they’ve inserted some weird shit in the footnotes.

@nojo: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that JNOV wants to ask if we would be able to post pictures on e-night.

It could be a kind of rogues gallery, a Stinque Pot if you will of stinquers and their associates near and abroad as the returns come in. Posed artfully behind cardboard cutouts of our avatars, of course.

Maybe a flickr album we can all send to?

@nabisco: Hmmmm…I might be actually willing to come out publicly to celebrate a Unicorn win. We’d have to scrub all connections to my carazee person blog, though. That’s the only thing that keeps me anonymous.

@nabisco: Why, Silent Creative Partner and I were discussing that just last night…

He’s recommending Picasa, although flickr or any similar service might work just as well. My main concern is balkanizing conversation — I don’t want to send folks off-site to play, and I’m not comfy about umpteen comment threads attached to umpteen photos. (I can be convinced otherwise in both cases, depending upon the Mood of the Mob.)

What I have in mind is some kind of slideshow that can be embedded within a post, same as YouTube videos and such. So, I set up a Picasa or flickr album that Stinquers can post to, then use some whizbang coding to present that album as a post here.

There may be a WordPress plug-in or something that already provides this — I need to do some geek scouting. I do like the idea, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to make it work for us.

flippin eck: Yeah. I will not be in Chicago when the Hope-In occurs. I has a sad.

But, Madison might not be a horrible place to ring in the new Change — should that come to pass which is by no means guaranteed and no I am not banking on a victory for Hopey nabisco why do you think I am going to Wisconsin on Election Day even though the polls say Black Eagle is up by 17 points or something outrageous like that no I’m not being defensive stop looking at me like that.

@nojo: Great. a whole slideshow of drunks mooning the camera. I’m so up for it.

@nojo: By all means keep things hooked up to the Mothership. And I like Picasa, who’s never called an assha (at least not in New York).

@chicago bureau: The robocall post got me thinking mopey thoughts about South Carolina, black babies, and epic fails. Sorry.

@nabisco: Do it now! Right now, you fascist!
I was listening to Helen of Troy just the other day. I’d forgotten that not only Cale and Eno and Chris Spedding were on it, but Phil Collins played drums! Oh, and “Pablo Picasso” was written by Jonathan Richman, which I’d also forgotten. I’m a forgetful sort.

@nojo: What was the nifty feature that MW/String Bikini Theory and I used to send in all of our cell phone photos of the Olympic Torch protest a few months ago? That worked alright – we sent the photos to the holding pod blog and then the CP overlords picked the best photos to feature on the main blog.

@SanFranLefty: I do that with Blogger — esp since I write most of my posts on the train home (hence all of the pictures from the station and the train ads). You can add text under the picture — only problem is that the text shows up teeny tiny, and I haven’t figured out how to default the text size to something larger. (These old eyes.)

I don’t know if WordPress allows nojo to give permissions for cell-phone posts. Does it, nojo?

@SanFranLefty: I wasn’t paying attention to the mechanics back then, so I’m not sure what they used. But I’d prefer something that doesn’t require editorial intervention, since I suspect things will be busy enough that night…

@JNOV: Google owns both Blogger and Picasa, and they’ve been working on tight integration between the two.

WordPress does permit cell-phone posts — actually, via email — but I haven’t turned that on here. I don’t want a series of posts, but updates to a single post. (There may also be an iPhone thingy available, but that doesn’t help the Crackberry crowd.)

I’m sure there’s something out there that does what I want. I just need to look into it.

@flippin eck:

What is this “scarf” you speak of? It is similar to the apocryphal “snow” and “ice” myth that Midwesterners insist upon spreading amongst the general public? Why, next you’ll be telling me it gets below 72 degrees!

I’m thinking of going down to Laguna Beach tomorrow instead of work. Who’s with me?

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: Oh, Laguna. I like Dana Point.

Here’s the kind of asshole I am. When I think of Laguna, I think of San Juan Capistrano for some reason. Which makes me think of the CA mission system. Which makes me think of the Indians that were enslaved at those missions.

I loved visiting the missions, even the ones that are little more than foundations in the dirt. Jr and I drove up and down the CA coast so often, just for the hell of it, that we often pulled over when we saw one of those brown bear signs denoting a historic landmark.

So, we used to go to the missions and take the tours and see the magnificent graveyards, and I always asked the poor docents where the Indians were buried. “Huh? Wha?” “Yeah, the Indians that slaved at the missions. Where are they buried?” Once in a while one would know that they were buried in unmarked graves on the edge of the graveyard or maybe the wooden crosses that marked there graves had eroded.

Dear CA Mission Docents,

I apologize. I was an angry bitter person. I’m still an angry bitter person, but I know it’s not your fault there’s no mention of the people who cleaned and washed and toiled for the priests. A nice marker would do, but I know it’s not your call. And I’m sorry for being an unruly tourist.



I like Fashion Island. So fabulous, so bougie.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: I didn’t know Laguna Pueblo> had a beach.

@JNOV: Mrs RML signed us up for the church landscaping committee. Our work one Saturday was to clean the priest’s yard. I was on my knees pulling weeds when I told her “I thought we fought a war over this shit (referring to the Pueblo Revolt which was a reaction to repression and exploitation of the Indians by Spanish settlers and by the Catholic Church).”

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: I am ashamed to admit that I’ve never been there. But one of my fondest memories is watching my kid and his friend play in the surf (wearing wetsuits) at Morro Bay. We’ve camped at almost every site from SF south. We especially liked Pfieffer Big Sur and Big Basin (oldest CA park). San Simeon was dry camping, and I don’t do well without flush toilets and showers. Jr thought we were just having fun and didn’t realize that these were the only vacations I could give him because we were so broke.

Oh, and when we moved from East Coast to West, we camped along the way. Most memorable were the Black Hills (Paha Sapa) and Yellowstone. Lurve! I also kind of made a scene in the Mt Rushmore gift shop — something about buying stuff depicting Indians that weren’t made by Indians and that no Park Service employees were Indian. I was lecturing Jr on why he couldn’t buy a dreamcatcher, and others silently started backing away and putting their faux Indian stuff back on the shelves. Once again — not diagnosed yet!


Dreamcatchers aren’t really an authentic American Indian gee-gaw? That really makes me sad, it’s such a cool idea.


@drinkyclown: Congratulations for outgeeking me on the puns.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: These weren’t made by Indians — that was my problem.

@Ewalda: And Jonathan Richman also wrote “Roadrunner”, which was produced by John Cale. Easy to forget these things.

@JNOV: I took my anger and bitterness, and really, my despair to my blog.

@nabisco: And Jonathan repudiated the Cale sound with “Have You Ever Been to Bermuda,” and he is my hero. Today on the trade show floor I was banking left and right and flying around the floor singing “I’m a little Airplane.” I really was. People just refuse to acknowledge it, its fun. Jonathan is a grown up guy who has completely retained the joy and wonder of childhood, and he is an inspiration to me. I love Jonathan. You cannot be angry and bitter if you listen to “I was dancing in the lesbian bar,” Give Paris one more chance,” Dancing late at night,” and “Les Etoilles.”

@Promnight: Acknowledge my airplane! Or my wings! My flight?

Last time I was in Chicago, I picked up a prostitute, only time in my life I ever did so, in the hotel bar, during a party of my wife’s professional association, I just thought she was a friendly, interesting woman, it was the day of the marathon, and she claimed she had run the marathon, and that she was a physician, a surgeon, at a hospital there in Chicago, I was so impressed, I said, “You’ve got to come meet my friends,” and brought her back to our table, industry attorneys and State regulators. Then the Hotel security people came and removed her, I was famous, am famous, for that one.

@drinkyclown: Careful. My alter ego Kurt Godel knew Turing. Not in the biblical sense, I think. In fact, Godel was so weird I’m not sure he believed that minds other than his existed.

@JNOV: Absolutely right, in the end, its “acknowledge my refusal to take you seriously if you insist on being serious.” Life should be a laugh.@Dodgerblue: Didn’t Godel prove that the human mind (actually, any logical system) is incapable of comprehending all that is? That comforts me. Whoever it was that proved that, anyway.

Forgive my outpouring of nonsense, I have just had to spend 60-plus hours with noone for company but my Dunder-Mifflin colleagues, I actually tried to get them to make a name tag for me that said I was with Dunder-Mifflin, they didn’t get it. Rubes, sweet, sincere, simple rubes.

@Promnight: He proved that no formal system of mathematics can be both complete (allowing proof of all propositions that are true given the rules of the system) and consistent (not having any contradictions). He used a very clever version of the Russell paradox, which itself is a version of the liar’s paradox, or the statement “this statement is false.” With this one proof, Godel destroyed the life’s work of many logicians who were working on the foundations of mathematics. Some people think that when you combine his result with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, this means that no one can know shit. I think Wittgenstein said something like that, but I could never really get a handle on him.

Turn on MSNBC – Obama is totally hitting the jokes at the Smith dinner. He just said, “Barack is Swahili for ‘that one'” – the crowd howled – even McCain laughed.

@Dodgerblue: I have read descriptions of Godel’s theorem as implying that logic, consciousness, can never therefore accurately describe, comprehend, everything that is, that there will be true statements that nevertheless are not consistent with the logical system.

You see, I like a little mystery in life. I like the idea that there are truths that transcend comprehending and understanding, truths that are unknowable. I am very put off by the fundamentalist atheist types who worship logic as illogically as theists worship their god. What arrogance to think a little brain weighing a couple of pounds has an operating system that can take in and comprehend every truth out there in an infinite universe (yeah, physicists say its finite, but thats just this universe, and it has to be somewhere, so there has to be an outside and an inside to it, and they confine their studies largely to the inside, what is observable). No bag of chemicals and electrochemicals has the godlike powers some ascribe to it.

In short, we are all idiots on this bus.

@Promnight: Indeed, and too bad more don’t realize that. If they did, wouldn’t all types of fundamentalism go away? Or is that just another dream.

@Dodgerblue: Previous communications by Nojo lead me to believe that although I have not read further in this thread than your comment here, we will soon be hearing from Nojo on this weighty matter. You mentioned Wittgenstein, you see. I am looking forward to hearing what N has to say re Witt.

While I am at it, in my state of joy at being back amongst the only people on earth who seem to understand me, I should mention that I have figured out the cause of the economic crisis. It is, in short, the separation of risk from reward. Economics, at its core, assumes risk and reward are inextricably tied, people take risks, only because they have a promise of corresponding reward, people act in risk averse ways, because there is a different calculation of risk and reward.

The concept of the corporation has for a long time been headed down that track, upper level corporate management has managed to completely divorce their rewards from their performance. Which means they are free to take risks without consequence, they get their reward regardless, its the shareholders who suffer the risk, management only gets rewards.

The system of lending which relies on brokers who initiate credit transactions and then pass them on, divorces risk from reward. A mortgage broker, a loan broker, has no personal risk, they reap the up-front profit on a transaction,then sell the loan, and the long term risk is off their shoulders, its on the investors who buy the loans, or the bundled loans sold as securities. The broker has divorced himself from the risk, and has no personal stake in ensuring the creditworthiness of the borrower, another way of saying they are free from having to consider the risk, only the reward. Of course they are going to play fast and loose, theirs is a game with no consequences for bad decisions.

The more and more sophisticated methods of divorcing risk from reward, the credit default swaps, the bundling and reselling of the bad loans, are just means invented by clever MBAs to further divorce risk from reward, so that the bigger players, those who buy the bad loans from the loan brokers, can continue to pass the risk on while reaping short term profit.

This was the ultimate mistake of GLB, allowing lending and investment to mix. When lenders were lending their own money, they calculated the risk and weighed it against reward, and were careful, prudent, they acted in a way that makes sense, economically.

Once risk and reward are severed, corruption and a shitstorm are inevitable.

Thats what I think.

@Promnight: I thought “Corporations” was the funniest class in law school, in the sense of being completely out of touch with the real world. I took “Law and Economics” from a libertarian wacko and we just fought the whole quarter.

@lynnlightfoot: I look forward to his post. At UCLA, where I was an undergrad, the philos dept thought that the history of philos stopped with the British analytical philosophers. Witt was viewed as a dangerous, unreadable bombthrower, so what little I know about him, I’ve tried to pick up on my own.

@Dodgerblue: Well, you’ve got Early Wittgenstein, who constructed a wildly elaborate theory on the relationship of language to the world, and Late Wittenstein, who decided such attempts were fundamentally misguided.

Both Wittgensteins are all but opaque without a Spirit Guide to accompany you on your initial journey. It’s all the philosophical equivalent of inside jokes.

Later Wittengstein — Philosophical Investigations, On Certainty, and so on — didn’t construct theories. Instead he tried to look at and explain language as it is, and as it works, and why many philosophical “problems” involving language aren’t really problems at all, but misunderstandings. His admonition: “Don’t think, but look.”

Can people know things? Sure. Can people know them with certainty? You bet. But to say that, you can’t go redefining “knowledge” and “certainty” beyond recognition. Language is what it is, and philosophers and logicians cheat when they try to make it something it isn’t.

@Promnight: I can’t speak to Godel, but it was Kant who decided that we can’t possibly know the world as it is, only as we are capable of perceiving it. To which Early Wittgenstein responded, in effect, what other world is there?

@lynnlightfoot: My iPhone buzzes whenever Wittgenstein is mentioned.

@Dodgerblue: I did, and do, have a deep resistance to the idea that typing up and signing some papers alters the nature of reality. I give seminars on regulatory compliance. I tell them “you must produce these documents, they must say this.” If you produce the required document, with the requisite magical incantations, you are “in compliance,” if you don’t, you are not. They ask me about reality, and say, ‘what if, despite the existence of the magic document, the real world situation that the document was supposed to guarantee the nonexistence of, does in fact still exist?” I say, “you do not get it. The document is reality. Its like when the Wizard of Oz gave a diploma to the scarecrow, that established that the scarecrow was smart, had a brain. It is not for you to delve into the metaphysics of whether the scarecrow has a brain, the scarecrow has a diploma, and therefore, under the regulation, the scarecrow has a brain.”

The smart ones give me very odd looks. But the other 99% are perfectly happy with the idea that the paperwork does indeed establish what is reality. Who am I to fight this?

@lynnlightfoot: Everything eventually turns into a Wittgenstein discussion, doesn’t it?

@Promnight: And thus, “legal fiction.” Later Wittgenstein would agree with 99 percent of your students. Paperwork is a language unto itself.

@Mistress Cynica: The world is a nail, and Wittgenstein is my hammer.

By the way, I’ve always thought that Wittgenstein and Mencken were complementary. Mencken was anything but an academic philosopher, but his take was that American English has its own internal grammar and logic that can’t be understood by applying British and Latinate rules to it. He probably would have hated Ebonics, but what he says warns us against mistaking dialect for error.

@Promnight: Okay, one more before I start boring even myself…

Bureaucratic paperwork and standardized tests are examples of what Wittgenstein would call “language games”, things have have their own internal logic but no essential relationship to the world, and certainly no metaphysical import. There are right and wrong ways to play those games, insofar as the games have their own implicit rules. But don’t go fooling yourself that they carry any weight beyond that.

It’s not that paperwork “establishes” reality. It’s that paperwork has nothing to do with reality. Your 99 percent are a lot closer to the truth than the 1 percent.

@nojo: Mencken was a confirmed elitist, and I think you overstate the democratic implications of his ideas on language. He just had a resistance to british elitists second-guessing his own elitism. All modern grammarians reject the old effort to apply latin grammar to english, and that consensus is older than Mencken.

But you know the funny thing? I think, despite the fact that latin grammar does not work when applied to english, the attempt to do so, and the learning of latin grammar, produced better english. By the same mechanism that learning a foreign language, any foreign language, and learning a different grammar, gives one a better understanding of english grammar than you could ever have otherwise.

English is a fun language, parse some of david Foster wallace’s sentences, with the endless parentheticals, there’s no way to systematize the way it works, but in the end, I think he wrote the way people think, with double tracks and different ideas embedded in other ideas and diverging and converging ideas, and his genius was to make internal monologue make sense, its like he let you inside his head, to see the thoughts he had about the way to express the thoughts he had as a method of better expressing the thoughts he had. Thats just fun.

@Promnight: I have no problem abusing Mencken for my own purposes. FDR really brought out the crank in him — I have a full run of American Mercury, and it’s sad to watch — but there’s much about 1920s Mencken to appreciate. And whether the Schoolmarm Consensus preceded him or not, he approaches the subject as a working journalist — someone who uses language for a living — and not as a grammarian.

Nor do I have a problem with Standard English, a special dialect that’s very useful in public life — the modern equivalent of a “trade language”, something that keeps us all on the same page. I won’t say it’s “better” in a given case, but in many cases it’s more appropriate.

Foster’s outside my range, but Faulkner certainly knew how to run a sentence like a mile-long train. And I don’t recall now where I learned the mechanics of language, but once I did, writing got a lot more fun.

@nojo: Oh, I am not telling them the fiction is not “real,” its a very real fiction. Thats why they have to give the scarecrow the diploma, and thats what I teach them to do, give the scarecrow the diploma. I am all about real, and in the real world they have to play the game. The 99% unable to seperate the fiction from the reality do not agree with wittgenstein, they can’t comprehend its a game, they think its really real. What is necessary is to understand its a game, but that the game is real, even if artificial. Thats what the ones who look at me strangely are sensing.

I tell them, if your papers are in order, noone will look beyond to the reality. They keep asking me, but how do I make sure the reality corresponds to the reality, and there is the disconnect, they can’t understand that reality is irrelevant. Dumb ones are not troubled, they see no difference between the game and reality. The smart ones, they are troubled, because their sincerity makes it hard for them to accept that the game takes precedence over reality, being a real game.

I really just want to make people fantastic food, art that is consumed in the act of its appreciation, and makes people happy, on a physical, hunger needs are met level, and on a higher, I am seeing some beauty in the world in simple things like food, level. Appreciation for the simple act of taking nourishment, encouraging mindfulness of simple pleasures, so much more fun than teaching people to play a game.

Portrait of an Ideal World
HL Mencken

That alcohol in dilute aqueous solution, when taken into the human organism, acts as a depressant, not a stimulant, is now so much a commonplace of knowledge that even the more advanced varieties of physiologists are beginning to be aware of it. The intelligent layman no longer resorts to the jug when he has important business before him, whether intellectual or manual; he resorts to it after his business is done, and he desires to release his taut nerves and reduce the steam-pressure in his spleen. Alcohol, so to speak, unwinds us. It raises the threshold of sensation and makes us less sensitive to external stimuli, and particularly to those that are unpleasant. Putting a brake upon all the qualities which enable us to get on in the world and shine before our fellows – for example, combativeness, shrewdness, diligence, ambition-, it releases the qualities which mellow us and make our fellows love us – for example, amiability, generosity, toleration, humor, sympathy. A man who has taken aboard two or three cocktails is less competent than he was before to steer a battleship down the Ambrose Channel, or to cut off a leg, or to draw up a deed of trust, or to conduct Bach’s B minor mass, but he is immensely more competent to entertain a dinner party, to admire a pretty girl, or to hear Bach’s B minor mass. The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the charming and exhilarating things, are best done by men with, as the phrase is, a few sheets in the wind. Pithecanthropus erectus was a teetotaler, but the angels, you may be sure, know what is proper at 5 p.m.

All this is so obvious that I marvel that no utopian has ever proposed to abolish all the sorrows of the world by the simple device of getting and keeping the whole human race gently stewed. I do not say drunk, remember; I say simply gently stewed – and apologize, as in duty bound, for not knowing how to describe the state in a more seemly phrase. The man who is in it is a man who has put all of his best qualities into his showcase. He is not only immensely more amiable than the cold sober man; he is immeasurably more decent. He reacts to all situations in an expansive, generous and humane manner. He has become more liberal, more tolerant, more kind. He is a better citizen, husband, father, friend. The enterprises that make human life on this earth uncomfortable and unsafe are never launched by such men. They are not makers of wars; they do not rob and oppress anyone. All the great villainies of history have been perpetrated by sober men, and chiefly by teetotalers. But all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs to terrapin à la Maryland, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from well water to something with color to it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.

I am well aware, of course, that getting the whole human race stewed and keeping it stewed, year in and year out, would present formidable technical difficulties. It would be hard to make the daily dose of each individual conform exactly to his private needs, and hard to get it to him at precisely the right time. On the one hand there would be the constant danger that large minorities might occasionally become cold sober, and so start wars, theological disputes, moral reforms, and other such unpleasantnesses. On the other hand, there would be danger that other minorities might proceed to actual intoxication, and so annoy us all with their fatuous bawling or maudlin tears. But such technical obstacles, of course, are by no means insurmountable. Perhaps they might be got around by abandoning the administration of alcohol per ora and distributing it instead by impregnating the air with it. I throw out the suggestion, and pass on. Such questions are for men skilled in therapeutics, government and business efficiency. They exist today and their enterprises often show a high ingenuity, but, being chiefly sober, they devote too much of their time to harassing the rest of us. Half-stewed, they would be ten times as genial, and perhaps at least half as efficient. Thousands of them, relieved of their present anti-social duties, would be idle, and eager for occupation. I trust to them in this small matter. If they didn’t succeed completely, they would at least succeed partially.

The objection remains that even small doses of alcohol, if each followed upon the heels of its predecessor before the effects of the latter had worn off, would have a deleterious effect upon the physical health of the race – that the death-rate would increase, and whole categories of human beings would be exterminated. The answer here is that what I propose is not lengthening the span of life, but augmenting its joys. Suppose we assume that its duration is reduced by 20%. My reply is that its delights will be increased at least 100%. Misled by statisticians, we fall only too often into the error of worshiping mere figures. To say that A will live to be eighty and B will die at forty is certainly not to argue plausibly that A is more to be envied than B. A, in point of fact, may have to spend all of his eighty years in Kansas or Arkansas, with nothing to eat save corn and hog-meat and nothing to drink save polluted river water, whereas B may put in his twenty years of discretion upon the Côte d’Azur, wie Gott Im Frankreich. It is my contention that the world I picture, assuming the average duration of human life to be cut down even 50%, would be an infinitely happier and more charming world than that we live in today – that no intelligent human being, having once tasted its peace and joy, would go back voluntarily to the harsh brutalities and stupidities that we now suffer, and idiotically strive top prolong. If intelligent Americans, in these depressing days, still cling to life and try to stretch it out longer and longer, it is surely not logically, but only instinctively. It is the primeval brute in them that hangs on, not the man. The man knows only too well that ten years in a genuine civilized and happy country would be infinitely better than a geological epoch under the curses he must now face and endure every day.

Moreover, there is no need to admit that the moderate alcoholization of the whole race would materially reduce the duration of life. A great many of us are moderately alcoholized already, and yet manage to survive quite as long as the blue-noses. As for the blue-noses themselves, who would repine if breathing alcohol-laden air brought them down with delirium tremens and so sterilized and exterminated them? The advantage to the race in general would be obvious and incalculable. All the worst strains – which now not only persist, but even prosper – would be stamped out in a few generations, and so the average human being would move appreciably away from, say, the norm of a Baptist clergyman in Georgia and toward the norm of Shakespeare, Mozart and Goethe. It would take æons, of course, to go all the way, but there would be a progress with every generation, slow but sure. Today, it must be manifest, we make no progress at all; instead we slip steadily backward. That the average civilized man of today is inferior to the average civilized man of two or three generations ago is too plain to need arguing. He has less enterprise and courage; he is less resourceful and various; he is more like a rabbit and less like a lion. Harsh oppressions have made him what he is. He is the victim of tyrants. Well, no man with two or three cocktails in him is a tyrant. He may be foolish, but he is not cruel. He may be noisy, but he is also tolerant, generous and kind. My proposal would restore Christianity to the world. It would rescue mankind from moralists, pedants and brutes.

@Dodgerblue: Some people think that when you combine his result with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, this means that no one can know shit.

Or know shit about Heisenberg…

Heisenberg’s a fun case of a practical observation turning into metaphor. The uncertainty principle is not a general statement about epistemology, nor a self-conscious insight about our place in the world. It just says that, hey, dealing with teeny tiny particles is different than dealing with moose. They wiggle too much.

That’s rich metaphorical territory to mine, and you can think of many cases where observation affects the observed — say, the Bradley Effect. But because it is metaphor outside physics, you have to be careful not to overextend its reach. The uncertainty principle doesn’t stop us from knowing each other. That requires empathy.

@Dodgerblue: Wittgenstein was Chris Buckley telling the NRO crowd where to step off.

@Promnight: Maybe it’s Mencken who taught me how to write. I remember swimming in passages like that the first time I read them.

@Promnight: What is necessary is to understand its a game, but that the game is real, even if artificial.

Bingo. And agreed, that’s a nuanced point your 99 percent won’t grasp. But they’re still a lot closer to the truth than the 1 percent who resist it.

The smart ones, they are troubled, because their sincerity makes it hard for them to accept that the game takes precedence over reality, being a real game.

Cynicism has its uses…

But why should the forms have any relationship to the world? They may represent an earnest attempt to categorize and codify reality, but they’re still forms, and the world doesn’t admit categories. We find useful ways to carve the chicken, but that says more about us than chickens.

This isn’t to say that “lying” is therefore permitted, because lying itself is a move in the game. You make a claim on a form, you’re saying that you can justify that claim if challenged — justification itself being yet another move.

Heck, you can rattle off “Joe the Plumber” twenty-one times in a debate — a rhetorical move in a rhetorical game — but don’t be surprised if someone decides to look Joe up. That’s also part of the game.

@nojo: There was a long piece recently in, I think, the NYROB, about the incident where Wittgenstein did or maybe didn’t threaten Karl Popper with a fireplace poker. Now, that’s the kind of philosophical discussion I like. There is a certain reality about being bonked over the head with a metal object that doesn’t depend in any way on language.

@Promnight: Oh, I am not telling them the fiction is not “real,” its a very real fiction.

“Legal fiction” isn’t necessarily a disparaging remark — it’s the way things work, and it has some very valuable uses.

“All men are created equal” is a legal fiction, and one without which this country would be even worse than it is at the moment. I’ll accept a nation with a philosopher king if I’m the philosopher, but otherwise I’ll take my chances with the mob, since I don’t trust anyone else to crown themselves.

@Dodgerblue: Popper and the Poker!

We also know that Wittgenstein had a taste for rough trade, and that he attempted to design his sister’s house. Kept moving the ceiling an inch up or down because he couldn’t make up his mind.

And we know that chief acolyte Lizzy Anscombe was a tough old broad who liked to smoke cigars. We’ll be casting Cloris Leachman for her in the movie.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: And yet he gets miscredited with the line that Puritanism is the fear that someone, somewhere is having fun. That was George Jean Nathan, Mencken’s early co-editor, who was given to aphorism. Nathan got world-historically lucky with that one, since with the rest he’s obviously trying too hard.

Sorry, a little bit of a TJ. I posted this above but:

McCain just admitted he didn’t know Palin to Letterman.

Also, Letterman actually brought up G. Gordon Liddy.

@nojo: Believe it or not boys, I actually built offa this to have a talk with Son of RML about doing homework, the universe of the homework, decision making and consequences.

@redmanlaw: Back at my junior high, they still had mandatory shop class to teach some “skills” to the boys. (Nojo + Lawnmower Engine = Nogo.) But in a white-collar world of paperwork, learning how to game the homework system was the much more lasting and valuable skill.

@Dodgerblue: Hi boyz, I wasn’t a philosophy major because my father would have no longer paid for plane tickets home to Texas from college. So I have no fucking clue what you’re talking about…the downfall of having a “practical” degree. But meanwhile, Dodger, if Mrs. DodgerBlue and DB Daughters aren’t already horrified by the story I sent you earlier, check out these Women Against McCain-Palin ads that Mommy 1.0 unearthed. @ Everyone else : please watch.
@homofascist: What else happened? I don’t know if I can stay up until 11:30 p.s.t. to see McCain.

@SanFranLefty: Geez was disturbing on Letterman. He must be the biggest consumer of his own Kool-Aid, or he wants it so bad that nothing matters. His Al Smith speech also took a bit of an ugly turn at the end. The Eagle rocked the Al Smith (as seen on Rachel’s show), proving that we have the better comedy writers and that Republican humor is an oxymoron, except for some vintage PJ O’Rourke like “Ship of Fools”.

@nojo: I used to love my 67 Buick Special. Open the hood, and there was an engine. Period. Easy to work on.

@redmanlaw: Am just now watching baked’s boyfriend Jon Stewart picking apart the debate. FSM I love that man.Will try to stay awake for Letterman – or watch the clips during Daily Show commercial breaks.
Re: ’67 Buick. That’s the beauty of Cuba. Your car breaks down and everyone can help you fix it.

@SanFranLefty: “This Joe the Plumber guy, he’s done more interviews than Sarah Palin.” – Jon Stewart.

baked, your boyfriend is a Mensch GAWD.

@SanFranLefty: You’re more likely to find an Impala of that vintage in Cuba, New Mexico than a Buick Special. The thing they have out now called an Impala – isn’t.

@SanFranLefty: He was pretty brutal and definitely made PG squirm. Since CBS actually allows things to go on YouTube, I am sure it will make the rounds today.

@homofascist: Good to know. I worried that Letterman would go soft on him.

@SanFranLefty: Dave was way to pissed about the brush off for that.

@homofascist: I’ll have to look for it tonight on the tubez. These debates totally screw with my taped teevee viewing pleasure; Ms. Nabisco insisted we tune in to the weekday Weekend Update last night (which was only so-so) so I had to do a marathon in order to catch up on the DS and Colbert shows from earlier in the week before settling in for KeefOh.

Plus I just checked out Angler from the library; good Halloween reading, that is. Spoiler: Cheney totally gamed the system to make himself veep, who knew?

@SanFranLefty: Thanks, I sent it on. Hi from the Yosemite enviro conference / boondoggle. Am going biking in the Valley this aft.

Here’s a real “Thanks, Coach” dispatch:

Sex Video Inquiry Targets Coach

A graphic cell phone video appears to have gotten Taos girls basketball coach Robert Trujillo suspended, pending an investigation.
A concerned parent who complained to school officials showed the video to the Journal. The clip, which had been sent to her son’s cell phone, appeared to be a generic video taken off the Internet that showed a man having sex with an animal. After the clip concluded, it was replaced with the words “How gross is this!”
This is the second incident involving action against a Taos coach this school year. Assistant football coach Anthony LaBella was arrested on child abuse and aggravated battery charges on Aug. 29 after allegedly injuring a 14-year-old player in a tackling demonstration after a football game. LaBella . . . tackled a player, who landed on a helmet. The player was taken to a hospital and released later that night.

@Dodgerblue: If it’s anything like the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, there’s going to a bunch of drunk lawyers and activists running around that place.

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