Tag Archives: jokes

math jokes and cartoons

uo3wgcxeParallel lines have so much in common.

It’s a shame they never get to meet.



sometimes education is the removal of false notions.

sometimes education is the removal of false notions.

pi therapy

pi therapy

Robert E. Buxbaum, January 4, 2017. Aside from the beauty of math itself, I’ve previously noted that, if your child is interested in science, the best route for development is math. I’ve also noted that Einstein did not fail at math, and that calculus is taught wrong, and probably is.

Thinking the unthinkable

Do you know how you go about thinking the unthinkable?


With an ithberg, of course.


Robert Buxbaum. April 12, 2016. I thought it was time for another “dad joke.” Besides, the Titanic sank on April 14th. I spend a fair about of time thinking the unthinkable. On a vaguely similar note:

After Boris died, everyone gathered at his funeral.

The minister started to speak: “He was a model husband, a decent man, a terrific father..”

The widow then makes a motion for her son to come to her.

“What is it mother?” he whispers.

“Dear, go check the casket, I think we’re at the wrong funeral…”

Stories of Jewish charity

Before Passover this year, an individual went to the rabbi of our town for a private meeting to tell him about the problems facing various people. He said, there was one particularly pathetic case where a family could lose their house. They had borrowed $5000 from a particularly nasty lender who would throw them out in the cold if they didn’t pay up soon.

Our rabbi was touched, and said he would do what he could to raise the sum. He would even contribute $100 of his own. As the fellow left, he had just one question, ‘How do you come to know this is going on? Are you a relative, or particularly close friend?” “No,” said the guest, “I’m the lender.”


Another story of Jewish charity: a neighbor of ours takes incredible care of her husband, She spends quite a lot, regularly to get his nails done professionally. She says it’s worth it to know that his coffin is secure.

Finally, I must admit that I’d wanted to marry my ex-wife, who I had divorced previously — sort of an act of kindness. But she would have none of it. My ex said I was only marrying her for my money.

Robert E. Buxbaum. October 23, 2015

Chinese jokes

At college, my chinese room-mate wanted to make a surprise birthday dinner for his girlfriend.

….. But someone let the cat out of the bag.


Then there was the fellow who broke into the Fortune Cookie Factory with a hammer and broke virtually all the fortune cookies — as many as he could find — in an act of wonton destruction.


And finally,


I don’t believe racial jokes are evil, but suppose it all comes down on your idea of good humor. Comedy always involves odd people, or people doing things differently. The difference doesn’t have to be insulting, just different, and all good jokes provide some new insight.

Robert E. Buxbaum, October 29, 2015. Every now and again I post jokes– and then I analyze them to death (it’s funny because ….). Recent ones include an Italian Funeral joke, a fetish lawyer joke, and things on, engineers, dentists, piratessurrealism. Just click the “jokes” tab at right for the whole, unsightly assortment.

Einstein’s fuzzy slippers — and a fetish lawyer joke

First, the joke about the fetishistic lawyer: He got off on a technicality.

It’s funny because  ….  it’s a double entendre, a multi-word, sexual homophone (no insult  to the homophone community). It also relates to a fact as true and significant as any in life. What a person considers enjoyable, fun (or not) depends mostly on what’s in his mind. Whether judging sexy or scary; pleasant or disagreeable, it has relatively little to do with a physical reality, and is mostly in the imagination of the person. As a result, the happiest people seem to be those who embrace their inner weirdness. They try to find jobs that they are good at, that allow them to take perverse pleasure in their own weird way within the bounds of a civil society.

Take pleasure in your own weirdness.

Einstein in fuzzy slippers outside of his Princeton home; take pleasure in your own weirdness.

Einstein, at left, seems to have enjoyed doing physics, playing the violin, and wearing odd clothes: sweaters, and these (pink) fuzzy slippers. the odd clothes didn’t detract from his physics, and may have even helped him think. Boris Spassky (the Russian chess champion) was asked which he preferred: sex or chess, he said: “it very much depends on the position.” Do what you like, and like what you do. As the old joke goes, “I don’t suffer from insanity: I enjoy every moment.”

Robert Buxbaum. April 1, 2014; I mostly blog about science and hydrogen, but sometimes, like here, about personal relations, or last week economics (dismal). Here’s a thermodynamic look at life. And a picture of an odd sculpture I made. I take my own advice, by the way: this blog doesn’t get me any money but it’s fun, and maybe I’ll help some day — e.g. maybe it’ll spark my creativity. Here’s a bit about Einstein’s mustache, and the universe being curved in.

Climate change, and the metaphysical basis of humor

It’s funny because ….. it’s metaphysical, it deals with what’s real and relevant, and what’s secondary and transient– an aspect as fundamental as it is funny. We claim we understand the real, but realize (down deep) that we don’t. A classic of old-time comedy is the clever slave, the sympathetic stooges, of the brave coward, or the most common version– the stupid person who does clever things at the right moment. A typical comic structure is to establish, early on, that this person is stupid (as well as being low, and crooked); he may say some stupid, low things, so we accept it as so, or perhaps someone in authority tells us, as in “Puddin’head Wilson”. But as the story progresses, we see the person do something clever, or show loyalty and bravery. The viewer begins to laugh because he knows that reality is sort-of this way, though our minds must keep people pigeonholed. The reader already knows, perhaps from other comedies, that the slave will turn out to be the hero, the stupid one will one-up the smart and the chicken will save the day– somehow.

Ward Sullivan in the New Yorker

Ward Sullivan in the New Yorker. It’s unsettling when you don’t know if this is a new reality or a passing phase.

In life, we grab on to the patters we see because the alternative, chaos, is worse. All winters are cold, but will this winter be longer or shorter than normal; perhaps the groundhog knows, or perhaps the president of the US knows? We’ve learned to ignore the groundhog, but trust the president. Once we accept, from authority, that winters are getting warmer, we resist any effort to think we may be wrong, or that the pattern of the past may have changed; uncertainty seems worse. But we laugh at comedy, and occasionally get mad. How much evidence before one accepts that the temporary is permanent, or that ones original assessment was flawed? In comedy there’s always a stuffed-shirt character who tries to show off and gets hurt, perhaps by a pie in the face. Then it happens again, and again. The injuries and slow acceptance of the new reality create the humor. A common ending is to discover that the clever slave is a half-nobleman, perhaps the son of the stuffed-shirt, and the crowd goes home happy, with someone new we can trust.

With global warming and climate change, I see the same comedy being played out, and I expect it to reach the same, happy ending. For 20-30 years, till about 1998, there were a string warming winters; as a result we come to believe things will keep getting warmer. Then the president says we have to stop it, and laws are passed but not implemented; Al Gore gets a nobel prize for his efforts to stop global warming; the computer experts predict global disaster if we don’t change by 2005. The studies predict 4-6°C warming per century warming with massive flooding; we make new laws and point to shrinking of Himalayan glaciers, shrinking polar ice, and the lack of snow on Kilimanjaro — all justifications for the need to act fast and sacrifice for the future, and the warming stops. So far it’s been 16 years and no warming, the snow’s comes back to Kilimanjaro, and the seas have not risen. A few scientists start saying there may be a problem with the models, and the president gets mad about the headless chicken skeptics.

The US is then/now hit with the coldest temperatures since the early 1900s, with as much snow as 1904, but it’s never clear if this is a fluke or the new normal reality. Has the real pattern of warming changed, or maybe it never was. Kilimanjaro’s still snow-capped, the glaciers have returned to the Himalayas, and the antarctic ice swells to record size. The US sees a year with no major hurricanes.  We can laugh, but there’s no laughter from the President of The US, or the Prince of England or any who solemnly predicted disaster. Like the stuffed shirts in a comedy, they double down, and roar at the deniers; “They’re pawns of the lobbyists.” And I suspect the resolution will be that some climate denier will be crowned as the new expert, and we’ll go on to worry about a new disaster.

For what it’s worth, the weather seems to be chaotic (Chaos is funny); we appear to have been seeing part of a cycle that has an up-period and a down period. Something like that is shown by the 100 year plot of temperature data from Charlotte Carolina shown below.

Charlotte SC average temperatures over the last century.

Charlotte SC average temperatures over the last century. Perhaps the recent warming is part of a cycle. Is it clear there has been a change in climate. If so, where does the change start?

Robert E. Buxbaum, March 9, 2014. Surrealism is funny because it taps into the ridiculousness of life. Metaphysics humor is behind a statistics joke, an architecture cartoon, and my zen joke.  Physics is funny too.

When to enter a neighbors war or family dispute

As I write this, our favored insurgents in Syria have been over-run by our disfavored insurgents, who may be over-run by the government we are trying to topple. We have also committed to help Japan and Vietnam in their disputes with China. I’ve also had the experience of dealing with a couple going through a bitter divorce. So here are five thoughts for myself and president Obama on getting involved in other people’s problems. I’ll hope that at least one person (me) listens.

1. Learn how to wait without committing to either side so you don’t step in something really smelly. Commiserate with both sides; yes you have grievances, yes what they’ve done isn’t nice. Suggest outside review. Just don’t commit until you feel comfortable sticking with this one side in victory, defeat, or (possible) reconciliation.

In a war, even simple gifts of food or transport are support; avoid these gifts, and especially avoid gifts to both sides. Assume any support to a side will be considered treason from the other side. Supporting both sides just causes havoc, and it’s always possible that your gifts will fall in the hands of the wrong side, as in Syria.

Being helpful isn't always helpful. Matthew Deffee, The New Yorker

Being helpful isn’t always helpful, or appreciated. Learn to wait. Matthew Deffee, The New Yorker

Remind yourself that disputes are a normal part of life, that peace always comes eventually, and that disputes are sometimes good in the long run. Offer sympathy only until you really want to support one side or the other — or until they make peace. When peace comes, it’s possible that the resolution will be better than the status quo-anti. As such, perhaps long-term non-intervention is the best cure. Time often answers what wisdom does not.

2.  If you choose to support a side, only support one that openly, and traditionally supports us. No Syrian leaders have openly pledged support to the US and its allies; why ally with someone who won’t support you? The enemy of your enemy might be another enemy, as with the Taliban. In a marriage dispute, lean to support your close relative or friend — it’s less offensive than the opposite, and less likely to cause hurt. As bad as it is when two sides attack each other, it’s worse when both attack you.

Only support someone who could rule reasonably honestly and well. Chaos is worse than a dictator. Kanin from the New Yorker.

Only support someone who could rule reasonably well. Chaos is worse than a dictator. Kanin from the New Yorker.

3. If you feel it’s important to act in a neighbor’s dispute, you don’t always have to ally with either side. You can retaliate for someone blowing up a ship or killing an advisor, or beating their children by intervening at a distance. Perhaps you can use a missile (ideally against a pointless target), or sanctions, or by the UN or a volunteer force (this tends to work for the US). In family disputes, it’s often best to send a councilor or the police or child protective services. There is room to escalate or de-escalate an action like this depending on how things play out. And it’s easier to distance yourself from a 3rd party’s actions than from one’s own. It is not necessary to support either side to achieve a personal goal or protect children in a divorce.

4.  If you decide to choose sides, make sure to keep in mind the end you seek: what good you want to do, what reasonable peace you seek, then act. Do not worry that you can not do everything, but make sure you target a viable end, and that you support a side that could win and rule. Try to pick a side that’s moral and perceived as legitimate from within, but if you can’t, at least pick one that could rule the country or manage the family without your help. Don’t support a loser, or one who can’t stand on his/her own. Chaos is worse than a crooked dictator; see, for example, the French Revolution. In a fight between parents, make sure the one you support could actually raise the kids. And once the goal is achieved, don’t stay too long. If a friend tells you to go, as in Afghanistan, leave quickly. Independence is the goal we hope for — for our children, our friends, and our neighbors.

Being a fair broker of peace is a great role -- in the proper time. From the New Yorker

Being a fair broker of peace is a great role — but only for the right person in the proper time. From the New Yorker

5. Be willing to serve as an honest broker of the peace. An honest broker is very valuable, and it requires that you’re perceived as unbiassed by both sides. Wait till the right moment before offering this service, and offer it like the precious jewel it is. Offer it when asked or when the fighting dies down. If the offer is refused, be willing to go away and return to the first rule. T. Roosevelt won the Nobel peace prize for ending the Russo-Japanese war because he was a good, honest broker: someone who understood the situation and could stand back when not needed.

Robert E. Buxbaum, Dec 18, 2013. Blessed are the peacemakers. 

Masculinist history of the modern world, pt. 2: WWII mustaches

Continuing my, somewhat tongue in cheek, Masculinist history, part 1: beards, I thought I’d move on to mustache history, centering on WWII. I see the conflict as big mustaches vs little mustaches leading to a peace of no face hair at all. First consider that, at the start of the war, virtually all the leaders had mustaches, with similar mustached men allied. Consider that Hitler was weird and hi’s mustache was weird, and that, within a few years of peace, virtually no major leader had a hairy lip. Why?

Let me begin by speculating that the mustache is worn by the man who wishes to be seen as manly, but who also wants to appear civilized. The message of the mustache, then: I’m a leader of great vision within a civilized society. Thus visionaries like Albert Einstein, Duke Ellington, S. Dali, and T. Roosevelt, all decided to grow mustaches. The mustache may not make men into champions of a new vision, but a man with the will to champion something new will tend to wear a mustache. It is thus no surprise that a world war would begin when all the world leaders had mustaches, or why a crazy person like Hitler would wear a crazy mustache, but why is it that so few world leaders have been mustached since. Where have all the mustaches gone? Read onward.

Emperor Akihito, center, had to open Japan; Emperor Meiji, upper right, a wild beard and terror who defeated China and Russia; Emperor Hirohito, bottom left, crafty mustache. Caveat Emperor. Tojo, bottom right, the man to lead the fight and pay the price.

Emperor Akihito, upper left was induced to open Japan; Emperor Meiji, upper right, defeated China and Russia; WWII Emperor Hirohito, bottom left; General Tojo, bottom right, the man to take the fall. Caveat Emperor.

As WWII begins with the Japanese, lets look at the face hair on several Japanese  emperors’ faces. At the upper left, Mikado (Emperor) Akihito. He had no vision, drive or mustache, and was induced to open Japan to the west in 1854 in response to his advisors and Admiral Perry who sailed 4 black warships into Tokyo harbor. His successor, Emperor Meiji (upper right, bearded) won wars against China and Russia in the late 1800s (see the significance of warlike beards). Emperor Hirohito, bottom left, wore the mustache and authorized the beginning of WWII including the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the rape of Nanking. His associate, General Tojo, bottom right, also mustached lead the actual deeds and took the blame. Akihito looks feminine and unhappy, as one might understand. Meiji looks like a holy terror; and both Hirohito and his general wear mustaches trimmed in the British style. My interpretation: their goal was to build a sea-land empire based on the British model.

After Emperor Meiji defeated China and Russia, his obvious next step should have been to attack the USA, but Meiji did not. Large-mustachioed, US President, Th. Roosevelt noticed the danger and used his “talk softly and carry a big stick” deterrent. He was a man of civilization and sent a “peace delegation” of white-pained warships to Tokyo Harbor. They were painted white for peace, and to differentiate the modern, civilized Roosevelt from President Tyler of the Black warships. The message seems to have gotten through to Meiji, and we had no more trouble from him, nor from his son (no face hair). But Meiji’s grandson, Hirohito joined with Tojo, and realized that all Americans were not like Th. Roosevelt. He ceased the opportunity of American isolationism and tried to get the job done as his grandfather would have wanted. They figured, correctly, that we didn’t want war, and incorrectly, that we would give up in the face of a single military victory. Hirohito had studied in England and admired the British empire. Seeing the power of bearded George V, he came to believe that a small, but unified island nation could take and hold a mighty empire so long as the nation was strong enough and understood modern organizational management. Surely it was time Japan made its empire by taking Hong Kong from England, Vietnam from France, The Philippines from the US, and (most importantly) Malaysia from the Dutch (Malaysia had oil). What’s the worst that could happen?

Hirohito built a world-power army and navy, and invaded China successfully. He fought Chiang Kai Shek (trimmed, British mustache; he was a modernizer himself). Meanwhile, for 15 years the Japanese military developed for empire. The military college planned an attack on Pearl Harbor based on careful organization and management. When carried out Dec. 7, 1941, the attack was brilliantly successful. The next day, Dec 8-9, the same “zero” planes that had hit Hawaii, helped destroy both the British navy near Hong Kong and the US airbase in the Philippines. We never even thought to prepare as we didn’t think the Japanese were organized or advance enough. The Mitsubishi “zero” was an advanced version of a Fiat design (see my piece on Fiat’s latest). As with other Fiat products, it was small, fast, maneuverable, efficient, and unreliable.

Now look at the European leaders, axis and allies, below. In the late 1930s, all sport mustaches except for Mussolini. This might suggest a world ripe for war that would benefit Mussolini: everyone’s vision can’t come to be, and most everyone might want to ally with a feminine peace-nick. At first, that’s what happened: modern military mustached Franco took over Spain from the old-fashioned, up-mustached king of Spain and his incompetent government. Mussolini was a passive ally. Big mustached Stalin took over the Baltic countries; Mussolini was his national-socialist friend. Half-mustache Hitler then allied with Mussolini and armed the Rhineland. This scares old-fashioned mustached Giraud (France) and British Chamberlain into giving him eastern Czechoslovakia. Mussolini looks on. Chamberlain comes to believe that he has achieved peace in our time, but he has not. Now, the big mustached king of Italy, Victor Emanuel chooses no-mustache Mussolini to restore Italian unity. Mussolini goes to war and takes Libya on his second try. He almost takes Greece too. Useless, clean-shaven, general Badoglio resigns. These conquests do not lead to world war or condemnation of Italy (or Germany, or Russia) The mustachioed socialists of France, Poland, England and the US have quite a lot in common with the national socialists of Germany and Italy. We hold, like they do, that the state must make the jobs if it is to pull out of the depression, and that the state must be strong, pure, and united — something best achieved by socialism and keeping immigrants out. The theme of the New York Word’s Fair in 1939 is Peace through Progress, a theme of unrealistic optimism. For now, though, the US is neutral, and all the nations have exhibitions in NY.

War of the mustache men. Top row: axis leaders at the beginning of WWII; l-r: Hitler, Franco (Spain), King Victor Emanuel and Mussolini (Italy), and Stalin (Russia, an early ally of Hitler). Bottom row: allied leaders, l-r; King Alfonso (Spain); Chang Kai Shek (China), François Lebrun (France), Ignazy Moscicki (Poland); N. Chamberlain (UK). All are mustached except Mussolini.

Top row: axis leaders at the beginning of WWII; l-r: Hitler, Franco (Spain), King Victor Emanuel and Mussolini (Italy), and Stalin Bottom row: allied leaders, l-r; King Alfonso (Spain); Chiang Kai Shek (China), François Lebrun (France), Ignazy Moscicki (Poland); N. Chamberlain (UK). All are mustached except Mussolini.

But peace isn’t in the cards as one could tell by the mustaches. Big mustache Stalin hatches a secret pact with small-mustache Hitler. They invade Poland together in September 1939. The mustache of the masses and the mustache of the pure race join to destroy Poland in a week. Because of treaties, England and France are now at war too, but they do nothing till May 1940. Not understanding that mustaches must war, they assume no war exists. This changes when Hitler sweeps his armies through Belgium and into Paris. England rejects the mustached enemies, and elects clean-shaved Winston Churchill, a Labor liberal turned Conservative. He sports a big-stick policy and wears a big-stick cigar. His cigar is like a flaming mustache, but far more mobile.

Churchill’s policies are just as mobile as his mustache. He confidently tells the masses, “We will fight them on the beaches.” And confidently tells the elites: “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s Champaign.” A cigar, unlike a mustache, can be warlike of peaceful: in your face or out depending on the group. A Republican with at cigar is a diplomat, not a dogmatist.

Churchill finds an ally in clean-shaven, cigarette holder, segregationist FDR. “Meeting FDR is like opening your first bottle of Champaign,” says Churchill, “Getting to know him is like drinking it.” The two english-speaking countries share a special relationship and similar smoking preferences. FDR, still vowing neutrality, lends England ships tanks, and money, but sends no troupes except volunteers (the Lafayette squadron). With this diplomatic, middle road in place, FDR handily defeats the shaven, cigarette smoking, war-monger, Wendell Wilkie in the 1940 election (Wilkie used to be a Democrat). The Free French take to small mustache, Charles De Gaulle, in preference to the larger mustache, Philippe Petain, or the similarly mustached Edourd Deladier and Maurice Gamelin.

De Gaulle and Churchill do not get along. De Gaulle (small mustache) wants action. He becomes the liberation of French Africa. Meanwhile, Churchill talks war, but only to defend “this rock, this England.” De Gaulle describes the differences this way:  “I get angry when I’m right, and Churchill gets angry when he’s wrong; therefore we are angry at each other quite a lot.” Churchill claims that “going to war without the French is like going hunting without your bagpipe.”

Roosevelt has much in common with Churchill as might be guessed from the lack of face hair and the similar smoking choices. The two major clean-shaven leaders meet and pray together abroad the HMS Prince of Wales in August 1941. Roosevelt meets too and gets along with Mrs. Chiang Kai Shek (no face hair, needless to say). He sends Madame Chiang a less-than-well funded, volunteer force, The American Volunteer Group, otherwise known as The Flying Tigers. This group is given 99 obsolete planes that the French had ordered, and is put under the command of Claire Chennault, a mustached WWI flier, and self-appointed colonel. Chennault recruits the drunken dregs of the US army air corps with the promise of $500 per Japanese plane. In the few months before WWII, The Flying Tigers destroy nearly 200 Japanese planes while heavily outnumbered and out gunned. Most of the flyers are mustached. Ad-hoc Volunteer forces seem to work for the USA: T. Roosevelt had success as a self-appointed Lt. Colonel 40 years earlier. Eventually, The flying Tigers are re-absorbed into the Army Air Corps; Chennault and his Tigers take a shave and join the regulars.

Meanwhile, mustached, long haired, Albert Einstein (a visionary if ever there was one) comes to understand the potential of the atom bomb. While most of the world still believes that matter and energy and independent entities, Einstein realizes that even a small amount of mass converted to energy can destroy a city. Speaking of science and art, he says, “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by individuals who labor in freedom.” Within 5 years, his visionary ideas will help end the war, and few scientists will sport face hair or labor in freedom. Einstein encourages FDR to build the A-bomb. FDR spends $3 billion ($70B in 2013 dollars) under the management of visionary, mustachioed General Leslie Groves. The best physicists and engineers of the US and Europe join together to build the device Einstein described; it’s the A Bomb built by the A Team.

Meanwhile back in Europe, weird mustached, Hitler attacks his ally Stalin and despite massive deaths seems to be winning (c.f. Napoleon, 140 years earlier). Stalin joins the shaven allies (for now) against Germany, and immediately sets to steal the secret of the A Bomb. Churchill doesn’t trust him, a good call since Stalin is still allied with the mustached Mikado of Japan in the East against Britain. And then the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941, and everything changes. On December 8 Congress declares war on Japan, and Hitler declares war on us (perhaps the stupidest move of the 20th century). Churchill says he had the first good night’s sleep in years, but does nothing to protect the English navy or air force from Japan’s zero fighters. The HMS Prince of Wales is sunk December 10. The Canadian cost and California oil tanks are attacked by Japanese submarine-fired cannon. And what about Stalin? Through all of this, he remains allied with Japan and with us (what a man). It’s something you might have expected from his mustache.

Allied leaders toward the end of WWII. De Gaulle, Stalin, Churchill, FDR, Chiang Kai Shek, Mao Tze Tung. Only de Gaulle and Stalin have mustaches; Stalin is still an ally of Japan; Mao and Chiang at war. The US and UK share a special relationship.

Decline of the mustache. Allied leaders early 1945. l-r: De Gaulle, Stalin, Churchill, FDR, Chiang Kai Shek, Mao Tze Tung. Only de Gaulle and Stalin have mustaches; Stalin is still an ally of Japan; Mao and Chiang at war over China. The US and UK share a special relationship.

US dollars and Russian manpower turn the tide in Europe. Hitler kills himself and is replaced by clean-shaven Keitel who sues for peace (too little, too late). Mussolini flees Italy for Switzerland, and gets help killing himself. Fascist-free Italy turns to a mustache-free leader: General Badoglio of the failed Greek invasion. Stalin takes over Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and East Germany. Churchill objects and is tossed out of office while negotiating at Yalta. He’s replaced by small mustached Clement Attlee who sees no problem with Stalin’s expansion. His is a  grand (socialist) vision for England.

Civil-rightist Republican from NY, Tom Dewey is the major presidential candidate to host a mustache.

Civil-rightist NY Republican, Tom Dewey, the last mustached presidential hopeful, loses.

Fresh-faced, smoker, FDR dies in a liaison with a woman not his wife, and is followed by feisty, fresh-faced, non-smokier, Harry S. Truman, who continues FDR’s vision and drops two A-Bombs on Japan as twice pay-back for Pearl harbor. Stalin switches sides, sort of, for now: Japan is now his enemy, but Mao, not Chiang is a friend. Hirohito sees the new (atomic) light and the Russian army; he surrenders to the Americans. His mustache is much reduced at surrender (see below). Hirohito, still the visionary, admits he’s not a god, nor is he the gate to God (Mikado means heavenly gate; the title stops being used except for light opera). Tojo takes the blame for the war, and is executed. Mao Tze Tung conquers China after Chang Kai Shek flees to Taiwan. Stalin turns on his hairless, hapless, ex-allies. He keeps eastern Europe in contravention of the Yalta agreements, and kills a few million of his troupes: a peacetime army is dangerous. Franco keeps power in Spain.

Small-mustache Attlee builds a British A-Bomb, and takes over most of British business including The Bank of England, civil aviation, the coal mines, the steel industry, the railways, most road haulage, canals, cable and wireless, electricity and gas, and The Thomas Cooke travel agency. His grand vision provides England full employment, better work conditions, and health care, but also rationing, starvation and a lack of fuel. Attlee tries to stop Jewish migration to Israel and the formation of the state. He remains in power till 1950, becoming the last, and perhaps greatest, of several great, mustached, British prime ministers. Churchill’s shaven face returns to oversee England’s stagnation. Click for Churchill-Attlee jokes, jibes and insights.

In the US, clean-shaven Truman wins re-election against the last mustachioed presidential candidate, New York, civil-rightist, Republican, Thomas Dewey. De Gaulle is tossed out of office, but returns to build France’s A- bomb and reject NATO. De Gaulle’s little mustache is the last face hair seen on the leader of a nuclear nation.

The war ends here. Hirohito, McArthur, and Mr A-Bomb. Hirohito now has a smaller stature and mustache. Tojo gets executed.

The war ends here. Hirohito, McArthur, and Mr. A-Bomb. Hirohito now has a smaller stature and a much smaller mustache (looks like Tom Dewey, or every racist Japanese depiction). Tojo gets executed for Hirohito’s crimes. And the world moves to cautious shaven leaders and the ever-present nuclear threat.

And now the key question: why do mustaches lose favor so fast? My thought is that the Bomb is to blame. That, and the relative failures of mustached leaders in Europe. It’s a new dangerous world, with no place for men with big plans who might use the A-bomb to get-the-job-done. This is a weapon that kills more than soldiers and civilians; it could kill elites too, and no elitist wants a leader who might kill one of the elite. The A-Bomb is never again used in war, but it is always in the war room. Nuclear leaders must stay calm, and give the image of one who will use the bomb only as a last resort, to protect the home-land, or never. China, Pakistan, India, North Korea (and Israel) get “defensive” A-bombs but make no move to use them in anger. Goldwater claims he might, and is handily defeated in 1964. After WWII, all nuclear power leaders are more-or-less feminine looking, if not more feminist. Is this the future? Check out pt 1: Beards, Republicans, and Communists.

Dr. Robert E. Buxbaum, Nov. 28, 2013. I’m not sure if these post is ridiculous, or if it’s brilliant. At the least, it’s an observation of a pattern, and any observed pattern may lead to truth. I’ve written on modern architectureart how to climb a ladder without falling off, plus on guns, curtains, crimehealthcare, heat bills, nuclear power, and the minimum wage.

A Masculinist History of the Modern World, pt. 1: Beards

Most people who’ve been in university are familiar with feminist historical analysis: the history of the world as a long process of women’s empowerment. I thought there was a need for a masculinist history of the world, too, and as this was no-shave November, I thought it should focus on the importance of face hair in the modern world. I’d like to focus this post on the importance of beards, particularly in the rise of communism and of the Republican party. I note that all the early communists and Republicans were bearded. More-so, the only bearded US presidents have been Republicans, and that their main enemies from Boss Tweed, to Castro to Ho Chi Minh, have all been bearded too. I note too, that communism and the Republican party have flourished and stagnated along with the size of their beards, with a mustache interlude of the early to mid 20th century. I’ll shave that for my next post.

Marxism and the Republican Party started at about the same time, bearded. They then grew in parallel, with each presenting a face of bold, rugged, machismo, fighting the smooth tongues and chins of the Democrats and of Victorian society,and both favoring extending the franchise to women and the oppressed through the 1800s against opposition from weak-wristed, feminine liberalism.

Marx and Engles (middle) wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the same year that Lincoln joined the new Republican Party, and the same year that saw Louis Napoleon (right) elected in France. The communists both wear full bards, but there is something not-quite sincere in the face hair at right and left.

Marx and Engels (middle) wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the same year that Lincoln joined the new Republican Party, and the same year that saw Louis Napoleon (right) elected in France. The communists both wear full bards, but there is something not-quite sincere in the face hair at right and left.

Karl Marx (above, center left, not Groucho, left) founded the Communist League with Friedrich Engels, center right, in 1847 and wrote the communist manifesto a year later, in 1848. In 1848, too, Louis Napoleon would be elected, and the same year 1848 the anti-slavery free-soil party formed, made up of Whigs and Democrats who opposed extending slavery to the free soil of the western US. By 1856 the Free soils party had collapsed, along with the communist league. The core of the free soils formed the anti-slavery Republican party and chose as their candidate, bearded explorer John C. Fremont under the motto, “Free soil, free silver, free men.” For the next century, virtually all Republican presidential candidates would have face hair.

Lincoln the Whig had no beard -- he was the western representative of the party of Eastern elites. Lincoln the Republican grew whiskers. He was a log-cabin frontiersman, rail -splitter.

Lincoln, the Whig, had no beard — he was the western representative of the party of eastern elites. Lincoln, the Republican, grew whiskers. He was now a log-cabin frontiersman, rail-splitter.

In Europe, revolution was in the air: the battle of the barricades against clean-chined, Louis Napoleon. Marx (Karl) writes his first political economic work, the Critique of Political Economy, in 1857 presenting a theory of freedom by work value. The political economic solution of slavery: abolish property. Lincoln debates Douglas and begins a run for president while still clean-shaven. While Mr. Lincoln did not know about Karl Marx, Marx knew about Lincoln. In the 1850s and 60s he was employed as a correspondent  for the International Herald Tribune, writing about American politics, in particular about the American struggle with slavery and inflation/ deflation cycles.

William Jennings Bryan, 3 time Democrat presidential candidate, opponent of alcohol, evolution, and face hair.

William Jennings Bryan was three-times the Democratic presidential candidate; more often than anyone else. He opposed alcohol, gambling, big banks, intervention abroad, monopoly business, teaching evolution, and gold — but he supported the KKK, and unlike most Democrats, women’s suffrage.

As time passed, bearded frontier Republicans would fight against the corruption of Tammany Hall, and the offense to freedom presented by prohibition, anti industry sentiment, and anti gambling laws. Against them, clean-shaven Democrat elites could claim they were only trying to take care of a weak-willed population that needed their help. The Communists would gain power in Russia, China, and Vietnam fighting against elites too, not only in their own countries but American and British elites who (they felt) were keeping them down by a sort of mommy imperialism.

In the US, moderate Republicans (with mustaches) would try to show a gentler side to this imperialism, while fighting against Democrat isolationism. Mustached Communists would also present a gentler imperialism by helping communist candidates in Europe, Cuba, and the far east. But each was heading toward a synthesis of ideas. The republicans embraced (eventually) the minimum wage and social security. Communists embraced (eventually) some limited amount of capitalism as a way to fight starvation. In my life-time, the Republicans could win elections by claiming to fight communism, and communists could brand Republicans as “crazy war-mongers”, but the bureaucrats running things were more alike than different. When the bureaucrats sat down together, it was as in Animal Farm, you could look from one to the other and hardly see any difference.

The history of Communism seen as a decline in face hair. The long march from the beard to the bare.

The history of Communism seen as a decline in face hair. The long march from the beard to the bare. From rugged individualism to mommy state socialism. Where do we go from here?

Today both movements provide just the barest opposition to the Democratic Party in the US, and to bureaucratic socialism in China and the former Soviet Union. All politicians oppose alcohol, drugs, and gambling, at least officially; all oppose laser faire, monopoly business and the gold standard in favor of government created competition and (semi-controlled) inflation. All oppose wide-open immigration, and interventionism (the Republicans and Communists a little less). Whoever is in power, it seems the beardless, mommy conservatism of William Jennings Bryan has won. Most people are happy with the state providing our needs, and protecting our morals. is this to be the permanent state of the world? There is no obvious opposition to the mommy state. But without opposition won’t these socialist elites become more and more oppressive? I propose a bold answer, not one cut from the old cloth; the old paradigms are dead. The new opposition must sprout from the bare chin that is the new normal. Behold the new breed of beard.

The future opposition must grow from the barren ground of the new normal.

The future opposition must grow from the barren ground of the new normal. Another random thought on the political implications of no-shave November.

by Robert E. Buxbaum, No Shave, November 15, 2013. Keep watch for part 2 in this horrible (tongue in) cheek series: World War 2: Big mustache vs little mustache. See also: Roosevelt: a man, a moose, a mustache, and The surrealism of Salvador: man on a mustache.


Self Esteem Cartoon

Having potential makes a fine breakfast, but a lousy dinner.

Barbara Smaller cartoon, from The New Yorker.

Is funny because ……  it holds a mirror to the adulteration of adulthood: our young adults come out of college with knowledge, some skills, and lots of self-esteem, but with a lack of direction and a lack of focus in what they plan to do with their talents and education. One part of the problem is that kids enter college with no focused major or work background beyond an expectation that they will be leaders when they graduate.

In a previous post I’d suggested that Detroit schools should teach shop as a way to build responsibility. On further reflection, most schools should require shop, or similar subjects where tangible products are produced and where quality of output is apparent and directly related to the student, e.g. classical music, representative art, automotive tuning. Responsibility is not well taught through creative writing or non-representative art, as here quality is in the eye of the beholder.

My sense is that it’s not enough to teach a skill, you have to teach an aesthetic about the skill (Is this a good job), and a desire to put the skill to use. Two quotes of my own invention: “it’s not enough to teach a man how to fish, you have to teach him to actually do it, or he won’t even eat for a day.” Also, “Having potential makes a fine breakfast, but a lousy dinner” (if you use my quotes please quote me). If you don’t like these, here’s one from Peter Cooper, the founder of my undergraduate college. “The problem with Harvard and Yale is that they teach everything about doing honest business except that you are supposed to do it.”

by R.E. Buxbaum,  Sept 22, 2013; Here’s another personal relationship cartoon, and a thought about engineering job-choice.