via Tyler Cowen I learn about Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven Seven
or more formally Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki. He received his nickname because he was the only surviving child from seven distinct sets of twins.
He came to the United States in the late 1980s and settled in the Philadelphia area, although he traveled abroad frequently. His life entered a turbulent period, filled with drinking and gambling, he said. Destitute, he found work as a parking-lot attendant for Material Culture, a large Philadelphia store that sells antiquities, furnishings and carpets.
When the owner learned that Prince Twins Seven-Seven was an artist, he had him decorate the store’s wrapping paper. Later, he was given a small room to use as a studio.
from his obituary
By reader vote, these were considered
The Top Ten Helytimes Posts Of The Year
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9) Jo Mora and Mora Update
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This was by far our most popular post by views
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2) Lady Xoc
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The definitive winner for the year?:
A review of writing by and about fighter pilot John Boyd, who offers a way into DT’s thinking.
a brief look at Sanders and Trump
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a big wild roundup.
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All the best for 2017.
This book is so full of compelling anecdotes, character studies, and surprising, valuable lessons of leadership that I kind of can’t believe I got to it before Malcolm Gladwell or David Brooks or somebody scavenged it for good stories.
Consider how hard it would be to get fifteen of your friends to leave for a road trip at the same time. How much coordination and communication it would take, how likely it was to get fucked up.
Now imagine trying to move 156,000 people across the English Channel, and you have to keep it a surprise, and on the other side there are 50,350 people waiting to try and kill you.
Even at a lower scale, say a brigade, a brigadier general might oversee say 4,500 people and hundreds of vehicles. Those people must be clothed, fed, housed, their medical problems attended to. Then they have to be armed, trained, given ammo. You have to find the enemy, kill them, evacuate the wounded, stay in communication, and keep a calm head as many people are trying to kill you and the situation is changing rapidly and constantly.
Being a general is a challenging job, I guess is my point.
I saw this post about Gen. Mattis, possible future Secretary of Defense, on Tom Ricks blog:
The story was so compelling that I immediately ordered Mr. Ricks’ book:
A fantastic read. Eye-opening, shocking, opinionated, compelling.
The way that Marc Norman’s book on screenwriting works as a history of Hollywood:
The Generals works as a kind of history of the US since World War II. I’d list it with 1491: New Revelations On The Americas Before Columbus as a book I think every citizen should read.
The observation that drives The Generals is this: commanding troops in combat is insanely difficult. Many generals will fail. Officers who performed well at lower ranks might completely collapse.
During World War II, generals who failed to perform were swiftly relieved of command. (Often, they were given second chances, and many stepped up).
Since World War II, swift relief of underperforming generals has not been the case. The results for American military effectiveness have been devastating. Much of this book describes catastrophe and disaster, as I guess war is even under the best of circumstances and the finest leadership.
Ricks is such a good writer, so engaging and compelling. He knows to include stuff like this:
Ricks describes the catastrophes that result from bad military leadership. How about this, in Korea?:
What kind of effect did this leadership have, in Vietnam?:
He discusses the relationship of presidents and their generals:
Here is LBJ, years later, describing his nightmares:
Ricks can be blunt:
Hard lessons the Marines had learned:
A hero in the book is O. P. Smith
who led the Marines’ reverse advance at the Chosin Resevoir, when it was so cold men’s toes were falling off from frostbite inside their boots:
The story of what they accomplished is incredible, worth a book itself. Here’s Ricks talking about the book and Smith.
A continued challenge for generals is to understand the strategic circumstances they are operating under, and the political limitations that constrain them.
Recommend this book. One of the best works of military history I’ve ever read, and a sobering reflection on leadership, strategy, and the United States.
Somehow came across the name Hortense Powerdermaker and I knew I had to have her book.
Some good observations:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:
How about this?:
Me, I’m trying to be like Mr. Well Adjusted:
saw this letter to the editor of the Financial Times on somebody’s Twitter.
FDR turned the tables on the scandal with this rejoinder:
That was back when you could make a good clean Scottish joke and the nation would love it.
The other day a friend of mine’s mom died. She was 87. I’d had maybe eight meals with this woman.
One story she told me was about having lunch at Eleanor Roosevelt’s house.
She was in college at Vassar in the early 1950s, and she knew some niece or something of Mrs. Roosevelt. Eleanor, then a representative at the UN, asked the niece to round up some young people for a luncheon, so there she went.
She didn’t have much to say about Eleanor, but in her memory Fala sat on her feet under the table.
Anyway, I thought I would commemorate the passing, perhaps, from living memory of this historic and noble dog.
Suffering from deafness and failing health, Fala was euthanized on April 5, 1952, two days before his twelfth birthday.
Why not buy five copies and give them out to five lucky friends?
I think the gift getter will be touched and delighted!
stirred the pot the other day with this tweet.
I mean, I like being lumped in with the #coolkids.
When I tweeted that, I meant what I said: it would be a cool movie. The Electoral College members are mostly, as I understand it, a bunch of ordinary schmoes. 99 times out of a hundred their job is rubber stamping, a comical bit of leftover political inanity.
But what if, one day, it wasn’t so easy?
What if, one day, these ordinary citizens were called upon to make a tough choice.
A choice that would bring them right into the line of fire.
A choice that would change history.
The idea of Trump in the White House makes me sick. 61,900,651 Americans disagree, obvs. An Electoral College revolt is a crazy fantasy. But I enjoy thinking about it!
What is right and wrong for the Electoral College to do?
Says the National Archives:
There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by state law and those bound by pledges to political parties.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees. Some state laws provide that so-called “faithless Electors” may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No Elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.
Today, it is rare for Electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party’s candidate. Electors generally hold a leadership position in their party or were chosen to recognize years of loyal service to the party. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged.
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) has compiled a brief summary of state laws about the various procedures, which vary from state to state, for selecting slates of potential electors and for conducting the meeting of the electors. The document, Summary: State Laws Regarding Presidential Electors, can be downloaded from the NASS website.
From the NASS website, here’s how it goes down in my home state of California:
Whenever a political party submits to the Secretary of State its certified list of nominees for electors of President and Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of State shall notify each candidate for elector of his or her nomination by the party. The electors chosen shall assemble at the State Capitol at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their election. In case of the death or absence of any elector chosen, or if the number of electors is deficient for any other reason, the electors then present shall elect, from the citizens of the state, as many persons as will supply the deficiency. The electors, when convened, if both candidates are alive, shall vote by ballot for that person for President and that person for Vice President of the United States, who are, respectively, the candidates of the political party which they represent, one of whom, at least, is not an inhabitant of this state.
That seems pretty standard. In some states they meet in the governor’s office or the office of the secretary of state. In Massachusetts they will meet in the Governor’s office:
You’ve probably seen this quote:
Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States
But to me, the more interesting one is this one:
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.
Now, I hear the argument that the cool kids are always changing the rules. I don’t think I agree with the logic of this petition, which is half “Hillary won the popular vote” (who cares, that’s not the rules we were playing by) and half “Trump is unfit to serve.”
The Trump being unfit to serve bit was up to the voters. Seems very dangerous to me for the Electoral College to start making that call. That is some wonked aristocratic bullshit that the Constitution maybe intended, but which the Constitution as practiced and understood has moved away from?
But if it were proven Trump colluded with a foreign power, then I think hell yeah! If you believe, as I do, that the Constitution is a genius mechanism full of checks and failsafes, isn’t the Electoral College designed exactly to be one last chance for good old-fashioned citizens to stop a presidential candidate who allowed a foreign power to gain an improper ascendant in our councils?
I don’t think we have the proof that Trump did that. But I think the Electors are totally within their rights to think about it and decide what to do.
In closing my feelings are well summarized by Ben White:
Reading some of the sayings of The Prophet, the Hadith, in Thomas Cleary’s translation:
A word of warning for PEOTUS:
Van Jones: He was very interested in the world. He wanted me to explain how the White House worked. He asked very detailed kind of foreign-policy questions. And then he’d ask, “Why doesn’t Obama just outlaw birthdays?” [laughs] I’m, like, “What?” He said, “I was hoping that Obama, as soon as he was elected, would get up and announce there’d be no more Christmas presents and no more birthdays—we’ve got too much to do.” I said, “Yeah, I don’t know if that would go over too well.”
Van Jones: Prince wrote music the way you write e-mails, okay? If you were transported to some world where the ability to write e-mails was some rare thing, you would be Prince. He was just writing music all the time. He slept it, he thought it. And it wasn’t all great—some of it was good, some of it wasn’t. But he had no expectation, he was just being himself. It’s like you cut the water faucet on—I don’t think the faucet is sitting there thinking, “This is the best water ever!” The faucet is just doing what the faucet does. That’s kind of how he was.
The Van Jones ones were the best, which led me to Mr. Jones’ wiki:
He has described his own childhood behavior as “bookish and bizarre.” His grandfather was the senior bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and Jones sometimes accompanied his grandfather to religious conferences, where he would sit all day listening to the adults “in these hot, sweaty black churches” Jones was a young fan of the late John and Bobby Kennedy, and would pin photographs of them to a bulletin board in his room in the specially delineated “Kennedy Section”. As a child he matched his Star Wars action figures with Kennedy-era political figures; Luke Skywalker was John, Han Solo was Bobby, and Lando Calrissian was Martin Luther King, Jr.
The entire film takes place in Massachusetts, yet no one is seen going to Dunkin Donuts or holding a Dunkin Donuts cup.
A short examination of New England and Massachusetts psychology is at the beginning of this book:
I don’t like to give bad reviews to books on Helytimes. Why call limited attention to bad books? However I must condemn this book.
Let me admit that I didn’t read it.
I oppose it because:
1) I was not consulted on it and didn’t hear about it until it was published
2) I was not included in it
3) many geniuses were not included in it, and the selections don’t represent anything like a best of.
Impossible in an anthology to please everyone. But I suspect anyone familiar with the Lampoon will find the table of contents to be the funniest part.
(That’s the only part I read.)
4) No art?
The Lampoon is full of beautiful art that makes the words tolerable.
A mistake to print an all words anthology.
5) the whole point of the Lampoon is you can write and “publish” dumb bad practice material that no one will ever see.
On the other hand: I was lucky and was given issues of the Lampoon by my cousin when I was a senior in high school. That gift changed my life. So maybe this book will do that for someone.
Here’s a funny review by one Helen Andrews of Sydney, Australia in the Weekly Standard. (Shoutout to Chris McKenna who I guess reads The Weekly Standard?)
I think you’ll get more value for your book dollar in:
This fact is so crazy:
There were 38 sets of brothers on the USS Arizona; 23 sets were lost.
How about this story, introduced to me by reader Bobby M.? A Japanese plane crash landed on the remote Hawaiian island of Ni’ihau after the attack. It was so isolated that the island’s residents didn’t realize what had happened. When they did though, that was the end of the pilot.
One thing leads to another and I’m reading about how there were black people on the Caribbean island of Montserrat who were said to speak Irish Gaelic:
Irish language in Montserrat
The Irish constituted the largest proportion of the white population from the founding of the colony in 1628. Many were indentured labourers; others were merchants or plantation owners. The geographer Thomas Jeffrey claimed in The West India Atlas (1780) that the majority of those on Montserrat were either Irish or of Irish descent, “so that the use of the Irish language is preserved on the island, even among the Negroes”.
African slaves and Irish colonists of all classes were in constant contact, with sexual relationships being common and a population of mixed descent appearing as a consequence. The Irish were also prominent in Caribbean commerce, with their merchants importing Irish goods such as beef, pork, butter and herring, and also importing slaves.
There is indirect evidence that the use of the Irish language continued in Montserrat until at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The Kilkenny diarist and Irish scholar Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin noted in 1831 that he had heard that Irish was still spoken in Montserrat by both black and white inhabitants. A letter by W.F. Butler in The Atheneum (15 July 1905) quotes an account by a Cork civil servant, C. Cremen, of what he had heard from a retired sailor called John O’Donovan, a fluent Irish speaker:
- He frequently told me that in the year 1852, when mate of the brig Kaloolah, he went ashore on the island of Montserrat which was then out of the usual track of shipping. He said he was much surprised to hear the negroes actually talking Irish among themselves, and that he joined in the conversation…
There is no evidence for the survival of the Irish language in Montserrat into the twentieth century.
The wiki page for Amhlaoibh has several interesting quotes:
“February 3, 1828 …There is a lonely path near Uisce Dun and Móinteán na Cisi which is called the MassBoreen. The name comes from the time when the Catholic Church was persecuted in Ireland, and Mass had to be said in woods and on moors, on wattled places in bogs, and in caves. But as the proverb says, It is better to look forward with one eye than to look backwards with two…“
Amhlaoibh lived out in Callan, in Kilkenny:
Nearby was born James Hoban, who designed The White House:
On a trip to DC once I brought along this book, which I recommend to any DC visitor:
Applewhite might’ve been the first to put in my head the idea that the The White House is modeled on Irish country mansions:
The entire southern half of Montserrat got pretty messed up by volcanic eruptions and was abandoned in 1997:
And is now an “exclusion zone”:
Montserrat’s national dish is Goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls.
for more interesting oddities of Western Hemisphere geography and history, I recommend:
If you enjoy Ed Harris in Westworld, as I do, you may be curious to have a look at his role in Walker (1987) in which he plays a similarly attired character:
Harris plays the real life William Walker who went down to Nicaragua with some armed guys and declared himself president there from 1856-1857.
I went down to Nicaragua and visited some of the places Walker shot up.
I tell the story of Walker, and of Nicaragua, and of the troubled film
The order in which they were made?
This bro is from Egypt in the late 3rd-4th century
Very cool video installation by Brigitte Zieger called Shooting Wallpaper:
Here is No-Tin:
painted by Henry Inman around 1832.
I’ve always thought this one is kind of cool:
Frans Post of the Netherlands painting Brazil in 1655. The frame feels wrong.
Take a look at this one:
Then learn the story:
Sometimes, don’t you feel like this mammoth?
Learn more about California in: