Friday, January 20, 2017

Poetry for a New Day

Our ultra-literate readers will remember William Carlos Williams's poem:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Well, a fellow on Twitter who uses the "handle" Chaosprime has rewritten it for us:

This is Just to Say

i have stolen
the presidency
you probably wanted
to go
to someone qualified

forgive me
i am so rich
and so white

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

While We're on the Subject of Prostitutes

We've received hundreds of letters and calls from people asking, "When is Sempringham going to update its data on persons listed as prostitutes in the U.S. Census to take into consideration the recently released 1940 Census?"

J. Edgar Hoover was not listed as a prostitute in the 1940 Census.

Well, we undertook a study of this very issue last year, but quickly discovered that we couldn't trust the raw data we were getting from  There are 440 people in the 1940 census whose occupation includes the word "prostitute," using the Ancestry search engine, but a closer look makes it clear that something has gone awry.

Because searching the 1940 U.S. Census is free to non-subscribers, you can reproduce our results.

Type "prostitute" into the "occupation" field, and no other search terms, and you will receive the list of 440 workers in the "sex industry", as it's called today. But click through to the actual records, and you will be surprised.

Ruth Flickinger, a 73-year-old living in Pittsburgh, is described as a "prostitute nurse" in the index, but a look at the original records reassures us that she was a "practical nurse". Her grandchildren are relieved, no doubt, but perhaps a tad annoyed.

Jay Ingram, listed as a "prostitute inspector" in Los Angeles, is actually a "parachute inspector" at the airport.

Joseph John Jr., of Aurora, Indiana, is not a "prostitute mail carrier", he is a "substitute mail carrier".

John Kaszuba's wife in Chicago will be relieved to hear he is not a "prostitute laborer" but a "painting helper".

And that's just going through the first six people listed in Ancestry's indexed records.

What happened? We have three hypotheses:
  • The optical character reading software Ancestry uses is version 1.0.
  • The census entries were indexed by someone making $2 a day, for whom English was not a first language.
  • The records were indexed by a 400-pound person sitting on a bed somewhere.
But who knows?

Whatever the answer, you can see that this important research we have undertaken is not as easy as it seems. We have to stop laughing long enough to get the data written down. This may take some time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Musical Interlude

Iris Luella Dement sings her song, "Let the Mystery Be". Lyrics below.

Everybody is wonderin' what and where they they all came from
Everybody is worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
When the whole thing's done
But no one knows for certain
So it's all the same to me
Think I'll just let the mystery be

Some say once you're gone you're gone forever
And some say you're gonna come back
Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour
If in sinful ways you lack
Some say that they're comin' back in a garden
Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
Think I'll just let the mystery be

Everybody is wonderin' what and where they they all came from
Everybody is worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
When the whole thing's done
But no one knows for certain
So it's all the same to me
Think I'll just let the mystery be

Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory
And I ain't saying it ain't a fact
But I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory
And I don't like the sound of that
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly
I choose to let the mystery be

Everybody is wondering what and where they they all came from
Everybody is worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
When the whole thing's done
But no one knows for certain
And so it's all the same to me
Think I'll just let the mystery be
Think I'll just let the mystery be

The World's BEST Prostitutes!

We always get more hits if we make liberal use of the word "prostitutes".  Apparently the people Googling "prostitutes" are legion.

But this is a legitimate use! Bloomberg reports that we have a judgment on what country has the best prostitutes in the world, and it comes from none other than former Village People groupie, Vladimir Putin:
Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”

Vlad loves to relive his years as a Village People groupie.

Of course, if Vlad ever does decide to use the videotapes that don't exist, he will be "shocked! shocked!"

The rules of the Prostitute Olympics require Putin to turn in his score cards within two weeks.

What if They Had an Inauguration and Nobody Came?

Trump and Carnival Culture

David Brooks has a strange but interesting column this morning which concludes:
The sad part is that so many people treat Trump’s tweets as if they are arguments when in fact they are carnival. With their conniption fits, Trump’s responders feed into the dynamic he needs. They contribute to carnival culture.
The first problem with today’s carnival culture is that there’s an ocean of sadism lurking just below the surface. The second is that it’s not real. It doesn’t really address the inequalities that give rise to it. It’s just combative display.
This is a resolution I’m probably going to break, but I resolve to write about Trump only on the presidential level, not on the carnival level. I’m going to try to respond only to what he does, not what he says or tweets. I really wish some of my media confreres would do the same. [Italics are my emphasis.)
The problem with this is that the carnival culture is not just his tweets, it's his whole life, including "the presidential level". God help us.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Republican Health Care Plan Revealed

 Via Chris @Bassoonjokes:

"The new healthcare plan is everybody gets 50 Tylenol at birth. Those are your Tylenol. Use them whenever or however you want."

Did You See This?

British reporting about Christopher Steele, the MI6 agent who collected the dossier on Donald Trump:
Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.
However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. 

It is believed that a colleague of Mr Steele in Washington, Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who runs the firm Fusion GPS, felt the same way and, at the end also continued with the Trump case without being paid.
The whole article is here.

Mark Salter, John McCain's former chief of staff, writes:
If any of the allegations are true, and if our worst fears about Trump’s temperament are realized, no one with power or influence today will be remembered for whether they tinkered with Medicare reimbursement rates or lowered the corporate tax rate or disapproved of a  Supreme Court appointment or won a Pulitzer Prize or had the highest ratings on cable television.
They will be remembered for whether they tried to protect the country from the grave harm Trump could do or whether, by negligence or active support, they helped him do it.
 A poster across the street from the American Embassy in Moscow:

In the upper right is Aleksandr Bastrykin, a Russian spy who was sanctioned by Obama. In the lower left is a picture of Obama, with the caption "Bye-bye, Obama!"

David Corn talks about his October meeting with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who may have saved the western world:
After speaking with the former counterintelligence official, I was able to confirm his identity and expertise. A senior US administration official told me that he had worked with the onetime spook and that the former spy had an established and respected track record of providing US government agencies with accurate and valuable information about sensitive national security matters. "He is a credible source who has provided information to the US government for a long time, which senior officials have found to be highly credible," this US official said.
Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post catalogs some things we know about Trump, exclusive of Christopher Steele's memo or the declassified version of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report on Russian involvement in the presidential campaign, including:
Throughout the campaign, Trump repeated slogans and conspiracy theories — “Obama invented ISIS,” “Hillary will start World War III” — lifted from Sputnik, the Russian propaganda website. Was this just Trump campaign chief Stephen K. Bannon borrowing ideas, or Manafort using tactics he perfected in Ukraine? Or was there deliberate linkage? 
She concludes:
Information doesn’t have to be secret to be shocking. Trump doesn’t have to be a Manchurian candidate who has been hypnotized or recruited by foreign intelligence. It’s enough that he has direct and indirect links to a profoundly corrupt and violent foreign dictator, whose policies he admires, whose advisers he shares and whose slogans he uses. That’s kompromat enough for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Inauguration Weekend

Headline in the Washington Post:

200 buses have applied for city parking on Inauguration Day. 1,200 have applied for the Women’s March.

The Republican Health Care Plan

It's all right here. A fascinating read.

H/T to Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine.

[Don't click around too much. There's nothing there. There hasn't been for six years.]