Last Week in Entmoot News

Bringing you the latest news from the meeting of Ents in Derndingle.

Ents meet at the Entmoot in Derndingle to debate a war resolution.

Ents meet at the Entmoot in Derndingle to debate a war resolution.

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U.S. Representative Leafhand Orofarnë (R-KY) shook leaves today when he went on an anti-immigration rant during a news segment on Westfold Today. In response to a question of whether undocumented youth should be granted citizenship, Orofarnë decried the idea as amnesty. “That may have worked in Lothlórien, but look where that got them – the Elves have all fled to the Grey Havens because of the immigrant problem. I don’t know about you, but I’m an Ent, and Ents don’t have a fancy oceanfront heaven like the Elves do. If you ask me, we should close the borders before we’re covered in Orcs or worse – Huorns.”

Orofarnë’s office was quick to walk back the statements, taking great ent-strides to explain what he really meant. “Representative Orofarnë is proud of America’s multicultural values and our immigrant history,” a spokesperson later said. “He was merely pointing to the Elves’ history and in light of what large numbers of Hobbits might do to our economy.”

When asked for comment, U.S. Representative Rowanoke Bregalad (D-KY) criticized Orofarnë’s portrayal of the DREAM Act as amnesty. “Some trees are growing Ent-ish, and some Ents are growing tree-ish, you see,” she said. “I’m afraid Leafhand has gone tree-ish of late. Hoom hom hoom.”

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In a rural townhall meeting in Dane County, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) stated that the federal government has a spending problem. “We have poured money into higher education,” Johnson explained, “[but] we’ve made it so much more unaffordable.” He also called for more accountability on federal spending.

When asked how to do this, Johnson responded, “let’s not be too hasty.” He then chided his constituents for being rash. He ended the meeting with a loud, echoing “hoom” before stomping back to Oshkosh for a fundraiser.

*             *

In the House today, Representatives discussed the ongoing fighting between the Rohirrim and the Wildmen of Dunland in western Rohan. Some Representatives sympathetic to the plight of the Dunlendings have introduced a bill to authorize arms sales to the rebel group, but the non-interventionist majority of Congress questioned the efforts. In addition, a lobbying firm with ties to Dunland has accused Rohan of trumping up charges to justify further fighting.

Somewhere, Éomer Éadig turned his head and said, “warmongering?”

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The National Air and Space Museum was evacuated this afternoon after a drunk Huorn crushed several horses. Authorities would not release the name of the Huorn, but stated that a breathalyzer test found that he was stomping under the influence. “It’s amazing what a little too much Entwash can do to some of these younger tree-kin,” Capitol Police Officer Ecthelion IV said in a press conference.

The horses belonged to a group of Rohirrim visiting Derndingle on a school field trip. One of the teachers, Théowyn daughter of Thengel, has stated that the children may not make it home in time for 4th of July celebrations. Supporters have started a GoFundMe page to assist the school with transportation needs.

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The Office of U.S. Senator John McCain III (R-AZ) released the following statement today declaring his position on the prisoner exchange regarding Sgt. Bergdahl: Hrum, Hoom.

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After weeks of debate on the dangers of misogyny in the country, and in light of the recent #YesAllWomen trend on Twitter, New Jersey businessman and senatorial candidate Grassyfoot Ciryahir released a new controversial television ad blaming feminism. The ad depicts Ciryahir walking through the woods. “I haven’t seen an Entwife in decades, maybe centuries,” he says. “Now they come back and cry ‘misogyny?’”

The ad has drawn criticism from numerous women’s rights groups and even a protest outside Ciryahir’s Trenton campaign headquarters. “The fact that this Ent is running for elected office and he continues to refer to all women by ‘wife’ is a testament to his backward-thinking views,” said Salvia of Trenton, who was among protesters there. “I thought this was 2014 of the Fourth Age.”

*             *

On the 519th day of the 113th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finished saying “good morning.”


#433rds: 4/27/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.


It’s reading week.Wrapping up my semester (and my time here at Yale), I’ve been spending time working on my thesis, grading papers, and reviewing language study.

Obviously, this is pouring into my letter tiles. Although I don’t know where geology came from, as I have pretty much interest there. My interests lie on the left side of the image: war, rebels, language. So, pardon me while I get all thesis-y again in this blog project:

I think the language of the LRA conflict is an interesting thing to delve into, a thing I only mention in passing in my current project. The way that people are labeled, the way that actions are identified, they mean a lot of things in war. Perhaps the most important is the term “rebel” and how it is used (or not used) in the context of the LRA. Existing as a rebel group since 1986, for many years the government labeled them “bandits.” In the post-9/11 era, “bandits” was dropped as the LRA became “terrorists” in the discourse. This was just one part of the government’s effort to get in on the GWOT funding/training pie, and painting the LRA as terrorists placed the government, as the one fighting terrorism, in more exalted status.

But sometimes the rebels aren’t even rebels. For instance, when 11 LRA were recently captured by the UPDF, it was reported as 1 rebel commander and 10 captives. Everyone reports it this way, ignoring the fact that the commander himself was likely abducted in the past, and without mentioning if any of the captives were actively engaged in the fire fight. In the LRA, the labels of rebel, abductee, commander, and captive are very fluid. Many commanders are also captives, and victims of abduction and conscription have also perpetrated acts of violence. It’s a messy thing, trying to decipher the language of war, but it’s a necessary part of trying to understand it.

Maps and the Way We See Africa

A friend recently showed me a post at HuffPo’s Impact blog titled “8 Maps That Will Change the Way You Look at Africa.” Curated by an intern at The ONE Campaign, the short listicle includes eight maps that, well, don’t change the way anyone has looked at Africa in the past century.

In numerical order, this list allows one to look at Africa as 1) the place where most of the world’s poorest live; 2) the least wealth continent; 3) huge; 4) including a number of the few countries that still have slavery; 5) having an arid North and lush agricultural sub-Saharan region; 6) at high risk for water scarcity, especially in the northern and southern ends of the continent; 7) way behind (but growing!) in internet access; and 8) having little access to electricity.

The list was posted earlier this month, and I’m not the first to comment on it. So, rather than rant too much about how we don’t need to keep talking about Africa as a place of poverty and landscape (and I am glad there wasn’t a map of conflict), I’m going to post some maps that are also worth looking at below the fold. I know that there are others that have given me pause for thought, though I haven’t been able to track them down. Anybody have maps that influenced how they view Africa or parts of Africa?

Continue reading

#433rds: 04/17/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.


The Beinecke Library will temporarily close next year. 50 years old and having never seen a good renovation, the building’s ugly innards need to be examined. I worked there for about a year and a half, deep under this modern stone-walled building. It is beautiful, it is elegant, it is important. It also needs to be gutted and strengthened from the inside out. It doesn’t need a whole reinventing, but it needs to a renovation.

As I whirl from the news of not getting into any PhD programs, I wonder when and where to apply again. How do I reinvent myself? What were my weak points? What were my strong ones? What schools would I be happy at? What schools would I hate? What do I do next? These are, of course, also existential questions that I use to string myself along.

Another thing that needs to be reinvented is the tenure track at Yale. One of the few universities where it’s still virtually impossible to move from tenure-track to tenured, Yale loses its junior faculty at what I assume is a faster pace than most places. At other universities, there aren’t even tenure-track positions to go through before being denied tenure. And yet, in a time rife with denial and rejection, I continue to try to be strong and persevere. I want to teach. I want to write. I want to get there.


#433rds: 4/16/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.

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I haven’t left the common room.* The stained glass overhead consists of an old man adorned in gold armor, holding a vessel aloft to an incredibly witch-like woman (off-camera); either a very cruel dentist hard at work or a man force-feeding someone a pair of pliers; and a couple with a dog at what could be a bar or a pharmacy or both. The images that adorn these windows dominate much of the otherwise gray wall space. For how diverse they are, the color palette is decidedly narrow: black and white and yellow dominate the images of farmers, wooly mammoth skeletons, and mermaids.

The images are rarely, if ever, a guide for me. I go where my friends go, I go where the outlets are, I go where I can see through the dust on my laptop screen. But I sit most often under the aforementioned mammoth and volcano, flanked by a forest, a woman, and Old Faithful. For how little these images figure in my everyday, I despise the people sitting under Old Faithful. They are my foes, as much as my coursework is. If I can’t sit under Ice Age fossils, nobody can.

Maybe I just need to chill, to feed myself, grab a drink. I should hit the bar (or pharmacy, as it were). If the Mammoth can’t be my Muse, perhaps the Dentist can be my Guide.

* This is a lie.

#433rds: 4/15/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.



I am about 3/4ths finished with my workload, but about 47/50ths done with the school year, which means it’s time I just buckle down and do it. Just do. Every tangent must be fought off. Every divergence taken out. Every source footnoted and image captioned. Everything that needs doing needs to be done.

Finding a place to be productive can be a challenge in and of itself. I’ve had productive afternoons in the graduate student common room. There are cozy booths to settle into, and stained glass figures mundane and exotic. The clang of metal appliances and the aroma of coffee from the little café that sits in the middle of the room. And the most ornate ceiling I’ve seen on a campus filled with details. It’s a place to admire, but it’s also a place to do work. Do.

Curiously, it’s not always a place one can go to do work. It closes prematurely in the late evening, even early evening on weekends and during school breaks. While college students here enjoy the pleasures of residential college common rooms and libraries that are open all day, all year, the graduate students are left with beautiful common room with a closing time. All we want is a cove to call our own. A place to do work whenever we want to. We’ve fought for student space before, the struggle has seemed endless, but the end may be near. Cost estimates are coming in, resolutions have been passed, reports published. All that’s left is to take the keys out and leave the door open so we can just do our thing.

#433rds: 4/10/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.


I was sitting on the 3:50 train into New York City yesterday, curled up in my window seat, reading a book for class, jotting down some notes. A group of Yankees fans were lit, openly pregaming in the aisle, and the two undergrad/high school boys in front of me alternated between talking about sex and girlfriends vs. the music they were listening to. It was otherwise quiet.

Somewhere in western Connecticut, the train slowed, the electricity flickered, and only the lights by the doors stayed lit. The Yankees fans exchanged tipsy jokes about being stuck on the train, the youths talked about Brand New. The conductor announced that the pantographs weren’t connecting, and that mechanics were on their way to reattach them. I don’t think many passengers know what a pantograph is; I didn’t.

I immediately wondered if there were any phalanges on the train.

#433rds: 4/9/14

This is part of a month-ish-long blog/Instagram project. For more, go here.


The weather is finally getting better. And by better I mean the wind is still awful, allergies are kicking in and I don’t even get the pleasure of real warmth, but at least it’s not freezing and there’s no ice packed onto the sidewalks. The sun’s out, but I still need a sweater, although it doesn’t have to be wool (I don’t own anything wool anyways). The weather’s nice enough to be deemed enjoyable.

The sky is clear, and while I was walking outside I snapped (yet another) photo of a late 19th-century building that belonged to the owner of a New Haven garment factory, since turned into a fancy apartment complex.

Living in a factory is one of those chic, trendy things that middle-class people do in urban settings these days. With walls of brick, exposed pipes, and all of the downtown lifestyle that comes with it. The people who live in factories might not generally wear a full outfit of pink with golden horses like the suit I laid my Scrabble tiles on.

But, damn, they should.


A friend of mine is doing a thing, and it is a thing I am going to try to do too. It’s called #433rds, and it is fairly simple:

For the month of April:

  1. At 3 pm every day, take a photo. Post on Instagram.
  2. Take 30 Bananagram tiles and arrange them into words in 3 minutes or less.
  3. Write something that day based on those two inputs. (Or, if you’re feeling Cage-y, don’t.)

I don’t have Bananagram tiles. I also will not always be free at 3pm. I also have pressing matters to attend to. But these are precisely the reasons that I will occasionally be playing with Scrabble tiles and photographing and writing about it. The desire to take photos, the need to not thesis, the fun of finding new ways to write. Anyways: Day 1 (err…. the 8th) is below:


I just heard about this project earlier this afternoon. My decision to participate (however briefly it will last) was impromptu. I thought about sitting in a café to try and do some work, but decided that if I came home I could play with Scrabble tiles before getting down to business.

My day and the plans I have for it are certainly seeping through. I tried twice to spell out “thesis” with my tiles, but ended up with “these.” I had to include “meow” the second I saw the M and W. Not only is Jonathan, our new cat, the subject of my photo, but this morning I publicly debated letting him have his own Twitter account. And this isn’t the first time I’ve taken a photo I’ve taken of him overseeing his fiefdom from on high. Also he’s adorable.

Lastly, Men in Black is on Syfy this week. Not only did I already know that, but it prompted me to place those peripheral tiles down in that form as I ran out of time. I am clearly bad at this game and these projects.

Fighting with Fashion

Last week, Dan Drezner tweeted about the mid-range cruise missile, the Seersucker. It quickly generated a conversation about less-than-intimidating weapons names, but I immediately embarked on a quest to find as many fashion-forward weapons, munitions, and operations as I could. That is the sole reason for this blog post – and so I present you with these trend-setting factoids (pardon the Wikipedia links):

  • The USS Moccasin, an early 20th Century submarine, was later given the

    This submarine is available at Target for $13.95

    more boring name of A-4. It was preceded by the Civil War-era Moccasin tug boat.

  • The British love their argyle – with a 17th Century, WWI-era, and current version of the HMS Argyll.
  • There’s a British patrol ship named the HMS Blazer, which is pretty trendy.
  • While not specific to clothing, I can’t help but assume that Ethan Allen class submarines are filled with wood furniture (the store was also named after the Revolutionary War hero).
  • The UR-100 is a Russian ICBM that NATO likes to refer to as the SS-19 Stiletto.
  • The R-12 is apparently a less sexy Russian missile, since NATO calls it the SS-4 Sandal. It was one of the stylish missiles involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The most terrifying sandal to ever reach the Caribbean.

  • Both of these are nothing compared to the super-secret Galosh missile.
  • A British mission in the Pacific Theater during WWII was called Operation Zipper.
  • The Mohawk was a plane used for reconnaissance in Korea and Vietnam, and a divergence into the hair category for aircraft nomenclature (but it did stand alongside several other Native American tribes, I admit).
  • The Airspeed Oxford flew throughout WWII.
  • Allied Operation Bolero was the troop buildup in Britain during WWII.
  • WWII Operation Raincoat was an Allied attack in Italy.
  • The German counter-offensive in North Africa was called Operation Capri.
  • The short-lived X-3 Stiletto was an early Cold War-era jet.
  • Operation Coronetwould have been the largest amphibious assault in history, landing on Japan in WWII – but it was never crowned.

    Let's just be honest, bow ties - and Robert Downey, Jr. - should be the names of weapons.

  • A U.S. operation in Vietnam was code-named Operation Bolo, which just reminds me of the official neckwear of the state of Arizona.
  • There is also a bomber, the B-18 Bolo, which is reminiscent of neckwear.
  • Supposedly, there is a classified program to develop unmanned reconnaissance aircraft called Senior Prom, which is so high school.
  • Australian involvement in the Gulf War was codenamed Operation Damask.