May 27, 2017

"Don’t Judge Montana for a Single Body Slam."

A NYT op-ed by Sarah Vowell. I like Sarah Vowell, but this grated on me.

She's talking about all the diversity there is in Montana — "farmers; ranchers; miners; artists, including folk singers, though let’s not underestimate our potters; the inhabitants of two lefty college towns, Missoula and Bozeman, where I grew up; and the coastal refugees such as Mr. Gianforte...."

She goes on:
So what’s the tally — at least 14 varieties of Montanan? Fifteen if we include the summer roofers-winter ski bums affectionately known in my home valley as “dirt bags.” The dirt bags might look like a bunch of Hillary-voting hippies, but based on my five winters during the Reagan-Bush era tending bar at the local ski area, Bridger Bowl, they’re stingy tippers and therefore, I suspect, secret Republicans.
Has it ever been established that conservatives are worse tippers than liberals? Is that even a stereotype? I'm offended that this is offered up as a laugh line, as if, of course, NYT readers will get this. Presumably, it has more to do with the idea that Republicans don't support generous governmental spending, but that assumes that Democrats, who are generous with the taxpayers' money, won't be stingy with their own money.

Research shows that conservatives give more to charity than liberals give.

The liberal vanity about personal generosity, empathy, and goodness, is on display in Vowell's op-ed. I guess I could say it's funny, even if you don't believe the stereotype that Republicans are stingy, because you can laugh at the stereotype that Vowell embodies by saying that. And she keeps it personal. She says "I suspect." And we can picture her as the young bartender, noticing the tip is bad, and getting some solace out of thinking: must be a Republican.

She put him in her tip jar of deplorables. 

"If anything seemed to unite the sartorial choices the first lady made, at least during the day, it was a certain rigidity of line, monochrome palette and militaristic mien."

"She favored sharp power shoulders, single-breasted jackets with wide cinched belts and big square buckles, straight skirts and a lot of buttons. Mostly buttoned up.... For what battle, exactly, is she preparing? Theories have been floated: her husband’s critics; the prying eyes of the outside world; even her own marriage. Maybe it’s the much vaunted revolution the president was fond of saying he led; maybe she, too, is fighting for his agenda. Or maybe it’s just a signal that she is prepared to take her place on the home front."

That's from "Melania Trump on Display, Dressed in Ambivalence and Armor," by Vanessa Friedman in the NYT, trying to understand why Melania Trump wore what she wore on the big foreign trip. (Nice 14-photo slide show at the link.)

By the way, was Trump fond of saying he led a "revolution"? I blogged the whole campaign, meticulously inspecting the rhetoric, and when I search my archive for Trump and revolution, all the references I see to revolution are connected to Bernie Sanders, except where I myself am saying but isn't what Trump is doing a revolution? And I see that when Trump won the New Hampshire primary, he walked out on stage to the tune of "Revolution."

Googling, I see that Trump used the word "revolution" right after the 2012 election. He tweeted: "He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!" But I don't think "revolution" was his word in 2016.

Please correct me if I'm missing references to "revolution" by Trump in 2016, but I think "the much vaunted revolution the president was fond of saying he led" is off.

As for Friedman's opinion of Melania, it reminded me of Robin Givhan's piece the other day, saying that Melania was dressed for "control and containment." Givhan didn't say "armor," but I used the word in my reaction to Givhan:
I'm not sure where the "control and containment" is supposed to be — maybe in the constricting leather skirt or maybe it's something she's extracting from the President who scampers at her heel — but from the waist up, I'm seeing a more freewheeling style, an eschewing of a fully controlled structure. I'm not criticizing this choice, I'm just saying this isn't the Jackie Kennedy choice of clothing as armor, but a stretchy sweater over something less than the most rigid undergarments. I see an amusing combo of loose and tight.
I was talking about one particular outfit, which you can see at that last link. Friedman, as noted above, has 14 photos of things Melania wore. Some of them indeed have a squared-off look with tight cinching that could be called rigid and militaristic, but other things were loose and flowing, including and especially #5, which was worn during the day. I guess whatever isn't "armor" gets tossed into the "ambivalence" pile, especially that $51,000 flower-encrusted coat she's wearing over her shoulders in photo 14.

Trump antagonists fail to see the comic fakeness of a comic artist's comic fake letter from Trump.

On Facebook, Berkeley Breathed — who does the comic strip "Bloom County" — put up a letter purporting to be from Donald Trump's lawyer. Here's the image of the letter, replete with law-firm letterhead and lawyerly bluster about Trump's supposed legal right over the "commercial" use of his image and threatening to sue for an injunction in federal court (specifically the Eastern District of New York).

The prediction that the "lawyer" will win the lawsuit is (pun intended) cheeky: "To use language that you might understand (per my client's wishes) we will have your ass in a sling before lunch." (The word "ass" is redacted in the posted image.)

Breathed followed that with an image of his own letter, typed on his letterhead (and I mean typed, because there's Wite Out.) He says he's "really, very sincerely sorry" and has taken down all the images that are "upsetting the President."

Is that fake-funny enough for everyone to get it? The NYT reports:
The letters rocketed around the internet. By Friday afternoon, CrowdTangle, which tracks social media activity, showed that the original Facebook post was seen by three million newsfeeds and generated 78,000 interactions — people sharing, commenting or otherwise reacting to it. Many of the people who shared the post on social media seemed to take it seriously.
Fake news. People fall for it, especially when it confirms their suspicions. But this wasn't even news. This was a Facebook post from a comics artist.
[The] website Uproxx, wrote about the letter as if it were real — “Trump Is Threatening the Creator of ‘Bloom County’ Over a Facebook Meme [UPDATED],” the headline now reads. That update at the bottom? A tweet from a BuzzFeed reporter who had confirmed with Marc Kasowitz, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, that the letter was not real.

“This is a fraud, not true,” Mr. Kasowitz, who did not reply to an email seeking comment on Friday, told BuzzFeed.
Fraud! Now, poor Breathed is accused of "fraud." He should sue. (I'm kidding!!!)

"Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin..."

"... using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports," The Washington Post reports.
The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.

[Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who attended the meeting,[ reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.

Neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials said.
So... Kushner expressed interest in doing something that was never done. It was a bad idea — WaPo stresses — and if a bad idea was floated and then rejected, what is the story? WaPo says the White House disclosed this meeting back in March and "play[ed] down its significance," but is WaPo playing up its significance? What is the significance?
The FBI closely monitors the communications of Russian officials in the United States, and it maintains a nearly constant surveillance of its diplomatic facilities. The National Security Agency monitors the communications of Russian officials overseas.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that although Russian diplomats have secure means of communicating with Moscow, Kushner’s apparent request for access to such channels was extraordinary.

“How would he trust that the Russians wouldn’t leak it on their side?” said one former senior intelligence official. The FBI would know that a Trump transition official was going in and out of the embassy, which would cause “a great deal” of concern, he added. The entire idea, he said, “seems extremely naive or absolutely crazy.”
But the "extremely naive or absolutely crazy" idea was rejected, so what is the significance? The meeting, we're told, took place on December 1st or 2d, and WaPo says it's part of "a broader pattern of efforts by Trump’s closest advisers to obscure their contacts with Russian counterparts." And yet, WaPo tells us, "It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials" and "The State Department, the White House National Security Council and U.S. intelligence agencies all have the ability to set up secure communications channels with foreign leaders, though doing so for a transition team would be unusual."  

Unusual? That means it has happened before. And it ultimately wasn't done with the Trump team, so when was it done? Which President's transition team set up secure communications and was it "extremely naive or absolutely crazy"?

I know Trump has been concerned that the Obama administration was "wiretapping" him. How does that fit with this story? Is it that the Trump team was trying to avoid being monitored by the Obama administration, and, if so, is there something wrong with talking about how it might be arranged so that the President elect could interact with foreign leaders without sharing everything with with Obama administration?

May 26, 2017

"To be sure, Trump got plenty of negative coverage in the press as well, but, during the campaign at least, the negative stories didn’t seem to stick to him with the same adhesion."

"And even now, as investigations of his administration’s connections to Russia splash across front pages, the Times has launched a new feature, a weekly call to readers to 'Say something nice' about him. I ask Clinton if she’s seen it. 'I did!' she says with a wide smile, taking a beat. 'I never saw them do that for me.'"

From "Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried./The surreal post-election life of the woman who would have been president," by Rebecca Traister.

AND: Here's the transcript of the graduation speech Hillary just gave at Wellesley:
You may have heard that things didn't exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I'm doing okay. I've gotten to spend time with my family, especially my amazing grandchildren. I was going to give the entire commencement speech about them but was talked out of it.

Long walks in the woods. Organizing my closets, right? I won't lie. Chardonnay helped a little too. Here's what helped most of all. Remembering who I am, where I come from, and what I believe...
Too bad she didn't remember during the campaign. If she'd seemed at least a bit to be someone who believed in a few things, maybe the negative stories wouldn't have stuck to her with the same adhesion.

Evergreen State College biology professor Bret Weinstein is swarmed and cursed and hounded by students who are scarily deluded about their own righteousness.



The man is condemned for objecting to a "Day of Absence" demonstration that took the form of asking white students to stay off campus for one day.
In the past, the Day of Absence has been a day where black and Latino students leave campus to highlight their significance on campus. This year students wanted to change the format. Instead of leaving campus themselves, they wanted white students and professors to leave campus, thereby creating a safe space for the students left behind. Professor Weinstein objected to that format and wrote and email saying he would not be leaving campus and encouraged others not to do so. 
The students are now calling him a racist and demanding that he resign.

He's also been warned by by the Chief of Police that he's not safe on campus, and he obliged (ironically) by staying off campus. He appears very calm and courageous in the video as he's confronted by a horrible mob, so I'm not sure why he didn't stand his ground and teach his class in the usual place (especially considering his position on the Day of Absence).

There's something in the video that I really like. Professor Weinstein says:
"There’s a difference between debate and dialectic. Debate means you are trying to win. Dialectic means you are using disagreement to discover what is true. I am not interested in debate. I am only interested in dialectic, which does mean I listen to you, and you listen to me."
That's so well put. I've been saying for years I won't debate. Students at the law school would often set up events as debates and ask me to speak on one side of the debate. It was usually a side I wasn't even on, but that's beside the point. I resist the human interaction that is debate. I'd love to think the students would respond to the calmly stated, crisp debate/dialectic distinction, but it got this aggravated comeback:
"We don’t care what terms you want to speak on. This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one."
ADDED: "You have lost that one" is an interesting declaration. It's so arrogant in its faux authoritativeness but if there's "one," there's also another. In this case, the next "one" is this public airing of the video, and it's pitifully obvious that the students have lost this one.

ALSO: This story disturbed me so much, but it took me longer than usual to come over and blog it, because I wanted to research the subject of students attacking teachers. It's a big subject, but I took the time to read "Student Attacks Against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966," by Youqin Wang. If you're wondering how bad things can get, read that.

At the Iris Bud Café...

DSC_0007

... finally, you are free to talk about anything you want.

(And please consider doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Dating apps "tempt you to keep swiping, and as you whiz through tens, hundreds or even thousands of profiles... there’s got to be someone better than the person I’m seeing right now."

"Which means that monogamy requires more sacrifice than ever. If offered free travel, why would anyone settle for one place when it’s possible to tour the entire world?"

Well, I, for one, would not settle for someone who's that bad with analogies.

You can travel the world and still have a home town, and the town lets you live there, no matter how often you go elsewhere and how long you stay away, and the town doesn't get jealous and betray you when you're gone. You can have a home town — even 2 or 3 home towns — and come back to them whenever you want homey comforts and familiarity.

But you can't have a husband or wife unless you get married. If you want a good analogy, you'd have have to think about whether you'd want to live on the road forever if the alternative were to have one home and never travel. Make sure to think about what it will be like if you get sick or when you get old, if you're fortunate enough to grow old in this world that might get ugly as you're out there traveling through its entirety.

"It’s good to normalize evil, in the sense of showing how otherwise 'normal' people and institutions can perpetrate evil acts..."

"... and every attempt should be made to do so. That’s how you prevent more evil from happening in the future."

Ah! I chose to blog this before I noticed the author, Jesse Singal. He's good!

He's writing about the reaction to that Atlantic article "My Family's Slave" (by Alex Tizon). Some people said that article shouldn't have been published. Example of the objection: "I am filled with nothing but anger and hatred at the vileness of the attempt by Alex Tizon to whitewash a slaveholder. No. FUCK! NO!"

Singal says:
In fact, it’s a common reaction just about any time a journalistic account of evil people or evil acts includes nuance and texture. Back in 2013, for example, some people were furious at Rolling Stone for running a cover image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in which the Boston Marathon bomber looked like… well, a normal kid. A handsome one, even. Some of the critics accused Rolling Stone of giving him the “rock star” treatment.

This “you’re normalizing evil!” critique didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now.

What I found when I was looking for what Jake Tapper said about that "He just body-slammed me" story.

Jake Tapper wrote a book called "Body Slam: The Jesse Ventura Story."



Okay. Try again. Here:
The editorial board of the Billings Gazette, a CNN affiliate, retracted its endorsement of Gianforte, stating, "We believe that you cannot love America, love the Constitution, talk about the importance of a free press and then pummel a reporter."

Tapper echoed the newspaper's stance.

"Let us add that those public officials finding it difficult these days to muster the courage to strongly condemn a politician committing assault on a reporter, maybe you need to reexamine how much you truly love the Constitution beyond just saying the words," he said.
The Constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press not just for reporters, but for everyone. And the Constitution guarantees due process for the criminally accused. Someone who would "strongly condemn a politician committing assault on a reporter" might also demonstrate a love of constitutional values by refraining from assuming that a particular individual accused of committing a crime is guilty. The hesitation to condemn Gianforte — I believe, even though I averted my eyes from yesterday's swarming and feasting — had to do with a fear that an audiotape was being exploited and possibly distorted to raise a sudden frenzy just as an election was occurring.

You talk about courage, but jumping into a frenzied mob isn't a mark of courage. Show me everyone who without hesitation condemned Gianforte, and I'd like to know whether he or she either: 1. Wanted the Republican to lose the election, or 2. Was afraid of getting attacked for endorsing violence. Is there anyone left? Show me the man or woman of true courage.

Mixed metaphor of the day.

"Trump's Budget Guts The Safety Net, And Other Myths." ("Spending on entitlement programs isn't being cut. At least not in the traditional sense of spending less next year than you spend this year. Trump's budget doesn't touch Social Security or Medicare, and only slows the growth of the remaining 'safety net' programs.")

You can talk about the policy angles. I want to talk about the mixed metaphor of gutting a net. It seems interestingly fish-related, no?

The verb "to gut" means, of course, to take out the guts, notably of fish.
1599 H. Buttes Dyets Dry Dinner sig. L7v, Carpe..Lay it scaled and gutted sixe houres in salt.
That's from the OED. The most common figurative use, historically, is in reference to buildings.
1688 N. Luttrell Diary in Brief Hist. Relation State Affairs (1857) I. 486 The 11th, in the evening, the mobile gott together, and went to the popish chappel in Lincolns Inn Feilds, and perfectly gutted the same.
I think of "net" in connection with fish — a fishing net — but a "safety net" is not a fishing net. The phrase "safety net" — "An extensive net suspended or held above the ground to prevent injury in the event of a fall or jump from a height" — goes back to at least 1840:

"John Glenn’s remains were disrespected at the military's mortuary, Pentagon documents allege."

"A senior mortuary employee at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware twice offered horrified inspectors a peek at American icon John Glenn's dead body while the famed astronaut awaited burial earlier this year, according to an internal memo obtained by Military Times."

What if Dusko Markovic had shoved Donald Trump back and Trump had yelled "You just body-slammed me" and we had the whole thing not on video, but only audio?

Here's Trump getting physical with the Prime Minister of Montenegro.



I don't know if you've ever been videotaped moving through a packed, stopped crowd, with the camera zoomed in on you and the video rendered in slow-mo at the point at which you made the most physical contact and the most forward progress. But that happened to Trump. And even in that clipped-down snippet, we see Dusko Markovic smile, which reassures fair-minded people that it wasn't a big deal, but even so, it gave the anti-Trump folks something to cry "thug" about and psychoanalyze — "You tiny, tiny, tiny little man," tweeted J.K. Rowlingand mock. Everything that can be used will be used.

But what if the camera weren't there? I assume Trump would have behaved differently, perhaps he'd have been more brusque and brutal, perhaps less. He might have barged through more carelessly if he knew there were no visual record. But he might have been more patient and meek, because he wouldn't have had to worry about looking comically ineffectual. And the situation he faced might have been different if the people in front of him had had no concern that they might look disrespected and unimportant.

It's even possible that the blockage Trump faced was a deliberate closing of ranks by the European leaders assigned to the back row, so the cameras would capture thousands of images of poor Trump, stuck behind the feisty Europeans, unable to make his way forward. Imagine the headlines the newspapers could plop on top of the funniest, most symbolic-seeming picture of trapped Trump.

But what if the cameras weren't there and instead we had audio? Men moving for position within a crowd, each with his own agenda, each wanting power and high respect. They're jostling around and past each other. And let's imagine that Dusko Markovic, without the camera, reacted to Trump by pushing back, just a little bit harder. Picture it: Trump barged past, a little physical, and then Markovic took a you-push-me-I-push-you attitude and deliberately knocked Trump back. Remember, there's no video. But there's audio, and Trump yells "You just body-slammed me."

You see my point. All we'd have would be Trump's "You just body-slammed me." We wouldn't know that Trump did some modest manhandling that Markovic experienced as degrading and that Markovic was doing the old manly tit-for-tat.

You can do things with audio. I have no idea what really happened in the audio involving Greg Gianforte that was all over the news yesterday, but Gianforte has won the special election in Montana — with something like a 7 point margin of victory — and he's made a careful apology: "I should not have responded the way I did, for that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

I say "careful," because he doesn't say what, exactly, "the way I did" was or why — there are many reasons — he "should not have responded" like that. Of course, he's sorry. He wisely refrains from adding nonapology baggage after "I'm sorry." (People often add words like "if anyone was offended," but they never add "that I got into so much trouble.")

Speaking of "careful," going forward, politicians need to be careful. I'm worried about things that can be done with audio. The "body-slamming" vocalization may have been entirely justified by whatever happened out there in Montana, but it also points the way to endless dirty tricks. You can say anything, and you can say it with feeling: Hit hit me! He grabbed me! How dare you! You choked me!

You can lie with video too. Dusko Markovic could have hammily stumbled off to the side and fallen on the floor. But lying with speech is the normal, daily behavior of the human being. It comes so naturally and easily to us. Fortunately, sorting through lies and deceit is also something we do every day. It's hard to keep up. But we still care about trying.

"Gunmen opened fire on vehicles carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt early Friday, killing at least 20 people..."

"... according to state news agencies," the NYT reports.
A Christian official in Minya province, south of Cairo, said the attackers opened fire on a pickup truck carrying workmen and a bus carrying worshipers as they traveled in convoy to St. Samuel’s monastery. Many of the worshipers were children.

“We are having a very hard time reaching the monastery because it is in the desert. It’s very confusing. But we know that children were killed,” said the official, Ibram Samir....

The Islamic State bombed the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Dec. 11 and attacked a church in Alexandria and a church in Tanta on Palm Sunday, April 9, killing at least 78 people. A small Christian community in northern Sinai fled the town of El Arish after a series of gun attacks on homes and businesses....

After the Palm Sunday attack, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, declared a state of emergency....
ADDED: Just last month, the Pope visited Egypt. The NYT wrote:
The pope also spoke at a peace conference hosted by Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar mosque, and met with the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II....

In a decentralized Muslim world, the pope’s speech and his continuation of a dialogue with Sheikh Tayeb provided Muslims with a high-profile counterpoint to the radical language coming from extremists. Al Azhar forms many of the Sunni world’s imams and oversees the education of millions of Egyptian children and college students....

May 25, 2017

"The pain was... I can’t explain the pain except to say if you’ve ever put your finger in a light socket as a kid, multiply that feeling by a gazillion throughout your entire body."

“And I saw a white light surrounding my body—it was like I was in a bubble. Everything was slow motion. I felt like I was in a bubble for ever."

From "What It's Like to Be Struck by Lightning/There’s a good chance you’ll survive. But the effects can be lasting."

The best light in Meade's garden just now...

DSC_0017

... fell on the columbine.

(That's shot — by me, just now — with the Micro-NIKKOR 105mm lens.)

Body-slammed in Bozeman.

The news from Montana.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refuses to reinstate Trump's revised travel ban.

Adam Liptak reports in the NYT.
The case is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.

France censors a public-service ad that shows children with Down syndrome growing up happily.

Here's the ad:



Here's Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal.
In France three TV networks agreed to carry [the "Dear Future Mom" ad] as a public service. The feedback was glowing -- until that summer, when the government's High Audiovisual Council, or CSA, issued a pair of regulatory bulletins interdicting the ad. The regulator said it was reacting to audience complaints.
The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, which sponsors the ad in France, eventually learned that only 2 complaints had been filed. One objected to the foundation, because it is anti-abortion. The other came from a woman who'd had an abortion when she was told her unborn child had Down syndrome. Because she mourned the child, she said, she experienced the ad as "violent."
The foundation appealed [the ban], and the case eventually came before the Council of State, France's highest administrative court. The council in November affirmed the ban, holding that the ad could "disturb the conscience" of women who had had abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis....

For the foundation, the claim that the ad evokes feelings of guilt only attests to its moral truth. Says spokeswoman Stephanie Billot: "When you show a video of DS kids who say, 'Well, I won't be normal, but I will still be able to love you,' the guilt becomes so unbearable that society rejects it. It's a common, unconscious guilt for all who said nothing about the effort to systematically eliminate DS." Guilt can be salutary.

The foundation this month lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, asserting free-speech violations as well as genetic discrimination....

"This week the Harvard campus served as a reunion of sorts for several former Obama administration officials."

"Former vice president Joe Biden spoke to college graduates, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates addressed the graduating class at Harvard Law school," and former secretary of state John F. Kerry spoke to the graduates at the Kennedy School of Government.
“And the truth is – no, this is not a normal time,” Kerry said. “It’s not normal to see a president of the United States decrying ‘so-called judges.’ It’s not normal for the leader of the country that invented the First Amendment to routinely degrade and even threaten journalists. And no, it’s not normal to see the head of the FBI fired summarily because he was investigating connections between Russia and the presidential campaign of the very man who fired him. And it’s not normal that when you close your eyes and listen to the news, too often the political back and forth in America sounds too much like it does in the kinds of countries that the State Department warns Americans not to travel to."
ADDED: This makes me think of the novel I've been reading, "The Mosquito Coast" (by Paul Theroux). The narrator describes his father, a genius who dropped out of Harvard:
Father [was] talking the whole way about... the awfulness of America— how it got turned into a dope-taking, door-locking, ulcerated danger zone of rabid scavengers and criminal millionaires and moral sneaks. And look at the schools. And look at the politicians. And there wasn’t a Harvard graduate who could change a flat tire or do ten pushups....

[Father] boasted that he had dropped out of Harvard in order to get a good education. He was prouder of his first job as a janitor than his Harvard scholarship....

“Strictly speaking,” Father said, “there is no such thing as invention. It’s not creation, I mean. It’s just magnifying what already exists. Making ends meet. They could teach it in school— Edison wanted to make invention a school subject, like civics or French. But the schools went for fingerpainting, when they could have been teaching kids to read. They encouraged back talk. School is play! Harvard is play!”