Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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What feels funny is the sense of obligation (as a member of the chattering class) to keep chattering while the ground is profoundly shifting under one's feet and what one wants to do is shut up and listen and feel for the lay of the land, the contours of the new alignment. The tectonic plates are still rumbling, and nothing is clear yet....

Think of it as an ocean and it will be easier to keep your bearings. Personally I like the idea of surfing - lots of wipeouts, long boring periods when the waves aren't breaking right, and a few sublime moments of purest joy. You might prefer to think of kayaking, or windsurfing, or jetskiing. Your choice.


I'm left wondering how much control Obama has, given his experience in such things, up against a CIA full of Joe Wilsons. No president has really been able to make the CIA stop doing things the CIA wants to do. Whereas plenty of individuals in the CIA can make the president's job damned uncomfortable.

Ruth Anne

Have you watched Jack Bauer of '24'? Whole seasons are available on DVD and I kinda think Jacques might like it.


Outis: I'll take surfing, even though I have never done it (except for bodysurfing). It sounds right.

Or dancing (surfing the beat) -- dancing to a piece of music you've never heard before, and trying to start while the band is still turning up. No -- while it's still being composed!


It's like trying to dance to music that's still being composed. Thank you, Outis, that about nails it.


Ruth Anne: excellent suggestion, thanks. I always kinda wanted to watch it, but I have this absurd thing about not coming in in the middle of things. If I don't start watching one of those from the very beginning, I probably won't watch it at all (exception: The Sopranos, of which I think I missed all or most of the first season, and then got hooked hard). 24 all the more so since it takes place in real time, hour by hour -- missing an episode could really lose you. I haven't really got the DVD-set habit yet, but will start there. Blockbuster, look out!

I'm also told The Wire is even better than The Sopranos.

Ruth Anne

The Wire is so awesome. Instead of solving three cases in an hour, they solve one case in a season. Baltimore is a character in the show, it seems. You have to allow your clock to get recalibrated to The Wire. I'm about ready to start all over with it because little bread crumbs are laid out in season one that only pay off in season 5.


It's interesting that both series take an unconventional (for TV) approach to time. Obviously, The Wire has fewer constraints on it since it doesn't have to fit the network-hour format or standards.

I've heard that before, that the city is a character in the show. Now my appetite is whetted.


Posts like this are why I keep coming back to this blog every day (every hour?). Not because of the topic or whether I agree with you (although it's a fascinating topic and I do) but because the writing is so CHERCE! I was going to repeat a line or two that I particularly liked but it's really the whole post. As a book editor, if I received such paragraphs in a manuscript I would start dancing in the streets.

Here's hoping you stay a part of the "chattering class" even if the ground underneath us IS profoundly shifting.


"we should have a firm official policy against [torture], and somewhere in the deep background, a few shadowy professionals who can be quietly authorized to do it anyway"

Yes I agree. The whole debate about torture has been so silly. Democrats just needed things to rage about, and this was one more thing. Throwing a Koran in the toilet came under their weird definition of "torture."

I had heard that the best way to get information from captured enemies was to win their trust, not by tormenting and threatening them. However, maybe that's just a nice myth, and maybe torture is sometimes needed.

It is not possible to know exactly how each prisoner should be interrogated and it would be utterly stupid to treat all of them with loving compassion. It all depends, but the Democrats tried to make it all so simple and obvious.

We are known all over the world as torturers now, because someone's Koran got pissed on. Look at what torture used to mean in the middle ages, for example. Or what our enemies did to American prisoners even in the 20th century.

Progressives need to get some perspective, maybe read a history book.


Is a debate about torture really SILLY? Apart from issues about "reflecting our values" as Obama put it yesterday, my main question is--does it even work?? If you want to go back to the history books, you can read endless examples of torture in almost every period in history--I've just been reading about Tudor England so that's fresh in my mind. In almost every case torture was used to make prisoners say what the honchos wanted them to say so people confessed to endless crimes they probably never committed. Are there any stats on the accuracy and value of information gained during torture? Going back to those madcap Tudors, for example, I don't think George Boleyn slept with his sister or that any of those other dudes (several of whom were probably gay) ever boffed the queen, yet their torture-induced confessions are on the books. (On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if Anne Boleyn's cousin and successor, Queen Catherine was sleeping with half the royal staff.)


Thanks, Danny (comment before last, obv.). I'm so glad you're here -- and that I can now see your real face in my mind's eye.


Danny: I think that's a good point. What probably does work is isolation. We are profoundly social animals and can become disoriented and despairing in solitude, though some people have the spiritual strength to withstand it. That combined with some version of the bad cop/good cop shtik -- everyone's hostile and cold, and then suddenly a warm sympathetic person turns up. Another tactic that doesn't physically inflict pain or fear but is devastating in every way, including physically, is sleep deprivation. I'd hate to get into a discussion of whether that qualifies as torture.

My two main concerns are, a) does it work? and b) are cruel and extreme tactics, if used at all, going to be allowed to spread from the exceptional and emergency case (known bad guy, "ticking bomb" scenario) to casual sadism by anyone and everyone towards anyone and everyone -- regardless of known innocence or guilt and of magnitude of transgression? There is absolutely no tolerance for a slippery slope in this case.


"Is a debate about torture really SILLY?"

I did NOT say it's silly to debate about torture!! I said THE debate has been silly. No one bothers to define the word, and they use it any way they want, all meaning different things.


And I would NEVER advocate actual physical torture! But I don't think that was being done. Psychological strategies are something else, and yes maybe they are necessary sometimes. I am not an expert on interrogation. I just think pissing on a Koran is very very far from what any sane person would call torture, no matter how fanatically religious the prisoner is.


(Not that I think they should have pissed on the Koran. That was stupid. But it wasn't torture.)


Agreed, realpc, that word does need a more clearcut set of guidelines. We can't call every unpleasant action by a person in authority toward a prisoner "torture," that is just crazy.


[We can't call every unpleasant action by a person in authority toward a prisoner "torture," that is just crazy.]

Exactly my point, but that is what some, many, of the Democrats did. Pretending they had defined the word when they had not. It was a political strategy that lots of people fell for.

Another strategy was pretending there was no real terrorist threat, that the Bush administration was using fear to control us.


Oh and how about the idea that the Republicans had taken control of the voting machines so they could win every election. I know Democrats who were absolutely sure of that.


Well, I don't think Bush legitimately won the 2000 election but that's as far as this crazy Democrat will go. And about even that, I will now say to myself, "Let it go!"


My relatives think Bush was responsible for 9/11 --even though they think he's a complete idiot, he's evil enough to overcome his idiocy and to to fool the majority of Americans. And get control of the voting machines so he could be a dictator for life.


Danny, on what basis do you say that he didn't legitimately win the 2000 election? I thought such claims went on the ashpile once the liberal media determined that he would have prevailed in the recount anyway?

Peter Hoh

If torture were effective, then Al qaeda and its predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood, would have snuffed out years ago by the Egyptian and Saudi internal security services. They used torture against those groups, and those groups flourished.

Tom Carter

One thing we can be sure of, Obama is going to run into some hard brick walls when/if he tries to implement some of his campaign promises. And I'm not talking about political realities, which are going to be hard enough to deal with.

Like every other new president, I think he's going to find that he really didn't know very much the day he walked into the office. Specifically on the issue of coercive interrogation (let's not use "torture" because of the way the term has been politicized), he's going to find that there aren't many absolutes in the real world. The first time he's faced with the choice of authorizing tough interrogation measures to save lives, which way do we expect him to go? It will surely happen, and I have no doubt what I want him to do.


Tom, you might appreciate the newly-linked article on the subject.

Tom Strong

Actually, I expect that Obama has thought about that issue, as he's already called for a CIA review to determine when more coercive interrogation measures could be called for.

Dividing the camps between pro- and anti-torture is a gross simplification in more ways than one. For many of us who opposed the Bush Administration on this, the issue was far more about the legal process (or lack thereof), and the obfuscation which accompanied it. Thus far at least, Obama's actions on the "torture" issue strike me as being pragmatic, transparent, and faithful to our country's historical ideals.

Peter Hoh

Tom, a good case can be made that the "tough interrogation measures" deployed at abu ghraib actually cost American lives.


Yes, that's the whole reason to rule it out officially, publicly; Abu Ghraib was bored, sadistic amateurs whaling on the innocent along with the guilty -- a complete horror.

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