The discreet elite

Jack Baruth explains why Woody Allen and Roman Polanski had to get away with it, and it’s not “male privilege” or “rape culture” or any of that yammer:

Had young men made the allegations, the reaction would have been the same.

No, the reason everyone winks at Roman Polanski anally raping a thirteen-year-old girl or Woody Allen forcing a seven-year-old child into a closet is simple: society, as a whole, has decided that the souls of the abusers are bigger, and more vibrant, and more important than those of the victims. After all, Polanski directed the admittedly brilliant Chinatown. What had that girl ever done for anyone? And Woody Allen made all sorts of films that, if they perhaps fell flat in flyover country, resonated deeply with our privileged coastal overlords. Measured next to those brilliant pictures, who cares about Dylan Farrow’s vagina and what’s been in it?

And as you may remember, Polanski’s defenders became quite irate at the cavalier treatment of Their Hero by mere governments, and the repeated references to his victim bit o’ fun:

What’s the big deal? She should be grateful; it could have been Michael Bay or someone without talent.

It has always been thus, with every elite ever established since the Neanderthals began to select on the basis of, well, anything: privilege has its perks, and if you complain about that, you just don’t understand how the world works.

This is, not incidentally, why the current Republican establishment is so utterly devoid of feck: they’re convinced that if they can spout the right platitudes, they too can drive women off bridges in the dead of night and be lionized for it.

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The J is for

Actually, I don’t know what it’s for, except to give her a last name of sorts: the Wikipedia article about Jessie J begins with “Not to be confused with Jessy J, Juicy J, or Jessie James.”

So there. Anyway, the Grammy-outfit roundup from neo-neocon brought this picture and a possibly dismissive caption. “Hot pants are back,” said neo. “The top half speaks for itself, or tries to:”

Jessie J at a post-Grammy party 2014

I tried to find out if this was typical of Jessie J’s garb, and stumbled upon this outfit, which she wore to the Royal Variety Performance last fall, attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. And if Chuck and Camilla were kind of formal, well, Jessie wasn’t:

Jessie J at the Royal Variety Performance 2013

In Jessie’s defense, she’s not exactly waving stuff in your face.

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A mere twelfth of a minute

You’ve already heard of the Five-Second Rule. What you may not have known is that there’s a related corollary:

When transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer, if you drop a clean but damp article of clothing to the floor, it will not pick up dirt from the floor if you pick it up within five seconds. If you do, you can just throw it in the dryer.

Been there, done rather a lot of that.

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Doing asbestos we can

Marie has gutted many old houses over the years, and she hasn’t always taken the precautions she should have:

Somehow I’m wary of lead paint, wearing full body-armour and a ventilator to strip wood, but oblivious to asbestos wearing only a t-shirt and shorts to put in a floor on top of the attic insulation.

And asbestos is genuinely nasty stuff, though that nastiness only recently persuaded the Canadian government to allow asbestos production to die in Quebec:

The future of asbestos mining in Quebec ground to a halt [in 2013] after the newly elected government of Pauline Marois announced it would not honour a commitment of the previous government to lend the Jeffery Mine $58 million to restart production…

As recently as 2010, Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 per cent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries.

More than 50 countries ban the mining and use of asbestos because it causes cancer, but Canada, traditionally a major exporter, has successfully lobbied in the past to keep it off a UN list of hazardous substances.

Residents of the area were of course delighted when the “White Gold” was discovered in 1879; the town of Asbestos was founded around the mine. They don’t mention it so much anymore, preferring to talk about “cultural, social and sporting organizations.”

And this is what gets to me. Between 2001 and 2011, the population of the town grew, from 6580 to 7096, and the median age of its residents went up by four and a half years: 48.4 for men, 53.5 for women. This does not sound promising.

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Strange search-engine queries (419)

It wasn’t so easy getting hold of the logs this week: they were buried under a quarter-inch of ice, two inches of snow, and wispy traces of the dreaded Freezing Fog. But we persevered somehow, and here’s what we found:

clankity meaning:  What you get when you look up a word in that newfangled steampunk dictionary.

why wont my 1990 4 cylinder 2.0 liter ford probe go into reverse:  It’s gone all clankity on you.

defordable:  Something Lincoln needs to be.

ferragamo patent braniff:  I don’t think they pay flight attendants enough to wear shoes like that anymore.

bektok gamas:  Is this a new line of shoes?

What is the meaning of b in automatic mirage glx in shifting lever:  Read the manual. If you don’t have the manual you are not fit to drive.

how does covalent bonds involve with mpemba effect:  We’re sorry, this is one of the answers that was previously frozen. We’ll try to thaw it out later.

Xxx daver dashie India com:  Well, it’s not my little Dashie.

outgoing mail weather issues baltimore md:  Your electric bill is still due Tuesday. Nice try.

will a nissan automatic transmission fit a mazda:  Probably not. If it’s the only slushbox you can afford, then definitely not.

your fifteen minutes is up:  Yes, they is.

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Oh, those lonely rivers

Cover art for Bear Family release I Hunger For Your TouchAlex North and Hy Zaret are no doubt beaming from whatever cloud they’ve been uploaded to; there have been perhaps a thousand different recordings of “Unchained Melody,” a throwaway song from a 1955 Warner Bros. prison film that caught on immediately with the general public, even those who wouldn’t be caught dead seeing a 1955 Warner Bros. prison film. Thirty-one of those recordings are collected on a new Bear Family set called Unchained Melody: I Hunger For Your Touch, which contains all the versions you know, along with rather a lot of the ones you don’t, or at least rather a lot of the ones I don’t.

After Hy Zaret’s death in 2007, I wrote this:

“Unchained Melody,” as it was called, hit the charts in four versions in ’55; Les Baxter (Capitol 3055) took it to Number One, but his version was more or less an instrumental (there’s a brief chorus), leaving the vocal prize to Al Hibbler (Decca 29441), who coaxed it to #3 and bestowed upon it pop-standard status. Lots of people recorded it over the next decade or so; Phil Spector tossed it into a 1965 Righteous Brothers session as the B-side to “Hung On You” (Philles 129), the intended follow-up to “Just Once in My Life.” But “Hung On You” never broke Top 40, and DJs turned the 45 over to find, not the usual Spector throwaway instrumental, but a lovingly-produced Bobby Hatfield solo performance in front of the Wall of Sound at its lushest. (This being a B-side, rumors persist to this day that the other Righteous fellow, Bill Medley, actually produced it; I have my doubts, though Medley’s production for the Brothers’ post-Spector discs for Verve demonstrates his mastery of the Wall.) “Unchained Melody” climbed to #4; its inclusion in the 1990 romantic fantasy Ghost led Verve to reissue the single, which reached #13. (A re-recording by the Brothers also charted, reaching #19.)

Zaret, of course, approved. He was reportedly not amused by a George Martin-produced version by the Goons, which Parlophone stuffed back into the Abbey Road vaults before it could see the light of day, prompting the Goons to move to Decca. The recording finally surfaced in 1990, and apparently not even Dr. Demento would play it.

The Bear Family set includes a version by Todd Duncan, who sang the song in Unchained; it did not chart, despite Duncan’s brand-name status — George Gershwin himself had tapped Duncan for the lead in Porgy and Bess — perhaps because Duncan’s operatic baritone seemed out of place on mid-Fifties pop radio, and perhaps because the record was saddled with the title “Lonely Rivers.” Judge for yourself after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Making a fuss over the bus

The name is “EMBARK,” and it’s the name I’ve seen painted on exactly one city bus so far. (Most of them, in fact, seem to have full-length exaltations of oil, courtesy of Harold Hamm and Continental Resources.) The city sent a bookmark with this month’s water bill, detailing the following changes:

Re-aligned for optimum connectivity and efficiency, the redesigned bus routes provide a solid foundation for future transit enhancements.

Pending further announcements, I assume this means “We get near the streetcar routes.”

Designed with performance in mind, buses will travel major arterial roadways to achieve 30-minute service, and create two high-performance 15-minute service corridors.

The current standard is — well, calling it a “standard” implies something is actually followed.

Driven by performance, all buses are equipped with cutting-edge technology including automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices, onboard cameras, audible stop annunciation system, and onboard public WiFi.

How to explain AVL? Let’s try this: “Where the hell is Number 108? It’s supposed to be on Route 5 at 122nd and Penn!”

Powered by innovation, customer-focused tools like text notifications, journey planning, and mobile tools (to name a few) will be available for customer convenience and accountability.

“Will be” means this summer, they say. And they probably need to combine as many of those tools as possible into a single phone app.

So far there’s not a lot of promotional material; there’s a web site, with a brief video clip and a place to sign up for spam. I’m not sure whether all this will make for a better bus experience, but it’s hard to imagine how it could be much worse than the way it’s been.

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One of those “weird tricks”

You may even have heard this on the radio. Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News certainly has:

It’s a simple ad. No music or special effects. Just an announcer talking. But he speaks with an urgency that grabs your attention:

“If you’re a baby boomer or a senior, please listen closely to this important message. Politicians in Washington are quietly plotting to decrease your Social Security payments drastically. And they want to do it soon.”

This is consistent with current Washington policy, which is to beggar the middle class, buy off the proles, and enrich the elites; but Social Security’s third-rail status tends to insulate it from the worst governmental ideas.

Also current Washington policy: the War of All Against All. From that same radio spot:

“In fact, despite rising prices at the gas pump, grocery store and doctor’s office, retirees have received a mere 1.3 percent annual increase to their Social Security checks. Meanwhile, food stamp recipients have seen their payouts increase over 30 percent under the Obama administration. That’s shocking.”

Which latter was part of the dubious “stimulus package,” long since expired; SNAP has since been trimmed back a bit. But that’s not what they came to tell you:

“So when we stumbled upon a weird trick that could add up to $1,000 to your monthly Social Security checks, we knew we had to share it with you. To get started, simply go to [link redacted].”

And if you go there?

If you go, you’ll discover this is just a come-on to get your credit card number for a trial subscription to financial newsletters. And those newsletters tout even more government freebies.

Of course, those terrible people in Washington can take away those freebies more easily than they can cut Social Security, but you’re not supposed to know that.

And if you’re supposed to resent all those freeloaders on food stamps, yet you send away for all this stuff to get your very own government cheese — well, what does that say about you?

(Via this Jeff Greenfield tweet.)

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Knickety split

What the cameras came to see, apparently, was Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Durant, and Durant had all the better of it. Then again, Durant guarded ‘Melo most of the game, and when he wasn’t — well, Kendrick Perkins went after him at the 1:41 mark in the fourth, and Perk laid him low. By then, of course, it was academic: the Thunder were up by double digits; the Knickerbockers went on their unmerry way with yet another road loss, 112-100, certainly closer than what the Thunder did to them on Christmas day but still not the sort of thing that makes Mike Woodson feel better about his future.

Anthony wound up shooting 5-19 for 15 points, including 1-5 from beyond the arc, and collected five fouls for his trouble. The Knicks, sensibly, did not rely on ‘Melo for all their offense; both Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire knocked down 16, and Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert scored 12. (Shumpert got all his points from outside, hitting four of eight treys; he took only one shorter shot, and missed it.) While the Knicks were outrebounded by the Thunder 41-38, New York retrieved far more from the offensive glass (12 vs. 5), staying close early on with second-chance points.

Meanwhile, Durant, the master of first-chance points, threw down for 41 (12 of 22) and missed a triple double by one assist; KD trailed Perkins 11-10 in rebounds. Reggie Jackson put up 19 for the day; Derek Fisher led a relatively quiet OKC bench with ten.

Spotted in garbage time: former Thunderman Cole Aldrich, credited with one assist in one minute, and The Artest Currently Known As Metta World Peace, who hit his one and only shot.

Blazers, Lakers, then All-Star break. Not the scariest section of schedule, and it’s the last time the Thunder will see the Blazers in the regular season. (Portland is up 2-1 in the season series.) After the break: six in a row at home. Then again, the first opponent is Miami.

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Although it may be cute, it’s just a substitute

Smokey Robinson has his reservations about social media:

Legendary Motown singer/composer Smokey Robinson thinks texting, Facebook and Twitter have a real hold on young people. “Social media is out of hand,” he told us recently at the National Association of Music Merchants convention here, where he was awarded the “Music for Life” award.

“Social media is running rampant,” he says. “We could get to the point where without those phones or iPads or whatever kids are texting or typing on, they (young people) won’t even know how to communicate, how to sit down and have a conversation with each other verbally.”

Robinson, who either wrote or co-wrote such classics as “My Girl,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “Shop Around” and “I Second That Emotion” for both Motown performers and Robinson and the Miracles, does say he’s comfortable with technology. His Windows Phone is his lifeline, and he’s all over Facebook and Twitter himself. But that’s just for professional reasons.

Well, you know, we gotta dance to keep from crying. (Which is a rarity: a Smokey song that he didn’t write.)

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I’d call this a half-assed approach

Wouldn’t you?

And remember: you can’t spell “masochism” without “Sochi.”

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Memory editing

Previous version of [remembered object] exists. Replace?

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A long way for nothing

It’s 80 miles from my house to Gary’s Chicaros in Enid, which is sufficient reason for me not to go there. But I wouldn’t go there if it were next door and my cupboard were bare:

A restaurant in Enid is getting heat after one of its patrons posted a pretty strong message on social media about discrimination.

The restaurant and bar has been open for more than four decades and carries quite the reputation.

Gary James, owner of Gary’s Chicaros, said, “I’ve been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a faggot.”

He added, “I don’t deal with these people walking down the street with no jobs on welfare.”

Now I’m not about to tell this guy that he has to serve everyone that comes to the door no matter what; it’s his beanery, not mine, and I’m not the local enforcer for Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which as written, and as I read it, doesn’t seem to apply to gay folk or EBT users unless they’re nonwhite. Still, the status quo may be in doubt:

[N]ow that Mr. James’s establishment is starting to raise internet hackles, we wouldn’t be surprised if some legal action from busybodies at the ACLU or NAACP comes his way. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Hackles? Me? Heck, no. I’m just passing on a story that killed my appetite.

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With an eye to the sky

From the fall of 2012, regarding the video of BT’s “13 Angels on My Broken Windowsill”:

The video was shot by Randy Halverson, who, says BT, uses “a technique that could extend the range of viewable light normally visible to the naked eye and create new photography techniques to capture breathtaking visuals of the universe through stunning time-lapse and nature observation.”

Halverson has since shot a video called “Huelux.” As he explains:

I shot Huelux from April-November 2013 in South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. The weather in 2013 made it difficult for me to get some of the shots I wanted. There were many times I planned to shoot the Milky Way or Aurora, and the clouds would roll in. But that also allowed me to get more night storm timelapse than I have any other year.

Huelux from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

I’ve included an embed here, though you really should see this in its full width.

(Via the Presurfer.)

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An unqualified success

Rep. Robert E. Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, is leaving Congress to go practice law again. The Washington Post decided to send him off with a bit of snark:

Only four of Andrews’ hundreds of bills have ever passed the House of Representatives. But none of them passed the Senate, so none made it to the president’s desk.

Even in Congress, where the vast majority of bills fail, that is an unusually awful batting average. By those numbers, Andrews would be America’s least successful lawmaker of the past two decades.

Au contraire, Posties. Andrews should be counted among America’s most successful lawmakers, simply because he managed to concoct no ill-advised regulations, no new entitlements, no additions whatsoever to the Federal Register, in his 23 years in the House. This record, I submit, is enviable, and I would love to see his fellow Democrats — and, yes, even the Republicans — follow his example in years to come.

(Via Bill Quick.)

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Evidently spellbound

Said Royce Young in his Pregame Primer: “You just can’t go dropping games you should win, like tonight.”

Undoubtedly he remembered the last game against Orlando, in which the Thunder, up by a ton, managed to win only by three. He certainly wasn’t predicting this game against Orlando, in which the Thunder, up by a ton, scored a whole two points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and fell behind. OKC began getting stops and occasional buckets; a Thabo Sefolosha trey, assisted by Kevin Durant, put the Thunder up 102-99 with just under two minutes left. One minute later, Serge Ibaka fouled Arron Afflalo a long way from the basket; Afflalo hit two of three free throws, nothing else happened for what seemed to be a very long time, and literally at the last moment, Tobias Harris broke away for a dunk to give the Magic the win, 103-102. “They deserved to win,” conceded radio guy Matt Pinto, and really, they did; they thoroughly outplayed OKC in the second half.

Harris, who was 5-17 up to that point, still was the top scorer for Orlando with 18; Afflalo knocked down 16, and rookie guard Victor Oladipo led the bench with 14. Nikola Vučević nailed the Magic’s only double-double, with exactly ten points and ten rebounds.

Of the 102 Thunder points, 55 came from the forwards; Durant had 29 and 12 assists, the latter tying a career high, and Ibaka had 26. However, nobody else made double figures except Reggie Jackson, who finished with 12. And the one category in which OKC led, they wouldn’t have wanted to: they gave up 15 turnovers, the Magic only nine.

Three more games before the All-Star break: Sunday at home against the Knicks, at Portland Tuesday, finishing against the Lakers on Thursday. It is to be hoped that they don’t try to phone it in, but after tonight, you have to wonder just a little.

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