There was a dead squirrel in the backyard tonight, something I discovered when I was playing on the dog and stepped on one of his toys. Except it felt too big to be one of his toys. Looked down: classic dead squirrel, legs sticking straight up in the air. Probably had cartoon Xs on his eyes. Poor thing. I don’t know if Scout did it, or if it fell from a tree and he dragged it into the middle of the yard. If he had killed it, well, that’s how it goes. He didn’t need to, but it’s what dogs do - if they can. According to some of the comments in the story described yesterday, this must make me a bad parent - he was interested in the dead thing, but not the least sympathetic. I’m raising a sociopath! This is where it starts!


OPEN TABS THURSDAY. Let's see what my browser windows are about at this moment.

RANCH DRESSING IS BAD AND NO ONE SHOULD EAT IT Or rather, it is what is wrong with America. So says Ben Adler, who is very worried about people making excuses for lowbrow food. You know. The stuff they eat . . . out there. (waves hand dismissively. One problem:

diners are using it incorrectly.

Did you put it on something? Did you like it? Sorry: INCORRECT USAGE.

Finally, our vulgar extravagance is going to destroy the planet and starve the global poor

Because of climate change. It's bad enough that your food is immoral and starves peopel - but it’s so plebeian:

But overpriced pizza is just one of the many trends fetishizing down-market food. Cities are awash in lists of the “best hamburgers” that add toppings such as pork belly or fried pork rinds. Every hip neighborhood has a new barbecue joint or four. Fried chicken is featured in upscale restaurants. And expensive pizza is served with crude American toppings that would have any nonna worth her red sauce spinning in her grave. This is not doing any favors for our planet or our health.

BBQ joints opening up in neighborhoods that are reclaiming blighted blocks and bringing new people into the city are horrible things that should be shut down before the Sahara grows to overtake the Congo. Don’t think you can get away with it by ticking off the Boxes of Food Virtue:

The ingredients may be organic, locally sourced and so on. But no matter where you raise the beef for your burger, it’s still less healthy and more carbon-intensive than vegetables

Ben’s lots of fun. His bio says “When he isn't contemplating the world's end, he also writes about architecture and media.” Can’t wait to hear how my house is wrong and my extra bedroom is a vulgar indulgence.

Ben, you suspect, allows himself some indulgences, but they’re not vulgar ones.

SCI-FI has failed us; its visions of the future are either one-world governments that just happened somehow, or dystopian nightmares. Neither is likely.

Today’s national populists are told that they are on the wrong side of history, by elites whose members claim to speak on behalf of an emerging world community. But maybe the populists and nationalists are on the right side of history and the elites have been duped by bad science fiction.

Because the “elites” - to use an unhelpful and loaded term - believed that nationalism would be subsumed into a rational order that managed the globe, something humans seem to find hard on the smallest scale. To assume planetary enlightenment seems unwise, even if you have some nifty tech that eliminates want and scarcity. Especially if those things are eliminated. If the internet proves anything, it’s that abundance and leisure leads to battles whose stakes are atomic and scale is cosmic; people will always find something to get pissy about, and sissyness -> division, tribes, casting-out, and so on. Doesn’t every planetary utopia require dissenting voices to be put down? What if 30% of the population doesn’t want to cede control to some benign eggheads in Switzerland? Doesn’t it require the perfectibility of man, incorruptible institutions, abrogation of personal ambition, and so on?

That was the Roddenberry nonsense. The best Trek shows and movies had recognizable humans, for good and for ill.

One of the prerequisites of membership in the Federation, if I recall, was planetary unity. That would seem to rule out lots of good planets. What if they were mostly unified, but fighting a war against a totalitarian schism? Sorry, war is for undeveloped civilizations. But we are developed. It’s these guys who are trying to come up with ways to kill us all and take our resources. Oh dear, war over resources? That’s really a deal-breaker. No - we aren’t having a war over a resource. They are. Look, here are their poison gas facilities, too far underground for us to strike. Maybe if you could use your phasers - Sorry, we don’t interfere with your natural development. But natural development of our planet means they kill us, take over, and unify the planet under their reign of terror. Will they get into the Federation then? If that’s the only standard?

Well, no, they have to be nice to animals.

MEN ARE AWFUL AND CONFUSED A piece on the problems of modern masculinity included a line that may not have been as engrossing a set-up as the writer intended:

The first question to ask is: what is masculinity anyway? The artist (and transvestite) Grayson Perry attempts a definition

I’m not saying it’s an invalid perspective; it certainly might be an interesting one, but it’s a revelatory choice for the writer to go there first.

So where does the author go next?

A more nuanced picture is offered by the broadcaster Rebecca Asher

Ugh, femalesplaining. The author does note that there are depressing and stress-inducing aspects to modern life that trouble men, but y’know, they affect women as well, and they’ve had it rougher for a longer time. Then this bit of equivalence:

And although obviously the much higher suicide rate among men is a bad thing, the claim in all of these books that male sadness is a unique problem looks rather unfortunate in the light of the news, too recent to have made it into any of these books, that it is in fact young women in this country who are most likely to suffer depression, and most likely to self-harm.

Cutting is not suicide. There may be a spectrum, but you can’t say they’re the same, and it seems to discount the despair behind the suicides when you are anxious to point out that they are numerically inferior to lesser forms of self-harm. This isn’t a competition.

Samuels also bemoans the excessive choice available to him on dating apps such as Tinder, which he thinks are discouraging men from commitment. After enjoying the sociable experience of a charismatic church in America, he comments drily: “It looked more fun than spending a Sunday evening on the couch half watching a box-set, banally chatting to girls on Tinder who have nice cleavage shots but terrible grammar.” It doesn’t seem to occur to him that women on Tinder might be having similarly unsatisfying experiences chatting to men.

To which the female readers might not emphatically, but if you wrote a piece whose point was “Women are unhappy with sexual freedom, and Tinder is proof” you’d be flayed.

Or that more women, too, might be playing the field for longer because of internet dating.

So it is satisfying, then?

Besides the idea that men suffer from violent urges that must be given a civilised outlet, lest they attack random passers-by, another common stereotype is that they are emotionally illiterate.

A stereotype, you wish to ask, created by who?

In these ways, the authors promise, we can “redefine masculinity” to make it mean something more wholesome and healthy. Perry offers a concluding list of “Men’s Rights”: the right to be “weak”, “intuitive”, “uncertain”, and so on

And the boys in the classroom will nod and write down the proper answers on the essay about the importance of being weak and uncertain, and then once they are home will turn on the Xbox and lead a squad to glory against the forces of evil.

We conclude:

As is clear from the writings of the ancient Romans and Greeks, the idea of masculinity or manliness has been conceived as under threat and in crisis ever since it first appeared. Surely it would be more civilised to adopt the attitude of that pioneering feminist, Plato, who describes Socrates explaining why women, like men, can be guardians of his republic. Yes, they are on the whole physically weaker, but in all other respects they are people, and all traits are found in varying combinations in people of either sex: “The natural capacities are distributed alike among both creatures, and women naturally share in all pursuits and men in all.” 

Well, I hate to disagree with Socrates; woman and men to do not naturally share in all pursuits. It varies. But I will agree on this: People are people. There are differences in priorities and emotional behaviors, broadly speaking, but our common humanity is the most important thing, and it is annoying to live in an age when women insists they are not different at all but also different in superior ways, and men insist they are very different and hence superior. Both camps are tiresome.

In the end, the talk about men having a “crisis” is bad.

Because it reinforces the idea of male exceptionalism, on the other hand, the notion that there is a crisis of masculinity is just another sexist meme that shores up the patriarchy. And, like the patriarchy itself, it harms men as well as women. Maybe a real man is one who never gives any thought to his masculinity at all.

Well, I don’t. I don’t know any man who does, except when they’re told that they are the problem, and their essence is problematic, and they are part of a group that is responsible for all the bad things, even though they’ve done nothing. In their heart, they understand completely the little boy who bit a chunk out of his Pop-Tart and made it into a gun. He’s not the problem. The people who want the boy to feel shame are the problem.

Just to balance things out, here's some guy making fun of the rooms in some houses devoted entirely to scrapbook, card-making, present wrapping, and so on. I've seen a few of them - plastic containers to the ceiling with craft stuff, all devoted to creative endeavors. My father-in-law's wife had one, and she would make marvelous stuff. It gave her great pleasure to have that room.

Just kidding!

How Man Caves Took Over America's Basements
The fragile male ego found a room of his own.

By Kate Wagner

Like an Oxford-trained explorer who discovered an Amazon tribe, and is reporting back to the civilized world:

Most man caves are devoted to a man’s hobby, such as sports, music, or video games. In fact, the “theming” of a man cave is often what sets it apart from a mere recreation room or den. Theming in man caves is often a visual demarcation—it says this is my space and this is what I do in it. While the rest of the house often follows the interior design dogma of the woman, the mancave is the domain of the man, and is his space of self-expression.

"Follows the interior design dogma of the woman" is a clever way of putting it, no? THE HOUSE LOOKS LIKE SHE WANTS IT TO LOOK, would be another way.

While women-only spaces in the house are on the rise, with labels such as the “she shed” or “woman cave,” the concept hasn’t taken off in the same respect as the man cave, for the reason that much of the home is still demarcated as a feminine space in the popular eye. The woman’s need to escape the world of men is a relatively new phenomenon, after all. The man cave came first because men were losing their hold of the world, and sought to retreat to a place in the home where they could still possess feelings of power.

And that power was defined as "putting up a picture of ducks my wife hated" or just "having the stuff around I like."

In other words, the wounded bleat of a fragile ego.

Squash champs get back in the came with a lung-bustin' drag:


He was squash coach at MIT from 1930 to 1957. He had ten great-grandchildren. Made it to 95.

This radio station appears to be totally lost. Pity: quite the talent.


Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) was an American Jazz Age singer. She was one of the most popular radio stars of the 1930s. Over four million of her records had been sold by 1934.

For all that, she didn't like what she did.

"As a matter of fact, I disliked all of [my records] intensely. I was most unhappy when they were released. I just often cried because I thought they were so poor, mostly because of my work, but a great deal, I suppose, because of the recording. [...] I disliked the business intensely. I loathed it, and I'm ashamed to say I just did it for the money. I loved singing, you know, jamming with the musicians when it isn't important to do, but somehow or another I was terribly nervous when I sang. [...] You just have to be such a ham and love performing, and I happen to be an introvert, and I just wasn't happy singing, and I wasn't happy with my work."

What a pity.




Five thousand souls - with a deep, dark secret the likes of which the world has never seen before!

"Jackson is a frequent backdrop for a number of television shows. Most recently, the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things made Jackson the location of the show's fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, turning the downtown area into a 1980s small town."

Indiana, Georgia, what's the diff.

The problem with doing a town that hosted a TV shows: you can't tell what's real, and what they fixed up for the program. Google's street view has wayback functions that let you see the town a few years back, but some of the improvements could just be . . . improvements.

These pictures were taken in August 2016.

I believe the water and sewer authority used to be a bank.

You won't find the awning in the TV show.

I think this was revealed by renovation, but it's been like this for a long time.

This explains little:

Robert Olin Fuqua, age 87, of Jackson, GA passed away, Saturday, January 4, 2014 at Spalding Regional Hospital. He was born in Jackson, GA September 1, 1926 son of the late Andrew Augustus Fuqua and Hester Blalock Jarrell Fuqua.

. . . except that it says there was a woman named Hester Blalock Jarrell Fuqua.


Here's another now and then:

The 2013 view - which is actually more 80s than the cleaned-up version:

The older vision makes you think someone really, really liked "Miami Vice." The newer version was painted for the TV show.

What kind of building? Why, a COMMERCIAL BUILDING.

She won, by the way.

This I love. No, the Rexall sign doesn't fit, but it's nice to see one stick around. The facade is nice and simple, and it actually fits in. I hope the lamps still work.

The "City Pharmacy" sign has those ancient symbols of a pharmacy, the amphorae. No one knows what they are anymore.

The obligatory small-town late 60s / early 70s bank, in all its dullness and heavy overhanging roof.

The shrubs must conform to the roof! All of them! Without exception!

The courthouse for BUTTS county (snicker) (sorry) Build in 1898.

OCS, or Obligatory Confederate Statue. Details:

No hero in particular. Their Heroes in general.

I think the production company may have pitched in:

Old view:


It was a boon for all when Google Street view cameras got gyroscopes. Everything in the old shots is filmed like a 1966 Batman villain-lair.

I'm generally not in favor of painting old brick buildings, but if you must:

One of these buildings was an addition. Did they scrimp on the addition, or build something more lavish to make the project grander?

Not an addition. Not connected to the others, right?


Except that the columns are the same. They could have decided to include them for stylistic consistency.

Stranger things have happened!


Sorry. I'm done now.

Busy day ahead. Friday will be an unbelieable relief. Wish me luck; see you around.


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