Archive for Almost Yogurt

Buncha damn heightists

Steve Sailer missed a privilege:

As a person of tallness, I’m struck by how little approbation there is at present toward height prejudice in favor of the tall.

Nobody these days gets additional Intersectional Pokemon Points for being short.

He offers an example from history, as is required in all such cases:

In Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower, she notes that Tory prime minister Lord Salisbury’s cabinet of 1895 averaged 6 feet in height.

Lord Salisbury himself was 6’4″, although he slouched. Queen Victoria’s subjects, however, averaged much less.

Then again, we’re talking 1895 here. Things are different today:

In 1895, to be tall suggested that you enjoyed a privileged upbringing, which is a good thing in a mate, because it suggests you also are in better health and have richer relatives.

On the other hand, these days, height is mostly heritable. And it’s not clear that being genetically taller is all that much better. For example, it modestly boosts one’s chances of cancer, presumably because you have more cells than can go wrong. I had cancer in my 30s and it really wasn’t a good thing.

For what it’s worth, at a hair over six feet, I was the shortest of three boys, only one of whom is actually still alive, at least in the medical sense of the word.

It is said that the taller candidate wins the American presidency, which isn’t always true. In 1885, the first year Salisbury served as PM, the President of the United States was Grover Cleveland, no taller (5’11”) than the man he defeated in the 1884 election, James G. Blaine. In 1888, Cleveland was beaten by relative dwarf Benjamin Harrison, a mere 5’6″. Cleveland recaptured the White House in 1892. By the time Salisbury left office for the final time in 1902, William McKinley (5’7″) had defeated William Jennings Bryan (5’11”) twice.

Barack Obama went 1-for-2; at 6’1″ he was four inches taller than John McCain, half an inch shorter than Mitt Romney. And George W. Bush towered under, so to speak, both John Kerry and Al Gore. If you give me my choice of political philosophies from any of these guys, though, I go back to Lord Salisbury, a conservative in the conservative sense: “Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible.”

And my deepest (within reason) apologies to the late Verne (“Mini-Me”) Troyer, who passed away the day after Steve Sailer started all this ruckus.


But is there Danger?

McG finds fault with that Lost in Space reboot:

[T]he idea of a cast of regulars numbering in the dozens is also a consequence of 21st-century sensibilities, in that a plot line without a large (and of course diverse) variety of social entanglements seems too far outside the range of experience for the half-mythical millennial viewers who inhabit Hollywood’s stereotype factory. How can you relate to characters who aren’t constantly sidetracked from grubby issues like survival by trivial interpersonal drama? Who could live like that??? At my age, I’m more inclined to sympathize with the robot.

There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a market for trivial interpersonal drama, albeit not a particularly discerning one.

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It was inevitable, of course

It’s a theological and philosophical dilemma you’ve surely encountered before:

Guys like Luther and especially John Calvin had a problem: God’s omniscience implies predestination — if God knows everything that will happen (which is the definition of “omniscience”), then obviously He knows everything you’re going to do, which means He knows, and has always known, whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell. But if that’s true, then what did Christ die for? Dying for our sins is pointless — the slate is wiped clean for that second, and only that second, because we’re just going to go on sinning, as God Himself knows full well. For Christ’s death to have done what it did, we must have free will … which means God doesn’t know what we’re going to do minute-to-minute, any more than we ourselves, His poor creatures, do.

There’s an answer for this, of course* (read it later), but it only applies to God. For everyone else selling a Determinist philosophy — Marx, the Stoics, even my beloved Hobbes — the problem is insurmountable. If the Revolution must happen, comrade, then what’s the point of all this “activism”? Y’all are, as the man said, like a group of astronomers who know with mathematical certainty an eclipse is coming… but who immediately form a Party and start murdering people, to make sure it comes. The very foundation of your philosophy has a crack, and all the ugly neologisms in the world can’t fill it.

Still, as they gaze into the abyss, what they’re seeing is not the abyss staring back at them, but a receptacle for more ugly neologisms: imagining a demand, they hasten to provide a supply. And they have no concept of Christ dying for their sins; their priority is making sure that you die for yours, and their idea of generosity is making sure that you know what those sins are, by telling you at every available opportunity.

And now to solve the aforementioned predestination issue:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Get yourself some awe

Of course, the definition has shifted since we were young:

“In my day” generally indicates a Get Off My Lawn sort of person, and Dr Tyson is fairly close to my age, so I really wouldn’t hold it against him. Someone younger, though, might take umbrage:

Okay. I feel about NdGT’s linguistic arbitration about like how I feel about Richard Dawkins holding forth on anything BUT Evolutionary Biology: “Who died and made you King?”

I mean, just because the guy is famous and has some clout (possibly unmerited, I don’t know. I may be biased because I am suspicious of people who have an advanced degree — like Dawkins — but get famous mainly for their pronouncements, or their outrageousness (that’s Dawkins again), or for being generally smooth and good looking (Not Dawkins).

But yeah. Why should I consider his opinion on how I should speak any more heavily than that of any other non-specialist in elocution or whatever.

A person may be an expert on topics A through Y and yet not know squat about topic Z. I know my mouth occasionally writes checks no brain I know can cash, but I try to avoid sounding like an expert.

And there are always occasions to ask “Who died and made you King of anything?”

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It helps to be available

This would seem indisputable:

Oh, I reviewed that very book myself. And I still recommend it to anyone who wants to know what it was like back in the days when adults first discovered they had to ask their kids for tech support.

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Everyone who loved Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was primed to enjoy his second novel, Something Happened. Few did. I remember thinking: “Christ, this weenie whines more than Holden Caulfield with a hangnail.” Maybe we’d waited so long that we were hoping Bob Slocum would turn out to be, if not Yossarian 2.0, certainly Major Major Major, Junior.

Which, as it happened, didn’t happen:

The reason is fairly obvious to anyone who’s suffered through the whole book: nothing happens.

Something Happened, hailed by critics from every corner of the literary world, is a five hundred page veh ist mir from first-person narrator Robert Slocum. Slocum, you see, is not happy. He wants us to know that. And he wants us to know that he blames everyone and everything in his life … except himself.

Some story.

Then again, this was 1974. Scroll the calendar thirty years forward and we’d be dealing with Bob Slocum dot com. Then again, that Bob Slocum has made something of himself:

Bob is a past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia and has served on numerous committees and boards including The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and Extra Special People, a successful non-profit in Watkinsville, GA.

Bob resides in Athens, GA and has been married to his wife Lisa for 26 years. They have four children, with the two youngest still in college. Bob says “there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone achieve home ownership,” and he believes that real estate ownership is the most powerful tool for contributing to a strong economy and safe communities.

Here’s to you, Bob. Keep on keeping on.

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Dysadventures in academia

This is apparently a more common experience than I’d wanted to believe:

Every N years, where N is a small prime number, each department in my college does a post-tenure review of faculty members (1/N of tenured folks get reviewed per annum). I just received my own review, in which the evaluators (a small committee composed of some of my full-professor colleagues) wrote a couple of paragraphs on my research, teaching, and service. The conclusion is that I exceeded department expectations. I was surprised by the conclusion, to be honest. I think I am doing OK, but nothing special.

But when I read their summary paragraph, it really sounded awesome. Money, papers, graduated students, high-level service at the university and in the professional community, teaching evaluations far above average even in low-level required courses with large enrollments of grumpy undergrads. So, on paper, I might indeed look awesome. I might look like I exceed expectations.

I don’t feel awesome.

I think something broke last year. Maybe this is just burnout, but burnout (at least to me) has a cyclic nature. Instead, this feels irreversible. I think my job, or some parts of my job, might have actually broken my heart. I fell out of love with my job — my vocation — and, if my romantic past is any indication, once I am out of love, there is no going back.

People often ask why I stay at my day job. It’s simply because there’s no chance of it being any more than a day job; I have little emotional investment in it, and today, a year and a half or so away from theoretical retirement, it’s far too late to develop any.

According to some statistics, suddenly being thrust into a whirlwind of inactivity tends to increase the death rate. Inasmuch as I’ve always figured the death rate right at 100 percent, I’m giving this notion the back of my emotional hand.

(Via Скрипучая беседка.)

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I, or at least they, spy

A question worthy of consideration, perhaps especially now:

I was wondering why I seem to gravitate to espionage thrillers. I think it’s because I am curious about that moment when civilization breaks down. When does having a copper show up your door change from:

  • taking a trip downtown, talking to your lawyer and getting bailed out, to
  • taking a trip downtown, being taken into the basement and shot in the head.

The guys in these thrillers are all walking the line between civilized society and tyrannical rule. Sometimes they are demented, sometimes they are drunk, and sometimes push comes to shove and they wander off the line a bit and somebody gets hurt.

This, of course, reveals the true question:

So how do you know when the government has really gone over to the dark side? Well, everybody’s standards are different. Lots of people think the government has gone too far already. Some people don’t think it has gone anywhere near far enough.

I may have to think about that for a bit.

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Way cool, Ferg-face

I am totally up for this:

Melissa Joan Hart, who starred in the hit Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All is reportedly starring in and executive producing a reboot of the popular 90s show. Hart will reprise her role as Clarissa Darling, a teenager who broke down the fourth wall to talk to viewers about adolescent issues like boys and family.

The series ran from 1991 to 1994. Although the premise of the reboot is unknown, Hart will reportedly play the matriarch of the family, according to The Hollywood Reporter, who was first to publish news of the reboot.

Mitchell Kriegman, who created the original series, is in talks to return as both a writer and producer.

This would seem to be something of a reversal of Hart’s previous position, circa 2002: “Shirley Temple taught me one thing. And that was once you finish a career, you move on.”

Now if someone at Nick feels like bringing back You Can’t Do That on Television or, even better, Roundhouse, I am so ready.

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That sixteenth minute

There are people out there who would kill, or at least maim, to go viral and make a small fortune in a short time. And then there are those who had virality thrust upon them:

“Told you so,” came Warhol’s voice from behind the drapes.


And a swell butt, too

Fillyjonk, to her dismay, apparently, didn’t get any pie for Pi Day:

I did allude to it in class, because I was talking about measuring tree diameters using a DBH tape, which is scaled to a factor of pi, so when you wrap the tape around the circumference of the tree, it tells you the diameter. Yup some ecologist/forester years back was either (a) sufficiently lazy or (b) sufficiently compulsive to be bugged by the inaccuracy of other diameter-measuring methods that he* came up with a tape that did it automatically.

An eminently sensible invention, if you ask me. But what’s with the asterisk?

* I assume it was a “he,” the measurement is called “Diameter at breast height” but it assumes said “breast” is 4.5 feet off the ground, which would assume a height of around 6′ tall. Also, I DOUBT a woman would put the word “breast” in a measurement after years of hearing guys snicker about it. Wikipedia offers no help, other than to teach me the term “butt swell” (the wide spot at the base of the tree, which makes my inner 12 year old giggle). I had always called it “base” or “root flare” before this…

With Wikipedia, there’s always the chance that an actual 12-year-old wrote any given article.

That said, I suspect there is widespread embarrassment about DBH. It took all of 20 seconds to find a YouTube video that references DBH without ever explaining what it means:

And this guy gives the height off the ground as, not 4.5 feet, but 1.4 meters, which makes me wonder if he really is from Iowa.

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Which of course opens in April

I know very little about this Coming Attraction. We have this:

Shoojit Sircar is all set to take us on a beautiful journey of love, life and relationships. Presenting the official trailer of October, a unique story about love that goes beyond the normal love stories.

The trailer:

Said trailer was released the 12th — day before yesterday — and has seventeen million views on YouTube. I do know that Varun Dhawan, the male lead, is 30ish and dashing; I know from nothing about female lead Banita Sandhu, who is making her Bollywood debut at 19.


For future reference

Roger contemplates a couple of misapprehensions about his career, and gently corrects them:

Some people have said to me that being a librarian now must be easier because I have so much information at my fingertips. Others have said that we don’t NEED librarians now because EVERYONE has so much information at their fingertips. Neither of those assertions is true; librarians spend an inordinate amount of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

Which is why he will never be replaced by an algorithm no matter how sophisticated it pretends to be.

(Oh, and happy birthday, Roger.)

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If I could turn back time

In fact, I should be wondering why I haven’t yet:

[T]he Boomers are entering their second childhoods, assuming, of course, that they ever left their first childhoods. With Boomers, this can be hard to tell. One would think that it would be impossible to generalize specific characteristics across an entire generation; some members of the Greatest Generation were not so great, some members of the Silent Generation were not so silent, and not every Millennial is an ill-informed doofus … well, maybe that’s a bad example; but most Boomers (specifically the Boomer I cohort of 1946 to 1955) are self-absorbed, egocentric dolts that never grew up (I blame drugs for this, especially weed). If you are one of these Boomers and you feel that this description does not describe you, that you are a functioning adult that long ago left the 1960s behind and have moved on into the broad sunlit uplands of adulthood, then I apologize to you for the insulting description and I congratulate you for your acceptance that being a mature human being is not a fate worse than death, but let’s face reality: you’re a freak.

I don’t think I’m all that egocentric. Then again, what do I know? It’s not like I would use “I” five times in three sentences.

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Causality virus

McG has the concept, and I don’t think I want to see the proof thereof:

A project to fully harness the interplay of time and space to enable a ship to traverse the universe in an instant, with neither the passengers nor anyone else perceiving any passage of time — except in terms of how long it might take to get a return signal from the arrived ship. The project starts as a germ of an idea, perhaps by some blogger nobody reads, but elements of the idea are also developed independently by a hundred other minds over the subsequent decades, gradually coalescing as thought experiments, then as practical ones. Over time the project consumes more and more of the attention not only of human scientists, but counterparts on a thousand other worlds.

Eventually these disperse teams combine ideas and resources, and eventually the ship is designed and built. It’s an experimental drone, but sufficient to serve as proof of concept. The ship makes its first jump, a huge success.

No one notices afterward that the unread blogger, originally a middle-aged American writing in 2018, has instead become a young Canadian, writing in 1992.

Already we’re several steps beyond Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” and we’re just getting started. In terms of “nightmare fuel,” this is pretty high-octane.

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F for effort

I don’t remember any of this going on when I was an undergraduate:

Every time I assign a paper in class, the most common phrase out of students’ mouths before the due date is: “so you want me to say that ____.” After graded papers are handed back, the most common phrase is: “But I worked so hard!!!”

They don’t see anything wrong with either of them. They really do come to my office hours, in ever-increasing numbers, to ask me what to write on their midterms. When I point out that they’re effectively asking me to give them the answer — thus defeating the purpose of a “test” — they give me blank looks. They’re not acting. Kids these days are oppressively, monomaniacally literal — they can’t act. They genuinely don’t get it.

Nor do they get it when I point out that not all efforts are successful. “But I worked so hard!!!” is a description of a behavior, not an outcome. If hard work always worked, I’d be in the Major Leagues right now, because nobody ever worked harder than me at hitting a curveball. Alas, I lacked talent. They can’t process that, either. They’re convinced that results are always proportional to effort.

The truth of the matter is arrived at by inverting the syllogism: lack of effort is proportional to lack of results.

On the other hand, those who believe that the lack of results is due to demographic considerations are given to absurd declarations like this.

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Insist on your right to sound stupid

After all, life is unfair:

If ever you need an example of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” [George W. Bush, written by Michael Gerson], there’s a legitimate Exhibit A.

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Boo, and also Hoo

I got this from one of Jack Baruth’s commenters, and I have decided that if I ever get this whiny about a mere car, you should borrow an AR-15 from a classmate and perforate my rib cage:

Said another commenter:

There are weak, confused drama queens about, in this unfortunate time; and a lot of them are, at least chromosonally, males. Here in my little hipster settlement in the Bitterroots, we have more than the average share — California expats.

Okay. Weak and stupid people abound.


How does this HAPPEN? Like you said … it’s insured. He just bought it. Stand back and watch the fireworks; and think about whether you want to use the insurance money to get another … or maybe, not make the same mistake twice.

But no. There with his woman with him … he’s carrying on like a scared four-year-old. And who comes to help him? An ARMY MAN. Someone who DOES have emotional and mental discipline.

As Roberta X says:

[N]o one wins their last battle; the best any of us can hope for is to enter it unafraid.

I don’t think I’m quite to that point yet.

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Not just you, senpai

“God damn it,” thought the sociopath, “why is no one paying attention to me?”

Yes, yes, lots of kids don’t get the attention they need. Guess what? Neither do a lot of adults. And yes, some of them act out in bad ways. But a lot of us have learned the control and also are reactive enough to peer-disapproval to not act out in bad ways. (Confession: I crave attention a lot and don’t get it often, but I mostly restrict that by doing a lot of tweeting and then hoping someone responds to me. I’m too inhibited to do truly outre things like dying my hair wild colors, or saying really provocative things, or other kinds of minor social transgressions that might get attention, but that might bring negative attention.) So I feel irritated when I’m sitting here, sometimes feeling invisible, and someone else, who is apparently feeling invisible, decides to screw up an entire school day and possibly scare fellow students and even teachers … it seems v. selfish to me, and I admit — as I said on Twitter — the somewhat-unChristian part of me says “I hope that kid gets plenty of attention going through the juvenile court system” but yeah — actions have consequences.

Attention whores gotta whore.

Which leads us here:

As Professor Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of Western New Mexico University found in a paper presented to the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in 2016, “media contagion” can help make mass shootings more common. “Unfortunately,” said Johnston, “we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is desire for fame.” The rise of such a trait in mass shooters, she claimed, rose “in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hours news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period.” Johnston recommended a media pact to “no longer share, reproduce, or retweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years.”

Never happen with US media, which are already irrevocably committed to promoting a specific agenda; should their political bosses decide that it suits their purposes to spread the perp’s name far and wide, you’ll see wire stories, rewrites of wire stories, and tweets of wire stories, all doing exactly that, in a matter of minutes. (Remember: “it’s okay when we do it.”)

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What am I, chopped libertarian?

If Severian had a choice in the matter — but never mind, let him tell it:

As Libertarianism attracts mainly college kids, who don’t know what they don’t know, I present the following as a public service:

This “non-aggression principle” you keep going on about … that’s been covered. As always, a Dead White Male got there first.

Thomas Hobbes said the first Law of Nature — the very first one, and please note the capitals — is: “seek peace.” Problem is, no individual man is powerful enough to guarantee peace for himself against all the other people he’s forced to interact with. So we form covenants — what comes to be known as the famous “social contract” — in order to secure peace for ourselves and our posterity. Hobbes spends the rest of a fairly long book exploring the consequences of this social contract.

That book is Leviathan, and it ends with the most absolute monarch that ever could be. Hobbes’s reasoning is irrefutable if you grant his premises. It’s worth reading. Our forefathers thought so, at least, since all that “by the people, for the people” stuff — Locke, Montesquieu, the whole schmear — is an attempt to wrestle with Hobbes’s premises without arriving at his conclusion. They used to teach this stuff in Humanities 101, I swear.

Yeah, but that was before navel-gazing became the Prime Directive. Hobbes saw that coming too:

“For such is the nature of man, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men’s at a distance.”

The contemporary social-media equivalent is the liking, even the retweeting, of one’s own posts.

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But they’re classics!

At least, that’s what we’re told:

Let me get it out of the way. I may well be an uncouth, uncultured, redneck from a backwater, flyover state. Guilty, guilty, maybe, and yes. Despite these serious cultural deficiencies I am not necessarily uneducated. My Alma Mater is consistently ranked fairly high in the various rankings published every year of colleges and universities. In addition, I have always read — a lot. If you take the various lists of 100 books you should read, I have read most of them, including War and Peace.

To the meat of the matter: Catch-22 is drivel; unreadable schmaltz. So is From Here to Eternity. In fact, many of the so-called classics are crap, Moby Dick first and foremost. Joyce, Cervantes, and Milton all are impossible to read. Hawthorne I can manage, but why would I want to? Bunyan, blah. I will take bawdy Moll Flanders over The Vicar of Wakefield any day.

I’ll defend the Vicar should it become necessary. Still:

I wonder how many people who tout Proust as a genius ever tried to read his work? How many finished it? That, my friends, is the point of this post. Do not let anyone tell you what to like or what is good.

I’ve known people who started À la recherche du temps perdu; I’m not sure if I know anyone who finished it.

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Game of Thrown Up

Severian remains unimpressed with Game of Thrones:

George R. R. Martin obviously thinks he’s brilliantly “deconstructing” the tropes of your standard High Fantasy sword-n-sandal epic. By making everyone in Westeros a vicious, nihilistic, amoral scumbag, he thinks he’s mocking the pretensions of the 1%. In Martin’s world, anyone who thinks he’s a hero — or even aspires to be anything other than a vicious, nihilistic, amoral scumbag — is either a fraud or a fool. The only “sympathetic” character left standing (for a very loose value of “sympathetic”) is Tyrion Lannister, a malformed, hideously scarred dwarf.

In terms of irony level, this is about 0.72 Alanis.

But that’s the thing. The more grimy details he packs in — the more rapes, gaping wounds, tortures, degradations, rapes, betrayals, double-crosses, rapes, triple-crosses, rapes, incest, rapes, etc. he shows — the more he reinforces his own pretensions. Like the professor inventing ever more arcane jargon, Martin thinks that by rubbing our faces in it yet again, he’s really putting one over on us. In reality, of course, there’s no “there” there, and there hasn’t been for about 2200 pages.

This is not to say one must be a conservative to write epic fantasy. But again, as with Conan (my interpretation, anyway), even a thorough deconstruction of a trope must acknowledge the trope’s conventions. A hero has a tragic flaw that brings him down. Martin has no heroes, only viewpoint characters, and they’re nothing but flaws. The world is interesting and the writing is intermittently good, but without a moral center, epic fantasy — even a deconstruction of epic fantasy — is just one damn thing after another. Plus rape.

To be fair, this rape shtick was done better by Mel Brooks.

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Quote of the week

News Item: In January 2018 curators at Manchester Art Gallery caused controversy by suddenly removing one of [John William] Waterhouse’s most famous and popular works, Hylas and the Nymphs, from public display. The painting was replaced with a notice explaining that a “temporary” space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. On its website the curators explained that this was being done in connection with a current debate on historical cultural depictions of submissive women.

The Hyacinth Girl, on this controversy:

The thing about the movement (although Waterhouse is a bit late to be considered a proper Pre-Raphaelite, from what I’ve read) is that it preserved more than arbitrary beauty standards of the time. The Waterhouse painting in question, Hylas and the Nymphs, is the rendering of a Greek myth about Hercules. Waterhouse also painted Circe from the Odyssey, Ulysses and the Sirens, Boreas (wind), Jason and Medea, Echo and Narcissus, and so on. He envisioned scenes from Shakespeare: Miranda, Ophelia. He created a visual representation of the famous line from Herrick: “Gather ye rosebuds.” The movement loved beautiful women, classic literature, and mythology. They preserved more than beauty. They preserved major themes and ideas from throughout Western history and culture. Their paintings recall the best and most beautiful milestones of a culture that has shaped the world for the better. But this culture is one we are taught to despise.

So the censorship of Hylas, and similar censorious acts throughout the art world, are about more than naked nymphs (although they are quite lovely). They are about the censorship of cultural memory, and the attempt to erase our contributions to civilization as a whole, in order to create a historical narrative more in line with the revisionist SJW worldview. You can’t have art students asking what happens to Hylas after those pretty girls get done with him. You can’t have indoctrinated youth looking up King Cophetua after viewing the all-consuming longing with which he gazes at the beggar maid captured by Burne-Jones. You can’t have them asking about Millais’s Ophelia and her madness. Just as the Renaissance painters are capable of starting conversations about the Christian Bible, the Pre-Raphalites draw you into their worlds of myth, fairy tales, and unparalleled works of literature that the SJW community has long fought to erase.

If 1896 is irrelevant to your worldview, believe me, 2018 is more so.

And Hylas was returned to public exhibition this week, telling me that this was basically a stunt to sell a point of view that they couldn’t get anyone to swallow otherwise.

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No explanation is required

Not that this is the only example of HP songcraft:


Never not working

Connie Sawyer circa 1935In 2014, Connie Sawyer, by all appearances quite the ingenue in her day, appeared in an episode of New Girl as the Oldest Woman in the World. What makes this remarkable is that (1) she has three other credits in IMDb in that year of 2014, and (2) that photo dates back to the early 1930s. At the very least, you’d think of her as the World’s Oldest Working Actress,” and so she was; she took on a recurring role as James Woods’ mother in the Ray Donovan series when she was 101.

Clearly she had a lot of fun in this bit from Dumb and Dumber (1994):

The only way she was ever going to stop working was if the skinny guy with the scythe showed up, and he didn’t make it until yesterday. Connie, born Rosie Cohen in 1912, died quietly at her Southern California home yesterday at the age of 105.

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Quote of the week

The First Amendment shall ultimately prevail, says Cobb, because its opponents are too stupid for words:

Despite the fact that feebleminded nitwits are accorded one vote in this great nation, they have proven incapable of staging the kind of revolution among their fatuous fraternity required to overturn the First Amendment rights of the rest of us. While we are mindful that a number of dubious “institutions of higher learning” as well as many dainty lily-livered website editors have been cowed by the shrill whinging of the moronic meddlers, these are but farts in the wind: offensive, boorish, putrid and largely imperceptible by those who dealt it, yet soon to be dispersed but not forgotten.

The greater threat are those duplicitous criminal facilitators who have been made wealthy through the aggregation of the nickels and dimes of idiot attention, the purveyors of “reality” in the media and legal professions always looking to cash in on the lowest common denominator. In league with the humorless screechy drama queens who interrupt sensible society with their obsessions, there is a cadre of cads, ever present and primed to overturn the works of more thoughtful and reflective citizens of the republic. These creepy comrades have managed to twist legitimate universities into Möbius contortions of civility and discourse which only appear to be two-sided.

We are now at the point where all news should be considered Fake News until proven otherwise. Efforts by the likes of Facebook and Twitter and Google to persuade the public that they’re doing something about that may be easily dismissed as mere corporate desires for a piece of the action, nothing more. Truth is worth nothing in a phony marketplace of ideas that constantly clamors for bigger and better lies. This situation cannot prevail for long, and it won’t.

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Floundering philosophy

Before you shout “Abalone!” I remind you that this does, however, scale.

Your job is fish

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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But don’t even think about looking

Brooke Ventura, editor of Modern Reformation, on beauty as a commodity in this secular-ish age:

Beauty has a hard time in confessional Protestant circles, and it’s easy to understand why. In our sex-saturated society, this powerful and elevating value has been exploited and degraded to the level of commercial property. Once ranked as the necessary companion to truth and goodness, it’s devolved into little more than the ultimate selling point for everything from smartphones and cars to Hollywood starlets and politicians. As heirs to a historically iconoclastic church, we’re not sure what to do with it. Scripture at once gives us Solomon and his bride’s ecstatic rejoicings at one another’s beauty, and Peter’s admonition that women ought not to let their adorning be with “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry.” If we’re honest, the simplicity (we won’t call it ugliness) of the church buildings we worship in today has more to do with primarily pragmatic considerations than scriptural principle.

I’ve seen the first half of this paragraph pasted onto various Tumblr nudist posts. Go figure.

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Tragedy Central

Always a good thing, say I:

Look at the movie The Sound of Music, which I absolutely do NOT have in my collection and I don’t want it, I have normal plumbing and it won’t go down no matter how long you flush. Let’s imagine a multiplex. In one theater, there is Julie Andrews shrieking melodiously. In the other, there’s Fight Club, a movie based entirely on despair so deep and empty that the hero becomes two people. Now, do I want to be Maria or Marla? Which movie are people lining up with pockets full of smuggled snacks to see?

Your entire membership depends on this, so answer carefully.

The answer is, of course, the third theater, which is showing Deadpool and honestly, if you didn’t guess that, you have to buy lobby popcorn.

There is, of course, a point to this:

The point is, as much as I have one, is that sad beats glad. Mostly.

The other point is, everyone has a different idea of sad. And in entertainment, sad often equals glad.

Especially if you’re having to choose between The Lost Weekend and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

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Somewhat fractured fairy tales

Title to remember: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, adapted for the stage by William Massolia. City Theatre in Blue Springs, Missouri is putting it on in March.

Enter Gunner. He’s the youngest of my son’s three kids, and after doing a school play and stuff like that, he went up and auditioned for the show.

And got in.

I’m just tickled at the idea of Kids Being Really Good At Things, especially since I myself never was.

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