Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A soldier of love, that's hard to be

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of The White Album, #BeatlesSongsForMillenials is trending. My favorites so far:
  • Magical Microaggression Tour
  • Fair Trade Organic Strawberry Fields Forever
  • We all live in our parents basement 
  • U Up? Jude
  • While my fidget silently spins
I thought of "Bitcoin Lane" but others beat me to it.

While I was looking at a list of Beatles songs for inspiration I saw "Soldier of Love" - I hadn't heard or even thought of that Beatles cover for a long time but I remember I liked it long ago so I found it on Youtube. What a nifty little tune. It seems that they only recorded it once, and it's not a great audio quality unfortunately but still... the war metaphor is especially interesting in view of Lennon's transformation into a hardcore peacenik a few years later.

My favorite Beatles cover of all time is "Words of Love" - I raved about it seven years ago on this blog. But this might be my second favorite, a very close second.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Tulsa massacre and the "race science" project of erasing American history

The "biosocial criminologists" I have written about on this blog believe that "black" people are innately more criminal than other "races." The most outspoken of the biosocial criminologists, John Paul Wright, explains the belief system in a book called  Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research edited by Kevin M. Beaver and Anthony Walsh:

It is clear that the main driver of "biosocial criminology" is to argue that the economic underachievement and related crime of blacks in the US is due to their inferior genetics. John Paul Wright again:

It's no surprise then that the hereditarian approach to American history is to try to erase it. Because if you erase it, you wipe out the evidence of what happened when blacks managed to prosper: the Tulsa massacre. It's clear that whites in Tulsa targeted blacks not because they were criminals but because they were uppity - they were too successful. And the white majority had the numbers to destroy them.
The predominantly black district of Greenwood in Tulsa had a commercial district so prosperous that it was known as "the Negro Wall Street" (now commonly referred to as "the Black Wall Street").[21] Blacks had created their own businesses and services in this enclave, including several grocers, two newspapers, two movie theaters, nightclubs, and numerous churches. Black professionals, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, and clergy, served their peers. Because of residential segregation in the city, most classes of blacks lived together in Greenwood. They selected their own leaders and raised capital there to support economic growth. In the surrounding areas of northeastern Oklahoma, blacks also enjoyed relative prosperity and participated in the oil boom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

BlackkKlansman - great movie

The real Ron Stallworth's police ID card
I've been interested in the movie BlackkKlansman, watching several of its trailers many times but never managing to get out to see it in the theater - but now it's available online so I watched it.

Some of the reviews of the movie were mixed but I thought it was great.

It think Spike Lee achieved a perfect synthesis of fact and fiction, art and reality. I will watch it again.

Politifact provides a review of where the movie diverged from the historical record as recounted in Ron Stallworth's book and contemporary news reports.

Fun fact, I know one of the background actors playing a Klansman - the guy is the furthest thing from a Klansman so it was really amusing.

I admit I haven't seen much of Spike Lee's work but I think this one will end up being considered his masterpiece.
Not only did I enjoy the well-plotted, exciting movie (although there were some harrowing moments as when the character portrayed by Harry Belafonte recounts a lynching) I appreciated the mention of the "race science" by David Duke (Topher Grace) of Nobel Prize winner William Shockley and the wording was so similar to the defense of current race-science proponents for their scientific racism, I was amazed. I will definitely discuss that in my planned upcoming podcast Steven Pinker, the Intellectual Dark Web, and Race Science.

And of course, inevitably, the Pioneer Fund supported Shockley's eugenics.

In "The Bell Curve" Murray and Herrstein mention the connection between Herrnstein and Shockley in the public's mind but seem to feel that although they agree substantially about eugenics, Shockley's style was "eccentric" and therefore an unfair comparison.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Our last Thanksgiving at Capsouto Freres

For twelve years - since I moved to the NYC area, I had Thanksgiving  with various combinations of friends and family members at Capsouto Freres, a restaurant in TriBeCa. I blogged about it a few times. This photo is from Thanksgiving 2011. The last Thanksgiving there.

Then Hurricane Sandy came and wiped out the restaurant and they never re-opened.

My daughter-in-law is a chef so my Thanksgivings are great but I miss Capsouto sometimes.

That's Jacques Capsouto in the middle of the photo.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Razib Khan and the race science project to deny history

Although Razib Khan posted this article on Medium on July 4 of this year, I didn't see it until today. It confirms exactly what I have been noticing about proponents of race science - they think that genetics tells us more about human culture than the historical record:
And yet genetics can shed light on historical patterns. Unlike written text genetics is neutral. It does not present a particular narrative or agenda. 
That's his bold emphasis in the original. This is the underlying justification for the erasure of history that allows Khan and Sam Harris and Charles Murray to assume that failure of blacks to thrive in the US has nothing to do with 300 years of slavery, a hundred years of apartheid and fifty years of discrimination but rather their own genetic inferiority.

As usual with Khan his essay is a combination of no-duh ("Much of the wealth of the kingdom which the planters were building unfortunately consisted of slaves") and ideas he either is unwilling to express clearly, or lacks the literary ability to express clearly:
While Indiana was settled mostly from the South, there were far more Yankees who founded towns in Michigan and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Ohio and Illinois were both divided between a northern portion settled from New England, and a southern expanse dominated by Scots-Irish “Butternuts.” 
All this seems clear in the genetic results. Now we can quantify the differences. Illinois is tilted a bit to the northern migrants. Ohio somewhat to the southern ones. Historical debates can be resolved through genetic analyses!
Nowhere does he say what "historical debates" he thinks are resolved through genetic analyses. Is that oversight a deliberate dog whistle for other race science proponents? Or is it just the output of a lousy writer who lacked a professional editor?

At the end of the essay, Khan is all enthusiasm for the Triumph of the DNA Test:
Over the next few years tens of millions of more Americans will obtain direct to consumer genetic tests. The database will grow larger and larger. Many demographic questions related to the history of this country will not need to be explored through reconstruction of texts and laborious perusal of letters and court documents. Rather, scientists will simply scan through the pedigrees they construct from human genomes, and synthesize their results with the rich assortment of resources already available from the fields of genealogy and history.
This time the bolded emphasis is mine. To realize the silliness - or the hidden agenda - of that bolded sentence one needs only reflect for a moment: genomes don't tell us that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 or how many lynchings were perpetrated. Does it really matter if the lynching party was composed primarily of individuals with a genetic heritage of Scots-Irish with a small expression of German-French?

In spite of Razib Khan's literary inadequacy we can see clearly the tactic favored by proponents of race science: deny the importance of history because only science is pure enough to tell us anything about the world.

Now the nonsense that Khan is spewing is no more incoherent or useless than anything written by Steven Pinker on the topic of history and culture and race - it must really piss Khan off the way Pinker is well-respected and highly-remunerated and beloved by the mainstream media - here they are fawning over Pinker again in this interview at the NYTimes - while saying much of what Khan says and just as badly.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Les fran├žais sont si bizarre

This is a French TV show, apparently, in which they pretend to connect kids to a lie detector and then ask them questions. Although sometimes they pull weird stunts - like at one point they told a little girl that the color of carrots is blue. She insisted on orange a few times but there would be a beep each time indicating she was in error according to the "lie detector" so eventually she agreed that carrots are blue. That's some kind of gas-lighting bullshit right there.

On the other hand these are good videos for me to watch because, since they are talking to little kids, they have to make the language simple enough for them to understand - and so I can understand most of what they are saying.

Quillette, the center for white male grievance

Back in January of this year I mentioned that Quillette was not well-known. But now it seems it is getting better known - as a place where white men can gather to express their grievances.

Wonkette has an article about the latest literary atrocity at Quillette, a first-time novelist who believes that he didn't get a contract right away because he's white male. But he did get a deal and now he's milking it for publicity by selling Quillette his tale of woe of life as a white man - the kind of thing that Quillette loves to publish.

Quillette is such a huge joke - I'm glad more and more people are finding out about it. Many amusing comments about it on Twitter.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

There's always a tweet

Monday, November 12, 2018

My shout-out in Politico

I really need to start my podcast about Steven Pinker and Quillette and the "Intellectual Dark Web" - I just got a shout-out from Politico to my Twitter thread about the "race realism"/"race science"/"hereditarianism" - or you can just call it neo-Nazi science position at Quillette.

The link on "clowns" in this screen cap links to the thread which is here.

Brigitte Macron, living the life

Saturday, November 10, 2018

O his prophetic soul - Ken Tucker on Steely Dan's "The Royal Scam"

Ken Tucker's review of Steely Dan's "The Royal Scam" ends with:
In any event, I doubt that Steely Dan will ever become merely precious or insular; through five albums they have consistently circumvented their complexity with passionate snaz-ziness and fluky, cynical wit. If The Royal Scam lacks ready-made Top 40 fodder, it also widens Steely Dan’s already considerable parameters. Their next album, if one can speculate about this lovably perverse bunch, should be a pop killer. In the meantime The Royal Scam is well worth living with, pondering and, what the hell, even dancing to.
The next album was Aja considered Steely Dan's masterpiece and on top of that, was their biggest seller.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Dude loves Bohemian Rhapsody

This guy, who has apparently been living under a rock has never heard Queens "Bohemian Rhapsody" - or many other famous songs before.

He has a Youtube channel in which he listens to well-known song for the first time and reacts to them. He loves Bohemian Rhapsody.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The ridiculous symbolism of MOSHI

Nietzsche and his huge &
hideously excessive & ugly mustache
I criticized the organization MOSHI about a year ago for its bizarre usage of a mustache - a male secondary sex characteristic -  to represent
philosophical thought and ideas for children.

According to its web site:
MOSHI is a witty mustache which sticks on children’s face to teach them how to philosophize and express their ideas in artistic ways.
Moshi is a mustache full of ideas!
In the US women are sometimes complimented by being told they "have balls" because having testicles - something that only men have - is a symbol of courage. So to have balls is to be like a man, therefore courageous.

Maybe one day we'll see women complimented with: "you have a mustache" meaning they are full of ideas and philosophical thoughts and if so we can thank MOSHI for pioneering that concept.

Well it turns out the use of a disembodied mustache for the organization is even more ill-considered than I had guessed. I recently had an extremely unpleasant exchange of emails with MOSHI founder Caroline Murgue, who threatened to sue me for daring to publicly criticize her organization for sexism on account of its symbolizing thought by a mustache.

WIGGI is a wig full of ideas!
During the exchange she indicated that her organization's goal was aimed at helping children in their "social and emotional learning through MOSHI workshops."

This came as a surprise to me since the MOSHI social media sites emphasize thought, not emotion or socialization.

But even more surprising, Murgue informed me that the mustache was inspired by the huge walrus-sized mustache of Frederich Nietzsche, the nineteenth century philosopher who ended his days stark raving mad.

Now the MOSHI web site does not at all make it obvious that the mustache represents Nietzsche - I didn't find any mentions of Nietzsche by name. On its home page there is an image of Nietzsche - sans mustache on his face - but I doubt many of the parents of MOSHI's target audience have any idea what Nietzsche looks like.

And I find it astounding that Murgue considered it a good idea to use Nietzsche and his mustache to represent social and emotional learning for children since Nietzsche was no model of either social or emotional success in his life, even before he went completely bonkers.

POODIE is a poodle
full of ideas!
There are so many gender-neutral options that Murgue could have used to represent philosophy. Schopenhauer, for example, who detested facial hair on men and from whom Nietzsche got all his best ideas, is famous for loving his poodles.

(I know a lot of fun facts about Schopenhauer thanks to all the research I did writing a play that included him as a character.)

A talking poodle would be a much more attractive symbol to convey philosophical ideas to children than a disembodied floating mustache. Not to mention the poodle symbolizes Schopenhauer's love for his pet, which is a better representation of "social and emotional learning" than Nietzsche's ugly woman-repelling facial hair.

Although to be honest Schopenhauer might have been even less successful in his social life than Nietzsche, and his strongest emotional connection seems to have been primarily or even exclusively with his poodles.

If the symbol must be something one can wear, the model philosopher could have been Voltaire and children could have worn powdered wigs to represent becoming full of ideas.

I wonder what Voltaire would have thought of the leader of an organization, claiming to be dedicated to philosophy, threatening a lawsuit in an attempt to censor criticism.

Voltaire had some experience with censorship.
 At this time he published his views on British attitudes toward government, literature, religion and science in a collection of essays in letter form entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation (London, 1733).[50] In 1734, they were published in French as Lettres philosophiques in Rouen.[51][b] Because the publisher released the book without the approval of the royal censor and Voltaire regarded the British constitutional monarchy as more developed and more respectful of human rights (particularly religious tolerance) than its French counterpart, the French publication of Letters caused a huge scandal; the book was publicly burnt and banned, and Voltaire was forced again to flee Paris.[18]

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The NYTimes calls it!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Supernatural Podcast teaser

You can hear:

…our interview about the superstitions surrounding “the Scottish Play” and the John Wilkes Booth connection with noted Shakespearean scholar (and star of a BBC series on Shakespeare) Professor James Shapiro; 
…Orson Welles talk to H. G. Wells (author of the original “War of the World”) about Hitler’s response to the Orson Welles broadcast and the panic it caused; 
…the performance of Michael Jalbert’s LOVERBOY and our discussion with Michael afterwords about how domestic abuse can be more horrifying than the most extreme horror story.

You can listen either on the web site or check it out on iTunes. More info here.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The one where they went to the wrong fountain

One of the things you are asked when you are working the kiosk in Central Park is "where is the 'Friends' fountain?"

The actual fountain that is featured in the opening credits of the 1990s TV show "Friends" is on a studio lot in Burbank California.

This is the Cherry Hill fountain that they think is the Friends fountain. 

Cherry Hill fountain - no houses nearby

Not only do they not look much alike - aside from a general fountainy-ness but Cherry Hill is in the middle of the Park - there are no houses nearby and in any case not five-story houses that look like the ones behind the real fountain. There's nothing but very tall apartment buildings on the streets along Central Park.

Could they be more mistaken?