Trump as Republican Party Reptile

I just did some Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech for Samizdata. Here is the complete speech of Trump’s that I was on about, and to which I linked, twice, because I think the fact that we all now can link directly to it is so very good.

Something else I didn’t complicate my Samizdata piece with did occur to me, while I was reading that same speech, and in particular when I read things like this in it:

We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Applause.) We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen – (applause) – Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton – General George Patton – the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. (Applause.) And only America could have produced them all. (Applause.) No other place.

We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream – it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore. (Applause.)

Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the Internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the Moon – and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.

We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra – (applause) – the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150 – (applause) – and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.

I’ve read this before, I thought, or something a hell of a lot like it. Yes, a piece in P. J. O.Rourke’s Republican Party Reptile, which was published in 1987, about an epic car journey O’Rourke made across America, in a Ferrari. I read this book in the late eighties. The Ferrari piece in this book would appear to be a slimmed down version of this piece, which was published in Car and Driver, in 1980.

I wrote a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet in praise of O’Rourke’s essay (also in praise of classical CDs), which included big quotes from the 1987 version of O’Rourke’s piece, including things like this:

… To be in control of our destinies – and there is no more profound feeling of control of one’s destiny that I have ever experienced than to drive a Ferrari down a public road at 130 miles an hour. Only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one that fast. And if the lowly Italians, the lamest, silliest, least stable of our NATO allies, can build a machine like this, just think what it is that we can do. We can smash the atom. We can cure polio. We can fly to the moon if we like. There is nothing we can’t do. Maybe we don’t happen to build Ferraris, but that’s not because there’s anything wrong with America. We just haven’t turned the full light of our intelligence and ability in that direction. We were, you know, busy elsewhere. We may not have Ferraris but just think what our Polaris-submarines are like. And if it feels like this in a Ferrari at 130, my God, what can it possibly feel like at Mach 2.5 in an F-15? Ferrari 308s and F-15s – these are the conveyances of free men. What do the Bolshevik automatons know of destiny and its control? What have we to fear from the barbarous Red hordes?

And like this:

… And rolling through the desert thus, I worked myself into a great patriotic frenzy, which culminated on the parapets of the Hoover Dam (even if that was kind of a socialistic project and built by the Roosevelt in the wheelchair and not by the good one who killed bears). With the Ferrari parked up atop that orgasmic arc of cement, doors flung open and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” blasting into the night above the rush of a man-crafted Niagara and the crackle and the hum of mighty dynamos, I was uplifted, transported, ecstatic. A black man in a big, solid Eldorado pulled up next to us and got out to shake our hands. “You passed me this morning down in New Mexico,” he said. “And that sure is a beautiful car. …”.

Note that Mount Rushmore includes, along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln: the Roosevelt who killed bears, Teddy Roosevelt, but not the Roosevelt in the wheelchair who presided over the Great Depression. No wonder Democrats are now saying they hate it.

I don’t know what P.J. O’Rourke is up to these days, so whether he had any direct input into Trump’s speech I have no idea. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I’ll bet you anything that whatever combination of Trump and Trumpsters wrote Trump’s speech at the very least knew all about that O’Rourke piece. I’ll go further. I’ll bet Trump read that O’Rourke piece at some point in the 1980s, and remembered it, and said to his guys: “That’s what I want! Write me something like that!” And they did. Right up to the stuff about cars, and warships, and the Hoover Dam, and about how “there is nothing we can’t do”.

Even if you hate everything about P.J. O’Rourke and everything about Trump and if you especially hate Trump’s speech the other day, you surely may still be agreeing about the O’Rourke echoes I think I heard.

If I’m right, then this is a story which confirms something else I am fond of telling anyone who will listen, which is that all the people alive now will, in thirty or forty years time, either be thirty or forty years older, or dead. You can tell a lot about the world now, by asking what people in their teens and twenties were getting excited about, thirty or forty years ago. There will be more of that.

Of course, I loved Trump’s speech, just as I loved that P.J. O’Rourke Ferrari piece. God is a figment of the human imagination, but setting that quibble aside, may He Bless America.

The Screen of the Red Death has gone away

For the time being, anyway. Earlier in the month, I reported that any attempt to access the Old Blog would get you to The Screen of the Red Death. Well, the good news is that The Screen of the Red Death has now retreated. Google still describes the Old Blog as “Not secure”, but now, when I try to go there, I get there. And I’m guessing the same applies to you.

I promise nothing, and if you still get the dreaded Red Screen, do please comment accordingly. In general, any comments educating me about what is going on with all this would also be most welcome.

He just walks it off and goes straight into the pub

Here, via David Thompson.

As a commenter comments: adrenalin is a wonderful thing. Because actually, as another commenter reports:

“Mr Smith suffered two fractures to his shoulder and ribs, as well as some internal bruising.”

The psycho bus driver has been “sentenced”. Mostly to never being allowed to drive a bus ever again, I devoutly hope.

Seeing this reminds you of how well and how carefully most bus drivers do drive.

3D printing isn’t the only game in town

Incoming from Rob:

Hi Brian,

I saw this and thought of you:
https://www.xometry.com/

3D printing isn’t the only game in town. This web site seems to make it easier to get access to milling machines. Upload your CAD file and get an instant quote. I’m not sure how expensive it is for one-off jobs but I can imagine it getting cheaper and easier over time.

“This” being a network of enterprises which, between them, can offer: CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, plastic 3D printing, metal 3D printing, urethane casting, and injection molding.

The point being that additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, is not the only way to make something. There’s also all these other ways, such as CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining, that being subtractive manufacturing.

3D printing is not “disruptive”. It is an addition to the repertoire of traditional manufacturers. It offers manufacturers another way to do some of the things they already do, and a few other things they don’t now do.

Anyone can 3D print just about anything, just about anywhere. But just because you can, that doesn’t mean it makes a blind bit of sense for you to actually do this. What if someone else can do it, far better, far cheaper, in some other place, some other way, maybe in a much more trad, tried-and-tested way?

This website puts you in touch with who all those other people might be. As Rob says, It makes manufacturing that little bit easier and quicker to arrange, and over time, ever more so.

Some customer feedback

Recently seen on Facebook, with that little “world” thingy at the top, which (I think) means he doesn’t care who reads it, beyond his circle of Facebook regulars:

I have had a problem with the hosting of the domain that my Gmail account is linked to with the result that it couldn’t receive email for several days. During that time I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time online and on the telephone sorting out something that wasn’t my fault. Suffice it to say that I am very impressed with the customer service of DiscountDomain24 (German company out of Saarbrucken) and I am really not impressed with Google’s. For those not familiar with Britspeak “really not impressed” means “I think their customer service stinks like a month old corpse in a pile of steaming shit”. Still, all working now.

Living on my own, I don’t get the twenty first century explained to me on a daily basis, so still cannot tell whether I am breaking some sort of Facebook rule. Can a friend who maybe recognises the above perhaps comment here? I mean, I was able to link to this, but can anyone? If they can, should I be telling them?

Here’s the link. I can get there. But can you? And should you?

Some or all of this may in due course disappear, depending on what anyone tells me about Facebook and its rules.

The China Works Tower

A while back I was walking along by the River, just upstream from Lambeth Bridge, and photoed this photo (number 5 of these) of the China Works Tower (thank you commenter Alastair for identifying it):

Also a while ago now, I went back there, yes, to photo stuff like all the signs at the other end of that link, but basically to check out this China Works building from close-up:

In an earlier posting here about would-be applier of architectural decoration Adam Nathaniel Furman, I said:

Furman intends to apply ornament with colourful abandon.

But, not the old sort of ornament that the Victorians liked to do, and against whom the original Modernists reacted with such disgust. …

Well, the above photos are of just this old sort of ornament, the sort that Furman doesn’t want to do. But, technologically, he intends to use very similar techniques. Ceramics. Also known as: China. (Odd that, naming a material after the big old country where they got the idea from. Are there any strange things called, in foreign parts, Britain or England? So, how’s your meat? Okay, but it could use a dash of Britain. Your skirt’s falling down, try using an England.)

This China Works Tower is surrounded and jostled aggressively by modern buildings, designed by the sort of people who grew up believing all the old sort of ornament to be an aesthetic abomination, or at the very least an aesthetic dead-end.

The most aggressive architectural jostler is a fire station, immediately the other side of a very narrow road. Which happens to be the start of Lambeth High Street, which is odd but there you go. Here are photos I took of all that jostling, with the fire station in the middle photo here:

You can see the white roof of the fire station in the photo at the top of this posting.

Luckily, the China Works Tower is not entirely isolated, and is hence not totally smothered by later buildings. It was once only a small part of a bigger collection of buildings, and a decent chunk of those earlier buildings remains, attached to the Tower and keeping it company:

There was a lot of sunshine and shade colliding on the facade of the Tower, so that doesn’t look so good there. But the blander, less decorated and bigger stretch of the old building was easier to photo, as you can see.

I shouldn’t grumble too much. At least the Tower survived, along with a chunk of the earlier buildings it presided over. The Tower was the architectural advert, so to speak, for a real business, one that survived longer than most Victorian-era enterprises, way past World War 2. And then the Tower was saved by an early manifestation of the Conservation Movement, in the form of two rich fogeys, aesthetically speaking. The link above, in paragraph one of this, concerning the history of this place and what they’re now doing with it is well worth a follow, so here is that link again.

I wouldn’t want London to consist only of such ornamented antiquities, but I am glad that quite a lot of such oddities still survive, and that they now look like having a decent future, to follow their distinguished past. And I am glad to have lived long enough to have experienced a time when this past can be easily learned about. During the last century, I would see such a building, wonder about it for about one minute, and then forget it and move on to the next equally baffling oddity.

Jokes about a broken blog

Not mine, thank goodness. 6k’s. A few hours ago, 6k told the tale of his broken blog, in the form of a blog posting which he had to put instead, at first, on Facebook.

I LOLled at this bit:

I’m optimistic that the engineers at Afrihost will get their act together in the very near future and put the server plug back into the wall after the cleaning lady socially distanced it from its socket, …

Ah yes, the eternal and never-ending war between cleaning ladies and us computer users. That surely speaks, in the language of Lockdown, to all of us.

I did not LOL at this next bit. I merely smiled. Even though I now think it funnier. This is how 6k summarised his tale, having successfully copied it to his actual blog:

So now you’ve read a blog post about a blog post about not being able to post a blog post on the blog I wasn’t able to post on.

Blogging is, or can be, sometimes, a lot like stand-up comedy. Bloggers are mostly seated throughout, but the same principles do often apply, of a stressful life told of amusingly, and often at quite some length while you wait for the joke but are in the meantime at least diverted, and then there are jokes like those above, finding new ways to say eternally true things. At which you often LOL, but often are happy enough just to smile at.

Train chat – ugly and old versus pretty and new – double-decker trains in Britain

I get nostalgic about cars, even though cars have clearly improved quite a lot since my childhood. But the trains of my childhood, them I do not miss. The average train in Britain has, I think, got a lot prettier and nicer to use than the immediately-post-Beeching clunkers I used to travel in from Egham to Waterloo.

Recently, in connection with some forgettable muddle concerning some bad weather which had disrupted train services, I came upon a photo that illustrated this. Or I came upon another photo, and googled “azuma” (sounds like an on-line gambling den), and got to this photo, whichever:

My point being that that is a really sweet looking train, compared to the lumpish Southern Region trains I remember. Automatic doors have replaced doors which were like the doors of bank safes. Light materials have replaced heavy materials. There is elegant streamlining sculpture at the front. The carriage is one long single compartment, instead of divided into separate compartments, in which you could get stuck with a weirdo. (I realise now that I was often that weirdo.) That kind of thing. Just getting on and off these horrible old trains took about three minutes, compared to the about-one-minute process that happens now.

Well, more recently, on another random walk through The Internet, I came upon this amazingly angry blog posting, about double decker trains, which featured this amazing photo, of a British double-decker train:

Double decker trains are common on the Continent, but not here in Britain, and this angry blogger is not happy about this! But the reasons for their absence here seem to be more complicated than I had supposed. It’s not that there is simply no room for them under our bridges. It seems that they were tried (see above), but were not persisted with.

This intriguing graphic shows that actually, Britain could accommodate such trains, if it wanted to:

I did not know this.

Unlike this angry writer, of the angry blog post where I found these images, I am quite used to not understanding why something has happened that makes no sense to me, or in this case has not happened when it might make sense to me. No doubt those far closer to the action than me or than Angry Blogger have their reasons. Also, Angry Blogger doesn’t think like an economist or a man of business, but more like a Continental dirigiste. He wants double-decker trains! If those who should have arranged this, but who didn’t, chose not to because of various quite subtle trade-offs involving how many more people you can actually fit in a double-decker train (what with having to include the stairs), how much longer it might take for people to get on-and-off them, what sort of extra air conditioning might be needed, how much heavier and more structurally robust everything might have to be, blah blah blah, then as far as Angry Blogger is concerned, it is because they lack Vision! Not because they might have looked into it, and decided to spend their limited budgets in other more humdrum and more sensible ways. (I don’t know what Angry Blogger thinks about HS2. I suspect him of broadly favouring it, but of thinking that it’s being Done All Wrong!!!)

The other thing I like about the photo of the double-decker British train is that it illustrates all that old school clunkiness that used to afflict British trains of all kinds, way back then. Yes, I remember now. I think I got into all this double-decker train stuff simply because I was looking for a picture of a clunky old train, and came upon this clunky old double-decker train.

Dig deeper into the British double decker train issue, by becoming a follower of this Twitter group, to whom Angry Blogger (to whom deep thanks despite everything) links. Where it says:

Not followed by anyone you’re following.

It figures.

Meanwhile, it is clear to me that we in Britain have double-decker buses, unlike on the Continent, because, unlike them, we have Vision!

Strange creatures in Exhibition Road

Just over a year ago, in May of 2019, I was making my way from South Kensington Tube, up Exhibition Road past Imperial College, to the Royal College of Music, there to witness a performance which involved GodDaughter2. While making this journey, I encountered this strange creature:

I wonder what that was, I thought to myself from that moment on. Then, while rootling through the photo-archives, as I do, I encountered this taxi-with-advert photo, which seemed to feature the above creature:

Now I had some words to work with, so googling went from difficult to easy, and I began to learn about the One-Eyed Creature. He is one of the stars of a juvenile movie franchise, involving such things as One-Eyed Creatures, but also similar but Two-Eyed Creatures. Despicable Me. Also Despicable Me 2. At around that time, Despicable Me 3 was being plugged. Also there is a Bean Boozled connection, involving some sort of toy. Now that I know I could understand all this, I no longer feel any need actually to do this. How do I feel about having once cared? Despicable Me, that’s how.

I think a symptom of getting old is that you see more and more things that baffle you, and you don’t like the feeling. It’s not that we Oldies really do care about knowing trivia like this. What we care about is not knowing.

Soon after photoing this One-Eyed Creature, I photoed this couple:

I don’t feel quite so Despicable for being entertained by these two, but I still do somewhat. I found a few mentions of them on The Internet, in connection with Halloween. But this was May, so, no reason for them to be out and about in South Kensington. But then again, no reason for them not to be.