Woke late, because the alarm didn't go off. Why? I forgot to set it. Usually it recurs. Must have changed something. Updated something. Brushed against some setting. Muted something. Delayed a notification. My fault. No one's fault. Whatever. GO! Coffee, eggs, bacon, shower, GO, off up the highway.

What a dog-eat-dog mad rat-race life; why not just stay home? Because I will rot, and the formless day will ooze over the lip of the plate like that Wham-0 foam whose name I can't recall right now, but I can certaintly remember the scent of it. I didn't say the smell, because it was nice. Scents are nice. Smells can be rude. I'm not even sure if it was a Wham-O product. I can't tell you what it did, except you shaped it into something. GOTTDURNN now I have to google. Or do I use Bing AI? No, let's try Gemini:

Did Wham-O ever make a product that consisted of foam

Answer: Yes, Wham-O currently manufactures two foam-based products. (Description.) These foam party products are relatively new additions to the Wham-O lineup, having been released in 2020. They are not among the company's most iconic products, but they do demonstrate that Wham-O is willing to innovate and experiment with new materials and concepts.

What a suck-up. So it didn't exist. I don't know what I'm remembering. It was purplish, and came in a cup, and could be described as "sturdy foam with a substantial ooze component." Like diluted Silly Putty.


Well, it's not important. Point is, one of the reasons I leave the house in order to give meaning to returning to the house. You walk from the car to the building. You do your duties. Then you walk from the building to the car, your duties done.

  That's me.

I snipped that little piece of audio with an external capture device in 1991 from late-night Sunday DC radio, when they played OTR. The minute I thought of it I knew where it would be and what it would be named.

What I didn't know, 32 years ago, that I would someday play that man's most famous role, on stage, in England. I'm not sure how I would have even begun to understand that outcome.

(X-Minus 1 and Alan Bunce, Peg Lynch's co-star.)

ANYWAY you miss out on the new stuff if you stay home, and today held some good news! A few months ago, the workmen who are replacing all the elevator motors and gears and brakes sealed off a passageway that let you cut from Features to Sports. Or rather, more importantly, from Features to the bathrooms. Without you had to sail around the horn, going down to Chez Barbara, then heading up the aisle. The passageway had to be sealed while they opened the walls and did their work, lest anyone wander in and put their hand in the moving gears. They drywalled it and plastered the edges and painted, so you couldn't tell it was ever there.

But then I saw plastic sheeting go up, held in place with blue painter's tape, and thought: that door you liked is coming back in style again. Sure enough, they howard-cartered through and opened it up, and soon the time-saving lavatory passthrough will be open for traffic again.

There's always something happening out in the world.

One day, and I hope it's soon, the walls around the escalator will come down, and that overhaul will be concluded. It's been four months, at least. It was the escalator all the building's smokers took down to the Designated spot. There's no one there now, ever. Maybe they all quit. Well, it's slightly more difficult to get down to the only accepted place to puff, so heck, let's hang up the gaspers and hit the gym.

Probably not.

If you go to an Undesignated spot, you may get a visit from Security, or an admonishing word from the intercom. I remember I lit up a wee cheroot in an unused alcove on a cold day in 2020, and a voice from above told me this was not acceptable. There was no one around. There was no one in the office. It was lockdown. There was no one anywhere. But there was me, the only man left alive at the office, and the lady at the desk looking at her cameras. The rules still applied, sir.

In a way I respect that, as I'd like to think I'd dress for the Sweet Meteor Of Death. Nice suit, best tie, shined shoes. The Guggenheim Approach, which was one of those things that impressed me about the Titanic sinking. We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen. On the other hand, lady, you're being a bleddin' jobsworth and you can jolly well sod off.

I did not object, though, because at some point I'd forget my ID at my desk, and have to ask her to badge me up to 12.

The other news of the day came from the gym: a lesson in how some people are tat-spattered in ways that has no aesthetic coherence; a brief internal argument over whether the meritricious pop song on the speakers was sampling Kraftwerk "It's More Fun to Compute" or just stealing it; a realization that the only reason the gym TVs play ESPN is because anything else would be objectionable to someone. No one objects to ESPN.

I am completely bored by sports TV, except for occasional football highlights. I don't think a lot of the guys who hit the building's gym are big sports TV guys. No one pays it any attention. It's the expected background noise of Guy Spaces, and hence, no one will object.

Tomorrow I'm asking what they play in the Women's locker room. I'll let you know.

  Oh, dear. Well.
  A nuanced discussion of carjacking in Canada, on Twitter.





















She expanded on the subject on her substack. She was particularly interested in defining the nature and experience of being a Victim.

Who we determine to be a victim is deeply tied to our personal worldview.

That’s a revelatory admission, and I don’t think she thought how that might look.

For me, I understand a victim to be someone whose life is irrevocably impacted, negatively, by forces they cannot control.

Is there a statue of limitations here? If you’ll get over it in six years, are you still a victim?

Let’s say her preferred brand of politician has their way, and taxes are raised 50%, or my employer is nationalized, and the employees subjected to ideological tests that determines who shall continue to have a job. Both would constitute an irrevocable negative impact, because I would have my property or livelihood confiscated or restricted by the State, but I don’t think she would say I could claim Victim status.

You’re not a victim if things can be made well through consumption.

When all you have is a hammer that you had to buy when hammers should be free, everything looks like a nail, which shouldn’t cost anything, but should be provided to all who need one.

You’re a victim if you’ve experienced something that means that you’ll never again be the person you were before.

Ah: the person you were before. Here we substitute direct economic damage for alterations to one’s personhood, because the latter is nebulous and emotional and hence more important.

But: experiencing something that makes you a different person is the definition of being a human. By this definition, I am a victim of being present during a bright midnight at the Hermitage seeing a great painting. I was never the same person after that, because I had a new experience of significance, for many reasons.

My immediate, half-serious reaction, that jailing people for a victimless crime is ridiculous, caught a lot of heat.

Because it is a sophomoric idea that deserves to be put in the stocks and pelted with hard potatoes. Also, I’m sure she would favor jailing economic criminals. If someone embezzles a million dollars from State Paper-Clip Factory #23, who’s the victim? WHY THE PEOPLE OF COURSE but someone whose car is stolen, nah.

Thousands of men told me how much they love their cars, how their cars hold them at night and make love to them. My emails and direct messages filled up with lots of “if you steal my car I will kill you”s and “where do you live so I can steal your cars”es. The people were mad that I could assert such a thing.

I may have mentioned the carjacking that happened up the street, where a housekeeper was braced by a man with a gun who tried to take her car. It was the means by which she got to her jobs. Not a nice new car. But the criminal wanted it, so he brandished. She panicked and drove away. He fired after her. Hit the car, but didn’t hit her. It’s possible that the woman was irrevocably charged by the incident, but she didn’t lose her car, so should the man who fired his gun really go to jail?

Well yes of course gun violence very bad

Ah, we agree. Ten years, then? Fifteen?

OMG no. Putting someone in jail is regarded as a prima facie act of injustice, because the system is so saturated with structural isms that nothing about the result is fair. Basically, the crime is an act of conscious or unconscious retribution, and while yes yes the "victim" is temporarily inconvenienced by the loss of transportation, the other person, the person into whose hands a gun somehow tumbled, is the result of a series of greater misfortunes for which they are never responsible, so it’s . . . a draw? Jail time is insult-to-injury. Better if they have some community service, because then they will grow as a person and the community will be Served and it’s win-win.

She continues to opine on the delicate matters at hand:

Having your car stolen might increase your insurance but otherwise, meh. It’s just stuff. Stuff isn’t life!

“Might increase your insurance but meh” A sudden strong whiff of “the bills go to dad” just blew in the window.

In the strictest sense, when life is defined as respiration and excretion and procreation, no, Stuff is not Life. But note this construction. “It’s just stuff.” Okay, I’ve taken this expensive object you obtained by spending the results of your labor. But it’s just stuff, just a thing. I’ve taken your phone or computer, which is just stuff, even though it has documents and pictures that have meaning and importance to you. I’ve broken into your house, but I didn’t do anything creepy like go through your underwear drawer, I just took your TV, which is just stuff, so chill. Okay, okay, I did take your underwear, and every time you look in the drawer now you think of this previously private space invaded by my hands, my purpose, my intention, but your underwear, it’s just stuff.

Actually, stuff is life. I was at a funeral the other day, and in the corner of the room was a display of the dead man’s medals he’d won in a lifetime of running, and the helmet he used when downhill skiing. It was an ordinary object infused with tremendous poignancy at the moment, as was the STUFF on ribbons his wife had arranged. Each one told a story.

I have a small hatpin box my Grandmother brought back from the 1893 Columbian exposition. Inside is a small packet of King Gillette blades my Grandfather set aside for some reason. They don’t mean anything to anyone else. Their meaning will probably die with me. Every time I see that little box I think of my Grandmother. Two, three times a year.

It’s just stuff. Stuff isn’t life!

Lady, stuff is life and life is stuff.

And sure, if you want to say that you would be made a victim of a car theft, be my guest. Identify how you’d like.

The most compelling thing about socialists is their empathy, and emotional generosity.

Now, le nub, le pith de la gist:

At the heart of the outrage around this wave of car jackings is the belief that private property is sacred; something that I reject.

Of course, she does. She rejects your definitions of your attachment to your private property. But the word “sacred” isn’t apt. The actual word would be “Yours.” Private property is inviolable because it is yours, and the desires of others to redefine it as anything else is immoral.

It’s the formulation that this object is so premordial that anything that may befall a car, whether a jacking or an overpacked highway, is a personal attack on the car’s owner. It’s silly.

At this point, I realize we are dealibng with someone who regards congestion in the same category as an armed holdup. With someone who thinks it is silly to characterize stealing a car at gunpoint as “a personal attack.” Perhaps she’s right! Perhaps the man who shot at the housekeeper in my neighborhood was shooting at cars and owners of cars in general, and intended no specific slight.

Here's a sizzling hot take: even if the carjacker was shooting bullets at the idea of a society that forces them to perform these acts to feed their Starving Children, I believe that people who use the threat of death to relieve others of their possessions should be removed from society for a substantial period of time, via the justice system.

But of course the carjacker cannot control that system, and his life is irrevocably impacted, negatively, by jail.

By her definition, a victim.

Finally! Someone with whom she can sympathize.




It’s 1860!

The front page is a grab-bag of everything. Everything.


The left-hand column is, of course, devoted to poetry, of the treacly sort.

Mary D. R. Boyd published poems when she was but 12, and went on a career as a verse-peddler and Sunday school book writer.



Thank you for all the specific information in this timely and informative piece.

Actually, this was a result of Act 151 of 1859, which would’ve been known to the readers.


  Ah, burgeoning sociopathy.

Actually, it’s a moral lesson. An old man (50 or so) comes along and tells the boy you know, when I was your age, I too enjoyed torturing small animals, but then I realized they were all God’s children, and I was sore ashamed, and turned away from such deeds. The author remembered those words all the days of his life. So there’s that.


  New dime!

Here it is.

Compare with the old, and make your own aesthetic judgments.


News from our DC correspondent.


The Vice President stopped a fight? Yes:

John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer, politician, and soldier. He represented Kentucky in both houses of Congress and became the 14th and youngest-ever vice president of the United States. Serving from 1857 to 1861, he took office at the age of 36. He was a member of the Democratic Party, and ran for president in 1860 as a Southern Democrat. He served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War, but was expelled after joining the Confederate Army. He was appointed Confederate Secretary of War in 1865.

Exiled in Paris after the war, but eventually he returned to the US, once he knew he wouldn’t be clapped in irons. Resumed his practice of law and died in 1873. I had no idea the town of Breckinridge MN was named for him. I wonder how long that will last.


The more things change, etc.

Rather obvious notes at the end. Suggestions, not a description of the law.




"There ought to be a law. There ought be law, for that matter.”


  Quite the resume. Probably all BS.

Who? Him:

Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin (7 December 1805 – 13 June 1871) was a French watchmaker, magician and illusionist, widely recognized as the father of the modern style of conjuring. He transformed magic from a pastime for the lower classes, seen at fairs, to an entertainment for the wealthy, which he offered in a theatre opened in Paris, a legacy preserved by the tradition of modern magicians performing in tails.


American magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (born Ehrich Weiss) was so impressed by Robert-Houdin that, after reading his autobiography in 1890, Weiss adopted the stage name of "Houdini" in honour of Robert-Houdin. He incorrectly believed that an i on the end of a name meant "like" in French; but Houdini, his own career and reputation established by that time, later lost his youthful respect for Robert-Houdin, believing that he took undue credit for other magicians' innovations, and wrote The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin in 1908.

There’s more, but perhaps some other day.

That'll do! See you hither / yon.

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