ITW Morning Edition (1/7): United States


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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71 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    In reagrds to three weeks of MREs, I say don’t do it. And I say this as someone who has eaten mostly MREs for as long as two weeks straight. I will spare you the reasons why.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    Gender shaming: “I’d take the $744 and buy an attractive escort and a photo shoot, then send some tasteful “thank you” cards to Diane for all of her support.” This idea needs work but has promise. I’d send photos of me doing the hot and heavy with the escort with my tanks for the ex wife paying for it. 🙂

    Otters: I don’t care if they hunt down children, rip their heads off and poop down their necks, they are cute, and baby otters are adorable. All hail our Lutrinae overlords of cuteness.!

    TSA? No, just a pissed off flight attendant.

    Gators? Dude that’s an opportunity for harvesting some gator tail. Yum!

    Cool Buildings? Jeebus, they suck. Thank god they are gone.

    MREs: I can concur with JR’s comments. 3 weeks. Err no.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    You and dhex are the only people I know that like brutalist architecture. For me, they really can’t get torn down fast enough (and the ironic thing in most attempts at preservation is that the buildings themselves were often a big part of ill conceived urban renewal projects, the very impetus behind historic preservation designations and codes)Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I think Hanley has an appreciation for the style as wellReport

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      I’m with you on this. The Morris Mechanic Theater is one of the buildings on that list. I hadn’t heard that they were tearing it down. I happened to drive by the site one day and saw a big hole in the ground. I thought it a great improvement. Worth noting that the Morris Mechanic hadn’t been actively used as a theater in over ten years, and had been winding down before then. It was too small for Broadway road productions. When the Hippodrome Theater a few blocks to the west was restored, the shows all went there. The Hippodrome was built a half century earlier and is both larger and an attractive building.

      What really mystifies me is brutalist churches. Really, how was the name “brutalism” not a clue?Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “What really mystifies me is brutalist churches.”

        seems perfectly sensible to me. plus they look bosso.

        what doesn’t make sense is terrible catholic churches built in the 70s. there’s one in bay ridge that is just absolutely delightful from a so bad it’s good perspective. they look like they were designed by the most stoned architects anyone could find.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Brutalist is only fun when it’s designed to withstand a siege (like the award winning library on U Pitt’s campus. No, it didn’t win the award for architecture).Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Do a Google Image Search for “university of wisconsin madison brutalism”.

      My Alma Mater has some winnersReport

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      I’m not entirely sure I know what brutalist architecture looks like, but if Google images gives a fairly accurate portrayal, I’ll join that club.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Imagine you are in a ’70s dystopian sci-fi film, and your name is something like “Worker P-929”, and you are being pursued by murderous police robots while klaxons blare.

        They look like that.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It’s about honesty in architecture.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          I’ve heard it argued over the years that various architecture and landscape features that are popular and have endured, are unconscious echoes of our pre-human natural habitats – that the columns of classical architecture and the vaulted ceilings of cathedrals hark back to tall trees and high overhead forest canopies; that our preference for grassy lawns may be a dim memory of a flat savanna, across which we can observe predators approaching.

          Seen in this light, Brutalist buildings are…what? The closest you might come is a large rock or a mountain; but even that seems all wrong, because the mountain cannot be climbed – all of its interesting features are hidden inside its blank faces, internal. And many Brutalist buildings appear, in seeming defiance of gravity and all we know naturally, larger at the top than the bottom.

          Is it any wonder that an upside-down, inside-out, massive stone mountain strikes most as “dishonest”; and more than that, “just plain wrong” somehow?Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            Brutalist buildings are…what?


          • Brutalist buildings are…what?

            The Roman Senate,Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Brutalist buildings resemble golems, giant mounds of stone ready to move at a moment’s notice. Do Not Anger Them.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:


            Brutalist architecture is symbolic of power. It doesn’t need to be made up to look nice and pretty. It doesn’t need to be beautiful. It helps that it looks almost a little intimidating. It’s good that it looks cold and impersonal. This aesthetic is inappropriate for many places of worship, but it’s perfect for government. That is where it is at peak honesty.

            Don’t like it? Screw you, we’re the government.

            It doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy? Guess what, we have a monopoly on violence.

            Is it disconcerting the way that it looks like it defies the law of gravity? Laws? We are the law.


        • Avatar Chris says:

          I don’t enjoy brutalism for the most part, but I am a big fan of most of its modernist antecedents.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Also concur on MREs, good in a pinch, but the only way I’m eating them for days on end is in an actual emergency.Report

  5. Avatar Glyph says:

    Confidential to Vikram’s Twitter Account: yes, unseasonably warm winters do in fact hurt clothing retailers, much the same as restaurants would suffer financially when dinner hour rolls around today if nobody is hungry for some reason. Fall is normally “Black Friday” (that is, a time of the year when they often make the bulk of their money, and they count on it) for clothing retailers, since it is the time when people realize they need hats/coats/gloves/sweaters/etc.

    Source: my wife’s businesses, which normally see October as a hugely-busy month and got killed this year, because everyone was still wearing shorts.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      The thing is, here in Maryland October is light jacket weather, unless you are going to be standing outside for hours at a time. Once the actual cold weather rolls around, a lot of the store is filled with Spring clothing. They seem to run on the assumption that people buy clothes in anticipation of the next season. This seems non-obvious to me.

      Ordinarily I am willing to assume that businesses know their own business, but I find much about clothing retail mystifying. I am a large guy, right at the upper end of the “normal” sizes. I routinely sift through the trousers on the shelf looking for my size, not because I necessarily need to buy trousers that day but because I can’t count on finding any when I do need them. If a new shipment has come in recently there will be one or two pairs in my size, but they will be snapped up quickly by my co-sizists and be long gone while stacks of smaller sizes linger on. It seems pretty obvious that the store would benefit from adjusting the mix of sizes, but there you go. If I need something fast, I buy it from an online merchant.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I don’t doubt other factors, like internet, and the economy, and competition are also partially responsible. But October is normally a great month for them (the best of the year), and they got totally slaughtered, and the consensus was that nobody was buying winter clothing, and one look out the window told you why.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      I’m not arguing it doesn’t hurt. I just think it’s unlikely in the case of Macy’s that the weather is wholly or even mostly responsible for their troubles. Macy’s has bigger issues irrespective of weather, most notably the long-term movement of sales away from indoor malls. The weather is a just a nice thing to cite as responsible since it can and will change.

      This isn’t thing that only Macy’s does. All public companies when they encounter bad quarters tend to emphasize external, transient factors rather than structural, long-term factors. (Yesterday, I also scolded Monsanto for blaming its collapsing sales on a “challenging agricultural environment”.)

      One might also ask: would Macy’s be cutting 4,500 jobs if management genuinely thought the only problem was the weather?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, if you are arguing that weather is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, then I agree. My wife’s businesses have been struggling for various reasons this year, some of which are the kinds of things that are perennial issues for small businesses and some of which are due to specific newer or changed conditions; but they were looking to October to do its usual thing.

        When it didn’t, they were struggling to pay payroll. They may have to let some people go. I don’t doubt that same issue scales up.Report

    • We enjoyed the heck out of how warm Florida was in mid-December, but most of the natives we met were complaining about the unseasonable weather.Report

  6. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    The gator link sends me to the story about Texas keeping Trump out of the White House.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Fixed. My favorite line from the actual article:

      “Most people would sneak out of town, but this guy filed a lawsuit to get the gators back,” novelist Carl Hiaasen told the Florida Bar in a 2003 talk. “Here’s the funny part. Twenty-three months later, it winds up in front of the 3rd District Court of Appeal, which rules directly, bluntly — and sanely, I might add — that there is no constitutional right to consort with prehistoric reptiles, either intimately or not intimately.”Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There was a man with a knife shot dead in front of a Paris police station this morning.

    He happened to have been wearing a device made to look like a suicide vest but it didn’t actually contain any explosives.

    I’ve not read any reports talking about whether the knife was fake as well.Report

  8. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    Was it an Assault, er, Tactical Knife?Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The lawyers just wanted to find the firm’s new associate, you got lost in the flood.Report

  10. Avatar Glyph says:

    If I’ve told this story I apologize, when you get old you repeat yourself a lot, but IMO people just don’t make enough use of the memo line on checks as a weapon. And now that we’ve gone electronic payment, we’ve lost the option.

    In college my two roommates and I maintained an intentionally-byzantine system of money movement and IOUs (both written and mentally-tracked) for rent, utilities and expenses amongst ourselves, ideally shifting your debts to avoid ever having to “pay back” (so if you owed roommate A eighty bucks, but B owed you eighty bucks, you’d tell B to just pay A, and leave you out of it).

    We would also put stupid things on the memo line of the checks we wrote each other. So that when you went to the bank to cash or deposit a check one of them had given you, you had to look at the teller as they read “For delightful reacharound“. (<–It's not really THAT obscene I don't think, but I blacked it out just in case).Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Heh. We did a similar thing.

      As Zazzy and I move through our proceedings, one condition of the separation is an agreement to not besmirch the other. Obviously, this would be very difficult to enforce — and we probably wouldn’t want to preclude the other from venting privately to confidants. However, it seems reasonable to give us protections from being bad mouthed about town… especially with kids in the picture.

      Something like this would seem to be actionable if their divorce had that same provision. I don’t think it is standard though.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        “one condition of the separation…”

        My respect for you (already quite high) just doubled. My divorce was quite chill, so I had no worries there, but I have seen so, so many others not do things like this to detrimental effect on kids.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Thanks, @aaron-david . In a way, the provision felt wholly unnecessary because it would never occur to me to engage in such a practice. And I would be genuinely shocked if Zazzy did as well. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to put some teeth behind that and to formally acknowledged that strong public faces are important for the boys and that we will (theoretically) hold one another accountable for that.

          Obviously, we are very early on a path that is both long and undetermined. Thus far, we have kept our heads about us and been able to collaborate well for the boys… arguably better than we did while still together. Things are funny that way sometimes. Time will tell how things end up — on any number of levels. But the boys are doing well. I’ll write more when I have more to say but know that your words carry great weight with me. Thank you.Report

  11. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    We would also put stupid things on the memo line of the checks we wrote each other.

    Did you not have ATMs?Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Good news.

    The trooper who arrested Sandra Bland got indicted for perjury.

    A step in the right direction (for a long jury).Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here is the headline:
    Missouri bill defines sex between lobbyists, lawmakers as a gift

    The article also mentions this part of the legislation, which answers your next questions:
    For purposes of subdivision (2) of this subsection, the term “gift” shall include sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons who entered into a relationship prior to the registration of the lobbyist, the election of the member to the general assembly, or the employment of the staff person shall not be reportable under this subdivision. The reporting of sexual relations for purposes of this subdivision shall not require a dollar valuation.

    But having those questions answered only inspires new ones.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Oh to be a fly on the wall when that section was drafted.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        You suspect there were a lot of meaningful pointed glances, raised eyebrows, and intentionally-long pauses there?

        Also, why is it I think that registered lobbyists will simply take to introducing lawmakers to their “friend”, who is NOT a registered lobbyist?Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I’m also guessing some “what have i done with my life???” thoughts mid way through drafting.

          Also with the publishing of this bill a new fetish has popped into existence; being a Registered Lobbyist will be the naughtiest taboo to break. Not a Registered Lobbyist slash fic is spontaneously popping up on the web. Not a Registered Lobbyist t shirts, condoms and teddys will be up tomorrow.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Relations between married persons … shall not be reportable under this subdivision.

      The codification of the infidelity loophole. “What are you talking about. Both of us ARE married!”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Yeah, it really seems that should be ‘between spouses’, not ‘between married people’. Oops. (Well, probably oops.)

        Also, ‘the election of the member to the general assembly’ has some loopholes in it also. It’s Missouri, I’m willing to bet there are many single party races. So all lobbyists have to do is start sleeping with someone once they have win their primary.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Question for those who work with FOIA at all: Can I request “anyone who has received a particular gift” or do I have to make multiple requests of individuals seeing if they’ve declared particular gifts?Report

  14. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    In the article about Brutalist Architecture, calling it “ugly” was termed “anti-intellectual charge”.

    This sentiment encapsulates for me, so much of why the small-m modern architectural world has lost contact and relevancy with the public.

    Its of a piece with Mark Twain’s quip about how Wagner’s music was “better than it sounds”. Its premised on the virgin/ whore concept that meaning and profundity are apposite beauty and delight.

    A work of art can appeal to sensual joy, or intellectual rigor, but never both.

    The idea here is that the author acknowledges that yes, everyone thinks Brutalist buildings are horrifically ugly, but really, they are better than they look, and we should stifle our impulse to turn our eyes in disgust, and face the stern work of enlightening ourselves.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      There’s perhaps a parallel to Chris’ Kendrick Lamar piece here, in which some people questioned whether Lamar’s album is more “important” than “enjoyable”.

      That said, there’s certainly a place for the “ugly” in art; I have in the past argued for an album like The Flaming Lips’ The Terror, which is as bleak and unsettling an experience as that title sounds, and yet a singular and human one.

      Maybe the difference is that you can put a record away, and only pull it out when you are ready to hear it.

      A Brutalist building just sits there looming over you, all day, every day.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        In a discussion a while back about art, Saul DeGraw asserted that the removal of Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc” showed that people lacked an artistic appreciation for such sculptures.

        I countered that the people demanding the removal of “Tilted Arc” did have such an appreciation–and that’s why then wanted the sculpture removed from their workplace.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          The more I think about it, the more I think there might be an argument for buildings and large public sculptures to try to be, maybe, a little more “conservative” in their artistic appeal – that is, things which a lot of people find “ugly” or “unsettling” maybe aren’t the best choices for large, expensive, immobile pieces that cannot be easily-avoided.

          I might think that Taxi Driver is an excellent piece of art and more people should be encouraged to see it; but it’s also “ugly” enough, that I probably shouldn’t run it on the Times Square Jumbotrons 24/7.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        What I love about art is that it is resistant to capture by scholasticism.

        That is, it strikes us in a non-rational way that we can’t really express or categorize. Two pieces that are closely similar in style can be remarkably different in how they appeal to us; Like how Pandora offers suggestions that it is sure we will like, and really we should by all rational logic, yet the suggested piece hits our ears as awful.

        Which is why when people ask me about a work of architecture, and then wait eagerly for me to give them the Official Verdict, I usually just tell them to trust their own eyes- does it look beautiful to you or not?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        “Ugly” or “grotesque”? Brutalism isn’t grotesque. It’s just… brutal. Squat in appearance, even when tall, and unsubtle and rarely even making a bid for “graceful.”

        Recall, though, that the hallmark is exposed exterior concrete, not necessarily the blocks of repetitive right angles realizing the idle Euclidian doodles of a bored civil engineer, the needlessly unwelcoming cantilevered inverted-ziggurat platforms and callbacks to Soviet aesthetics. It seems that ought to be possible to use buildings that have exposed concrete elements to be beautiful.

        But that turns out to be pretty rare in reality.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I’m betting @chip-daniels can back me up on this, but we can do some amazingly beautiful things with concrete these days, so having exposed concrete elements does not have to be brutal. It can be elegant & flowing, it just takes some creativity & work.

          IIRC part of the tone (for lack of a better word) or brutalism was representative of the state of the art in concrete construction techniques.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Agreed, that there is no such thing as an ugly material, only one used in ugly ways.

            Better writers than I have cataloged the ways in which Brutalist buildings were ugly, but the chief one that they were never intended to be beautiful in appearance. Beauty was held by most modernists as a suspect and superficial quality.Report

  15. Avatar Kazzy says:

    The building in the main picture there — the Orange County government building in Goshen — is truly awful. I had to report for jury duty there. It reminds me of Government Center in Boston only worse.Report