Sunday, April 22, 2018

Bad mail days

The opening paragraph of a story in today’s The New York Times:

A mail carrier in Brooklyn stashed about 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail for more than a decade because he was “overwhelmed” by the amount he had to deliver, the authorities said.
“The authorities”?

And if you read the article, you’ll see that it’s never made clear who “the authorities” are.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

From the Saturday Stumper

A neat clue from today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper: 17-Across, ten letters: “Battery side?” (Notice the question mark, which signals a tricky clue.) My first guess: CONGADRUMS. No spoilers; the answer is in the comments.

Today’s puzzle, by Greg Johnson, is challenging, extremely so. I was ready to say DNF (did not finish) and give up, but finish I did. A good strategy, always, with puzzles: when you reach an impasse, step away and start again later. Sure enough, it worked.

[CONGRADRUMS? I imagined conga players standing still as a drumline marches.]

The new Nancy

I think Olivia Jaimes’s new Nancy is just plain terrific, with a distinctively dry, snarky sense of humor. But I learned from The A.V. Club that the pseudonymous artist’s strip has become the subject of heated debate, with some readers fiercely loyal to Guy Gilchrist, the strip’s previous artist and writer: “It’s 2018, and people are suddenly screaming at each other about 85-year-old comic strip character Nancy.”

Four things I like about Jaimes’s Nancy:

~ The spareness of the art, which, however spare, could never be mistaken for Ernie Bushmiller’s art. Jaimes’s cartooning is more severe; her strip, lonelier.

~ The meta touch that was often evident in Bushmiller’s Nancy, with characters who comment on their cartoonist and comic-strip conventions, and a cartoonist who posts messages for the reader.

~ Traces of contemporary reality: bots, earbuds, Marie Kondo, Snapchat filters. In his day Ernie Bushmiller referenced hippies, television, and abstract art.

~ A plaintiveness that I think would please Bushmiller, as when Nancy opens her report card next to fly-ridden dumpsters because she doesn’t want to ruin a landscape of butterflies and flowers with a painful memory. Guy Gilchrist’s final Nancy strip is all flowers and cheer. I vote for Our Nancy of the Dumpsters.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Union Iron Works

[“Union Iron Works. Decatur, Ill.” As seen in downstate Illinois. Click for a larger front step.]

Union Iron, est. 1852, is still going. I’m glad the company signed its work.


On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, David Greene cited Donald Trump’s remark to James Comey about putting reporters in jail for a few days to get them to reveal their sources — something Trump suggested after Comey spoke of the value of “putting a head on a pike as a message.” Jailing reporters would be bad enough. But Trump said more. From Comey’s memo describing a meeting on February 14, 2017:

He replied by saying it [finding leakers] may involve putting reporters in jail. “They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.” I laughed as I walked to the door Reince Priebus had opened.
“Make a new friend”: it doesn’t take great powers of imagination or inference to conclude that Trump was joking about sexual assault. NPR did not mention that part of Trump’s remark.

See also remarks by Trump’s lawyer Jay Goldberg, speaking to CNN‘s Erin Burnett yesterday about Michael Cohen’s unfitness for “the rigors of prison life”:
“I think, in many ways — and it’s difficult to say this — prison has a racial overtone, and a person like Michael doesn’t see himself walking down Broadway while people are clamoring, ‘You’re going to be my wife.’”
Nothing about the pain of separation from loved ones and everyday life: just fear of becoming a black man’s “wife.” Burnett didn’t address Goldberg’s remark: instead, she followed up by asking whether Cohen has “the goods” on the president.

Media decorum about such brutal imaginings won’t help our democracy, or to what’s left of it.

[Broadway: “the ground floor of a prison.”]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recently updated

“Salacious material” The release of James Comey’s memos clears up a question I had about who said what.

Mark and Mark

“He just didn't tell the truth”: Mark Hurst, who has deleted his Facebook account, catalogues the deceptions in Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony, with links to many other commentators.

“Trump’s mystery mansion”

Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Journalism, has become one of my favorite podcasts. Here is one short Reveal story, about a Beverly Hills property changing hands in exceedingly strange ways: “Trump’s mystery mansion.” And a longer version for reading. There’s sketchy stuff in them there Hills.


1:45 p.m.: I listened to another episode while walking: “Checking into Trump’s Washington hotel.” All about doing the laundry, and much more.

Cohen, Cohen, Cohen

At Talking Points Memo, three pieces on Michael Cohen: 1, 2, 3.

[I wish though that Josh Marshall were a more careful writer. “Cohen has worshiped Trump since he was a high schooler”: see what I mean?]


MUrray Hill-Seven Seven-Five-Hundred. MUrray Hill-Seven Seven-Five-Hundred. MUrray Hill-Seven Seven-Five-Hundred.

[An “over and over,” resulting from my excitement at discovering this bit of the past online. I love the shot of the furtive, slightly stooped figure entering the house and the door closing behind him. But most of all, I love MUrray Hill-Seven Seven-Five-Hundred. MUrray Hill-Seven Seven-Five-Hundred. Typing “7500” would leave the pronunciation ambiguous.]