Correction: when I said on the radio I didn’t believe the Norse made it here I meant here. Also, Manhattan.

I’ve always wondered if you can have two colds at the same time. What happens to the second cold that comes along in the middle of the first? Does it hitch a ride, stay low, wait for its moment? This cold, I was told by many who believe there is One Cold at any one time, is tenacious, a squatter that roams from room to room, resisting eviction. Well, it will lose. But it’s making May a bother – and May is already off to a fabulously disappointing start. Snow in the Dakotas, I hear. I don’t even want to hear about snow in the arctic in May. There should be one day, at least, when it doesn’t snow anywhere on the planet.

Today’s links, in case you see how long this stupid thing goes and have no desire to plow down to the bottom:

100 Mysteries barrels on towards the 80-entry mark, here.

The long Comic Ads project wraps up with the 70s – total pages, over 260! Here.

Black and White World: minor entry, but it has Suzanne Pleshette. Here.

BleatPlus. Here.

Strib column, here. (Scroll down.)

Aaaand the solution to the Out of Context Ad Challenge.


Interesting day; sorry about the late Bleat. Forgot to post. Spent the morning on the other blogs, and did my best not to scatter my attention over sixteen different things. I don’t even look at the news in the morning – the afternoon is when I step away from the jobs and reconnect HOLY MOTHER WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE DOW

I’ve always thought this was a fool’s rally, but most plunges are panics, so it all evens out . . . somehow. The Greek Contagion will not be contained, I suspect. The BBC had a piece about the roots of the problem, in case they’re not screamingly apparent to anyone, and said “it all began with giving up the drachma for the Euro.” I could have told you that. Never liked the Euro. I know it’s silly to have opinions about other people’s currencies, but money is an emotional subject with ancillary aesthetic components. (This should be no surprise to anyone who’s followed this site for a while, as the Engraveyard is all about other people’s money.) Friends who went to Europe or lived there raved about the Euro, because it made buying things in different countries so much easier. But the idea of eliminating long-standing historic currencies in favor of an airy-named ultra-special transnational currency seemed a symptom of everything I wouldn’t like, if I lived there. I’d think I’m an Englishman, dash it all, and I prefer the Pound. If it was good enough for Winnie, it’s good enough for us. The lira! The drachma! The cold antiseptic sting of the Swiss Franc!

Sorry. Anyway. It plugs into something that’s saddened me for years: the transformation of Europe from a collection of individual states and cultures into a series of quaint localities regulated by the dour chestless statists of Brussels. I was listening to a Ricky Gervais podcast tonight – rather, Ricky positing a statement which is then given a small comic slap by Steven Merchant before it’s handed over for Karl Pinkington to misunderstand and ruin to tremendous comic effect (a sequence that gets funnier the farther it gets from Gervais) – and they were discussing the need to be proud of England without giving succor to the face-painting hooligans with an ABSO who chant Eng-a-lund until 3 AM every St. George’s Day. It was sad, for two reasons: 1) the question of English pride was instantly met with demurrals and denunciations of Nationalist yobbos, and 2) the only things Gervais could cite as a reason for pride were scientists and artists. Don’t get me wrong: I love scientists and artists. But this is a rather rarified defense, which Merchant deftly punctured: yes, when the soccer supporters are chanting about England, let’s get them to listen to some Elgar.

On the other hand, Elgar is one of those artists who’s distinctly British. Decent, just, regal, solid. Every European culture has distinct composers who capture the national flavor – Wagner’s theatrically tragic romanticism, Respighi’s time-soaked Roman interludes, all the mournful bipolar Russians. (France had no distinct classical voices until Debussy and Ravel started blowing smoke and pouring absinthe; they got in on the tail-end of the tradition to make its decline seem comfortingly modern. There was Berlioz, who was amazingly French, but: how many great French symphonists? Right.) These are sounds that shape cultures, create and reinforce identity. As an American I don’t believe in this sort of cultural homogeneity – for us. But for them? It’s who they are. You can be an Italian in Europe with Italian values in an European context, but the idea of making everyone Europeans with European values, with nothing to distinguish the individual cultures but varieties of cheese seems foolish. Because these things will assert themselves again, and they will do so at the worst times.

O Irony: Europe could be truly multicultural if it defined the term to mean a large geographical entity with several distinct cultural identities sharing simple values – parliamentary democracy, degrees of socialism, abhorrence of militarism, and so on. But the leaders have pushed multiculturalism down to the local level, where immigrant cultures abrade long-standing traditions, and the pub that had no trouble being down the block from the Church is now forbidden a license to move because it would be too close to a Mosque. The pretense of continental old-culture integration must assume that immigrant cultures assume to the new transnational model, when most immigrant cultures will simply maintain their old ways. Why not? I would. It’s human nature.

The American experience – in theory, anyway – required acceptance of a set of civic ideals, because those were the cultural norms. As played out in the 19th and early 20th century, this meant learning how to operate the System that ran large cities, and if you were in smaller cities, it meant forming discrete isolated organizations that kept private traditions alive while maintaining involvement with the civic apparatus. It generally worked because everyone was from somewhere else, and everyone was interested in Doing Better. Getting Ahead. Making Things. Baking a bigger pie to be carved up, or inventing a new pie altogether.

Bromides and generalities, I know. But of all the Outrage of the Day stories that gush over the wires, the tale of the high school kids who were expelled for not hiding American flag T-shirts on the Fifth of May is one that just . . . depressed me, completely, for a while. So the act of wearing a flag on another nation’s non-holiday holiday is an act of provocation and malice. So we are now to assume that other American citizens will be insulted by the presence of the American flag on a day that commemorates a battle against France in another nation, and must be protected from the sight lest they . . . what? Get violent? I doubt any school administrator would admit he or she suspected that would happen, which leaves us with:  The presence of the flag is offensive. So says a public official.

Tell me how this goes someplace we want to be.

And on that note! Enjoy the links – scroll up, if you didn’t hit them. Me, I’m looking forward to a fine Friday with all the requisite elements, and I wish you a great weekend. See you Monday.


129 Responses to Euros and Sea-Monkeys

  1. DensityDuck says:

    I think it’s amusing to see so many people suggesting that Mexican teenagers are so dangerously violent and emotionally unstable that you just have to let them do whatever they want and for God’s SAKE don’t PROVOKE them.

    I mean, doesn’t that seem like a shockingly racist thing to say?

  2. @Terry Fitz, fair enough. We can’t always agree on everything. Upon reflection, your comment did in fact make the point you just offered. Ah well, grammer was not one of my strengths, those gerunds and dangling participles always left me flummoxed.

    You have stated the actuality of events accurately, but please understand, a group of people becomes a mindless mob so fast it can boggle the mind. Peace out.

  3. @DensityDuck, I’m not sure I follow the point you make. Are you suggesting that the assistant principle should have left well enough alone because everything would be OK and all would walk off singing “We are the World?”

    I can’t speak for the others, but most of the mobs I’ve seen were white middle class students and suchlike. Three of those mobs weren’t, but they were no more nor less volatile than us white folks. Just go to Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day some time. Now THATS a volatile crowd, even before they start drinking.

    Crowds are not about ethnicity, they’re about too many primates packed too close together with something other than an altruistic purpose.

  4. EnfantTerrible says:

    Do you take Ambien and then write during the subsequent fugue state? France had no distinct classical voices before Debussy and Ravel, you say, and then contradict yourself by mentioning Berlioz. But what about Satie, Faure, Saint-Saens, d’Indy, Gounot, Couperin (father and son), Rameau? Are they chopped liver?

  5. i think that mr. duck was just pointing out the irony of people who no doubt believe they are not racist, e.g. assistant principle Rodriguez, in trying to preach tolerance, is prejudging the behavior of the Latino students.

    However, I see the point out resident constable is making about crowds but, as pointed out before, no such evidence existed of a unruly mob until the second day.

  6. @brisko, these were really good sandwiches with the crust cut off and everything.

  7. Borderman says:

    Bonfire of the Vanities, anyone?

    At this stage it looks more to me like Vanity of the Bonfires.

    Ego-swollen leftist school administrator + Ego-swollen leftist opportunist news reporting = invocation of Monkey Dance.

    The proper analogy would be students wearing Mexican flag apparel on the Fourth of July to a *Mexican* school – you know, *in Mexico.*

    Acutally, Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in Mexico in the state of Puebla and by Mexican-Americans living in the United States (and what does that tell us?) A better analogy is students wearing Mexican flag apparel the weekend after Labor Day during The Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield MN to a school in Mexico. It makes the same same amount of sense.

    FWIW, my wife and her family, all of whom are either Mexican nationals, dual-citizens of Mexico and the United States, or naturalized American citizens originally from Mexico, have never been able to understand the big deal about Cinco de Mayo in this country. The real independence day in Mexico is September 16, which marks the beginning in 1810 of the 10-year long war for independence from Spain. Everyone in Mexico knows that. But not certain Mexican-Americans living here, I suppose.

  8. or, so I am told. . .

  9. madCanada says:

    I actually know nada about Cinco de Mayo & had to look it up.

    How about Day of the Dead instead as prime holiday? Now there’s a Mex party that includes everyone, and you get to hang skulls everywhere too!

  10. jeischen says:

    The ’70s comic ads sure took me back. Yes, I was in Jr. High in the mid-70s and yes I did own that cool “Let’s Boogie” t-shirt with the pimp and ho under the night light. I also owned a KISS t-shirt with silver letters. A couple of years ago, I went to a ’70s party and wore a curly wig, fake sideburns and fu manchu mustache. I looked eerily like the spawn of Ron Jeremy. My wife took my photo on her cell phone. She showed it to some 20-something girls at her sister’s bachlorette party a few weeks later, but didn’t tell them I was dressed up for the party. They we aghast until she burst out laughing.

  11. Di says:

    Gas stations were something else, weren’t they? Sacred places along the Lincoln Highway.

    I do remember that Texaco always had the cleanest rest rooms. Back in the day.

  12. browniejr says:

    “too many primates packed too close together with something other than an altruistic purpose.”
    For a humorous example, go here (scroll down):

  13. browniejr says:

    Damn- it worked this morning… Try this one:

  14. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – careful about those pic-anic baskets or you’ll end up like this poor bruin…

  15. I love watching people from outside California trying to interpret California. It’s like kids making up rules to the story as it goes along.

    I’m ten minutes from Morgan Hill. The faculty member who issued the reversal or removal order of the shirts was concerned about their safety. Stone cold came out and said that. If a faculty of a school cannot guarantee the safety of its students under any circumstances, they have bigger problems than T-shirts.

  16. madCanada says:

    Wow, even super-liberal Cenk Uygur says basically what Lileks says.

  17. browniejr says:

    Anders- Many of the people commenting here (including me) are from California…

    You say the faculty member was concerned about “their” safety. Who is “they/ their?”
    The kids wearing the flag T-Shirts? If so, why did he presume that the other kids would get violent, when he had a half day of evidence of no such violence?
    If “they/ their” is the other kids, then having 5 or so potentially violent kids reverse their shirts also makes no sense. Better to call the cops/ have them escorted home to keep everyone safe, rather than worry about their wardrobes!

    I actually work in the Safety field. When a designer cannot get management to implement a design change for technical or cost reasons, he or she would often try to convince me to advocate the change for Safety reasons. More often then not, the change would either have no impact on the Safety of the design, or might even degrade the Safety. Invoking the Safety of the students sounds an awful lot like the faculty member has run out of excuses, and now is invoking “concern about Safety” – after all, who could argue AGAINST the Safety of students?

  18. canajun-eh says:

    I must agree with the guy from The Young Turks in MadCanada’s link. The whole thing is just a waste of time. nobody gives a rat’s ass about this “incident” and most of all, James should be ashamed of himself for trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. The kids were just “havin’ some fun, and everybody knows that…take a chill pill people. Although Anna N…haven’t noticed you here before, but you rock girl.

  19. steveH says:

    Tempest in a teacup dept., etc.

    Turns out that the t-shirts in question at Live Oak were not brought out for some special pollitical purpose; they tend to be part of the usual rotation. Having finally seen TV news reports on the kids in question, I’ve seen them going to/from LO at various times. (I live about four blocks from the school, on the other side of the freeway overpass.) And shirts with flags, or flag motifs are not uncommon. Nor does anyone seem to care, one way or another.

    Went to get some dried fruit from a local grower (pluots and peaches this time), and the way home was past LO. I thought that the five or six news network camera vans, complete with deployed satellite dishes was just a wee bit over the top.

    This has turned into the biggest thing to hit town since the flood of ought 97, except this is a lot sillier.

  20. Borderman says:


    nobody gives a rat’s ass about this “incident”…

    If that were really true, then how do you explain so much discussion of it in this thread?

    …and most of all, James should be ashamed of himself for trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    Making a mountain out of a molehill stems directly from the actions of the school administrator. We were all minding our own business until he attracted news coverage with his self-righteous temper tantrum. And is it really necessary to point out to you that this is Mr. Lileks’ blog? You want to tell a guy who pays for his own private blog that he should be ashamed of something he writes about based on your values? Or anybody’s values but his? I politely suggest you get your own blog.

  21. Borderman says:


    I love watching people from outside California trying to interpret California. It’s like kids making up rules to the story as it goes along.

    Interpretation of this opportunist spectacle as a “California event” misses the point. Your state, wonderful place that it is, does not have a lock on people like this. We have just as many misinformed, super-sensitive ideologues right here in Texas nursing bruised political feelings based on their reading of history. (And I am not making this up. Promise.)

  22. Paul says:

    that B&W world flick, Fate is the Hunter, is a decent movie, but it’s based on a terrific book about flying. the author, Ernest Gann, wrote about his zillions of hours as a pilot of DC-2′s and DC-3s and their ilk. If you ever see it in a bargain bin or used bookstore give it a try. No Suzanne Pleshette, though.

  23. madCanada says:

    I love these folk who keep trying to change the subject. You’re like foot-soldiers of sanity.

  24. fizzbin says:

    I prefer being a foot soldier of INsanity. Somebody had to say it. Your welcome :)

  25. mezzrow says:

    two things:

    1. infantile music school joke re: The Pines

    “Swines of the Appian Way, by (wait for it) Res-piggy.”

    2. James – bless you for the GG logo and the ad. Imagine if the Texaco Star on your Dad’s shirt disappeared from the face of the earth. I saw that GG logo on my dad’s shirt for the youngest years of my life. Short version – Dinsmore Dairy, Jacksonville, FL – largest herd of registered Guernseys in the US in the 1940′s and 50′s. The herdmaster (went to HS w/ his kids) came from the island of Guernsey. The milk was ambrosia – after you drink what we call milk these days, GG tastes like half and half. Look at the color of the Twins throwback unis – that’s the color of pure Guernsey milk. “Higher butterfat!!” Those were different days, indeed.

  26. JamesS says:

    Re: Fate is the Hunter.

    His old friend, Glenn Ford, tries to prove it wasn’t pilot error. This leads to flashbacks, to WW2.

    Did it involve that fateful day over Macho Grande?

  27. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – over macho grande? no… those wounds run pretty deep…

  28. JohnW says:

    “No, I’ll never get over Macho Grande…”

  29. [...] Lileks longs for the days when currency still had the same names as listed in the Monty Python “Money” song, and goes back to the future with his recently announced dead-tree [...]

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