Presidential Cookie Bake-Off

Last week’s post closed with the reflections of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Company on the nature of the BBC weather map.

“In a wee country, dreams stay with you…”

This isn’t an original problem, of course. Africa’s got it a lot worse. There’s a summary of some of the problems and approaches to mapping here. Have a think about what projections of the globe you like, and then find out why Randall xkcd hates you here.

‘What’s this got to do with strokes?’ you might ask. If you’ve not been here before.

[Pretend you liked before it was cool. Sign up for the apoplectic Tiny Letter here.]

Well, strokes are major events in the lives of those they affect both primarily and secondarily. Though, those terms aren’t a value judgment on how different people are touched by stroke. There’s a strong argument that Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth was hit harder by my stroke than I was. I mean, if anyone thinks that undercuts the impact of stroke, drop me a line; that’s not my intention. And my arm did hurt more.

I couldn’t find a missive, wet, black, rubber arm to illustrate this.

Long before The Event, Beth had spoken about the importance about being open to changing one’s perspectives in the light of new facts and events. She’s smarter than me — and I like, like like her — so much as I was inclined to just plough on with my previously-established prejudices, or judgments in advance, I decided to keep an open mind about keeping an open mind. Yawn. And being cut down was a useful lesson in humility, particularly in conjunction with other events taking place at the time.

This attempted new mindset has been much at work this week. As a mid-period Generation X-er — and notwithstanding my interest in relative time — I think I’m inclined to believe in a form of history that flows like a river towards some better place.

“Here’s a thing that gets better over time,” says Reality Bites star

Over half of the United States have embraced equal marriage, and marijuana legalisation is spreading across the country like a big, tax-generating octopus. Go X-er smugness, right? Well, it’s not quite that easy. I should have known this, of course. I read Douglas Coupland’s tales for an accelerated culture when it was square. I mean, in the shape of a square. And what was that, if not a story of “the first post-war generation to be worse off than their parents, left with reduced expectations and downsized hope for the future”? But then our Macs got more and more powerful, and Moore’s Law rumbled on, so everything’s cool, right?

Well, not so fast. This week, I read Jackson Lears‘ reviews of Hillary Clinton’s doorstopping I’m-a-presidential-condidate book, and an accompanying volume by members of her inner circle. Jim Crace’s Digested Read versions of those should be fun. Here’s the passage in the review that really caught my eye, delivered as part of a discussion of the role ideas of American Exceptionalism in modern diplomacy:

Only a secular providentialist could ask what it means ‘to be on the right side of history’. Clinton poses this question as if it were a guide to policy. The notion that history has a discernible direction, and that nations must align themselves with it, is a relic of the grand historical narratives of the 19th and 20th centuries. Such views are no longer held by serious historians but continue to animate the pundits and politicians in Washington.

My bad. It’s the ‘fifties.

That’s unfortunate. Still, the stultifying nature of the Jane Austen novel I had to read this semester, with Middlemarch on deck, suggests that some things are improving, right? But imagine my surprise when I read the secondary reading paired this week with Willa Cather’s awesome O Pioneers!

Scholes’ and Kellogg’s The Nature of Narrative opens with an attempt to, literally, put the novel in its place. They write about how the Western view of narrative literature — this was written mid-century, but still largely applies, I think — “is almost hopelessly novel-centered.” This cuts us off from the literature of the past, as well as “the literature of the future and even from the advance guard of our own day…. The novel, let us remember, represents only a couple of centuries in the continuous narrative tradition of the Western world which can be traced back five-thousand years.”

And this must be right, because it was written in 1966, and that was only yesterday.

What? Next year’s the fiftieth anniversary?!

Or maybe I should admit, I really don’t know. I only read that his morning. It’s like looking at a map, assuming that it’s right, then finding out there’s  lot more too know. But that’s the exciting bit, isn’t it? I’ll just lash down a bunch of unconnected musings, codify them as gospel and looking forward to learning more later. After all, that worked last week, didn’t it…?

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4 thoughts on “Presidential Cookie Bake-Off

  1. So there’s a lot going on here in Brooklyn so I must admit your prose was a bit dense to be fully absorbed by yours truly this evening. You know, proust is about memory, tolstoy is about russia, and your blog was about the history of algebraic geometry or something. Maybe it was just me on that last bit.

    Back in the day when I was studying advanced differential geometry for the working hipster, I loved the idea that the sphere-to-plane only requires one undefined point. You can have a smooth angle preserving mapping across all the points of the sphere except one, for instance in the stereographic projection. – I used to love things like this. Now I mostly drink bourbon and try to convince ex-lawyers that infinities have different sizes. Which is also fun. For the bourbon.

    But I did momentarily glean the comments about history having a right side. And I sympathize with the person who doesn’t necessarily agree. I mean, the Romans probably thought that they were on the right side, with their senate, and aqueduct, and running water. But hey, visigoths here we come. Did the wrong side win? Mebbe. I guess ‘right side of history’ has some cultural relativism in it. Which, as a person who has very little problem making broad sweeping absolute statements about things which are good and bad, is fine with me. But I understand why the academy may dislike it.

    Anyway, this is a very roundabout way to get to the point. Which is: My favorite biscuit is a jaffa cake. All other answers are on the wrong side of biscuitry.

  2. 1. Something Girl Scout. They’re almost mythical to me because I haven’t had any in a million years and every time I see a reference to one I think, “Ohhhhhhhhh…..”


    3. ‘Murica

    4. No, but I know that Selma was snubbed.

    5. The Agile Rabbit Book of Historical and Curious Maps. It’s awesome. And it comes with a CD if you want to do something with the graphics.

    1. 1. La M has made me aware that that different US regions use different names for different GS cookies (or rather, whether they’re made by Keeber or George Weston). Caramel deLites/Samoas. Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs. Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Do-si-dos. Shortbreads/Trefoils. This has led to battles among cookie-buyers raging across state lines. And I get that.
      2. Great link. I’m going to have to spend some time with that. The Baudrillard is a nice start. (But then, I would say that.)
      3. You watch your mouth, son.
      4. Selma considers e-cigs
      5. That does look awesome. And speaking of, we’ve been enjoying Knowledge is Beautiful.


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