Quotulatiousness

December 15, 2017

Jerusalem Surrenders – Bolsheviks Consolidate Control I THE GREAT WAR Week 177

Filed under: Britain, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 14 Dec 2017

This week in the Great War, the British under Allenby capture the Holy City. Meanwhile the British War Cabinet beings to strategise for future offensives. In Russia, though the fighting may be over on the Eastern Front, the fight for control of the country is far from over. Before the Bolsheviks can negotiate peace with Germany, they need to establish peace within Russia’s own borders.

Josephine Baker

Filed under: France, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I think I first heard of Josephine Baker in the Al Stewart song from his Last Days of the Century album:

At Open Culture, Josh Jones has a brief biography of Josephine Baker that touches on most of the salient points of her career and life:

There has maybe never been a better time to critically examine the granting of special privileges to people for their talent, personality, or wealth. Yet, for all the harm wrought by fame, there have always been celebrities who use the power for good. The twentieth century is full of such figures, men and women of conscience like Muhammad Ali, Nina Simone, and Paul Robeson — extraordinary people who lived extraordinary lives. Yet no celebrity activist, past or present, has lived a life as extraordinary as Josephine Baker’s.

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906 to parents who worked as entertainers in St. Louis, Baker’s early years were marked by extreme poverty. “By the time young Freda was a teenager,” writes Joanne Griffith at the BBC, “she was living on the streets and surviving on food scraps from bins.” Like every rags-to-riches story, Baker’s turns on a chance discovery. While performing on the streets at 15, she attracted the attention of a touring St. Louis vaudeville company, and soon found enormous success in New York, in the chorus lines of a string of Broadway hits.

Baker became professionally known, her adopted son Jean-Claude Baker writes in his biography, as “the highest-paid chorus girl in vaudeville.” A great achievement in and of itself, but then she was discovered again at age 19 by a Parisian recruiter who offered her a lucrative spot in a French all-black revue. “Baker headed to France and never looked back,” parlaying her nearly-nude danse sauvage into international fame and fortune. Topless, or nearly so, and wearing a skirt made from fake bananas, Baker used stereotypes to her advantage — by giving audiences what they wanted, she achieved what few other black women of the time ever could: personal autonomy and independent wealth, which she consistently used to aid and empower others.

Throughout the 20s, she remained an archetypal symbol of jazz-age art and entertainment for her Folies Bergère performances (see her dance the Charleston and make comic faces in 1926 in the looped video above). In 1934, Baker made her second film Zouzou (top), and became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. But her sly performance of a very European idea of African-ness did not go over well in the U.S., and the country she had left to escape racial animus bared its teeth in hostile receptions and nasty reviews of her star Broadway performance in the 1936 Ziegfeld Follies (a critic at Time referred to her as a “Negro wench”). Baker turned away from America and became a French citizen in 1937.

Rowan Atkinson is Doctor Who | Comic Relief

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Comic Relief
Published on 16 Mar 2009

Doctor Who Comic Relief Special starring Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Hugh Grant, Jonathan Pryce and Joanna Lumley.

QotD: Crony capitalism

Filed under: Economics, History, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

First, we labor under a ubiquitous threat of being shackled by crony capitalists. [Adam] Smith wondered how internally stable a free market could be in the face of a tendency for its political infrastructure to decay into crony capitalism. (The phrase “crony capitalism” is not Smith’s. I use it to refer to various of Smith’s targets: mercantilists who lobby for tariffs and other trade barriers, monopolists who pay kings for a license to be free from competition altogether, and so on.) Partnerships between big business and big government lead to big subsidies, monopolistic licensing practices, and tariffs. These ways of compromising freedom have been and always will be touted as protecting the middle class, but their true purpose is (and almost always will be) to transfer wealth and power from ordinary citizens to well-connected elites.

David Schmidtz, “Adam Smith on Freedom” (published as Chapter 13 of Ryan Patrick Hanley’s Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy, 2016).

Powered by WordPress