Use Me

I keep forgetting how great this Bill Withers song is, so here’s a video of him performing it live.

Bill Withers is a West Virginia native from Slab Fork — near Beckley. Here’s an interview with him:

Trapped by Television

It’s no Transformers: Rise of the Fallen, but this fun little movie from 1936 has a lot going for it: great accents, dodgy dames, and even a tough named “Rocky.” It’s Trapped by Television, the story of a starving-but-brilliant inventor and shady business deals, with just a hint of murder.

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Image Credits: Columbia Pictures / Still from "Trapped by Television"

Gov. McDonnell indicted on federal corruption charges

The Roanoke Times-Dispatch reports that former governor McDonnell and his wife have finally been indicted:

The indictment, spelled out in an extensive document filed by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District, paints a detailed portrait of how the governor and his wife accepted more than $135,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans from then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr., in addition to golf outings and other things of value, in exchange for the first couple’s assistance in promoting his struggling Henrico-based company’s dietary supplement, Anatabloc.

A lot of this came to light during the latest gubernatorial election, and there was a lot of speculation that McDonnell would resign or be removed from office before the election. It’s probably a good thing that neither of those came to pass; a handful of months of a Cuccinelli administration followed by McAuliffe would have made for some serious chaos in the state capitol.

In any case, I am adding McDonnell’s administration to my list of examples why we should not elect anti-government types; they have too many opportunities to orchestrate the corruption and incompetence they warn about.

Changing font names to comply with the OFL (Open Font License)

Screw the preamble. If you’re wondering why you would do such a thing, see below. The short answer is that some font foundries are generous but picky.

Anyway, changing the font names means futzing with the font metadata. So you have to open the font file, mess around inside, and then save it out as a new font.

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Image Credits: Type by Tony Unruh


Josh Barro, writing for Business Insider, says the Republican anti-poverty agenda doesn’t exist:

Some want to pick up Jack Kemp’s “baton” of talking about social mobility and free enterprise. Social conservatives want to talk about the importance of families to alleviating poverty. Rand Paul wants to add more “anti-government broadsides” to the message.

I suggested on Twitter that the GOP’s difficulties came from actually being pro-poverty, which struck some people as being kinda mean. But exploitation of poverty is not unusual, especially not in the part of the country I come from. The coal fields did, after all, inspire this song:

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Give humans some credit

Just about every heartwarming story I read about people helping people, animals, or just plain helping, there’s someone in the background saying “Praise God.” Or “God is great.” Or similar.

I understand the theological position. But when observers praise God instead of people, they are not only passing over the human effort. They are attention-grabbing with their own faith.

Credit God with your own victories if you wish, but let other human heroes get their deserved accolades.

Image Credits: NOAA

It’s time to bring back rhetoric

That’s what English professor Joe Kirby says. One of the great disappointments of my education is that my English degree taught me how to read academically, but it did a rather poor job of teaching me how to write or persuade.

But the discipline rhetoric, as Kirby notes, has more or less fallen out of favor. I suspect we have the scientific method to thank for that. We’ve replaced rhetoric with rational and logical argument, only to find out no one is persuaded by facts.

I think loss of rhetoric is a significant contributing factor in our current polarized political climate. We’ve lost the ability to persuade except through fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And we so expect rational argument to be persuasive that, when it isn’t, we think other people are being deliberately obtuse and we start calling them names.

New Years Resolution: Learn more about rhetoric.

Photo Source: An agora in Izmir, Turkey by F Mira, Creative Commons.

Image Credits: F Mira

The Comedy of Terrors

Our New Years Movie was The Comedy of Terrors, an American International ensemble picture staring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone. Price and Lorre play a couple of under-employed undertakers desperately behind on the rent.

It’s a dark comedy by the phenomenal screenwriter Richard Matheson, which means it’s still quite funny. Peter Lorre is known for playing slimy henchmen, but here he’s a put-upon and very sympathetic sidekick. And it gives him a good opportunity to demonstrate his comedic timing.