rolled bark and autumn leaves wallpaper, mencken master of the all american rant, the bmw isetta

fall leaves

rolled bark and autumn leaves wallpaper

I can’t defend H. L. Mencken’s racism, misogynistic tendencies or antisemitism( even though he had close Jewish friends). In between his glaring faults he was a champion of the common man, a promoter of essential Americanism. He embraced American arts and letters and with few exceptions thought American writers and artists should be about – among other things – examining and celebrating the uniqueness of the American experience. he was a walking proto-PBS series without the cathode ray tube. It may not seem that way on reading one of his rants, but those rants were frequently about Americans straying off course, H. L. Mencken
PREJUDICES, The complete series, Edited by Marion Rogers

Henry Louis Mencken regarded the monkeyshines and idiocies of Americans with both wonder and gratitude:

“Here, more than anywhere else that I know of or have heard of, the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly – the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat-slittings, of theological buffooneries, or aesthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villainies, imbecilities, grotesqueries, and extravagances – is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage, so steadily enriched with an almost fabulous daring and originality, that only the man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night, and to awake every morning with all the eager, unflagging expectation of a Sunday-school superintendent touring the Paris peep-shows.”

Throughout his Prejudices Mencken mingles literary appreciation with political broadside and occasional persiflage, but, in general, the early volumes tend to emphasize the man of letters. As a critic, Mencken preferred down-and-dirty social realism in his fiction. He championed Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis and James T. Farrell, and he never failed to lambast the least sign of preachiness, “uplift” or didacticism.

I’m not sure where the epitaph likes to hear the sound of his own voice originated, if not to describe Mencken than someone of similarly equipped ego. The great thing about books is we can take in as much egotism and insight as our daily allowance permits than put them back on the shelf for another day.

BMW Isetta 300 Cabriolet 1956–67

The Isetta was one of post WW II Europe answer to austerity. Originally an Italian car it was licensed to several Euro auto makes including BMW. Portending its future attitude about how cars should be built BMW redesigned the engine and drive train to the point that all the parts except the basic body were not compatible with any other Isettas. The first original production run had a motorcycle engine which had a top speed – seldom actually achieved in day-to-day driving with a passenger – of 45mph. Notice the lack of a door handle. The entire front of the vehicle opened up for occupants to enter onto a small bench seat with a parcel shelf in the back.

Isetta interior – photo via “Baseball Bugs” and Wikipedia commons. The Isetta interior from an outside perspective here.

There was a rumor BMW was going to revive the Isetta badge with a contemporary version – BMW microcar to revive legendary badge, with petrol, diesel and electric power. Nice photo at the link. Looks like a hotter VW Beetle.

Doctor Who sonic screwdriver could become real device

Professor Bruce Drinkwater, an ultrasonics engineer at the University of Bristol, said: “We have developed a device that allows us to use ultrasonic forces to move small objects like biological cells around to sort them or to assemble them.

“We are using quite low forces to do this because we don’t want to damage the objects we are moving, but the technology is definitely real and there is potential to turn it into something like Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver.

“If we can increase the ultrasonic force and create a rotational force, then we could potentially undo screws. Essentially what you are doing is using the ultrasonic sound wave to twirl the air around to create an miniature tornado.”

If you have a really big hard kidney stone they can use ultrasound to break it up into small grains which can than be passed via the urinary tract. So devices which can shatter stones and create small tornadoes in the hands of anyone with the cash to buy one gives me pause for some reason.


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