Archive for the 'New Media' Category

Ad fontes

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Terry Teachout on TCM’s 20th anniversary in the WSJ:

On Monday it will be showing, among other things, “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” “Gaslight,” “Gone With the Wind,” “It Happened One Night,” “The Maltese Falcon” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” You couldn’t ask for a more representative sampling of the best of studio-era Hollywood…Ever since its launch, the audience for TCM has consisted primarily of people who want to watch studio-era movies. While the channel has diversified its offerings over the years, it remains committed to accommodating the conservative tastes of its regular viewers, which is why it steers clear of the franker films that Hollywood started to release around 1970. Look at the schedule for the month of April and you’ll find just 20 films made after 1970, most of them forgettable mediocrities.

If you believe, as I do, that American film entered a new period of artistic maturity in the 1970s, you’ll find little to confirm that belief. Where are “Apocalypse Now,” “Cabaret,” “Chinatown,” “The Deer Hunter,” “The Godfather,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Network,” “Patton” and “Taxi Driver”? Not on TCM. Nor do its potential problems stop there. With under-30 moviegoers reflexively tuning out black-and-white films because they look old fashioned, how can a channel that specializes in the oeuvre of Gary Cooper, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart hope to eventually replace its aging viewers

The Renaissance was marked by a return ad fontes, to the texts of Greek and Roman classics, and indeed the Reformation featured a return to an ancient text. Things can get lost for hundreds of years, like perspective in art, and then get rediscovered, to the great benefit of civilization.

TCM is not just entertainment; it is a course in American history. Unique in that it is the first time in history we have the voices and pictures of human beings of yesteryear speaking to us directly. In important cultural ways, the America shown on TCM is superior to that of the 70′s and thereafter — the 40-80% illegitimacy trend of the last four decades is a cultural disaster of the first order.

TCM should stick to its knitting, and not worry that kids might currently prefer 3D to B&W. Niche marketing is fine. More importantly, kids can grow up and perhaps discover that BS and malarkey aren’t a viable path to rewarding lives. In that sense, TCM isn’t just a view of the past frozen in amber, but a reminder that a better future culture is possible.

(Incidentally, both Scott Johnson and Mark Steyn would be excellent fill-ins for Robert Osborne, but TCM’s chairman emeritus might object.)

Worth reading today

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Kevin Williamson has a very amusing piece on the life in the Beltway. Many of Mark Steyn’s readers are also pretty good writers. Some anniversaries arriving: it’s ten years since Kill Bill (Sheriff Earl Parks and Esteban Vihaio are the same guy), and coming up on ten years in August since the forging of the Rathergate memos. Finally, we can report that from seeing college age kids talk that George Will’s statement on TV today is true, as political correctness morphs into absurdity (not that it was such a long trip).

Strange yet again

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Were the Italian and Austrian stolen passports of MH370 used by Asians? There’s more to learn here: Wretchard has some good links to twitter feeds and pilots that are interesting.

AA587, TWA800, ValuJet 592, Alaska 261, Swissair 111, Egyptair 990, that Air France flight from a couple of years ago: the list is so short that we know the flight numbers of many incidents. And a forgotten incident from nine years ago, when an Egyptian was arrested in Memphis with a uniform and a DVD telling airline pilots how they should act in public.

Fatal air incidents have become so rare in recent years due to technological improvements that suspicions are warranted when aircraft just disappear. We’d be very surprised if the B777-200 in the Malaysia case turns out to be anything other than foul play.

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry…..

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Wretchard can really bring you down. On the other hand, there’s always Crimea River and other such tunes. A long, long way from the songs of yore. Ah, well. HT: PL

Drip, Drip, Drip, Drop

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

NYT:

The administration’s proposal would remove the protected status from three classes of drugs that has been in place since the program’s inception in 2006: immunosuppressant drugs used in transplant patients, antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines. They include many well-known drugs, such as Wellbutrin, Paxil and Prozac to treat depression, and Abilify and Seroquel to treat schizophrenia.

Here’s what’s behind these antics. And here’s an ideologically diverse list of 200 organizations, charities, companies and others opposed to this squirrelly program. Normally compliant media sources are even noticing. Hmmmmm.

Moral of the story?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Gadgeteer:

I have been using Google Glass for about 2 months now, and about 2 weeks ago I got prescription lenses for the glasses. So in the past two weeks I was wearing Google Glass all the time. There were no stories to write about, until yesterday (1/18/2014). I went to AMC (Easton Mall, Columbus, OH) to watch a movie with my wife (non- Google Glass user). It is the theater we go to every week, so it has probably been the third time I’ve been there wearing Google Glass, and the AMC employees (guy tearing tickets at the entrance, girl at the concession stand) have asked me about Glass in the past and I have told them how awesome Glass is with every occasion.

Because I don’t want Glass to distract me during the movie, I turn them off (but since my prescription lenses are on the frame, I still wear them). About an hour into the movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside immediately”. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops. Since I didn’t catch his name in the dark of the theater, I asked to see his badge again and I asked what was the problem and I asked for my Glass back. The response was “you see all these cops you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and you have been caught illegally taping the movie”.

I was surprised by this and as I was obviously just having a nice Saturday evening night out with my wife and not taping anything whether legally or illegally, I tried to explain that this is a misunderstanding. I tried to explain that he’s holding rather expensive hardware that costed me $1500 for Google Glass and over $600 for the prescription glasses. The response was that I was searched and more stuff was taken away from me (specifically my personal phone, my work phone – both of which were turned off, and my wallet). After an embarrassing 20-30 minutes outside the movie theater, me and my wife were conducted into two separate rooms in the “management” office of Easton Mall, where the guy with the badge introduced himself again and showed me a different ID. His partner introduced herself too and showed me a similar looking badge. I was by that time, too flustered to remember their names (as a matter of fact, now, over 30 hours later I am still shaking when recounting the facts).

What followed was over an hour of the “feds” telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a “voluntary interview”, but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me (is it legal for authorities to threaten people like that?). I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it. I also insisted they look at my phone too and clear things out, but they wanted to talk first. They wanted to know who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me. Over and over and over again.

I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything – my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear “I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass”. I didn’t have the intuition to tell them that Glass gets really warm if it records for more than a few minutes and my glasses were not warm. They wanted to know where I got Glass and how did I came by having it. I told them I applied about 1000 times to get in the explorer program, and eventually I was selected, and I got the Glass from Google. I offered to show them receipt and Google Glass website if they would allow me to access any computer with internet. Of course, that was not an option. Then they wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie. Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean…

So what’s the moral of this creepy story? Don’t wear the glasses? Don’t go to AMC? How about this one — and make sure you get the ID’s of these thugs…

600 million times a day

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Compare this piece in the Onion (“600 million times a day”) with this one in the NYT. Newspaper of record indeed! Take a break, relax. Heck, we have a government that engages in the worst sort of leftism while terrible tragedies go unattended. The proles are useful when needed apparently. The less education the better, the politicians say, and the media don’t call them on anything, because they are accomplices. So take a break and live in the past for a moment. They used to have an excellent veal chop at Elaine’s…..

Memorable

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

It was almost 44 years ago that Carolyn Widgery and your host hitchhiked from New Haven to New York in nasty January weather. The driver of the semi let us off at around Jerome Avenue. We wandered around a bit, looking for the subway. A nice young man came up to us, offered directions, and said that we had better get off the streets pretty fast or we would be killed. We got to the east village in plenty of time for the show at the Fillmore East. It was Santana (the Doors were at the Felt Forum that evening). We had never heard of the warm-up act, but It’s a Beautiful Day was excellent (we just learned that they lost out to Santana at performing at Woodstock as a result of a coin flip). We sat in the 4th row, and can report that it’s as though we were living in contemporary Colorado or Washington. After the show, we had the good sense to repair to the benches of Grand Central Station and wait quietly for a pleasant early morning train ride back to school.

The incredible pace of decline

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Rich Lowry says it well.

Can’t say it better than that

Monday, November 25th, 2013

VDH discusses a culture in ruins:

once you have rebelled against hexameters, quarter notes, or realistic representation, and after you have rebelled against that rebellion with crucifixes in urine, obscenity-laced rap, and peek-a-boo nudity on stage, what are you left with? The 20th-century rebels who knew what they did not like have been replaced by the anti-rebels who don’t know that there was ever something against which to rebel. Again, we are left with the 21st-century of Lady Gaga giving birth to a blue sphere, Miley Cyrus probing body orifices with a foam oversized finger, and Kanye West humping on a motorcycle while reciting obscene nursery-rhyme ditties. In a society where endorsing fairness and equality equates with success, no supposedly arbitrary canons can exclude much of anything. Who are you to say that song A is bad, or movie B is good, given your own class, race, and gender privileges that result in excluding someone or something? The less dialogue and the more explosions and nudity earn supposedly more ticket-buyers, at least until a new generation wishes to build something from the ashes. There can be no truth in our culture, given that it discriminates and proves hurtful to too many. The greatest sin in America is not to lie, but to embrace a hierarchy of any sort at all…The radically egalitarian ethos demands always the descent to the lowest common denominators of taste. A world without requisites is the fairest. To capture the most attention of the masses requires a Cyrus, Gaga, or West. Once classical canons of artistic, literary, or musical expression were torn down, and once those classically trained rebels who ripped them apart have passed on, we are left with the ruins of trying to shock what is perhaps beyond being shocked.

Trans-fats, 32 ounce sodas, health insurance. The things that the market can better regulate are ridiculously over-regulated, and the things that society needs to control are uncontrolled. Hard to see this ending well. Things will reverse of course in time, but it sure was a nasty few centuries after the fall of Rome.

It’s theater, so create some scenes

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Normally you’d think a furlough of some government employees would result in open spaces that are owned by citizens being less supervised than usual. Not today. Today’s inverted priorities give new meaning to the term rude bridge. Oddly, park rangers are working harder than ever, with the mission of annoying as many Americans as possible. Indeed, private businesses are being blockaded by rangers in full thug mode. All of which raises a question. Since this is theater, why not get in and enjoy it? Why doesn’t, for example, the governor of South Dakota send in the state police to remove the cones blocking Mount Rushmore? Or get a group of citizens to march in and do it? We understand of course that legally that may not be possible, but that’s entirely beside the point. The point is to create good theater on the nightly news. What is better theater on the evening news than showing an elderly couple being evicted from a home that they have owned for 40 years by federal goons? An amazing and unprecedented opportunity has been given to the GOP if they are clever enough to exploit it.

Fight theater with theater

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Since 2009, the US has been run this way: “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Steyn:

the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site – which, oddly enough, requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open. So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow “Police Line – Do Not Cross” tape strung out…a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy, it, too, had not been officially open.

It’s theater. It’s all victims and feelings, all the time, carried out by a not-too-competent crew, as the example above shows. You fight theater with theater, not with flowcharts and spreadsheets. Understanding this is beyond the ken of almost all GOP senators. Politico quotes one about a closed door meeting of these fellows:

“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was…I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”

Almost unanimously the GOP senators attacked Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Hugh Hewitt asked Lee if any senators defended them: “Sort of…Not really.” The GOP is called the stupid party with good reason. Since 2009, the US has been run as a 24/7 revival of Queen for a Day and apparently the senior ranks of the opposition party haven’t figured that out yet. There are times for end-games of course, but America is currently being run as a fantasy TV show that is almost entirely divorced from reality, and the opposition needs to understand that.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Frankly, we never thought that Ted Cruz was impressive, despite plaudits from Alan Dershowitz and others. And we understand that the filibuster is politics and that he wants to run in 2016 and blah, blah, blah. But you have to admit that the picture of his daughters watching him on TV reading Green Eggs and Ham was pretty cute (and we were quite surprised to learn how the story ended). Meanwhile, Iran snubbed the eminently snubbable and servile USA — oh, did we mention that Iran did so three times, just so no one could miss the point. How about a nice bow, fella?

Finally, in the course of reading an extremely silly article, we learned that “two thirds of younger Americans favor a bigger government with more services over a cheaper government with fewer services — a margin of support ’25 points above the rest of the population’”…and “74 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe that ‘a free market economy needs government regulation’.” While we have no problem with appropriate regulation, we note that centralized, top-down regulation is becoming something of an anachronism. It’s very slow compared to the so-called free market, particularly with things like Yelp and Twitter and so forth.

PanAm, Schwinn, TWA, Eastern, Polaroid, Kodak, Lehman, Hutton, WorldCom, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Compaq, Woolworth’s — these are entities from the old days. In 20 years, will people remember MySpace or AOL or the LA Times or Facebook?

What’s the next mission for the LHC?

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Tech Week:

Fresh collisions will be launched in two years’ time as CERN looks into other phenomena, such as anti-matter. They will create a significant amount of additional data for the IT team to deal with. When they need to, each of the site’s four particle detector hubs – ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb – take what amounts to 40 million pictures a second, producing 40 petabytes of information. Whilst not all of that information is kept – much of it related to already understood physics rather than interesting new particles – there is still 25GB a second that has to be thrown on standard discs and tapes…

When the giant underground tube starts seeing particles smashing into one another again, the backend systems need to be ready for the extraordinary amount of data that will come through, whilst supporting the bespoke code that picks out the interesting collisions…it’s like helping to “find a needle in a haystack when you don’t know what a needle is”…the LHC does not have enough budget to build as many systems as CERN would like, partly thanks to the current European economic climate. Nor has it been able to bring in new workers, even where additional systems have been installed.

So it appears that the LHC schedule may not be met. Well at least the earth wasn’t destroyed by the darned thing. Perhaps the funding lag is related to the LHC already having discovered the Higgs Boson. As explained here in this video, that apparently was the main mission of the LHC, and it accomplished it promptly and left the Standard Model intact. Now what?

V’ger, we are the Creator

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

CNN reports on a 1600 pound piece of tin with no memory, whose fictional younger sibling is the star of a movie:

Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977, 16 days apart. As of Thursday, according to NASA’s real-time odometer, Voyager 1 is 11.7 billion miles from Earth. Its sibling, Voyager 2, is 9.5 billion miles from our planet…Voyager 1 is being hailed as the first probe to leave the solar system…The probe will fly near a star in about 40,000 years…Both Voyager probes carry time capsules known as “the golden record,” a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disc with images and sounds so that extraterrestrials could learn about us…Voyager 1 has only 68 KB of memory on board

Half a billion years ago, complex creatures suddenly appeared on earth, with no antecedents in the fossil records. You can read more about that here. What caused the change is a mystery. For our part, we wouldn’t be surprised if a large monolith was responsible.

We won’t pile on after the Putin spanking

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Not a good week if you’ve lost Joe Klein (however, Nick Kristof is still on board!). And what about Vlad the Impaler? — “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation…We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Brass.

Change the channel while you can; any mischief the US’s adversaries want to do will get done in the next 40 months or so. So here’s a nice piece on the Fantasticks, and one of ours at the passing of Jerry Orbach. And this trailer for Monty Python is excellent. Much better than the blah blah, which was evident five years ago to anyone who cared to see.

The final frontier?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

How 2013 was seen on Stardate 1513.1

Miscellany

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

VDH comments on our appalling culture, and Thomas Sowell says pretty much the same thing we said the other day. The VDH and Sowell pieces are kind of like bookends. The prattling classes and their media stenographers have no idea how shallow and ignorant they are.

Needed: a new Hays Code and more

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

A culture is sick when it bends over backwards to accommodate any tiny group with a perceived problem, but refuses to deal with truly enormous issues. Fatherless families are the source of much of the senseless violence the nation experiences. In Detroit, 79% of births are to unwed mothers; how can any good come of this?

Another enormous issue is the widespread acceptance of vulgarity, which is shorthand for the abandonment of cultural standards. The Hays Code was eliminated in 1968, and we’ve seen what that has produced. Not all of it is bad of course, but cable TV and the internet have made inappropriate language and other material available to any toddler who can work his iPad. And look at Twitter, where celebrities feel free to say disgusting things in strings of four letter words. Role models!

Moreover, popular music has developed a vile two-track system of debasement. The over-the-air radio version of a tune is edited to delete the real lyrics of the music, though the kids have the real version in the club and in the Cloud. Did we mention that luxury goods and liquor companies conspire with the disgusting producers of this music to get product placement in the lyrics?

So if you create incentives for lost youth — fatherless families, no cultural standards, and encouragement of exploitative, often violent, hedonistic behavior — is it any surprise that you get what you incentivize for?

It’s worth mentioning that the Hays Code was a private, commercial agreement, not government censorship. In the present day, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world could decide to not publish four letter word postings. The broadcasters could decide not to air music that had a non-bowdlerized version available elsewhere. The consumer products companies could decide not to subsidize this rot. There’s probably a way for technology companies to better ensure that the toddlers get Barney instead of porno Barney. As for the unwed mothers and fatherless families, most of those in media and politics have been gutless wonders on this major issue, but we’ve been encouraged to see liberals like Juan Williams and libertarians like Larry Elder speaking clearly about the devastation this has caused. Hard to counter the non-stop propaganda, however.

A new world gets recreated with every new generation. We’ll just have to see whether our current troubles are an irreversible secular decline or more of a cyclical, self-correcting phenomenon.

What explains these curious coincidences?

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

A CNN story from 2005:

Hermes on Wednesday apologized to Oprah Winfrey for turning her away last week, saying that its Paris store was closed to set up for a public relations event when the talk show host stopped by. “Hermes regrets not having been able to accommodate Ms. Winfrey and her team and to provide her with the service and care that Hermes strives to provide to each and every one of its customers worldwide,” the store said in a statement. “Hermes apologizes for any offense taken due to such circumstances.” The store said the incident occurred on June 14 around 6:45 p.m., about 15 minutes after the store closed. It said Winfrey and her team arrived at a time when “a private PR event was being set up inside.”

Harpo Productions spokeswoman Michelle McIntyre said Winfrey “will discuss her ‘crash moment’ when her show returns from hiatus in September.” “Crash” is a film dealing with race relations. The phrase “crash moment” refers to situations where a party feels discriminated against on the basis of skin color.

The New York Daily News cited sources close to Winfrey as saying the talk show host was first rebuffed by a clerk and then a store manager. The Daily News reported Winfrey had gone to the store to buy a watch for singer Tina Turner, her dining partner that night. McIntyre confirmed that account for CNN. The New York Post, in its Monday Page Six gossip column, reported she was turned away because the store had been “having a problem with North Africans lately.” In comments to CNN, an Hermes spokeswoman categorically denied that allegation. “There was never any discussion of North Africans,” she said. “The story is not true.”

Hmmmm. The talk show host appears to have hosted the Crash cast at the time of the DVD release, just after her well-publicized encounter with discrimination in a European luxury store. Where have we seen that before? Oh yes, just the other day, when, in an incredible coincidence, the same woman encountered similar discrimination in a European luxury store just prior to the theatrical release of movie she’s in. How is such a bizarre coincidence possible? Deadline notes that “72% of Fandango’s The Butler ticket-buyers who were surveyed claimed that co-star Oprah Winfrey’s involvement increased their interest in seeing the film.”

So there are two movies (Crash and The Butler) that critics claim overstate facts to fit a dreary, shopworn narrative, and it just happens that prior to their theatrical or DVD release, there are remarkably similar Jim Crow acts of discrimination in non-US luxury boutiques that turn into publicity opportunities that echo the plots of the films. Very interesting.

What’s most depressing about all this is the genuine deep divide in our country. Listening to some of the callers to people like Larry Elder or Dennis Prager, it’s as though the last fifty years in America never happened. Roger Simon is right in his analysis. BTW, if Mark Steyn should run for the Senate, so should Larry Elder, who is really at the top of his game.