Day: January 25, 2017

GOP Retreat in Philly

FYI, Wed-Fri, Pres. Trump and the entire Republican congressional leadership will be at a retreat in Philadelphia to plot strategy at the Loews hotel. The event’s not open to the public, but they’ll take breaks; they’ll look out windows; they’ll go grab dinner or hit tourist spots. If you’re going to be in the area, going about your business, it’d sure be good of you to wear a homemade pink hat. Cold weather, and all that.


Immovable Borders

“Tom, didn’t we start east?”


“How fast have we been going?”

“Well, you heard what the professor said when he was raging round. Sometimes, he said, we was making fifty miles an hour, sometimes ninety, sometimes a hundred; said that with a gale to help he could make three hundred any time, and said if he wanted the gale, and wanted it blowing the right direction, he only had to go up higher or down lower to find it.”

“Well, then, it’s just as I reckoned. The professor lied.”


“Because if we was going so fast we ought to be past Illinois, oughtn’t we?”


“Well, we ain’t.”

“What’s the reason we ain’t?”

“I know by the color. We’re right over Illinois yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain’t in sight.”

“I wonder what’s the matter with you, Huck. You know by the COLOR?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“What’s the color got to do with it?”

“It’s got everything to do with it. Illinois is green, Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here, if you can. No, sir; it’s green.”

“Indiana PINK? Why, what a lie!”

“It ain’t no lie; I’ve seen it on the map, and it’s pink.”

You never see a person so aggravated and disgusted. He says:

“Well, if I was such a numbskull as you, Huck Finn, I would jump over. Seen it on the map! Huck Finn, did you reckon the States was the same color out-of-doors as they are on the map?”

“Tom Sawyer, what’s a map for? Ain’t it to learn you facts?”

“Of course.”

“Well, then, how’s it going to do that if it tells lies? That’s what I want to know.”

“Shucks, you muggins! It don’t tell lies.”

“It don’t, don’t it?”

“No, it don’t.”

“All right, then; if it don’t, there ain’t no two States the same color. You git around THAT if you can, Tom Sawyer.”

I would like to dedicate this excerpt from Tom Sawyer Abroad, by Mark Twain, to the C-Span caller who stated confidently that national borders were established by God.

She did not clarify whether He drew the borders before or after he created steel, flip flops, rayon, airplanes, black powder weapons, thatched roofs, or the beehive hairdo. This is a timeline I would dearly like to see. It seems like we could resolve a lot of wars if we just knew where God had put the borders, and exactly when.


Person born in Oak Cliff which was not always part of Dallas but seems to have been when I was born there, possibly in defiance of God.

P.S. This was a black female Democrat who is proud of Mr. Trump and praying for Mr. Trump. The call was coming from inside the house. Or, more specifically, from Virginia, land of speed traps.


Several significant events in my life took place in the evening in U.S. Central Time, including my birth and my wedding, which means I celebrate them on a different calendar date in Italy, thanks to a seven-hour time difference. (By celebrate, I mean maybe have a pastry. The holidays I make a big deal over are things like “Death of Rasputin Day,” where I gnaw a piece of toast into a man shape and throw it into a river.)

It’s an interesting reminder that when we’re talking about time, we’re talking about space. An anniversary is a visit to an orbital landmark, so to speak. I worried for a second that I was miscalculating this, because Pescara is about 5,647 miles from Dallas and I didn’t take that into account (partly because that’s surface travel and not a straight line cutting through the globe). But since the Earth travels about 1.598 million miles per day, that’s not even a rounding error.

So: Here I am today, as close as I can be to the place I was when I got married, and simultaneously on a different continent.

Deradicalization by Complication

Toolkit tool! This article focuses on de-radicalizing a teenager recruited by Daesh, but this bit suggests broader practical applications beyond Daesh and beyond teenagers:

all extremists, regardless of ideology, develop a sort of tunnel vision as they go through the indoctrination process. An ordinary high school or college student, Koehler argues, has a lot of problems (tricky classes, meddling parents, romantic woes) as well as many potential solutions (study harder, find a job, date someone new). A person who’s journeying down the path toward radicalization, by contrast, sees their problems and solutions each get winnowed down to one—a process that Koehler terms “depluralization.”

The solitary problem for these individuals is always that there’s a global conspiracy against their race or religion; the solitary solution to such persecution is violence, with the goal of placing themselves and their group in control of a revamped society. [… Kohler] advocates repluralization: the careful reintroduction of problems and solutions into a radicalized person’s life, so that they can no longer devote all their mental energy to stewing over their paranoia.

Sidebar this process can take like 10 years. But so can making whiskey, and that’s worthwhile.

Inside Minnesota’s Risky Plan to Deradicalize Young ISIS Recruits,” in Wired