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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr. by Gore Vidal

This article was published in Esquire Magazine in 1969. This is the year after the (in)famous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. When the police rioted during the convention, the press called it what it was. Much different than we've seen from the press in recent years.

Both Buckley and Vidal were active commentators in those days -- coming from very different perspectives. There is a lot of Trump in Buckley as recorded by Vidal in this article. The last bit really sums it up.

Since I began this operation with a story from The Lakeville Journal, a sense of symmetry impels me to end with another newspaper quotation. During Buckley's campaign for Mayor of New York, The New York Times took exception to his "slurs on Negroes," and accused him of pandering to "brutish instincts." Buckley wanted to know to what brutish instincts he was appealing and The Times made answer, "Those instincts are fear, ignorance, racial superiority, religious antagonism, contempt for the weak and afflicted, and hatred for those different from oneself."

The roots of Trumpism go back at least this far, but really much farther.

Rob Elshire

Agri-Tech Innovation Ecosystem Workshop

1 min read

I put this together for the first Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri Technology (Australian National University in Canberra) workshop a few years ago. There is a lot packed into this (even though the recording cut things short). This is one of my best pieces of integrative work.

Rob Elshire

“Toni Morrison Will Always Be with Us”: Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni & Sonia Sanchez Pay Tribute | Democracy Now!

Just about a year ago, I listened to this episode of Democracy Now. Toni Morrison was an amazing human being, truly amazing. This link will take to you to the video, audio, and transcript of that episode. Highly recommended.

One quote from a 2010 conversation between Toni Morrison and Angela Davis:

TONI MORRISON: The interesting thing is that they established these laws. And the laws were very, very interesting. They said things like any — no blacks shall be allowed to carry a weapon, ever, for any circumstances. OK. Second, any white can maim or kill any black for any reason, without being charged.

Now, you see what that did to the indentured servants who were white: Now they’re better, freer, more powerful. They’re in the same situation. They’re still enslaved. But they’re not — but they can carry weapons, and they can beat up black slaves without punishment. So they have this little margin of status, nothing else. Nothing else but that little margin.

And that little margin has worked its way through this country since then. That was in the 17th century. And you know the Southern strategy. You know all these things in which you flag race and racism as a cause or even a goal. And racism is not a goal. It’s a path. It’s just a route to power and money. That’s what it is. That’s what it’s for, whether it’s via war or segregation or what have you. The thing itself is just a manipulation and a tool. And its purpose is what I just described that went on after the Bacon Rebellion.

Racism didn't disappear with the Fourteenth Amendment. Nor did equality and justice reign across the land after the civil rights movement.

Another quote. This one from 1975:

TONI MORRISON: It’s important, therefore, to know who the real enemy is and to know the function, the very serious function, of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language, and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly, so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, and so you dredge that up.

None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing. The distraction is no different from bombing Cambodia to keep the North Vietnamese from making their great push. And since not history, not anthropology, not social scientists seem capable, in a strong and consistent way, to grapple with that problem, it may very well be left to the artists to do it.





Rob Elshire

A Database of 5,000 Historical Cookbooks Is Now Online, and You Can Help Improve It - Gastro Obscura

This is a wonderful article about how Barbara Ketcham Wheaton started a database of cooking history before there were computers. It includes Julia Child, specially coded cards and knitting needles. Eventually it became The Sifter.

See the database.

Rob Elshire


Via MetaFilter. Golly this is fun. One person's obsession for collection and restoration. Great old kit. Nevermind that it is a dude's museum of women's tools.


Rob Elshire

Chris Trotter looks at what happens when 'light-handed regulation' turns out to mean 'no regulation at all' |

Chucking this one in because it covers the way regulation has been (not) done in NZ. The history in the article is helpful to me.

Rob Elshire

'Please don't leave, we'll go bankrupt,' Universities in the UK and USA are desperate to retain Indian students

Same issues here in Aotearoa. So much so that the opposition (National Party) has proposed opening up the borders for international students and having the Universities manage quarantine. None of this is surprising to anyone who knows the history of higher education from the 80's onward. The grip of neoliberal economic policy and reform of higher education to become businesses is exactly how we got here. Decades of funding cuts and more middle managers has taken a major toll. Degree inflation and debt as requirements for employment have caused serious, long term harm to students. We do not need more of the same.

Rob Elshire

In the Wake of George Floyd’s Murder, the Image of Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Goes Viral Again | Vogue

Heartbreaking this SNAFU. The Vogue article below shows that America should be ashamed of itself.


Lebron James Instagram

Lebron James via Instagram

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

-- President John F. Kennedy


Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey from an NBC interview.

"What we've seen over the last two days ... is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness," he told reporters. "Anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years.”


Minneapolis riots after George Floyd's murder.

Minneapolis riots after George Floyd's murder by police officer.


Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

-- President Donald J. Trump via twitter


Trump offers gasoline as a solution. We know what to expect from his supporters. The ruling class benefits from pitting groups of people against one another. Social justice movements work for everyone. Black Lives Matter is a social justice movement. So is the Palestinian led BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement.

To the Christians who talk about what 'those people' should and should not do, maybe you could consider this:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

King James Bible Mathew 25:40


Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

King James Bible Galations 6:2

This person, with a clear understanding of what systemic oppression does , who for decades has put these words into action was my best hope for change in the United States.


Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders arrested while protesting housing discrimination.

Would that life in the US in 2020 reflected the words of the Rolling Stones.

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

Unfortunately, it is NWA's music that is appropriate, still.

Rob Elshire

'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?"

4 min read

The following is by Florida writer Adam-Troy Castro, shared by a friend on FB: 'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?" The serious answer: Here’s what we really think about Trump supporters - the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don't...

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought "Fine." That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, "Okay." That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, "No problem." That when he made up stories about seeing muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, "Not an issue." That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn't care, you chirped, "He sure knows me."

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, "That's cool!" That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw. That when you heard him brag that he doesn't read books, you said, "Well, who has time?" That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn't commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, "That makes sense." That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, "Yes!"

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man's coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, "What a great guy!" That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, "Thumbs up!" That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, "That's the way I want my President to be." That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they're supposed to be regulating and you have said, "What a genius!" That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, "That's smart!"

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, "That makes sense." That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, "falling in love" with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, "That's statesmanship!" That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas - he explains that they’re just “animals” - and you say, “well, ok then.”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise. What you don't get, Trump supporters in 2019, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it's also...hear me...charitable.

Because if you're NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.'

Rob Elshire