Pay no attention to…

Stories of interest/amusement/distress associated with the day’s news.

l/ President Trump — in person and through his aidess — has tried to downplay or deny news items about his alleged encounter with a porn star.

2/ A glance at news-stand headlines or TV features suggests the denial tactic has not and apparently will not produce number 1 above.

3/ President Trump’s standard strategy when confronted with negative items is, first, an outright and outraged denial. That failing, he resorts to distraction. Get people — and the press — to look at something else for a while.

4/ Thursday, the President had a White House meeting with a delegation from North Korea.

5/ During that meeting, President Trump at least twice left the briefing room to put the press on the alert for a major item.

6/ After that meeting, the North Korean delegation, standing on the White House steps, announced that the President had agree to meet with President Kim-jong Il.

7/ As a consequence of number 6, item number 1 appears to be getting far less attention.

8/ As a consequence of numbers 1-7 above, administration officials — some named, some not — are walking back announced features of the proposed meeting.

  • It probably will not come as soon as May of this year
  • Several new pre-conditions are being developed
  • It may not happen at all.

9/ With no apparent direct connection to any of the above, plans are still underway for a military parade in the nation’s capital.

Our nation, that is.

Left? Right? Who knows?

A moment of confusion while getting out of the car yesterday, and now I’m trying to coordinate the New Testament, neurology, and contemporary politics.

Here’s what happened. I pulled the car into the driveway, turned off the engine, picked up a couple items from the seat and opened the car door to get out. Couldn’t move. I’d forgotten to unhook the seat belt.

Pretty ordinary so far, right? All that’s needed is to unhook the belt. But my right hand — the one which normally unhooks the belt — was full of stuff. So I reached my left hand back to the right to unhook the belt.


My left hand didn’t know how to do it. Had the clip been on my left, I’m sure the left hand could have opened it. But my left hand — or the part of my brain which directs it — was at a loss. Could not figure out how to open a seat belt on the right.

What happened? Had some malign force modified the clip? Had my brain lost contact with my hands? Why wouldn’t the damn thing open?

Finally I grabbed the packages with my left hand and easily unhooked the seat belt with my right hand.

OK: Anyone know what was going on there? Or is this just another of those land mines — mind mines? — on the road to old age?

As to the Bible. Matthew 6:3: “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” It originally applied to charity, but now it goes even further. Google it. I got 36 million hits.

I’ll leave to the clever and politically-astute among you to suss out a way to apply this incident to contemporaneous American politics.


Candidates, anyone?

My father liked to enliven political discussions by citing an ancient civilization which had a highly effective leadership system. At each election, people chose one man to be absolute ruler for life. After one year in office he was executed, and a new ruler was chosen. The reasoning: only a loyal, patriotic and hard-working man, a man with no reason to enrich himself in office, would take the job.

Strange to say, I’ve never been able to find historical data on that particular civilization. Of course, my father was a man given to casual metaphor. Still, I can’t help wondering what would happen to political ambition if that format were imposed on… no, let us say merely, “made available to”… our own world.

Pictures of the Year

Gonna try a return to daily — or pretty often — posting here. Your comments, as before, more than welcome.

Today, a link to Reading the Pictures, one of my favorite sites and one too often overlooked in the “what’s hot or cool right now” mind set of the media, a post from last week, but still now and for some time to come, very much relevant.

It’s a report on the World Press Photo 2018 awards. The Oscars or the Tonys for photojournalists. And do not skip or skim the narrative. It says a lot about who we are, who we think we ought to be.

English 407, Victorian Studies

Reading through the day’s news, I felt the usual pangs of disgust and anger — mostly but not entirely at Republican politians. When will enough of them, while scratching their asses, discover their backbones? It could happen, right? In fact, it will happen.

And at that point a wee small timorous voice in the distance whispered a couple famiar lines.

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
will be the final goal of ill

That can happen to unreconstructed English majors, even in their eighties. So I listened to the line again. Aha, says I. Tennyson.

Tennyson? That pompous Victorian Empire and Bible salesman? Yeah, him. I’d forgotten he might have written something good along the way. But I couldn’t recall the whole poem, so I looked it up.

Oh well. Should have known. Later verses ramble through gloom and pain and random misery, all — perhaps — to be balance out. Sometime.

Or not.

Is there a lesson here for the Trump generations. Not really.

Is there any lesson at all to be gained from these word squanderings I keep posting on Some Old Guy?

Yeah. The lesson is to hell with Victorian poets.

Except Browning, him and her. And the Rosettis, both of them. And Hood and Morris and Arnold and (maybe) Carroll. And Edward Lear, him too.

But still, to hell with Tennyson.

What it’s safe to say

Cleaning out my desk yesterday I came across an old mini-poster from many years ago, a ten-line quote printed on heavy slick paper. It had been on the wall of my previous office, meaning it had to be at least fifteen years old. That old, and it still rang true. Think I’ll pin it up on the wall of this office for a while. The time seems… well… it seems about right.

lecarre quote
One of the reasons — there are many — why this suits the time so well is the man who wrote it. He’s David John Moore Cornwell, whom you may know better by his pen name. He’s John le Carré. A man who wrote many great novels about spycraft — how it works and doesn’t work, for example — and who was himself for many years a ranking operative in British Intelligence.

There he is right now, sitting in comfortable retirement somewhere in England, likely his family home in Cornwall. Can’t help wondering what he thinks about what’s going on right now in the U S Halls of…

  • …Halls of Courage? No.
  • …Halls of Power? I think not.
  • …Halls of Mirrors? Much more likely.
  • …Halls of Chaos? Yeah, I think that’s it.

Halls of Chaos.
Has a nice dystopian ring to it.

(It may sound familiar. I cited it back on December 17, 2008)