Virgil, quick, come see, there goes Robert E. Lee

Confederate Statues New OrleansAfter a portly subhuman with a bad haircut named James Alex Fields plowed his car into a crowd of people in Charlottesville killing one and injuring more than a dozen, some observers likened the attack to the ISIS tactic for sowing terrorism in urban redoubts. After all, incidents of Islamic terrorists slamming pedestrians with motor vehicles have occurred across the globe in recent years.

Ironically, another tactic of terrorism favored by ISIS (and Al Qaeda) is the destruction of statues and monuments erected by peoples and cultures with whom they find no common ground. The Taliban was vilified for destroying an enormous status of Buddha in Afghanistan in 2001, and ISIS destroyed many ancient ruins of significant cultural value when they were “in charge” of territory in and around Palmyra, Syria.

Slowly then suddenly America has entered a bifurcated state driven by the pros and cons of dismantling of monuments erected to honor Civil War veterans of the Confederate army. The long-defunct Confederacy has become the touchstone of modern racists, which in turn has made the existence of countless bronze and granite statues in the likenesses of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, and others into a tug of war between haters like the KKK and neo-Nazis, and those who hate the haters.

Human civilizations have long documented their presence in history – good and bad – by drawing on cave walls, standing stones atop one another, hoisting totem poles, erecting grand edifices, making films, and on and on. Without such artifacts, those who follow would have no lens into what these civilizations were like, what they accomplished, what they stood for, what caused their downfall.

Consider the dilapidated ovens in Auschwitz, the shell of the Product Exhibition Hall in Hiroshima and the sunken Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Each a broken relic kept intact as a testament to an episode of historical significance. Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda films Triumph of the Will and Olympia survive to this day to be studied for their cinematic artistry – even though some might make a case that their existence is an abomination. The Enola Gay aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima has been restored and sits in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum where people on both sides of the debate can reflect on its meaning.

Should this film be studied or banned from viewing?

When a civilization purges documentation of its time on earth – the good and the evil – humanity is the lesser for it. Think about what treasures were lost when the Library of Alexandria in Egypt was burned by Julius Caesar in 48 BCE.

Let’s resist the urge to act like ISIS. The various and sundry monuments to the Confederates who fought against the abolition of slavery should be removed from their pedestals of admiration and placed in public museums where the hatred can be curated for future generations.

Fuck You HP

A recent TV commercial for HP’s Spectre x360 PC shows a presumably sick kid lying in a hospital bed. A healthcare worker enters the hospital room carrying one of HP’s illustrious laptops, and proceeds to tell the apprehensive kid that she’s “afraid I have some terrible news.” Yikes! Now at this point the viewer has no idea who the sponsor is – and given the nature of what appears to be the making of a heart-rending story one might expect it to be a spot for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or another in a long line of ambulance-chasing law firms trolling for a new generation of mesothelioma sufferers.

The kid expresses some concern but not nearly enough given the circumstances. Wouldn’t anyone – old or young – at least gulp when hearing the words “terrible news”? Instead, the kid calmly awaits the news that he has … bugeyes! And these fictitious cartoonish bugeyes are then shown to the kid on the slick HP laptop – and everybody has a rip roaring time.

This ad is such artifice that it belongs in the annals of the most shitty TV commercials of all time. Imagine a real life situation in which a care-giver made a joke that implied you have 2 weeks to live. Or that the brain scan you just had showed a tumor the size of a lemon. If HP was honest, they’d show the kid stabbing the worker in the eye with a rectal thermometer – and then googling “how to dismember a hospital intern” on the slick laptop.

CEOs Head for the Hills

IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty issued the following memo today regarding the decay of Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum:

By now, you’ve seen the news that we have disbanded the President’s Strategy and Policy Forum. In the past week, we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company. IBM has long said, and more importantly, demonstrated its commitment to a workplace and a society that is open, inclusive and provides opportunity to all. IBM’s commitment to these values remains robust, active and unwavering.

The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance. For more than a century and in more than 170 countries, IBM has been committed to these values.

Engagement is part of our history, too. We have worked with every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson. We are determinedly non-partisan – we maintain no political action committee. And we have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President’s Forum earlier this year.

But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed. Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group. IBM will continue to work with all parts of the government for policies that support job growth, vocational education and global trade, as well as fair and informed policies on immigration and taxation.

Just two questions:

1. Why join in the first place? Anyone worthy of being on a “strategy and policy forum” should have known that associating with a narcissistic sociopath like Trump would lead nowhere good.

2. Why not specifically call out Trump’s ugly behavior? The memo makes it sound like the group was disbanded because of misbehavior in Charlottesville, instead of the real reason which is that Trump is a fucking racist lunatic.

Gimme my Infrastructure

A fellow traveler stuck on the escalator at the 86th Street station.

Trump talks a lot about spending a trillion dollars on fixing infrastructure, but he hasn’t done anything about it to date. (Maybe he should up the ante to a quadrillion dollars to gather more attention.) Meanwhile, subway and rail systems in New York City continue to break down.

The power went out on the Q line today – and I was stuck on the escalator for 45 minutes!

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