Garden of Fallen Leaders

On a recent trip to Moscow, we visited the Garden of the Fallen Leaders, in Muzeon Park near the New Tretyakov Gallery. The Park displays a number of statues of leaders of the former Soviet Union. Here’s an example.

For more pictures and details about the Park, see this travel post by my wife, Janet Eyler. Although most monuments to Soviet leaders have been removed, many destroyed, and others moved to Muzeon Park, there are still monuments to these leaders. There is a very large statue of Lenin in Uglich, one of the small towns we visited, and we saw several in St. Petersburg, and at least one of Stalin.

All around the US today, something similar is happening with monuments to those who fought for and who led the Confederacy. The recent removal of statues in New Orleans caused a lot of dissent and more discussion. Here’s an example from the New York Times. The Garden of the Fallen Leaders provides a model for what to do with all those unwanted memorials, unwanted, that is, by a substantial majority.

Each state should designate a historical park area, and as it removes its monuments, they can be re-mounted in the park, with whatever ceremony and explanation the state thinks proper. There should be only one rule. This is a recent work found in the Garden:

I think it’s meaning is clear. Something similar must be in each such park, a clear demonstration of the individual agonies suffered by slaves. It will serve to remind people that, as Lincoln put it in his Second Inaugural Address:

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.

Maybe we should require the posting of the entire Second Inaugural Address to remind us that we are all Americans and bound together by history and belief.

Notre Dame undergrad (math); JD, Indiana University at Bloomington; 1st Lieutenant, US Army.; private practice in corporate and securities law; Assistant AG in Tennessee for consumer protection and securities; Blue Sky Securities Commissioner, Tennessee; private practice, bankruptcy and corporate law.

I have had a lifelong interest in economics. For most of my career, that interest was practical, focused on the problems in front of me. Lately I have been more interested in economics as a theory, especially its impact on the lives of people like those I met in my bankruptcy practice, and on the politics of money in the US. I also enjoy reading philosophers, starting in college and steadily expanding my reading ever since. I wrote at FireDogLake for a number of years.

Generally, I think the problem facing the US is the dominance of neoliberal discourse. I think it clouds the vision, and limits the kinds of problems that can be identified and solved. For example, the existence and danger of climate change can easily be identified in a scientific discussion. However, the problem does not fit the neoliberal discourse because science insists that the pursuit of individual and corporate self-interest will lead to devastation. In neoliberal discourse, the pursuit of self-interest always leads to Eden.

The neoliberal project has two prongs. One is the police function of crushing dissent and alternative views. The police function is provided by government agencies and private and institutional actors. The counterpart is the economic system , which is operated by government and by private and institutional actors. Some of these actors operate in both spheres. I focus on the second prong.

Angry Mom: Hauling out the Time-Out Chair

This week has been a disaster — yet another week of disasters — and it’s only Thursday. Every time I check my news feed I see something that makes me want to march an overgrown child toward the time-out chair.

How did we devolve to this point where the basics of civilized human behavior we teach preschoolers are thrown out the door like quaint but useless antique artifacts?

Like Turkey’s Erdogan inciting goons to rough up protesters protester on U.S. soil.

Time out. NO. You do NOT abuse your host’s hospitality by disregarding their laws. I hope law enforcement has tracked down one identified offending minion to his New Jersey construction firm to have a chat with them about their violent behavior.

Or Montana’s GOP Congressional candidate roughing up a journalist during a tantrum over questions about the House AHCA bill’s CBO numbers.

Time out. NO. You do NOT assault and batter anyone, especially a journalist who represents your constituency by exercising a First Amendment right.

Both of these ugly incidents would fail this mom’s rule: DO. NOT. TOUCH. ANYBODY. WITHOUT. THEIR. CONSENT.

How many conflicts are violations of this simple rule?

Just KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF.

Failure to do so here is an automatic grounding after a stint in time-out and a loss of privileges. I hope Montana’s voters punish Gianforte at the polls, but if they rely on the example Trump set in response to Erdogan’s abuse on our land, they won’t. Fundraising after the assault unfortunately suggests many GOP voters are a lost cause.

Now AG Jeff Sessions claims he was advised not to disclose his interactions with foreign agents while completing his security clearance forms.

Time out. NO. You do NOT offer a “dog ate my homework” excuse and prevaricate about anything related to security clearance while blaming somebody else. Fess up. Further, you should step down since you have not demonstrated by leadership the honesty and integrity required of our nation’s law enforcement by lying under oath more than once.

We’re also told GOP Congressman Mark Meadows was teary-eyed after he read yesterday’s CBO numbers analyzing the latest House version of the AHCA.

Time out. NO. You do NOT cry after the fact about your lack of spine after you voted for that death sentence for many Americans who would lose their insurance coverage. You didn’t do your homework nor check your work before you voted for it. You didn’t vote against it based on incomplete work. Buck up, wipe your eyes and march right into your office now. Issue an apology to every one of your constituents for failing to faithfully execute your office, and then contact your state’s senators and tell them you regret you didn’t do your job before offering to assist with a remedy.

The capper: the lies, lies, LIES from Budget Director Mark Mulvaney’s mouth yesterday. Do NOT sit there and tell the public 3% percent growth is realistic when your party is planning to:

— cut health care coverage for those who can least afford it; hello, escalating health care-driven bankruptcies?

cut after-school programs and food aid to children whose families can least afford it; these families won’t be spending money on transportation and better housing if they can’t buy food already.

mess with college tuition loans and forgiveness;

— cut funding to science and art in many different ways; just how do you think artists and researchers make a living? They can’t and don’t all work in private sector; corporations depend on the output from publicly-funded science and art.

I could go on but the problem isn’t details ignored but the lies. Mulvaney and his team didn’t crunch numbers and they’re lying that they did, or they did crunch the numbers and they’re lying that they ran them properly. There’s simply no way TWO TRILLION DOLLARS can be yanked out of the economy without a corresponding Jenga-effect, when nearly a third of Americans pay half their wages for housing leaving too little left as a buffer. There’s simply no way we should allow this brazen deceit to be shoved in our faces without repercussions.

Time. Out. Mulvaney should step down because he’s simply unable to do the execute his job in a manner which safeguards the public’s welfare. ALL of the public, not just the One Percent who can afford to buy all the health care they want.

It just doesn’t stop. While I sit here and fume, wishing I could put this entire administration and nearly all GOP members elected and otherwise in time out, Trump is bullying Europe, being rude during handshakes, literally shoving Montenegro around during a photo op and badgering our EU allies about money.

See the bit above about KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF — this guy simply doesn’t get this rule, whether shoving the newest member of NATO, snatching at Melania’s hand on the tarmac, or grabbing some other woman’s pussy.

He also can’t be bothered with doing his homework, going off about NATO members’ economic contributions without any obvious effort to understand how NATO works. He’d rather suck up to vicious and deadly bullies like the Philippines’ Duterte while spilling more intelligence. Not to mention the blatant lies he made to his supporters during his campaign about Medicaid — now squarely on the chopping block.

But worst of all is the GOP’s reaction to the AHCA. Sure, Meadow’s all torn up a little too late. What about the rest of the damned Republican Party? They’re completely okay with voting party-over-country for a pig-in-a-poke which turns out to be a deadly xenomorph for 23 million Americans? They’re peachy-keen with offering a nearly insignificant number of Americans some financial reward they don’t actually need?

If you’re a billionaire, you can only be on so many yachts at the same time. You can only reside in so many multi-million dollar urban luxury apartments or vineyards you can’t staff cheaply without breaking immigration laws. You don’t need the money. Your country does, however.

As a society we teach our children universal ethics, valuing love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, responsibility, respect for life. These ethics transcend all boundaries between people.

And yet the individuals and the groups to which the misbehaved belong appear to have misplaced these shared values. How can you love and tolerate your fellow human when you’re grabbing them by the throat to obstruct their freedom or incite violence against them? How can you demonstrate truthfulness and responsibility by lying repeatedly to the people you have sworn to serve? How can you show unity with humanity and respect for their lives when you offer only pretense at protecting them?

Time out to the poorly behaved. Go to a corner and think about this. Don’t come out until you are ready to take responsibility for your actions, be accountable for your deeds, and act like a adult.

The true adults among us must wield some discipline. Lives are at stake. We no longer have the luxury of standing by and ignoring others’ poorly behaved children. They’re all ours; it’s on us.

Use this as an open thread while we wait for the final results of today’s special election in Montana.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Yah, These ARE The Droids We Have Been Looking For And Fearing

I did not always write about it so much here, but I got fairly deep into “Deflategate” analysis and law when it was going on. Because it was fascinating. I met so many lawyers, professors and others, it was bonkers. Have remained friends with many, if not most, of all of them. One is Alexandra J. Roberts, which is kind of funny because she was not necessarily one of the major players. Yet, she is one of the enduring benefits I have come to love from the bigger picture.

Today, Ms Roberts advises of some R2D2 like cop robots. I “might” have engaged in some frivolity in response. But, really, it is a pretty notable moment.

Police droids on the ground? Police drones in the air? You think Kyllo will protect you from a Supreme Court with Neil Gorsuch on it? Hell, you think Merrick Garland would not have done what he has done all of his life and sign off on ever greater law enforcement collection and oppression? Not a chance in hell. Neither Gorsuch, nor Garland, would ever have penned what Scalia did in Kyllo:

It would be foolish to contend that the degree of privacy secured to citizens by the Fourth Amendment has been entirely unaffected by the advance of technology. For example, as the cases discussed above make clear, the technology enabling human flight has exposed to public view (and hence, we have said, to official observation) uncovered portions of the house and its curtilage that once were private. See Ciraolo, supra, at 215. The question we confront today is what limits there are upon this power of technology to shrink the realm of guaranteed privacy.

So, with no further adieu, here, via the Bo Globe, is the deal:

There’s a new security officer in town. But this one runs on batteries, not Dunkin’ Donuts.

Next time you’re visiting the Prudential Center, don’t be alarmed if you bump into a large, rolling robot as it travels the corridors where shoppers pop in and out of stores.

No, it’s not an oversized Roomba on the loose. It’s the “Knightscope K5,” an egg-shaped autonomous machine equipped with real-time monitoring and detection technology that allows it to keep tabs on what’s happening nearby.

Marvelous! R2D2 is making us all safer!

Nope. Sorry. Safe streets, broken windows, and “cop on the beat” policing cannot be accomplished by a tin can.

Just Say No to this idiotic and lazy policing bullshit. The next thing you know, the tin can will be probable cause. And Neil Gorsuch will help further that craven “good faith” reliance opinion in a heartbeat.

Parting Shot: Holy hell, we have our first reference to hate crimes for anti-cop robot violence! See here.

Frankly, having been in the field for three decades, I think the thought that cops are proper “hate crime” victims is absurd. Honestly, all “hate crimes” laws are completely absurd as they create different and more, and less, valuable classes of human crime victims. This may sound lovely to you in the safety of your perch, where you want to lash out at the evil others.

But if the “all men are created equal” language in the Declaration of Independence is to be given the meaning that so many demagogues over American history assign to it, then the “hate crimes” segregation and preference of one set of human victims over others, is total unfathomable bullshit.

That is just as to humans. Let’s not even go to the “victim’s rights” of squeaky ass little R2D2 tin cans.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Tell The Truth: Who’s Been Bullying Who

The internet is a strange, yet consummately wonderful place. It allows for a feed from thought leaders and journalists, and with a new age real time speed emphasis, with the ability of other, and different on a granular level, voices to respond. It is a wonderful, even if still difficult, medium of interaction. Twitter is the epitome of it all.

Some will say Facebook, but I think Twitter is a far better avatar, especially for those that really think about hard news, current events and some sort of equilibrium of differing political discourse. Is it a little rough, unfiltered and harsh because of the proverbial 140 character limit? Sure. Absolutely. You hope that the friends you make are equal to the knowledge you take, whether you agree or disagree at any given point in time.

And then comes a day where a small fish gets accused of “bullying” by far bigger fishes. As if simple political and moral distinctions and views are “bullying” or otherwise unconscionable among people that have been agreeing and disagreeing/parrying with and against one another for give or take a decade.

Instead, I was always taught to go into a forum, argue like hell for what you think you must and/or right, and then go have a cocktail with your adversary, or at least shake hands and walk off with the understanding there are two sides to any legitimate argument. And, I will be honest, the “fight like hell” part is always job one. Indeed, criminal defense attorneys are schooled to zealously do just that.

So, recently, I was accused of “bullying”. By a friend with a perch several exponents above mine. I tried to explain. I apologized. And I got nothing in response but for the initial intellectual scorn and accusation that I was “bullying” the big fish.

But for the sadness, both on a personal and interpersonal plane, and greater intellectual one, I might laugh instead of cry. But I cannot. I will not.

The times are severe. The moment is critical. Let us all rise above this type of impertinent interaction. You can still respect and admire people you occasionally have real and very hard differences with. And you can talk to them. Both sides will be all the better for that discourse.

Trying times, civil rights, equality of justice, and the American experiment itself, depend on all of us.

[If you didn’t know, that was not just Slow Clapton in the video but also the one and only Yvonne Elliman too. She is, and always has been, special.]

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Three Things: Oracle’s 299, Flashback, Longreads and 4/20

Day Zero — the day after federal income tax filings were due — came and went, with zero Trump tax returns disclosed to the public. While Trump’s positions on many issues flip-flop and confuse the world, on transparency, ethics, and his tax returns he has been utterly consistent: opaque and unethical.

Fortunately today is 4/20. Do with that what you will. Do you smell brownies?

Speaking of 4/20, did you know that states where marijuana legalization appeared on the 2016 ballot, those initiatives outperformed one or more of the two main presidential candidates? What a candidate or political party might do with that knowledge…anyhow, on with three things.

Unprophetic Oracle
There’s still some fallout after The Shadow Brokers (TSB) release last week of NSA Tailored Access Operations’ (TAO) toolkit. Software vendor Oracle announced a patch for 299 vulnerabilities revealed by the TSB.

Wrap your head around that: 299 fixes.

Bigger than the whopping 276 fixes Oracle issued last summer in one fell swoop.

Now wrap your head around the fact this mega-patch covers a range of corporate enterprise software used for nearly every aspect of business operations, from human resource management to service or manufacturing resource planning.

If the NSA isn’t conducting economic espionage Oracle seems like an odd target to saturate so wide and deeply.

Still haven’t decided what to think of Oracle’s ability to push out this many patches inside a week. Were they tipped off, or were these vulnerabilities so obvious they should have been fixed ages ago? Or maybe this is what happens when a business like Oracle takes its eyes off the ball and focuses on the wrong things like a protracted lawsuit against Google?

Memories, jogged
When I saw this table fragment on Twitter, listing a few exploits revealed by TSB, I had a flashback to the Bush administration.

Gee, I wonder how much of the NSA TAO-Equation Group toolkit could explain the White House’s missing emails post-Plame outing?

Longreads: Economics, Liberalism, Google’s first moonshot
These are worth your time yet this week or weekend.

The Liberal Order Is Rigged by Jeff D. Colgan and Robert O. Keohane in Foreign Affairs (registration required) — An examination of liberalism’s failure and how the failure led to anti-democratic populism. In my opinion, this assessment is good but simplistic; the knee-jerk reaction many will have to the word ‘liberalism’ alone indicates there is far more at work than liberalism failing to deliver on its merits. It’s still worth a read; we must begin to pick out and save the liberal from neoliberal if we are to save democracy. Must say I’m surprised at Foreign Affairs’ steady shift away from rigid conservatism as well as neoliberalism.

The moral burden on economists — Darryl Hamilton’s 2017 presidential address to the National Economic Association warns against treating economics as a morally neutral ‘science’. How much of the failure of liberalism is really due to immoral/non-neutral application of economics?

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria by James Somers for The Atlantic — This tagline is quite the hook: “Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.” Heartbreaking to think there hasn’t been a middle ground to free these books to the public. In my opinion, Google is out the money on the scanning process. What would happen if they spun off this effort as a nonprofit digital Library of Alexandria? Could the funds from books approaching out-of-copyright date pay for the upkeep and digitization of new works?

Chaffetz out?
I don’t even know what to think of the rumors that Rep. Jason Chaffetz may leave Congress before his term ends December 2017. Some speculate his role in cutting funding directly related to security for diplomats plays a role; others speculate the decision is based on a more personal driver. I hope he can live with what he’s done and what he may yet choose to do. I’d hate to have to explain myself to my kids if I’d made some of his decisions to date.

There’s your three things and a lagniappe. À bientôt!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Three Things: Not-So-Neutral, Day 2 and Reading

This house was occupied by outside forces this long holiday weekend, obstructing output. Hope your weekend was similarly occupied by loved ones. Here’s three things for today.

It’s Day 2, Donald
At least 150 Tax March rallies across the country on Saturday reflected the public’s opinion about Trump’s tax returns — he must disclose them. Predictable locations participated, like New York City, but when red state cities and towns like Florida’s West Palm Beach have marches it’s an indicator.

Where are your tax returns, Trump? And don’t give us the “under audit” excuse yet again like you did through Spicer this afternoon. All previous presidents have been automatically audited while in office and still disclosed their returns. Nor are we going to buy your administration’s trash talk about the Tax Marches; we know what’s up with organized white supremacist provokatsiya.

Projection, much?

Net-not-so-Neutral
The big guys in technology — Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, more — are slowly stirring from their post-inauguration torpor on net neutrality and the threat to their businesses non-neutrality poses. Their industry group, the Internet Association, expressed their concerns last week to the Federal Communications Commission about the FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s intent to kill net neutrality regulations established under the Obama administration.

Kind of slow on the uptake, dudes. Could have seen this coming based on Pai’s anti-neutrality stance when he served as an FCC commissioner. Also could have easily predicted Pai’s position based on the current administration’s drive against regulations.

And Pai’s move to reduce FCC oversight of the internet by shifting it to the Federal Trade Commission is a blowjob gift for the telcos — in spite of the fact more communications travel over the internet, a move to the FTC reduces exposure of communications to existing communications regulations. This does not serve the public’s interest.

There’s an alternate tack members of the Internet Association could take, if a little pricey and radical: they could simply buy the telcos. Google could acquire AT&T which has been a major PITA obstructing competition from Google Fiber. Apple could just buy Verizon for iPhone service and Facebook could snap up CenturyLink. The Internet Association could take on a role as mediator addressing traffic issues between them.

And then let’s see what happens to reducing regulation and net neutrality. Of course this creates an entirely new set of challenges with regard to privacy, but I’d rather move toward regulations to address them under FCC. (And I’d really rather digital morons like Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had nothing to do with the intersection of privacy and technology when he clearly doesn’t grasp the internet is telecommunications deserving the same privacy as landlines.)

Speaking of acquisitions, there’s speculation Apple could buy Disney which includes ABC and other content subsidiaries like ESPN. Looks like wishful thinking right now on part of analysts, but if FCC’s Pai continues shredding net neutrality, it makes more sense for Apple (and other internet companies) to snap up companies which make content, cutting out carriers or forcing them to pay for Apple’s content.

Longreads
Here’s a few things worth your time during a commute or lunch hour this week:

A look at the end of Gaullism as France approaches its election.

Essay: Friendship as a Civic Democratic Practice — that’s little d democratic here; Ivy Schweitzer asks if we can’t look to our friendships to fix our national political schism. (Me? On a limited basis; I can’t be friends with Nazis.)

Marc Ambinder on U.S. government continuity — worth a read, but I’ve long had a nasty feeling continuity plans were changed because of 9/11 and they’re in a classified executive order if I’m right.

Interesting look at impact of open-source citizen investigations on Russian disinformation — focal point of this analysis is the doomed 2014 Malaysian Air flight MH17.

Those should keep you busy. Day 1 ahead — last day to file income taxes without penalty or file for an extension. Time, tide, and taxes wait for no man, Trump.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Open Thread: Arcs and Sparks

I’m writing most of this post nearly a week before this will actually publish. Since I first began blogging 15 years ago, I can’t think of a time when I couldn’t write a casual, evergreen piece without worrying what would happen between the time I first began typing and the post published. Now? I hope the Reichstag fire of our age has not been sparked by the time you read this and I finish clicking the Schedule Post button.

I guess if the Fire 2.0 has come, you’re probably too busy to read this anyhow. Why should I worry?

This week’s featured art is by Polish painter Jacek Malczewski. I had the privilege once of seeing some of his work during a trip to Europe. Words can’t convey the intensity, the palpable power of his painting. It feels as if it will fall out of the canvas at one’s feet in a fury of energy. This particular piece, Melancholia, is probably his most famous. It traces a narrative arc from left to right — how very western! — which nearly spills over the front bottom edge of the 4.5-foot by 8-foot canvas. The arc describes emergence of both the artist and Poland, from conception in the interior of an artist’s studio toward the open window and the sunlight beyond, from insurgency and exile to Young Poland of age and strife. The window’s sill forms a barrier, a limit beyond which death may exist, but whose limit, whose death? what an amazing amount of content crammed into this painting; I wish I could have found a better digital image to do it justice.

I asked in last Saturday’s open thread/art post for readers to consider this untitled piece by Zdzisław Beksiński. Beksiński may have been inspired by Malczewski’s Melancholia in his depiction of a surrealist gothic arc; this one is so dark, so tight that a narrative is nearly impossible to decipher. It, too, emerges from the left and transits to the right, but from a bright formless void to a bricked up exit. It is more melancholy than Malczewski’s work in its darkness. One of Beksiński’s more obvious nods to Malczewski’s Melancholia spells out ‘Melancolia’ without the frantic rush of history’s sweep — only death and decay.

You can find a nice selection of Malczewski’s work at this link, and a solid overview of his career as a Polish symbolist at Culture.pl.

Non-arts stuff (if it’s not mentioned here, bring your topic downstairs in comments):

PGA Tour — Okay, I admit it, maybe one of the pasty white guys in golf togs might have mixed it up and added a little excitement this week — by slapping an alligator. Youngster Cody Gribble chased the reptile into a pond and then finished his round; sadly, at six over after Day 2, Gribble isn’t expected to make the cut. The tour’s at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando this week. Kind of a shame I’m rooting for more gators on the course in the deep rough.

NCAA March Madness — Live bracket here. A bunch of whining about the NBA’s one-and-done rule here, possibly explaining away any boring matches which are complained about here. C’mon, these players are teenagers, well-trained but still like puppies. Stop expecting miracles.

And who knew that guys schedule their vasectomies in March so they can lie about and watch basketball while nursing their bruised ‘nads? But you can only use that excuse once, dudes. Next year you can schedule a hernia repair. Make plans now to lift something obscenely heavy in December or January.

NFLThe draft. Because somebody noticed I omitted it on first pass last week. ~shrug~ Must say NFL is a dreadful abuser of autoplay embedded video.

Football — No, the other football. UEFA Europa League competition starts soon, with quarter-final draw yesterday. Check the matches here. UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw also made with next games scheduled for April 11-12. Some drama in Europa League surrounding the win over Russia’s FC Rostov involving a banana. Sadly, not as exciting as a golfing alligator.

NASCAR — At Phoenix International Raceway this week for the XFINITY Series DC Solar 200 (first short track this year) on Saturday and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 on Sunday.

NHL — I give up. Detroit Red Wings are still in the goddamn basement of the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. You go and make up your own filler here after reading the current standings. And I am really sick of the girls rubbing Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn photos in my face, going on and on about Tyler’s abs. This week’s win over Vancouver Canucks forced me to shut off my Twitter notifications because of the flood of photos.

NBA — I just don’t care. Although I must say I laughed out loud when I noticed the top story in my feed was this one. Oh yeah, that’ll change everything.

MLB — Same. And really, is there such a desperate need for content that writers are reduced to stories like this? Here’s a mid-spring training report, but holy wah, what a godawful layout on desktop displays. You’ve been warned.

If I missed something, bring it downstairs with you and share.

32 days until Tax Day deadline. Do you know where your deductions are?

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Open Thread: Don’t Forget Poland!

Recall the quaint mid-Oughts during the 2004 presidential debates, when Dubya corrected his opponent John Kerry with, “You forgot Poland!

Ah, those were the days, when an illegal war and torture were our biggest concerns.

Unlike now when nearly everything liberal democracy represents is in flames and ashes.

Last month I looked at a couple of works by Norwegian artist Munch; his Angst and The Scream still speak to us about existential crises. This month I want to look at a few works by Polish artists who also seem relevant to our condition.

Like Zdzisław Beksiński’s The Trumpeter featured here; how fitting with its many-fingered creepy playing. It’s fairly contemporary, published in 1983, and used as cover art for metal band Artestor’s album, ‘Omen’. Beksiński characterized his art as baroque or gothic. Hard to argue against this description given the wealth of dark detail. Some of Beksiński’s work reminds me of Swiss artist H.R. Giger’s monstrous surrealism like that used in the film Alien.

Take note of this piece featured in a write-up about Beksinski in a favorite art magazine. I’ll make reference to it next weekend when I look at another Pole’s work.

Sadly, Beksiński was murdered in 2005 for refusing to loan a young man some money. He left behind a wealth of work which will stir our imaginations for years to come. You can find more of his work at Dmochowski Gallery online.

Non-artsy stuff:

NCAA Basketball‘s March Madness begins on Tuesday. ESPN has key tournament dates. NCAA offers a bracket challenge to follow along.

NHL Hockey regular season ends April 9. Come on, Red Wings, please don’t finish this season dead last. Only a month to claw over the bottom two. For crying out loud don’t roll over for the NY Rangers on Sunday or I’ll never hear the end of it from the girls. It’ll be all “Oh, that Mats Zuccarello this and that, he’s so cute…” Just, no.

PGA Tour is at Innisbrook Resort for the Valspar Invitational this weekend. Thankfully for tourney players and attendees Innisbrook is in Palm Harbor, Florida — the opposite side of the state from Mar-a-Lago. I can’t get excited about the tour, though; these guys at the top of the leader board are like watching paste set up.

NASCAR this week is in Las Vegas for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. So redundant, that line, but it is what it is. Not my thing, but I need to pay attention to this since my prospective son-in-law is a big NASCAR fan.

UPDATE 2:32 PM EST NFL Free Agency because somebody downstairs noticed I had ignored a professional sport about which I don’t care, now in post-season. You’ll notice I didn’t originally mention the NBA (one month left in regular season) or the MLB (three weeks before regular season opening day) or the MLS (regular season started a week ago) either.

Next thing you know somebody will ask, “What about horse racing?” Yeah. And what about Poland?

That’s a wrap. This is an open thread — bring your arts and sports and whatever here which doesn’t belong in topic threads.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

International Women’s Day 2017: #DayWithoutAWoman

It’s been 108 years since the first National Women’s Day was declared in the U.S.; in 1911 it became International Women’s Day.

It would be another nine years before American women’s right to vote was enshrined in the 19th Amendment, and another 68 years after IWD 1911 before women’s suffrage was deemed a fundamental human right by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

In spite of women’s enfranchisement, they are under-represented in elected office; they have not realized parity in employment or pay across most industries. Their work is devalued more often and more deeply if they are engaged in emotional labor. They are far more likely to be under paid if they are women of color.

And now they fight to change this continuing inequity in spite of a world leader whose words and actions further denigrate their innate value.

The International Women’s Day 2017 theme is Be Bold for Change — but after a couple lifetimes, more than slogans are called for. The Women’s March movement, bolstered by its January 21st event and in concert with the International Women’s Strike organization, called for A Day Without A Woman to emphasize the role of women in the economy as part of their

As part of A Day Without A Woman, women are on strike when they can afford to do so. If you see a woman on the job, consider how challenging it is to support a family making wages which have not only stalled over the last two decades, but are on average 20% less than men make in the same jobs. Depending on whose study one reads, it will take 60 to 170 years for women to reach parity. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Today, women are wearing red to show their solidarity with their striking sisters. If you see women not wearing red, consider how their individual right to free speech has been degraded by corporatism in spite of their enfranchisement.

Today, women are avoiding purchases. If you see women buying goods or services, consider how difficult it is for some women to buy what they need in advance because of pay inequity in spite of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Families are deeply impacted by economic precarity based in gender pay inequity.

Today, consider how women’s freedom to make decisions about their reproductive health; will they be forced to quit their job because of unexpected pregnancy or inability to obtain adequate health insurance?

Today, consider the importance of women — regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, cis-/trans-/straight-gay-bi-sexuality — to a healthy economy and a thriving country.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Open Thread: Angst

It’s the last weekend in February; I think Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ did such a fine job last weekend I’ll enlist another of his works to close this month. This one is called ‘Anxiety’ in English. In Norway they call it ‘Angst’. I think the latter is far more fitting based on definition.

We haven’t yet sunk into madness — March Madness, that is. (Don’t forget to fill out your bracket if you’re into that collegiate basketball-induced insanity.)

But we are definitely suffering from a collective existential dread. How will we climb out of this hole and fix this mess?

In the mean time, dump your burden here. Make light while you can. Remember Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the last guilt-free celebration until Easter for those of who are Catholic or Catholic-by-heritage. Offload your angst in comments and celebrate while you can without a side-eye or shade.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.