February 27, 2016


The Pines(detail) by Franklin Booth, via John Holbo at Crooked Timber

Booth's style nicely replicates the effects of woodcut using pen and ink. The clouded sky in the detail above is typical of the myriad of precise strokes of varying thicknesses he applied to every centimeter of his work to achieve the desired effect. There is nothing of economy in Booth's style, and still, the tree at right is pure suggestion. Composed of countless scribed lines, it's as much an impression of a tree's appearance as any Van Gogh ever drew.

February 26, 2016

Endorsement Season

Overshadowed by the Chris Christie endorsement of Donald Trump today was an endorsement over on the Democratic Party side of the contest, as Robert Reich endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. Reich has been admirable on most issues he's cared to speak on publicly following his time in Bill Clinton's Cabinet in the '90's.

Still, there was the big bully deferring to the bigger bully on the Republican side, which understandably hogged most of the day's stage.

February 24, 2016

Etymology Enacts the Plausible Yarn To Explain the Well-Known Name

Richmond Talbott was a slide guitarist and blues singer, and an old friend of Jorma Kaukonen. Talbott (then known as Steve Talbot), Jorma, Steve Mann, Tom Hobson, Perry Lederman and a few others were the acoustic blues guitarists on the scene in the early 60s who were the hottest and most sophisticated pickers, although only Kaukonen went on to success. As a private joke, they all made up “fake blues names,” and Talbott chose as his name “Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane.” A few years later, this play on the name of Blind Lemon Jefferson was later borrowed by Jorma’s new band.

—Ross Hannan and Corry Arnold, Freight And Salvage

One Way of Looking at Washington's Birthday

This Year's Peak Magnolia Came in February

Magnolias reached Peak Magnolia here in Santa Cruz earlier this week. Peak Magnolia happens when all buds that can be blossoms blossom. Usually this happens in late March, around the solstice, but after years of drought the local magnolias have responded to the wetness of the early part of this year's rainy season, over by mid January, with a quickened burst of early ripening.

February 18, 2016

Annals of Government Intrusion

Bruce Schneier on the FBI's demand that Apple hack the security of the iPhone.

February 16, 2016

Some February Camelias

The Not Necessarily Pimping a Butterfly-Style Reference of the Month Club

If Kendrick Lamar was Walt Whitman to our age, aiming his fervid poetries at the heart of what's now America, would we white ones recognize that of him?

February 14, 2016

Annals of a Dead Supreme


If this is indeed the case, the Senate is presently in the midst of a 10-day recess (not a pro forma session), and under Noel Canning, President Obama possesses the power to make a recess appointment to the Supreme Court until noon on February 22, when the Senate comes back in session.

Glenn Reynolds

February 11, 2016

The Supremes Step In

The Government's Carbon Emissions Plan has been put on hold by the Supreme Court, catching everyone off guard.

This planet is so fucked.

Ash Wednesday and Ever After

Lenten  Leftover, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ

The Rude Talk of the Presidential Campaign, Part the Millionth

Back in the day, from Eliabeth Warren's perspective, Hillary Clinton's work on the bankruptcy bill amounted to little more than putting lipstick on a pig, if by pig we mean the voracious capitalist financiers behind the measure, for the bankruptcy bill as a whole gutted the very protections bankruptcy is meant to offer to specific classes of the insolvent, particularly holders of credit card debt and student loans. It was to institutionalize a condition of debt penury on vast numbers of Americans instead of offering them the clean slate bankruptcy had always ostensibly been intended to provide.

“While this amendment may have provided some political cover, it offers virtually no financial help to single mothers, since the overwhelming majority of ex-husbands don’t pay any distributions during bankruptcy,” the endnotes read. “Of far more importance was the fact that the bill would permit credit card companies to compete with women after bankruptcy for their ex-husbands’ limited income, and this provision remained unchanged in the 1998 and 2001 versions of the bill. Senator Clinton claimed that the bill improved circumstances for single mothers, but her view was not shared by any women’s groups or consumer groups,” said Warren.

It would seem Clinton was offering up an attractive yet basically meaningless amendment in exchange for support of a bill no conceivable Democrat before the time of Bill Clinton, the first post-modern Democrat, would have thought of voting for. Ever.

February 01, 2016