Fire In The Lake

The photos of refrigerated trucks ready for bodies in New York City reminded me of this memorable passage in Fire In The Lake by Frances Fitzgerald:

The sight of the coffins reassured the soldiers because it showed them not only that the Front cared about their future, but that it could fulfill its promises. The provision of the coffins was, after all, a logistical triumph, and, as such, a sign that the Front had the power to reweave the society and restore its continuity through past, present and future.

Seeing refrigerated morgue trucks on the news does not reassure me, nor does it convince me that the authorities can fulfill their promises!

Dark stuff, we’ll return to more whimsical subject matter soon, we know no one is coming to Helytimes to get bummed out!

 


Spreading the virus

There’s a phenomenon on social media I’ve been meaning to discuss on Helytimes, but I don’t know how to bring it up without being guilty of what I’m talking about.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  It’s this: sharing something that’s bad.

This is incredibly common on Twitter.  It might be the main driving engine on Twitter.  “Dunking on” stuff might be the most common category. of this.  You see something you don’t like, or that’s bad, or wrong, and you make fun of it.  But in doing so, you are also of course spreading it further.  Here’s an example:

Here’s another one:

 

 

One more:

I don’t mean to pick on these people, these are all pretty innocent examples (and I’ve done the same or worse), but you see what I’m talking about.  It’s when you go, look at this shit!  It sucks!

And I’m like well maybe I wouldn’t have even seen the shit if you didn’t tell me about it.

Sometime around 2014 or so I heard someone point out that Twitter has outsized power because every journalist is on it.  Non-stop.  It almost just a chat room for journalists (and media people).  Journalists are drawn to spread the news, good and bad.  Spreading the news is their job and I hope their passion.  But what if what you’re spreading is bad, or unhelpful?

Probably the answer is just to get off Twitter, but I’m addicted to the news.  It’s very addicting!  I’m trying to work on not spreading anything bad, even if it’s funny or entertaining or exciting or, maybe most tempting of all, outrageous.


fast and decisive adjustments

This struck home, read it in a Sequoia Capital memo someone Twittered.

Also in the category of: clear writing from people in the world of VC/tech financing, an anecdote retold by Morgan Housel

The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest battle in history. With it came equally superlative stories of how people dealt with risk.

One came in late 1942, when a German tank unit sat in reserve on grasslands outside the city. When tanks were desperately needed on the front lines, something happened that surprised everyone: Almost none of the them worked.

Out of 104 tanks in the unit, fewer than 20 were operable. Engineers quickly found the issue, which, if I didn’t read this in a reputable history book, would defy belief. Historian William Craig writes: “During the weeks of inactivity behind the front lines, field mice had nested inside the vehicles and eaten away insulation covering the electrical systems.”

The Germans had the most sophisticated equipment in the world. Yet there they were, defeated by mice.

 


Primary tensions

It’s the night of the West Virginia primary, May 10, 1960.  Candidate John Kennedy, and Ben Bradlee, then Washington Bureau chief for Newsweek, cut the tension by going to see a porno:

(You can see the trailer here, it does seem like soft stuff by our standards)

Good luck out there voters, I hope your favorite candidate wins!


Joe Biden on Meet The Press

Instead of their opinions and guesses, I wish political commentators would offer simple facts, observations, like: Joe Biden doesn’t complete about 23*% of the sentences his starts.

A typical example of a Biden not completed sentence is like half a statistic or something followed by “I mean look” and a jump to a new thought.

Starting a new sentence whenever you’re lost is probably a great tactic if you find you get confused, lose the thread, or make frequent meanderings into language territory you can’t always get out of.

I’m aware Joe Biden has struggled with a stutter, and respect his struggle with it, you can see that in this Meet The Press appearance, that may partially explain this fact but doesn’t make it not a fact.

As for Mike Pence’s on Meet The Press, the less said the better.  Rare cheers for Chuck Todd for pinning him down on naming names of what specific Democrats are “politicizing” the crisis. Pence came up with “the New York Times” (referencing I believe Gail Collins’ column).

One thought I’ve had about politics is there’s a wide gap in how important people think politics is or should be.  I get a sense that, say, young Bernie voters tend to think “this is life or death!  Politics means people’s lives!” while among a Trump-type voter you often get a sense of “whatever, it’s a stupid puppet show.”

After the 2008 election, when I looked back on how much time I’d spent like refreshing blogs and stuff, I resolved not to get too sucked into like following the events and commentary, but it’s a great temptation.

*actually counted and tried to make a fair estimate, what is wrong with me.


Coaches, Super Bowl LIV

Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, poses for a photo with leadership of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, at the Chief’s training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Aug. 14, 2018. The Chiefs hosted a military appreciation day on their final day of training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

Will you be doing a coaches profile for the Super Bowl this year, Helytimes, as you’ve done in the past?

I get asked this so much when I’m out.

To be honest, I can’t do it this year.  Just haven’t had the free time and enthusiasm to study the biographies, food habits, and philosophies of the two coaches to give a true, honest effort.

I’d say from a quick skim I admire much about both Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan.

(I like those shoes.)

Reid is from LA:

Born in Los Angeles, California, Reid attended John Marshall High School and worked as a vendor at Dodger Stadium as a teenager.

If I have to make a flash prediction it’s that Reid will put in the superior coaching effort and execute the better strategy, and the Chiefs will win the game as well as beat the current 1.5 Vegas spread.

(I will not be betting on it, I don’t think I have any edge, sports betting isn’t my thing.  The only skin I put behind this prediction is my public reputation for sports predicting acumen (which I don’t value much)).

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.  Send us a picture of your favorite snack!


When I read about UK or USA politics

sometimes I’m just like, haven’t we seen this before?