Quotulatiousness

May 17, 2017

The amazing luck of Il Donalduce

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

For all the things that Donald Trump does wrong (and you can just reference the headlines of any newspaper or mainstream web site for a long list), he had one thing going for him: the fact that his opponents can be depended upon to over-react to every policy twitch or Twitter update. The cumulative effect of all this outrage is exactly the opposite of what Trump’s opponents actually want:

It wasn’t a good week for President Donald Trump, but it could have been a lot worse. For all his faults – and there are many – the president is blessed with one important thing: opponents so unhinged, so irrational, that even when compared to him, he comes off better.

The ham-handed and, frankly, classless way in which the president fired FBI Director James Comey could have and should have been handled better. The White House can find out where the head of the FBI is at any given moment, so wait until he’s in the office to fire him or pick up the phone and do it right. Instead, Comey saw it on TV.

That said, he had to go. But media reports suggest the White House was shocked at the reaction. If true, that itself is shocking. If Donald Trump saved a puppy, the media and Democrats would complain about it, so firing the head of a department currently investigating the Trump campaign and being shocked about blowback is amateurish.

Luckily for the president, “worse than amateurish” is the perfect way to describe his opponents.

Democrats who days or even hours earlier had been hyper-critical of Comey spun on a dime to proclaim his firing an affront to justice. They declared he had no credibility, then expressed outrage at his no longer “leading the investigation into President Trump.”

Of course the head of the FBI was not “leading the investigation” any more than the CEO of a car company leads the investigation into a faulty brake pad. But why let the facts stand in the way of a good freak-out?

Nearly every Democrat, journalist, and cable news personality clutching their pearls over Comey’s firing has a trail of pronouncements expressing disgust at one or more of his actions in the recent past.

Which leaves these leftists having to argue that a man they repeatedly declared unsuited for the job should not have been removed from it.

But that’s not all. Not even close.

May 16, 2017

Terry Teachout remembers Dragnet

Filed under: History, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

I vaguely remember watching Dragnet on TV, but the version I watched is apparently just a pale imitation of the original series:

If you’re fifty or older, you won’t need to be told the source of these half-recalled phrases: “The story you are about to see is true.” “This is the city.” “I carry a badge.” “My name’s Friday.” If you’re much younger than that, though, I doubt that you’ll remember Dragnet with any clarity. In the early days of network television, Dragnet was the most successful of all cops-and-robbers TV shows, as well as the most influential. It’s still influential — every episode of Law and Order bears its indelible stamp — but TV has since moved in flashier directions, and I doubt that the narrative conventions brought into being by Jack Webb, the director, producer, and star of Dragnet, will remain conventional for much longer.

For baby-boom TV viewers, Dragnet is both iconic and ironic. The version of the show that ran on NBC from 1967 to 1970, in which Webb was partnered by Harry Morgan, was an exercise in unintended self-parody, full of hippy-dippy druggies and the earnest cops who locked them up and threw away the key. A few of the episodes remain effective in their quaint way, but most are embarrassingly stiff. Part of the problem was that Sergeant Joe Friday, Webb’s character, was the squarest of squares, and it was already chic to smirk at such straight-arrow types by the time I reached adolescence. My father watched Dragnet religiously, though, so I did, too, little knowing that what I was seeing each week was a recycled, watered-down simulacrum of the real thing.

The real Dragnet was the black-and-white version that aired from 1951 to 1959. That series, in which Webb was partnered by Ben Alexander, was pulled out of syndication long ago and has never been legitimately reissued on DVD, nor is any “official” version, so far as I know, currently in the works. Fortunately, a few dozen episodes were inadvertently allowed to go out of copyright, and it’s easy to track down copies of them. […]

Like the later color version, the Dragnet of the Fifties was a no-nonsense half-hour police-procedural drama that sought to show how ordinary cops catch ordinary crooks. The scripts, most of which were written by James E. Moser, combined straightforwardly linear plotting (“It was Wednesday, October 6. It was sultry in Los Angeles. We were working the day watch out of homicide”) with clipped dialogue spoken in a near-monotone, all accompanied by the taut, dissonant music of Walter Schumann. Then and later, most of the shots were screen-filling talking-head closeups, a plain-Jane style of cinematography that to this day is identified with Jack Webb.

The difference was that in the Fifties, Joe Friday and Frank Smith, his chubby, mildly eccentric partner, stalked their prey in a monochromatically drab Los Angeles that seemed to consist only of shabby storefronts and bleak-looking rooms in dollar-a-night hotels. Nobody was pretty in Dragnet, and almost nobody was happy. The atmosphere was that of film noir minus the kinks — the same stark visual grammar, only cleansed of the sour tang of corruption in high places. But even without the Chandleresque pessimism that gave film noir its seedy savor, Dragnet was still rough stuff, more uncompromising than anything that had hitherto been seen on TV. In 1954 Time called the series “a sort of peephole into a grim new world. The bums, priests, con men, whining housewives, burglars, waitresses, children and bewildered ordinary citizens who people Dragnet seem as sorrowfully genuine as old pistols in a hockshop window.”

May 10, 2017

QotD: “Reality” TV

Filed under: Media, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

“Reality”-based game shows, by no means a U.S.-driven or U.S.-invented phenomenon, may recruit individuals who appear truly random. In practice, the contestants are selected for extreme personality features that the format elicits quickly. The future annals of reality TV will tell how little time it took for shows like Survivor to abandon their original regular-folks pretense — it was a matter of weeks in the case of the U.S. Survivor. Within months the more typical reality-competition show was something like Real World/Road Rules Challenge, i.e., a cauldron of freewheeling pathology spiced with sex and violence.

At any rate, everyone who appears on an actual television program has passed an implicit “can be on television” test for looks. The test is not strict: I was a semi-regular on a deep-cable panel show, and look at me. But try walking in the downtown of any major city and counting the number of people who have tics or wens or facial asymmetries that would disqualify them outright from TV. Needless to say, you don’t hear quite the same range of accents you do at a food-court MacDonald’s, either. It is probably to the good that we are disconnecting from television as a total environment, a multidimensional image of society plunged into at birth: those of us who were reared under those conditions must have weird, unfixable blind spots.

Colby Cosh, “On the ignominious downfall of Jared from Subway”, National Post, 2015-08-20.

May 7, 2017

QotD: The privilege of colourblindness

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In Slate magazine, SF author Ursula LeGuin complains that the producers of the new Earthsea miniseries have butchered her work. One form of butchery that she zeroes in on is by casting characters who she intended to be red, brown, or black as white people.

I have mixed feelings. LeGuin has every right to be POed at how her intentions were ignored, but on the other hand my opinion of her has not been improved by learning that she intended the books as yet another wearisomely PC exercise in multiculturalism/multiracialism.

I liked those books when I read them as a teenager. I didn’t notice any character’s skin color. I would really prefer not to have had my experience of those characters retrospectively messed with by LeGuin’s insistence that the race thing is important.

Note: I am not claiming that all casting should be colorblind. I remember once watching an otherwise excellent Kenneth Branagh production of Much Ado About Nothing that was somewhat marred for me by Branagh’s insistence on casting an American black man as a Renaissance Italian lord. This was wrong in exactly the same way that casting a blue-eyed blond as Chaka Zulu or Genghis Khan would be — it’s so anti-historical that it interferes with the suspension of disbelief. Fantasy like LeGuin’s, however, doesn’t have this kind of constraint. Ged and Tenar don’t become either more or less plausible if their skin color changes.

But what really annoyed me was LeGuin’s claim that only whites have the “privilege” of being colorblind. This is wrong and tendentious in several different ways. Colorblindness is not a privilege of anyone, it’s a duty of everyone — to judge people not by the color of their skin but the content of their character, and to make race a non-issue by whatever act of will it takes. (It doesn’t take any effort at all for me.)

Eric S. Raymond, “The Racist of Earthsea”, Armed and Dangerous, 2004-12-16.

May 6, 2017

Marine Le Pen versus Emmanuel Macron

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

Megan McArdle is in France this week and watched the televised debate between Le Pen and Macron on Wednesday. She found some interesting parallels between it and the US presidential debates, but some significant differences, too:

Watching last night’s presidential debate here in France, I found it hard not to think about our own presidential debates in the U.S., lo these many months ago. In many ways, it was the same: the populist upstart against the center-left representative of the establishment, the status quo against the YOLO, the woman against the man. In other ways, it was very different — which is why, according to almost everyone, Emmanuel Macron is going to be elected president next week, and Marine Le Pen will not.

Macron, like Hillary Clinton, is the candidate of “more of the same, but with, you know, more of the same.” His contempt for Le Pen was obvious, and if this were an American debate, would have hurt him. My French is good enough to read a newspaper (very slowly) and to sort of follow the debate as long as no one else was talking. So as I watched, I paid attention to tone and body language as much as content.

[…]

Le Pen, like Trump, is basically the candidate of “things were better 40 years ago, so let’s go back there.” And it’s easy to understand why that’s appealing for a lot of voters in both France and America. The problem is, even if it were desirable to migrate en masse back to the mid-20th century, no one knows how to do it. France may be struggling to integrate its immigrants, but they are here, and cannot simply be removed the way one might get rid of a piece of furniture that clashes with the rest of the décor. Trade may have resulted in painful deindustrialization, but de-industrialization is a one-way street, and pulling out of those trade relationships will not bring back the lost factories. The euro may have been a very bad idea — no, strike that, the euro was a very bad idea, probably the worst one France has had since “let’s get into a land war in Southeast Asia” — but leaving the euro is not the same as having never adopted it. In the short term, at least, it would be catastrophically messy.

To this, Le Pen’s supporters might reply “but at least we could stop making things worse.” But even if you hold out more hope for her agenda than I do, the fact remains that if you reject the status quo in favor of radical change, you necessarily raise the risk that things will get much worse. We know approximately what the status quo looks like. Radical action means launching off into the dark. Which is why radical candidates inevitably seem less prepared, knowledgeable and plausible than their mainstream opponents.

That said, compared to Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen sounds like a wonk’s wonk. Nor does she have his propensity to lose his cool. Watching the French debate, I was struck by a repeated thought: if Clinton had had Le Pen’s speaking ability, she would be president now. During the campaign, and after, Clinton’s supporters frequently complained that Clinton was being penalized for being an older woman. But Le Pen is living proof that middle-aged ladies can be effective politicians. I don’t like her agenda, and I really don’t like her party. But looking strictly at effectiveness on the stump, she’s pretty good.

May 3, 2017

QotD: “Patrick Macnee was a Serious Feminist”

Filed under: Britain, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Patrick Macnee

  • Refused to model Steed after James Bond because Bond “uses women like battering rams”
  • Embraced the concept of a female partner after being cast opposite a male one for a season
  • Listened when Honor Blackman began telling him about gender inequality
  • Didn’t think that being saved by a woman in any way injured his character’s masculinity
  • Consistently gave the women credit for the success of the show
  • Recognized that the male producers were chauvinists, and blamed himself for not doing more about it
  • Stood up for Linda Thorson when the producers tried to bully her (and was apparently terrifyingly angry about it)
  • Was literally the only person on that show that Diana Rigg never said a bad word about
  • Consistently talked about being raised by women and viewing women as equal to men

Lauren H. Brooks, “Patrick Macnee was a Serious Feminist”, Kinkiness … and Patrick Mcnee, 2017-04-21.

April 30, 2017

QotD: Famous for being famous

Filed under: Britain, Media, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Every country that has television, which is all of them, must have celebrities who are famous for almost nothing. The U.K. practically specializes in this. But the “almost” is important. Even the weird layer of U.K. celebrity that subsists on the old country’s old-fashioned panel and reality shows normally tends to demand that a celeb have been a member of Parliament or received a surgically enhanced bosom. If possible, both.

Colby Cosh, “On the ignominious downfall of Jared from Subway”, National Post, 2015-08-20.

April 28, 2017

Words & Numbers: Actually, Life is Pretty Awesome

Filed under: Economics, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 26 Apr 2017

This week, James and Antony take a brief departure from talking about the growing national debt, and our absurd tax system to discuss the numerous ways in which more economic and personal freedom has made people wealthier, more equal, and better off all over the world. We’re actually living in pretty amazing times.

Read more:
https://fee.org/articles/actually-life-is-pretty-awesome/

April 23, 2017

The Real Reason We Never Hear From Monty Python Anymore

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 20 Apr 2017

The legendary comedy group Monty Python was once a force of nature, influencing everything that came after them with their surreal, absurdist approach to comedy. So, why don’t we hear from them anymore? When Graham Chapman ceased to be in 1989, fellow Python member Terry Jones described it as “the worst case of party-pooping [he’d] ever seen.” His death came the day before Python’s 20th anniversary, and what followed was a bizarre but fitting eulogy, written to pay tribute to the man who’d written a dead parrot into one of the troupe’s most famous sketches. Chapman becoming an ex-person seemed to put a damper on any kind of authentic reunion, but what about the others? What happened to the late, great Monty Python?

Terry Jones’s illness | 0:44
Michael Palin’s travel shows | 1:54
John Cleese’s purism | 3:01
Terry Gilliam’s moved on | 4:13
Eric Idle’s Broadway ambitions | 5:06
They want to finish on a good note | 6:02

Read more here → http://www.grunge.com/53323/never-hear-monty-python-anymore-2/

March 27, 2017

2017 – the year of the Great Dissatisfaction

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Kevin Williamson says that “our world is full of wonders, but not everyone finds a place in it”:

Once, the question the ambitious and dissatisfied asked themselves was: “How do I climb that ladder?” Current tastes run more toward smashing the ladder and the hierarchies for which it stands in the name of … whatever: feminism or anti-feminism, black liberation or white nationalism, global justice or national sovereignty.

We spend our days surrounded by great miracles and minor irritations. My friend Jay Nordlinger recently recounted how Joseph Stalin allowed the film The Grapes of Wrath to be shown in the Soviet Union, believing that to see an indictment of capitalism from within the beast itself would be salutary for the proletariat. The proletariat took another lesson from the film: The Joads, apparently the poorest people in America, had a Ford, a luxury no working man in the workers’ paradise could dream of. A similar story is told about the television series Dallas: The Soviets thought their subjects would recoil from the mischief of J. R. Ewing and his Texas oil cronies, but all the poor Russians could see was that American servants lived better than Soviet doctors and professors. If we could share our daily tales of woe with our great-grandparents — e.g., my complaints about the Wi-Fi on airplanes — they would not take from that the conclusion we intended.

We do not have a problem of privation in the United States. Not really. What we have is something related to what Arthur Brooks (“the most interesting man in Washington,” Tim Alberta calls him) describes as the need for earned success. We are not happy with mere material abundance. We — and not to go all Iron John on you, but I think “we” here applies especially to men — need to feel that we have earned our keep, that we have established a place for ourselves in the world by our labor or by other virtues, especially such masculine virtues as physical courage and endurance. I suspect that is a big part of the reason for the exaggeratedly reverential, practically sacramental attitude we current express toward soldiers, police officers, and firemen. Of course they are brave and deserve our gratitude, but if we had felt the need to ceremonially thank everyone for their service in 1948, we’d never have done anything else with our time. In 2017, there are many more jobs for courtiers than for soldiers, and the virtues earning the highest return are not bravery or toughness but conversational cleverness, skill in social navigation, excellence in bureaucracy, and keenness in finance.

[…]

And there is the paradox within our paradox: The world is wondrous and beautiful and exciting and rich, and many of us have trouble finding our place in it, in part, because it is wondrous and beautiful and exciting and rich, so much so that we have lost touch with certain older realities. One of those realities is that children need fathers. Another is that fathers need children.

But these are what my colleague David French calls the “wounds that public policy will not heal.” Our churches are full of people who would love to talk to you about healing, but many have lost interest in that sort of thing, too. And so they turn to Trump, to Le Pen, to Chavismo (which is what Bernie Sanders is peddling), and, perhaps, to opiate-induced oblivion. Where will they turn when they figure out — and they will figure it out — that there are no answers in these, either?

And what will we offer them?

March 18, 2017

QotD: MILFs

Filed under: Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I’m not sure if my predilection for MILFs came naturally or if it was learned over time. I came of age in the ’70s and ’80s and back then, only pedophiles liked young girls. All our pinups were old. When Raquel Welch appeared on The Muppet Show, I started having feelings I’d never felt before. We all did and we talked about her on the swings at school. She was 38. Pretty much every man of my generation has Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease burned into his boner. She was 30 in that movie. Bailey was over 30 when WKRP was on. Loni Anderson was in her late 30s. Mary Ann wasn’t quite 30 on Gilligan’s Island, but Ginger was 33. Mr. Kotter’s wife was 31 when the show ended. Chrissy Amphlett was 10 years older than me when the Divinyls released “I Touch Myself,” but I almost had a heart attack looking at her thigh-high socks. Nobody paid attention to young girls when I was a young man. It was considered creepy. If one of them wore a Catholic school uniform on Halloween, we’d barf. There may be some disgusting perverts in the world, but in America, “MILF” tops the list of porn searches. Sure, there’s some extra meat around the waist and a little more junk in the trunk. What tepid eunuch can’t handle that? Real men are into women, not girls. No wonder blacks and Hispanics are trampling our masculinity like we’re a bunch of bitch-ass maricóns. We can barely handle a fat ass. You can keep your perky tits. I want breasts with a bit of hang to them. I’m not talking about National Geographic saggy, but if you can hold five pencils under your left one, I’ll write you a love letter. It’s like my friend Trevor once said: “I dated a chick with droopers when I was 19 and I really wasn’t into it — but I sure wouldn’t mind messing with them right now!” He looms in for the second part with a leering grin on his face. This is something young men will never understand. As Steve Coogan points out in The Trip, the spectrum of what you find attractive widens greatly as you get older.

Gavin McInnes, “In Praise of the Benjamin Button Babes”, Taki’s Magazine, 2015-07-24.

March 14, 2017

The Real Reason Why Firefly Was Canceled

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 8 Aug 2016

Joss Whedon’s Firefly was poised to be the next huge sci-fi series to change television. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed after one incomplete season. Let’s look back at the reasons why Firefly‘s lights went out…

A small, loyal fan base | 0:15
Marriage trouble | 0:35
Friday night fright | 0:59
The episodes aired out of order | 1:21
The promos didn’t capture the spirit of the show | 1:45
Low ratings | 2:11
An executive defense | 2:32

March 6, 2017

Origins of the Tea Party movement

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Z Man provides a thumbnail sketch of the start of the Tea Party early in Barack Obama’s first term in office:

Back in Obama’s first months on the throne, Rick Santelli, a TV personality, was “reporting” from the floor of the stock exchange. He responded to a question about Obama’s housing plan with a rant about socialism, finishing it off with a call for a new Tea Party. Whether it was spontaneous or choreographed is hard to know, but at the time people took it to be entirely spontaneous. Santelli is a carny barker prone to getting carried away on the air and his rant had the feel of an old fashioned stem winder.

Regardless of the intent or the execution, the rant went viral and the Tea Party Movement was born. Middle America was ready to be pissed off due to the terribleness of the Bush years, so Obama’s poor start put the normies in a fighting mood. Before long people were showing up at town hall meetings, dressed as Samuel Adams, giving their congressman the business about reckless government behavior that had made a hash of things. Since the Democrats were the majority, they got the brunt of the abuse.

It did not take long for the moonbats to declare the whole thing a racist conspiracy cooked up by the twelfth invisible Hitler in league with the eternal cyclops of the KKK. This was when the fake hate crime stuff got its start as a daily phenomenon. It was also when it became apparent to a lot of people that the news is mostly fake. The increasingly deranged Nancy Pelosi, slurring about “Astroturf” was so weird, it begged a challenge, but the news people carried on like it was manifestly true.

The claim that middle aged suburbanites, dressed in tricorne hats, were paid agents of a nefarious conspiracy was so nutty that the response from the press should have been laughter and then derision. After all, it has been known for decades that the Left uses rent-a-mobs. They pay people to show up and hold signs. Unions have been doing this since the days of Jimmy Hoffa. For the Democrats to clutch their pearls and call the Tea Party inauthentic should have been too much of a farce for even the very liberal press corp.

“What could possibly account for that growth? Statistical fakery so fake that a Vegas bookie would weep”

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

Daniel Greenfield on how to hoax the media into reporting on a burgeoning anti-Muslim movement in the United States:

“Huge Growth in Anti-Muslim Hate Groups During 2016: SPLC Report,” wails NBC News. “Watchdog: Number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled since 2015,” FOX News bleats. ABC News vomits up this word salad. “Trump cited in report finding increase in US hate groups for 2nd year in a row.”

The SPLC stands for the Southern Poverty Law Center: an organization with slightly less credibility than Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, and without the academic degree in greasepaint.

And you won’t believe the shameless way the SPLC faked its latest Islamophobia crisis.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest “hate group” sightings claims that the “number of anti-Muslim hate groups increased almost three-fold in 2016.”

That’s a lot of folds.

And there is both bad news and good news from its “Year in Hate and Extremism.”

First the good news.

Casa D’Ice Signs, the sign outside a bar in K-Mart Plaza in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is no longer listed as a hate group. The sign outside the bar had been listed as a hate group by the SPLC for years. The owner of Casa D’Ice had been known for putting politically incorrect signs outside his bar. So the SPLC listed the “signs” as a hate group. (Even though there was only one sign.) Not the bar. That would have made too much sense.

Since then Casa D’Ice was sold and the SPLC has celebrated the defeat of another hate group. Even if the hate group was just a plastic sign outside a bar.

But the bad news, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is that anti-Muslim hate groups shot up from only 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016.

What could possibly account for that growth? Statistical fakery so fake that a Vegas bookie would weep.

March 5, 2017

QotD: “Call it Fifty Shades of Orange

Filed under: Humour, Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The sequel to that stupid mommy porn bondage movie is now in theaters, giving naughty thrills to bored housewives whose liberal husbands can’t cut it manwise, but the real festival of S&M was in the White House as President Trump unleashed his iron discipline on the media. Call it Fifty Shades of Orange.

It wasn’t a press conference – it was a kinky dungeon session where masochistic journalists eagerly sought out the delicious pain Master T was dealing. Hack after hack stepped up, tried to play “gotcha.” and ended up whimpering in the fetal position. The best part was CNN’s Jim Acosta, fresh from whining about how conservative outlets now get to ask questions too, basically handing Trump the cat-o-nine tails. Dude, next time keep from talking yourself into more public humiliation by biting down on the ball gag.

The media’s safe word is “Objectivity,” but none of them uttered it.

The wonderful thing about Trump – and the thing that sets the Fredocons and wusspublicans fussing – is that he gives exactly zero damns about the media’s inflated and ridiculous self-image. He doesn’t pay lip service to their lie that they are anything but what Instapundit calls “Democratic Party operatives with bylines.” Trump called them the “the enemy of the American People,” to which normals responded with “Yeah, sounds about right.”

Kurt Schlicter, “President Trump Has Been Far Too Nice To The Mainstream Media”, Townhall.com, 2017-02-20.

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