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.

Cat in Istanbul shop window

As not promised (see below), here’s a rather charming photo that Michael Jennings took in Istanbul last December, of a shop window:

Not just signs, but the place where they’re done from. And a cat. I recall Michael writing, somewhere, somewhen, that there are many cats in Istanbul and that they are very well respected by the humans of that city.

You can always tell how well cats are treated in this or that place that you visit, by how sociably they behave towards you. When cats hide from you, that’s a sign of a nasty neighbourhood, I think.

And one scene with no crowd

Last night I did a posting of crowd scenes, all photoed on June 30th 2019.

While gathering those photos together, I also came across this one, photoed by me during that same walkabout, one year and one day ago. It’s quite a contrast, I think you will agree:

He looks like he might have been a very recent arrival, from somewhere rather nearer to Wuhan than London is. At the time, I photoed him simply because here was a human whose face was covered and therefore fair game for blogging.

Did he already know something that we, then, didn’t know?

Two people and two things I am missing

From the photo-archives, December 2014:

That’s a photo of two of my favourite people, GodDaughter2 and GodDaughter2’s Mum, walking by the sea, somewhere on the coast of Brittany. Think of this photo as my version of what we are all going through now, not being able to socialise with those we would most like to be socialising with.

Here are a couple more Things I’ll miss:

Those are the Twin Towers of Quimper Cathedral, all photoed on the same trip, in December of 2014 and January of 2015. Quimper being the city in Brittany where they all lived for quite a while. But that while is now gone, so no more trips to Quimper for me.

Think of these four photos as photos of Quimper Cathedral, that being what they are.

E-scooters will be personally owned – not hired or shared

At present, The Plague and The Riots loom large. But when historians look back on 2020, will they instead talk about e-scooters? I am now betting so. E-scooters, historians will say, were a crucial step in the development of PowShoos. You know, Power Shoes, the ones you put on, which make you immediately able to (a) stand almost still, but yet (b) travel at a hundred miles an hour without hitting anyone.

Back in the time of now, living as we now do at this historic moment in transport history, we have to make do with our clunky old e-scooters, and here is another thought from me on e-scooters, along with all these thoughts.

Google is starting to send me emails with links to articles about e-scooter hiring and e-scooter sharing. But if you google these subjects, you also find pieces saying that these ideas are already failing, in places where this is being attempted. This makes perfect sense to me, because what I now say is that shared e-scooter services make little sense.

The only big reason for hiring or sharing an e-scooter now is to find out if you’d like to own one. As soon as e-scooters become at all widely owned, as they are about to in London, we’ll all have friends who can lend us theirs to have a go on, to see if we’d like to own one also. Actual e-scooter sharing will be huge, informally. But it won’t be an organised “service”, public or private, because it won’t need to be. And anyway, as soon as you even see an e-scooter in action, you can see if an e-scooter would suit you. It’s not complicated. What you see is what you’ll get.

Consider the current domination of laptop computers. That likewise spread owner-to-owner. There were never any big laptop sharing or hiring services. There didn’t need to be.

As I explained in my last e-scooter posting, a huge attraction of e-scooters is that you can cling onto them when travelling but not actually riding on them. You can carry them, and as the video adverts for e-scooters that Google is now attaching to my internet reading are explaining, you can put an e-scooter into the boot of a car, which you cannot do easily with a bike, unless you are something freakish like a member of a sports bike racing team. You can even put an e-scooter into the boot of a taxi. All of which makes e-scooters very appealing compared to their big competitors, biking or walking. Biking is too cumbersome. (What do you do with the damn bike when you aren’t biking?) Walking is too slow and can’t do longer distances.

Bike hiring is the answer to the problem of what you do with a bike once you get off it and need then to abandon it. E-scooter hiring, on the other hand, is the answer to a problem which does not exist. When you get off your e-scooter, you hang on to it. Until you get to work, where you store it, or until you get home, ditto. Otherwise, you keep it with you.

To put it another way, the e-scooter is, above all, personal. You will own your personal e-scooter. Or, like me, you won’t, but will note with interest that millions of others are doing this.

Bike sharing schemes required a massive amount of cumbersome politics to get established, which was endured because bike sharing schemes solve an actual problem. But all plans for e-scooter sharing schemes will be overwhelmed by the simple process of e-scooter people just buying their own e-scooters. All that is needed, politically, is for e-scooters to be allowed.

As of right now, e-scooters are very expensive. E-Scooter Man, whom I recently met and talked with, twice, paid the best part of a a thousand quid for his. Soon, e-scooters will plunge in price to nearer a hundred quid. They will also get a lot less heavy and less bulky, even than they are now, what with their portability being such a big deal.

Then, watch them fly off the shelves.

Out near London Gateway

A little clutch of photos of a decaying jetty, photoed just beyond Tilbury on the north side of the Estuary, in September 2013:

From this spot I could also see, in the far distance, the first few cranes of London Gateway. I made several trips to inspect these, around then:

There is nothing else as big as these cranes to be seen anywhere near them, and in their visual impact on their surroundings they remind me of nothing so much as one of those medieval cathedrals, in a town than never got much bigger. (Like Ely.)

According to Wikipedia, there are now twelve cranes up and running. There’ll eventually be twenty four.

One more such expedition to those parts probably wouldn’t kill me. Or then again it might. In London, everything is close together, and there are buses and trains everywhere. Not out there.

A Twitter dump

For several months now, as alluded to tangentially already today, I have a ever heightening heap of, in particular, tweets piling up in my computer, which I have in mind to say clever things about, and which I do not in the meantime want to completely forget about. Pocket is great for articles with big headings at the top, but less good for tweets. So, here is a twitter dump, several of which are now way out of date, but still fun to remember.

This has made some impression on the pile. Not much, but some. So, in no particular order …:

Horrific find in local cafe. Destruction of great literature to create a bookish aesthetic. Shameful. Wasteful.

When God tries to punish your city for homosexuality but gays use their magic shield to protect it.

Two Concordes landing simultaneously.

I was glad to help you get home safely.

… you can be anything you want to be. You absolutely can not.

Inequality is the idea you can never be happy with a million dollars if the guy next door has a billion.

When I said Boris should get the unpopular stuff out of the way straight after the election, I meant unpopular with other people, not me.

“The United Kingdom is the last major European country where it is illegal to use e-scooters on public roads, bike paths, and pavements. This is despite surveys and usage indicating they are overwhelmingly popular where they are legal.” Time to fix that.

I see the potential for a whole new and compelling theory of modern political trends: ‘where does the bonkersness go?’ It could be called The Bonkers Dynamic, or Bonkerology.

Why did the Pilgrim Fathers leave for the New World? … They sailed because they felt themselves in a story.

Brexit Day +4: The grounded planes, the chaos in the streets, the unpaid workers, the crippling strikes, the faltering economy, the upper class buffoon in charge, the petrol bombs, the riot police, the snipers on rooftops, the tanks on the streets. But enough about France

I will not stand for baseless attacks and slander, unless they are directed at people I personally dislike.

A little excess fear is exactly what evolutionary principles would predict. The cost of us getting killed even once is higher than the cost of responding to a hundred false alarms.

However the #CoronavirusOutbreak plays out, pundits and commentators will craft a clean story for why whatever ends up happening was obvious all along.

From Dawah to damage control – All the workshops that used to be around trying to convert non-Muslims to Islam, are now trying to keep Muslims from leaving Islam and doubting religion.

When a team loses it looks unpopular, out of touch, and hence more likely to lose in future. It is the very act of winning that changes other people’s minds because they don’t want to be on the unpopular team, and winning shows that what you’re offering is what’s popular.

Taxis with adverts – July to December 2019

I know I know. There’s only one person in the whole world who likes clicking through huge collections of photos of London taxis with adverts on them. Me. But such galleries of persuasive transport are now easy for me to put up here, and have always been easy for you to ignore, so here’s another, consisting of fifty-four taxis-with-adverts photoed by me in the latter half of last year:

Photo 49, bottom row, number four, features Ms Calzedonia, a shapely lady with writing on her legs. But even my original 4000×3000 photo did not enable me to discern what this writing says and my googling also proved insufficient. Anyone?

Also puzzling, merely from my photo number 40, is “Duolingo”, but this was easy to learn about, and pretty easy to guess. It’s for learning a new language.

Fifteen dancing ladies in 1923

I have now well and truly caught the Shorpy habit (from Mick Hartley mostly). Usually the photos at Shorpy are of Americans, but these ladies dancing (or just posing?) on a beach are British, although the beach is American:

Shorpy calls these ladies a “millipede”, but there are only fifteen of them. Most of them are holding the lady behind’s leg up, but the one at the front has to keep her leg up unaided, and the one at the back is doing no lifting. Just thought I’d mention it.

More seriously, changing fashions in figures is a fascinating subject. These ladies look to me a wee bit more plump than their equivalents now.

I remember noticing when Indian movie stars stopped being fat, and thinking: those Indians are finally eating properly. Good news. High status Indians no longer needed to prove they could afford to eat. They needed to prove that they could resist the desire to eat too much. I’m guessing that 1923 in Britain was still a time when food was somewhat scarce, albeit not as scarce as when these paintings were done.

I spend a lot more effort and time photoing and presenting my own photos than I do searching for good photos by other people. Basically, I let people like Mick Hartley do it for me. And Shorpy. Also this guy (I love that one). Any other photography suggestions would be most welcome.