29 June 2024

Rereading 1984

In preparation for the upcoming election, I decided to give George Orwell's 1984 a reread; it's probably been 50 years since I last read it.  If anything it is even more ominous and foreboding than it was back then.  I'll probably post a few excerpts later, but for now I'll just offer this excerpt from the Emmanuel Goldstein's antiestablishment book Ignorance is Strength:
Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim - for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives - is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history a struggle which is the same in its main outlines recurs over and over again. For long periods the High seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the Middle, who enlist the Low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the Middle thrust the Low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the High. Presently a new Middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the Low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims. It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimetre nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.
The text continues online at Panarchy (or better yet get 1984 from your local library).


For many years I've been intrigued by the images on the stamps of Papua New Guinea featuring an unusual sailing vessel, but I've never taken the time to look up what they are.  Until today.

The local term is "lakatoi" (literally "three dugouts"); the dugouts are harnessed together with booms, creating craft that are stable for oceanic travel.  The sails are "crab-claws."
Crab-claw sails were invented by the Austronesians somewhere in Island Southeast Asia by at least 2000 BCE. It spread with the Austronesian migration to Micronesia, Island Melanesia, Madagascar, and Polynesia. It may have also caused the unique development of outrigger boat technology due to the necessity for stability once crab claw sails were attached to small watercraft. Crab claw sails can be used for double-canoe (catamaran), single-outrigger (on the windward side), or double-outrigger boat configurations, in addition to monohulls.

Crab claw sails are rigged fore-and-aft and can be tilted and rotated relative to the wind. They evolved from "V"-shaped perpendicular square sails (a "double sprit") in which the two spars converge at the base of the hull. The simplest form of the crab claw sail (also with the widest distribution) is composed of a triangular sail supported by two light spars (sometimes erroneously called "sprits") on each side. They were originally mastless, and the entire assembly was taken down when the sails were lowered...

Another evolution of the basic crab claw sail is the conversion of the upper spar into a fixed mast. In Polynesia, this gave the sail more height while also making it narrower, giving it a shape reminiscent of crab pincers (hence "crab claw" sail). This was also usually accompanied by the lower spar becoming more curved.

Austronesians traditionally made their sails from woven mats of the resilient and salt-resistant pandanus leaves. These sails allowed Austronesians to embark on long-distance voyaging. In some cases, however, they were one-way voyages. The failure of pandanus to establish populations in Easter Island and New Zealand is believed to have isolated their settlements from the rest of Polynesia.

Is there any way for me to rescue this thumb drive?

This message appears whenever I insert an old thumb drive into my iMac.   It is a THKAILAR  64GB USB C flash drive loaded with memorabilia photos.  I don't know how it was damaged - most likely I removed it before formally "ejecting" it.  

Not a major tragedy, but hoping for a workaround.  

28 June 2024

This is what Photoshop is for

The image above was posted to the PhotoshopRequest subreddit with this message:
As our family's "photoshopper" I have been asked to edit this picture to make it look like she isn't in the hospital. But I am too emotional to even start it. Their one request was that I make it look like she isn't in the hospital, but they have no other ideas or suggestions. I told them I don't think I'd be able to get the tubes covering her face removed. But if that's something you would like to attempt, please go for it. I am from South Africa, and so $10 is all I can offer. I hope this amount is acceptable, as I know how much effort and skill this will take. This picture was taken using their phone, so I don't have a better quality image, I'm afraid. Thank you all in advance.
The discussion thread includes several cleaned-up images, including this one:

Hats off to the Redditors who provide these services.

Bribery of federal officials is now legal

Bribery of officials in power in government has always occurred, but until now it has always been illegal.  The Supreme Court has now changed that.  Herewith some excerpts from an incisive commentary in an op-ed piece in The Guardian:
"Did you know you could give your local government officials tips when they do things you like? Brett Kavanaugh thinks you can. In fact, if you’re rich enough, says the US supreme court, you can now pay off state and local officials for government acts that fit your policy preferences or advance your interests. You can give them lavish gifts, send them on vacations, or simply cut them checks. You can do all of this so long as the cash, gifts or other “gratuities” are provided after the service, and not before it – and so long as a plausible deniability of the meaning and intent of these “gratuities” is maintained.

That was the ruling authored by Kavanaugh in Snyder v United States, a 6-3 opinion issued on Wednesday, in which the supreme court dealt the latest blow to federal anti-corruption law. In the case, which was divided along ideological lines, the court held that “gratuities” – that is, post-facto gifts and payments – are not technically “bribes”, and therefore not illegal. Bribes are only issued before the desired official act, you see, and their meaning is explicit; a more vague, less vulgarly transactional culture of “gratitude” for official acts, expressed in gifts and payments of great value, is supposed to be something very different. The court has thereby continued its long effort to legalize official corruption, using the flimsiest of pretexts to rob federal anti-corruption statutes of all meaning.

The case concerns James Snyder, who in 2013 was serving as the mayor of small-town Portage, Indiana. Late that year, the city of Portage awarded a contract to Great Lakes Peterbilt, a trucking company, and bought five tow trucks from them; a few weeks later, Snyder asked for and accepted a check for $13,000 from the company. Snyder was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He argued that the kickback was not illegal because it came after he awarded a contract to the company that ultimately paid him off, not before.

Absurdly the US supreme court agreed, classifying such payments as mere tokens of appreciation and claiming they are not illegal when they are not the product of an explicit agreement meant to influence official acts in exchange for money...

For an example, we need look no further than the conservative justices of the supreme court itself, who have become notorious, in recent years, for accepting lavish gifts and chummy intimacy from rightwing billionaires. According to investigative reporting by ProPublica, Clarence Thomas has accepted vacations, real estate purchases, tuition for his young relatives, and seemingly innumerable private jet trips from the billionaire Harlan Crow, as well as financing for an RV from another wealthy patron, Anthony Welters. Thomas has argued that these gifts and favors are merely the “personal hospitality” of “close personal friends”...

Adding money – or, in the court’s parlance, “gratuities” – to these arrangements only makes this more obvious. It is not a coincidence that the court has chosen to legalize for state and local officials exactly the sort of corruption that they partake of so conspicuously themselves."

Related: Kleptocracy and kakistocracy explained

Proof that butterflies crossed an ocean

Excerpts from a story in The New York Times:
Early one morning in late October 2013, Gerard Talavera, an entomologist, saw something highly unusual — a flock of painted lady butterflies stranded on a beach in French Guiana.

The painted lady, or the species Vanessa cardui, is one of the world’s most widespread butterflies, but it isn’t found in South America. Yet there they were, lying in the sand of the continent’s eastern shores, their wings tattered and riddled with holes.

The insect is a champion of long-distance travel, routinely crisscrossing the Sahara on a trek from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa, covering up to 9,000 miles. Could they also have made the 2,600-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean without any place to stop and refuel?..

Dr. Talavera and his team describe a crucial clue to cracking the mystery of the stranded butterflies: Pollen clinging to the butterflies in French Guiana matched flowering shrubs in West African countries. These shrubs bloom from August to November, which matches the timeline of the butterflies’ arrival...

In addition to studying the pollen, the researchers sequenced the butterflies’ genomes to trace their lineage and found they had European-African roots. This ruled out the possibility that they had flown over land from North America. Then, they used an insect-tracking tool called isotope tracing to confirm that the butterflies’ natal origins were in Western Europe, North Africa and West Africa.
It's amazing what science is capable of nowadays.  The full scientific report is available online at Nature Communications.  The painted lady resting on my finger is one I raised some years ago from a caterpillar found on local nettles.

Dolly Parton for President

Reposted from 2023 because she would have out-debated both of those losers last night...

Seriously.  Dolly Parton is the only person who can unite the brutally divided partisan voters of this country.  She is eminently qualified to represent the values this country claims to hold dear.

Allow me to anticipate the potential objections:

"She wouldn't have the right qualifications for being president of the country"
Constitutional requirements for the president:  a natural-born citizen at least 35 years old and a resident of the country for at least 14 years.  Box checked.  Moving on.

Duties and responsibilities of the President, as defined at the U.S. Senate site:
As chief executive, the president presides over the cabinet and has responsibility for the management of the executive branch. With the advice and consent of the Senate, the president also has the power to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors, U.S. officers, and judges to federal courts. He is also the commander in chief of the armed forces. The president signs laws and can veto bills that have passed Congress.
Details at the link.  We all know that every previous President has delegated those duties or fulfilled them based on recommendations from advisory committees (although Eisenhower may have been a real-life commander-in-chief).  No problems there.
"She has no political experience"
Exactly.  An asset, not a deficiency.  Dolly is the antithesis of a politician.  

"She is not part of a political party"
Exactly.  She has carefully avoided aligning herself with either the Democratic or Republican party.  She turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom offer from Trump (twice) and from Biden; she felt that if she accepted it she "would be doing politics."

Here's a discussion of her recent "World on Fire" song lyrics:
“Don't get me started on politics, Now how are we to live in a world like this, Greedy politicians, present and past, They wouldn't know the truth if it bit 'em in the ass.”
These are the words read back to Dolly [by a host on the Today Show], who laughs as a response. She’s then asked which politicians she’s talking about.

All of them. any of them.” She replies, plainly.

She then adds, “I don’t think any of them are trying hard enough… They worry more about their party than they do about the people.”

Dolly added the better approach would be “If we just do what we felt was the right thing rather than who’s going to lose or who’s going to win this, or who’s going to look better if they do this.”
Absofuckinlutely right.  Here's the video of that conversation. And most Americans will agree with her.

This comment about her own politics, as cited in Woman and Home:
As for her own political views, she knows what they are and that’s good enough for her. “I’ve got as many Republican friends as I’ve got Democrat friends and I just don’t like voicing my opinion on things,” she says.

“I’ve seen things before, like the Dixie Chicks. You can ruin a career for speaking out. I respect my audience too much for that, I respect myself too much for that. Of course, I have my own opinions, but that don’t mean I got to throw them out there because you’re going to piss off half the people.”
Here's the full video of her performance of "World on Fire" at the American Country Music Awards.  Listen.

She gets a standing ovation from a room full of cowboy hats after performing what can reasonably be described as a climate change anthem.

"Liar, liar the world’s on fire

Whatcha gonna do when it all burns down?

Fire, fire burning higher

Still got time to turn it all around."

It’s difficult to say whether Dolly explicitly intended “World on Fire” as a climate song, though people are hearing it as such. But that’s how many of Dolly’s more “political” statements and artistic work come across — they tap into the zeitgeist without making any explicit political statements. Dolly is an expert at this.
Note also that the performance is a crossover of country music and rock and roll.  Dolly bridged that gap like no performer in history, recently accepting induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after a lifetime of country music and Grand Old Opry.

Her new album, due out later this year, will include a cover of Prince's Purple Rain and duets with Sting, Steven Tyler, and Elton John, as well as a combined performance of "Let It Be" with McCartney and Ringo (see video above).  This from the most acclaimed "country music" artist of all time, because she believes in music and the lyrics of music, not in the politics of country vs. rock

This was Dolly Parton's comment regarding the Trump/Clinton presidential debates many years ago:

Let’s talk about what we really need — taking care of us. I think people just want to have a feeling of security. It’s just like political terrorism right now, they got us all scared to death about everything,’ Parton said.
A pause in this nomination post.  Anyone who has ever written anything knows that it is easier to write the long version rather than a concise version.  I'm going to take the easy way out for the moment because I have so much to present, by inserting extended extracts from a variety of sources I've bookmarked over the years.  Later I'll need to come back to weed, summarize, correlate etc.  So here we go with some of the source material...

She is beloved across so many demographic groups because she really transcends politics,” said Lance Kinney, an advertising and public-relations professor at the University of Alabama. “And her magic lies on being a cipher onto which you can graft whatever political agenda you prefer.”

The allure that rings from honky-tonks in the rural South to gay bars in large coastal cities has everything to do with the persona Parton has meticulously cultivated since the 1950s, Kinney said. On the one hand, there’s the conservative-appealing story of Parton’s origins — or how she managed to pull herself up by her bootstraps after growing up poor in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. On the other, there’s the glitz and glamour of her towering wigs and acrylic nails, and the feminist anthem she created with “9 to 5,” an iconic song about workplace discrimination.

In recent years, Parton has turned the Imagination Library, her literacy-focused nonprofit, into a 2 million-book-a-month international operation and also helped fund Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. She has supported the LGBTQ+ community and endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement — breaking with “the guardrail in country music of not talking about racial injustice in the present,” said Joel Schwindt, a music history assistant professor at Berklee College of Music.

“Dolly Parton, much like country music, is a paradox,” Schwindt said. “But I think she can get away with it because of her authenticity and also because she’s reached founders’ status in country.”
Regarding controversial issues, per Gizmodo:
She’s acknowledged, for instance, the role of the LGBT community in inspiring her stage persona. Yet when Tennessee banned public drag performances, she kept quiet. She publicly attested her support for Black Lives Matter with a spate of other country musicians as artists reckoned with the genre’s long silence on racial justice. Her speaking up came two years after she changed the name of her long-running dinner show from Dixie Stampede to Dolly’s Stampede after much criticism of its Confederate nostalgia. Parton insisted the original name was chosen out of “innocent ignorance.” (This move did divide some fans.)

In interviews, Dolly has certainly expressed support for environmental causes, in her down-home oratory style. “We’re just mistreating Mother Nature,” she told National Geographic last year.“That’s like being ugly to your mama.” ...

But Wilkerson feels that Dolly, and her companies, don’t own up to their part in damaging the region’s climate resilience or contributing to environmental catastrophe through the cumulative impact of all those cars and private jets. “It’s been the ruination of the Smoky Mountains,” Wilkerson said bluntly. 

From Vox in 2021:
But Parton knew what she was talking about when she suggested to the New York Times last fall that people were starting to get sick of her. She has now achieved the sort of hysterical and highly trendy adoration that can shade into overexposure in the blink of an eye — even for a legend with a reputation as durable as Dolly Parton’s. The pressure on Dolly Parton to be the single person who can unite a fractured America is so high, there is a slow and uneasy creep of incipient backlash all around her...

But in recent decades, everything that makes Dolly Dolly has swung back into trend. “One reason Parton’s approval rating is so high, though” Lindsay Zoladz posited in the New York Times in 2019, “is that all the attributes that used to set her up for criticism — the outrageous, hyper-femme style; the unapologetic business savvy needed to pull off her late-70s pop crossover; even the so-what acknowledgment of her own cosmetic surgery — are no longer taboo.”

Dolly Parton often explains that she modeled her look after the town tramp, who as a small child she thought was the most beautiful person she’d ever seen, and that she knows straight men don’t find it attractive and doesn’t care. “If I was trying to really impress men or be totally sexy, then I would dress differently,” she told Playboy in 1978. But why bother? “I’m already married and he don’t mind how I look.”..

For decades, this acknowledgment played as tacky or trashy. But in the 2010s, it came to be seen as empowering, even feminist: Dolly dresses for herself, not the male gaze. And Dolly’s self is a celebration of the artificiality of femininity and glamour, a finding of authenticity in what is fake. That’s downright avant-garde...

In 2008, Roger Ebert returned to his 1980 Dolly Parton profile, noting that it had missed something he considered very important: her presence, which he writes “enveloped” him. “This had nothing to do with sex appeal,” he says. “Far from it. It was as if I were being mesmerized by a benevolent power. I left the room in a cloud of good feeling.”

Ebert adds that when he spoke with his writing partner Gene Siskel about Parton the next day, Siskel reported the same feeling: “This will sound crazy,” he said, “but when I was interviewing Dolly Parton, I almost felt like she had healing powers.”
Lots more good information at that Vox article, including insights into the Dollywood Dixie Stampede dropping the term "Dixie" at her request, her refusal to join Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in disrespecting Donald Trump, and the weaknesses inherent in embracing both sides of an argument.

In 2020 The New York Times offered "The Grit and Glory of Dolly Parton":
Only as an adult did I see how widely and warmly (if sometimes ironically) Parton has been embraced by people with little else in common. Her ability to navigate social and conceptual divides helps explain why this is: She is country without being retrograde; a friend to the outcast whose basic political philosophy, that people should get paid to do what they do best, is uncontroversial. She is beautiful without making beauty look easy; feminine but not fragile; white but not precious; principled but not hardened or fixed...

Most accounts of her life, of which there are many, begin with Parton’s humble origins as the fourth child of 12 born to an industrious sharecropper and a musical mother in the mountains of East Tennessee. Extremely poor, but confident and creative, Parton wrote her first songs at age 5 or 6, got her first guitar at age 8 and appeared on a local radio and television show at age 10. The morning after her high school graduation in 1964, Parton left her small town for Nashville. That day, she met her husband, Carl Dean, to whom she has been married for 54 years...

Parton addresses the wealth she has amassed through these ventures with predictable nonchalance, but she clearly knows the value of money, in a way familiar to those who have grown up without it. She supports several family members (she does not have children), and has donated millions to the Imagination Library, the literacy program she founded in 1990; to East Tennessee residents whose homes were destroyed by a 2016 wildfire; and, this spring, to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Medical Center, for Covid-19 vaccine research...

The word that you’re going to have to use over and over when describing her is ‘work,’” Summers tells me. I admit I have gleaned this from Parton’s description of how she “gets more done than most people do all day” by working every morning from 3 to 7 a.m. on her spiritual practice and any one of several projects she keeps lined up in plastic bins before her workday officially begins. Parton says she “lives on creative and spiritual energy” — and the more she talks about “rising above” her physical self to meet the demands of each day, I see she means this literally: She subsists on energy instead of typical amounts of sleep (she gets no more than six hours a night, and is fine on three)...

Even her gleaming exterior can be seen as a function of her working girl’s pragmatism. “I’m really not that ‘high maintenance,’” she writes in the new book, “I can put on my makeup, costume and wig and be ready for anything in 15 minutes or less.”..

She remains true to country music’s historical role, not as a bastion of conservative patriotism (as it was rebranded when it was aligned with Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” in the 1960s) but as an inclusively populist, working people’s music meant to give outsiders a voice. Hence her decision to write the song “Travelin’ Thru” for the 2005 film “Transamerica,” about a trans woman’s attempts to connect with her son; and, in 2017, to join Miley Cyrus on the pro-gay anthem “Rainbowland.”

The Imagination Library videos on YouTube, where Dolly reads bedtime stories to you (or your children) from the books that she gives away free to children every month in order to promote literacy

Re her childhood poverty and dietary preferences, from Rolling Stone in 2003:
Despite all the modern trappings of her fame and success, Dolly Parton is a living link to what seems like an impossibly remote past. She was born the fourth of twelve children in a log cabin in Sevier County, Tennessee, on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The doctor who brought her into the world was paid with a sack of cornmeal. The Partons didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, and her dad, a tobacco farmer, supplemented the family’s diet by taking his shotgun and heading off into the woods.

“People hear me talk about eating squirrel and groundhogs, but in the mountains like that, you really didn’t have much of a choice,” says Parton matter-of-factly. “There were twelve of us kids. We never ate possum — I remember Daddy saying, ‘That’s like a damn rat.’ But we ate everything — turtle, frogs. I just remember the big old groundhogs — whistle pigs, they called them — and you’d cook ’em with sweet potatoes, and you’d have different ways of making some of that gamy taste go away.” 
“Look,” she says triumphantly, throwing the cabinet doors open. It’s magnificent: cans of corned-beef hash, tins of Spam, loaves of white bread, a Costco-size brick of Velveeta. “I have to have my Spam,” she says. “And look at this!” It’s a pig-shaped ceramic jar. Inside is a baggie of bacon grease, neatly labeled with a date. “The people who come to clean my house every Thursday have to fry up bacon, so I have bacon grease to cook with. I have to have it in all my houses.” She brightens. “You want some Velveeta?” She saws off an orange hunk and offers it. “You didn’t believe me, did you?” she says. “I grew up with that stuff and I never got over it. Good, ain’t it?”  

She was the first in the history of her family to graduate from high school.  Lots more at the link. [note to self - extract more later,

The first episode of “Dolly Parton’s America” centers partly on the “9 to 5” songwriter’s reluctance to call herself a feminist. Earlier this year, Parton’s own sister, Stella, said she was “ashamed” of Dolly for not speaking out more about the #MeToo movement. In response, Parton told The Guardian: “I don’t feel I have to march, hold up a sign or label myself. I think the way I have conducted my life and my business and myself speaks for itself.”..

Like Cher, another 73-year-old multihyphenate icon, Parton has over the past few years ascended to a rarefied level of intergenerational celebrity: a saucy grandmother of social media...

Both-sides-ism rarely feels as benevolent as it does when coming from Parton, but that’s nothing new. When asked, in 1997, how she was able to maintain fan bases within both the religious right and the gay community, she replied, “It’s two different worlds, and I live in both and I love them both, and I understand and accept both.”..

Parton was born in January 1946, to parents so poor, they paid the doctor who delivered her in cornmeal. Their home at the foot of East Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains had “running water, if you were willing to run and get it” — one of Parton’s many, oft-repeated “Dollyisms” that makes light of her hardscrabble upbringing.

As a child — one of 12 — she had no exposure to movies or television, rarely even magazines, so her earliest ideas of glamour came from two seemingly disparate sources: the glittering kings and queens she heard described in fairytales and Bible verses, and from the “streetwalkers,” and “strumpets and trollops” she’d see when her family went into town. “I was impressed with what they called ‘the trash’ in my hometown,” she later mused. “I don’t know how trashy these women were, but they were said to be trashy because they had blond hair and wore nail polish and tight clothes. I thought they were beautiful.”...

For all the musical legends we’ve lost in the past few years, it’s heartening to see this show pony get her victory lap while she’s still around to bask in the glory. Not that she’s planning on going anywhere. Whenever she’s asked how she’d like to be remembered 100 years from now, Parton trots out one of her best Dollyisms: “I want ’em to say, ‘God, don’t she look good for her age!’”..

[In the WNYC podcast series "Dolly Parton's America,"] Abumrad narrates from his position as a relative outsider to what he calls the Dollyverse, presenting “Dolly Parton’s America” with the aesthetic language of the modern podcast: snippets of interviews, tonally appropriate background music, and the inviting, conversational voice of a man guiding you through his thought process as he travels down various rabbit holes of his own curiosity. Parton granted Abumrad quite a few sit-down interviews, and although seasoned Parton fans will find little of what she tells him to be new information, “Dolly Parton’s America” is a genial, compulsively listenable crash course in Parton’s lasting appeal...
And that will serve as a segue to my earnest suggestion that those wishing to understand Dolly Parton should listed to these podcastsThe full 8-part series of podcasts is here [transcripts are also available for those who want to skim quickly].  In the "Dixie Disappearance" she explains why she modified Dollywood's chief attraction - the "Dixie Stampede" after learning it offended people:
Well, there's several reasons that we changed the name or a few reasons. Maybe I should say a couple of reasons. One being that out of ignorance, people do things you don't know. A lot of my things that I do wrong, just out of pure ignorance really, because you grow up a certain way and you don't know. The Dixie, we always thought way down in the land of Dixie, it's like a Dixieland or Dixieland music, Dixie. You know, I just thought of Dixie as a part of the, part of America. And it was offensive cause like I say out of ignorance, you don't know that you're hurting people, never thought about it being, about slavery or any of that. But when it was brought to our attention, and some woman wrote about it and I thought, well Lord have mercy, I would never want to hurt anybody for any reason. And being a business woman, we didn't really have that many people say anything about it.

But I thought, Lord, if I've offended one person as a business woman, I don't want to do that. So we completely cleared all that out and started over that. But we, I just wanted to fix it cause I don't want to ever hurt or offend anyone. And so I did it as a good faith effort to show that it was never meant to cause anyone any pain.
Back in 2019 after listening to Radiolab's introduction to "Dolly Parton's America," I posted a summary of the podcast, including this: 
JAD: Like, she tore right through all of that noise. Through the general election and beyond. And I kept bumping into people who would describe the experience of being at a Dolly show as, like, standing in an alternate vision of America than what was unfolding on the TV.

JESSIE WILKERSON: I remember just standing out in the lobby and just people watching, because it was the most diverse place I’ve ever been. I was seeing a multi-racial audience. People wearing cowboy hats and boots. I was seeing people in drag. Church ladies. Lesbians holding hands. Little girls who were there with their families.

WAYNE BLEDSOE: You had a whole audience of people who absolutely their philosophies were in opposition to each other co-mingling, and everybody is polite to each other.

JAD: So that was one thing that caught my attention. That in this very divided moment, Dolly seems to maybe be a kind of unifier. And after doing a little poking around, the data does kind of bear this out. If you look at her global Q Score, this is a measure of how well people think about your brand, globally. What they do is they assemble a very diverse sample of people, they ask them a bunch of questions, and out of all of these different brands that are out there, all these different performers, she is in the top 10 globally in terms of everybody's favorites. But she's almost number one when it comes to lack of negatives, if that makes any sense.
That's what the United States needs right now

O.K.  That's the end of the multi-course dog's breakfast of my archived Dolly Parton links.  Now back to the "presidential nomination" part of this megapost.

First, I would like comments from international readers re what your reaction would be were the United States to nominate or elect Dolly Parton as U.S. president, and how she would play out on the world stage.  Björk had this to say back in 2003:
“Oh, Dolly’s big in Iceland,” says Björk. “Her voice is immaculate, really powerful. Her character is so warm and human, and she has a great sense of humor.” To Björk, Parton transcends her musical genre. “All my friends love Dolly, and most of them are people who would never listen to country music,” she says. 
But that's one talented musician talking about another one for a music-centered Rolling Stone magazine.  How would "regular people," diplomats, and other world leaders react?  Personally I can envision her attending a major international conference in the Hague, walking up to an obscure foreign minister to say "Hi - I'm Dolly," and him responding "Yes, I know.  My people back in Eastern Rumelia just love you."  "I'm so pleased to hear that.  Let's talk about this climate mess."

Second, we need to ponder a vice-presidential running mate.  Many years ago when Donald Trump was running for president, I thought the Democrats should counter with Tom Hanks, but at their convention they disastrously chose Hilary Clinton.  Now I would suspect that Tom Hanks would be too "woke" for this centrist new party.  Readers may have some reasonable suggestions, but in the end likely Dolly could come up with her own pick.  And what to call the party? (again, she can decide.  She built a multimillion-dollar business from scratch; she's good at this stuff).

The biggest problem is not getting her elected, but getting her to accept the nomination.  It would probably only take three degrees of separation for someone reading this post to ask someone they know to ask someone who knows Dolly personally to tell her that she needs to offer herself as a presidential candidate.  She will of course immediately decline.

I have no doubt that the idea of being president has been suggested to her many times in interviews.  The difference would be that this would be a serious appeal, not clickbait for a media video or post.  It needs to be emphasized to her that she needs to do this for the good of her country.  Dolly Parton probably has more true patriotism than all the congressmen combined, and she might well make sacrifices for that goal.  But her reply would probably also be a serious declining of the offer, because I believe her husband is probably in failing health.

Dolly has said that she would continue her music until her death and the only thing that would take her away from that would be if she is needed at home.  She has recently announced that she will no longer be touring - just doing occasional appearances, because she wants to spend more time at home with her husband.

The response to that would be an acknowledgement of her situation and the counteroffer that she can stay at home for the process.  She won't need to do any campaigning.  Just a simple 30 second video inserted during the upcoming Trump-DeSantis flame wars and during the Democratic staged "debates" in which she says "Hi - I'm Dolly, and I am also running for president.  Please write my name in on the primary ballots.  Thank y'all so much" would be sufficient to confirm her viability. 

And as president, she could also spend her time at home (except for those international conferences), Zooming with her cabinet.  This is the way business is done in the modern world.  What else does a president do in real life?  They go to tornado/hurricane/flood sites to hug victims and then get back in their motorcades of black SUVs back to their helicopters.  She could do that much much better.  And do it sincerely.

What can we do in the meantime?  Discuss this with friends and family as a serious matter, and start writing her name in on every online poll.  I've not been able to find her included in any FiveThirtyEight surveys, except for this casual aside: "these days it’s difficult to get 58 percent of Americans to agree on anything except perhaps distaste for airline travel and love of Dolly Parton."  Somebody over there please take notice.

I will offer this for her campaign song/theme video:

TLDR:  An intelligent, hard-working, compassionate businesswoman who puts people above politics is the best available representative for the United States at home and on the world stage.

Photo embedded at the top from the Associated Press, via a Los Angeles Times article on Dolly's receiving of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Addendum:  A Bloomberg article about Dolly Parton's business management techniques.

Daan's shrine-topped bookcase

"I moved to my current house 2,5 years ago and because its a smaller place i had to throw away alot of books. This is what's left. The most important ones are still here. At the top is a little shrine with stuff thats important to me from my parents and grandparents who all are no longer here. 

At the bottom shelf left are 8 Don Quichotte books bound by my grandfather during WW2 while he was hiding from the Nazis because he was Jewish. He survived. The rest of his family was murdered in Auschwitz."

Bob the Scientist's collection of green Penguins

"In tribute to your complete set of Agatha Christie, I'll share my Green Penguin = Crime bookshelves. I'm working on the assumption that there may be less interest in the Orange Penguin = General Fiction shelves and the Blue Pelican = Non-fiction ditto. 

We'd been collecting second-hand paper-backs since we were students in Dublin the the 70s. But things took off I went to Grad School in Boston in the early 80s and we'd often spend Saturdays cruisin' the Western 'burbs in an enormous Ford Galaxy with my boss and his wife. I was then collecting foreign language dictionaries and atlases in case any future children need to prep for their Grand Tour but it was hard to resist rescuing too many books [25c for hard-cover, 10c for p-backs] from the dumpster. When we returned to Europe, 10 USPS sacks of second-hand treasure followed us by book-post. 

The matching paper-back bookshelves are old wooden fish-boxes salvaged from the tide-line of many sandy beaches. Those boxes have all been replaced by plastic, which is better for firewood than books. 
As it happens the younger of those future children is even at this moment reading Peril at End House [Ag.Christie 1932] beside me on the sofa. She has, what with DuoLingo and Larousse Online, no interest in the several French dictionaries I picked up in the last century. Time to declutter. Salut!"
Blogger's note: for the other colors of Penguins, see Karyn Reeves' bookshelves.

John Farrier's bookcase

"I built this bookcase with my sadly now-estranged father. So it has a poisoned sentimental value. But so much of life is asking and answering, "Now what?" when bad things happen. My answer here is to keep the bookcase.

I have several bookcases that I share with my wife, but this one is all mine. The works of Richard Adams (of Watership Down fame) are prominent, as is the obscure comic book series Ninja High School.

I maintain what I call my "personal canon" -- a list of stories that are meaningful to me. To re-read one, such as Adams's Shardik or Diane Carey's Battlestations is to center my soul."

Lars' bookshelves

"I live in the house my grandparents bought in July 1929.  It was already over 100 at the time of their purchase.  If there is any common thread to my bookshelves, it is this: built-in. 

The panels that form the room facing side walls of the bookcases were from a massive pocket door.  I recut it to keep as much of the original stain/varnish as possible, then stain-matched modern hardwood plywood and vintage oak to complete the shelving.  It now houses board games and a collection of comic collections and coffee table size books; the other end holds photo albums and some items still in boxes that we hope to home properly in the coming year.  Beneath is a leather seating area with 2 side cushions atop a twin mattress to accommodate 2 readers sitting feet toward each other with a view of the squirrels romping on the grape arbor out the window.

Nearby is the smallest bookcase - a little space formed between a recently installed  faux raised panel alcove sized for a 1916 upright piano and a pocket door to the stairwell/front entry.   Currently only holding a Finnish English dictionary, collection of DVDs, and a plaster sculpture my grandfather made and my mom modeled for.  Intent is to use the incomplete bottom space for housing some forward-facing children's books in reach for our granddaughter to discover when she visits.  The organic shaped shelves were cut from salvaged maple shelving units discarded from my work -  academic building - in a lab remodel.

Upstairs.  At the head of the stairs, a narrow floor to ceiling shelving unit that rests on a wall within the very solid structure of one of the main bents of the timber frame. this is inboard of the earlier bookcases my grandfather installed.   These shelves are very early IKEA units purchased from the first IKEA store located beyond the Nordic countries (Germany) and shipped to USA in the 1970s.  

This shelving system  holds many of my pop reading pleasures and a portion my brother aptly named "The Incendiary Bookshelf." Here I house some of the oddities that were among my grandparents' many books.  L Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, pamphlets on surviving nuclear attack, socialist & communist tracts, Anne Frank's Diary, U.S. constitution, my copy of Local Literary Hero Nabokov’s Lolita  and... trigger warning... texts of Adolf Hitler. Neither of those were from my grandparents collection, but rather turned up in boxes my mother received in her role as library book sale coordinator.  I culled these from that event to see what was inside.  Only made it 90 pages in before I was so repulsed I could no longer tolerate turning a page to read what was printed.  I did not want these to end up in locations/hands where they could be held in high regard. As such, I have them flank Anne Franks diary and sit adjacent to the Socialist texts in a “dead letter bin" of sorts.  

Lastly, the bookcase that faces into our bedroom and is similarly housed in one of the main timber frame bents of the house.  These shelves were built from a vintage cabinet that once was used for the faculty mail slots in the Cornell physics department near my offices.  The cabinet inner partition dividers were made of stained tulipwood with grooves to hold thin tulipwood dividers for each slot. Cut down, those now support glass shelves for display and solid wood ones for books.  Housed here edge of left side upper shelf is a book I found on my parents shelves.  Had never seen it until my 30s.  It was inscribed to me at my birth by my grandfather as the first of many books I might someday own.  Glad we opened that cover when going through their collection."

26 June 2024

Mistress Harley's bookshelves

"So obviously I'm an adult content producer, not that you'll find anything having to do with my business in my bookshelves. I'm an avid reader of everything from comedic fiction, to comic books, to sociology, history, and religion to name a few.

What I love about my shelves is that they combine everything I love- antique volumes sit next to signed copies of the funniest things I've read, the Histories of Studs Terkel nuzzle up to the Tin Tin comic books of the late 80s.

What most people would never assume about me is that I have a Masters in Library Science, I think my shelves say "Librarian" way more than they say anything else..."
Mistress Harley's blog is here.

Ruth Beaty's bookshelves

"Here is mine. You can't see the roughly ten boxes in the closet behind it, lol. The boxes of books next to them are the books I'm going through to see if I want to get rid of or keep. I've done this twice before, once after we moved to Oklahoma from Washington state three years ago, and once after my husband died a year later. Went from a three bed house to one bedroom and a kitchen (my son's house). Life shrinks as we age, just not our figures. I'm getting ready to weed again as there are still some duplicates and I only keep ones I might read again, a few sewing and craft books, and many graphic novels, a genre I've come to enjoy."

Peter Meitzler's bookcase

"It was almost 2 ½ years ago that our 2-unit apartment building was sold and the new owners immediately gave us a 30-day eviction notice so they could proceed with their plans for turning the building into a single-family dwelling. The upshot is we quickly threw everything we owned into a storage unit and embarked on what is now a series of year long temporary arrangements that amount to renting/caretaking furnished houses while their owners are away on adventures.

This has meant being mostly cut off from my considerable collection of books (and much else). I visit them on occasion at the storage unit and have kept a selection with me, mostly books that are on my “want to read” list or books that I like to have available for reference (primarily gardening and native flora and fauna books). Consequently, I am trying to squeeze as much into one small bookcase as possible, which is fine, but I also notice piles of books growing in various corners of the cottage in which we are currently living. It has been interesting to discover which books I want with me while also learning to appreciate the many books that are packed in boxes in that cold, dark storage unit located in another town. It is not out of sight, out of mind. It is more a comfort knowing that they are there waiting for a reunion, with the hopeful realization of my dream of one day having a room lined with bookshelves filled with all those books."

Dan's bookcase

"This a photo of one of my bookcases which also serves as sort of a cabinet of curiosities. This one is filled with books about mountaineering, exploration, and adventure. I also have three bookcases of engineering books and one that is fiction plus military. I've been thinking about the bookcase in the photo because I need to get rid of all these books.

In the image going clockwise around the bookcase you see on the left some boxes of seldom used engineering books. On top is a tortoise shell dad picked up in the Mojave Desert in the 1950's (He was a field topographer for the USGS). A 1956 California license plate that my brother gave me (I was born in Idaho in 1956) and various family photos. There is a globe and on the far right a bookcase of engineering books.

At the top of the left glass door is a couple of pictures from climbing trips with my son and below that a photo of dad with a transit in Antarctica. In the bottom you can see the flag from dad's service (WW2 USAAF) and a model of the Tiwanaku Gate of the Sun that my daughter and I made - also a pink elephant she made.

The center door has a photo of dad in Antarctica, a death Ride sticker (did that with my son), an old photo of my son, an old photo of my daughter, and a photo of the Sno-Cat dad lived in in Antarctica. The skull is a racoon.

The right door has two photos of some kids I met in Bolivia. Regina Mamane, her little brother Masianseno and their baby sister.

The little dog is Sadie and she has a Lamb Chop toy.

The bookcase came from San Jose State University were I studied and taught engineering from 1975 until 2013. They were throwing the case away so I took it. It was likely built in the woodshop at San Quentin. There were a lot of oak desks and chairs made at San Quinton but they weren't popular with the faculty and staff who seemed to prefer cheap new furniture."

Addendum: An update: I had a mountaineering book dealer come by and he took all the books in the case and left me a check for $3500. The case is still there and is now full of engineering books. My health is good besides the dissected aorta and I still go rock climbing. I have made many lifestyle changes including quitting the stressful parts of work like testifying in court as an expert. I am still working and making money evaluating the seismic safety of buildings. I will probably retire within the next few years and the engineering books will go to younger working engineers. Sadie the dog is still a very happy little dog.

25 June 2024

Lois' bookshelves

"Here's a picture of my “bookcase” in my basement office, which is a little unusual. The shelves are on wall brackets and many books are in boxes, because I had a flood in my basement 10 years ago and vowed never to put a book on the floor again. The boxes are because in an emergency they can be easily carried. The shelves were a little long, so I arranged them this way to make them fit. Note that nothing touches the floor!

As far as content, I am a Christian author who writes about the Jewish context of Jesus and the Bible. Some books on that wall are commentaries, some are on Judaism in general, some are Christian authors."

Kay in Tampa's bookcases

"These are actually the bookcases combining my books and my husband's. The left end is (more or less) his non-fiction area, the rest of the non-fiction is pretty much mine. On the right end, almost 100% of the science fiction is his, and the rest of the fiction is mine. I read science fiction, too, but he reads it almost exclusively. Other shelves in the den hold decades worth of paperbacks."
Addendum: updated from 2013...

"We moved house a little over three years ago, and while we still have the white bookcases shown in the photo you reposted recently, they are configured differently and in different areas.
The attached photo is of half the bookcases in our "studio", and the ones on the left represent all the science fiction paperbacks my husband has purchased and read since he switched from comic books at age 14. They are double-depth, and roughly in alpha order by author. This year he decided to re-read his way through Heinlein and we had all but two titles on hand. Thank goodness he switched a few years ago to borrowing from the library.
I started using an app and website called Libib. I've catalogued our entire library with it, so when I'm at a bookstore I can quickly check to make sure an attractive title was not equally attractive in the past and already on our bookshelf."

A "crèche" of Penguins

A portion of the 2000-volume personal library of Karyn Reeves, who writes "A Penguin a Week."  She has an excellent blog; if you share her enthusiasm, there is a Penguin Collectors Society.

And I can't resist contrasting her bookshelves with this stack on a wall (original credit unknown) posted at Book Porn:

Karyn is not to my knowledge a reader of TYWKIWDBI, but I wanted to pay tribute to her collection in this category of the blog [sadly, her blog seems not to be accruing any new posts, though the old ones remain up].

Alphonsine's bookcases

"I like books and I have always dreamt of having a library. My husband fixed ours up in an attic. Obviously, our books are arranged by topic : detective novels, novels, textbooks, children's books, DIY, etc..." 
Alphonsine blogs at Des noeuds dans mon fil.

24 June 2024

The bookcases of Frenchfarmer & The Shepherdess

"Brown bookcase is really old stuff.

The big brown book lying down is a bible from 1640 something, the row of five at the top is a 1902 dictionary of the bible and three books to the left is a set of the Ordnance Gazeteer of Scotland dated 1883. 
Yellow one is more modern.

Velikovsky, Berlitz (Not too sure about him.), Rennes le Chateau and lots of stuff written in old french and la Langue des Oiseaux (Bit like Cockney rhyming slang but using French puns etc.).

The attic ( Not shown) has loads more from our childhoods etc."

Shane's bookcases

This photo shows three of the six book cases in my anti-library. The first is primarily fiction, the second primarily philosophy, and the last being business.

I spend between $200-700 a month on books and donate the ones I don't think I'll need anymore to the local elementary school.

The last book I bought was Why Societies Need Dissent
Shane blogs at Farnam Street.

Grace in Canada's bookcase

"Though more "assorted stacks" than organized library, the bookshelf closet in my childhood-bedroom-come-study came to mind. Predominately reference books and assorted curiosities it is but one of the many book nooks located around our house."
"Barely visible in the upper left is my favourite in the stash and the only on this shelf that are not reference. Three miniature books of prayer rest under a kitsch figurine of a monkey who sits thoughtfully on a ceramic book with DARWIN inscribed on the spine. The occupied japanese take on Affe mit Schadel by Hugo Rheinhold perhaps?"

Mike and Rayne's bookcases

"My wife and I have wanted a bookcase in our house since we got married, and with the purchase of an old house several years ago, we finally had a place to put one - in, of all places, the kitchen.

We designed the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and they were built by a local Mennonite cabinetmaker who does excellent work. Now we finally have a place to put many (most) of the books we have accumulated through the years.

The bookcase is L-shaped, with a window (and window-seat) in the middle. On the short side are my science fiction (top shelf), fantasy (2nd shelf), non-fiction, textbooks, biographies, and history (3rd-5th shelves), and below that childrens books and toys. On the other side are our "books to read", classics and 2 shelves of cookbooks. 
On the right side of the window are my construction and house repair books (top shelf). The red-covered books on the 2nd shelf are the 11 volumes of The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. Probably the best history books I've ever read.

Most of the rest of those shelves are books of a self-help or religious nature, along with some audio books (including the history series Story of the World - History for the Classical Child) and foreign language courses. Below are my daughters drawing and coloring markers and papers. More craft stuff is in the cabinet."

Kevin's bookcase

"I've got a nice comfy library with 7 built-in bookcases made of maple, a lot of art, and a secret door in a photo niche that leads into a theater. Most of the shelves have modern books. There's a science fiction section, medical/biology, text books, etc. The one above has a lot of 19th century science and engineering books. That's kind of my thing. Another case has other 19th century things like history and literature sets."

Brad's bookshelves

"The bookshelf in our house was made by my father. He's an electrician by trade but has always enjoyed woodworking as a hobby. He also made our coffee table (not pictured).

Top Shelf: This is the cartoons, graphic novels and art shelf. Lots of Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes. Sprinkled in are some instructional books on print making, watercolor and encaustic. Encaustic is pigmented bees wax which is melted and brushed onto a sturdy surface.

2nd from Top: Speaking of encaustics, this shelf has 4 examples of it from the class I took over the summer. These are painted on ceramic tiles and cardboard. Behind them are books on architecture. Some are written by architects, some are about architects and some are technical steel manuals. My wife and I met while earning our degrees in architecture; after a great purge of text books this is all that remains.
3rd from Top: Behind my painting of atomic bomb explosions are fiction and non fiction books. Topics include famous people, religion, food policy, dystopian science fiction and polar exploration. Also featured is "Wormface", a re-purposed children's book from the thrift store. This shelf also has a civil war bullet and family picture albums.

4th from Top: Science fiction and fantasy mostly. A jar of pebbles which I don't know the significance of and a Bible. There's also an empty x-acto blade box.

Bottom 2 shelves: This is a portion of my board game collection. I tend to put my favorites here that have nice artwork or impressive (often historical) subject matter, like the Cold War (Twilight Struggle), the Austrian Succession (Maria) and the French and Indian War (A Few Acres of Snow).

On the Chair: A small pile of books I just finished about Shackleton's expedition that I haven't figured out how to fit on the shelf yet.

Boxes/binders on floor to the left: I have no idea what these contain."

23 June 2024

Laura's bookcases

"Our three-part library starts here, in the bedroom, on our fancy Home Depot particle-board shelves. They bow a bit, 'cause our studs aren't ideally placed, and we have too much media. Our books are mostly contemporary fiction, with some literary nonfiction and my grandmother's poetry books thrown in. These shelves have the first part of the alphabet: Louisa May Alcott to Carl Hiaasen, as well as some photo albums. You can see Shelly, my childhood Cabbage Patch Kid, staring at you benevolently from above. The shelves on the right have our CDs"
"Above is the weirdest thing in the house: my grandmother shrine. My grandmothers were both admirable ladies, so I decided to non-obviously memorialize them here. The white cloth is a khata, a Tibetan ceremonial scarf. I presented it in greeting to a lama, who blessed it and gave it back. The riding crops belonged to my maternal grandmother and are from Libya, where the family lived when my mom was young. The one in front has an iron spike in it. The silver coin purse belonged to my paternal grandmother. Inside are some Tibetan blessing pills given to me by the lama; I was supposed to swallow them, but I decided to do this instead. What does a secular humanist do when presented with sacred pills? She uses them to build a grandmother memorial.

To the right is the middle part of the alphabet: Homer to Jhumpa Lahiri, with heavy representation from John Irving and Stephen King. The bookshelf belonged to a former roommate. Note the attractively displayed cans of cat food.

This final section has the rest of our books. John LeCarré to Jeanette Winterson, as well as some reference and travel guides. The shelves were a wedding present from my mother-in-law; they're custom made by a local craftsman. Rob the cat, looking weirdly huge, supervises."

Craig's bookcase

"This is the bookcase that we installed several years ago on a side wall of a passage from one room to another in our circa 1930's house.

We have quite a range of materials and subjects. Among others, the shelves contain works by:

Top shelf: Doris Lessing, Brian Jacques, Karen Armstrong, Salmon Rushdie

2nd: Umberto Eco, Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford

3d: Lewis Thomas, Chaim Potok, George Eliot, Douglas Adams

4th: David Brin, Robert Heinlein, Sigrid Undset, Loren Eiseley

5th: kids chapter books: Paulson, Blume, Cleary

6th-8th: Thomas Pynchon, Bill Bryson, Margaret Atwood, Umberto Eco, Douglas Hofstadter, Bill McKibbon, E.O.Wilson

... along with many other classics and science fiction and science or history."
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