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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

There was a time when I considered myself an expert at the NYC subway, but it's changed a lot and now I regard myself as merely adept. The torch has passed, and now it is LCA who is the subway ace. It is an arcane knowledge, but she seems proud of it. She has a gap in her nomenclature, however: she insists that nobody uses the terms IRT, BMT and IND any longer-- and adds that the trains are nearly exclusively referred to by number these days. This seems wrong to me-- the Lex, the Broadway Local, the Sixth Avenue Line-- these are vital descriptors. I'm still vexed that the system no longer uses double letters to denote local trains on the BMT and IND lines.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

I'd forgotten that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was mixed up in the Piltdown Man hoax.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This is Five Thirty Eight's electoral map for today. Yesterday had Arizona a bit bluer, and that makes sense to me: Mormons vote, and they are not going to vote for Trump. I feel pretty good about Georgia, too. Atlanta is the capital of Black America, and turnout there is liable to be strong for HRC. It seems to me that the Democratic strategy going forward should be to force Trump to play defense in places like Missouri and Indiana (former EGC states!).

Interestingly, to date the Trump campaign has spent Zero ($0) Dollars on television advertising. I suppose message control is not so important when your message is out of control, but it is notable-- a data point on an election season that saw the guy who ran on a platform emphasizing the corrupting power of money out fund-raise the mainstream candidate. A "self-funding" "billionaire" isn't all that odd, so why would we be surprised that he isn't spending money?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Continuing in an automotive vein for just a moment, CLA reported that the tire pressure light came on as she was coming in from Rochester for a visit, so I went with her to Delta Sonic to check it out. Checked the air, ran it through the wash, filled it up and bought her an iced coffee, so it was the complete Dela Sonic experience, and I was thinking that it was like a Chuck Berry song, you know? "Wipe the windows, check the tires, check the oil, dollar gas!" In actually it was just a dad outing, like a horrible Harry Chapin song. Nice to see CLA, though-- Kyacking, then "The Taming of the Shrew". The latter was much better than the review suggested it would be. For no good reason the players were dressed as pirates-- they might as well have been Pittsburgh Pirates for all that the context added anything-- but it was energetically performed, which is, I think, part of the key to making the play work. If it lags then you start to think of it as a play about spousal abuse, and that wrecks it. It is, I think, possible to understand it differently. One should start with a question that is never expressly asked: why is Katerina so ill-tempered? One reason that the text suggests is that she feels slighted because her sister is the favorite. Her behavior is reinforced because she receives attention and thus reinforcement when she behaves shrewishly. Petruchio shows her how unattractive her conduct is, and demonstrates respect for her cleverness and strong will. The two leads were excellent-- and a special shout-out to Bonnie Taylor, who was an excellent Kate. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

I must have been about 12 or so when I can across a couple of big stacks of old Popular Science magazines that somebody had put out by the curb. They were probably from the late 50's and early 60's, and they were damn near as good as science fiction. A regular feature was a series of short stories about a small town mechanic named Gus Wilson. In each installment Gus would interact with a local character (the town miser frequently showed up) who had a mysterious car problem. Gus would ponder the situation, ask a few obscure questions, then diagnose and fix the issue. It was Car Talk basically, and I hadn't thought about it in years, but I just now did, and discovered that somebody has lovingly scanned them all, going back to 1925 and put them on the web. They are as good as I remember -- the clues needed to solve the puzzle are cleverly and subtly worked into the narrative, and the ending is always a twist. Having grown up with these stories I suppose I should know more than I do about car repair (functionally I know nothing about car repair whatsoever). I guess I just picked up on how narrative is structured instead. In any event, these are well worth dipping into

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

I think I will be looking into Thomas Reed Powell a little bit.
“If you think that you can think about a thing, inextricably attached to something else, without thinking of the thing it is attached to, then you have a legal mind.”

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Five Worst Roberts Court decisions (so far). I agree that Citizens United shouldn't crack the top five; I'd swap out Connick v. Thompson for Hobby Lobby.

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