I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everything, and I mean everything, is utterly and absolutely context-dependent. It’s literally true on the atomic level, where we cannot accurately measure both position and velocity at the same time. It’s true at the quantum level, where “quantum entanglement” governs behavior that is currently beyond our ability to understand. It’s even applicable in your dating life; the same size-six girl who feels insubstantial to you in the long evenings at home will acquire new heft after you spend a drunken weekend away with a size two.
Then again, as everyone I’ve ever dated says, after the manner of Meghan Trainor: “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two.”
It’s tempting to assume that Fox is stuffed to the rafters with right-wing ideologues, but that’s not the case. Fox is just as Prog infested as every other media company. This could very well be part of an effort to make the channel more Prog friendly. It could also be the dream-child of someone in management, to remake the network to appeal to younger, gayer viewers.
But even if it isn’t, what difference does it make?
CNN has the same economics as Fox News. They can fully engage in whatever politics they choose, because they get paid even if no one bothers watching. They are tax farmers, relying on an oligopoly to enforce their right to skim a buck a month from your cable bill. It’s why cable bills are over $100 per month and it is also why cord cutting is the new thing. If people could pick the channels they buy through their cable subscription, all of the cable news guys would go away.
Besides, Fox News is still affected by Robert Conquest’s second law: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” An example from the past:
[A] good lesson to recall in all of this is the story of Time Magazine. Henry Luce founded the magazine, as well as Life, Sports Illustrated and other famous publications. He was also involved in radio, newsreels and eventually television. His company was the first multimedia corporation. In his heyday, he was considered the most influential private citizen in the country. The reason for that is his publications reached almost every American. He was an arbiter of the news.
Luce was also rabidly anti-communist and regularly used his media outlets to do battle with the Progs of his day. He opposed most of what FDR tried to do in office. It was Luce who came to the rescue of Whittaker Chambers, when the the Progs had him at the top of their enemies list. Chambers worked for Luce, not only earning a paycheck, but writing for his publications. Luce helped Bill Buckley get started, thus helping the post-war conservative movement come to life. Henry Luce’s media empire was anti-Left.
It was not, however, explicitly right-wing. After Luce died, his media company was slowly infiltrated by lunatics. By the 60’s it was unrecognizable. By the 70’s it was fully refashioned into a weapon of the Left. Even though its over the top Progressive bias slowly killed its circulation, the people running it did not care. What mattered was promoting the one true faith, even if it destroyed the institution from which it was broadcast.
You won’t find this in the history books, but sometime around 1979, all the former hippies realized that they really kinda liked capitalism. Oh, not the war and racism stuff, but the other stuff. The stuff stuff. Think Mother Simpson running credit checks at Tom Hayden’s Porsche dealership. Or, think Hillary Clinton doing anything. Live like a satrap while preaching equality, that’s the Modern Left.
And as it turns out, the New Soviet Man — that “dehumanized slurry of deracinated emotionless self-deluding automaton” — is actually the ultimate consumer. Marx, child of the Enlightenment that he was (born 1818), thought that a person stripped of all the old culture would be truly free. We know that a person stripped of the old culture will do anything, anything at all, to belong. Which is why we can sell him anything and everything.
And which is why, unwilling to look directly into the sky, they created a deity out of dirt, and made up all sorts of parables about the troposphere.
One of the easiest ways to spot so-called “chick lit” on the shelves of your local bookseller: look for an incomplete picture of a woman. The reasoning, I assume, is that you can more easily identify with a character if you only get to see part of her.
The end result is something like this:
TODAY'S BEST MOMENT: i'm sitting on the stoop & a woman walks by and says, hi, u don't remember me, but i was the legs on ur book cover.
Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose work focused on war atrocities and denounced anti-Semitism and tyrannical dictators, has died. He was 84.
Ginny Hensley, a spokeswoman for Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, confirmed Yevtushenko’s death. Roger Blais, the provost at the University of Tulsa, where Yevtushenko was a longtime faculty member, said he was told Yevtushenko died Saturday morning.
“He died a few minutes ago surrounded by relatives and close friends,” his widow, Maria Novikova, was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. She said he died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure.
Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union while in his 20s, with poetry denouncing Josef Stalin. He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with Babi Yar, the unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the anti-Semitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union.
Yevtushenko was invited to the University of Tulsa in 1992; he would teach there for the next quarter-century. His widow teaches Russian at Edison School in midtown Tulsa. Zima, his birthplace — Zima Junction was the title of a 1955 poem — is where the Trans-Siberian Railway meets the river Oka.
In my time on earth I’ve read and heard much advice about this, most of it unsolicited. What I’ve learned in all that time boils down to just three basic things:
1. Pissing people off on purpose doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does ridiculing them, mocking them, marginalizing them, condescending to them…
2. Putting people on notice that it is exceptionally quick & easy to get you pissed off & bent out of shape, also doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does that time-honored tactic I have taken to call, “I surely must be the best-informed among the two of us in this exchange, for behold, see how incredibly hard it is to tell me anything.”
3. The above two items, against my reasonable expectations, are somehow privileged knowledge. We have a metric fuck-ton of people walking around among us, who can dress themselves, drive cars, hold jobs, etc … but demonstrate zero knowledge about them.
And if this be true in Real Life, as it most certainly seems to be, imagine how much more so it must be when all the participants are reduced to strings of pixels. A lot of people have bailed on Twitter simply because of the aforementioned metric, um, quantity.
“It is indeed a goddam noisy box,” Jubal Harshaw said to the Man from Mars. And of course he was right:
I think I’m done with local news. This morning they reported on a string of burglaries a couple counties south of me and spent about a minute on the story, and then lavished five minutes (roughly) on one of those “Florida Man” stories where someone gets themselves in trouble with the law in a highly stupid way and I was like, “I could use more detail about the LOCAL burglaries so I could know what to do to avoid becoming a victim” but of course, entertainment value and the freak-show that modern life has become seems to be more important and probably gets more eyeballs.
Once again, I think of my plan to offer a “Just News” channel that ran the important news stories — no celebrity fluff, no dumb-criminal stories, no oversweetened Human Interest stuff — and repeated it every 15 minutes or so. Or maybe devoted 15 minutes to Europe news, 15 minutes to The Americas, 15 minutes to Asia, and 15 minutes to Africa … and then loop it around. (And yeah: Australia would have to go in with Asia, I suppose.)
“You give us 22 minutes,” says WINS Radio in New York, “and we’ll give you the world.” And they’ve been doing that for over 50 years.
Luis immediately spots the finger in the window — gnarled and gray in a hammered bronze box next to shelves crammed with jewelry, its longish fingernail still intact. A typed message in a wood frame next to it explains that this is indeed the forefinger of a “notorious bandit” and “ruthless killer” who was also considered a local hero. That’s a lot of human paradox wrapped up into one little crooked finger in an El Paso pawnshop.
Villa was assassinated in Parral, Chihuahua in 1923: seven riflemen opened fire as he drove his four-year-old Dodge.
Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.
This is consistent with Z’s view that Northern descendents of Puritans have been dominating the culture since, oh, the day after Appomattox.
In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. The trouble is, they are running out of victims to champion. Black guys getting pushed around by rednecks at the polling booth make for sympathetic victims. Mentally unstable men in sundresses wanting access to the girl’s toilet are not good victims. They are ridiculous and championing them makes the champions look ridiculous.
I suggest that “mentally unstable” is far more of a disqualifier than “sundress.” The tallest trans woman I know of is a sturdy six foot five, but nothing in her background makes me think she’s out there gunning for anyone’s daughter. (Rule of thumb here: you’re going to look suspicious, regardless of your claimed identification, if you look like you’d fit right into a page full of People of Walmart.)
There’s also a noticeable lack of villains. Donald Trump is supposed to be the 12th invisible Hitler, returning to impose a dictatorship on America. The trouble is, Trump sounds like a Jewish guy from Queens and his kids converted to Judaism when they got married. So far, his most enthusiastic supporter among world leaders is the Prime Minister of Israel. They ain’t making Hitlers like they used to.
This reflects a generally ahistorical attitude: if the most villainous person you can come up with is Hitler, I’d argue that you’re not thinking hard enough.
If you ask me — and I’m sure you didn’t — this is the proper approach to der Führer:
The policy experts and political wizards of our age are men who possess no standing outside the very narrow field of politics. In the higher reaches, none of them have made a mark in a field outside of politics, like science or business. They prefer to restate, in slightly different terms, the views of a hundred predecessors, so they can invest all of their energies into currying favor with the powerful.
It is often argued that the appeal of politics is that it allows people to gain power and wealth, without having to invent a better mousetrap or figure out a better way to build a mousetrap. The reality is that the main attraction for guys like Kristol is they see punditry and commentary as fields where there is no right answer. Science, math, business, these are fields with right answers and more important, wrong answers. In the productive world, wrong answers have consequences.
Third-rate men will always be drawn to endeavors where everyone can claim to be right, by simply saying that everyone else is wrong. That’s how a Bill Kristol can trade on the family name and his father’s accomplishments to lever himself into positions of authority within the Republican Party. He is good at the small strategies of parlor room politics, but entirely worthless at everything else. It is no wonder that he fell for every crackpot policy idea of the last 25 years. He had no basis from which to judge them.
A corollary to the above: Those inside the bubble have a tendency to resent intruders from without. Witness the quite horrid things said about EPA chief Scott Pruitt and Ed Sec Betsy DeVos, both of whom came under a lot of fire from people who, more than anything else in the whole world, wanted to see a continuation of the status quo.
If you’re keeping score, the Anishinaabe people are indigenous peoples of Canada and the United States, including, among others, the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Mississaugas, and Algonquin peoples. Mostly, they live in the northeastern US and southeastern Canada, though some of the Kickapoo, no thanks to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, wound up in Oklahoma.
Day after day, week after week, the strange lawn ritual with the soccer ball went on and on. In truth, he had long since pulled far ahead of the buffalo in goals, but what do buffalo know about keeping score?
In time, however, the hunting season came around. He looked out of his house on the first morning and saw the buffalo waiting for him, the soccer ball in front of the forward, the defensive buffalo pacing slowly back and forth by the water trough. It came to him then that he could never shoot them. It would spoil the season — and the soccer season, in the deserts of Utah, is never really over.
On a hot afternoon soon after, he looked out his window and discovered, much to his delight and his neighbors’ shock, that the two buffalo on his lawn were indeed male and female.
Now it is two years later and he has four buffalo on his lawn. He doesn’t hunt anything anymore. Says he’s lost the taste for it. His old hunting buddies come by every so often and razz him about the buffalo.
“You started with two and couldn’t shoot them,” one said. “Now you got four.”
It’s slightly embarrassing to admit that I’m an unhealthily sizable fan of the movie (500) Days of Summer, to the extent that I may well have seen it five hundred times. My reasons are … personal. But aren’t they always.
Of course they are.
So imagine my compounded surprise and delight, when, while watching another movie, The Longest Week, I noticed a number of similarities with the aforementioned. Striking similarities. The narration — heck, the narratOR. Some of the scene framing, in particular the bedroom conversation scenes. How closely Olivia Wilde’s character looked, at times, to Zooey Deschanel’s. The French entertainment scenes. The meeting a guy while reading a book scene. I could go on, but this musing is … ample.
There are, it is said, only seven basic plots. I have had long stretches when I wondered what happened to the other six.
If I were an activist of any stripe, and someone who people actually listened to, instead of, you know, me … I’d put out a call to “cancel” Valentine’s Day this year.
Not for any reason about frustration with romantic love (though there is that, and I get tired of how V-Day is all about the romance, and so those of us who have none in our lives are left standing on the outside of the restaurant on a cold night, looking in at the happy couples eating good food in the warmth).
No. It’s because I see precious little love in the world: humanity, at least the US culture form of it I see, is becoming more separated and fractionated and I’ve said several times this week that maybe the future of humanity is for all of us to live solo, with as little contact with other humans as possible, because it seems we can’t do interpersonal stuff without it turning into either a fight or a virtue-signalling contest.
Calculated to shock middle‑aged conservatives, the P.A.C. Caravel production is the kind of hypocritically moralistic picture which deplores debauchery while wallowing in it. Taking a determinedly lurid approach, it sees liberal Sweden in terms of declining Rome, morality crumbling everywhere, and full of hedonistic degenerates who “think they are happy.” Luigi Scattini’s leering, loaded narration, read by actor Edmond Purdom, and the former’s obviously staged direction will prove thoroughly unconvincing to sophisticated viewers.
In patently titillating manner, and for no discernible purpose, it “depicts” the evils of permissiveness in Sweden: sex education, leading directly to wild immorality, with contraceptives available by vending machine; a gang rape by Swedish Hell’s Angels types (“raped in the dirt by two, or three, or five of the pack”); exploration of adoption problems (an excuse for a childbirth scene); TV interviews with teenage girls who reflect on their first sexual experiences at ages six and up; teenagers who make out freely in front of helpless parents; Swedish women’s preference for black males (“more primitive, more to the point”); wife‑swapping clubs; lesbianism; pornography; rampant alcoholism, with derelicts eating shoe polish for its alcohol; the obligatory drug sequence; and plenty of nudity.
The American trailer for this wild and woolly spectacle, slightly cleaned up:
Inevitably, the soundtrack would contain neo-jazzy poppish stuff by composer Piero Umiliani, with titles like “Fotomodelle” and “You Tried to Warn Me.” Then there was this inexplicable number:
At least it’s memorable.
(Via Meh.com, which inexplicably used “Fotomodelle” to sell a Nicole Miller hat/scarf set.)
I caught up with this writer at HelloGiggles, and I stared for several minutes at her name before deciding it was a pseudonym, and a really great pseudonym at that: “Trilby,” of course, from Georges du Maurier’s novel — under the baleful influence of the wicked hypnotist Svengali, she becomes the most honored singer of her time despite being completely tone-deaf — and the very center of John Beresford Tipton, who gave away millions of dollars, one million at a time, on the TV series The Millionaire. (You never saw Tipton, only his operative, one Michael Anthony.) Somebody, I decided, gave this monicker a whole lot of thought before putting it on the road.
In the role of Somebody, it turns out, are Trilby’s parents: film director Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Tender Mercies) and novelist Virginia Duigan (Days Like These). Is Virginia Duigan related to director John Duigan (The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting)? She’s his sister. So we can assume that it’s not a pseudonym at all. My humblest apologies to Ms. Beresford for totally misinterpreting everything, as I too often do.
The very design of EQD has always been essentially suicidal. Unlike other sites that will upload people’s content themselves, we typically embed a preview. Our comic and video posts are a good example. We embed and send you away to go sub or follow on the creators page. This helps them build up a following that incentivizes them to make more, but there is always a bit of attrition when it comes to people returning to us.
Me, I’m just surprised they aren’t pushing Desu Daily harder.
Some time during the last century, I was trying to create the illusion that I could play piano, and the poor woman tasked with Making It So immediately noticed that the family instrument was tuned a hair differently. “The current standard calls for the A above middle C to be tuned to 440 Hz.”
Compulsive math whiz that I was at the time, I immediately found something wrong with this, based on my devotion to C Major: should not middle C, the anchor of the entire keyboard, be a nice binary multiple like 256 Hz? Tune to A=440, and middle C becomes 261 point something, which seems inelegant. She reassured me that the Pitch Police were not on the way, and I went back to fumbling with scales.
And I didn’t think about it for at least fifty years, until an image was dropped into my Facebook timeline:
On ITFF (a group for academics on Ravelry), we got an idea rolling for a “fake” music festival, based on the band names that different people proposed “that would be a good band name.” It’s essentially a series of in-jokes, and I am so seldom “in” on “in jokes” that it pleases me to be in on this.
What pleases me even more? One of the bands I proposed (Rändöm Ümläuts — a Spinal Tap tribute band) got a plurality of votes and is therefore a “headliner.”
And we are definitely overdue for a Spinal Tap tribute band, even if they can only crank it up to 10 or even 9.5.
Back in August, we discovered potentially the perfect Oregon pastime: goat yoga. Basically, goat yoga is yoga except instead of with no goats, goat yoga has goats.
Those goats walk through the class, blending farm animal with asana. In August, Lainey Morse, owner of No Regrets Farm in Albany where the class takes place, told us, “My goats are very social and friendly animals and love to interact with people.”
“Animals are known to have so many health benefits for humans as well,” she added, “so the mix of goats and yoga seemed to fit.”
Kayser, before they were Kayser-Roth, used to plug their unmentionables with the slogan “You owe it to your audience.” It was perfectly sensible for them to buy ad space in Playbill:
Waiting for Lefty, which opened on this date in 1935, occupies a unique spot in the history of American theater: it was Clifford Odets’ first play to be produced, staged by the Group Theatre, and it was a hit for both Odets and the Group. The subtitle, too long for Playbill — on this page, anyway — was “A Play in Six Scenes, Based on the New York City Taxi Strike of February 1934.” The storyline:
The piece is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company, but inspired by an actual taxi strike. The focus alternates between the drivers’ union meeting and vignettes from the workers’ difficult and oppressed lives. Not all are taxi drivers. A young medical intern falls victim to anti-Semitism; a laboratory assistant’s job is threatened if he doesn’t comply with orders to spy on a colleague; couples are thwarted in marriage and torn apart by the hopelessness of economic conditions caused by the Depression. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike, which brought the entire opening night audience to its feet. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street.
And come to think of it, rather a lot of hosiery mills were struck in the 1930s.
[T]he reason I like these shows is probably the same reason a lot of people dislike or deride them: they are unrealistically ideal. The people in them seem to have fairly perfect lives — they must have a lot of money; their houses are always clean; they live near good places to buy food so they don’t have to fight the crowds at the Wal-mart and they don’t have to try to find the least-squashed-looking cauliflower in the produce section there. And you know what? I want that fantasy. I want to believe that someone out there doesn’t lead a life like mine, which feels like it’s about thirty percent making it up as I go along, twenty percent having no idea what I’m doing, and fifty percent fearful that I’m actually doing it all wrong. And I know (intellectually, again) that the people don’t have perfect lives — surely Ree Drummond and her husband argue sometimes, or their kids aren’t as sweet and cooperative as we see on the show, and Ina Garten probably gets angry at times or maybe has that one flakey friend who agrees to do something for her but never does — but emotionally, I want to believe there are people out there who don’t seem to have so many big messes in their lives.
I can’t imagine Ina Garten angry, at least not without the accompaniment of apocalyptic-looking storm clouds just above her brow.
On that Life Ratio, I figure there’s a 50-percent chance that I’m doing it all wrong, but I figure the rest of the species routinely faces basically the same unfavorable odds, which takes some (not all) of the sting out of it.
Dick Stanley, after avoiding Game of Thrones as assiduously as I do, binged on the first season, and has come to the following conclusion:
The best thing about the series, as the fellow who wrote the introduction to the first book puts it, is the way it proves that no one in their right mind would want to live in medieval times. Even the rich then barely lived above the level of our lower middle class. Their faces are always dirty because they never bathe. The usual Hollywood incongruity of all those impeccably straight white teeth looks even more ridiculous. And instead of focusing on the sorcery, the story shows the real evil to be the people of the times. The powerless as well as the powerful.
And he finds one connection to contemporary times. (No, I won’t spoil it for you.)
In 2015, I read a novel called The Look of Love by Sarah Jio. How it unwinds:
Love, they say (for certain values of “they”), is where you find it. Jane Williams finds it in unexpected places, in an unexpected manner: something mysterious takes place in her limbic system, and she can actually somehow see it. The day she turns twenty-nine, she receives a greeting, an instruction and a warning, all rolled into a single communication: she has this gift, she is told, to enable her to identify six different types of love, which she must complete before the first full moon after her thirtieth birthday — or the consequences will be dire. Her neurologist, meanwhile, predicts a different set of dire consequences if she doesn’t have an operation on her temporal lobe, which may kill her “seeing” ability.
It was a dandy book, with an almost-satisfactory resolution — I don’t think having everything neatly tied up would have improved it any — and I looked up more Jio. I found several books, and several amazing photographs:
Perhaps unexpectedly, she sells a heck of a lot of books in Turkey:
To me, it seems like there’s a certain bravery (maybe that’s not the right word) in the small-town Christmas decorating. The world is going to heck — it has always been going to heck, whether it was because of the Depression or the war or unrest or a drought or the steel mill closing or layoffs at the Ford plant — and yet, those small towns still decorated. They still said there was something worth celebrating. (And perhaps, in those times when the world seemed especially to be going to heck, the celebrations were even more needed and more important). And you did what you could, even if you couldn’t have much monetary outlay — you made divinity with eggs from the farm and sugar carefully kept back from each month’s ration. Or you took down the mirror from the living room wall and turned it into a frozen pond with some cotton wool and a couple of the children’s toys. Or the city fathers dug out the previous years’ decorations and cleaned them up and made them make do.
The antithesis of Black Friday? Of course. And worthwhile precisely because that’s what it is.
Like every harebrained idea the ivory tower has farted out in the last half-century, Foucault’s “power / resistance” stuff is trivially true. If you have something I want, you have “power” over me — you can set the terms of the exchange. If I pay your price, I “submit.” But if the price is too high, I will search for other ways to get it — I will “resist.” Of course, all this talk of “price” and “exchange” makes the whole deal look a lot like capitalism …
… because it IS capitalism, squeezed into gimp-suit jargon. I was a bit too young for the singles’ bar scene, but this is exactly how the world’s Kate Milletts described dating back in the Disco Era: commodity exchange, and isn’t it just awful how men expect sex after shelling out a week’s paycheck on dinner and drinks? That they got this notion from a guy who’d give Andrew Sullivan’s RawMuscleGlutes a vigorous spanking tells you everything you need to know about Second-Wave Feminism, but that’s irrelevant. The point is that only a Cheeto-dusted basement dweller would read this stuff and think yes, this is a deep and meaningful way of describing human interaction. Which is why it took academia by storm.
And once you start looking at the world this way, it gets harder and harder to stop. Foucault didn’t; he went full retard, arguing that modern penitentiaries, like modern medical centers, trick us into participating in our own slavery. We don’t draw-and-quarter people anymore, says Foucault, because early modern governments so arranged the “technologies of power” that we internalize the ruling elite’s expectations for us, making gaudy public torture unnecessary.
Actually, a Presidential-election campaign meets my definition of “gaudy public torture,” and God knows it’s unnecessary.