Archive for the 'art, culture' Category

Yay and nay

Friday, March 6th, 2015

The BLS sounds chipper. Of course the truth is something else. Then there’s this, which reminds us of a scene in Animal House. And here’s the latest about our partner for peace; note that the critics live in England and Norway. Finally, from the good news side of the street, we just this week learned of the remarkable Max Steiner, while watching Now, Voyager — on TCM of course. Cole Porter is uncredited in the movie, but Mark Steyn can tell you all you need to know about Night and Day. FWIW, we prefer the Ella version.

They sow not, neither do they reap

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Wretchard: “It’s almost as if there were two parallel universes. The real one in which the rest of the world lives and the fantasy land bounded by the Beltway and the media capitals.” Don’t forget the universities too. The closer you get to these tenured or semi-tenured worlds the further from reality you get. After all, you’re living off the productivity of others, in a world where income and performance often bear no relation to each other. WRM: the government needs “to make foreign policy for the country they’ve got, rather than making foreign policy for a hypothetical country that exists only in their hopes.” They sow not, neither do they reap; but ah, how they dream.

Our recommendation

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Of course we agree with VDH as usual. But how depressing is that? Our recommendation is the Brahms horn trio. Much better way to spend time.

Bill Evans

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Good piece on Bill Evans in the WSJ by Doug Ramsey. He’s been dead for 35 years? Who knew? We saw Bill Evans at a club, somewhere on lower Broadway if memory serves. It was probably in 1976 or 1977. He asked for requests at some point and we suggested Never Let Me Go. He said he never performed that outside of the studio session that appeared on Alone. We have no idea if that’s true.

Odds and ends

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

What day is it today? Oh, yeah. Scroll down for the final Jeopardy answer. Bjorn Lomborg talks some common sense. And finally, talk about a halftime show!

Clarity

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Choudary in USA Today of all places:

Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people’s desires.

Although Muslims may not agree about the idea of freedom of expression, even non-Muslims who espouse it say it comes with responsibilities. In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”

However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see. Within liberal democracies, freedom of expression has curtailments, such as laws against incitement and hatred.

The truth is that Western governments are content to sacrifice liberties and freedoms when being complicit to torture and rendition — or when restricting the freedom of movement of Muslims, under the guise of protecting national security.

So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk? It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.

Gosh this has taken a long time, and still there are fools who refuse to take such simplicity and clarity seriously. We live in Dar Al-Harb. It’s a long war and sharia is on the other side, as we pointed out a decade ago. (We have another oldie but goodie on art, statuary, and guess-who at the Supreme Court.)

31 years ago — wow

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

We can’t stand the insipid controversies that highlight the ineptitude, the projection, and the ignorance of the young people in media (and their elders too). Here’s Scott Johnson; here’s Clarice of course — it’s Sunday!!! So here’s something from decades ago this month, when we attended the gala at the Paris Opera honoring Martha Graham; our old pal and roommate EJ Dionne recorded the festivities for the NYT. For some reason we’ve thought both Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov performed at the event, but apparently we’ve been wrong about that all these years. (We just watched Charade again on TCM so that probably sparked this.) Have a good night!

The sixties are back, this time without the fun

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

CUNY, early December:

In Support of Violence…The time for peace has passed, indeed it never existed in this country. It doesn’t matter if Brown robbed a convenience store, or even if he assaulted Wilson. What matters is that the case highlights the depths to which the capitalist state and its police forces will protect their own and attempt to stifle any sort of dissent…The violence of the police is almost always defensible in the eyes of the ruling elite…So, why then is the violence of the protestor so reviled? It is confounding that the people seem more concerned about the loss of property than the loss of life in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision. While there are opportunists who have used the protests to their own end, the acts of looting, destruction of property, and violence directed towards state representatives is not only warranted, it is necessary. If people could, they would target the police…

The violence of the police is almost always defensible in the eyes of the ruling elite…So, why then is the violence of the protestor so reviled? It is confounding that the people seem more concerned about the loss of property than the loss of life in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision. While there are opportunists who have used the protests to their own end, the acts of looting, destruction of property, and violence directed towards state representatives is not only warranted, it is necessary. If people could, they would target the police…During the protests in New York City in the days after the decision to not indict Wilson, thousands took to the streets empathetically chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” Some, however, went even further, shouting the slogan “Arms Up, Shoot Back!” The former statement represents an appeal to state authorities, namely the police, to cease its murderous rampage upon those living in this country…The attacks on property in Ferguson only need be redirected for a magnificent transformation of consciousness…

Calls for calm emanating from the upper strata of society are an attempt to mitigate the popular indignation that has long been bubbling under the surface of the society. The violence against property, that is destruction and theft, is only an unorganized form of something with the potential to be far more revolutionary and inspiring. To say that an all-out class war is on the horizon would be hyperbolic at this point, and maybe even myopic, but the undergirding social structures that position disenfranchised and working class peoples well below the dictatorship of capital are being pressured, the police being only one such institution. With increased organization, the Ferguson protests and riots do have the potential to transform from seemingly random attacks to ones that aim at puncturing the status quo

Fairly prescient piece, considering that today marked the funeral of Rafael Ramos, with 25,000 policemen in attendance. The mayor got the predictable reaction. We again draw your attention to the Heather Mac Donald piece addressing the big — and frankly, obvious — lies being told about cops by these ardent leftists.

They had things going their way for a little while. It was clever of the organizers to promote blocking freeways and the like, commanding media attention and making their numbers and power seem far greater than they actually were. Now it’s unclear where things are going to go. The murders of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu have produced a kind of litmus test: are you a de Blasio or a cop? America has degenerated a lot since the days of Richard Nixon’s silent majority, but that choice is still an easy call.

Meanwhile, back in grad school

Friday, December 26th, 2014

The other day we looked in on college life. Here’s grad school:

Val Rust’s dissertation-prep class had devolved into a highly charged arena of competing victim ideologies, impenetrable to anyone outside academia. For example: Were white feminists who use “standpoint theory”—a feminist critique of allegedly male-centered epistemology—illegitimately appropriating the “testimonial” genre used by Chicana feminists to narrate their stories of oppression? Rust took little part in these “methodological” disputes—if one can describe “Chicana testimonials” as a scholarly “method”—but let the more theoretically up-to-date students hash it out among themselves. Other debates centered on the political implications of punctuation. Rust had changed a student’s capitalization of the word “indigenous” in her dissertation proposal to the lowercase, thus allegedly showing disrespect for the student’s ideological point of view. Tensions arose over Rust’s insistence that students use the more academic Chicago Manual of Style for citation format; some students felt that the less formal American Psychological Association conventions better reflected their political commitments. During one of these heated discussions, Rust reached over and patted the arm of the class’s most vociferous critical race–theory advocate to try to calm him down—a gesture typical of the physically demonstrative Rust, who is prone to hugs. The student, Kenjus Watson, dramatically jerked his arm away, as a burst of nervous energy coursed through the room. After each of these debates, the self-professed “students of color” exchanged e-mails about their treatment by the class’s “whites.” (Asians are not considered “persons of color” on college campuses, presumably because they are academically successful.) Finally, on November 14, 2013, the class’s five “students of color,” accompanied by “students of color” from elsewhere at UCLA, as well as by reporters and photographers from the campus newspaper, made their surprise entrance into Rust’s class as a “collective statement of Resistance by Graduate Students of Color.” The protesters formed a circle around Rust and the remaining five students (one American, two Europeans, and two Asian nationals) and read aloud their “Day of Action Statement.” That statement suggests that Rust’s modest efforts to help students with their writing faced obstacles too great to overcome. The Day of Action Statement contains hardly a sentence without some awkwardness of grammar or usage. “The silence on the repeated assailment of our work by white female colleagues, our professor’s failure to acknowledge and assuage the escalating hostility directed at the only Male of Color in this cohort, as well as his own repeated questioning of this male’s intellectual and professional decisions all support a complacency in this hostile and unsafe climate for Scholars of Color,” the manifesto asserts. The Day of Action Statement denounces the class’s “racial microaggressions,” which it claims have been “directed at our epistemologies, our intellectual rigor and to a misconstruction of the methodological genealogies that we have shared with the class.” (Though it has only caught on in recent years, the “microaggression” concept was first coined in the 1970s by a black psychiatrist.) Reaching its peroration, the statement unleashes a few more linguistic head-scratchers: “It is, at its most benign, disingenuous to the next generations of Scholars of Color to not seek material and systematic changes in this department. It is a toxic, unsafe and intellectually stifling environment at its current worse.” The Ph.D. candidates who authored this statement are at the threshold of a career in academia—and not just any career in academia but one teaching teachers. The Day of Action Statement should have been a wake-up call to the school’s authorities—not about UCLA’s “hostile racial climate” but about their own pedagogical failure to prepare students for scholarly writing

The above was a footnote to a Heather Mac Donald piece on the big lie of today. You can see from what goes on in grad school that this pernicious foolishness isn’t going to stop on its own any time soon. Too many people have too much invested in this nonsense. Actually, we’re pretty optimistic that things can change; look at the pathetic level of jibber-jabber from allegedly smart people. Oops, we watched a replay of the MTV music awards yesterday, and we’re depressed again. There’s no hope for this country if this is what the culture has become. Help!!

One thing leads to another, sometimes in strange ways — Fibonacci???

Friday, December 12th, 2014

From an E&P CEO:

the Saudis want to chill investment in new oil supply to help protect OPEC’s future. In round numbers we have had about 5 MBOPD increase in world oil demand over the last 5 or 6 years. Over the same time period US oil production has grown from nearly 4 MBOPD (from 5 to 9 MBOPD) — 80% of the increase in WORLD demand!

This is NOT good for OPEC. I suspect that we will have ugly oil prices ($60 – $75) for around a year as that is long enough to stop many current oil supply investments and, more importantly, serve to chill the appetite for future large investments in oil supply growth (deep water, arctic, marginal shale, marginal tar sands, etc) which is the Saudi goal in my opinion. I do not believe that the current price ($65) is a sustainable price going forward. It would not encourage enough new supply

This seems plausible enough, and if true, might have seemed even elegant in the planning, since it kills or wounds three birds with one stone (Iran needs $136 oil to balance its budget, Russia $100). But that was then and this is now, and things seem to have spun out of control. All of which led us to Cramer’s discussion of what the charts are telling us about the future price of oil.

Suddenly a word appeared that we had not heard in a long time — Cramer said that trading often forms Fibonacci sequences. Fibonacci? Huh? Suddenly it’s everywhere. We couldn’t find our copy of Vincent Scully’s book, but sure enough, the Golden ratio is right there at the Parthenon. Jeepers. (Ancient Greeks? — watch out AS!)

Their trajectory and ours

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

On our flight to Hong Kong today, there was no internet, so what’s today’s American going to do? Read? Pshaw! We watched TV. One show was called Shades of Life, the Winter’s Fairy-tale episode. It’s a Horatio Alger story of a guy with a very tough childhood becoming a successful entrepreneur. He sure knows how to clean a toilet and polish an office; fortunately his wife (whose family seems to hate this guy at first) knows ppt and accounting and through pluck and luck and a number of bad rejections and false starts he creates a big building maintenance company. We also watched the film Two States. It’s about an MBA guy from Delhi and an MBA girl from Chennai who want to get married, but his Punjabi family can’t stand her Tamil Brahmin family and vice versa. They’re both intractable, and most of the film is about how to create enough peace so that there can be a wedding. At the end, enough problems are resolved so that an extraordinarily elaborate wedding takes place, and the flash forward at the end is about playing with the beautiful babies. (There were other entertainments that covered similar ground to these two productions.)

What struck us is that the TV show and the movie were, among other things, sermons; that’s a little strong but you catch the drift. The point of the Hong Kong story is that: life’s tough, and if you want to succeed, suck it up and keep trying. Indeed, at one point, the young wife, after yet another setback for hubby, actually says in English “Tomorrow is Another Day.” Hard to miss the point of that! The happy ending involves riches and a fabulous home and grounds. As for the Indian movie, well forget Murphy Brown — these guys refuse to even elope. The family issues absolutely have to be ironed out and there will be no wedding until that happens, and the notion that there might be kids on the side simply does not exist.

In contemporary America, would we be likely to often see a Horatio Alger story without a Hollywood sneer at an ending such as this one has? And as for the Indian movie, first click the Murphy Brown link above and let’s talk. 40-80% illegitimacy rates are insane because they lead to gangs, youth crime and violence for the boys and different but comparable disasters for the girls. But if you’ve watched CNN lately, it’s unlikely you’ve seen these important issues discussed. Much safer for one and all to wallow in the fetid swamps of victimhood than deal with the profound problem which is driving a stake into the heart of both personal and political self-governance.

It’s easy to imagine plentiful American versions of the Hong Kong and Indian shows in US theaters as well as prime time radio and TV 50-75 years ago. Are they still around much today? There’s more than one reason for that of course, and they doesn’t bode well for the future.

Perfection!

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Just the other day we noted Wretchard’s comment that American politics has become radically divided in two, in part due to an almost psychotic media-reality split, and voilà, we’ve found a glittering gemstone. Consider this magnificent tune. We’d wager that most of its apparent target audience would find it either irrelevant or offensive, while we can easily imagine a conference room of media consultants recommending it with straight faces. Media-reality split. But wait, there’s more!

It’s hard to know whether this Rolling Stone piece on the song is meant as a positive description or subversion. Subversion would be our guess. It’s easy to imagine the high-paid media consultants chortling as they thought: wait til Elizabeth Warren’s people get a load of this. But then again, it’s just as easy to see the consultants thinking that the rubes will really go for this — or maybe both thoughts at the same time. Whatever. We just hope everyone got a good payday out of this masterwork, particularly the graphics guy who helpfully inserted the word ‘cuz at three minutes into the song.

This and that

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

NYP:

Working on a piece that raised questions about the American Red Cross disaster response, she says a boss told her, “We must do nothing to upset our corporate partners…until the stock splits.” (Parent company Viacom and CBS split in 2006). Meanwhile, she notes, “CBS This Morning” is airing blatant advertorials such as a three-minute segment pushing TGI Fridays’ all-you-can-eat appetizer promotion or four minutes plugging a Doritos taco shell sold at Taco Bell.

Reporters on the ground aren’t necessarily ideological, Attkisson says, but the major network news decisions get made by a handful of New York execs who read the same papers and think the same thoughts. Often they dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into “casting agents,” told “we need to find someone who will say…” that a given policy is good or bad. “We’re asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,” she writes.

Reporting on the many green-energy firms such as Solyndra that went belly-up after burning through hundreds of millions in Washington handouts, Attkisson ran into increasing difficulty getting her stories on the air. A colleague told her about the following exchange: “They are pretty significant,” said a news exec. “Maybe we should be airing some of them on the ‘Evening News?’ ” Replied the program’s chief Pat Shevlin, “What’s the matter, don’t you support green energy?”

We’re reminded of getting a little worked up years ago when Sumner Redstone sold a trivial amount of stock as Rathergate was falling apart. Not a big deal to him, but it’s interesting to see how closely the news is monitored and controlled by the business types.

In other matters, Hamlet runs four hours, movies two hours (give or take), TV dramas one hour, sit-coms half an hour, and tweets 140 characters. See any pattern on where our culture is heading?

The torch has passed to a new generation

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

En route to MIA the film Blended was shown. The remarkable things were two: (a) in order to make rather obvious observations about humans in their male and female incarnations, the movie had to torture itself to remain PC enough; (b) what’s up with all the vulgarity and potty mouths on very young children? This film was followed by a bunch of NBC TV shows that we’ve never watched nor heard of. Once again, non-stop vulgarity. (We recently saw a couple of episodes of season one of the Beverly Hillbillies, which were filled with witty and arcane references — e.g., Jane is impressed because Jethro’s education included him being an eatin’ man.) Tempus fugit.

Wars and rumors of wars

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Today’s reads are Clarice Feldman and Andy McCarthy. It ought to be pretty hard to keep believing the fantasies, but the fantasists persist. Spengler explains some reasons that make fantasy attractive.

Why didn’t the Barbary Pirates get regular jobs?

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Wretchard answers the question. Certain things follow if your nation subscribes to the belief that a 1400 year old book and related documents are all you’ll ever need to get through life. Do we exaggerate? Look at the issue of patents and make up your own mind. Still not persuaded? How’s this for a Top Ten List?

Churchill and Jefferson here.

From “spare the rod and spoil the child” to ???

Friday, September 12th, 2014

At Portsmouth Priory, the punishment for serious infractions, at least among the Day Grubs, was to be paddled vigorously on the derrière with a wet sneaker in Mr. Acheson’s office. Times change. We have no idea of the seriousness of the Peterson matter, but there was a grand jury involved, not that that is conclusive in any way these days. We also don’t make light of Ray Rice, though we understand that in a scheduled remake of The Shining, Red Rum is set to be replaced by Ray Rice. We understand that social media make the Visible! into the Imperative!, given that humans are overwhelmingly responsive to visual stimuli. But there also seems to be some cognitive dissonance or denial or some such at work when the relatively unimportant is routinely elevated over the truly serious. Maybe it’s time to make mandatory the availability of video records of executions, so that people can better evaluate the moral compasses of those who believe that, for example, changing religious affiliation merits losing your head. Is that appropriate, or should the punishment itself be elevated to the status of a crime?

In case you hadn’t noticed

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The average person is both ill-informed and not too bright, at least if you poll the right campuses and industries where they prattle on about micro-aggressions and so forth. Add that to the college professor class, and oops! the high school history curriculum, and you have a formula for continued degeneration into a fantasy world until things get up close and personal. It’s all so obvious. Appeasement does not work. Unbelievably sad and pathetic and to no avail.

Update: if figures like this are true, this conflict could be a kind of an internecine hundred years’ war, except that with the armaments available today, there seems a pretty high probability that someone will choose to go out with a bang.

Compare and contrast

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

From WaPo:

My own eyes show rising ocean levels. They show the Arctic ice cap shrinking. They show massive beach erosion, homes toppling into the sea and meteorological records indicating steadily increasing temperatures. The Earth, our dear little planet, just had the hottest May on record. My eyes read projections that are even direr — drought, stifling heat, massive and more frequent storms, parts of coastal cities underwater and, in the American Southeast, an additional 11,000 to 36,000 people dying per year from the extreme heat.

From elsewhere:

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.

Possibly related: “We call Bill the Crust Master, because his pies, I don’t know what he does, whether he puts crack in them”

Unacceptable language in these times

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It’s finally been established! The term Washington DC has been determined to be an offensive and insulting slight. Plenty of good reason for that. Oh wait, Oops!