In a Heath Robinson device, everything has a clear purpose, no matter how strange it appears. For example, there is a clearly discernable logic to the profusion of cables, pulleys and bellows in his “Spare Room,” above, from this year’s HR calendar. It may not be realistic — I wouldn’t want to sleep in that bed — but everything makes sense. (The same is true of the inventions of Heath Robinson’s American counterpart, Rube Goldberg.) Comparing Neil Ferguson’s incomprehensible mathematical model to a Heath Robinson device slanders Robinson.
If you write quotably, please proofread your prose before you click “publish.” Case in point, from John C. Wright:
Thirty years ago, I was in the newspaper business, and I saw then that the news was utterly corrupt and utterly dishonest, and was willing to loose money rather than cover stories that told the truth and gave both sides of any debate. It was like living in the Matrix. The news was fake, and I knew it, and could prove it, and could recite chapter and verse of the lies, propaganda and distortion — and no one believed me, no one cared, no one could be bothered to listen.
If I were to quote that for its content, I would either insert a “(sic)” after “loose,” or put “lose” in its place in brackets, indicating a substitution. Either course is ugly and clunky and weakens the impact of the statement.
Here are the official Coronavirus guidelines:
1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.
3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.
4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.
5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.
6. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.
7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it’s important to GO OUT.
8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.
9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects….
Just think how many lives have been saved by two things leftists hate most: suburbs and the car culture. And just think how many lives have been lost by things the left love most: mass transit and high-density urban living.
I rode downtown around noon today. While it wasn’t quite the ghost town that it was on my last trip in, I still pretty much had the place to myself, as you can see by the dense crowds on Main Street, above. The statue in front of the library is of Joan of Arc — Wichita is a “sister city” of old Orleans.
View this in greater detail as an interactive panorama here.
Starved for sports? Need some thrills? Catch the Magnus Carlsen Invitational chess tournament, in which eight of the world’s strongest players play rapid chess online. The field includes two Americans, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, as well as Carlsen himself. The games begin today at 9 a.m. central time.1 You can also watch the games here.
The plants I started under the lights last month are more than ready to go outside. Unfortunately, the weather keeps cycling back to March, and there danger of frost yet again through Friday. Some plants, like the Dahlberg daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba), are already in flower in my kitchen. The color is nice, but they really should be in the ground now. The flower above is not quite an inch across. As always, click on the pictures to see them larger and with proper color.
I had a brief, odd dream this morning. I was reading the Sunday comics. On the last page, where Pearls Before Swine usually goes in the Wichita paper, there were two wide panels depicting groups of unsvelte middle-aged women in classical garb, like troupes of Margaret Dumonts costumed as Roman matrons. Some were sitting, some were standing. All were holding holding Union Jacks, and all had beards. These two panels were in black and white, like illustrations from an old book.
Underneath, in place of Sherman’s Lagoon, was a single panel depicting a variety of mostly unfamiliar superheroes. The only one I recognized was Marvel’s Thor. All of them held some version of the Stars and Stripes. This panel was in glossy color, like the cover of an old comic book.
We had a couple days of fine May weather this week, and I took advantage of them. Wednesday I rode my bike out northwest to the zoo. The zoo itself was closed, of course, but that didn’t matter; I was more interested to see what signs of spring were evident in the area. There was less color than I had hoped. If you like shades of brown, the unmown field east of the zoo offers a nice study in textures, but if you want wildflowers, it’s still too soon. There were a few crab apples and a lilac in the park to the west, plus a Prunus, possibly a sandhill plum (P. angustifolia), in bloom, but otherwise there was nothing much beyond dandelions and henbit.
I stayed mostly on bike paths and park roads. I was once overtaken by a cyclist wearing headphones. Most other people on bicycles and every single jogger I encountered had small white plastic objects stuck in their ears, occasionally with wires attached. This perplexes me. I don’t run, but I do ride a bicycle everywhere, and I rely on my hearing to alert me to dangers approaching from behind. I need to hear what’s happening around me. Consequently, I have never used headphones or ear buds outdoors and never will. Why so many people want to shut themselves off from a major part of the world makes no sense to me.
I don’t get the obsession with having music in one’s ears every waking hour. When I listen to music, I listen to music. It’s not a background activity.1 When I’m not actively listening, I want silence.
The botanical garden remains closed, to my intense irritation. However, there is color elsewhere. Redbuds are at their peak, and flowering crabs are getting started. Most people have not yet begun mowing their lawns, giving the weeds a chance to shine. Henbit is past its prime, but violets are putting on an impressive show.
It looks like every Tartan Day event this year has been cancelled, but you can still play Scottish music. Here’s a J. Scott Skinner “heroic air” arranged for piano, “MacPherson’s Cave.” (That’s the computer playing the piano, not me.)