Open Thread for Tuesday, March 7, 2017


I’m really busy today and will be here at work for quite awhile more, but I wanted to give y’all something else to ruminate over (not that I’m saying y’all are actual ruminants or anything):

  1. WikiLeaks Files Describe C.I.A. Tools to Break Into Phones — And why are they doing this? Well, because they hate the United States of America and wish to weaken it as much as possible. No indication of Russian involvement on this yet (that I’ve seen), but they have to be happy to get their hands on this material.
  2. Republican ‘Trumpcare’ plan battered by politicians on both left and right — In fact, the question arises: Is there anyone out there who actually likes this thing?
  3. SC House passes moped bill — I didn’t even know there was such a bill out there. Anyway, it’s apparently been watered down to where it just offers some minimal safety rules and administration regulation.
  4. Six of Trump’s tweets this morning seemed to respond directly to what was happening on ‘Fox & Friends’ — So basically, over a period of two hours, he was watching this and responding to it. We need to get this guy a job or something…
  5. Former MI6 agent behind Trump dossier returns to work — Actually, I think Christopher Steele is a former intelligence officer, not an “agent” or “asset” or “joe” or whatever you choose to call the people whom intelligence officers go out and recruit to provide humint. The Guardian should know better. But far more exciting than this news is the following…
  6. George Smiley will soon be back! — Coming in September! So I’m pretty pumped. Technically, an elderly Peter Guillam seems to be the protagonist, which indicates present-day, which means George is probably no longer among us (he’d be close to 100 if he were). But he’s bound to appear in flashbacks. If only he could be with us in the flesh, in the West’s dark crisis of faith…
Alex Guinness as George Smiley.

Alex Guinness as George Smiley.

8 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, March 7, 2017

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I hope the Le Carre book will be like his early stuff, since he’s going back to mine that material.

    I’ve become pretty jaded with his more recent novels which always have the same heavy-handed “surprise” ending: The Americans are the bad guys! Again!

    I miss the Cold War moral ambiguity of the Smiley books. George was always fighting for the West, but he was pretty conflicted about the details of what he had to do. Some of his recent stuff seems like it was written by Julian Assange…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I’ve taken that before, and usually get 100 percent, or close to it.

      But this time, I missed one of the 10! That’s because of the fact that for my entire life, I’ve had a mental block about the number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. I don’t know WHY, but that number has always refused to stick in my head. Possibly because it’s so random. It’s not like, you know, 100. I know what the first numeral is, but the other two elude me.

      Seriously, what mnemonic device can be used to recall that number?

      And if I take it again a week from now, I’ll probably miss it again.

      For me, and possibly only for me, it’s a fargin’ trick question!

  2. Phillip

    Easy way to remember it: think of that website where one can play with the electoral map and envision various outcomes of the presidential elections. The name of course refers to the fact that it takes 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency, and another way to remember is just to remember the number 269 which is the “tie scenario” in the Electoral College. That tells you that there are 538 electoral votes at stake in each presidential election.

    Subtract 100 from 538 (for the senatorial representation) and you get 438. Then, note that District of Columbia, under the 23rd Amendment, gets three electoral votes, even though it does NOT have a voting representative in the House. Therefore, subtract 3 more from 438, and you have 435 voting members of the House of Representatives.

    Or you could just remember the number 435. :-)

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah… that’s not really an easy way…

      As for remembering the number, which should be easy… this is kind of like the problem I have with remembering some people’s names.

      I don’t know what causes the block, but it’s there. Right now, I’m thinking of an example — a person I worked with at The State for more than 20 years off and on, and whom I supervised for about a dozen years. And, I’ll add, a good friend. But I was always struggling to come up with that person’s name. I successfully covered it, and was never found out. I’d be saying something, and be about to mention that person, and I’d see the shoals coming, and change around what I was about to say so as to edit out the part where the name would occur.

      I can remember the name of every member of The Dirty Dozen (in the book, not the movie), but I could only on occasion immediately call the name of someone I worked with every day.

      It’s bizarre…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Maybe if we changed the name from “U.S. House of Representatives” to “the Dirty 435,” I’d remember it.

        Actually, I could see that catching on, considering the esteem in which that body is held. Maybe I’ll start it on the blog…


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