Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another documentary about Macron

And this one is free on Vimeo. And you can watch it HERE on my blog.

Unfortunately it does not have subtitles. You're on your own with the French.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bien sûr Macron est un feminist!

How did I miss this from a couple of months ago?

So awesome. I don't know if Macron could ever replace Justin Trudeau as my favorite world leader, but he's a damn close second. And Trudeau's age gap with his wife is a very traditional three years older.

But even if Macron was not a self-declared feminist it would be hard to resist his love story with his wife, whom he has been with for twenty-two years now (at least) and married for ten years. He had this response to controversy over his marital age gap:
"If I was 20 years older than my wife, nobody would think for a single second that we couldn’t be legitimately together," he told Le Parisien. "It's because she is 20 years older than me that a lot of people say, 'this relationship can't be tenable, it can't be possible.'"
The great thing about Macron is not only does he love his wife, he doesn't give a damn who doesn't like it. He also responded to gossip that he was really gay:
Macron also addressed rumours that he had been in a relationship with Mathieu Gallet, the chief executive of the Institut national de l'audiovisuel, saying that the speculation highlights the "rampant homophobia" in society as those accusing him of being gay are doing so as if it were a "hidden illness."

He also joked about it onstage, saying that if anybody saw him hanging around with Gallet, it was because his hologram ran away - this was a reference to another presidential candidate who had used hologram technology for an appearance.

Macron is just an all-around cool guy. I had heard that Macron had been hit with an egg during the French presidential election, John Oliver covered it on his show as well as the age-difference.

But the documentary Emmanuel Macron : Les Coulisses d'une Victoire, which is now on Netflix and called in English Emmanuel Macron Behind the Rise, showed Macron's response. Right after being hit he said something like "well it's just a little egg, no big deal" and even better, later on the documentary shows him looking at a recording of the egging on a cellphone and he's giggling over it.

He makes funny remarks elsewhere in the film, he has a great sense of humor. Also he appears to have put together a really good campaign team.

And the documentary makes clear that the Macrons are a very close couple in spite of the age gap. The same age gap as the Trumps, except with the genders reversed. And we see how bad that marriage is.

Here is the Macron movie trailer. In the trailer at 0:15 he can be seen having makeup applied prior to a speech and outside supporters of the Nazi Marine Le Pen are screaming and Macron jokes that what they're saying is "Macron for President." This article in The Local ("France's news in English") gives an excellent overview of the film.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Strawberry update

Strawberry flowers blooming

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there is a strawberry patch in Central Park along the bridle trail but I was actually incorrect - there is more than one patch and it's not quite along the bridle trail.

In any case the plants are showing their yellow flowers with will turn into strawberries.

I'm not sure what to call the path along which I saw the strawberry plants. It's covered in some kind of thing like wood chips, but it's in-between the reservoir and the bridle path.

Here is the wood chip path and on the right the bridle path can be seen.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Those crazy French numbers

Illustration from the NYTimes:
The Benefits of Failing at French
I am now an advanced beginner in French (201) - I stepped up from the upper level of beginner (103). WHOOHOO!

While I like French I really do have an impulse to reform it. French could do very well without genders for inanimate objects. I understand from Mark Twain this is true of German too.

There is absolutely no purpose to genderizing things which do not have actual sexual functions. And especially because there is no logical sense to the assigned genders. For example the word for milk is "lait" which is masculine. Now milk invariably comes out of females. So why would milk be masculine? Semen (sperme) at least is masculine.

But even worse, while milk is masculine, the products of milk can be masculine or feminine. Cheese (fromage) and yogurt (yaourt) are masculine,  while cream (creme) and ice cream (glace) are feminine. So you're probably thinking aha, the higher fat incarnations of milk are feminine. Except sorry, no, butter (beurre) is masculine.

And as if that isn't bad enough, your adjectives must have agreement with your nouns as to the gender. For example, here I am saying: "that is a good milk, that is a good cream."
  • C'est un bon lait
  • C'est une bonne crème
Notice that the words "that is" - c'est - is the same but every other word is different. You have to use un for milk because it is masculine, but une with an e because cream is feminine. And you have to stick an extra n and an e on the end of the word for "good" - bon - because cream is feminine. So you have two chances to screw up the gender in the sentence.

And the numbers! French has a crazy numbering system. It doesn't have a separate word for the numbers seventy (sixty-ten), eighty (four-twenty) or ninety (four-twenty-ten). I've mentioned it on this blog before.

English has plenty of its own oddities and irrationalities but I have to say, as much as I enjoy French I don't see why they don't just invent a word for seventy, eighty and ninety. It's not that hard and they are certainly welcome to borrow English words in the way that they also borrowed "weekend" and "jogging" and "email." And English speakers have no problem appropriating words from other languages, so I don't see why the French are so snippy about anglicisms.

I am actually better than the rest of my classmates (only four others besides myself for this 5-week course) at numbers because I was in the habit of practicing my numbers every day using my Google translate app on my iPhone. But I still can't get it to recognize when I say the French word for 100 which is "cent" in part because so many other common French words sound like that - sans (without), santé (health), saint (holy), son (his), sont (are), centre (center), son (sound), sent (smell), sen (feel) and Dieu sait combien des autres.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Well isn't that special...


Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation

The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s 118-day-old presidency.

The decision, by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came after a cascade of damaging developments for Mr. Trump in recent days, including his abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the subsequent disclosure that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

In some corners, the explanations took on a much more sinister tone. Fox News, talk radio and websites like Alex Jones’s Infowars heavily covered the story of a murdered employee of the Democratic National Committee and attempted to link his death to unproved claims that he surreptitiously sent party documents to WikiLeaks. The staff member’s family has vigorously denied the story, and distanced themselves from the private investigator working on the murder case, who has given conflicting accounts of his findings.
But the mainstream media, these organizations said, were burying the story and focusing on Mr. Trump’s woes instead.
“Where’s The Washington Post on this?” Ms. Ingraham asked on Fox.
Then there were Mr. Stone and Mr. Jones, who made the video about their suspicions that a coup was in the offing. (Under a provision of the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the cabinet and the vice president decide that the president can no longer carry out his duties, the vice president replaces him.) In the same video, Mr. Jones urged Mr. Trump’s supporters to fight attempts to undermine him. “There is a cultural war,” Mr. Jones said. “They want to bully you into submission.”
Mr. Jones touched on a point that some conservatives say will make it very difficult for Mr. Trump’s core supporters to easily abandon him. Mr. Trump has created his own political culture, and its devotees are strongly and emotionally committed to it.
“They took a huge risk, and they are deeply invested,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative author who has been critical of Mr. Trump. And the news cycle they inhabit, he added, is only hardening their beliefs.
“These days when people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, this really looks terrible, was I possibly wrong about Trump?’ they quickly go on social media or see the shows and instantaneously find something that reinforces their opinion,” Mr. Sykes added. “And they cling to that.”

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thought-crime police win again

I've written about Jonathan Kay on this blog before - he was the ghostwriter for Justin Trudeau's autobiography. 
Kay made an excellent point about the thought-crime police and their tactics:
What I (and other Canadian writers and editors) am angry about is the effort by TWUC and its Equity Task Force (which released its own statement) to shame Niedzviecki, and to suggest that his liberal approach to speech is somehow outside the bounds of respectable discourse. TWUC’s over-the-top apology describes the “pain” that the article allegedly caused. It’s part of what may be described as the medicalization of the marketplace of ideas: It is no longer enough to say that you merely disagree with something. Rather, the author must be stigmatized as a sort of dangerous thought criminal. Indeed, the Equity Task Force situates Niedzviecki as an apologist for “cultural genocide,” and accuses him of peddling “a long-debunked false universalism.” The Task Force also claims that the publication of his article is a symptom of “structural racism,” or possibly even “brazen malice.”
Well apparently Kay discussing the insanity of the thought-crime police resulted in his leaving The Walrus.

I've written about the insanity and anti-free speech aspects of the forces of anti-appropriation on this blog before, but this controversy has resulted in an absolutely perfect demonstration of their sleazy, lying bad-faith arguments, by someone named Saachi Khoul in Buzzfeed:
I can’t believe I have to fucking say this, but no one, in the history of writing books, has ever suggested that white people are not allowed to write thoughtful portrayals of Indigenous people or people of colour, namely in fiction. Frankly, we encourage it.

This is purest bullshit. Telling white people what the are not allowed to do - and not just what they are allowed to write about - by claiming that what they are doing is evil "appropriation" is the very essence of the anti-appropriation position, as demonstrated by Yasmin Abdel-Magied's response to writer Lionel Shriver's speech against anti-appropriationism:
It became about the fact that a white man should be able to write the experience of a young Nigerian woman and if he sells millions and does a “decent” job — in the eyes of a white woman — he should not be questioned or pilloried in any way. It became about mocking those who ask people to seek permission to use their stories. It became a celebration of the unfettered exploitation of the experiences of others, under the guise of fiction. (For more, Yen-Rong, a volunteer at the festival, wrote a summary on her personal blog about it.)
It was a poisoned package wrapped up in arrogance and delivered with condescension.
Look beyond Abdel-Magied's anti-white resentment and what she says is exactly what Khoul says nobody has ever said.

Khoul continues:
But remember how fucking mad all of you got when you found out there’d be a black Stormtrooper in Star Wars? Remember when some of you got hot over the suggestion that Santa Claus, a literal figment of children’s imaginations, could be black?
Without any shame whatsoever, Khoul conflates those who rightly object to the insanity of anti-appropriationism's extremist anti-free speech position with racists. The people who objected to a black stormtrooper or to a black Santa Claus are not the same people objecting to the anti-appropriationists. And I doubt Khoul is ignorant of this fact. I think she thought it would be a good idea to deliberately lump all white people together as anti-black racists, because her own argument on the subject is based on a lie.

Meanwhile someone named Jeet Herr, editor at The New Republic, on Twitter called Jonathan Kay, someone who co-wrote Justin Trudeau's memoirs and clearly likes and respects Truduea a "rightwing provocateur" and compared him to Anne fucking Coulter.

Which demonstrates what ridiculous lengths those sympathetic to the thought-crime police will try to go to in order to smear those targeted by the witch-hunters.

But Jeet Heer is wrong if he believes that he has protected himself against future witch-hunts by anti-appropriationist thoughtcrime police. Because the thoughtcrime police don't base their accusations of racism, imperialism etc. based on any kind of rational thought. And this is largely because there are no boundaries for what counts as "appropriation" - the anti-appropriationists define appropriation on an ad-hoc basis to suit themselves. And anybody who is non-compliant at any time to the whims of the thought-police will be attacked and mobbed. Any media outlet is foolish to bow down to the insanity of anti-appropriationism.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Back to the future with Life Magazine

While I was researching old magazines for a topic for the NYCPlaywrights weekly email I came across this fascinating illustration from Life Magazine 1914. It portrays the artist's guess for how people would dress in 1950.

The artist seems to guess that people thirty-six years in the future would adopt a look that was a cross between Native American and ancient Greek.

The couple might almost get away with dressing like that in a museum now - they definitely would get away with dressing like that on the street in NYC in 2017. And the guy's tattoos are definitely a 21st century touch, although it's funny that the artist changed so much else but the guy in "1950" is still holding a cane.

I had guessed that the artist Otho Cushing was gay by the way he lovingly renders the butt and biceps of the 1950 guy, and sure enough, although the Wikipedia article doesn't explicitly say Cushing's preference in the main body of the entry, at the bottom it indicates that one of the categories the subject falls under is "gay artists."

Also this other drawing by Cushing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hubert est un NAZI!

Franck de la Personne as Hubert
on "French in Action"
It seems to me like the series "French in Action" is well-known, but it really isn't. Not even my French teacher heard of it. But I am perhaps a member of the FIA cult now. I'm interested in what has happened to the people who participated in FIA, especially the actors.

Malheureusement, Hubert, one of the characters in the FIA story was played by Franck de LaPersonne, whom Wikipedia indicates is not only a supporter of the National Front but is running for office in the National Front.


This article quotes de LaPersonne:

Franck de LaPersonne had scoffed at Emmanuel Macron, calling him "dashing foal of the party from abroad", and had greeted Victor Hugo, who "did not learn Arabic at school", eliciting "we are at home We "in the room, tells Agence France Presse.

I don't exactly understand what that means. Google translate can only do so much I guess.

Fun fact: when French in Action was recorded,  Emmanuelle Macron was ten years old.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Thank you NYTimes, exactly what I was thinking

In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

WASHINGTON — In dramatically casting aside James B. Comey, President Trump fired the man who may have helped make him president — and the man who potentially most threatened the future of his presidency.
Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.

Monday, May 08, 2017


Macron Decisively Defeats Le Pen in French Presidential Race
Emmanuel Macron, a youthful former investment banker and political novice, handily won France’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating the staunch nationalist Marine Le Pen after voters firmly rejected her far-right message and backed his call for centrist change, according to projections based on preliminary results.
Mr. Macron, 39, will become the youngest president in the 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic, after leading an improbable campaign that swept aside France’s establishment political parties.
The election was watched around the world for magnifying many of the broader tensions rippling through other Western democracies, including the United States: populist anger at the political mainstream, economic insecurity among middle-class voters and rising resentment toward immigrants.
Mr. Macron’s victory offered significant relief to the European Union, which Ms. Le Pen threatened to leave. His platform to loosen labor rules, make France more competitive globally and deepen ties with the European Union was also likely to reassure a global financial market jittery at the prospect of a Le Pen victory.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Strawberries in Central Park

I once had a strawberry patch in my sister Karen's back yard. I've never lived anywhere that I had access to enough land to have a garden my entire adult life, but my sister was kind enough to loan me the land one summer. This was over 20 years ago but I still know what strawberry plants look like. And so I noticed them even though I certainly wasn't expecting to see a strawberry patch along the bridle path right next to the reservoir in Central Park today. But there they were. I will go back in a couple of weeks and see how they are doing.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

More critiques of evolutionary psychology

Coincidentally right after I wrote about Evan Marc Katz promoting evolutionary psychology and quoted PZ Myers to address the standard "critics of evo-psycho hate science" party line, Myers himself provides another useful critique of evolutionary psychology.

Myers begins:
I’ve criticized evolutionary psychology more than a few times, and usually my arguments rest on their appallingly bad understanding of the “evolutionary” part of their monicker — proponents all seem to be rank adaptationists with a cartoon understanding of evolution. But what about the “psychology” part? I’ve mentioned at least one dissection of EP by a psychologist in the past, but here’s another one, a paper by the same author, Brad Peters, that explains that evolutionary psychology is poor neurobiology and bad psychology.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Evan Marc Katz ~ bullshitting the gullible with pseudo-science

I've already demonstrated that Evan Marc Katz is so lacking in ethics that he advised single women to set their sights on married men.

He also advises women to be passive in order to catch "alpha males" whom Katz believes are the only real men. These are men who cling to traditional gender roles so hard that if a woman offers one a ticket to see his favorite band he will FREAK THE FUCK OUT because his masculinity is so fragile. Men who believe in rigid gender roles have been demonstrated to be more likely to abuse women.

So naturally Katz would have no qualms, most recently, against passing himself off as an expert defender of science even though it's painfully clear that he gets all his "science" right from pop-psychology articles in the newspaper.
Today’s post is a little more serious, because it talks about something that is unique and dangerous in our partisan post-fact world: the idea that beliefs about how the world should work are more valid than facts about how the world actually does work.
Witness this article in the LA Times, which poses a very challenging question: “Are gender feminists and transgender activists undermining science?”
I've already criticized evolutionary psychology, aka evo-psycho plenty on this blog over the years but it never hurts to mention that proponents of evolutionary psychology are so reflexive in their belief that all cultural phenomena is due to adaptation that even when women are sold into slavery, they interpret it as evidence of female sexual desire for "alpha males" as David Buller demonstrated in his comprehensive critique of evolutionary psychology (from over eleven years ago already) Adapting Minds (my emphases):
...in a well-documented study, the anthropologist William Irons found that, among the Turkmen of Persia, males in the wealthier half of the population left 75 percent more offspring than males in the poorer half of the population. Buss cites several studies like this as indicating that "high status in men leads directly to increased sexual access to a larger number of women," and he implies that this is due to the greater desirability of high-status men (David Buss 1999 "Evolutionary Psychology the New Science of the Mind"). 
But, among the Turkmen, women were sold by their families into marriage. The reason that higher-status males enjoyed greater reproductive success among the Turkmen is that they were able to buy wives earlier and more often than lower-status males. Other studies that clearly demonstrate a reproductive advantage for high-status males are also studies of societies or circumstances in which males "traded" in women. This isn't evidence that high-status males enjoy greater reproductive success because women find them more desirable. Indeed, it isn't evidence of female preference at all, just as the fact that many harem-holding despots produced remarkable numbers of offspring is no evidence of their desirability to women. It is only evidence that when men have power they will use it to promote their reproductive success, among other things (and that women, under such circumstances, will prefer entering a harem to suffering the dire consequences of refusal).
Of course the kind of people who are stupid enough to care what a huckster like Katz says aren't likely to be aware of any serious critiques of evolutionary psychology. Katz lives in a bubble of dullards, which no doubt makes him feel like a genius, and he's perfectly content to live that way.

Evolutionary psychologists are not bothered in the least that their "science" is not empirical and in fact, like the poster children for the Dunning-Kruger effect that they are, they claim it's their opponents who don't understand or are even hostile to science.

I'll let an actual scientist, P. Z. Myers address that issue:
Why, oh why, do EP’s defenders rely on throwing up armies of straw men to slaughter? It’s silly. Here’s how (Jerry Coyne) starts:
There are some science-friendly folk (including atheists) who simply dismiss the entire field of evolutionary psychology in humans, saying that its theoretical foundations are weak or nonexistent. I’ve always replied that that claim is bunk, for its “theoretical foundations” are simply the claim that our brains and behaviors, like our bodies, show features reflecting evolution in our ancestors.
Have you ever seen a critic of evolutionary psychology deny that we evolved, or that features and differences of the human body and brain are products of evolution? Not me. When I say that it’s theoretical foundations are ridiculous, I don’t mean the idea that there are evolved differences between the sexes, but that EP comes with a set of ludicrous assumptions, such as that we are adapted to the African savannah and the agricultural and urban adaptations of the last 10,000 years don’t count. It leads to absurdities like the paleo diet, in which it’s assumed that we should eat like cavemen, because evolution. 
I also criticize the just-so story-telling. Coyne should know this well: studying evolution is hard and demands rigor. Yet evolutionary psychologists will do a quickie study on color perception in college undergraduates and announce that women evolved to be better at recognizing ripe berries. 
And obviously, as you might guess, there are the methodological problems. There is so much trivial market-driven crap in evolutionary psychology that it swamps out any hypothetically ‘good’ research in the field. If I were doing research on the evolutionary basis of human behavior (I’m not, fortunately), I would run away so fast from the label “evolutionary psychology” that I’d make Kanazawa’s head spin, and he’d have to formulate some story about the distant ancestors of white people having to sprint away from noisy speculating sabre-toothed tigers. 
But then Coyne pulls his magic “proof” out of his hat: the existence of sexual dimorphism. Yeah, who has a problem with that? Men and women look different in grand and subtle ways. Some of those differences were almost certainly selected for. Again, I don’t know anyone who denies that, so it’s kind of weird to use it as his triumphant example. Except that he seems to think all those lefty wackos — you know, feminists, apparently — are in the business of denying the obvious. 
But the left-wing opposition to evolutionary psychology as a valid discipline in principle, especially when it involves differences in sexual behavior, seems to me based more on ideology than on biology. Ideologues cannot allow any possibility that males and females behave differently because of their evolution. Such people think that this would buttress the view that one sex would be “better” than the other.
I know a lot of modern radical feminists. I’m pretty solidly in the left-wing camp myself. And NO ONE denies the physical differences between men and women, or claims that evolution could not have played an important role in shaping the diversity of modern humans. Nor do any claim that there aren’t significant behavioral differences — we encounter those every day. What we oppose is the credulous insistence that every single difference is a product of selection, that the influence of culture is noise gently overlaying the purity of the biological signal, and worst of all, the idea that the status quo is justified as a product of biology (which Coyne at least tries to distance himself from at the end).
Katz himself demonstrates the untestable nature of evolutionary psychology. Evo-psychos claim that men and women have fundamental, completely oppositional natures. But when an example of someone behaving in a way that goes against their alleged gender nature is presented, evo-psychos will say something like Katz says here:
Sort of misses the point, Emily. We’re talking about generalities – always.
But "generalities" is the very essence of evolutionary psychology and that's why it's just as much a science as astrology. Evo psychos make claims about how men and women are but admit there are exceptions - but if you have a high enough percentage of exceptions to a rule, the rule is bullshit. 

Fifty years ago women were kept out of the Boston marathon, on the theory that women just couldn't handle it. As Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon said:
"It was feared that anything longer (than 800 meters) was going to injure women, that they wouldn't be able to have children or they somehow turned into men," she told NPR.
" 'You'll never have children,' they said. 'You're going to get big legs. You're going to grow hair on your chest.' It was hilarious, the myths.
I'm sure the sexists of the time argued, after Switzer ran the marathon, that she was an exception to the general rule of female fragility. Now that millions of women have run in marathons I don't think even someone like Evan Marc Katz could deny that women do not endanger their fertility by running marathons. Because Switzer was NOT exceptional. But until women were allowed to run, it could not be proven.

But evolutionary psychologists avoid presenting test scenarios. The claim that women are by nature "hypergamous" and men are not could be disproved if enough men and women were shown to behave differently than their gender roles. But evolutionary psychologists are not attempting to find such people - assuming you could tease out "natural" behavior from its complex interaction with culturally-learned behavior - because they are already certain they are right. And so it will never be known how many exceptions there are to this alleged rule of gender-based behavior, and evo-psychos don't even bother to predict the percentage of exceptions there will be. They just do a lot of mumbling and hand-waving about generalities. So evolutionary psychology is unfalsifiable.

That is why evolutionary psychology is a pseudo-science.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Plastic Bertrand a soixante-trois ans

Bette Midler is 71
One aspect of getting older is being freaked out by other people getting older too. It's sort of depressing to see anybody be older than they were when you first met them long ago, since virtually nobody gets better-looking as they age, with the possible exception of Bette Midler.

Long ago my ex-boyfriend John turned me onto Plastic Bertrand, and this fact was never of any use to me until my French class the other day, when some classmates and I decided to surprise our teacher with a little party for her birthday, with typical French stuff like cheese, bread and of course wine. So Prof played some French music Youtube videos during the festivities and when she asked for some French music to play, I piped up "Ca plane pour moi" which was a quasi-punk hit in 1977.

So my memory of Plastic Bertrand was as the hip young thing, so it was a shock when I looked him up on Wikipedia and saw that he is 63 years old. Which is just so weird, although of course completely inevitable.

Here are the lyrics for the song in French and in English, although the song itself, while mostly in French has several English words and even a complete distinctive phrase "I am the king of the divan."

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Colbert's message to the right-wing snowflakes

Trump supporters don't like talk of an imaginary homosexual act - which in this case was a metaphor for treason. 

They have no problem VOTING for an evil freak who brags about getting away with sexual assault.

I blogged about the Social Justice Warrior campaign to #cancelColbert on Twitter in 2014. Not only did it not hurt Colbert's career, but CBS gave him his current gig right after.

It should be noted that Trump supporters are upset about Colbert mentioning a homosexual act - many of them are perfectly OK with treason:

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Le bonhomme de fourrure

Le vrai bonhomme de fourrure
My French class is coming to an end soon (le temp passe!) and it has been  very helpful in furthering my language studies.

Unfortunately I dont have anybody living with me with whom I can practice French. However that doesn't stop me from making up French songs about my cats and singing them out loud.

Here is my goofy song about Mr. Fuzz. A little background - the French call snowmen "bonhomme de neige" which means literally "gentleman of snow." So I've taken to calling Mr. Fuzz le bonhomme de fourrure - gentleman of fur.

All I have for my song is the refrain so far:

Le bonhomme de fourrure 
C'est le bonhomme de fourrure 
Tout les temps c'est lui.

(The man of fur, that's the man of fur, all the time, that's him.)

Also it's good practice to say - or sing- the word "fourrure" because it is a bitch for non-native French speakers with all those guttural Rs that will just rip up your throat. But it's necessary to learn unless you want to speak French like a loser.

The French have a love-hate relationship with fur. You can hear the word pronounced in this video.

Monday, May 01, 2017

More free advertising for professional crackpot Robin DiAngelo

I'm a liberal and so it really annoys me when the left-liberal media engages in mindless group-think. The constant, uncritical promotion of postmodernist race crackpot Robin DiAngelo is a case in point.

It's DiAngelo's business to sell herself as some kind of consultant on how to fix race in America, although what she actually does is make things worse, by judging people on the color of their skin, and not the content of their character. Her approach to fixing race in America is the opposite of what Martin Luther King Jr. proposed.

In a recent puff piece in The Stranger on April 5 she reiterated the unbearable false equivalence that she constantly pushes: no white person is better than the worst possible white person:
She sees a shared dynamic in the rise (and fall) of Breitbart News darling Milo Yiannopoulos, whose speech at the University of Washington led to violent protests on Inauguration Day. "White progressives are very attached to this idea of 'good whites and bad whites,'" she says. "We can use somebody like Milo to distance ourselves [from racism]. He's so clear. He's so outrageous. And yet we aren't actually looking at the narratives that we use every day and how those function."

Yes, Yiannopoulos is a "bad white."

Being a vicious professional racist like Yiannopoulos really is objectively worse than NOT being a vicious professional racist.

Not only does DiAngelo insult all the whites who hate and oppose Milo Yiannopoulos for his racism, she also normalizes Milo Yiannopoulos by claiming he's no worse than any other white person due to a shared European ethnicity.

That's the insanity of Robin DiAngelo's message and the only time it is ever challenged is in the comments section of career-promoting articles that constantly appear in the liberal press.

Is this an ad?

And the answer is yes, it is an ad.

It is wrong for the left-liberal media to continue to promote Robin DiAngelo's scam-master career as a rational approach to racism. Her own words prove again and again that Robin DiAngelo is absolutely NOT rational when it comes to race.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE CLASH 1980 on Youtube

A whole bunch of black and white concert footage from the 1980s from The Capitol Theater in Passaic. Starting with The Clash.

I technically could have gone to this concert being (barely) an adult. But I wasn't into the Clash yet and I was dirt poor at the time. Glad I can watch this now.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Oh oh oh oh oh Tel Aviv

I don't know if it was the poor quality of my radio back in the day, or what, but I used to mishear the refrain of this Emerson Lake and Palmer song as "Tel Aviv."

The only reason I can think for why Tel Aviv is because Israel was much in the news in the 1970s. But still. Pretty dumb. But then I didn't know any French and didn't know that accordion music always means France.

Anyways, I haven't heard this song in probably thirty years. But here it is handy on the Internet.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Seen around Manhattan recently

Going to or from French class.

Chelsea Handler amuses me. East 60th Street.

This Madison Avenue store appears to have  genuine taxidermied ostrich.

I tried to get a picture of myself standing in front of the ostrich. This was the best I could do.

Also on Madison. Je voudrais beaucoup de chocolat! So could you refer to this as Chez Chocolat?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Secrets of the alt-right 4-Chan Trolls

A Buzzfeed contributor on Twitter shares a conversation from alt-right 4-Chan Trolls. Apparently supporters of Putin and Le Pen and Trump can't decide if they want to make Macron gay or doing his daughter-in-law.

Monday, April 24, 2017

WAT homestretch

Finished another Women in the Age of Trump video - only one more left!

I enjoyed doing this one a lot, and Keona Welch gave me exactly what I wanted in the dual roles of "Pippy" and "Dippy" - we completed the whole thing in under 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The coolness of Laurie Anderson

I've been aware of Laurie Anderson since the 1980s, and she's just very cool. Always was, and is. I was thinking about Laurie Anderson lately because the NYTimes ran an article about her.

So I did some googling and I found this really cool image of her from 1977 (above). I would love to find the original image and make a poster out of it.

And also this really cool video. You just have to love the openminded engagement of Laurie Anderson.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Crêpes Nanette

The course in French I am taking at FIAF makes good use of Youtube videos, and an especial Youtube French lessons channel favorite of my teacher is Francais aver Pierre.

We were instructed to watch a video of Pierre making crepes. So now I know how to make crepes. Although admittedly I used the recipe of Alton Brown of Good Eats fame (for whom I have a disturbing semi-conscious desire which I have documented on this blog over the years.)

Admittedly I knew very little about crepes. They are like very flat pancakes, and they cook much faster than pancakes. But the tricky part about cooking crepes is flipping them. Unlike with regular pancakes you don't use a spatula, traditionally, with crepes, you just flip them with the pan.

I used up an entire batch of batter trying to get the hang of flipping crepes. The result was a plate full of undercooked, half-flipped and generally badly-fried egg and milk-based specimens.

But with the very last scraps of batter I managed to completely cook and flip one single small crepe. YAY. I feel so accomplished.

But then there's this guy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Oui nous pouvons!

French presidential contender Macron checks in with everybody's favorite ex-president Barack Obama.

Lovers of democracy must stick together to oppose the Putin puppet show featuring Trump and the Nazi Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile the NYTimes ran a big article about Macron yesterday:

If the ever-precocious Mr. Macron is to succeed, his first challenge is to sell a product still largely unfamiliar to almost everyone: himself.
That Mr. Macron is such an unknown underscores his unusual position in a French election that, to some degree, is a referendum on the future of Europe. The far-right leader Marine Le Pen threatens to take France out of the European Union. By contrast, Mr. Macron is ardently pro-Europe and has portrayed himself almost as the anti-Le Pen.
Le Pen, of course, is a big fucking Nazi and a crook too.

Even before Ms. Le Pen’s remarks this week denying France’s culpability in a notorious wartime roundup of Jews, recent revelations in the French news media, including a well-documented new book, revived nagging concerns about the sympathies of the woman who would be France’s next president.
Two men in her innermost circle — Frédéric Chatillon and Axel Loustau — are well-known former members of a violent, far-right student union that fought pitched battles with leftists and took a turn toward Hitler nostalgia in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Chatillon’s company, Riwal, served as the exclusive supplier of campaign materials to the National Front in elections from 2012 to 2015. Prosecutors suspect it of systematically overcharging for posters, fliers and the like sold in campaign “kits” — and then, milking giant reimbursements from the state.
Under French law, the state reimburses the campaign expenses of candidates who earn more than 5 percent of votes. Mr. Chatillon had refined the system to an art, according to a high-ranking French campaign finance official and Mr. Chauprade, as well as two new books that closely examine the National Front’s finances.The official and one of those books, “Le Procès Interdit de Marine Le Pen,” or “Marine Le Pen’s Forbidden Trial,” by Laurent Fargues, describes how that system worked.
A printer would charge Riwal, say, 180 to 220 euros, or $191 to $233, for 400 posters; Riwal would then charge a small front party affiliated with the
National Front, called Jeanne, €500 for the posters. Jeanne, in turn, would charge the candidates the inflated price.
After the election, the candidates would claim reimbursement from the state for the inflated amount, and that reimbursement would be turned over to Jeanne.
At least some of that money would wind up in the coffers of the National Front, according to the French campaign finance official, who requested anonymity because of the continuing presidential campaign.
“They’ve constructed an economy out of reimbursements from the state,” said Mr. Chauprade, who has been interviewed by prosecutors about the party’s financial affairs.
Mr. Chauprade said he had been pressured by Ms. Le Pen herself to buy a kit, but refused, to the fury of party officials.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ma timonerie française

Good times in my French class ce soir - one of our exercises was to look at a comic strip about a couple out at a restaurant: there is a problem with the woman's dish - instead of a cooked snail (yummy) there is a live slug (icky!). Our task was to enact our own version of this story.

Our class was divided into three groups and I must say that my group was the best. Our group, two other woman and myself, were not content to merely borrow phrases and concepts from our lesson book, we did some serious improv - I played the man and I opened with "bon anniversarie, je t'aime! And the woman playing ma femme ordered salad from the other woman in our group, who played the waiter. The man (me) ordered three bottles of the Beaujolais and then we saw the slug on the plate de ma femme. "Quel horreur! C'est un scandal! I'm never coming back to this restaurant again!"

And then our waiter offered us a refund.

And scene.

Not bad considering none of us is exactly fluent in French and we had to do free-form dialog all in French. It was loads of fun. Our teacher declared us les trois actrices.

Speaking of speaking French and fun, the titular story in the David Sedaris collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is available online. I sent the link to my French teacher and she seemed to like it. Luckily my French teacher isn't a terror like Sedaris's teacher. In fact my French teacher is a heroine. Which is much better for learning French, although not quite as funny. An excerpt from Sedaris:
Over time it became impossible to believe that any of us would ever improve. Fall arrived and it rained every day, meaning we would now be scolded for the water dripping from our coats and umbrellas. It was mid-October when the teacher singled me out, saying, “Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section.” And it struck me that, for the first time since arriving in France, I could understand every word that someone was saying.

Understanding doesn’t mean that you can suddenly speak the language. Far from it. It’s a small step, nothing more, yet its rewards are intoxicating and deceptive. The teacher continued her diatribe and I settled back, bathing in the subtle beauty of each new curse and insult.

“You exhaust me with your foolishness and reward my efforts with nothing but pain, do you understand me?"

The world opened up, and it was with great joy that I responded, “I know the thing that you speak exact now. Talk me more, you, plus, please, plus.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cassis & Orange

I discovered what I could do with all the leftover creme de cassis I had after failing to enjoy kir - turns out that five parts orange juice to two parts creme de cassis is absolutely delicious. And it's the simplest possible cocktail to make, only two ingredients. Much like the ever-popular screwdriver which is orange juice and vodka, except for creme de cassis and orange juice tastes much better than vodka and orange juice.  Also it's more French than a screwdriver. Most cocktails hardly seem worth the effort to me, they usually have five or six ingredients, and the results are not always delicious. I think cassis and orange might be the best cocktail ever. 

Speaking of French alcohol, I recently discovered The Local, aka "France's News in English" which provides this informative Ultimate Booze Map of France.

Also handy, this cheese map of France.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Global Far-Right Movement

It seems pretty clear that Putin always favors the most extreme right-winger in any country's national election. Not only is it increasingly undeniable that Putin gave all kinds of assistance to Trump in winning the election, he's also clearly hoping that friend-of-Nazis Marine Le Pen will win the French presidential election. Le Pen met with Putin in March.

And it's clear that there is a well-funded network of right-wingers aiding and abetting Putin's campaign of destabilizing the West.

Here is a response by Gerald Butts to a tweet by Mike Cernovich praising Ezra Levant. I have blogged about Levant over the past few months, primarily focusing on his insane obsession with Justin Trudeau (which I suspect is partly fueled by homoerotic desire.) Cernovich is a deranged nut job who pushed the deranged Pizzagate conspiracy that almost ended up getting people killed.

Meanwhile Alex Jones, the deranged nut job who also pushed Pizzagate has his lawyer claiming that he's a "performance artist." 
“He is a performance artist,” attorney Randall Wilhite told a judge, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The radio host has been known to peddle conspiracy theories without any evidence, including that 9/11 was an inside job, Sandy Hook was “completely fake with actors” and the government is using chemicals in the water to turn people gay.
He also perpetuated the “Pizzagate” theory that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders were running a child sex trafficking ring run out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, before eventually apologizing.
I immediately thought of Mike Daisey, an actual performance artist who dabbled in hard reporting before being repudiated by This American Life. Daisey's excuse for why he should be forgiven for making up stories about Chinese employees of Apple was that he is a performance artist and nobody should have ever taken him literally.

Now I despise Mike Daisey, a hateful Berniebro and all-around asshole, but not even I think he's as bad as Alex Jones. Nobody almost got killed thanks to Daisey. But Jones and Daisey both feel they can say anything they want and then refuse to be held responsible for it. And they get away with it. Neither seems to have suffered in his career in the least from this behavior. But Alex Jones is a monster, Mike Daisey is just an asshole.

So who is Gerald Butts? He's "Principal Secretary to PM Trudeau" according to his Twitter profile. I first heard of Butts while reading Trudeau's autobiography. They go back to college. According to his Wikipedia page:
Stemming from a two-decade-long friendship, Butts became the senior political adviser to Justin Trudeau in 2012.[2] Therefore, he is among the five people with whom Trudeau consults regularly.[8] He assisted on the vast majority of policies on which Trudeau campaigned.[8]
And according to Trudeau:
Butts & Trudeau in college about 1993
(a mutual friend) beckoned to a long-haired guy standing nearby, and introduced him as Gerry Butt, Vice-President of the McGill Debating Union. Today, almost twenty-five years later, Gerald is not just still a best friend; he is my closest advisor as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. 
[obviously the team went onto bigger things after Trudeau's autobiography was published.]

On Gerry's invitation, I joined the Debating Union, where we became fast friends and I spent the next year honing my skills and traveling to tournaments. It was an education on its own, focusing my ability to think on my feet, to spot a weakness in an opponent's argument and exploit in with the right combination of logic and turn of phrase.

Probably we have Butts to thank more than anybody except Pierre Trudeau for mon premiere ministre d'amour.

But also, if Butts believes there is an interconnected, international far-right movement, chances are Trudeau believes it too, although it's not guaranteed since Butts does explicitly say in his Twitter profile that "Tweets are personal views."

But this is important. The Canadians are fully aware of the danger of the far-right network. Something I'm not sure American politicians are paying enough attention to.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Esquire Archives

You can click the image to view the
amazing line-up for this issue.
Yes I find old magazine archives interesting and they are incredibly accessible now thanks to the Internet.

I never had any interest in Esquire though, it always struck me as a kind of New Yorker for men, or perhaps a cross between The New Yorker and Playboy. It had a cartoon face as its mascot, like the Playboy bunny logo, I suppose, except the cartoon face seemed to exist to leer at women. Which makes this cover from December 1959 pretty creepy given that the face appears, on the left leering apparently at a reindeer - who looks appropriately nervous.

But look at the line-up of literary greats in this issue. Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, George Bernard Shaw. In a magazine aimed at men. Did men really read so much sixty years ago?

 Shaw was the reason I ended up buying access to the Esquire archives because I discovered, while researching the latest topic for the weekly NYCPlaywrights email, that he had written a tiny playlet in French called UN PETIT DRAME.

Esquire published it here for the first time. It's interesting to note that Shaw had died only nine years earlier in 1950 at the age of 94. I was ambitious to try out my French translations skills but they provided an English translation - I still might try it anyway.

It's interesting to contrast the Esquire archives from this period with those of the New Yorker. Strangely I think there are fewer sexist and xenophobic cartoons in Esquire. The ads are very similar, except that the New Yorker didn't include this very curious page devoted to hobbies called "Hobby Den: which features opportunities to buy stamps, musical instruments, all kinds of things. I guess men in those days had to fill up those long hours outside of work, which were certainly not being taken up by childcare. It was either foreign stamps or reading great literature I guess.

Arthur Miller was one of the subjects of Esquire's March 1961 issue with the story of the making of the Misfits. I read it, it contained little I hadn't already heard about.

One of the articles listed is "Cast Your Own Broadway Show"
Straight men were certainly different back then.
The magazine probably felt a little proprietary, and possibly defensive about the movie, which was based on a short story that Miller published in Esquire in 1957.

According to the 1961 article:

The basic story appeared in Esquire in October, 1957, Arthur Miller's tale of three cowboys who take mustangs from the Nevada mountains in order to sell them for meat. Miller had gone on a roundup with three such cowboys when he was obtaining a Nevada divorce fro this first wife. What had caught the imagination of the Manhattan-born playwright was the mechanization of catching wild horses in the West: one man flew an old plane into the mountains, flushed the herd down a canyon to a dry lake bed the two other roped from the rear of a trick. Miller ws displayed by the fate of America's feral horses ("misfits" because they are too small to ride), but was even more haunted by the lives of the cowboys who killed them. As soon as he got away from the public hysteria over his marriage to Mairlyn, he settled down and wrote the novelette.

I will say I was impressed that instead of including photos of Marilyn Monroe, they instead used illustrations, even on the cover. I might have to reassess my impression of old school Esquire.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Like a Surgeon

I've bitched about New Yorker covers before but I do miss subscribing to the print version of the magazine in part because I miss the covers. They are posted on the New Yorker site, but not right at the top, you have to scroll way down the home page to find them.

They aren't all great but some of them are masterpieces of illustration, and I have praised them - and bought large framed versions of them (this one hangs in my kitchen) and been told I look like a character in one.

This recent New Yorker cover is a case in point - well done graphic but also ground-breaking. The New Yorker didn't make a big deal about it, but all the medical personnel preparing to operate are women (using the standard graphic short-hand of well-manicured eyebrows and long eyelashes to signify female.)

They didn't make a big deal out of it but people did notice which resulted in the Twitter hashtag #ilooklikeasurgeon

Here are a few examples below.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Canadian Road Trip

It looks like I'm taking a Canadian road trip in August!

Brooke Johnson, who does a one-woman show about her friendship with Pierre Trudeau (I blogged about it in January) emailed me to let me know that she's doing the show in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Coincidentally I recently noted that my great-great grandfather Alexander Wolfington was born in Halifax, which makes me at least 1/32 Canadian.

So I plan to go to the show and then travel from there to Montreal by way of Quebec city where I can practice my French. I'm into the third week of French class and hope to be semi-fluent by August. So it will be a 3-province trip: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Brooke also asked if I could host some Canadian theater women at the end of May. They happen to be working with Jeanine Tesori, the composer of the songs from FUN HOME, and of course I said yes. I'm excited to be able to further the cause of US-Canadian theater exchange. Justin Trudeau has been inspirational in that regard as in so much else, inviting Ivanka Trump to join him to see the Canadian musical COME FROM AWAY about helping refugees. More about these Canadian theater women later.

Oh Canada!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Working my side hustle

In the latest NYCPlaywrights email I asked readers to offer any advice they might have about the web site.

I expected complaints, of course - if you ask for feedback in this kind of situation the people who are mainly motivated to write are the ones with complaints. And while some of the complaints were valid some were ridiculous.

One guy in particular, a college professor in his 70s (we have several mutual Facebook friends), sent me a list of complaints that were especially absurd. One of the complaints was that there were occasional non-calls for submissions items in the blog, which were according to him, "just free advertising."

Actually they are not free advertising - they are paid advertising.

But the best part was him whining about the fact that some of the calls for submissions are targeted to certain ethnicities, or have a women-only stipulation. He wants me to post on such calls for submissions: "This call may be in violation of Equal Opportunity Employment Protection guidelines."

Somebody needs to retire.

The most ridiculous feedback came from another guy, in his 60s at least who said that there are just too many words in the calls for submissions and the words should be in exciting fonts and there should be graphics. Apparently he thinks the function of the NYCPlaywrights calls for submission are not simply to provide information but to be aesthetically pleasing too.

On the positive side, several people wrote in to say they like the web site and everything I do. Not that I was primarily motivated to fish for compliments but that was a nice bonus.