Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guido Argentini, Redux

I tell you I fucking love this man's work.

The shadows add something. The figure painted in shiny silver is abstract enough but then to take it one step beyond real he gives us a shadow.

And look at this. From another artist, Jean Pierre Augier:
Three antelope-like animals, googling it, perhaps the Gemsbox Oryx, in running flight, highly stylized, the lines symmetrical, to render just the essentials.

There be some talented mother-fuckers out there. And I ain't one of 'em.



I endorse this study.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bitcoin Is All About the People (?)

BTC is at $11,360 as I type. Within the last two months it cracked $20,000 for a nanosecond on some exchange and got under $6,000 on some. Why? The people?

These are some very interesting people. As varied as human behavior is, it is not unpredictable. Hell, even human criminal behavior is predictable. Human behavior is not random. The behavior of homo sapiens economicus has been intently studied for a long, long time. The rational investor? Uh, no. Some guy just won the econ Nobel for debunking the rational investor model. I have followed Bitcoin's ups and downs for a year and a half now. I have never been able to find a rational reason for said ups and downs. Neither have brighter econ homos than me. Warren Buffett, pretty bright bulb, no?, Warren Buffett was quoted around Christmas as predicting that where we then were was the beginning of the end for BTC. Hel-lo Tulip Bulbs. One pub quoted a Wall Street type in December as predicting it would go beneath $10,000 by the end of the year--which it did--, the same pub was constrained to point out that when they consulted this oracle a few months prior he had predicted $40,000 by the end of the year. I am convinced that nobody knows shit. And that's not the way it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be somebody knows shit.

This evening I wanted to know how BTC people compared with S&P 500 people. BTC price graph, all-time (July, 2010-present):

Now, I'll be a sonabitch if I thought the Standard and Poor's graph for the same period was going to look like that.

And it didn't. And I'm not a sonofabitch.

Cannot figger out these Bitcoin people...just canNOT figure them out. Piers, I need you.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Russian Olympic Sidewalk Sweeper Banned for "Performance Enhancing" Drugs

The Making of a Clown

Doesn't it all make sense now?

How a socialist was able to press the Democrat for the Democratic nomination?(1)

How a first-timer, a Clown, who had been a Democrat, and an Independent, was able to best more than a dozen Republicans for the Republican nomination? (2)

How that Clown became president?

Didn't it feel weird in the beginning? What? Bernie Sanders? What? Donald Trump? Yes, it felt very weird. What is going on?

It all makes sense now. The Russian attack on America began at least as early as 2014. Putin released his stealth twitter bombers...

...just as surely as an earlier generation of Russians had released its air force.

Putin's attack was to destroy the American democracy, to sow the seeds of his authoritarian, racist nationalism in soil he knew was fertile for it.(3) And to his gleeful surprise(4) a hideous orange plant with all the right genetic characteristics(5) burst through the soil, took root, and planted the Russian flag.

Now? Doesn't it all make sense now? Hasn't it all made sense since the summer of 2016? It has. The hiring of Manafort, the use of Page, the use and hiring of Flynn, of Bannon, so many I've forgotten all of them, the weird un-American sounding campaign rhetoric, the warning that summer that Trump was "an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,"(6) the compliments by Putin, the compliments of Putin by Trump, the business interests(7) we knew all of that.

We, the public, know more now, certainly, Don, Jr.'s meeting with Russian agents, Trump writing the cover-up statement, Kushner's business interests, his vulnerability (background check stalled, will never be cleared. Trump will give him top secret security clearance anyhow), the firings, the firing of James Comey in particular, the resignations, indictments, the refusal to extend the Russia sanctions, the denial, the stone-walling and name-calling of the Mueller investigation, so much more I have forgotten all of it (Was Kushner at the Trump Tower meeting?), but my God, we knew enough back then, and my God, hasn't all we know now been so predictable? It has. It is decidedly not "weird"(8) that Trump denies it all with frantic rhetoric. He knows he's toast, he knows he is illegitimate.(9)

What we know now, President Obama knew then, when we didn't know all. And Obama knew what was at stake, "The fate of the republic rests on your shoulders.The fate of the world is teetering", but did not tell us until six days before the catastrophe, when the cake was already baked.(10) The fate of the republic rested upon Barack Obama's shoulders, not ours, he swore an oath that he would "to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." He didn't.

The Making of the President, 2016, The Making of a Clown, The Un-Making of America.

1. "Sanders’s 2016 campaign — along with Trump’s — was named in Friday’s indictment as one that the Russian nationals used to sow discord in the election system and buoy criticism of then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton." Feel_the_Burn:Sanders_Used
2. "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated."
3. The Authoritarian Personality, Theodore W. Adorno (1950). "'F scale' (F for fascist). The personality type...can be defined by nine traits...These traits include conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intellectualism, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness", destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex.".American_Authoritarian_Personality
4. Russians_Toast_Trump's_Victory
5. "Trump's personality] traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law." https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/opinion/campaign-stops/i-ran-the-cia-now-im-endorsing-hillary-clinton.html
6. "Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation." Unwitting_Russian_Agent_Trump
7. Donald Trump, Jr."the executive vice president of Development and Acquisitions for the Trump Organization," in 2008: "In Russia, I really prefer Moscow [for high end real estate investment] over all cities in the world...Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." https://www.eturbonews.com/9788/executive-talk-donald-trump-jr-bullish-russia-and-few-emerging-ma
8. "Sanders went on to call Trump’s continued opposition to the Russia investigation “one of the weirdest things in modern American history.” https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-denies-collusion-again-tweets-sparks-concerns-among-lawmakers-n849181
9. “The president has been very adamant to say that he didn’t collude. He’s very frustrated that people seem to accuse the fact that the only reason he’s president is because of some sort of Russian collusion. But I would say the clear message here is Russia did mean to interfere in our election.”-Senator James Lankford, R-Oklahoma.
10. Fate_of_the_Republic
Mr. Trump...has said little to publicly acknowledge a threat to American democracy that even one of his top aides called “incontrovertible”...
[Trump] has repeatedly seized on the fact that the efforts started before he became a candidate, but has glossed over the conclusion that they evolved toward supporting his candidacy. 

The indictment says that while the Russians began their scheme in 2014 with the goal of undermining the American democratic system, they eventually shifted their focus to trying to help elect Mr. Trump and disparage his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Yet he has repeatedly denied that Russia was behind any meddling, even going so far in November as to suggest that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin’s denials of interference over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump said at the time, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job.”

Mr. Trump has long fought the idea that Moscow’s efforts might have influenced the election, viewing it as a threat to his legitimacy. He has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront the Russians for their intrusion.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Get on, my lad!"

Bleak House. Charles Dickens. What a story teller. What a writer.

There are so many memorable scenes, characters, too many characters were I honest and I shan't be, not now, another time. This is a time to marvel, not to quibble. 

That is an economical memorable line. I had forgotten about it. I have read this book several times, parts at a time. Have dog-eared it and post noted it. I had forgotten about this line. It is economical, understated drama. Det. Bucket and Esther Summerson are making a late, desperate attempt to find Lady Honoria Dedlock before it is too late. Det. Bucket has already discovered her suicide note and is an hour or more behind here, and he knows not whence she is. He takes Esther, Lady Dedlock's illegitimate daughter, with him to soften the visual if Lady Dedlock were to see a lone detective frantic after her.

"Don't you be alarmed, Miss Summerson, on account of our coming down here...I only want to have everything in train and to know that it is in train by looking after it my self. Get on, my lad!"
[The next page]
"...whenever he took his seat upon the box again, his face resumed its watchul steady look, and he always said to the driver in the same business tone, "Get on, my lad!"
[Nine pages later]
"All this time, kept fresh by a certain enjoyment of the work in which he was engaged, he was up and down at every house we came to;...yet never seeming to lose time, and always mounting to the box again with his watchful, steady face, and his business-like "Get on, my lad!"

[It is totally authentic as the intensity of a detective who is literally on the scent.]

..."But whatever you do, don't you fall a-crying my dear; and don't worry yourself no more than you can help. Get on, my lad!"

[Next page]
"He always gave me a reassuring beck of his finger, and lift of his eyelid, as he got upon the box again; but he seemed perplexed now, when he said "Get on, my lad!"

[He is off the trail and he knows it and he is worried. Two pages later at the close of the chapter "A Wintry Day and Night":]

"...I knew by his yet graver face, as he stood watching the ostler, that he had heard nothing. Almost in an instant afterwards, as I leaned back in my seat, he looked in,...an excited and quite different man.

"What is it?" said I, staring. "Is she here?"

"No, no...Nobody's here. But I've got it!"

..."Four horses out there for the next stage up! Quick!"

"There was a commotion in the yard."

"Look alive here with them horses. Send a man for'ard in the saddle to the next stage, and let him send another for'ard again, and order four on, up, right through."

"These orders, and the way in which he ran about the yard, urging them, caused a general excitement...[A] mounted man galloped away to order the relays, and our horses were put to with great speed."

"My dear...you keep up as good a heart as you can, and you rely upon me for standing by you...Now are you right there?"

"All right, sir!"

"Off she goes, then. And get on, my lads!"

I gave me chills. It is just as powerful on my mind as the trip up Shooters Hill in Tale of Two Cities. Not as evocative of scene. I can see the horses struggle, the vapor expelled strenuously from their nostrils, the creeping gray mist working up the hill from the valley engulfing the riders, the danger when the stage approaches, their driver reaching for his blunderbuss. Oh, a remarkable scene that. But here, in Bleak House, we have an early example, perhaps the first example, of a character we have become familiar with, the driven detective investigator. "We are vertebrates," said Vladimir Nabokov in his Cornell lectures on Bleak House. "We feel that tingle down our spine for we are vertebrates tipped at the head by a divine flame." Charles Dickens had the divine flame and he was singular in creating in us, his readers, the tingle down our vertebrate's spine.

Good night.

"We no longer recognize our America."

"As a German, I know that without the United States I would not have grown up in a peaceful and democratic situation. The liberal order after the Second World War is the product of the United States.

"Maybe this can explain why we Germans in particular are so perturbed when we look across the Atlantic — because we no longer recognize our America. Is it deeds, is it words, is it tweets we should look at to measure America?"

-German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel  at the Munich Security Conference today. So sad.

Trump’s National Security Chief Calls Russian Interference ‘Incontrovertible’-NYT

MUNICH — Just hours after the Justice Department indicted 13 Russians in what it charged was a broad conspiracy to alter the 2016 election, President Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, accused Moscow of engaging in a campaign of “disinformation, subversion and espionage” that he said Washington would continue to expose.

The evidence of a Russian effort to interfere in the election “is now incontrovertible,” General McMaster said at the Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of European and American diplomats and security experts, including several senior Russian officials.
The comments highlighted a sharp division inside the administration about how to talk about the Russian covert efforts, with only Mr. Trump and a few of his close advisers holding back from acknowledging the Russian role or talking about a larger strategy to deter future attacks.

The indictment characterized the cyberattacks and social media fraud as part of a larger effort by Russia to undermine the United States. A senior administration official called the effort to confront Russia “a significant point of contention” within the administration.

Crime Blotter

Those wild and crazy "Baggies" failed to deliver the "performance" their guardian Alan "Curfew" Pardew wanted. West Brom, dead last in the Premier League, lost an FA Cup match at home against Southampton today 2-1. Only two of the "Taxi Four," seen here in their group booking photo,

 started today and they were booed. Frowny face.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Pakistani homo. Chances are.

United States
A homo sapiens individualoid clicked on this post in the last three hours. It is one of the oldest posts on this site. I remember that post well. I liked it. So I'm re-posting it. I was in my e.e. cummings phase; 'pologize for any inconvenience.

Friday, October 18, 2002


what if someone from, say, the 18th century could be transported to the 21st century and see all the technology we have? what if that person were someone like benjamin franklin who would have some understanding of the basic science behind it all? imagine his awe at radio, television, the internet. imagine walking with him down a new york city street and watching his amazement at the cars going by and the jets overhead.

now imagine that you turn a corner on that street and duck into a gold's gym for a quick workout...

what would he think? picture the scene from his perspective: muscular men strenuously lifting, pushing and pulling...something, but to no apparent purpose, not building anything, not moving objects from one place to another. also women running IN PLACE on moving surfaces and climbing contrived stairs. "are these people slaves?" "is it a penal colony?" "an insane asylum?" "is it the sisyphian nightmare come alive?" more importantly, how would we explain it to him?

anthropologically, deconstructing the gym's raison d'etre proves nettlesome. the usual rationales are health benefits and as counterweight to our otherwise sedentary lives.

however, weight-lifting is hardly the ideal form of exercise for either short-term or long-term fitness. it does little for the heart and has some not insignificant risk of injury. it certainly does not compare with, say, swimming in it's ability to make the body slimmer, sleeker and more supple. those of us who lift weights exclusively are likely to be humbled if we take a friend up on an invitation to run a 10k race, for example.

if it's a more aerobic workout we want, why pay the price to join a gym to use a treadmill when there's a street right outside? why use a stairmaster when you could bypass the elevator at home and work and climb, like, real stairs?

further, the muscles built in weight-lifting are utterly useless. they're rather like the shrinking, withering hindlegs of creatures who have evolved from land-dwelling to sea-dwelling beings. there is no plausible retirement scenario that we are preparing ouselves for by lifting weights. we are not going to be spending our golden years in the construction industry nor, hopefully, in slavery or prison.

the counterweight-to-the-desk-job rationale doesn't hold either. the sheer purposelessness of the activity that would confound an 18th century observer is not consistent with that explanation. we could get similar exercise in the above-mentioned construction industry or, more philanthropically, in habitat-for-humanity or similar public service activities. we could volunteer to do menial municipal improvement jobs like picking up trash along the streets or planting trees or painting buildings.

the gym gesellschaft is also predominantly an american phenomenon. there are comparatively very few home-grown gyms in europe, that is, those not affiliated with hotels and other tourist centers. to even call it a phenomenon, implying a fad, is not true. gyms became popular in the early '70's. that's over thirty years, making them more fixture than fad.

their popularity correlates with the entry of the first of the baby-boomers into their thirties. but it is not just a boomer obsession either. generation x'ers and y'ers have followed their elders to the point that working out is de riguer, and even those much older, those in their sixties and over, are a visible presence in any large gym.

none of these factors individually or together accounts for the prevalence of the gym in american life. the position advanced here is that it is a manifestation, perhaps a trite manifestation, of the american soul, one distinct from the european. comparatively, americans are a faster-paced, harder working, more ambitious people than are europeans. any visitor from one place to the other notices the difference. a slovakian yuppie remarked on how the american idea of morning coffee is as likely to be a cup in the car on the way to work while she was accustomed to the more leisurely, "civilized" cafe moment before starting her day.

americans work harder, play harder and more relentlessly pursue their goals which, rightly or wrongly, are wealth and beauty. europeans put a greater emphasis on "quality of life" factors. thus, europeans exercise to stay fit. americans exercise to become beautiful. europeans walk much more than americans do. walking will keep you fit but it will not make you beautiful. bulging biceps and pectorals may be as useful as fins on a cow but they are considered attractive so men strive for them. cellulite on a woman's thighs or buttocks has zero health implications but is considered unslightly so they strive to get rid of it.

plastic surgery is the first cousin of the gym. the vast majority of americans will have some sort of appearance-enhancement procedure done sometime in their lives. orthodontic work is so common now as to be a teenage rite of passage. crooked teeth are simply unacceptable. having perfect white teeth has become a european caricature of americans. a friend told of her flirtatious encounter with a couple of discolored/crooked-toothed european men in a bar. "i bet you brush your teeth every day," one said teasingly. "sometimes twice," replied my friend, in revulsion.

orthodontics, teeth bleaching, liposuction, breast enhancement, hair replacement, face lifts--all of these are part of the american landscape. they certainly make for an edgier, more unforgiving landscape. my wife, like i, firmly ensconsed in middle age, just returned from paris where she reported there was an obviously broader range of that which is considered beautiful. she saw men in their fifties and sixties, well-dressed, well-coiffed, slim, oh, maybe a little belly, but still handsome even to women in their twenties and thirties. it's a valid point. americans, men and women, often hit the panic button at passing one of the markers that indicate removal from that cohort identified as "young adult:" child-birth, the big four-0, balding, graying, the onset of the paunch. that's when you see the desperate lunging back for the accoutrements of youth: a new, sexier car in place of the old one; a new, sexier wife in place of the old one.

nonetheless, the crass behavior mentioned above is just the inevitable frayed edge of an otherwise strong fabric. there is an elan vital in america that is not as prevalent in europe. effort, whether in work or play, is prized more. the goal of beauty, like that of truth, may be a chimera but to strive to make oneself better is not a fool's chase but the best of the human spirit. maybe franklin, france's favorite american, would understand. as he put it in poor richard's almanack, "no gains without pain."

-benjamin harris
So, I had a google image of the Mexican earthquake on the header. Based upon adjectives like "massive" (USA Today, BusinessInsider) in headlines. And then I saw this lede from Reuters:

Powerful 7.2 quake rocks buildings in Mexico, minor damage reported

And I took the image down.

What did you want, a limo?

Four West Bromwich Albion players, Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill, have admitted they stole a taxi in Barcelona. Not skipped a fare, stole the damned car.

Catalonia's regional police told The Associated Press that the players were taken before a judge after being accused by a taxi driver, who said he was outside the vehicle at the time it was stolen.

Manager Alan Pardew however said "It wasn't what we wanted." Alan continued: "They break a curfew, and that is unacceptable, and I feel a bit let down by that. There was a curfew on that evening and it was broken..."

Go on, Alan:

"...we just want to concentrate on the game now...and our fans will want to see us put in a performance tomorrow." Asked if he would understand if the fans felt let down, Pardew said: "Absolutely, and we have to respond with a performance tomorrow."

Alan, why is your English team practicing in Barcelona, Spain? 

FBI Acknowledges Fuck Up on Florida School Mass Murderer

They received two tips, one in January, 2018, the other in November, 2017. Seventeen people dead in a totally preventable mass murder. Awful. Terrible. How the FBI missed the November tip:

 A bail bondsman in Mississippi told the agency last September about a worrying comment left on his YouTube channel from a “nikolas cruz” saying “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
Agents from the F.B.I. Jackson, Miss., field office looked into the comment but could not identify who had posted it from database and open-source searches, the F.B.I. said. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians, alleging 2016 election interference

(Los Angeles Times)

"By early to mid-2016, Defendants' operation included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump…and disparaging Hillary Clinton," according to the indictment.
The indictment accuses the 13 Russians and three businesses of "impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016."



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Exclusive: A top Trump campaign adviser close to plea deal with Mueller




In other news...

2017/18 UEFA Europa League


😂 Who is that Arsie, Ofkufs F.C.?

Heat Flaming Out

Strong by Ira Winderman yesterday:

...This. Team. Cannot. Afford. To. Miss. The. Playoffs. If that first-round pick to the Suns turns into a lottery pick (protected for the Heat only through No. 7), then the entire reason for this season goes up in smoke.
Q: Something is terribly wrong with this team...

A: It is emotionally weak players, that it only takes a 3-pointer or two for the confidence to wane and then disappear. It is one thing to fight from behind, with nothing to lose, as the Heat did over the second half of last season. It is another to maintain a position of strength amid adversity. Perhaps this roster simply lacks the strong minded. We're about to find out over these remaining games.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Shift Happening?

All five English clubs are still alive in the Uefa Champions League. Alive and kicking some continental bootay.

Manchester City 🤗 😘 embarrassed the Swiss yesterday in Basel 4-0.
Today Liverpool did one better to the Portuguese in Porto.
Tottenham drew with the Italians at Juventus yesterday.

Four of the five English clubs, City, United, Spurs, Liverpool, sit atop their Group and Chelsea are second in Group C.

The gap between the EPL and the other European leagues is widening and with all clubs except in...Spain. Madrid, who have won the competition more than any other club, are second to Spurs in Group H and beat Paris today at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Barcelona, third all-time, leaders Group D, play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on February 20. Madrid and Barca have won the last four Champions Leagues. The last English club to win it was Chelsea, 2011/12. The English club with the most UCL trophies is Liverpool and they are fifth all time. The EPL is hands down the most competitive league among the world's greats but until their champion is European champion consistently they cannot be considered the best league in the world.


Every time I have checked Fox and Breitbart have been on the list.


"At least" 17 Murdered in Parkland Florida High School Massacre

"Nikolas" and friends exchanging greetings on Christmas day 2015.
Nicholas de Jesus Cruz, 19, not 18.

"At least 2;" "Multiple;" "Numerous;" Murdered in Parkland Florida High School Shooting

The shooting happened about 2 p.m. at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. The murderer, 18 years old and a former student, has been apprehended. The confusion and vagueness in the number of killed is irresponsible on the part of the police.