And Now For Something Different

Another horrific gaffe in retail marketing –  one which falls into the category of “grotesquely bad retail marketing decisions which will become a cautionary lesson in future marketing textbooks.” This spectacular gaffe involves a retailer of fashion-trendy and very colorful women’s athletic clothing, Fabletics – a company which started online in 2013 offering a subscription plan – somewhat controversial since the subscription charges were not always transparent, and branched out into brick and mortar locations. One of the founders is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, so there probably has been some advantages to a celebrity connection; easy to get that one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey, I presume. The company appears to this point to have been pretty savvy in a competitive field, marketing-wise, so all props to them. I’m not a customer of theirs in any case; the gym and the jogging track are not places where I go to show off my fashion sense. I’m old-school in that I prefer to work out in grey sweatpants and a baggy tee shirt.

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Lament for a Mall

Malls were the latest, trendiest, most oh-there thing in retail development about the time that I was in high school and college. There were a couple of them that I went to, early on, and they were … OK. A nice diversion if one was in the mood or purse for retail therapy. Most of them were enclosed, two or three levels, almost always expensively decorated, adorned with plantings, sometimes with dabs of architectural creativity here and there. All of that made sense in places where the weather was bitterly cold for at least half the year or boiling-hot for three-quarters of it – still does, in the upper mid-west and mountain west, especially in snowy winters. It was, however, a serious and time-burning excursion to go to the mall; finding a place to park nearest an entrance, walking … and walking, and walking, and carrying whatever you had purchased. If there was a nice and varied selection of shops, not wall to wall big chain outlets, exactly the same as every other mall – so much the better.

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Reminder: Chicago Safe Spaces Tour

As a promised follow-up to the original posting, I’ll be conspicuously attired in something resembling this (but without the hood). Well, and pants, shoes, etc. Also, there is a slight chance that I will actually talk my way into the tour of what I am calling Pierce the Younger, but it is to end at 4 PM tomorrow.

NB: Sunday afternoon is likely to be wet. I am investigating the availability of some kind of water-repellent device, ideally collapsible for easy transport and storage.

Fashion Bleg

I posted this on Facebook but I may as well post it here to ca$h in on the ChicagoBoyz mind hive.

The few stores I have been to in Madison don’t seem to have nice shirts that are fashionable so I am looking for an online store that has good variety, and good quality. I like shirts with cuffs. These are to be worn with nice slacks and/or jeans for a cool night out (not with a suit and/or tie). Need a decent return policy as well in case they don’t fit. Thoughts?

What is on your Desk?

Cross-posted from

Time for a bit of lighthearted, blogging fun.

I spend a lot of time reading and writing and I do so primarily within a specific environment – my home office. The space reflects the man, to some degree.

Surveying my office space here at home, I noticed that my desk has begun, like a coral reef, to accrete various objects, oddments and curious like a layer of bric-a-brac sediment.  Some objects change, others stay forever.  Exclusive of papers, books, printers and a computer, here’s what my desk holds:

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Wonders in Glass

We have made several interesting discoveries while walking the dogs and exploring the Salado Creek Greenway (which is eventually intended to provide a long, green pocket wilderness park all across suburban San Antonio) but I think the very most interesting was nothing to do with the park at all. A particular stretch of the greenway parallels Holbrook Road; just where the road crosses over Salado Creek, there is a low hill with an enormous Southern mansion sitting on the top, white pillars, galleries, ancient oak trees and all. The mansion is called Victoria’s Black Swan Inn; now it’s a wedding and event venue, but originally it was a private home, built just after the Civil War, and on the site of the 1842 Salado Creek Fight. They say it is one of the most haunted places in the United States – which it might very well be – but that’s not the discovery that my daughter and I made.
That would be what is around in back of the Black Swan; when we noticed a long graveled driveway at the side of the property, and a little sign that said “Glass Studio.”

My mother has tinkered with making stained glass for years, even attempting to teach my daughter some skills in that direction, so we both have an appreciation for it. My daughter said, “Let’s go and see?” so we wandered up the hill, past some extremely eccentric and enormous wind chimes hanging from trees … which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection on stereoids.

At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed about the size of a suburban bedroom and spilling over onto a couple of tables and an outside wall, in the back-forty of the Black Swan. Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist was there, as he usually is on weekends, and was happy enough to show us his glass creations, his workspace, and his scrapbooks of previous commissions and projects, allowing us to tromp through it all with the dogs and poke into just about everything.

It’s a darned odd place to find a glass gallery, let me tell you: his work is substantial, beautifully done, colorful – everything from fused ‘jewels’ made of four separate layers of glass, to bowls on metal stands, platters, replica Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright style lamp-shades, hanging window panels and odd little tschockes – sun-catchers, votive candle holders and paperweights. But Howard Redmond is in his eighties, and this is semi-retirement and he can do as he damn well pleases, after a whole career working in specialty glass. I looked at some of the panels in his scrapbooks – and oh, my; original installations eight feet square, with four of five thousand individual pieces; that is some serious window-glazing, let me tell you.

Much of his professional work was done in Chicago, over the last thirty or forty years; I think his output now is more for fun, although he had many of his pieces in local galleries, and he does the occasional craft show. And nope, doesn’t even have a website, or an email address. Either catch him at a one of those shows, or come to San Antonio and search out the Black Swan Inn. Up to the top of the graveled drive, and around past the 1940s ambulance, the rusting restaurant stove, and the fallen-down bottle tree; next to a tall pecan tree and an old wooden water-tank on stilts: He’ll be at work in the little shed under the tree, with two rows of glass platters adorning the side.

The Sentiments of Mr. Charles James Napier

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on multicultural understanding and tolerance:

Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on effective government:

The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on how to win friends and influence people:

The human mind is never better disposed to gratitude and attachment than when softened by fear.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on colonialism:

So perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on self-improvement:

Success is like war and like charity in religion, it covers a multitude of sins.

The sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier on life’s little setbacks:

Honorable retreats are no ways inferior to brave charges, as having less fortune, more of discipline, and as much valor.

Not a sentiment of Mr. Charles James Napier regarding south Pakistani tourism:


Of Anwar al-Awlaki and Bold Christian Clothing

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

I am, admittedly, very interested in religion, and Christianity has been the mother-lode for me of the imagery, gestures and profound words that can move heart, soul, mind and imagination into a greater depth.

Advertising, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that the best of it plays on imagination, too, but it is generally more of an intrusion upon – via billboards on landscapes, via commercials in movies, or via irritating jingles and catch phrases that subvert my best attempts at quieting the mind – than an experience of the kind of depth that religion at its best can offer.

But if you are interested in religion, and click online in enough of the right places, advertising that has “religious” content will be targeted to you.


And so it is that I went online this morning to check out something about al-Awlaki on Islamic Awakening, an American jihadist forum, and found myself invited to consider, instead, wearing some “bold Christian clothing”.

This was while I was researching al-Awlaki, right? the Muslim jihadist preacher?


a site with its own curious graphics…

And looking closer at that logo, isn’t that some sort of triumphalist armored vehicle I see?


Well, never averse to a pretty girl, and noticing the one in the Bold Christian ad, I thought I’d taker a look at Bold Christian Clothing to find out what sort of fashion sense was popular among the younger Christian set just now, and found I could obtain t-shirts with such comforting images as these…

— this one’s symbolic of our relatively new century, I guess…

or this:

which I am praeternaturally fond of since my online moniker is hipbone, with its veiled reference to the Valley of the Dry Bones in that very same chapter 37 of Ezekiel…

and then there’s this masterfully supremacist rendering of a part of the Lord’s Prayer:

which I must admit isn’t the image of Thy Kingdom Come that springs to mind when I personally hope and pray for heaven on earth.

What exactly is it, you may ask? According to the manufacturer, it’s

The Lord’s Prayer — “Thy Kingdom Come” with an Angel holding the cross, Horses, skulls under the horses, and palm trees (with Shield and Pacific Oracle cross logo added)

It’s also “the softest, smoothest shirt we sell” … “made from combed cotton for your added comfort” and gives “a flattering and stylish fit to virtually any body type”.

I on the other hand think it looks more like a photoshopped variant of the Quadringa statue in London that celebrates Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo:


In light of all this, I do believe I’ll just wear white – although even that could be misinterpreted, I guess.

More on Palin and Elite Status Anxiety

This is an addendum to Shannon’s post.

It occurs to me that the whole Obama phenomenon and the vitriolic attack on Gov. Palin are two sides of the same status anxiety.

Globalization, as it got started, hammered wages in the USA in manufacturing, by exposure to low wage competitors in China and in Mexico, as well as moving the Mexican workforce here. This made white collar workers relatively more wealthy, it gave them domestic servants, it held down inflation so their wages stayed steady while new and better products were coming online, and it did not initially subject them to competition, and they did not initially face job insecurity anything like what blue collar workers faced. As a result they were able to engage in all kinds of luxury purchasing and status posturing. Stylish domestic decor, a refined taste in imported wine, and other SWPL, for example, were noted and status ranking assigned with exquisite care. David Brooks is very good on this status signalling, in his book Bobos in Paradise. This was all flattering to white collar workers, many of whom had non-quantitative degrees, especially law degrees. They had money in their pockets and they had nice stuff in their homes, and foreign-born domestic help. Life looked pretty good. Looking down on the majority of their fellow citizens was a big part of their identity. But then, all of a sudden, they began to feel the winds of change blowing, too. Their jobs became insecure, or disappeared. They began to see that their university educations did not mean a one way ticket to affluence. This terrifying prospect has opened up and getting worse at the same time that blue collar America has had a chance to adjust, and may even be better positioned to handle the ongoing globalization, and other technological changes that are coming along at an accelerating rate.

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Col. Frederick Gustavus Burnaby

Col. Frederick Gustavus Burnaby

Col. Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, late of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues), author of A Ride to Khiva: Travels and Adventures in Central Asia and On Horseback Through Asia Minor. He was also a pioneering aeronaut, author of A Ride Across the Channel: and Other Adventures in the Air. Col. Burnaby met his death in the hand-to-hand fighting of the Battle of Abu Klea, 1885. Queen Victoria fainted when she heard of his death.

Captain Frederick Augustus Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards was no ordinary officer. For a start he was a man of prodigious strength and stature. Standing six-foot-four in his stockinged feet, weighing fifteen stone, and possessing a 47 inch chest, he was reputed to be the strongest man in the British Army. Indeed, it was even said that he could carry a small pony under his arm. … Nor was this son of a country parson entirely brawn. He also displayed a remarkable gift for languages, being fluent in at least seven, including Russian, Turkish and Arabic. Finally, he was born with an insatiable appetite for adventure which he combined with a vigorous and colourful prose style. Inevitably, these two latter qualities brought him into contact with Fleet Street, with the result that during his generous annual leaves he served abroad on several occasions as a special correspondent of The Times and other journals … .

From The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk.

I am halfway through “A Ride to Khiva” and I am very grateful to Google Books, which provides full text, out-of-copyright books, at this point everything published before 1922. Through this wonderful service, I have been easily able to make the acquaintance of this extraordinary officer in his own prose, via Kindle.

One quote from the book. Burnaby is in St. Petersburg, and he sends a written request to the Russian Minister of War, Gen. Miliutin, asking his leave to travel across Russia and on to Khiva, which is (at that point) still beyond the Russian frontier. Miliutin responds in the negative, and offering as his explanation that he cannot answer for the security of travelers beyond the Tsar’s domains.

I should have much liked to have asked Gen. Miliutin one question, and to have heard his answer — not given solemnly as the Russian Chancellor makes his promises, but face to face, as a soldier — would he, when a captain, have turned his face homeward to St. Petersburg simply because he was told by a foreign government that it could not be responsible for his safety? I do not think so; and I have a far higher opinion of the Russian officers than to imagine that they would be deterred by such an argument if used to them under circumstances similar to those in which I found myself.

Burnaby, of course, goes anyway.

For further details, see The Life of Colonel Fred Burnaby By Thomas Wright (1908), and The True Blue: The Life and Adventures of Colonel Fred Burnaby, by Michael Alexander (1957).

Preparing for Class

With “Who’s Gona Fill Their Shoes” in the background, I come upon a passage apt for discussions here of ambiguity:


A man’s power to connect his thought with its proper symbol, and so to utter it, depends on the simplicity of his character, that is, upon his love of truth, and his desire to communicate it without loss. The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. When simplicity of character and the sovereignty of ideas is broken up by the prevalence of secondary desires, the desire of riches, of pleasure, of power, and of praise, — and duplicity and falsehood take place of simplicity and truth, the power over nature as an interpreter of the will, is in a degree lost; new imagery ceases to be created, and old words are perverted to stand for things which are not; a paper currency is employed, when there is no bullion in the vaults. In due time, the fraud is manifest, and words lose all power to stimulate the understanding or the affections. Hundreds of writers may be found in every long-civilized nation, who for a short time believe, and make others believe, that they see and utter truths, who do not of themselves clothe one thought in its natural garment, but who feed unconsciously on the language created by the primary writers of the country, those, namely, who hold primarily on nature.

Emerson – Nature – “Language”

KHANNNNN! (another member of a continuing series)

The ice storm that clipped both KC and Chicago today, coming as it does after several days of nasty weather, has a lot of us holed up inside and thinking wintry thoughts. We might wonder how the natives of one of the climatically harshest places on Earth deal with it. Or, perhaps, deel with it. So, after considering for a moment whether any other blog can provide puns in Mongolian, graze (Midwesterners [and Mongolians] don’t surf) on over to for all your clothing and shelter needs for when you “steppe out.” For those Chicagoan, er, Siberian winters, there’s the cotton quilted deel for a mere C-note-and-a-half, and don’t forget to pick up a pair of (somewhat more steeply priced) boots. Shelter? Get yer yurt right here. You’ll fit right in when our horde (another Mongolian-derived word) of genetically-engineered Temujin-class warriors conquers the world.

Or just pick up a few books. Whatever.

Previous members of series:

Figurative Language & the State

One of my favorite Texanisms is: “He looks like he was rode hard and put up wet.” Sure, it’s repeated often but still makes me smile years after I first heard it. Volokh links to Overlawyered, which describes a $450,000 harassment case settled because a man alluded to that old saying in the presence of two women, who apparently had the minds of pubescent students.

Of course, we need fewer lawyers, more of a sense of humor & a lot more common sense from judges. But we also need a livelier language & wider range of allusions. We shouldn’t wonder that kids coming out of the school system in which these two women work lack style. It’s been killed in them. And, frankly, I’m more worried that such decisions bring us closer to 1984 than the NSA/cookies “scandal.”