Recently in Culture Category

Starbucks in the news again

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Two days ago, I posted five  reasons why not to patronize Starbucks Coffee. The New York Times published reason number six:

Starbucks Employee Who Called Police on Black Men No Longer Works There, Company Says

... excerpted ...

On Thursday, the two men asked to use the coffee shop’s restroom. An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything, officials said. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police.

Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed over 10 million times on Twitter and that was described by Mr. Johnson as “very hard to watch.” Police officers surrounded the men and escorted one of them out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed.

The men, who have not been identified, were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. But Starbucks did not want to press charges and the men were later released, Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. of the Philadelphia Police Department said in a recorded statement on Saturday.

And a bit more:

The episode goes to the heart of how the company has modeled itself, with campaigns that address racial and social issues and promote its image as a community meeting place for customers to linger.

In 2015, the company encouraged its baristas to write the words Race Together on coffee cups as a way of promoting discussion and unity. Many were skeptical of the effort, pointing out that Starbucks’s own leadership was predominantly white.

A perfect textbook case of virtue signalling - Howard &co are saying cool edgy hip stuff to try to engage today's culture but all the while, their board of directors is populated with old white people and there is no apparent training of the staff.

Besides, their coffee is mediocre at best.

Pssst - wanna buy a bridge

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Really. Not the whole thing but individual two-ton sections. From Green Bay station WBAY:

2-ton sections of iconic Mackinac Bridge up for sale
A chunk of the Mackinac Bridge can be yours if you can get it home - which is easier said than done.

Sections of the bridge's original steel grating are going on the auction block. Each one is about 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) wide, 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and weighs two tons (1,814 kilograms).

The bridge is nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) long. It connects Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas and crosses the waterway that links Lakes Huron and Michigan.

MLive.com reports that seven identical sections of the grating will be sold in an online auction that ends April 19 at 9 a.m. EDT.

That would be fun for a bridge over a stream or pond - a bit of history.

From the Holidays Calandar entry for April 7th:

National Beer Day
National Beer Day is a holiday which is celebrated in the United States on April 7th. This day was established to not only honor the history of beer but also to celebrate the Cullen–Harrison Act – an act which allowed people to buy, sell and drink beer that had 4% alcohol by volume and was signed by FDR in 1933. The day in which it went into effect, over a million and a half barrels of beer were sold. Other countries which celebrate a National Beer Day include Iceland (March 1st) and the United Kingdom (June 15th).

Quite a few holidays out there - check the website for more listings.

Memo to self - avoid Mexico

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Used to be that the cartels did not bother the resort cities. That seems to have changed. Google translation from the Yucatan Diary:

Cancun with 98 executed
With a new wave of murders and attacks closed March and holy days contributed with at least seven deaths in Cancun and three more in Playa del Carmen.

Thus, the first quarter of the year ended with about 100 murders with violence in the municipality of Benito Juárez.

In addition, an execution attempt was reported in the 251 region of Cancún, on Lankin Avenue, near a shopping plaza. The injured, who received several bullets, was hospitalized.

Cancun is a gorgeous city but no way will I ever visit there again. Not until the Mexican government cracks down on the crime there. It is an interesting thing to note that Mexico has some of the most draconian gun laws in the world and yet their incidence of gun violence is very high.

About that Uber fatality

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It seems that both of the people involved had quite the interesting history - from the London Daily Mail:

Convicted armed robber who was behind the wheel of self-driving Uber when it killed pedestrian as she wheeled her bike across a road
This is the driver who was behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber car when it hit and killed a pedestrian - in a mugshot taken when she was serving a felony sentence for attempted armed robbery.

Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was the 'safety driver' of the automated Volvo when it hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona.

She had two felony convictions when she was hired by Uber for its self-driving car trials in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.

Her January 2001 conviction for attempted armed robbery led to a five-year sentence of which she served more than four years, being freed in November 2004.

And to make this story even more of a 2018 social train-wreck:

At the time she was known as Rafael and identified as male. It is not known when she transitioned to female.

And the victim:

Victim: Elaine Herzberg, 49, was homeless and had a string of drugs convictions when she was killed walking in front of the Uber self-driving car on Sunday night

Life in this era.

Work stress relief - Voodoo Doll

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An interesting alternative to work related stress from Mental Floss:

Bad Day at Work? New Study Finds a Voodoo Doll of Your Boss Might Be the Most Effective Way of Getting Even
Anyone who has ever had a boss has undoubtedly butted heads with that person and knows that it can make for an awkward vibe in the office. While it would be easy to let your resentment fester and possibly affect your work performance, scientists have a better solution: Get a voodoo doll.

As ScienceAlert reports, a new study published in The Leadership Quarterly found that when employees feel mistreated in the workplace, stabbing pins into a voodoo doll of their boss can be an effective way of managing the situation (and certainly a much better solution than stewing in anger). The study, led by psychologist Dr. Lindie Hanyu Liang, an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, found that engaging in "symbolic retaliation" against one's boss after perceived mistreatment eased participants' bitterness.

Quite the recovery - Degas painting

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From National Public Radio:

Customs Agents Search A Bus Near Paris — And Discover A Stolen Degas Painting
In December 2009, a small painting by Edgar Degas was quietly stolen from the Cantini museum in Marseille, France. Museum staff discovered Les Choristes was missing when they arrived in the morning, and the prosecutor suggested it could be an inside job because the painting had been unscrewed from the wall and there was no evidence of a break-in.

An investigation was launched, but eight years went by and the 1877 painting — worth an estimated $1 million — wasn't seen again.

That was until last Friday, when French customs agents happened to check a bus parked at a highway stop about 18 miles east of Paris.

The officers opened a suitcase in the luggage compartment, and there it was: pastels in red, orange and yellow, depicting a chorus from the opera Don Juan. In the lower left hand corner: Degas' signature.

The agents asked the bus passengers who owned the suitcase. No one claimed it.

Words of wisdom

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From Charlie Munger

“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”“Acknowledging what you don’t know is the dawning of wisdom.” “People are trying to be smart—all I am trying to do is not to be idiotic, but it’s harder than most people think.”

Our Prayers go out to Florida

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Another mentally ill person with known prior issues - from the Miami Herald:

17 dead, former student in custody after school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Broward
An American nightmare unfolded Wednesday afternoon at a North Broward high school after a former student came onto campus and opened fire, killing 17.

Details are beginning to emerge amid a flurry of police activity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where students puzzled at the sound of a fire alarm going off just before dismissal were launched into a panic when gunfire punctuated the din. As teachers and students fled hallways and hid under desks, a former student who teachers and parents say was known to be dangerous came onto campus and unloaded, leaving a trail of bodies and stunned confusion in his wake.

Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, 19, has been taken into police custody. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is reporting 17 dead, and is still working to clear all the buildings at the massive school, home to about 3,200 students.

Prior issues?

A teacher at the school told the Miami Herald that Cruz, 19, had been identified as a potential threat to fellow students in the past. Math teacher Jim Gard says he believes the school administration had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other teenagers in the past and that he should not be allowed on the campus with a backpack.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” said Gard, who said Cruz had been in his class last year. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Nutcases like this are looking for a reaction - if they just get a stern warning, they will always escalate until an event like this. Not saying that this could have been prevented but he certainly could have used some serious counseling instead of a warning and prohibition. Now we have to deal with another round of calls for gun control. Stupid people suck.

Lunacy to our North

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Building the wall - Seattle

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From The Seattle Times:

Seattle is putting fences under its bridges to keep campers out — and some say that’s wrong
Seattle is putting fences under some bridges where homeless camps set up. The city says it’s to prevent fires, but some City Council members are pushing back.

The article says that there are over 5,500 homeless living on the streets. I have zero problem with giving someone a hand up if they hit a rough patch in their lives but this is encouraging those on the edge to move to Seattle to take advantage of the taxpayer-funded free housing and food and money. We need better mental health treatment (i.e. institutions to house them) as well as the backbone to discriminate those who need a hand up and those who are chronic wastrels. Thank you President Kennedy.

Crap - RIP John Perry Barlow

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From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018
With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF's founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity's problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: "I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls 'turn-key totalitarianism.'”

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

He also had quite the side gig - from Infogalactic:

The seeds of the Barlow–Weir collaboration were sown at a Grateful Dead show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, in February 1971. Until then, Weir had mostly worked with resident Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Hunter preferred that those who sang his songs stick to his "canonical" lyrics rather than improvising additions or rearranging words. A feud erupted backstage over a couplet in "Sugar Magnolia" from the band's most recent release (most likely "She can dance a Cajun rhythm/Jump like a Willys in four-wheel drive"), culminating in a disgruntled Hunter summoning Barlow and telling him "take him (Weir)—he's yours".[6] In the fall of 1971, with a deal for a solo album in hand and only two songs completed, Weir and Barlow began to write together for the first time. Note: Capitol Theater New York Shows from February 1971 have no changes to lyrics noted above, all shows are on Archive.org.

The twosome hammered out such enduring songs as "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues", and "Black Throated Wind", all three of which would remain in the repertoires of the Grateful Dead and Weir's varied solo projects for years to come. Other songs to emerge from the Weir-Barlow collaboration include "Let It Grow", "The Music Never Stopped", "Estimated Prophet", "I Need A Miracle", "Lost Sailor", "Saint of Circumstance", "Hell In A Bucket", and "Throwing Stones". Barlow also collaborated with Grateful Dead keyboardists Brent Mydland then later Vince Welnick.

In 1986 Barlow joined The WELL online community, then known for a strong Deadhead presence. He served on the company's board of directors for several years. In 1990, Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with fellow digital-rights activists John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor. As a founder of EFF, Barlow helped publicize the Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games. Barlow's involvement is later documented in the The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992) by Bruce Sterling.[7] EFF later sponsored the ground-breaking case Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service. Steve Jackson Games won the case in 1993.

A true American Legend.

The Grammys - yawn

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Shows how disconnected the music industry has become - from Deadline Hollywood:

Grammy Ratings Fall From 2017 As Politics Dominate Music’s Biggest Night
Back in New York City for the first time since George W. Bush’s first term and drenched in the politics of the Donald Trump era, last night’s Grammy Awards was rockin’ with multiple wins for a very non-political Bruno Mars and a very, very political Kendrick Lamar. The more than three-and-a half-hour- long CBS show also had an audio book audition cameo by Hillary Clinton (see below), a use or two of the censor button, a lot of U2 and Sting, a powerful Time’s Up speech by Janelle Monáe and an equally powerful performance by Kesha and a chorus of supporters.

And how far down were the ratings?

With a 12.7/21 in metered market ratings, the Recording Academy’s big hootenanny was also way down from the early numbers from the LA-based February 13, 2017 59th annual show. By way down, I mean a just over 20% decline from last year to what looks to be an all-time low for the ceremony.

20% is big. And this from the New York Post:

Nikki Haley thinks Hillary’s cameo ruined the Grammys
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley showed some of her own fire and fury after Hillary Clinton and a number of celebrities read portions of a tell-all book critical of the Trump administration at the Grammy Awards.

“I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it,” Haley wrote on Twitter late Sunday during the show. “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”

President Trump’s son Donald Jr. also lashed out at Clinton on Twitter.

“Getting to read a #fakenews book excerpt at the Grammys seems like a great consolation prize for losing the presidency. #GrammyAwards,” he wrote Sunday.

Great tweet from Donald Jr. - Consolation prize indeed! That's gonna leave a mark!

Quite the collection - Movie posters

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From the University of Texas' Ransom Center:

Decades of movie poster history go online
It is difficult to envision the sheer volume of the Movie Poster Collection at the Harry Ransom Center. The collection encompasses upwards of 10,000 posters and spans decades: from when the film industry was just beginning to compete with vaudeville acts in the 1920s to the rise of the modern megaplex and drive-in theaters in the 1970s. The sizes range from that of a small window card to that of a billboard.

Even with the large volume of posters, the collection contains many images that stay with the viewer, often through bold, bright colors that have not lost their luster. Some are simple designs, like the poster for West Side Story (1961), with its a bright orange-red background over the title with a silhouette of a fire escape with dancers. Others are more complex, like Africa Texas Style! (1967), which features a realistic image of the protagonist on a horse, lassoing a zebra in front of a stampede of wildebeest, elephants, and giraffes all set against the backdrop of a mountain.

The collection can be found here: Movie Posters Collection - the Ransom center also has a lot of other collections available online - be sure to explore the box in the upper left of your screen. Hit the Show All button and be prepared to spend several hours browsing...

Crap - RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

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Used to read a lot of science fiction and she was one of my favorite writers. From The New York Times:

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88
Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

She will be missed but she left a wonderful canon of work.

Mike Rowe responds to a Facebook post

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Pure gold - from Mike Rowe's Facebook page. He replies to this post:

Rebecca Bright writes…
"I love the show How the Universe Works, but I'm lost on how the producers and the Science Channel can allow anti-education, science doubting, ultra-right wing conservative Mike Rowe to narrate the show. There are countless scientists that should be hired for that, or actors, if you must, that believe in education and science that would sound great narrating the show, example: Morgan Freeman. Cancel this fools contract and get any of your scientists so often on the show to narrate it."

Mike replies - go and read the whole thing (Mike is quite eloquent)  but here are the last six paragraphs:

Anyway, Rebecca, my beef with your post comes down to this - if you go to my boss and ask her to fire me because you can’t stand the sound of my voice, I get it. Narrators with unpleasant voices should probably look for other work anyway, and if enough people share your view, no hard feelings - I’ll make room for Morgan. But if you’re trying to get me fired simply because you don’t like my worldview, well then, I’m going to fight back. Partly because I like my job, and partly because you’re wrong about your assumptions, but mostly because your tactics typify a toxic blend of laziness and group-think that are all too common today – a hot mess of hashtags and intolerance that deepen the chasm currently dividing our country.

Re-read your own post, and think about your actual position. You've publicly asked a network to fire the narrator of a hit show because you might not share his personal beliefs. Don't you think that's kind of...extraordinary? Not only are you unwilling to engage with someone you disagree with – you can’t even enjoy a show you claim to love if you suspect the narrator might not share your view of the world! Do you know how insular that makes you sound? How fragile?

I just visited your page, and read your own description of you. It was revealing. It says, “I stand my ground. I fear no one & nothing. I have & will fight for what's right.”

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don't think the ground you’re standing on is worth defending. If you truly fear “no one & nothing,” it’s not because you’re brave; it’s because you’re unwilling to expose yourself to ideas that frighten you. And while I can see that you like to fight for what you think is “right” (in this case, getting people fired that you disagree with,) one could easily say the same thing about any other misguided, garden-variety bully.

In other words, Rebecca, I don’t think you give a damn about science. If I’m wrong, prove it. Take a step back and be skeptical about your own assumptions. Take a moment to doubt your own words, and ask yourself – as any good scientist would – if you've got your head up a black hole.

Having said all that, I think you’re gonna love next week’s episode. It’s called Multiple Stars! Check it out, Tuesdays at 10pm, on Science.

Heh - I love the part about; "your tactics typify a toxic blend of laziness and group-think that are all too common today – a hot mess of hashtags and intolerance that deepen the chasm currently dividing our country." Spot on!

Two words for tea

Fascinating writeup on the etymology of the word Tea or Cha - from Quartz:

Tea if by sea, cha if by land: Why the world only has two words for tea
With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term— in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.

Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

An interesting read.

People are buying Fire and Fury online and not realizing what they are ordering. From the UK Guardian:

The other Fire and Fury: decade-old book becomes unexpected bestseller
When it was released 10 years ago, Randall Hansen’s book performed as expected, racking up strong sales that gradually tapered off. But this week the Canadian professor’s 2008 book unexpectedly leapt back on to bestseller lists.

The reason lies in the book’s name – Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945 – just a subtitle away from the Michael Wolff’s explosive exposé of the Trump White House.

“I haven’t seen this level of interest since the book first came out,” said Hansen, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

A bit more:

After dinner on Friday Hansen logged into Amazon and found that his book – which explores civilian perspectives on the Allied bombing of Germany during the second world war – had edged back on to three of the site’s bestseller categories. “It amused me and part of me thought, can people really be that dumb to be confusing these books?”

In a few cases, it appeared that this was exactly what had happened. “I had a couple of bitter comments,” said Hansen. “There was one tweet, he came forward and said, ‘I bought this book by accident and there’s no way I’m reading it,’ in kind of this accusatory tone. I thought well, ‘it’s not quite my fault, mate.’”

Emphasis mine - that answer would be YES!

They are taking down everyone these days

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Presented without comment:

20171217-mo.jpg

I had mentioned that a homeless camp cooking fire was responsible for starting the fire that burned the Bel-Air homes - now, the 1%ers are getting worried - from the Los Angeles Times:

Bel-Air wrestles with homeless crisis after encampment fire destroys multimillion-dollar homes
In the tony hillside neighborhoods of Bel-Air and Brentwood, residents say they are aware of the homeless people who live in the shadows of their multimillion-dollar homes.

The affluent area along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, home to celebrities, corporate titans and others, has not been immune to the homeless crisis that has spread across Los Angeles. Some residents express sympathy and concern for the homeless, while others are wary and want them out.

But the Skirball fire, which destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of a large chunk of Bel-Air, has put the issue at the forefront of community debate. Officials say the blaze was caused by a cooking fire at a homeless camp along the 405. Investigators say the fire was set accidentally, but they have not been able to find those who occupied the camp.

It's one thing to virtue signal and attend tony fundraisers for dealing with homelessness, it is quite another to have one of them burn our house to the ground. In my post yesterday I outlined briefly how the issue of homelessness started with President John F. Kennedy and his Community Mental Health Act. We need to return to the days of institutionalization. The activists are pushing for the "rights" of the mentally ill but they fail to comprehend that most mentally ill people would much rather be in a safe secure environment than to be living out their lives on the streets.

Some fun music

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Was looking through some YouTube channels and ran into this. T and I just finished watching Game of Thrones - this is cute:

Not surprising at all

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From D.C. station WTOP:

DC has highest percentage of heavy drinkers
Compared to states, the District ranks No. 2 for the percentage of adults who consume alcohol and No. 1 for the percentage of heavy drinkers, according to Detox.net, an online resource for alcohol abuse treatment programs.

According to the study, 65.9 percent of adults in D.C. have had at least one drink in the past month, second only to Wisconsin’s 67.3 percent. The study was based on data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which collects health-related data from phone interviews.

The study also says 11.1 percent of D.C. adults are what it labels heavy drinkers, consuming more than two drinks daily for men and more than one drink daily for women.

If I had to deal with the people there, I would self-medicate too...

And another one bites the dust

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Liberals' past lives are coming back to haunt them. From The New York Times:

Met Opera Suspends James Levine After New Sexual Abuse Accusations
The Metropolitan Opera suspended James Levine, its revered conductor and former music director, on Sunday after three men came forward with accusations that Mr. Levine sexually abused them decades ago, when the men were teenagers.

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, announced that the company was suspending its four-decade relationship with Mr. Levine, 74, and canceling his upcoming conducting engagements after learning from The New York Times on Sunday about the accounts of the three men, who described a series of similar sexual encounters beginning in the late 1960s. The Met has also asked an outside law firm to investigate Mr. Levine’s behavior.

“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview, adding that the Met’s board supported his actions. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

And of course, there had been multiple complaints starting in 1987 and continuing forward. Back then, Mr. Levine was the "star" and anything otherwise was hushed up. Now, it is coming home to roost. Good.

No, not the one you are thinking of - this one. From Santa Barbara station KEYT-TV:

Second sphinx from 'Ten Commandments' set discovered in Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes
Archaeologists have unearthed a perfectly intact 300-pound plaster Egyptian sphinx at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes -- part of Cecil B. DeMille's 95-year-old movie set.

“The piece is unlike anything found on previous digs,” said Doug Jenzen, Executive Director of the Dunes Center. “The majority of it is preserved by sand with the original paint still intact. This is significant and shows that we’re still learning unexpected facets to film historical movie production such as the fact that objects in black and white films were actually painted extremely intense colors.”

A bit more:

The set in Santa Barbara County would go on to include pharaohs, sphinxes, and colossal temple gates for the beloved biblical epic. In all, 21 sphinxes graced the immense movie set. Only a fraction of the 12-stories-high 800-feet-wide set has been recovered.

Many believe the removal of the set after filming was too expensive and too valuable to leave behind for rival filmmakers to poach, so DeMille had it buried beneath the dunes.

Fortunately, archaeologists say the sand allows for drainage, which helps support the buried structures. Otherwise, Jenzen said, the set pieces would “turn to mush.”

I am surprised tat nobody has gone out there with a ground penetrating radar. The artifacts would be very evident.

An interesting website - dangerous

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Taking things too far - unwanted advances

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This is unreal. I fully support people coming out against unwanted physical advances but come on now. From The London Daily Mail:

Mother demands her son's school take Sleeping Beauty off the curriculum because the princess doesn't give consent to be kissed and woken up by prince
A mother has demanded her six-year-old son's school bans Sleeping Beauty because the princess does not give consent to be kissed.

Sarah Hall, from Northumberland Park, North Shields, claimed the fairytale promotes an 'inappropriate sexual' message to young children.

She argued the story is irresponsible because it teaches children it is acceptable to kiss women while they are asleep.

The mother of two said: 'I think it's a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent.

So Ms. Hall considers that a six-year old could consider this to be a sexual advance? Maybe she needs to have her head examined...

How the mighty are falling - Pixar

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Seems to be a day for posts with two headlines. These are both from The Hollywood Reporter, about 30 minutes apart:

John Lasseter Taking Leave of Absence From Pixar Amid "Missteps"

John Lasseter's Pattern of Alleged Misconduct Detailed by Disney/Pixar Insiders

One take-away from the second link:

Rashida Jones is still credited as a writer on Toy Story 4, the next installment in the beloved franchise. But, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, the actress and her writing partner at the time, Will McCormack, left the project early on after John Lasseter, the acclaimed head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, made an unwanted advance.

Shame really - Pixar brought CGI to mainstream film-making and Lasseter was one of the pioneers.

First it was the people, then the toons and now

the puppets. From The Silicon Graybeard:

20171116-kermit.jpg

Good news - sanctuary cities

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Playtime is over - time to get back in line. From the Washington Examiner:

Justice Department gives 29 'sanctuary' cities, states until Dec. 8 to prove compliance with immigration law
The Department of Justice on Wednesday told Illinois, Oregon, and Vermont and 26 "sanctuary" cities and counties around the country that they were found to have "laws, policies or practices” that violate federal immigration laws, and that failure to demonstrate compliance by early December could mean reduced federal grants.

The new jurisdictions range across the nation, and include big cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as smaller ones like Lawrence, Mass.

The department warned the 29 jurisdictions in separate letters that in order to continue receiving public safety grants under the Justice Department's Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, the jurisdictions must prove compliance with Section 1373 of 8 U.S. Code by Dec. 8.

“I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents. We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373, but also to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement.

Good - if you want to virtue signal, do it on your own dime. Don't expressly violate federal law and then expect to suck on the federal teat. For an example of what we are talking about, here are a few headlines for the last week:

All of these stories are from the past eight days - just a cursory scan of the news media. All of the protagonists are here illegally.

This will be interesting to follow - from PJ Media:

Ex-Google Executive Registers First Church of AI With IRS
A former executive at Google has filed paperwork with the IRS to establish an official religion of technology. This religion doesn't just worship scientific progress, but artificial intelligence itself, with the goal of creating a godhead.

The new church of AI will aim "to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead [to] contribute to the betterment of society," according to IRS documents.

The non-profit religious organization would be called "Way of the Future" (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is "about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + 'machines.'"

Website is here: Way of the Future (WOTF) Couldn't be any crazier than the L. Ron Hubbard organization.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

It's Official: 'Lord of the Rings' TV Series Gets Multiple-Season Commitment at Amazon
It's official: Amazon Studios is going to make a Lord of the Rings TV series.

The retail giant and streaming outlet announced Monday that it has acquired global television rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise, based on the best-selling novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Amazon has handed out a multiple-season commitment. The Amazon LOTR series will be produced in-house at Amazon Studios alongside the Tolkien Estate and Trust, publisher HarperCollins and Warner Bros. Entertainment's New Line Cinema. A writer has not yet been attached.

No word as to when the shows will start to air. This could be a lot of fun if they don't mess with it too much. The trilogy was incredibly well done but they left out so much of the original books and it sounds like the Amazon shows will explore these in more detail.

Was wondering when I first heard about the new version with Kenneth Branagh - David Suchet is Hercule Poirot, nobody else need apply. Here is a write-up from National Review:

Murder on the Orient Express Is a Deadly Dull Ride
They don’t make ’em like Murder on the Orient Express any more, but when they do, by chance, make ’em, they should cut ’em into tiny pieces, place ’em in a hole, and set ’em on fire, possibly with a sign warning everyone not to sift through the ashes.

Yet sifting through the ashes of a dead genre is what Kenneth Branagh is doing in directing this (sort of) all-star mystery, which was already a bit creaky and wheezy when it was directed for the big screen by Sidney Lumet in 1974, in a production that won Ingrid Bergman her third Oscar. For moviegoers born in the 1920s and 1930s, that movie may have been an amusing throwback, but now the source material — Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel — is a relic of an ancient era in entertainment. Instead of trying to freshen up the story, Branagh revels in the fustiness, like a weird kid rummaging through the trunks in a dusty attic.

If you want to see the story brought to the screen, get the 2010 Suchet version - much better!

Now that accounts of Spacey's paedophilia have surfaced, Netflix has canceled the show House of Cards. This is causing some problems - from The Baltimore Sun:

Baltimore-area businesses already feeling loss of 'House of Cards'
The “House of Cards” crew is still getting paid through the suspension of the show’s sixth season, a source close to production confirmed Tuesday, but local vendors are already feeling the loss of a deep-pocketed customer and the cachet of being associated with a hit series.

Production company Media Rights Capital is paying the show’s crew while on hiatus, sources confirmed, but could not detail how much or for how long. Officials with Media Rights Capital would not comment on this matter.

Media Rights Capital and distributor Netflix announced the suspension of the show’s final season last Tuesday, days after actor Anthony Rapp alleged that executive producer and star Kevin Spacey had made sexual advances toward him in the 1980s, when he was 14 years old. Since then, several men, including former “House of Cards” production assistant and actor Harry Dreyfuss, son of thespian Richard Dreyfuss, have also made sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey.

On Friday night, Netflix and Media Rights Capital announced that Spacey, who played ruthless politican Frank Underwood in the series, had been fired.

And follow the money:

Caterers and fast-food restaurants, carpet and furniture outlets, music and antique stores, warehouses, auto parts dealers and paint suppliers — all are included among the show’s hundreds of Maryland vendors during more than five years of filming, often in and around Baltimore, at locations including the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Baltimore Sun.

A state-created vendor list illustrates the ripple effect a big-budget production can have on a local economy. The December 2016 list from the Department of Commerce contains 1,963 House of Cards vendors, although many are fast-food outlets or convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Chipotle and McDonald’s.

WPS Paint & Decorating Center in Emmorton will miss the crew stopping by as many as two or three times a week to buy paint or shellac. Among the paint it supplied was a color called river gorge gray, used for the mock Oval Office on the show.

“It makes a big impact on our business,” said Adrianne Kotula, the center’s lead interior designer. She declined to provide an economic figure but said the show “supplemented our business when things got slow with the housing market five or six years ago.”

I feel sorry for the cast and vendors - it was a good show and I really like Spacey as an actor. Shame he could not keep his dick in his trousers where it belongs while at work.

Losing a legend - Fred Beckey

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Major local legend - from The New York Times:

Fred Beckey, Conqueror and Chronicler of North American Peaks, Dies at 94
Fred Beckey, a fabled mountaineer and author who was the first to take hundreds of routes to the summits of North America’s tallest peaks in Alaska, the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Northwest in an audacious seven-decade climbing career, died on Monday in Seattle. He was 94.

Megan Bond, a close friend of Mr. Beckey’s, confirmed in a Facebook message that he died from congestive heart failure in her home. Ms. Bond said he had been in hospice care for four days.

Rawboned and tenacious, Mr. Beckey made as many as a thousand ascents that no one was known to have taken before, and wrote a dozen books on mountaineering, many of them considered definitive guides to the terrain of the continent’s best-known and least accessible peaks.

A wonderful obituary - go and read even if you don't spend time outdoors. Fred was one of a kind. A true legend.

The stories about Harvey Weinstein were first a rumor, then a thin crack opened up and it is now a torrent. The same thing is happening to other Hollywood denizens - Kevin Spacey for one. From BuzzFeed:

Actor Anthony Rapp: Kevin Spacey Made A Sexual Advance Toward Me When I Was 14
Last June, Anthony Rapp settled in at the home of his good friend and fellow actor Camryn Manheim to watch the Tony Awards. The New York natives were both in Toronto working, and Manheim had invited Rapp and his boyfriend over to partake in the beloved theater geek ritual. But for the first time, Rapp — a working actor since he was 9 years old, and most famously part of the original cast of the musical Rent — felt something he'd never experienced before with the Tonys: dread.

And that's because the host that night was Kevin Spacey.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Rapp is publicly alleging for the first time that in 1986, Spacey befriended Rapp while they both performed on Broadway shows, invited Rapp over to his apartment for a party, and, at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance. According to public records, Spacey was 26. Rapp was 14.

I do not know what it is about gay men and their prediliction for little boys. I know thy do not represent the entire population of gay men but still - really? It is a pity as I really like Kevin Spacey as an actor - he is brilliant on screen. Time to repost the dance, monkey, DANCE! rant again:

Dear Hollywood celebrities: It’s time to wake up now. Get this! The only reason you exist is for my entertainment. Some of you are beautiful. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you are so convincing that you scare the stuffing out of me. And others are so funny you can make me laugh uncontrollably. But you all have one thing in common. You only exist and have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it. Nothing else!

You make your living pretending to be someone else. You play dress-up like a 5-year-old. Your world is a make-believe world—it is not real; it doesn't exist. You live for the camera while the rest of us live in the real world. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I crank the organ grinder, and you dance.

Therefore, I don't care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your opinion means nothing to me. Just because you had a lead role in a movie about prostitution doesn't mean you know what it’s like to be a prostitute. Your view matters far less to me than that of a someone living in Timbuktu. Believe me or not, the hard truth is that you aren't real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer, and you cease to exist. Once I am done with you, I go back to the real world until I want you to entertain me again.

I don't care that you think BP executives deserve the death penalty. I don't care what you think about the environment. I don't care if you believe fracking is bad. I don't care if you call for more gun control. I don't care if you believe in catastrophic, human-induced global warming. And I couldn't care less that you supported Hillary for President. By the way, she lost!!

Get back into your bubble. I'll let you know when I'm in the mood for something pretty or scary or funny. And one other thing. What was all that “I'll leave the country if Donald Trump wins”? Don't you know how stupid that made you sound? What did you think my reaction was going to be? Oooh! I better not vote for Trump or we'll lose Whoopi Goldberg? Al Sharpton? Amy Schemer? Rosie O’Donnell? Leave. Good riddance. I don't care! And don't let the door hit you in the keister on your way out. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Even scare me. But realize this: the only words of yours that matter are scripted — just like your pathetic, little lives. I may agree with some of you from time to time, but in the final analysis, it doesn't matter. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment.

So, shut your mouth and dance, monkey, DANCE!

So true. Cleaning house is happening across the nation. A good thing (and overdue).

And it starts - Harvey

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From The Hollywood Reporter:

Former Harvey Weinstein Assistant Breaks NDA, Details History of Cover-Ups
Zelda Perkins, who worked as Weinstein's assistant in Miramax's London office, claims in a new interview with Financial Times that her boss sexually harassed her and assaulted her female colleague, leading them to a settlement and strict NDA.

It will be interesting to see how many peole are brought down

And then, there is this:

Oscar-Winning Writer-Director Paul Haggis Suggests Hollywood Pedophilia Cover-Up

How fast they fall - Harvey Weinstein

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From the Los Angeles Times:

Harvey Weinstein expelled from motion picture academy
Embattled film mogul Harvey Weinstein — a once-dominant force in the Academy Awards who rewrote the rules of Oscar campaigning — has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in response to mounting allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him.

The film academy’s 54-member board of governors, which includes such industry luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Kathleen Kennedy and Whoopi Goldberg, voted in an emergency meeting on Saturday morning to remove Weinstein from the organization’s ranks in an unprecedented public rebuke of a prominent industry figure. The move marked the latest blow in Weinstein’s stunning downfall and, in symbolic terms, amounts to a virtual expulsion from Hollywood itself.

The guy made great movies - pity about all the other stuff. This brings to mind two other pieces

First - from Laurie Stark on Twitter:

Remember: The Weinstein Company didn't fire Harvey because they found out he was a sexual predator. They fired him because WE found out.

Second - this wonderful rant:

Dear Hollywood celebrities: It’s time to wake up now. Get this! The only reason you exist is for my entertainment. Some of you are beautiful. Some of you can deliver a line with such conviction that you bring tears to my eyes. Some of you are so convincing that you scare the stuffing out of me. And others are so funny you can make me laugh uncontrollably. But you all have one thing in common. You only exist and have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it. Nothing else!

You make your living pretending to be someone else. You play dress-up like a 5-year-old. Your world is a make-believe world—it is not real; it doesn't exist. You live for the camera while the rest of us live in the real world. Your entire existence depends on my patronage. I crank the organ grinder, and you dance.

Therefore, I don't care where you stand on issues. Honestly, your opinion means nothing to me. Just because you had a lead role in a movie about prostitution doesn't mean you know what it’s like to be a prostitute. Your view matters far less to me than that of a someone living in Timbuktu. Believe me or not, the hard truth is that you aren't real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer, and you cease to exist. Once I am done with you, I go back to the real world until I want you to entertain me again.

I don't care that you think BP executives deserve the death penalty. I don't care what you think about the environment. I don't care if you believe fracking is bad. I don't care if you call for more gun control. I don't care if you believe in catastrophic, human-induced global warming. And I couldn't care less that you supported Hillary for President. By the way, she lost!!

Get back into your bubble. I'll let you know when I'm in the mood for something pretty or scary or funny. And one other thing. What was all that “I'll leave the country if Donald Trump wins”? Don't you know how stupid that made you sound? What did you think my reaction was going to be? Oooh! I better not vote for Trump or we'll lose Whoopi Goldberg? Al Sharpton? Amy Schemer? Rosie O’Donnell? Leave. Good riddance. I don't care! And don't let the door hit you in the keister on your way out. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Even scare me. But realize this: the only words of yours that matter are scripted — just like your pathetic, little lives. I may agree with some of you from time to time, but in the final analysis, it doesn't matter. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment.

So, shut your mouth and dance, monkey, DANCE!

Speaking truth to power monkeys. If President Trump is setting out to drain the swamp, remember that its tributaries and rivers are fed by the constant drip drip drip of the media. Without their collusion, the swamp will dry up and blow away under the hard light of day.

Is he pulling a Polanski?

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From TMZ:

HARVEY WEINSTEIN Flying to Europe Tonight FOR SEX ADDICTION REHAB
Harvey Weinstein is boarding a private jet Tuesday night, bound for a rehab center in Europe for sex addiction ... sources connected with the former mogul tell TMZ.

We're told Harvey has decided to take the advice of the people around him and leave immediately. We're told he will enter a live-in facility and will deal both with sex and other behavioral issues.

Our sources say Weinstein is surprisingly calm, considering the PR nightmare engulfing him. As one source put it, "He has his moments where there are bursts, but for the most part he's pretty calm."

We're told Weinstein still believes he can get help, come back and make a fresh start. As a source close to Weinstein put it, "He wants to come back with fresh, new ideas." As we reported, he and his team are in settlement discussions with The Weinstein Co. and the idea of him serving in some outside capacity is still on the table.

Pulling a Polanski? From Infogalactic:

Roman Polanski
Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański (born 18 August 1933), known professionally as Roman Polanski, is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers".

And why this matters?

In 1977, after a photo shoot in Los Angeles, Polanski was arrested for the rape of 13-year-old Samantha Geimer and pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor. He was released from prison after serving 42 days and was told he would be put on probation. When he learned that the judge planned to renege on that promise, he fled to Paris before sentencing.

No extradition - even after several attempts by the US he remains at large. Looks like Harvey might be taking cues from a master.

Harvey Weinstein in the media

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The New York Times ran an article about how Mr. Weinstein was using his position of power to have sex with actresses - this had been going on for decades. Mr. Weinstein has subsequently been  fired from his company. One story and one tweet:

From Sharon Waxman writing at The Wrap:

‘Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers’? The New York Times Is One of Them
A whole lot of fur has been flying since last Thursday, when The New York Times published a game-changing investigative story about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct that in lightning speed brought the mogul to his knees.

He apologized and took an immediate leave of absence from the company he co-founded, but that wasn’t enough. His board members and legal advisers have been resigning en masse. And as new, ugly details emerge of three decades of settlements for sex-related offenses, he’s quickly becoming a national pariah.

I applaud The New York Times and writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for getting the story in print. I’m sure it was a long and difficult road.

Except, a few years ago:

In 2004, I was still a fairly new reporter at The New York Times when I got the green light to look into oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. It was believed that many occurred in Europe during festivals and other business trips there.

And (of course):

The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.

Follow that up with this pitch-perfect tweet from Laurie Stark:

Remember: The Weinstein Company didn't fire Harvey because they found out he was a sexual predator. They fired him because WE found out.

Absolutely correct.

Oh the horror

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We have all been there with at least one of these:

April 2018

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Gone but not Forgotten...
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