Friday, February 28, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
Great Big Sea, "How Did We Get from Saying I Love You" from Play (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Thus concludes this February's festival of not anti-love songs, not songs against romantic love, but songs about the love that failed, about the follies of romantic love. I never meant to abandon this joyously bitter tradition & have taken steps to ensure that it will persist in 2015 & beyond, after a lamentable absence in '13.

Also, because this is still
The Secret Base & I remain the same captious devil I've always been, the title of "How Did We Get from Saying I Love You" should be, at the minimum, "How Did We Get from Saying I Love You?," or even "How Did We Get from Saying, 'I Love You'?"

"How did we get from saying 'I love you'
To 'I'll see you around some day'?"

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXXI

Born from Jets, Part I: The Saab 35 Draken ("dragon").

Commentary: Some manner of prize to whomever first identifies the error in the schematic drawing of the Draken.

The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "The Tears of a Clown" from Motowns 1's (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Smokey!

"Now, if there's a smile on my face
It's only there trying to fool the public.
But when it comes down to fooling you,
Now, honey, that's quite a different subject;
But don't let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression—
Really I'm sad,
Oh, sadder than sadder,
You're gone and I'm hurting so bad,
Like a clown I pretend to be glad.

"Now there's some sad thing known to man,
But ain't too much sadder than
The tears of a clown
When there's no one around…"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

(№ 16) Michigan 77-76 Purdue (O.T.)
20-7, Big Ten 12-3

As I shook my father's hand after the game—he's a Purdue alumnus, who was there at the same time as the legendary Rick Mount—I remarked that this was the valiant Wolverines' second-most disappointing win of the season, second only to January's ugly 71-70 victory over the unwelcome Cornhuskers. I didn't know how to react, because I'd spend the majority of the game, including the second half when the score tightening considerably, convinced that the valiant Wolverines were doomed. Time & time again I saw Purdue's lead shrink to a single point, only to see Michigan waste an offensive possession, leading to a bad defensive possession & the swelling of Purdue's lead. I said, "(The valiant Wolverines) have the talent to win, but (they've) decided to lose, (they've) made the conscious choice not to win the game." I'm not proud of how far short I fell of Mr. Kipling's immortal words.

First the bad, then the good. I am gravely concerned about the valiant Wolverines' prospects come the N.C.A.A. tournament. Yet again Michigan fell behind early, by as many as nineteen points against the ill-starred Boilermakers, & only by the thinnest of margins were they able to climb back before time expired. The valiant Wolverines truly ran out of time to win the game; they never lead in regulation, needing overtime time to carry the day. Against Wisconsin, that comeback attempt ran out of time & fell short. I am concerned that come the Big Dance we will simply run out of time against an enthusiastic opponent with a solid game plan. I have the utmost confidence in Coach Beilein & his staff, but this slew of slow starts is proving a tough nut to crack. Still, let us not lose sight of this squad's achievement: a twenty-win season! Huzzah! Twenty wins & the Big Ten championship there for the outright winning is none too shabby for the youngest club in the conference.

I remarked to my father at the beginning of the game that I wouldn't mind if sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III had a big night against his father's—Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson (Jr.)—alma mater. "G.R.III" was the highest-scoring valiant Wolverine, & scored the winning bucket in overtime time. As expected, I didn't mind one bit.

Next: Minnesota, at home. This is a potential "trap game," a late-season bout against a "lesser" foe that might see an overconfident club come out with insufficient verve & suffer an ignominious defeat. There is no murderers' row between the valiant Wolverines & the Big Ten tournament; so, dedication will be needed if the valiant Wolverines are to be playing their best basketball in time to make another run at the Final Four.

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
Dance Hall Crashers, "Make Her Purr" from Purr (T.L.A.M.)


"You like to think you know her,
Knows what it takes to make her purr,
But she don't live here anymore.

"You looked around, I'll admit it was sad,
Trying to hide that you wanted her so bad,
It took some time, then you finally saw her again,
And she ignored you like the rancid mustard in the fridge door,
And then she left with Damon from Blur.

"You like to think you know her,
Knows what it takes to make her purr…"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Half a Woman" from Out-of-State Plates (T.L.A.M.)


"The show went the same way year after year,
He'd wave his magic wand and she'd disappear.
One day she asked, 'How did this come to be?
Somewhere there must be more to me.'…"

Monday, February 24, 2014

Operation AXIOM | The Queue

Ninety-four years ago to the day, 24 February 1920, the German Workers' Party was dissolved & reformed as the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), A.K.A. the "Nazi Party," & the twenty-five-point National Socialist Program was unveiled. The "25-point Program" served as the basic framework of Nazi belief through the insurrectionary & electoral struggles of 1920-1933 & the twelve-year nightmare of the "Thousand-Year Reich," from 1933-1945. The Nazi Party was founded, & its National Socialist Program unveiled, ninety-four years ago today.

It is a intriguing coincidence that on this baleful anniversary I began reading Liberal Fascism, which reprints the 25-point Program as an appendix. That is a spooky bit of happenstance, I'd say. Or, in the words of "plain, simple Garak," "I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidence."

Kith & Kin
Over the weekend, a kinswoman posted a grammatical error to her FaceSpace page, using the possessive "Wilson's" when context made it clear she meant the plural "Wilsons." I pointed out her error, owing a duty to fight the dumbing down of our public discourse, but did so in a respectful manner. She deleted my correction, & allowed her error to stand. A week or two earlier, The Guy had committed a similar error, typing the possessive "Manhattan's" when he clearly meant the plural "Manhattans." His error had been facilitated by those same plural Manhattans. I brought the error to his attention, in an almost identically respectful manner. He accepted my correction with good cheer, because he too knows that when our use of language grows lazy & fuzzy, so too grows our very ability to think. I do not condemn her for the initial mistake—typographical errors bedevil us all—but I shake my head at her refusal to fix the error, & her deletion of my comment pointing out the error. George Costanza's indictment of "the delicate genius" springs to mind.

It is worth noting that the kinswoman who defends "Wilson's" as the correct plural of "Wilson" is a public school teacher, & a vehement supporter of her own & the national teachers' unions. Forgive me if I enjoy this episode as a revealing commentary on the quality of the education that unionized public school teachers are interested in & capable of providing. Or perhaps I'm wrong & the plural of teacher really isn't "teachers" but "teacher's"?

The Queue

The Golem and the Jinni was an interesting read betrayed by a lackluster climax & a too-convenient-by-half resolution. Your author's sense is that Helene Wecker, a debut novelist we must remember, was more interested in the everyday lives of her dual protagonists than in the contrived confrontation with their antagonist.

We now return to non-fiction with Jonah Goldberg's provocatively titled Liberal Fascism. Given the recent profoundly un-American remarks by Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State—which were not in fact taken out of context as he & his aides lamely explained—Goldberg's title seems frighteningly prescient.

Mark Mazzetti, The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights

Lately Neglected
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill
Edmund Burke, The Evils of Revolution
F. J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners

The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
The Phenomenauts, "Cyborg" from For All Mankind (T.L.A.M.)


"I started with a perfect frame,
High-speed composite brain,
Made her smart, made her think I was funny.
Gave her independent style,
Super hot melty smile,
Made her kind, her disposition sunny.
Made her slender, curvy, and tall,
Made her not jealous at all,
Made her tough, but as cute as a bunny.

"But when I turned her on
She wasn't turned on by me,
I guess cyborgs can see who they want to see…

"Now I have a broken heart,
I guess I made her way too smart,
She realized, realized she's too good for me…"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

(№ 20) Michigan 79-70 Michigan State (№ 13)
19-7, Big Ten 11-3

With today's victory, the valiant Wolverines both completed the season sweep of the dastardly Spartans, our despised in-state rivals, & became captains of their own destiny—Michigan lead the Big Ten standings & own the first tiebreaker over Michigan State, meaning that the "Champions of the West" will indeed be champions of the Big Ten if they win out the rest of the conference schedule. The "Leaders and Best" do not need to reply on any other club to win or lose, they control their own fate.

Plus, "Sparty" lost, which is reason enough to smile. After the first Michigan/Michigan State game, an 80-75 victory on 26 January over the then-№ 3 dastardly Spartans, my old high school swim coach & biology teacher, a man I will forever think of as simply "Coach," posted the following comment to my FaceSpace page: "March will tell, you wanna bet on who goes farther?" I had reposted the Michigan Basketball page's graphic noting the victory, & he apparently took exception. I can't really fault him for that—rivalry games do funny things to otherwise pleasant & reasonable persons—but I am curious as to whether there will be a repeat. This curiosity is malicious. I wish to be provoked. At the time, I tried to be firm but magnanimous in my response, stating that performance in the "Big Dance" would not change the outcome of that particular game—would not salve the agony of defeat he was suffering—& that I am not a gambling man, neither for my side nor against his. This time, I yearn for a bait to which I could rise, so that I might embody the sinister words of Francis Urquhart, who said of his prime minister, "I mean to do him harm." For all the malevolent posturing, a not insignificant faction within my head hopes that he neither he nor any of my other Green & White kith will furnish me with the desired casus belli.

Next: The ill-starred Boilermakers, at Purdue's Mackey Arena. My father is a Purdue alumnus, raising the stakes in our household. The valiant Wolverines had not played in a week, but now finish the regular season with a spree of five games in fourteen days, including today's victorious contest. After that, the Big Ten tournament & the N.C.A.A. tournament, for all the marbles.

Go Blue!
The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
American Hi-Fi, "Flavor of the Weak" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"…And he's got posters on the wall
Of all the girls she wished she was,
And he means everything to her.

"Her boyfriend,
He don't know anything about her,
He's too stoned, Nintendo,
I wish that I could make her see
She's just the Flavor of the Weak.

"It's Friday night and she's all alone,
He's a million miles away.
She's dressed to kill, the T.V.'s on,
He's connected to the sound.
And he's got pictures on the wall
Of all the girls he's loved before,
And she knows all his favorite songs…"

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Be My Anti-Valentine

I cannot say that I'm particularly saddened by the abrupt exit of Hotel Sierra from my life, but it strikes me that this is the perfect pretext to revive a Secret Base tradition that I never meant to let wither—the post-Valentine's Day week of bitter, heartbroken, anti-love R.B.D.S.O.T.D.

Valentine's Day '14, Part I & '14, Part II

Valentine's Day '13 | Valentine's Day '12

Valentine's Day '11 | Valentine's Day '10

Valentine's Day '09 | Valentine's Day '08

Valentine's Day '07 | Valentine's Day '06

Valentine's Day '05 | Valentine's Day '04

The Rebel Black Dot Anti-Valentine's Song of the Day
William Shatner, "Ideal Woman" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: As I wrote in '12, "Welcome to the meanest week in the R.B.D.S.O.T.D.'s whole year."

"I want you to be you.
Don't change because you think I might like you to be different,
I fell in love with you.
I don't want you blonde,
I don't want you not to swear, not to sweat.
It's you I fell in love with:
Your turn of phrase,
Your sensitivity,
Your irrational moods—
Well, maybe that could go…"

Friday, February 21, 2014


I admit to being surprised by the "Dear John" email I received this morning from Hotel Sierra, the salient line from which was, "I definitely want to still be friends..." I misread how much she liked me, but upon further reflection that isn't really surprising, because I really do mean it when I say how bad I am at reading people. Her expressed concern was a twist on my own vexation, "I can't decide if I like the thought of you or if I actually like you." I was magnanimous in my reply, even excusing her from the cowardly act of kicking me to the curb via e-mail. (What, a text message would have been too personal?) I was also honest, telling her that I've never managed to maintain a friendship with a former paramour, which I haven't, because I have philosophical objections to the concept.

The question now is, How long should I wait before I "de-friend" her on the FaceSpace? I de-friended The Interpreter straight away, but then faced the awkwardness of running into her in person. That seems far more unlikely with Hotel Sierra, so perhaps the best course would be to get it over with now, since I'll never again having anything to do with her anyway. On the one hand, he who hesitates is lost. On the other hand, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Is there a gripping hand here? Not every question has a gripping hand.

So, that's that. Her loss. This does decidedly vindicate the new placeholder code name system for internet dating girls. Good call, Mike. Project PANDORA rolls on.

Operation AXIOM

Twelve years ago to the day, 21 February 2002, The Secret Base of the Rebel Black Dot Society was first published. I have no great profundity to proclaim. This blog was & remains the highly idiosyncratic soap box of a man possessed of such a reservoir of anger as to be known as "The Last Angry Man," a man of copious vices & slightly inadequate virtues. My deepest thanks go to those who have been reading from day one. My sincere, though in truth shallower, thanks go to those who are reading this blog for the first time. I've never quite put my finger on what I want this blog to be, but I know that all too often I've fallen short of what it should be. Eventually, practice might make perfect. Or perhaps perfection is unattainable, & it is sufficient to have tried one's best. The Secret Base was first published, a dozen years ago today.

As-Way-Back-As-It-Gets Wayback Machine.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of This Day
The Ataris, "San Dimas High School Football Rules" from Blues Skies, Broken Hearts… Next 12 Exits (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I choose as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. a song I might well have been listening to twelve years ago, though probably not as I published the first post, because I used the Angell Hall "Fish Bowl" computing lab an awful lot back then & didn't often use a portable music player. (I had a Discman, though not one of the then-brand-new iPods.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Liberty & Union: Obamboozled

My fellow Republicans & those of the right-wing press like to pillory President Obama for spending too much time playing golf. I am reacting specifically to a recent posting to the Republican National Committee's FaceSpace page:
While in California last weekend highlighting the hardships caused by droughts in the region, President Obama spent a bulk of his time at water-thirsty desert golf courses.

Obama's Presidency in Two Words? Double Bogey.
Make no mistake, I'll all for pillorying Mr. Obama over the parade of horrors that has been & continues to be his misbegotten presidency. But I've never really understood this critique. Where is Mr. Obama more likely to affix his John Hancock to a wide-ranging executive order of dubious constitutionality, in the Oval Office or on the links? Where is Mr. Obama more likely to deliver a speech that is naught but a pack of lies, before a carefully screened audience of fanatical supporters at a staged photo opportunity or in a sand trap? The more time the president spends golfing, the less he can further tarnish America's standing amongst our allies, the less structural damage he can inflict on the still-fragile American economy, & the less he can undermine the vital checks & balances of our Constitution that secure our liberties & hold tyranny at bay. We should want President Obama to golf more! The more he golfs, the better off is the American body politic! So, my friends of the right, whether you call yourselves conservative, classically liberal, neoconservative, or reactionary (but not libertarian—those isolationist, gold-worshiping snakes in the grass can take a long walk off a short pier), I urge you not to mock B.H.O. for golfing. If anything, gently urge him to spend the remaining three years of his devastating presidency golfing as often as is humanly possible.

Meanwhile, the parade of horrors persists. Iran's enrichment of uranium has been enshrined as a "right" in an international agreement for the first time ever; the unconscionable slaughter continues in Syria; there is growing chaos in the Ukraine, the Central African Republic, & in a hundred other hotspots where our influence & leadership have waned; China continues aggressively to push fancifully expansionist territorial claims, increasingly back up those claims with the implicit threat of martial force; & our European allies seem to trust us less than they ever have before. That Nobel Peace Prize is looking more & more deserved, isn't it?
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
William Shatner (& Joe Jackson), "Common People" from Has Been (T.L.A.M.)


"Rent a flat above a shop,
Cut your hair and get a job,
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
Pretend you never went to school…"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The kisses with Hotel Sierra were much better on the second date than they had been on the first date. She was less nervous, or her actual technique had improved, or I subconsciously held her to a lower standard, or whatever. Yippee! I'd never before made out in a motorcar, so I can add that experience to the ol' C.V. (I'd made out while leaning against motorcars in public house parking lots several times, but never before in the front seats of a motorcar. A less than ideal venue, certainly, but we both live with our parents, so what else is to be done?) So, with that out of the way, we now turn to the thornier question of how much I actually like her. Do I really like her? Or do I like how much she likes me? Do I simply like having someone to kiss & to paw? Simply enjoying our affair for whatever it is is less of an option than I would prefer, because she lives in northern Indiana. Motoring to see her, or having her motor to see me as she did for the first date, is a major undertaking, involving both scheduling & the commitment of resources. A quandary, to be sure.

The exchange of emails continues with Mike Lima & a second girl, placeholder code name: November, because I only know her given name. The missives to & from Mike Lima are lengthy & of a fascinating philosophical bent; she seems to be a girl of ideas & significant thoughts. The missives to & from November are much shorter, but also possessed of a charming lightness. I am more infatuated with Mike Lima than I am with November, but I'm scheming to ask both of them out. Not that one can really come to know a person through an online dating profile, but Mike Lima describes herself as a girl who does not date, who only has serious relationships; so, while I remain, or at least strive to be, intrepid in the execution of Project PANDORA, my sense is that "softly, softly" is the best approach to use with her. With November, I'm thinking about being a little more reckless, maybe even asking her out before we've exchanged 'phone numbers & calls.

This afternoon, I espied a Saab 9-3 carrying the vanity license plate THRLME2. I'm reading that as "Thrill Me 2," though extrapolating it out to the vehicle's name, I wonder if that is the Thrill Me 2 or the Thrill Me Too. Was there an earlier Thrill Me? Also, I have the oddest fascination with Saabs. Methinks that fascination has its genesis in the brief "Born from Jets" advertising campaign, which I alone seem to have loved.

Or perhaps not I alone.

Lies, Damned Lies, & the News

A piece heard this morning on N.P.R.'s (All Things Considered:) Morning Edition is illustrative of the left-wing—often misidentified as "liberal"—bias pervasive throughout the American journalistic establishment. In discussing a new Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) report on President Obama's proposed increase in the minimum wage, the reporter said that such an increase "would" lift X number of persons out of poverty, but "might" eliminate entirely Y number of jobs. There is a fierce debate between left- & right-wing economists over the efficacy of wage floors, but that is not our purpose here. Likewise, I'm neither vouching for nor condemning the projections of the C.B.O. But notice the N.P.R. man's words: the benefits of a minimum wage increase predicted by Mr. Obama "would" occur; the costs of a minimum wage increase predicted by the president's opponents only "might" occur. Economics is a black art, not a hard & fast science. There are so many variables at play in the real economy that the models & predictions made assuming caeteris paribus are virtually impossible to either confirm or disprove. So, it is most accurate to say that a raise in the minimum wage "might" lift X number of persons out of poverty & "might" eliminate entirely Y number of jobs. To say that the good promised by a minimum wage increase "would" occur while the harm threatened only "might" occur is not reporting the news, it is peddling propaganda; such "reporting" is not trying to inform but instead is trying to influence.

French Business News Roundup
Allegations & denials of dirty politics: Dassault-link.
Foreign investment & the family business: Peugeot-link.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Headline News" from "Weird Al" Yankovic: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Headline News" & the trashy news sensations it lampoons are twenty years old. Think about that & weep, you old fogey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "The Senator's Daughter" from Utopia Parkway (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Occasioned by the discouraging news that Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (Republican, Oklahoma) will soon be vacating his seat in the United States Senate, before the end of his current term. A kinsman once bought a motorcar from Doctor Coburn's daughter; the secondhand Honda Civic was immediately dubbed the Senator's Daughter, in a nod to Fountains of Wayne.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

Tuesday, 11 February 2014
(№ 15) Michigan 70-60 Ohio State (№ 22)
18-6, Big Ten 10-2

Sunday, 16 February 2014
(№ 21) Wisconsin 75-62 Michigan (№ 15)
18-7, Big Ten 10-3

The bad news from both games is that we fell behind early. The good news from both games is that the valiant Wolverines fought back instead of rolling over. At Ohio State, the valiant Wolverines got off to a sluggish start that looked all but identical to the losses to Indiana & Iowa. Halfway through the first half, though, Michigan came alive & slowly but surely first caught up & then pulled ahead of the home team. Hosting Wisconsin, we fell too far behind & waited too late to begin the comeback rally. At one point, freshman guard Zak Irvin, a sniper from three-point land, put up a shot that clanked off the rim; the pesky Badgers proceeded to take the ball down the court for two points. The valiant Wolverines were nine points behind when Irvin lofted his shot. had he made it, the deficit would have been cut to six. Instead, between his miss & the Wisconsin make, our hole grew to eleven points. I count this as a five-point swing, from a potential six points down to eleven points. That is when I concluded that the cause was lost, that the victory 'twas not to be. After this, the valiant Wolverines went on a run & eventually closed to gap to three points (!), but the pesky Badgers responded with a run of their own. The game ended with a very solid thirteen-point margin of defeat.

How to get the valiant Wolverines to start each game with vim & vigor, instead of needing to confront an early deficit to be spurred into action, this is the puzzle facing head coach John Beilein & his assistant coaches. This '13-'14 squad is composed of extraordinarily talented student-athletes, but it does suffer a paucity of experienced leadership: graduate student forward (center) Jordan Morgan & redshirt junior forward (center) John Horford, jointly nicknamed "Morford" or "Michigan's two-headed center," are the only upperclassmen (or beyond, in Morgan's case) on the roster.

Next: At home to complete the season series with in-state rivals Michigan State. The dastardly Spartans dropped out of the top ten, from № 9 to № 13, after their surprising home loss to the unwelcome Cornhuskers. In this week's poll, the valiant Wolverines dropped to № 20, the pesky Badgers climbed to № 16, & the hated Buckeyes fell slightly to № 24. The fifth ranked Big Ten club is the tenacious Hawkeyes, who inched up from № 16 to № 15. Michigan & Michigan State, tied atop the conference standings, both lost at home over the weekend; the dastardly Spartans can tune up against the ill-starred Boilermakers (winners over the weekend against their in-state rivals, the wily Hoosiers) before next Sunday's "Pure Michigan" showdown.

Go Blue!

Operation AXIOM | Liberty & Union
Five years ago to the day, 17 February 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, A.K.A. "the Stimulus Bill." The widely quoted cost of the stimulus was "$787,000,000," though this is most likely inaccurate, a lowball estimate. Five years on, how well has the American economy recovered? What are the fruits of all that reinvestment? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate fell, between January 2009 & January 2014, from 65.7% to 63% (Freudian slip: I initially mistyped labor force as "labor farce.") The labor force participation rate has decreased every single year of the Obama presidency, meaning a smaller percentage of Americans are either working or looking for work: labor force-link. If the economy was growing as rapidly as the administration & its allies/accomplices in the press would have us believe, then the unemployment rate would actually be increasing, as more & more Americans rejoined the labor force in search of work; the unemployment rate continues to drop not because of the paltry numbers of jobs created, but because more & more American are classified as "discouraged workers" & thus not counted as participating in the labor force at all. President Obama's not-terribly-stimulative Stimulus Bill—a nightmare of unreconstructed Keynesian malarkey—was passed, five years ago today.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXX

The Gold Standard, Part III: The end—The growing imbalance in the balance of payments, the collapse of the London Gold Pool (& rise of the Zürich Gold Pool) in 1968, the "Nixon Shock" of 1971, the Smithsonian Agreement, & the triumph of floating currencies.

The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Rilo Kiley, "A Better Son/Daughter" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 16 Februar
Barenaked Ladies, "Celebrity" from Everything to Everyone (T.L.A.M.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nirvana, "Breed" from Nevermind (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Sweet fancy Moses, Nevermind. I missed it the first time around, coming to embrace "Smells Like Teen Spirit" only through "Smells Like Nirvana," & the rest of the album later still. Better late than never.

"Breed" in particular must only be played with the volume set at "eleven."

Friday, February 14, 2014


I have scheduled for tomorrow a second date with a girl I met through my usual internet dating sight, a girl I shall reference by the placeholder code name Hotel Sierra (N.A.T.O. phonetic alphabet code for her initials, the means by which I shall refer to internet dating girls until they rate the time & energy of a proper code name). Our 'phone calls are delightful & our conversation is lively, but I'm not terribly excited about the second date due to a discovery made during the first date: she is a deplorable kisser. I recall another instance in which I complained about a different paramour's kisses were awkward & unpleasant. The Watergirl counseled cutting that girl more slack; the lass might well simply have been nervous, the Belle of Beantown protested, & if given the chance might prove herself better at locking lips. It is with this sagacity foremost in mind that I have assented to the second date with Hotel Sierra. Above all else, Hotel Sierra & I share a devotion to Holy Mother Church, a prerequisite for any lasting relationship. We have many other things in common besides. I am in earnest when I call our telephonic discourse delightful. Certainly, she is far more enamored of me than I am of here, but such a disparity is natural. But those first-date kisses were the worst of my life. I kid you not, they were the worst. I felt absolutely nothing. They inspired neither affection nor even arousal. Nothing. They were the most numb kisses of my entire life. I will be charming & witty tomorrow, as "brimming with personable qualities" as Lightray, but I know that in the bit of my stomach will sit dread like grim Orion, dread of what should be a moment of unadulterated joy. No matter how much we have in common & how well the date goes in all other respects, if the kisses are the same, I just don't see how there could be a third date.

Addendum: Text message from Hotel Sierra. "I know when the times comes to crawl under the covers, sleep will escape me. All because of the giddiness/good nerves I feel when I think about being with you tomorrow." I think I'll ask for a cigarette & a blindfold, French Foreign Legion-style, when they put me before the firing squad. I hope to have the composure to quote the reputed last words of "Breaker" Morant: "Shoot straight, you bastards. Don't make a mess of it."

I have been trading messages with another girl, placeholder code name: Mike Lima, who can only be described, thus far, as unbelievable. This courtship is in a very preliminary stage, but a girl who casually references Ghostbusters, Wednesday Addams, & The Blues Brothers in a single email; is devoutly Catholic; & is a state hockey champion? Consider my interest piqued.

Lightray & Orion are comic book characters from Jack "The King" Kirby's New Gods. Have a very nerdy day.

The Rebel Black Dot Song against Valentine's Day
Gotye featuring Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used to Know" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)


"Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over,
Letting me believe that it was always something that I'd done,
But I don't want to live that way,
Reading into every word you say,
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know!…"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Golem, "Citizen Boris" from Citizen Boris (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The selection of to-day's R.B.D.S.O.T.D. was influenced by an online chat I had with Comrade Coquettish last last night, after posting the latest episode of "The Explorers' Club" & before retiring. She is an immigrant from Russia, born in the dying years of the U.S.S.R. She has been an American citizen since 2012.

Your humble narrator: "I thank ye. In any event, sweet dreams, ye Russo-American belle of Oregon." (She'd earlier referred to me as "…my Michigander.")

Comrade Coquettish: "Russian. Let's make that clear now. B-)"

Your humble narrator: "You're a U.S. citizen now, (Comrade Coquettish). Russo-American."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXIX

The Gold Standard, Part II: Bretton Woods—The United Nations Monetary & Financial Conference (A.K.A. the "Bretton Woods Conference"); John Maynard Keynes's failed "bancor" proposal & the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency; the International Monetary Fund & the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development; & fixed, or "pegged," exchange rates.

Commentary: The photographic selections for this episode of "The Explorers' Club" have focused heavily on the Bretton Woods Conference itself because the only way I know visually to represent a fixed exchange rate is through a supply-&-demand graph, a sight that cause the eyes of non-economics to glaze over in incomprehension & dread.

Also, holy smoke!, three hundred seventy-nine episodes? Boy howdy, but time flies!
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" from The Civil War: Original Soundtrack Recording (T.L.A.M.)


"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lighting of His terrible, swift sword,
His Truth is marching on!…"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Mr. Chevy Celebrity" from Borders & Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: This afternoon, I parked the Lumi, the Distaff Son of the Mousemobile next to a mid-'80s Chevrolet Celebrity. This Celebrity was white, unlike the signature "six-tone tan" of the Mousemobile, & rust-free, but it still brought to mind warm remembrances of my old '86 Chevy Celebrity.

The Victors | Project OSPREY

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…"
—Rudyard Kipling, "If—"

Wednesday, 5 February 2014
(№ 10) Michigan 79-50 Nebraska
17-5, Big Ten 9-1

Saturday, 8 February 2014
(№ 17) Iowa 85-67 Michigan (№ 10)
17-6, Big Ten 9-2

If the dominant victory over the unwelcome Cornhuskers was supposed to be a "statement," a reassertion of the valiant Wolverines' prowess after the previous weekend's domination by the wily Hoosiers, then what exactly are we to make of our dismantling at the hands of the tenacious Hawkeyes? Iowa took us apart in much the same fashion as had Indiana, reveling potentially fundamental weaknesses in our scheme. Worse, we played lazy, stupid ball against Iowa, being both undisciplined & uncoordinated. We were soundly defeated. The lone bright spot was sophomore guard Caris LeVert, almost alone amongst the "leaders & best" in displaying poise, enthusiasm, & intensity against the tenacious Hawkeyes. Let us hope that the lessons we should have learnt after Indiana will sink in now that Iowa has repeated them; we must remind ourselves that this squad of valiant Wolverines is yet young, & that the experience by which the young learn is often bitter.

Next: To-night, the valiant Wolverines, now ranked № 16, visit the hated Buckeyes, now ranked № 20. We've lost our last two road games, at Indiana & at Iowa, so I fear for our chances tonight at the Value City Arena. At the same time, I am hopeful that losing two of three has refocused the valiant Wolverines' attention; when they play their best, they remain a formidable opponent for any club.

Beat Ohio! Go Blue!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Queue

I have a great affinity for the year 1979, the year of my birth & the birth of several of my oldest (most long-standing) kith. Beyond this affinity, Mr. Caryl makes an excellent case in support of his thesis that 1979 marked a radical break, in many different & important ways, from the secularism & socialism that were the hallmarks of the blood-soaked 20th century. A choice paragraph from the epilogue, titled "The Problem with Progress":
The idea of progress carries within it the seeds of arrogance. The engineers of social and material advancement can easily succumb to the certainty that their program is scientific, inevitable, indisputable—that progress is, essentially, an end unto itself. But this is true only as long as an overwhelming majority of people within a particular society are willing to accept this vision. The story of 1979 can be seen as the story of those who rejected it.
I have never been comfortable with "conservative" as a description of my politics, in part because of American political discourse's despicable perversion of the words "liberal" & "conservative," in part because of my interventionist views on foreign policy. Also, in part, because there is more to what I believe than a desire to preserve the best of the past alongside the useful innovations & reforms of the present. Strange Rebels has opened my eyes to the notion that perhaps "reactionary" is the best descriptor of my politics, & that I should perhaps name myself a proud reactionary.

Whatever your politics—progressive or conservative, revolutionary or reactionary; whatever the year of your birth—1979, 1969, or 1989; I highly recommend Christian Caryl's Strange Rebels (though, for my money, the book should be titled, simply, 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century or 1979: The Birth of the 21st Century).

Now for a brief, exploratory sojourn into fiction, by a first-time novelist.

Matthew Kelly, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World
Mark Mazzetti, The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century

Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Swords of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Synthetic Men of Mars
Sir Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Llana of Gathol
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter of Mars
Richard Price, Clockers
Sir Richard Francis Burton, translator, "Sinbad the Sailor" from The Arabian Nights

Lately Neglected
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill
Edmund Burke, The Evils of Revolution
F. J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Fratellis, "Chelsea Dagger" from Costello Music (T.L.A.M.)


"I said, 'Tell me your name. Is it sweet?'
She said, 'My boy, it's Dagger.' Oh yeah…"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Les Italiens, "Ottomania" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: "Ottomania" is a nigh-perfect complement to "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," both musically & thematically.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Get Up Kids, "Anne Arbour" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: I learnt today that not only is there a motion picture about pub quizzes/competitive trivia—entitled Answer This!—but it was made in Ann Arbor & set at the University of Michigan, & Professor Ralph Williams plays the protagonist's father. Sweet fancy Moses!

Friday, February 7, 2014


Back in the saddle & back on the straight & narrow. At this morning's weigh-in, I had lost six point two pounds since the last weigh-in three weeks hence—though it must be noted that at that weigh-in I'd gained two point eight pounds in the preceding fortnight. So, in sum I've lost three point six pounds since 30 December 2013, & seventeen point one pounds (or one point two stone) since current record-keeping began on 13 November of last year. A shade over seventeen pounds in a shade under three months, including significant regression during the Yuletide & in the exuberance of the New Year; at that rate, I'd lose approximately sixty-eight pounds in a year. I'm pleased with the results so far, but not yet satisfied with my efforts. I must do better. The last three weeks have been a step in that right direction, but complacency is the handmaiden of sloth & gluttony & must be avoided at all costs.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Someone to Love" from Traffic and Weather (T.L.A.M.)


"There's something wrong that she can't describe,
She takes her contacts out of her eyes,
Sets the alarm for six forty-five,
So she can get a little exercise…"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Art Garfunkel, "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" from As Good As It Gets: Music from the Motion Picture (T.L.A.M.)


"If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten,
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing!
When you're felling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing!

"So, always look on the bright side of death,
Just before you draw your terminal breath.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXVIII

The Gold Standard, Part I: Free Silver—the Mint Act of 1873, A.K.A. the "Crime of '73;" William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech; & the United States presidential elections of 1896 & 1900.

Commentary: "The Gold Standard," a three-part series, does not aspire to anything as grand as surveying the history of gold as a medium of exchange in the United Stats, let along the world. Instead, we limit our focus to United States federal monetary policy in the century of approximately 1870 to 1970, & even with such a modest scope we shall only touch upon a few highlights.

This subject was nominated by Doctor Hee Haw, for which he has our (the editorial "we") thanks.
The Rebel Black Dot Songs of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Robots One, Humans Zero" from B Is for B-Sides (T.L.A.M.)


"Are we buying what they're selling?
Do we have our eyes open?
Life's not a fashion statement,
It takes more than good intentions…

"Let me tell you what the score is:
Robots, one, and humans, zero."

Dienstag, 4 Februar
The Cretins, "Onward, Christian Soldiers" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Cretins' musical style, based on this single exposure, is devotedly imitative of the Ramones.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Victors | Project OSPREY

Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Michigan 80-67 Penn State
12-4, Big Ten 4-0

I must have been traumatized by last year's defeat at the hands of the ferocious Nittany Lions, because my heart filled with dread each & every time they made a basket, even as the valiant Wolverines remained in firm control of the game.

Saturday, 18 January 2014
Michigan 77-70 Wisconsin (№ 3)
13-4, Big Ten 5-0

Thus began murderers' row, three games in eight days against three high-caliber opponents, two of those three games on the road. As it turned out, the valiant Wolverines had the perfect game plan to defeat the pesky Badgers, who time & against gave up easy baskets off of ball screens. The toughest stretch of the season yet was off to an auspicious beginning.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014
(№ 21) Michigan 75-67 Iowa (№ 10)
14-4, Big Ten 6-0

I hate playing against the tenacious Hawkeyes because I love they way they play: they fly up & down & around the court & are lean & long & everywhere, trying to disrupt the opposing offense. Disciplined play & good shooting carried the day for the valiant Wolverines, who earned their second consecutive victory over a Top 10 opponent.

Saturday, 25 January 2014
(№ 21) Michigan 80-75 Michigan State (№ 3)
15-4, Big Ten 7-0

There is nothing I didn't love about the victory over the dastardly Spartans. There was even a delightful, not M.S.U.'s fault parallel to a game held three years earlier, almost to the day. On 27 January 2011, things were bleak in the Wolverine Nation. Rich Rodriquez had recently been fired as head coach of the football club after the worst three seasons in living memory, & the dastardly Spartans were riding high. The Entertainment & Sports Programming Network coverage & the illiterate "Moo U." students themselves were obsessed with the number 1,181. It had, apparently, been one thousand one hundred eighty-one days since the valiant Wolverines had bested the dastardly Spartans in either football or men's basketball. In front of a frenzied mob at the Breslin Center, Michigan's Zack Novak had what the usually worthless bums at memorably nicknamed the "Aneurysm of Leadership" as he exhorted his comrades onto victory, & Michigan prevailed 61-57. Fast forward three years: With the drooling Green & White faithful still buoyed by their football club's Big Ten championship & Rose Bowl victory, come too-clever-by-half so-&-so put the graphic on-screen that it had been over three hundred days since the dastardly Spartans had lost a conference game in either football or men's basketball. Once again, Nemesis would not allow such low-rent hubris to go unpunished.

Michigan Agricultural College head coach Tom Izzo's clubs are always able & well-prepared, always dangerous opponents & legitimate contenders for both the conference title & a berth in the Final Four. The game was a damn close-run thing, even with two of the better dastardly Spartans sitting out with injury. Michigan State's Gary Harris had a monstrous night (twenty-seven points, a career high), exactly what one would expect (& fear) out of a rivalry game. The valiant Wolverines responded with balance, with sophomore guard Nik Staukas & freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr. scoring nineteen points apiece. The victory continued one of my favorite statistics: When scoring at least eighty points, Michigan has never lost a game under head coach John Beilein. Never.

I admit that I credited the valiant Wolverines as having almost no chance of winning all three games of this murderers' row; in fairness, neither did I think their much likelihood of losing all three games. They set a new mark for Wolverine excellence, defeating three Top 10 clubs in a row, & defeating two different clubs ranked № 3. It's always great to be a Michigan Wolverine, but this Saturday-to-Saturday interval was particularly pleasant.

Thursday, 30 January 2014
(№ 10) Michigan 75-66 Purdue
16-4, Big Ten 8-0

I very much dislike watching basketball with my father, as he is prone to all manner of inane asides & panicked, despondent pronouncements about his own club's woefulness. What I dislike about watching sports with him are the very same things I dislike about myself when I watch sports; I share most of his worst habits. I was pleased by the victory over the ill-starred Boilermakers, though—& this presaged our doom against Indiana—I was mildly disappointed that the valiant Wolverines did not win by double digits.

Sunday, 2 February
Indiana 63-52 Michigan (№ 10)
16-5, Big Ten 8-1

Drat! No disrespect is meant to the wily Hoosiers, but the way we played last night, we couldn't have bested a club composed exclusively of blind, three-legged, octogenarian tortoises. Though the thought makes the blood run cold in my veins, I fear that we had "read our own press clippings" in the lead-up to the game, that we failed to prepare adequately & accord the wily Hoosiers the wariness & respect they deserved as opponents. A less worrisome explanation is that we had a collective "thud," one of those nigh-inexplicable instances in which Murphy's Law holds sway & our club was doomed not to perform at their best. If the valiant Wolverines are as well-coached as I believe them to be, lessons will be learned from this misfortune, complacency will be swept away, & the leaders & best will return to the court reinvigorated & looking for redemption. Of course, that is itself suspiciously wishful thinking.

Next: Nebraska, at home. The valiant Wolverines topped the unwelcome Cornhuskers by just a single point at Nebraska; the unwelcome Cornhuskers played ugly, inelegant basketball, but they also simply refused to go away. There are no easy games in the Big Ten, & there is danger here if the valiant Wolverines play half as poorly as they did at Indiana.

The internecine carnage of Big Ten play continues to take its toll. In the latest poll, while the valiant Wolverines held on to their № 10 ranking, both the pesky Badgers & the hated Buckeyes fell out of the A.P. Top 25 after having been ranked all season.

Go Blue!
Sherlock, season three: "The Empty Hearse," "The Sign of Three," & "His Last Vow." Thoughts, reactions?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Jason Segel, et al., "A Taste for Love" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Two shames: It is a shame that Mr. Segel is not involved with the upcoming Muppets film, which looks dreadful & which I shall never see, as it stars the onerous Ricky Gervais. It is furthermore a shame that Mr. Segel has yet to make a full-length version of A Taste for Love, his character's puppet musical based on Dracula, from the motion pictureForgetting Sarah Marshall. "Full-length" could mean something as short as half an hour; surely in our world of D.I.Y. media & online distribution, this project would be feasible.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Taj Mahal, Sam Moore, & Cab Blues, "John the Revelator" from Blues Brothers 2000: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Cabel Chamberlain, a.k.a. Cab Blues, played by Joe Morton, was the namesake of the late, lamented Cab Calloway, who played Curtis, Joliet Jake & Elwood's mentor, in The Blues Brothers. "John the Revelator" was chosen as the R.B.D.S.O.T.D. because I proclaimed the Scriptures for the first time at Mass to-day, acting as a lector. I am uncertain if the appropriate verb is "to lector" or "to lecture." Lector seesm not to be a verb (fair enough), but lecture doesn't seem quite right, though that could just be due to the connotations of the word in other contexts. More on being a lector in a forthcoming "Urbi et Orbi."

"Tell me, who's that writing?
John the Revelator,
Tell me, who's that writing?
John the Revelator,
Tell me, who's that writing?
John the Revelator,
Wrote the Book of the Seven Seals…"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Explorers' Club, № CCCLXXVII

Pando, "the Trembling Giant."

Project OSPREY
To-day was the first big, non-Michigan day of OSPREY for this basketball year ('13-'14). Details—well, more impressions than details—to follow.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Blues Brothers, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" from Blues Brothers 2000: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The Blues Brothers & an Americanized version of the Wild Hunt? What's not to like?