Recently in Culture Category

Learning from history - not

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George Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
And then, there is this attributed to Mark Twain: "History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes"
Anyway, here is something from Ed Driscoll writing at Instapundit that caught my eye:

Shot:

Infectious diseases—some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages—are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.

Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus—a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals—in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.

* * * * * * * *

The diseases sometimes get the “medieval” moniker because people in that era lived in squalid conditions without clean water or sewage treatment, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA.

— “’Medieval’ Diseases Flare as Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate,” Scientific American, March 15th.

Chaser:

In 1968, in San Francisco, I came across a curious footnote to the hippie movement. At the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroll, the rot. And how was it that they had now returned? It had to do with the fact that thousands of young men and women had migrated to San Francisco to live communally in what I think history will record as one of the most extraordinary religious fevers of all time.

The hippies sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero. At one point the novelist Ken Kesey, leader of a commune called the Merry Pranksters, organized a pilgrimage to Stonehenge with the idea of returning to Anglo-Saxon civilization’s point zero, which he figured was Stonehenge, and heading out all over again to do it better. Among the codes and restraints that people in the communes swept aside—quite purposely—were those that said you shouldn’t use other people’s toothbrushes or sleep on other people’s mattresses without changing the sheets or, as was more likely, without using any sheets at all, or that you and five other people shouldn’t drink from the same bottle of Shasta or take tokes from the same cigarette. And now, in 1968, they were relearning . . . the laws of hygiene . . . by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. This process, namely the relearning—following a Promethean and unprecedented start from zero—seems to me to be the leitmotif of the twenty-first century in America.

—Tom Wolfe, from his 1987 essay “The Great Relearning,” included in his 2000 anthology, Hooking Up. 

Ed also links to this article; the thesis of which, I think, is a very good idea: We Shut Down State Mental Hospitals. Some People Want to Bring Them Back

Some sobering numbers - social media

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From WebMd:

Do Social Media Hurt Mental Health of US Young?
Young Americans may be more vulnerable to depression, distress and suicidal thoughts or attempts than their parents' generation, and social media might be fueling that troubling trend.

So claims a review of a decade's worth of data on roughly 200,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, and 400,000 young adults over 18.

Investigators found that beginning in the mid-2000s, those under the age of 26 started reporting a huge rise in symptoms related to all three mental health problems. The spikes ranged from about 55 to 70 percent. No such jump was seen among adults over the age of 26.

A bit more - Twenge is Dr. Jean Twenge from University of California at San Diego

Instead, Twenge thinks the likely culprit is the explosive rise of social media over the past 10 years. The result, she said, is that "the way teens and young adults spend their leisure time has fundamentally changed."

They "spend less time with their friends in person, and less time sleeping, and more time on digital media," Twenge noted. "The decline in sleep time may be especially important, as not getting enough sleep is a major risk factor for depression and suicidal thoughts."

What's more, digital media is "something that happens to them every day, for hours at a time," she said. "So, it makes sense it would have the largest impact on their mental health."

And that impact hasn't been good.

I see this all the time in restaurants and bars - people glued to their phones instead of talking to others. I have not logged into Facebook for months and am planning to delete the account. One less thing to deal with.

Any way they can - Mexicans

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Would not have thought that the numbers would be so high - from the Washington Examiner:

More than half of all illegal immigrants arrested at the US-Canada border are Mexican
More than half of the illegal immigrants arrested last year as they traveled from Canada to the U.S. were Mexican citizens, according to newly released government data.

A total of 4,316 noncitizens were arrested at the northern U.S. border in fiscal 2018, and 2,245 of those were Mexican citizens. Mexican nationals are able to fly to Canada without a visa.

Total arrests at the northern border jumped 43 percent between 2017 and 2018, and reached the highest level in eight years. In 2017, 3,027 were arrested.

The people trying to cross the Southern border are paying coyotes a lot of money to be transported and guided. A plane ticket and hotel lodging is a lot cheaper.

Rotten Tomatoes rating system

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Has been taken over by SJWs - from Zero Hedge:

After Rotten Tomates Removes 93% Of Reviews, Captain Marvel Still Sucks
After Rotten Tomatoes removed over 50,000 Captain Marvel reviews, or around 93%, the movie's audience score barely moved - rising from a dismal 32% to a pathetic 36%. 

While the unusually high user rating count was widely reported as the work of sexist, pro-patriarchy "trolls" - Rotten Tomatoes told Hollywood Reporter that the problem was due to a "bug in the post-release functionality for movies that have released into theaters since our product update last week," which "included both pre-release and post-release fan voting."

In short, the movie's "rotten" score isn't necessarily due to overly-aggressive feminist marketing, or star Brie Larson's man-hating comments against white male movie reviewers. The movie simply sucks.

In other words, they got caught fudging the reviews and they are backpedaling as fast as their little social justice warrior feet can pedal. Tyler has screen captures of before and after the alteration. Once again, the internet is forever.

Tyler recommends Alita: Battle Angel - am planning to see it before it leaves the big screen. Big fan of Tom Holkenborg the soundtrack composer.

RIP - King Kong Bundy

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When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, I tuned into WIIC's Chiller Theater for my weekly saturday night fix of science fiction movies. The host - Chilly Billy Cardille also announced local professional wrestling matches and since I liked his taste in science fiction, I started watching the wrestling shows. Far from being an agressive sport, it was pure theater and a lot of fun.

Segue forward 30 years or so when I moved to Seattle and opened my computer store. I had been building them from parts at first but was looking for a "system" I could sell for people just needing to do basic office stuff. I settled on Vendex - an arm of a Netherlands company but manufactured by Samsung. Very solid system, decent performance and good value.

They hired King Kong Bundy to promote these computers - here is one video:

Sadly, he passed away. From FOX News:

WWE legend King Kong Bundy dies at 61
Former WWE legend King Kong Bundy has died, the wrestling company announced Tuesday. He was 61.

The New Jersey native, whose real name is Christopher Pallies, was known for his enormous stature inside the ring. He was 6-foot-4 and weighed 458 pounds. People called him the “walking condominium.”

Part of his gimmick was having referees count to five, instead of three, when he pinned an opponent to show that there was no way they would get up from his destruction.

Didn't see anything of real interest there today. There was a broadcast radio console that was designed for remote operations but it was from the 1960's, monaural and no way to test it out so I passed. A lot of very collectible baseball memorbilia - autographed balls, etc... but that is not my thing so I didn't bother to register.

There was this piece - I would love to show it to a modern day progressive just to watch their little head explode:

20190302-history.jpgDemocrats were the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. They were the party of the South, especially Southren land owners and they created this "secret" militant arm of the Democrat party to keep the newly freed slaves "in line". Republicans were the party of the North - industrialists, ranchers, farmers, business owners, etc...

Now, they are using identity politics to divide our population into little balkanized social groups. They are using the spectre of racism to shout down anyone who disagrees with them. The media ignores the hate-crime hoaxes and the pitiful black-on-black murder and violence (here, here and here for starters)  that years of Democrat rule in large cities have fostered.

Even just 40 years ago, our Black population faced major discrimination and white on black crime. Now, thanks to the Democratic party, they have been moved onto Welfare and the Democrat Plantation where they are kept disorganized and on the dole - a consistant source of Dem. votes and so disorganized that they can not rise up as one and protest.

It is interesting to look at the Black Radicals of the 1960's: Malcom X was a Republican. Dr. Martin Luther King was a Republican. James Meredith was a Republican.

People these days are forgetting their history and neither the media nor the schools are reminding them.

Seven years ago - Trayvon Martin

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Seven years ago, George Zimmerman defended himself against a violent attack and the media pushed a narrative that was completely incongruous with the facts. Bill Whittle did an excellent video outlining the reality:

William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has a lot more:

Seven years after Trayvon Martin shooting, the falsehoods, propaganda and misinformation are worse than ever
Seven years ago George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in lawful self-defense, as Martin beat Zimmerman to a bloody pulp Mixed Martial Arts style. Martin died of a single shot.

The eyewitness and forensic evidence introduced at trial corroborated Zimmerman’s account of being sucker punched in the nose, something Martin had bragged in text messages, kept from the jury, was his preferred method of starting fights. An eyewitness witnessed the beating, and the forensics were completely consistent with Zimmerman’s account.

Zimmerman did not have to rely on the Stand Your Ground law because SYG only addresses the duty to retreat, something Zimmerman could not do because he was pinned to the ground on his back with his head being smashed.

Much more at the site. The bias in today's media is unreal.

Smart phones - a rant

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Great rant at American Institute for Economic Research:

Don’t Blame Technology, Blame Yourself
An older woman and her middle-aged son were at a public restaurant for Thanksgiving. He spent the whole of the dinner flipping through his phone, without uttering a word. She did her best to maintain her dignity while looking past him and trying to pretend that this is what life is like. This tragic scene lasted until they paid the bill and left.

The scene was relayed to me by a senior in college who explains how her generation is figuring out the right and wrong ways to use new technology, correcting for the errors of their parents, who somehow allowed their lives to be drained by the newness of it all.

Zak Tebbal drew the perfect cartoon for how our relationship to our smartphones has changed over the last 10 years.

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Sadly so true - I will be out for a bite to eat or a beer and see couples both on their phones or one and the other one staring out into space. These things have their use but they should not be a constant distraction. What really gets me is seeing kids in a store plugged into their tablet watching cartoons. This is a cheap and effective way to keep little junior quiet but it is having a profound effect on their future mental development.

Just wow - gymnastics through the years

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Great video:

At least there is plenty to eat

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From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Multiple-vehicle crash near Donner Pass creates traffic nightmare on I-80 heading to Truckee
Traffic was still at a standstill or barely moving on eastbound I-80 following a multiple-vehicle crash near Donner Pass on Saturday morning that stopped eastbound traffic heading towards Truckee.

The Placer sheriff's Twitter account tweeted out a video at 8:25 a.m. showing traffic completely stopped on I-80 along with the following text: "Current view along EB I80 just before Applegate: traffic at a complete standstill. Please stay home and avoid traveling to the Sierra unless you absolutely have to."

Title? Here: Donner Party

Very cool - human rights

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Real action, not virtue signaling. From NBC News:

Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality
The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it's still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said a U.S. official involved in organizing the event.

Outstanding. The problem is not the Jussie Smolletts in the USA, it is those nations that still persecute and murder gay people for the "crime" of being gay. 2010 US Census data puts homosexuality of any stripe at about 3.5% of the US population. No reason for that number to be different worldwide - gays need rights just as much as straights.

A bit more from Grenell:

“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”

He added that “politicians, the U.N., democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”

Good.

RIP - Karl Lagerfeld

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Not at all into the fashion world but I always liked his style. From Vogue:

Legendary Designer Karl Lagerfeld Has Died
Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most prolific and widely popular designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, has died in Paris. He was 85.

Lagerfeld was creative director of Chanel, the French house founded by Gabrielle Chanel, for an era-defining, age-defying 36 years. Upon assuming the reins in 1983, Lagerfeld swiftly revived Chanel, reinterpreting the house founder’s iconic tweed skirtsuits, little black dresses, and quilted handbags. He did it via the lens of hip-hop one season and California surfer chicks the next—he was a pop culture savant—without ever forgetting what the revolutionary Coco stood for: independence, freedom, and modernity.

He had a good run and now the angels will get some spiffy new robes.

No big surprise there - from The Hollywood Reporter:

Box Office: Winter 2019 Revenue Hits 8-Year Low in U.S.
Captain Marvel can't arrive in theaters soon enough.

That's the refrain across Hollywood — and on Wall Street — as industry observers grapple with a downturn at the North American box office following a record-shattering 2018. Revenue for the first seven weeks of 2019 has hit an eight-year low, capped by what looks to be the worst Presidents Day weekend in 15 years.

January was down more than 15 percent from the prior year sans a breakout hit or a carryover holiday hit such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Greatest Showman last year, or a Star Wars pic the three previous years. Revenue for January 2019 came in at roughly $812 million, the lowest since 2011.

They keep remaking classic films but making them politically correct. This may satisfy a very small and very vocal minority but the great majority of us want our characters to remain true to their original form.

From Vanderleun who offers several more such truths at this link:

20190217-true.jpeg

It seems that the two accomplices are singing their little hearts out - more from yesterday's news item from Robert Stacy McCain:

Report: Nigerian Brothers ‘Flipped,’ Help Cops in Jussie Smollett ‘Hate Crime’ Hoax
Gateway Pundit notes that the local CWB Chicago news site has produced outstanding coverage of the Jussie Smollett story. Their latest report indicates that Nigerian brothers Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo were released by cops Friday after two days of interrogation because they are cooperating with the investigation, which is now focused directly at Smollett himself:

CWBChicago has learned that federal investigators sat in as Chicago police interrogated the Osundario brothers for two days after the men were taken into custody at O’Hare airport on Wednesday evening. The Osundiros flew into the airport minutes earlier, returning from a trip to Nigeria that began hours after Smollett reported being attacked.

The brothers, who have a relationship with Smollett and served as extras on his TV show, saw their status with police evolve from “potential persons of interest” to “potential suspects” to being “unable to leave” custody because investigators had “probable cause that they were involved in a crime” to being set free in the course of 48 hours.

A lot more at the site and Robert concludes with this:

That “hate letter” was sent through the U.S. Postal Service, and I’m sure there’s a federal law that could make that a felony. Everything we’ve learned so far points toward Smollett attempting to stage a hoax that would make it seem he was attacked by Trump supporters. and you can bet money the Chicago FBI is under heavy pressure to solve this case. You see, this is not just a Chicago police case. Maybe the cops (or their Democrat bosses at City Hall) don’t want to bring any charges against Jussie, but because this was investigated by the feds as a potential “hate crime,” it’s not up to Chicago P.D. Lying to an FBI agent? You can go to prison for that. Obstruction of justice in a federal investigation? Witness tampering? Attempting to destroy evidence? Yeah, the feds have lots of ways to send you to prison, if they want to, and I’m thinking our new Attorney General William Barr might want to see maximum prosecution in a case like this.

Mr. Smollett brought this upon himself with his little act of virtue signalling. I am betting some kind of plea deal but he will never work in the media business again.

And of course, because it fit the narrative, Hollywood went bonkers:

15 Celebrities Who Blamed Trump, Deplorables for Hoax Attack on Jussie Smollett

Wheels are coming off his story - from CNN of all places:

Police sources: New evidence suggests Jussie Smollett orchestrated attack
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollet paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.

The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of "new evidence."

The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Heh - when you are a liberal public figure and CNN doubts your narrative? Toast... Hope he enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame. He will probably be a star in the Chicago stage and media industry but never Hollywood, never again. Not trustworthy.

Thanks e-cigs

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From the Centers for Disease Control:

Tobacco Use By Youth Is Rising
Tobacco product use among US youth is increasing. More than 1 in 4 high school students and about 1 in 14 middle school students in 2018 had used a tobacco product in the past 30 days. This was a considerable increase from 2017, which was driven by an increase in e-cigarette use. E-cigarette use increased from 11.7% to 20.8% among high school students and from 3.3% to 4.9% among middle school students from 2017 to 2018. No change was found in the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes, during this time.

Among youth:

    • E-cigarettes are still the most commonly used tobacco product, ahead of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah, and pipes.
    • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used product in combination with other tobacco products.
    • E-cigarette use is highest for boys, whites, and high school students.

Thanks guys. e-cigarettes need to have the same warning labels as any other tobacco product. The "juice" is full of crap that I would not want in my lungs and there is no historical record of what long-term use will cause.

Interesting study - at The Atlantic:

Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures
Why do we have the political opinions we have? Why do we embrace one outlook toward the world and not another? How and why do our stances change? The answers to questions such as these are of course complex. Most people aren’t reading policy memos to inform every decision. Differences of opinion are shaped by contrasting life experiences: where you live; how you were raised; whether you’re rich or poor, young or old. Emotion comes into the picture, and emotion has a biological basis, at least in part. All of this and more combines into a stew without a fixed recipe, even if many of the ingredients are known.

The study:

In the mid-2000s, a political scientist approached the neuroscientist Read Montague with a radical proposal. He and his colleagues had evidence, he said, that political orientation might be partly inherited, and might be revealed by our physiological reactivity to threats. To test their theory, they wanted Montague, who heads the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory at Virginia Tech, to scan the brains of subjects as they looked at a variety of images—including ones displaying potential contaminants such as mutilated animals, filthy toilets, and faces covered with sores—to see whether neural responses showed any correlation with political ideology. Was he interested?

Montague initially laughed at the idea—for one thing, MRI research requires considerable time and resources—but the team returned with studies to argue their case, and eventually he signed on. When the data began rolling in, any skepticism about the project quickly dissolved. The subjects, 83 in total, were first shown a randomized mixture of neutral and emotionally evocative pictures—this second category contained both positive and negative images—while undergoing brain scans. Then they filled out a questionnaire seeking their views on hot-button political and social issues, in order to classify their general outlook on a spectrum from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. As Montague mapped the neuroimaging data against ideology, he recalls, “my jaw dropped.” The brains of liberals and conservatives reacted in wildly different ways to repulsive pictures: Both groups reacted, but different brain networks were stimulated. Just by looking at the subjects’ neural responses, in fact, Montague could predict with more than 95 percent accuracy whether they were liberal or conservative.

And it starts to get really interesting:

The subjects in the trial were also shown violent imagery (men pointing revolvers directly at the camera, battle scenes, car wrecks) and pleasant pictures (smiling babies, beautiful sunsets, cute bunnies). But it was only the reaction to repulsive things that correlated with ideology. “I was completely flabbergasted by the predictability of the results,” Montague says.

A long and very interesting article. It explains a lot of events in current "culture".

From CNN:

Washington measles outbreak climbs while other states grapple with the disease
This year, Washington state is averaging more than one new measles case a day as officials try to stop the disease's spread.

Since January 1, Clark County Public Health has confirmed 49 cases of measles. In King County, home of Seattle, at least one confirmed case was reported.

A vast majority of those who came down with measles -- 41 -- were not vaccinated against the disease, Clark County officials said. One patient received a vaccination against MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), but the health agency declined to provide more details on that case "to protect the patient's privacy."

Not vaccinating your child is child abuse pure and simple. Simple, cheap and effective.

About that climate change - Chicago

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From the New York City FOX affiliate:

People robbed of Canada Goose coats at gunpoint in Chicago
Chicago police are reporting gunpoint robberies targeting people wearing pricey Canada Goose jackets as temperatures plunge in the city.

Over the past two weeks, police say there's been a spate of the thefts in which people wearing the luxury coats have been targeted and forced to give up the jackets. The coats can cost upward of $1,000 and are often seen on celebrities.

Six people had their Canada Goose coats stolen last week and two more were targeted Wednesday.

Police say two men jumped from a Mercedes, showed a gun and punched a 54-year-old man before forcibly taking his coat and wallet Wednesday. The same night, two men showed a gun to a 23-year-old man walking with a friend and demanded his Canada Goose coat.

Got to love Chicago - draconian gun laws and in January alone, 124 shootings with 20 homicides. Yeah - gun control really works...

Mike Rowe is a national treasure

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He was speaking at this year's SHOT Show in Vegas - from The Federalist:

At SHOT Show 2019, Mike Rowe Shares Three Life Lessons He Learned From Gun Owners
Using lessons he learned from his time hosting the show “Dirty Jobs,” popular TV personality Mike Rowe promoted common sense and personal responsibility at SHOT Show 2019, the nation’s largest annual gun industry convention. Organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), SHOT Show attracts upwards of 60,000 people each year.

Rowe, who made a name for himself showcasing the work ethic of blue collar workers on the show “Dirty Jobs,” told the audience of three major lessons he learned from people he met on the show–lessons that all came from people who owned guns.

A couple of nuggets:

“Be wary of experts,” he told the group. “Don’t dismiss them out of hand, but don’t always assume they know what they’re talking about.”

“A pig farmer might know more than an MBA. A farmer might know more about being kind to animals than a self-appointed expert.”

“The country has a skills gap,” he said. “We have seven million jobs available that can’t be filled because people in this country no longer have the skills to do them.”

“We have lent over $1.5 trillion to kids who can’t pay it back so they can spend four years trying to get jobs that don’t exist.”

Great article and so true. Mike speaks truth to power.

A counter to the toxic Gillette video

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Spot on:

More at The Western Journal:

Exclusive: Meet the CEO Who Put His Company on the Line To Stand Up to Gillette’s ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ad
Editor’s note: The following was written by Ilan Srulovicz, the CEO and founder of Egard Watch Company, explaining why his company produced an ad to counter Gillette’s recent commercial on masculinity.
The story behind making the video is interesting. I made the ad completely alone. The voice in the video is mine and the editing is my own.

I was told by most people around me and in my company that making this video was a terrible idea and could not only hurt my brand but me personally as the CEO.

I used my personal funds on the video because I was worried about the backlash.

The main feedback was, “This will draw attention away from women’s issues,” “The political climate right now won’t support a film like this,” “Ask yourself why no other company is doing it,” etc.

He concludes with this:

The Gillette ad rubbed me the wrong way. I, like the overwhelming majority of men, am absolutely disgusted by sexual assault, rape, bullying, so why throw it in my face as if my “gender” as a whole is toxic? Using terms like “toxic masculinity” is using too broad a stroke to address specific issues — issues which I agree very much need to be addressed, especially after all the crazy stuff we’ve seen in Hollywood.

I am not against Gillette trying to start a conversation about assault, but I do have an issue with how they went about it.

Great call - pity I do not wear a watch. They make some nice ones. The overall response to the video has been impressively favorable too - they are back-ordered on many of their watches.

And, of course, the YouTube Thumb-O-Meter:

20190121-egard.jpg

I love it - 161K to 2.1K - 76 times greater.

A song for our times

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Tip of the hat to Vanderleun

YouTube channel for the performer: Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq

That Gillette video

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Boy did they get a reaction - just not what they were expecting. Gillette released a video that is 100% pure virtue signalling. You can watch it here if you want. As we can see, the overall reaction has not been kind:

20190115-gillette.jpg

421K Thumbs Down as opposed to 129K Thumbs Up. More than three to one. That has got to hurt. The 115,670 Comments are a fun read - some weapons grade snark...

Makes perfect sense to me

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From Big Think:

Does manual labor boost happiness?

The author detours to set up a story and then, a few paragraphs later, gets to his thesis.

As Luddites were raging against machines, neuroscientist Kelly Lambert says doctors were prescribing knitting to anxious women. Medical professionals sensed that the act of working with their hands calmed housewives. It appears that using our biological inheritance, a wonderful adaptation of bipedalism—dexterous and flexible hands featuring opposable thumbs—is necessary for optimal mental health.

Sure, the Luddites were concerned about feeding their family, not weaving cotton per se, but losing such an integral part of your identity forces you to confront your value as a sentient being. The combination of repetitive movement (of say, knitting) and the production of a tangible product (a hat or scarf) can be therapeutic. Lambert coined the term "behaviorceuticals" to honor this valuable drug.

In her most recent book, Well Grounded, Lambert notes the devastating effects automation technologies wreak on our brains:

Our view of prosperity in contemporary Western societies with creature comforts such as lush surroundings and various personal services to avoid physical effort may suffocate our neural functions.

Matthew Crawford agrees. He was "always sleepy" while employed at a D.C. think tank. Though earning more money than ever before, he felt a valuable piece of himself being lost. He left the lucrative position to become an auto mechanic, which resulted in his 2009 book, Shop Class as Soulcraft.

In it he posits the idea that as a society we've gotten the role of work backwards. Instead of championing manual labor, which he says is more intellectually engaging than his desk job, we choose to financially and socially reward careers that rely on computers to work for us. With industrialization came automation as warehouse owners sought to maximize capital while minimizing labor costs. In this two-century-long process, an essential part of our humanity is gone.

A lot more at the site - I totally agree with this. I am a lot more fulfilled when working with my hands.

Quote of the day - academia

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From Vox Day:

In academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world there is.

Christmas Eve. Roswell, New Mexico. 1949

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Finally, the story comes out:

20181224-roswell.jpg

Shamelessly stolen from The Silicon Graybeard

Holiday news - Santa

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A two-fer. First, from Canada's CTV News:

Santa Claus lives and pays taxes in Canada, government affirms
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. No, it's not the head of the country’s spy agency, but another all-knowing Canadian: Santa Claus.

That’s right, according to various government departments and agencies, Good Ol' Saint Nicholas is a Canadian citizen who lives, and pays taxes here.

"As is the longstanding view of the Canadian government and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, Santa and Mrs. Claus are Canadian citizens and reside in the North Pole," a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen said in an email to CTVNews.ca.

Second, from the our North American Aerospace Defense Command - they are tracking Santa on his way
Congratulations on your 60th Anniversary.

Wonderful news - Deadwood

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From Entertainment Week:

Deadwood movie exclusive first photos revealed
Rise and shine hoopleheads! EW has the first photos from HBO’s long, long, long-awaited Deadwood movie. Below are shots of Ian McShane reprising his role as Al Swearengen and Timothy Olyphant back as Seth Bullock.

It’s a revelation 12 years in the making, as that’s how long Deadwood fans have waited for something new from the acclaimed Emmy-winning Western drama that was axed after three seasons in 2006 and now, against all odds, is being revived for a feature-length movie with the original cast.

First, here is Swearengen, back at his Gem Theater bar, looking no worse for the ages, giving his deadly dark-eyed stare:

20181219-deadwood.jpg

Looking forward to this - really liked the show.

ALMOST From TMZ:

MICHAEL AVENATTI TO ESTRANGED WIFE THE FERRARI, JET AND ARTWORK ARE YOURS
Michael Avenatti and his estranged wife have an agreement in place for him to pay her child and spousal support, and it requires him to fork over a ton of his assets ... TMZ has learned.

According to docs filed in Orange County, a judge ordered Avenatti to pay Lisa Storie-Avenatti $37,897 per month in child support, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. We'll do the math for ya ... it's $454,764. The order also requires Avenatti to pay her spousal support of $124,398 per month, retroactive to Jan. 2018. That's roughly $1.5 million.

Now, cut to Dec. 4, when both parties filed docs stipulating Avenatti write child support checks for $40k now, and another in January.

As for the balance ... according to the docs, Avenatti agrees to hand over a bunch of his assets for Lisa to liquidate. The loot includes 5 luxury wristwatches -- some worth more than $50k -- a Frank Gehry sculpture, and several other expensive works of art.

Additionally, he has to hand over the keys to a 2017 Ferarri 488 GT Spider he was leasing. By the way, those go for about $300k.

And, there's this -- Michael's law firm ... Avenatti & Associates, is required to transfer, to Lisa, its interest in a 2016 Honda private jet.

Talk about being taken to the cleaners. This on top of his law firm being evicted, him being busted on charges of domestic violence and him owing a huge amount of money.

Like I said, I almost feel sorry for the guy. ALMOST

Making it the art world

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Was just turned on to an excellent article on becoming an artist in New York Magazine:

How to Be an Artist 33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively)
Art is for anyone. It’s just not for everyone. I know this viscerally, as a would-be artist who burned out. I wrote about that last year, and ever since, I’ve been beset — every lecture I give, every gallery I pop my head into, somebody is asking me for advice. What they’re really asking is “How can I be an artist?”

When, last month, Banksy jerry-rigged a frame to shred a painting just when it was auctioned, I could almost hear the whispers: “Is that art?” This fall, the biggest museum event in New York is the Whitney’s retrospective of Andy Warhol — the paradigmatic self-made, make-anything-art-and-yourself-famous artist. Today, we are all Andy’s children, especially in the age of Instagram, which has trained everyone to think visually and to look at our regular lives as fodder for aesthetic output.

How do you get from there to making real art, great art? There’s no special way; everyone has their own path. Yet, over the years, I’ve found myself giving the same bits of advice. Most of them were simply gleaned from looking at art, then looking some more. Others from listening to artists talk about their work and their struggles. (Everyone’s a narcissist.) I’ve even stolen a couple from my wife.

There are 33 rules — and they really are all you need to know to make a life for yourself in art. Or 34, if you count “Always be nice, generous, and open with others and take good care of your teeth.” And No. 35: “Fake it till you make it.”

Covers a lot of other fields too. Creativity can be grown.

A long but fascinating read - cults

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From Stella Morabito writing at The Federalist:

How To Recognize The Cult Mindset In Yourself And Others
“How many more Jonestowns and Wacos will have to occur before we realize how vulnerable all humans are to influence?” That is the key question of cult expert Margaret Thaler Singer’s excellent book, “Cults in our Midst.” Her work serves to prevent the tragedy of people being psychologically manipulated into blind obedience that harms and even kills. It should be required reading for everybody, because too many people are ill-prepared to resist undue influence and coercive persuasion.

In my retrospective of the Jonestown Massacre, I noted that Americans don’t seem to have seriously contemplated the harsh reality and consequences of coercive thought reform. It can easily destroy lives and rob people of the capacity for independent thought if we are not vigilant about how it works. Yet many are loath to admit that brainwashing is an actual reality to which we are all vulnerable.

A bit more - Stella gets in to the heart of her thesis:

The Cult of Political Correctness
Consider for a moment today’s culture, which is saturated with the constant agitation of political correctness. It rarely allows for any real discussion or debate without automatic vilification of those deemed politically incorrect. Sadly, this is especially true in the very place where there is a tradition of people expecting to engage in real debate: the college campus.

We can’t deny that political correctness has a lot of disruptive effects on discourse, such as inducing self-censorship that can cause us to feel socially and mentally isolated; manipulation of our basic fear of ostracism through the threat of smears; promotion of mob rule; and an authoritarian nature that promotes the power elites who use it.

Wait, those features are all rather cult-like, no? This acceptance of the anti-thought nature of political correctness is pretty much everywhere: 95 percent of the mass media promote it, 95 percent of celebrity culture promotes it, and obviously, on college campuses, the academics are 95 percent in compliance with political correctness.

You can’t deny that cult-like tribunals against “wrongthink” are pretty much everywhere––in the media, in celebrity culture, in our legislatures, among judges, in human resource departments all over the corporate world, and most obviously, on college campuses, where youth are scared to death of being ostracized for expressing a politically incorrect thought.

Consider also how many Americans mindlessly parrot the perceived popular opinion along with its empty talking points that are never up for debate. In fact, there’s very little debate happening today. When real debate happens, it gets shouted down or pushed into a corner of the internet dubbed the “intellectual dark web.” Increasingly, our minds seem to be operating in a dangerous state of isolation, especially with increasing censorship and control over our conversations by mass media and tech titans. How is such constant censorship not cult-like?

A long read but well worth your time - a lot to think about given today's culture and times.

Never been politically correct. I can shut my mouth and do when needed but I refuse to buy into the groupthink that passes for intellegent discourse these days. People these days are slaves living on the progressive plantation. They think what their masters tell them to think, they say what their masters tell them to say, they do what their masters tell them to do. We will have an awakening at some point in the future and it will be a lot of fun to see. I think that the coming cycle of global cooling will be a wonderful wake-up clarion.

The Art Renewal Center

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Gorgeous and deep website - check out the Art Renewal Center:

From their Philosophy page:

The Philosophy of ARC - Why Realism?
Fine art at its best has the power to move one to tears, or grab your sensibilities and rivet you in the moment with an overwhelming sense of beauty and excitement. People often report the sensation of cold chills going up and down their spine. It may be the rare work that accomplishes this, but for those who have had this experience, many have credited it as the stimulus that set them on a personal lifetime quest; whether as an artist, collector or art historian. Other human activities can create a similar experience, whether in poetry, literature, dance, theatre, or music, but it is the experience of beauty in fine art and beauty and its relationship to fine art that is the focus of this essay.

If you are reading this, in all probability you are one of the millions of art lovers who in the 21st Century are disillusioned with the Modernist paradigm which for more than a century has been the dominant way the concept of art has been taught and presented in nearly all institutions of higher learning throughout the world.

If you are like us, it seems more than a little self-evident to you that works of art have infinitely more to say and communicate if they portray the real world, or use figures and objects from the real world even when portraying fantasies and dreams. You experience such "realist" works as infinitely more successful than any Modernist works. The success of Modernism seems like a form of mass insanity, a nightmarish anomaly from which we pray the art world will finally soon awake.

Speaking truth to power - this is a site I will be visiting again and again. I am a big fan of plein air and the landscapes of TurnerMoran and Bierstadt.

Well crap - Douglas Rain R.I.P.

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Douglas Rain? The voice of HAL9000 - from National Public Radio:

R.I.P. HAL: Douglas Rain, Voice Of Computer In '2001,' Dies At 90
Douglas Rain, a Shakespeare actor who provided the eerie, calmly homicidal voice of HAL in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died at the age of 90.

The Canadian actor died Sunday morning, according to the Stratford Festival, where Rain spent 32 seasons acting in such roles such as Othello's Iago and Twelfth Night's Malvolio. He was also a founding member of the company. The Winnipeg-born actor had dozens of theater, film and television credits.

However, Rain's biggest mark on pop culture was less Shakespearean, but perhaps just as much a classic: as 2001's HAL 9000, a sentient, rogue computer in a film written in collaboration with science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and widely regarded as Kubrick's masterpiece. The American Film Institute ranked HAL as the 13th greatest movie villain of all time.

Kubrick was reportedly inspired to cast Rain after viewing Universe, a 1964 animated documentary narrated by the actor.

A great movie - especially compared to the 90% dreck being pushed by clueless Hollywood these days.

Well crap - Stan Lee R.I.P.

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From TMZ:

STAN LEE DEAD AT 95
Stan Lee, the man responsible for much of the Marvel Universe, has died ... Stan's daughter tells TMZ.

We're told an ambulance rushed to Lee's Hollywood Hills home early Monday morning and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. We're told that's where he died.

Lee had suffered several illnesses over the last year or so -- he had a bout of pneumonia and vision issues.

Stan started Marvel with Jack Kirby in 1961 with The Fantastic Four. He went on to create Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man and The Avengers.

Stan made cameo appearances in all of the Marvel movies.

95 is a good run and he had fun doing what he wanted.

This looks good:

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Will have to check the Bellingham movie theaters - want to see this on the big screen.

Green's Dictionary of Slang

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Amazing resource - 500 years of English language slang. Check it out: Green's Dictionary of Slang

The Lawrence Welk Show:

Halloween - some numbers

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The economic impact of Halloween is staggering. From The Silicon Graybeard:

Some Astounding Halloween Facts
From the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

    1. An estimated $575.26 million total will be spent on Halloween pumpkins alone in 2018, according to Finder, at an average price of $3.89 per pumpkin. That will exhaust about 80 percent of the US pumpkin supply.
    2. An estimated 95 percent of Americans plan on buying candy during the Halloween season, spending a total of $2.6 billion. 
    3. Americans are projected to spend some $9 billion total on Halloween in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a couple billion dollars more than was spent on federal elections in 2016.

Four more at the site as well as some other curious facts.

A great essayist - Neal's Soapbox

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Just ran into this website - adding it to my frequent reads: Neal's Soapbox

The author is an excellent essayist - here is just one. Hard to excerpt so I will just post the first couple of paragraphs and you can read the rest for yourself here

A Return To The Dark Ages
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with World History, but if you aren’t the Dark Ages refer to the period of history beginning with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and ending with the Renaissance. The Dark Ages refers to a period of history in Western Europe which saw a decline, or a deterioration if you will, of culture, economics and intellect amongst the people.

While it may be true that the Romans held all that territory by conquest, it is also true that they brought a lot to those they conquered; trade, literacy, architecture, and possibly even more important, written law. It is held by some that when Rome fell the light went out on the world; hence the term Dark Ages.

Historians will tell you that the Renaissance brought an end to the Dark Ages; plunging the world back into the light after five centuries of darkness. But in reality the Renaissance was nothing more than a return to humanism; something both the Greeks and the Romans had practiced in their lives as cultural and philosophical centers of the world.

Humanism is basically the philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of humans, both individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking to dogma and superstition. Hence, it was during the Renaissance that we saw some of the world’s most renowned thinkers emerge; polymaths like Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

A polymath, in case you weren’t aware, is a person with a wide range of knowledge and skills. For instance, Leonardo Da Vinci was, not only a painter and a sculptor, he also knew a great deal about mathematics, engineering, geology, astronomy, anatomy and botany. Thomas Jefferson was also a polymath; having a great deal of knowledge regarding architecture, politics, philosophy, science, botany, as well as being fluent in many languages.

It is said that when President Kennedy hosted the 49 winners of the Nobel Prize in 1969 he uttered the following comments; a fitting compliment to Jefferson as a polymath, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” But, I get ahead of myself.

Wonderful stuff - very thoughtful. Also, in an earler post, Neal noticed something that had escaped my attention (and a lot of other people):

(excerpted)

Speaking of postage, CNN ran a photo of the supposed package that was mailed to them and to show you what it looked like I took a screen capture of what CNN is reporting was delivered to them…

201031-neal01.jpg

Notice anything missing? Sure, there are postage stamps on this package, but where is the postmark the post office places upon all mail once it has been processed at one of their facilities? You know, these things…

201031-neal02.jpg

How did that package get mailed to CNN when apparently it never went through a post office to begin with? But I’m sure the insignificant fact that these packages probably weren’t processed and delivered by the U.S. Postal System will not deter them from using this as ammunition against anyone whose political beliefs run contrary to theirs.

A lot of unanswered questions with this case. It has false flag written all over it.

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