The Phoenix Pastifico

This place is truly amazing- it’s a pasta shop in Berkeley which supplies pasta to the restaurants – they have about 50 kinds of pasta, flavors like “lemon-leek” and “rose petal” (made with real roses). You order your pasta, and they bring out the sheet, to be cut at whatever thickness you desire.
Web link of note: The Phoenix Pastifico

It Can’t Happen Here

Novel by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1935. It is a cautionary tale about the rise of fascism in the United States. During the presidential election of 1936, Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, observes with dismay that many of the people he knows support the candidacy of a fascist, Berzelius Windrip. When Windrip wins the election, he forcibly gains control of Congress and the Supreme Court, and, with the aid of his personal paramilitary storm troopers, turns the United States into a totalitarian state. Jessup opposes him, is captured, and escapes to Canada.

From a review by Charles Haberl:

Surprisingly, Sinclair Lewis’ darkly humorous tale of a fascist takeover in the US, “It Can’t Happen Here,” is not merely out-of-print, but also quite hard to find. As dated as it is (1935), its themes will be quite familiar to Americans today. It starts with the highly contested election of an oafish yet strangely charismatic president, who talks like a “reformer” but is really in the pocket of big business, who claims to be a home-spun “humanist,” while appealing to religious extremists, and who speaks of “liberating” women and minorities, as he gradually strips them of all their rights. One character, when describing him, says, “I can’t tell if he’s a crook or a religious fanatic.”

After he becomes elected, he puts the media – at that time, radio and newspapers – under the supervision of the military and slowly begins buying up or closing down media outlets. William Randolph Hearst, the Rupert Murdoch of his times, directs his newspapers to heap unqualified praise upon the president and his policies, and gradually comes to develop a special relationship with the government. The president, taking advantage of an economic crisis, strong-arms Congress into signing blank checks over to the military and passing stringent and possibly unconstitutional laws, e.g. punishing universities when they don’t permit military recruiting or are not vociferous enough in their approval of his policies. Eventually, he takes advantage of the crisis to convene military tribunals for civilians, and denounce all of his detractors as unpatriotic and possibly treasonous.

I’ll stop here, as I don’t want to ruin the story — I can imagine that you can see where all this is going.


Rilo Kiley

I like “Does He Love You” – it’s rare to hear a song these days that really tells a story.

Because of the shifting pronouns, it’s hard for me to nail down exactly what the situation is about- but it soon becomes clear, the frustration of the mistress, a married couple forming two legs of a love triangle.

Homewrecking bitch.
Web link of note: Rilo Kiley

Tibetan plates

Once when Diane and I were in Carmel, we went into an antique store which specialized in East Asian antiques.

Hanging on the wall was a sort of red quilt, which was like Tibetan or Nepalese, which was a holder for a bunch of metal oblong plates.
Each of the plates had writing on it.

I now have no idea what those plates are called or what they were.

They were not “normal” Tibetan books, nor the blocks with which to print them. These were large, flat, and thin, with script painted onto them in a very regular, precise style.

The little books (“PECHA”) are usually made from long, narrow pages, patterned after the long dried leaves used in ancient Indian books.

There are two canonical texts:

  • Kangyur – translated quotes from the Buddha- basically the equivalent of the Gospels
  • Tangyur – discourse on the Kangyur by Indian philosophers- sort of like the Talmud

I also have yet to decipher this phrase from Par-Shinu:

Every gompas had ‘‘Karchak’’ on ‘‘Neyik’’–guide took for pilgrims containing history and praised of the monastery.

These books were printed with wood blocks. Apparently the big printing monasteries were Narthang, Gangchi. Some monasteries (Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, Kadampa) printed in red, and one (Gyelukpa) used yellow-dyed paper. I don’t know what the significance of this is.

Two Tickets to Laurasia, Please

All of North America was once
supercontinent of
Laurasia, along with most of Europe and Asia.

The other supercontinent was called Gondwana, which would later become basically every other continent.

Recently I was looking down the list of the continents that once were

So I was thinking… suppose there were civilizations then. Would they get into a giant arms race? There were only two giant land masses. Maybe later in their development their peoples wouldn’t even know about each other, just as Europe didn’t know about African civilization or the vast Chinese or Indian empires.