Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Jedi

Saw it today.   Checked Rotten Tomatoes, and the score there makes perfect sense.  Critics give it 93%.   And FLG agrees.  As a bit of filmmaking, it's solid.  Better quality filmmaking than can be expected from many blockbusters.   Audiences, however, only give it 53%.   And FLG agrees.  As a Star Wars fan since childhood, which FLG is, it's very disappointing.

FLG is curious to see what Kevin Smith has to say about it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fake News

[O]ne should expect with journalistic “mistakes” is that they sometimes go in one direction, and other times go in the other direction. That’s exactly what has not happened here. Virtually every false story published goes only in one direction: to be as inflammatory and damaging as possible on the Trump/Russia story and about Russia particularly. At some point, once “mistakes” all start going in the same direction, toward advancing the same agenda, they cease looking like mistakes.
No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Deneen At His Best

Patrick Deneen's analysis of the removal of societal expectations of courting behavior and in loco parentis, the subsequent emergence of the hook-up culture, and finally the use of Title IX to assert federal authority in the sphere of collegiate sexual relations:

In effect, this immorality tale is the Hobbesian vision in microcosm: First, tradition and culture must be eliminated as arbitrary and unjust (“natural man”). Then, we see that absent such norms, anarchy is the result (“the state of nature”). Finding such anarchy unbearable, we turn to a central sovereign as our sole protector, that “Mortall God” who will protect us from ourselves (“the social contract”). We have been liberated from all custom and tradition, all authority that sought to educate by habit and within the context of ongoing communities, and have replaced it with a central authority that punishes wrongdoers who abuse their freedoms. And, now lacking any informal and local forms of authority, we are virtually assured that those abuses will regularly occur, and that the role of the state in ever more intimate personal affairs will increase (“prerogative”).


It's worth reading the whole thing. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

An Article That Gives FLG Some Hope

FLG pretty much disagrees with everything in this article, including this:
Compassion and equity and humanity matters more than your right to say whatever comes out of your mouth

 In these cases, FLG always goes to the quote, often attributed to Oscar Wilde but who knows?:
A gentleman never insults anyone unintentionally.

A goodly portion of this is really a matter of having good manners, as FLG believes the case discussed in the article regarding a joke making fun of Jews is.   But what gives FLG hope is that the article is discussing events surrounding a debate about free speech and censorship online back in 1989. 

FLG wasn't an adult yet at the time, but he definitely remembers the early-90s as being very politically correct (and given we are talking about Stanford here, it probably happened there even earlier).   And he also remember sometime in the later 90s, probably around 97 or 98, after he heard some edgy joke on TV, thinking, whoa, the trend line he'd thought things were going back in the early-90s, toward ever more political correctness, clearly hadn't happened.   And, as it turned out, the early-90s were a high water mark, at least until recently.   And so, he has hope, that the recent turn toward censorship and political correctness will likewise be rebuffed. 

We cannot, as a society, define free speech as only those things that the most sensitive among us are comfortable with hearing. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Quote of the day

Passage of the day, really, by Ramesh Ponnuru:

All liberals believe that governments must obey limits in what they can do to individuals, that people should be free to speak their minds, that the law must be impartial, and so on. But liberalisms differentiate themselves in why they champion these beliefs. There is a liberalism that takes the French Enlightenment to be the beginning of all political wisdom and takes our political task essentially to be working out its implications and applying them to all of human life. This progressive liberalism frequently sets itself at odds with traditional religious believers and even, as in the French Revolution, persecutes them. The liberalism of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and the Federalist Papers is very different. It sees free institutions as a cultural achievement won from experience: a set of practices that centuries of trial and error — many trials, much error — have taught us are more conducive than any others we have found to human flourishing. The distinction between these forms of liberalism, which we might call progressive and conservative respectively, is lost on many people.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
The fate of nations does not hinge on whether we drink daiquiris or Negronis.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Quote of the day

A little bit old, but FLG just read it, by Matt Levine:
What if Marx was right that capitalism would ultimately destroy itself, but the way that it does so is through index funds? 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Quote of the day

Steve Cortes:
If Georgetown removes recognition of a student group that merely affirms the teachings of the church, it’s time for John Carroll’s statue to get up off that perch and walk off campus.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

500 Year-Old Mic Drop





sexual chocolate randy watson animated GIF

FLG always wanted to put an image of Martin Luther with Randy Watson & Sexual Chocolate.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Politics and the English Language

FLG was reading this interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates and the final quotation stuck out:
 When he tries to describe the events that would erase America's wealth gap, that would see the end of white supremacy, his thoughts flicker to the French Revolution, to the executions and the terror. "It's very easy for me to see myself being contemporary with processes that might make for an equal world, more equality, and maybe the complete abolition of race as a construct, and being horrified by the process, maybe even attacking the process. I think these things don't tend to happen peacefully."
For Coates, even hope can be covered in blood.

It immediately reminded FLG of this quotation from Politics and the English Language:
While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement. 

And then Orwell's thoughts on that passage:
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

While FLG senses some insincerity, as if he is afraid to state plainly precisely what he means, to be fair, Coates isn't trying to hide behind much of a euphemism.  Although, it is Ezra Klein who uses the word 'blood,' whereas as Coates calls it a 'process' with which he can see himself being 'contemporary.' 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Well, That's A Very Specific Threshold

The Guardian:
If the attack is found to be a terrorist incident, it would be the first fatal jihadist knife attack at a public transport site in France.

FLG thinks this is the more important statement:
France, where more than 230 people have been killed in terrorist attacks since 2015, remains on high alert and under a state of emergency.

230 people!   Who gives a shit if it was the first one in the south of France on a Sunday in October in the afternoon in a train station?   France has Islamic terrorism problem.

Battle of Gaugamela

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Battle of Gaugamela.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Anybody Read This?

Delsol's Icarus Fallen: Search For Meaning In An Uncertain World

"With style and lucidity, Delsol likens contemporary Western man to the mythical figure Icarus, fallen back to earth after trying to reach the sun, alive but badly shaken and confused. During the twentieth, century, Delsol argues, man flew too closely to the sun of utopian ideology. Having been burned, he is now groping for a way to orient himself. But the ideas he once held so dear--inevitable progress, the possibility of limitless social and self-transformation--are no longer believable, and he has, for the most part, long since rejected the religious tradition that might have provided an anchor. Delsol's portrait is engrossing. She explains how we have come simultaneously to embrace the good but reject the true; how we have sacralized rights and democracy; and how we have lost our sense of the tragic and embraced the idea of zero risk."


Seems interesting.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Time Horizons

Of course, FLG liked this post, and it even included some Plato:
the victory over self is of all victories the first and best while self-defeat is of all defeats at once the worst and the most shameful.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Was Thinking About The Tarantulas Today

Don't have any insights, just thinking about it:

Lo, this is the tarantula’s den! Would’st thou see the tarantula itself? Here hangeth its web: touch this, so that it may tremble.
There cometh the tarantula willingly: Welcome, tarantula! Black on thy back is thy triangle and symbol; and I know also what is in thy soul.
Revenge is in thy soul: wherever thou bitest, there ariseth black scab; with revenge, thy poison maketh the soul giddy!
Thus do I speak unto you in parable, ye who make the soul giddy, ye preachers of equality! Tarantulas are ye unto me, and secretly revengeful ones!
But I will soon bring your hiding-places to the light: therefore do I laugh in your face my laughter of the height.
Therefore do I tear at your web, that your rage may lure you out of your den of lies, and that your revenge may leap forth from behind your word “justice.”
Because, for man to be redeemed from revenge— that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.
Otherwise, however, would the tarantulas have it. “Let it be very justice for the world to become full of the storms of our vengeance”— thus do they talk to one another.
“Vengeance will we use, and insult, against all who are not like us”— thus do the tarantula-hearts pledge themselves.
“And ‘Will to Equality’— that itself shall henceforth be the name of virtue; and against all that hath power will we raise an outcry!”
Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant-frenzy of impotence crieth thus in you for “equality”: your most secret tyrant-longings disguise themselves thus in virtue-words!
Fretted conceit and suppressed envy—perhaps your fathers’ conceit and envy: in you break they forth as flame and frenzy of vengeance.
What the father hath hid cometh out in the son; and oft have I found in the son the father’s revealed secret.
Inspired ones they resemble: but it is not the heart that inspireth them—but vengeance. And when they become subtle and cold, it is not spirit, but envy, that maketh them so.
Their jealousy leadeth them also into thinkers’ paths; and this is the sign of their jealousy—they always go too far: so that their fatigue hath at last to go to sleep on the snow.
In all their lamentations soundeth vengeance, in all their eulogies is maleficence; and being judge seemeth to them bliss.
But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
They are people of bad race and lineage; out of their countenances peer the hangman and the sleuth-hound.
Distrust all those who talk much of their justice! Verily, in their souls not only honey is lacking.
And when they call themselves “the good and just,” forget not, that for them to be Pharisees, nothing is lacking but — power!
My friends, I will not be mixed up and confounded with others.
There are those who preach my doctrine of life, and are at the same time preachers of equality, and tarantulas.
That they speak in favour of life, though they sit in their den, these poison-spiders, and withdrawn from life—is because they would thereby do injury.
To those would they thereby do injury who have power at present: for with those the preaching of death is still most at home.
Were it otherwise, then would the tarantulas teach otherwise: and they themselves were formerly the best world-maligners and heretic-burners.
With these preachers of equality will I not be mixed up and confounded. For thus speaketh justice unto me: “Men are not equal.”
And neither shall they become so! What would be my love to the Superman, if I spake otherwise?
On a thousand bridges and piers shall they throng to the future, and always shall there be more war and inequality among them: thus doth my great love make me speak!
Inventors of figures and phantoms shall they be in their hostilities; and with those figures and phantoms shall they yet fight with each other the supreme fight!
Good and evil, and rich and poor, and high and low, and all names of values: weapons shall they be, and sounding signs, that life must again and again surpass itself!
Aloft will it build itself with columns and stairs—life itself: into remote distances would it gaze, and out towards blissful beauties—therefore doth it require elevation!
And because it requireth elevation, therefore doth it require steps, and variance of steps and climbers! To rise striveth life, and in rising to surpass itself.
And just behold, my friends! Here where the tarantula’s den is, riseth aloft an ancient temple’s ruins—just behold it with enlightened eyes!
Verily, he who here towered aloft his thoughts in stone, knew as well as the wisest ones about the secret of life!
That there is struggle and inequality even in beauty, and war for power and supremacy: that doth he here teach us in the plainest parable.
How divinely do vault and arch here contrast in the struggle: how with light and shade they strive against each other, the divinely striving ones. —
Thus, steadfast and beautiful, let us also be enemies, my friends! Divinely will we strive against one another! —
Alas! There hath the tarantula bit me myself, mine old enemy! Divinely steadfast and beautiful, it hath bit me on the finger!
“Punishment must there be, and justice”— so thinketh it: “not gratuitously shall he here sing songs in honour of enmity!”
Yea, it hath revenged itself! And alas! now will it make my soul also dizzy with revenge!
That I may not turn dizzy, however, bind me fast, my friends, to this pillar! Rather will I be a pillar-saint than a whirl of vengeance!
Verily, no cyclone or whirlwind is Zarathustra: and if he be a dancer, he is not at all a tarantula-dancer! —
Thus spake Zarathustra.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FLG Can't Believe A Decade Later This Is Still So Little Understood

When Glass-Steagall was passed over 80 years ago, splitting up a bank was like dividing an apple pie in half. Today, trying to hive off commercial from investment banking would be more like pulling apart a layer cake – vertically.
In fact, knocking down the walls between financial services didn’t help cause the financial meltdown so much as help contain it. None of the institutions that ended up doing the most to prompt the financial meltdown was a financial hybrid. Most of the problems that sprung up among financial institutions in 2008 were among pure-play institutions, primarily investment banks – and their boutique activities would not have been circumscribed by the Glass-Steagall firewall. In fact, knocking down that legal wall actually made it possible for several investment banks to be rescued. If Glass-Steagall had not been changed, the commercial bank J.P. Morgan Chase would not have been able to rescue the investment bank Bear Sterns, and commercial Bank of America would not have been able to rescue Merrill Lynch.

Celebrity Sighting

FLG saw David Gergen at DCA waiting for a flight to Logan.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Quote of the day

Henry Grabar:
It is a temple for a political era built on paranoia, as good a symbol for our age as the corporate skyscraper was for the postwar era and the suburban megamall was for the end of the century. The airport is the place to understand America today.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interesting


Peter Harrison:
The thesis that ‘science causes secularisation’ simply fails the empirical test, and enlisting science as an instrument of secularisation turns out to be poor strategy. The science and secularism pairing is so awkward that it raises the question: why did anyone think otherwise?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stephen Fry On Statues



Jump to about 6:30.   Filmed way before the current controversies.

In Support Of Nancy Pelosi

FLG never thought he'd agree with her, but agree with her he does.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guess FLG Won't Be Buying This Book

FLG was considering buying James Poulos' book (because they're both Hoyas, he generally like Poulos, and loves Tocqueville), but after reading this review he decided against it.   It sounds like the prose is what would happen if Hegel wrote for BuzzFeed.

"With the mutability money confers comes commensurability. The more things change, the more things interchange. Money allows us to change like it does by allowing us to exchange - to "reconnect" (as we say) with our unity by participating in a kind of interchangeability that carries, however fleetingly, a sense of import. Our experiences of significant interchange are an inspiring bulwark against the dispiriting experience of our interchangeable insignificance. Without the commensurability of goods and services - in principle, any and all goods and services - access to that experience is imperiled or lost." (p. 132)

In Defense of the Loquacious and Mellifluous

The spread of mass media, the rise of motion pictures, and the popularity of Strunk and White all helped shape the sensibilities we have now.

While FLG can appreciate a well-crafted 200-word sentence, he can only do so every once and while.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bourgeois Virtues

FLG caught wind of this op-ed:

[Bourgeois] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.


And then this response that makes wild and questionable links to the Charlottesville tragedy and then this:
extolling the virtues of white cultural practices of the ‘50s that, if understood within their sociocultural context, stem from the very same malignant logic of hetero-patriarchal, class-based, white supremacy that plagues our country today. These cultural values and logics are steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough i.e. black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.

Uh, okay.   But even the Brookings Institution says more or less the same thing:
Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

FLG eagerly awaits the March Against Fascism And Evil Incarnate down Massachusetts Avenue.  Justice demands that we confront, by any means necessary, the conclusions of Brookings Institution studies to prevent them from being normalized!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Anti-Climatic

** Game of Thrones Spoilers Ahead **

Now the Season 7 is over, FLG is somewhat disappointed with how the season went.   It feels like they are getting bored with the whole thing and trying to tie up loose ends and finish the story as quickly as possible.

FLG wonders if he is alone with being seriously disappointed with how The Wall fell.   For seven seasons, we were told The Wall was 700 feet high and had old, powerful magic in its foundation.  The dead couldn't pass, etc....in the books, there is a plot thread about the mythical Horn of Winter, which can supposedly bring down The Wall.

But after all that The Wall falls in like 30 seconds.   Look, FLG gets it.  It was really cool visually.    And the Night King needed to get a dragon to come up North, kill it, reanimate it, then fly it to The Wall in order to blast it down with crazy blue dragonfire or ice or something.   That's a lot to do.   Okay, point conceded.

But come on...The Wall is huge and massive and ancient and the Night King goes through it like a hot knife through butter?    The Army of the Dead barely even slowed their march.   No battle, trickery, or strategery.  No nothing.   Just fly up, attack with a dragon, keep on going.     That was a lot of build up for almost nothing.   At no point, did anybody in the Night's Watch do a dragon threat assessment?

UPDATE:  Here's a comment from the show runners.


The Wall's kept these things out for 8,000 years, and there's no real reason that it can't keep doing that unless something puts a hole in the wall. There's one thing on the board from the beginning that is now big enough to do that, and that's a dragon. That just started to suggest itself as a logical way forward.

Still not quite satisfactory for FLG. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Thoughts On 2020

FLG will say this.  He, very reluctantly, voted for Hillary Clinton.

He will also say this, the Democrats, since the beginning, have misinterpreted, at the very least, FLG's vote.   Going back to Michael Moore the very next day:


If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don't. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump. The only reason he's president is because of an arcane, insane, 18th-century idea called the Electoral College. Until we change that, we'll continue to have presidents we didn't elect and didn't want.
You live in a country where a majority of citizens have said they believe there's climate change, they believe women should be paid the same as men, they want a debt-free college education, they don't want us invading countries, they want a raise in the minimum wage and they want a single-payer true universal health care system. None of that has changed. We live in a country where the majority agree with the "liberal" position. 

At the time, FLG blew this off as, well, as he does will all things Michael Moore does and says.   But just to be clear, at least in FLG's case, a vote for Hillary should NOT be interpreted as a vote for the most progressive Democratic platform pretty much ever conceived.   It was more along the lines of choosing the turd sandwich instead of the giant douche.

Anyway, long story short, if they run Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or any number of far lefties, FLG's very likely going to vote for Trump, unless he literally starts a nuclear war.

And, again, to be clear, he more or less screams profanities at Trump's image on the Internet and Television almost every day.   It's not like he's happy with Trump by any stretch of the imagination.

Is FLG the marginal voter in an electoral college race?   Perhaps not.   But he is also pretty sure voters like him in Northern Virginia aren't inconsequential either.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

FLG Is Sorry For Repeating Himself

...but he enjoys reading Jacobin, if only because almost every sentence causes him to ask, Holy shit, people think like this?   Where do these people even come from?   Which is a health thing to do sometimes because it force one to revisit their own assumptions.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Who Knew?

FLG had no idea that what was next after changing marriage is that it is between one man and one woman is the changing the definition of what man and what woman means.  He thought the next step would be polygamy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Look What FLG Stumbled Across In His Morning Internet Browsing

A Rehearing for Rousseau by RITA KOGANZON

Canonical authors, it seems, are always on trial. Not only do they face a jury of contemporary readers disinclined to recognize their greatness, but they must re-argue their case with every succeeding generation that charges them with irrelevance. As the arbiters in this tribunal are biased and the prosecutors zealous and unprincipled, a skilled and tenacious advocate can be an extraordinary asset.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Quote of the day II

Eric Hutchinson:
the study of the Classics teaches us something about what it means to be human, both in terms of the ideal of what we would like to be and, at least as importantly, in the much more somber sense of what we all too often are. 

Depressing

FLG has long been interested in getting a salt block, but he never quite knew why and never actually bought one.   After reading this article, that was probably the correct decision.  But here's the depressing thing:

It’s fun, but I’m not sure I can justify the fun. Lot’s wife sits on the counter, giving me salty looks. She’s a hotty, but a high-maintenance one. I turn around and keep walking.

That the link to the wikipedia page was included made FLG depressed.   We're not talking about some obscure story, like Ehud in Judges.  This is Genesis.   This is Sodom and Gomorrah.   Are we at a point where we can no longer assume that people in the US or UK know the story of Lot's wife?

To be clear, FLG isn't lamenting that not everybody is a Jew or Christian, nor saying that people should believe the story.   He's just bummed that shared cultural stores of such power to convey ideas and thoughts are no longer assumed shared.   Will we soon have to provide wikipedia links to explain David and Goliath, having a cross to bear, brother's keeper, and picking up the mantle? 

Quote of the day

Heather Mac Donald:
The authors titled their study “Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect.” A more accurate title would have been: “Language from police body camera footage shows that officers treat all drivers courteously but are more colloquial with young black drivers.”

Isotopic Signatures Of Ancient History

FLG found this interesting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh, Tell Me Again How Trump's Rhetoric Is Too Heated

Here's what North Korea recently said, which frankly is pretty tame for them:
If the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the US is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks
 
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