Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Krugman on Bundy & friends

So what were people like Sean Hannity of Fox News, who went all in on Mr. Bundy’s behalf, thinking? Partly, no doubt, it was the general demonization of government — if someone looks as if he is defying Washington, he’s a hero, never mind the details. Partly, one suspects, it was also about race — not Mr. Bundy’s blatant racism, but the general notion that government takes money from hard-working Americans and gives it to Those People. White people who wear cowboy hats while profiting from government subsidies just don’t fit the stereotype. 
Most of all, however — or at least that’s how it seems to me — the Bundy fiasco was a byproduct of the dumbing down that seems ever more central to the way America’s right operates. 
American conservatism used to have room for fairly sophisticated views about the role of government. Its economic patron saint used to be Milton Friedman, who advocated aggressive money-printing, if necessary, to avoid depressions. It used to include environmentalists who took pollution seriously but advocated market-based solutions like cap-and-trade or emissions taxes rather than rigid rules. 
But today’s conservative leaders were raised on Ayn Rand’s novels and Ronald Reagan’s speeches (as opposed to his actual governance, which was a lot more flexible than the legend). They insist that the rights of private property are absolute, and that government is always the problem, never the solution.
I always love it when Krugman gets a little Rand-bashing in. And speaking of Bundy, wasn't I just talking a couple of weeks ago about freaks who claim that slavery was good for black people?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New-fangled technologies are destroying our society!

The New Yorker typically carries many cartoons per issue - in fact on several occasions when I mentioned reading something in the New Yorker, I've been told by someone that they "like it for the cartoons" - as if to say, I guess, they're not one of those lah-dee-dah pretentious eggheads who reads New Yorker articles.

The New Yorker makes its archives available online, and you can see that its covers have grown more editorial, as opposed to simply decorative and seasonal artwork in the past 15 years.

So the sheer quantity of cartoons has inevitably lead to sacrificing originiality.

Case in point is this week's New Yorker cover, which expresses the New Yorker's typical curmudgeonly approach to technology - 

As one Facebook commenter said - and approved by 24 Likers last time I checked:
Lovely cover. The smartphone and tablet illuminating their respective users tells a lot about where we are right now as a society. We are "more connected" to each other, yet alienated from the very person sitting next to us.
I find this incredibly irritating. People who say such things must have a memory-span of a goldfish. It took me a couple of minutes to search the New Yorker Cartoon Bank to find several other examples of how demon technology is thwarting human social interactions - with fax machines, cell phones, and yes, newspapers.

This cartoon is from 2000.

Here is a cry for simpler days of human handwriting from 1996.

And here is a portent of the death of human face-to-face interaction from 1993 thanks to newspapers - curse you Johannes Gutenberg!

Parity Report update: I stopped doing a regular series on the lopsided ratio of male to female contributors to the New Yorker, but a quick spot-check of this May 5, 2014 issue is 3 female contributors out of a total of 11 (not counting cartoons/illustrations or poetry) - a 27% parity rate - which is typical of the New Yorker for its entire run to date. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tim Kreider

I just discovered Tim Kreider - I was intrigued by this piece because it's part of the message of my play JULIA & BUDDY - and Kreider made me LOL:
LAST week my friend Mishka and I, wistful about a popular sedative of the 1970s that neither of us even got the opportunity to resist the temptation to take, went to search for “Do they still make ’ludes” on the Internet. Before we could finish typing the words “do they” the search engine autofilled “still make quaaludes.” 
Sadly, I’ve been advised that this is most likely an artificially inflated search result. But it occurred to me to see what else might be autofilled, as a sort of unscientific poll or cross-sectional sample of my fellow human beings’ furtive curiosity and desires. I typed in “Why am I” and got: so tired/always cold/so ugly? “Why does”: salt melt ice/my vagina itch/it snow? “Where is”: my refund/Sochi/Chuck Norris? “Why can’t”: we be friends/I own a Canadian/I cry? I felt fondly toward all depraved humanity. 
According to the calendar, our long, dark winter is over. Yet those five months without light or exercise, hunching our shoulders in pain whenever we stepped outside, bingeing on Netflix, Jiffy Pop and booze, have left us all at the ends of our respective ropes. (Why does it snow?) Now, by the end of it, I find myself inappropriately cheered by glimpses of my fellow human beings’ despair. 
E.g.: My friend Kevin urgently texted me from a stall of the men’s room at work to inform me that someone in there was evidently in dire emotional/gastrointestinal distress — I’m eliding a lot of detail here — ending with the intelligence, stage-whispered in all capitals: “... AND I THINK HE IS CRYING!” It filled me with a soaring joy. 
This isn’t schadenfreude; it’s something more complicated for which, as far as I know, there isn’t a German compound, but if there were it’d be something like mitleidfreude, compassion-joy — compassion in the literal sense of “suffering with.” It is the happiness, or at least consolation, of knowing that Things Are Tough All Over, that everyone else is secretly as wretched as I am — all of us weeping and pooping, Googling ’ludes.
Laughing at the universal wretchedness of human existence - because what else are you going to do?

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I watched much of this but I will admit I skipped over the economist I am not familiar with (Steven Durlauf) and even skipped over some of the Piketty and Stiglitz to get to Krugman.

Stiglitz provided the best summation I've seen yet of the problem of the Roberts Supreme Court decisions concerning corporations:
...we have some Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and the more recent court decisions that basically say corporations are people in terms of ability to spend money on politics but not in terms of accountability for their misdeeds. There's an asymmetry that they have certain rights but without responsibilities. 
They all professed their admiration for Thomas Piketty, of course. His name is pronounced toe-MAH pi-keh-TEE.

And bonus - you don't even have to by his book to peruse his charts: - here is the English language version.

You know this is an important book, for as Krugman pointed out in his column on Friday:

Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”
Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis.
And right on cue, Mr. McBobo and Ross Douthat publish columns to prove Krugman's point.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

More misuse of the term "romantic comedy"

Richard Brody, one of the two movie critics (both old white males) at the New Yorker gets on my nerves in the worst way. There is just something so alien about his perspective on the world, not to mention his creepy obsession with the TV show Girls.

But for the most part I've resisted the temptation to slam Brody and chose instead to just avoid reading him. But when I saw the headline for his article The Troubling Power of Romantic Comedies show up in my Facebook newsfeed I had to read it, although I knew that I would not be happy with what Brody had to say - and I was absolutely correct.

Brody, like so many many others, doesn't seem to understand what the term "romantic comedy" means. Here is his description of the movie "The Other Woman" which he is claiming is a romantic comedy:
Cameron Diaz plays Carly Whitten, a New York corporate lawyer who is trailing a long string of unhappy relationships; she finds sudden love with Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a handsome and virile venture capitalist who neglects to inform her that he’s married. In planning an erotic surprise for him at his Connecticut home, she meets Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), who, in turn, confronts her about the affair. From that confrontation, a friendship quickly develops (as Carly says, “We’ve been played by the same man”). When they suspect that there’s another other woman (Kate Upton) in the picture, they take off in pursuit and become amateur detectives, and ultimately learn even more about Mark’s hidden life.
On what planet is that in any way "romantic"? It's a straight-up revenge fantasy!

And as much as I loathe Brody, he's not at all the only one out there confused by what a true romantic comedy is. As I've blogged about here, the misogynist "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is considered a romantic comedy when it is about punishing and humiliating Sarah Marshall for dumping the movie's protagonist.

And then there is the hideous, misogynist "Love, Actually" which is finally getting called out, as I wrote about here.

I think the problem can be summed up by the fact that a good percentage of men agree with this man writing in defense of prostitution (in response to this article by Katha Pollitt):
I'd suggest that having an extra-monogamous outlet that isn't fraught with relationship shit is valuable even without patriarchy.
This is the new ideal in "romantic comedies" these days - female bodies as outlets that aren't fraught with relationship shit.

This approach to "romance" is most clearly demonstrated in a web series called "Compulsive Love" which I blogged about several times last year. The series isn't specifically billed as a romantic comedy, but one of its producers, Kevan Tucker, claims it is:
“The show doesn’t trade on irony, cynicism or satire at all. It is unabashedly romantic; in love with the idea of being in love."
It is about as "romantic" as a porno, which makes sense because the story, written by Adam Szymkowicz (we have 62 Facebook friends in common) is pretty much indistinguishable from a porno - man sees woman, man has sex with woman, man moves onto the next woman.

The underlying moral of "Compulsive Love" is that everything would be great with "romance" until some individuating aspect of the woman intrudes on all the sexy sexy sex.

The only time the woman's personality comes into a "Compulsive Love" storyline is as a plot device to break up the protagonist and his latest fuck-doll so he can move onto the next one. One woman becomes a nun. One is controlled by her mother. One is a lesbian.

And "Compulsive Love" has no problems with prostitution - one of these "romantic" storylines involves women who "punish" the romantic hero for trying to weasel out of a gambling debt - which of course he does because is good to be asshole in Bizarro World - by forcing him to pay off the debt by performing cunnilingus.

Yes, that's what Kevan Tucker considers "in love with the idea of being in love."

Although maybe the most repulsive example of misogyny claiming to be romantic comedy is the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Talley's Folly. The story is about a brave hero who stalks a woman for a year, humiliates her, insults her family, and physically restrains her from getting away from him. He wins her love in the end, of course. 

The problem is that "romantic comedy" is now being made and defined by misogynist oafs who don't value women except as prizes for men who refuse to take "no" for an answer, and as relationship-free fuck-dolls.

In case you are wondering at this point if it's possible to even make a non-misogynist comedy, the answer is yes, yes it is. Here are some I've collected on this blog:
  • The African Queen
  • Casanova (with Heath Ledger in the title role)
  • Hysteria
  • Impromptu
  • It's Complicated
  • His Girl Friday
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Owl and the Pussycat

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sonnet #21

Here I am doing Sonnet #21 at today's Shakespeare Sonnet Slam. It was chilly at first, then it became warm, then it got chilly again. I went early when it was still chilly so I wore my coat on stage - along with my bag. My friend David video'd my performance but I hate my voice and I slightly screwed up the last line so I'm not going to post the video. This photo is enough. I saw several former members of NYCPlaywrights which was nice. The whole thing took almost exactly 3 hours from 1 - 4 PM.

I had fairly bad stage fright but I just powered through it. I honestly don't know how actors can get up in front of audiences on a regular basis, I couldn't do it - I'm far too self-conscious and always expect to be disapproved-of in some way.

It looks like there was hardly anybody in the audience but they were all just hanging far back from the bandshell. Eventually people were sitting down closer to the stage.

The Sonnet Slam really confirmed for me how much better the "Dark Lady" sonnets are from the rest of them. And I think it's because Shakespeare was really speaking from the heart, whereas the "Fair Youth" sonnets are more about sucking up to a rich guy. And the first ten or so sonnets are all about how the Fair Youth needs to hurry up and make babies - such a drag.

The sonnets really kick into high gear starting with #127:
"In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name."

That's where the Dark Lady sonnets begin, with the mention of his love's dark complexion, hair and eyes. Except whoever decided to number the sonnets put his early sonnet about Ann Hathaway, #145, right in the middle of the Dark Lady sonnets.

The Dark Lady sonnets reach their apotheosis, in my opinion at #147 - I could have done that one from memory. Its reader for this Sonnet Slam was a wholesome apple-checked young woman who read it only middling-well, with little passion, but even she couldn't screw up the last couplet and it rang out just as clearly as I could hope for: "for I have sworn thee fair and thought the bright who art as black as hell, as dark as night"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rave reviews for Neil Patrick Harris as HEDWIG

I believe I predicted he would be triumphant in this role back in October.

So far he's gotten raves from the NYTimes, Variety, Time Out, AM New York and NBC.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Like I said, social media is a funny thing...

Remember when JPMorgan Chase was completely humiliated on Twitter when it started the #AskJPM hashtag?

Apparently the NYPD did not remember and asked for "photos with a member of the NYPD" under the hashtag #myNYPD
Twitter has been around for 8 years, and it still hasn't quite sunken in that it's a terrible place to promote your brand. Especially if your brand is police brutality, unnecessary roughness, and racial profiling.
The NYPD took a stab at some Twitter outreach Tuesday afternoon with this call for photos of citizens and their friendly neighborhood cops:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Who is Dorothy Strelsin?

Liz Smith, Dorothy Strelsin, Richard Gere
I still don't know exactly when JULIA & BUDDY will be performed in the MITF but at least I know where - in the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre. And so I wondered - who is Dorothy Strelsin?

It isn't such an easy question to answer. I had assumed that since she had a theater named after her (a tiny one in the Abingdon Theatre complex but still...) she'd at least have her own Wikipedia page but she doesn't, so I had to do some Googling around.

The photo here is from the "New York Social Diary" from 2012:

LONG AGO I used to hang out with a former showgirl and woman who married well — the delightful Dorothy Strelsin...

Dorothy married "an industrialist" named Alfred Strelsin, who also does not have his own Wikipedia page but who is mentioned in Wikipedia as a patron of the arts for funding the career of pianist Frank Glazer:
Alfred Strelsin, a New York signage manufacturer and arts patron, provided the funds for Glazer to travel to Berlin in 1932 to study with Artur Schnabel; he also studied with Arnold Schoenberg. Glazer then taught piano in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Strelsin urged Glazer to make his New York debut, telling him, "If you don't start by time you're 21, forget it".
According to Alfred Strelsin's NYTimes obituary, he died at age 78 in 1976.  He was a classic example of poor immigrant who made good:
...the enterprising son of poor Belgian immigrants… (owned a company that) constructed the Sixth Avenue subway in Manhattan in the 1930s. Other (companies) turned out optical lenses for cameras and microscopes, scientific instruments, hospital and medical supplies and electronic motors and generators.
Mr. Strelsin also organized a foundation in his name that annual gave tens of thousands of dollars to charities, hospitals and scholarship funds for the delinquent and the underprivileged. In the early 1960s he was also an aren’t supporer and active fund-raiser with his wife, Dorothy Dennis, the former Broadway singer and dancer, of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival.
Dorothy Dennis, according to the Playbill Vault was only in two Broadway productions, "All in Fun" with Imogene Coca which had three performances, and "The New Faces of 1943" which appears to be a variety show that ran a much more respectable 94 performances. In the playbill bio of Dennis it says:
Dorothy Dennis is a true New Yorker, born and raised here. Her first professional job was on the air. In her brief career, Dorothy has appeared in the nation’s better supper clubs, on television and has done one season of stock. Her only other Broadway appearance was in “All in Fun.” Dorothy is a favorite entertainer of the servicemen and spends a great deal of her free time at Arm Camps and Naval Bases.
I'm impressed she was on television, since this was 1943 and according to Wikipedia: " True regular commercial television network programming did not begin in the US until 1948."

Strelsin was also apparently in two movies according to the IMDB - The Guru (1969) and Kemek (1970). And also "The Champ" according to the NYTimes.

Once she married Strelsin, Dorothy, who was born in 1913 and died in 2001 became a patron of the arts in her own right - the following are named after her, in addition to the theater:
And Strelsin was personally the benefactor of the Ugly Duckling: According to the NYTimes from August 16, 1973:
Dorothy Strelsin, whose Fifth Avenue apartment overlooks the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Central Park, yesterday offered to the city enough money to replace the statue of the Ugly Duckling that was stolen last week.
“I’ve so enjoyed seeing those kids tumbling all over it,” Mrs. Strelsin said of the Andersen statue and the two-foot high ducking that sat at its base. “I know the kids miss it, and it just has to be replaced.”
Richard Clurman, the City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administrator, said he was “delighted” with the offer.
It’s a lovely thing to do, and it makes me feel good about New York,” he said.
Park officials have estimated that the bronze statue could cost up to $2,500 to replace.
She later paid for maintenance around the statue. The second article was written by Enid Nemy who was a friend of Strelsin - Nemy mentions Strelsin in many articles. Not suprisingly, Nemy was at one time the president of the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation.
Strelsin (left) and Mr. & Mrs. General Douglas MacArthur

What Nemy's articles make clear is that when Strelsin wasn't funding the arts she was getting around town as a major socialite:

NYTimes March 12, 1961
Shakespeare devotees in New York again are working for the success of the annual dinner through which funds are raised for free performances of the Bard’s plays in Central Park.
Mrs. Alfred Strelsin is executive chairman of the benefit, arranged for April 23 at the Commodore. Her vice chairmen are Mrs. Willian Vanden Heuvel, Mrs. Lionel C. Perera Jr., Robert Preston and Laurence Harvey. Sir John Gielgud is honorary chairman of the dinner, for which Joan Crawford is serving as general chairman.
This assisting Mrs. Strelsin include Countess Anatole Boxhoeveden, Mrs. Edward T. Clark, Mrs. Edward Gropper, Mrs. David Brockman, Mrs. Diane Eristavi, Mrs. Dorothy BIddle, Mrs. Giovanni Buitoni and Mrs. Louis Green and mrs. Arthur V. McDermott.
Others are Mrs. Louis K. Ansparcher, Joseph Martinson, Duke and Duchess Pini di San Miniato, Mrs. Clark Williams, Mrs. Maurice H. Mogulescu and Nancy Walker.
Miss Walker, Sir Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn have been invited to perform Shakespearean excerpts at the dinner. Last year’s event raised $19,345 for the summer Shakespeare festival in Central Park. Joseph Papp is producer of the plays. Tickets are available at the Commodore.
NYTimes April 16, 1967
In addition to letting its members dress as they please, Le Club provides another fringe benefit: the opportunity to visit from table to table. “You can’t do that in other night spots” says Mrs. Alfred Strelsin. “You have to stay put at your own table.”
Mrs. Strelsin, who lives on Fifth Avenue but was once described by her husband, an industrialist, as liking “to rough it between the Waldorf and the Plaza,” even gets excited about the food, “especially the steaks and spaghetti.” (The usual attitude is that the fare is simple and quite good, but not distinguished.)
NYTimes July 1, 1978
For Dorothy Strelsin, a long weekend in New York is like “being alone in fantasyland.”
“It’s a few days when one can do just what one wants, without being caught up in appointments” said Mrs. Strelsin, widow of Alfred Strelsin the industrialist. “All my friends are away and although I love them, it’s wonderful to wander around alone.”
January 23, 1980:
Dorothy Strelsin waited for a special event before she ventured out with her small camera. Mrs. Strelsin, who was Franco Zeffirelli’s host during his recent stay in New York, did her snapping at a glittery Sunday night party for the director/designer given at the Hisae restaurant on East 58th Street by Iris Cornelia Love.
"I guess I felt secure, and a little bolder, because I was under the auspices of Franco,” said Mrs. Strelsin the  widow of Alfred Strelsin, the industrialist. “But it really tickled me. I loved it. I’m going to do it again.”
NYTimes October 26, 1981:
Mary Sanford, a name synonymous with the April in Paris Ball, Palm Beach, Fla., and Saratoga, N.Y., chose red and black, as did Dorothy Strelsin, a co-chairman of the New York committee, and Helen Bernstein of the Palm Beach committee. 
NYTimes July 30, 1982:
None of it seemed to faze the guests, among them Lady Sarah Churchill, Egon Von Furstenberg, Meg Newhouse, Dorothy Strelsin, Kate O'Toole (the daughter of Peter O'Toole), Leroy Reams of ''42d Street,'' Sylvia Miles and Calvin Klein, who were dressed in everything from jeans and shorts to silk and satin.
But by far the most interesting item about Strelsin's activities is this piece from April 29, 1968:
Tall, dark Prince Alexander Romanoff, a descendant of the Russian czars, was among those invited; so was Miss Sophie Nabokov, cousin of Vladimir Nabokov, the author. Miss Nabokov is a descendant of a regimental commander at the Battle of Borodino, one of the film's important sequences, and she liked the film.
"Wonderful," she said afterward.
"We wouldn't miss this," said Princess Alexis Obolensky, whose husband is Russian. "It's beautiful."
Yakov Alexandrovich Malik, Soviet Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the United Nations, seems to have been there somewhere—but not for the afternoon showing.
Perhaps he agreed with Mrs. Alfred Strelsin, the industrialist's wife. She, too, skipped Part I.
"I've always made it a rule to relax on Sunday afternoons," she explained. "I believe with the Hindus that everything will come gradually. I can see Part I during the week."
Mrs. Stelsin, who obviously is back from India and her session with the Beatles, Mia Farrow and Maharishi Mahesh, the yoga guru, wore what looked like an Indian coat of turquoise with coral and silver heads. It was made in California.
Is it possible that Strelsin was really in India with the Beatles? That would blow my mind. But so far I haven't found any confirmation.

The New York Social Diary also has this to say about Strelsin:
She was one of those people you might meet in a large international city who seems to have connections all over the world and seems to be glad to see everyone. I knew her only casually but Dorothy liked “to mix it up,” in other words she knew all kinds of people.

Franco Zeffirelli was a friend and often rented the place or stayed as a houseguest when he was in town working. I knew her casually out there since we had mutual friends. European princes, movie stars, Wall Street bankers, opera stars, Broadway stars, socialites and gigolos; they all passed through the portals of chez Strelsin and were charmed by the generous spirit of their hostess.
The article includes a photo of Dorothy Strelsin's ass. I don't know why either. Because it was the 60s?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fun with social media

I've known this actor, Brad, since way back in Philadelphia in the days of the old Brick Playhouse, where my plays were first produced. He also showed up for at least one NYCPlaywrights meeting, back when we were meeting in person, but for the most part we're Facebook friends. So when I saw a guy sitting on the same subway bench as me on Sunday who looked like Brad, I naturally had to make sure it was the same guy - by posting on his Facebook page.

The best part is that as soon as I posted the message, he immediately began looking around for who it was who posted the message - which is when I took the photo.

Social media is a funny thing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

God Hates Figs

Westboro Baptist Church Peeps just in time for Easter

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Krugman speaks about Piketty

Bill Moyers is clearly a fan of Krugman and the book - the book appears to have blown his mind. I must get it. You can buy it new for $24.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Got me a sonnet

Oh yeah baby, I am reading Shakespeare's Sonnet #21 in public, in Central Park next Friday, April 25. I signed up for the 4th Annual Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Slam some days ago, but was on the waiting list because all the sonnets were spoken for - but then somebody dropped out. So I got this bad boy:
So is it not with me as with that Muse, 
Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse, 
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use 
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse, 
Making a couplement of proud compare 
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems, 
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare, 
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems. 
O let me, true in love but truly write, 
And then believe me: my love is as fair 
As any mother's child, though not so bright 
As those gold candles fixed in heaven's air: 
Let them say more that like of hearsay well; 
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.
I like it! I'm not saying I would refuse to trade it for Sonnet 147 (the subject of my monologue) or Sonnet 151 (the inspiration for my first sonnet) but still, it's one of the better Sonnets - at least it isn't one of those where he's telling the Fair Youth to go make babies, cause that got pretty old after awhile.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fantasy Films

I read a review in the New Yorker of "Fading Gigilo" which is described by the AV Club as:
...the kind of movie in which an uptown lesbian couple, played by Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara, pay a guy who looks like John Turturro to have a three-way. 
I believe we call that kind of movie "fantasy" - although it's certainly not my fantasy. And appropriately, Woody Allen plays Turturro's "pimp."

I prefer my fantasy movies to have hot elves in them. Or even hot dwarves as in the second installment of The Hobbit which I finally saw. And an elf-dwarve romance, wow. I don't think that ever happened in the original Tolkien.

Also not highlighted in the original books - Legolas is a orc-killing machine. He was in the Rings trilogy and he's even more so in The Hobbit II. Which would make sense because he's even younger at the time of the Hobbit. It's a bit ridiculous though, how much killing he does, at hyper speed. It looks like a video game. But it sure is nice to see Orlando Bloom in that long blond hair again. He's a major reason to watch the Hobbit II.

I also finally saw "American Hustle" too, and I thought it was extremely overrated. The actors are all great, but the plot itself falls apart. And I hated what happened to the Bradley Cooper character. Also, much of the movie was allegedly set in Camden NJ but I saw nothing that looked like Camden in it. At all. And the Philly/South Jersey accents were crap as this NYTimes article explains.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Up from Garageband

For ages I wondered if Apple would create music software that was a step up from Garageband. And they finally did, when I wasn't paying attention - it's called Logic Pro.

Don't get me wrong - I love Garageband and you can't beat the price - it comes free with all MacBooks. And considering it's free it's miraculously sophisticated yet intuitive. It's thanks to Garageband that I started to compose music.

And yet, I couldn't help wishing for something a little more advanced, and I was willing to pay for it, but not as much as for the standard app of music creators, Pro Tools which is now $700. Logic Pro is $200.

I own an earlier version of Pro Tools, both the Mac and PC versions but it just as fun as an Apple brand music application.

My main complaint about Logic Pro is the name - it's so generic. I mean, really, "logic"? How is that not basically appropriate for every single software product ever? It's so bland I can never remember the damn name. I never forget "Garageband."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The perfect match: right-wing Christians and evolutionary psychologists

Well we've seen Social Justice Warriors make common cause with right-wingers like Michelle Pro-Internment Malkin, so this should come as no surprise -  Phyllis Schlafly, long-time opponent of feminism, sounds very much like Richard Dawkins' BFF and uber-evolutionary psychologist Helena Cronin.

Here is Schlafly:
Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don't have the same preference for a higher-earning mate. 
While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap. 
Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.
The basic concept is the same as that of evolutionary psychologists - all women are whores who have such a weak sex drive that they only value men for their money.
Although obviously neither right-wing Christians nor evolutionary psychologists come right out and admit that's what they believe.

Here is Helena Cronin, in what was first a policy proposal to the British government, and then this op-ed in the Guardian:
Darwinian analysis suggests that a potent cause of family breakdown is likely to be a marked inequality among men. For increasing inequality (particularly in a winner-take-all economy) creates increasing numbers of relatively high-status and low-status men. Men who lack access to resources - because of low pay or unemployment - find it difficult to be adequate providers and adequate husbands. Families break down in such circumstances because fathers have become liabilities. Study after study of what the sexes find attractive in a partner - including the largest study ever conducted, spanning 37 cultures - has shown that women in all cultures put a high value on economic prospects in a mate.
Cronin concludes that the way to ensure that women find a mate with "economic prospects" it is vital that the British government devise a two-tier employment system:
Rather than taking male standards as the universal measure, or expecting the sexes to adopt androgynous working roles, the government should design family-friendly employment practices that reflect the different preferences of women and men. A recent government survey revealed that women are happier with a different balance of work and family. Following the birth of the first child, women work less, men work more - an arrangement that both mothers and fathers endorse. Another recent study found that of all parents in the 1990s, the most contented groups appeared to be mothers and fathers in "traditional" single-earner families in which only the father worked. The unhappiest mothers and fathers were those in families without an earner, followed by families where mothers were the sole earners. 
The government should be tackling the causes of family breakdown. There is no evidence that interfering with the symptoms - re-educating the poor parenting, purveying marriage guidance, instituting prenuptial agreements or redesigning marriage ceremonies - will have any effect on marriage and divorce rates.
So it's clear - "Darwinian analysis" and Christian fundamentalism may get there in different ways, but once they arrive they are in total agreement - women are "naturally" inclined to care about economics when choosing a mate - therefore men should make more money than women.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Political Legacy of American Slavery

By way of this New York Magazine article I heard of a fascinating study that seems to provide evidence of the impact of slavery on racism that exists right at the present time - The Political Legacy of American Slavery available online in PDF format. According to the paper's abstract:
We show that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South trace their origins to slavery’s prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slave population in 1860 are less likely to identify as Democrat, more likely to oppose affirmative action policies, and more likely to express racial resentment toward blacks. The results are robust to accounting for a variety of attributes, including contemporary shares of black population, urban-rural differences, and Civil War destruction. To explain our results, we offer a theory in which attitudes were shaped historically by the incentives of Southern whites to propagate racist institutions and norms in areas that had high shares of emancipated slaves in the decades after 1865. We argue that these attitudes have been passed down locally from one generation to the next.
Fascinating - and horrifying. It appears that the descendants of slave owners have created a culture aimed at hating the descendants of slaves, in an effort to exonerate themselves of the evil of slavery.

This might explain why a certain subculture of Southerners refuse to let go of identifying with the Confederacy - they must forever justify the evil of their ancestors by claiming that slavery was good for black people.

I quoted Krugman the other day pointing out how much Republicans hate poor people - so much that they'll refuse federal money that would support the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) out of pure spite - but I think that the NYMag article rightly identifies exactly which poor people the Republicans want to spite the most:
The Rochester study should, among other things, settle a very old and deep argument about the roots of America’s unique hostility to the welfare state. Few industrialized economies provide as stingy aid to the poor as the United States; in none of them is the principle of universal health insurance even contested by a major conservative party. Conservatives have long celebrated America’s unique strand of anti-statism as the product of our religiosity, or the tradition of English liberty, or the searing experience of the tea tax. But the factor that stands above all the rest is slavery.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real tea vs. Lipton tea

I am finally getting over the cold I caught last week. While I was sick I ran out of my usual Tazo Darjeeling tea - I was singing the praises of Tazo back in November. And because I hate the closest grocery store, Trade Fair (it makes me sick and tired just to be in its cramped narrow aisles even when I'm in perfect health) and I was too lazy tired to go another few blocks to the Key Foods (and they don't have Tazo anyway and I would have had to get Twinings instead), so  I went to the 7-11 instead and all they had was boxes of Lipton tea. But I figured that would be good enough to tide me over a few days.

Wrong. It was almost completely tasteless. I drank it anyway, I was desperate, but as God is my witness I will never go without high-quality tea again.

Please note, I grew up eating low-quality foods. My parents are pretty much the opposite of connoisseurs, they always bought food based entirely on whatever was lowest price, so until I had my first Starbucks coffee, my conception of coffee was what my father drank - instant. I still don't love coffee, but a well-made cappuccino is almost as good as a really fine cup of tea.

And of course we had the standard Lipton/Tetley teas. I thought that was what tea was supposed to be like. Now you may think that my parents had to lay off fancy foods like high-quality coffee and tea since they were raising six children, but that's not the reason - after all the kids had moved out and my parents could afford better quality food they still kept with the instant coffee and crap-brand tea. In fact, when my mother slept overnight this March (in order to see my daughter run in the half-marathon) she insisted on bringing her own box of decaffeinated Lipton (or Tetley - does it matter?) tea bags with her. It's hard to believe those companies are shameless enough to offer decaffeinated anything - their regular teas are so weak I'd be willing to believe they were already decaffeinated.

I'll never forget the first time I had a cup of Earl Grey tea - it was when I lived in Palmyra NJ, and I was invited over for tea by Al, the first honest-to-god homosexual I was aware I knew (it turns out at least one guy I hung around with in high school was gay, but I didn't know it until years later) and his infirm mother. Al never came out and said he was homosexual, but it was obvious to us hippies living next door that the younger community theater actor guy living upstairs in their big old house was Al's boyfriend.

Anyway, I was pretty much refusing all marijuana and alcohol while I was pregnant, but when I had that cup of Earl Grey I thought I was tripping - it was probably the strongest dose of caffeine I had ever had in my life up to that point (I was only 17 but still...) It was amazing. We only had herbal tea back at the quasi-commune.

So over the years I've come to appreciate a good cup of real tea. And at this point even the fancy brands are unimpressive - your standard English breakfast or even Earl Grey is just too often cut with inferior grade tea. But with Darjeeling on the label it has to actually be 100% Darjeeling thanks to the Darjeeling council or whatever it is that created the logo above.

And while I was sick this week I discovered an even better brand of tea than Tazo. After I bought the box of Lipton tea I was appalled by how tasteless it was, and so in desperation I decided to order tea for delivery. Luckily the web site has a food item search option so I searched for "Darjeeling" and one place called Ovelia Psistaria claimed to have organic Darjeeling tea. I was thrilled. I ordered it black* for fear they'd screw up the milk proportion. I should have asked them to hold the water too, because what they delivered was a tea bag and a cup of hot water. But what a bag of tea - Mighty Leaf - but they don't call it a tea bag, they call it a tea pouch and it's like somebody personally knitted it for you out of silk. That's what I'm getting from now on.

* No, I didn't just order a cup of tea - naturally they had a minimum amount to order for delivery. Unfortunately this place is Greek - like 50% of all eating establishments in my neighborhood - Astoria Queens is the Greekiest place in the world outside of Greece itself.

I always feel like I should eat more Greek food, since I'm living in Little Athens, but I just cannot get into it. I have an aversion to eating lamb and I hate olives and I don't like the filo dough they use with virtually all their pastries, and they soak all their desserts in honey.

But Ovelia had something called Pumpkin Galaktoboureko, and pumpkin sounded less Greeky than anything else on their delivery menu (pumpkin being of course native to the New World and thus less likely to be an example of traditional Greek cooking right?) but when it arrived it was dripping wet with honey - I thought the tea (or rather the cup of hot water) had spilled but that wasn't it - the dessert itself had soaked the brown bag it came in. I ate it anyway because I spent like 8 freaking dollars on it, but my teeth hurt from the sweetness, even though I cut it with unsweetened Greek yogurt (the one Greek food I like.)

And then there's the traditional Greek wine retsina. Have you ever tried it? Well don't. Just... don't.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

J&B - finally

Finally got confirmation that JULIA & BUDDY will be part of the Midtown International Theater Festival - that is, in its full-length configuration - it was already in the 2010 festival as a one-act. Hard to believe it's taken me a full freaking four years to get it up as a full-length.

To celebrate, I created a new logo, which I think is the best yet - and I've been working on this logo for at least three years.

On the downside I had to cancel LADIES MEN - too many factors not coming together quickly enough and besides, I need to save my money for J&B.

I'm excited that the MITF now allows Equity shows - that allows me to cast some great actors - if they are available. I still don't know exactly when my show is scheduled in the MITF lineup. As soon as I do though...

I'm wondering if I should compose some new music for this version - I have two tunes from 2010 that I quite like, so maybe I'll do theme and variations on them. Really they aren't complete songs, they're just meant to be played at the beginning and end of the show. Maybe I'll turn them into whole songs. The Julia & Buddy theme song, which you can listen to here, is only really a tune for a minute and twenty seconds, then it just trails off into a bass and percussion loop. I didn't think I'd need more than a minute and twenty seconds to open the show.

As I recall the bass line for the song is an original by me (as opposed to using one of the Garageband loops) and I was thinking of the bass from "Ballad of John and Yoko" when I wrote it. There's also something about the lead guitar that reminds me of Lennon's post-Beatles output.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Never underestimate how much Republicans hate the poor

And speaking of the Mighty Krug-man, he has an excellent column in today's NYTimes. He's pointed this out before, but it's so appalling and shocking it bears repeating until nobody can say they are unaware of the hatred today's Republican party has for the poor:
Most Republican-controlled states, totaling half the nation, have rejected Medicaid expansion. And it shows. The number of uninsured Americans is dropping much faster in states accepting Medicaid expansion than in states rejecting it. 
What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars. The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy —recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.”  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On my reading list

Well considering how effusively the Mighty Krug-Man praised "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" it looks like I will have to read it.
...let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It’s a work that melds grand historical sweep—when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac?—with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its “childish passion for mathematics,” underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.
Although I am embarrassed to admit that I still haven't finished Krugman's own "End This Depression Now." Maybe after this LADIES MEN show.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Production illness, right on schedule

This is ridiculous - almost every time I am involved in a theater production I come down with a horrible cold, and sure enough right on schedule I'm sick. Actually this is before schedule - usually I am into the second or third week of rehearsals before I come down with a cold. This time around I'm not even done casting and I'm sick.

Maybe this time I'm stressed because the show line-up has changed twice so far - first it was my plays and Durang, then my plays and Feydeau, and now it's just my plays - and one of the Play of the Month monologues.

Almost all my plays in this show are road-tested: SODOM & GOMORRAH, NEW RULES, and THE SLASH. Only JASMINE is brand new, and I'm excited to finally see that up on its feet.

The name of the show, LADIES MEN, hasn't changed since Feydeau got le boot, although the tone has changed somewhat. Although two of my plays are sex farces, THE SLASH and especially JASMINE are more serious. But it's still short plays about ladies men, men's men and people persons. Web site coming soon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

On the SJW inability to comprehend analogies

The Suey Park #CancelColbert issue is so last week, but having spent much time arguing with defenders of the #CC campaign, I think I have found the real root of the Social Justice Warrior problem - they don't comprehend analogies.

The various SJWs kept insisting that yes they do get satire, and like good liberals the critics of the #CancelColbert campaign took them at their word, because liberals can't imagine that there exists some people who lack the mental capacity to understand satire.

Which led to a never-ending situation of talking past each other - because if you spend any time talking to a SJW in depth you would discover that the SJWs are completely befuddled by the actual structure and concept behind Colbert's satire.

Michelle Medina, writing, in an embarrassment to feminists, in The Feminist Wire, demonstrates the SJW befuddlement as well as any other:
The blurry line between Colbert’s character and the privilege that it hides behind is convenient. “It wasn’t me, I am not racist,” Colbert claimed, in earnest this week because it was just a joke after all. He’s just playing a part. “It’s not real.”
Medina approvingly quotes (but without including a link) Christine Yang, a "social activist and graduate student who is currently working on a Master in Social Work focusing on trauma":
The prevailing argument in defense of Colbert’s usage of ‘Ching Chong Ding Dong’ states that the intent behind it was to jab at Dan Snyder. But where in the imagery does the intended target appear? Was there really no other way for him [Colbert] to make his point and also be funny...
That question demonstrates exactly how the SJWs get it wrong: "But where in the imagery does the intended target appear?" Yang and Medina completely miss the analogy Colbert is making between Redskin and Ching Chong Ding Dong. Yang believes that it can't really be a jab at Dan Snyder unless there is a direct attack against the person of Dan Snyder.

To sum up the SJW point of view in my own words:
Stephen Colbert got a laugh out of the term "Ching Chong Ding Dong" but because he claims he didn't really mean it he thinks he can get away with it. Also, his motives as a white man are suspect. But we, the Social Justice Warriors are too smart for Stephen Colbert - and that's why we called him out for getting a laugh at the expense of Asians. 
And then they teamed up with Michelle Malkin in the #CancelColbert campaign. Malkin actually wrote a book defending Japanese internment camps. No, these are not bright people - but then, you don't have to pass an IQ test to get a Twitter account, or, apparently, write for The Feminist Wire.

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, uses a metaphor (which is a type of analogy) of literally feeding the Irish to the English upper class to discuss the figurative eating of the Irish by the English:
"I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children."
And quite rightly, Colbert referenced A Modest Proposal in his response to the controversy:
But when I saw the tweet with no context, I understood how people were offended, the same way I, as an Irish American, was offended after reading only one line of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I mean, eat Irish babies? Hashtag #CancelSwift! Trend it.
And the #CancelSwift tag, as of this blog post, is still active.

But in case there are any Social Justice Warriors reading this, I will explain how the analogy worked:

Dan Snyder, in a PR effort to address complaints about the name “Redskins” created a foundation called Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

Colbert’s response was to claim that he was going to create a foundation called “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

Now the reason Colbert chose “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong” is because his “Stephen Colbert” character has been using that offensive stereotype since the beginning of the show, in 2005 – and somehow that has passed without comment by the SJWs until now.

There are two parts to the analogy:

“Redskins” = “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong”

Dan Snyder uses the offensive term “Redskins” in the name of his foundation. Colbert pushes the concept even further by using an even more offensive name “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong.” He pushed it further, but the concept is the same.

Or as the Indian Country staff noted:
The idea was simple, and many viewers thought it effective: The public is so inured to the racial slur "Redskin" that Dan Snyder can actually use it in the name of a foundation he establishes to help Native Americans, so perhaps an analogy with another racial group and an accompanying racial slur would put the name of Snyder's foundation in perspective. Colbert wasn't the first to try it; writing in Slate, Josh Levin called the foundation's name "something akin to calling your organization 'Kikes United Against Anti-Semitism.'" The message of both phony foundation names: Society wouldn't tolerate "Ching-Chong" or "Kikes," so why is "Redskins" okay?
The second part of the analogy:

“Original Americans Foundation” = “Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”

Colbert is pointing out here the outrageousness of Dan Snyder calling his foundation “Original Americans” right after he used the term “Redskins.”

Colbert is explicitly pointing out the absurdity of trying to get credit for sensitivity to “Original Americans” right after using the term “Redskins” in the name of the foundation. The very term that caused the controversy that resulted in the foundation.

So that’s how the humor worked - through analogy.

It just so happened that Colbert picked Asians, rather than Jews to use in the analogy, and Suey Park's raison d'etre is to become outraged about references to Asians in popular culture. A week before the Colbert campaign Park was complaining about the TV detective show Castle:

So Suey Park was locked and loaded for being offended by Colbert, just at the right time. 

Like Michelle Malkin, Michelle Medina tried to blame Colbert for the viciousness of the attacks against Suey Park, conveniently ignoring the many articles pointing out that all women in social media get horrific attacks - this isn't unique to Suey Park. 

Medina also fails to mention that Colbert called for the vicious attacks to stop. Typical SJW - no journalistic ethics.

A real consequence of the Suey Park caper, besides demonstrating that SJWs don't get analogies and have more in common with conservatives like Michelle Malkin than with liberals, is that the original point of Colbert's satire was lost. As the Indian Country staff said:
In (Colbert's) closing words, he said that he would be donating the money raised by his offensive faux charity to the offensive real-life charity that inspired the joke that caused the kerfluffle: The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

"...which Twitter seems to be fine with," he said, "because I haven't seen shit about that."
And that's the bottom line for the Native activists on Twitter who saw a real opportunity to open some eyes when Snyder announced his bizarrely named charity: The momentum building for their campaign --#Not4Sale-- was stymied by#CancelColbert. In an interview with The New Yorker that only briefly mentioned Dan Snyder and his foundation, Suey Park admitted she likes Colbert Report and didn't actually want to see it canceled. Yet a single Tweet connected to a satirist -- whose well-known shtick is to parody arrogant conservatives -- made more waves than a campaign against a racist team name that has been with us for decades.
Yep. That's what Social Justice Warriors do - hijack the issue to make it about them.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier self-portrait
Just found out about Vivian Maier - a very private woman who worked as a nanny in the mid-20th century. Apparently she took hundreds of thousands of brilliant street photos and nobody but her ever saw them, until a young guy name John Maloof bid on them at a nearby auction house.

I found out about her via a New Yorker review about the documentary made about her Finding Vivian Maier. There's a TV segment about the Maier story here.

More at the New Yorker about Maier.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Tea and Heavy Metal

Considering that I've been working within easy walking distance of Sweet Leaf in Long Island City for a year and a half, it's kind of surprising I've never made it there before Thursday of this week. Or maybe not so surprising - I had the idea that they were some kind of indie, tea-centric Starbucks wanna-bes. I was wrong on all counts. For starters, they have a lousy selection of real teas, and by real I mean black tea. They had exactly two, Earl Grey and something else. I got the Earl Grey. But also they're not so much like Starbucks as some college-town hang-out, all funky and unique, much like Java Joes in Athens Georgia (my daughter and I made a pilgrimage there on a road trip to Key West - almost 20 years ago) and the one in Montreal in 2005, although I forget the name of that one.

These people aren't into REM though - they're into Heavy Metal. The bathroom is plastered with magazine clippings of all the biggest hair bands, as you can see in the photo above. One of the features of Sweet Leaf is their "Record Room" which is a small section in the back that has an olde tyme turn-table and vinyl albums. And while their record selection is eclectic (at a quick glance I saw Neil Diamond and show tunes) what they really like is, as I said, heavy metal - more hair band clippings on the wall. You can see members of Van Halen in the photo on the right.

When I was there though, I didn't hear heavy metal - according to my Shazam app they were playing tunes by Crystal Castles, which certainly didn't sound metal, and which according to Wiki is "an experimental electronic band" from Canada. I heard their tunes "Not in Love" and "Pap Smear." "Runnin with the Devil" it ain't. 

The guy at the counter looked like Jerry Garcia's brother, not  a metal head or an electronica fan, but then, maybe the rules of couture are different now.

Seeing all that homage to heavy metal in a tea shop was very odd - I didn't know if they were trying to be ironic or what. And then it occurred to me - although I remember the days of metal, when Led Zeppelin bestrode the earth and Alice Cooper was terrorizing parents and charming adolescents with his Halloween haunted house theatrics and his name (he goes, inexplicably, by a girl's name - is there no taboo he won't break?!) the people who run Sweet Leaf probably look at it through the more recent eras of Emo and Goth and think that it's all so utterly harmless and even quaint.

Jesus Christ I'm old.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Social Justice Warrior Rania Khalek attacks Gloria Steinem for being a white woman

Well it should be no surprise that Social Justice Warriors have decided to attack Gloria Steinem - they've already proven to support rightwing feminism-haters (and Japanese internment defenders) like Michelle Malkin over actual progressives.

Naturally this was re-tweeted by Mikki Kendall - there's nothing that Mikki Kendall hates so much as a white woman, and never misses a chance to equate the actions of a single white woman with all white women. It's always helpful to check Kendall's Twitter feed when looking for that latest SJW attacks against feminists - Kendall's pretty much a vector for hatred of feminism, or as Kendall calls it, "white feminism."

So what is it that Rania Khalek thinks is so Islamophobic about this movie? She doesn't bother to explain - but then, Social Justice Warriors don't have to explain anything - they just make assertions and their followers accept them uncritically, as fact.

These women, who have witnessed firsthand the hardships women endure, are profiled in their efforts to affect change, both in their communities and beyond. 
The film gives a platform to exclusively female voices and seeks to expose the paralyzing political correctness that prevents many from identifying, understanding and addressing this international human rights disaster. Freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation are some of the systematic abuses explored in depth.
Spurred by the Arab Spring, women who were once silent are starting to speak out about gender inequality and are bringing visibility to a long history of oppression. This project draws together leading women’s rights activists and provides a platform where their voices can be heard and serves as inspiration to motivate others to speak out.
More than a movie, Honor Diaries is a movement meant to inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies, and to act for change.
Now I'm the first to argue against the notion that Islam is any more innately misogynist than Christianity. Nor do I think that religion has a monopoly on misogyny. But the fact remains that there are plenty of really hideously misogynistic customs present in countries with Muslim majorities.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the movie's executive producer. Apparently Social Justice Warriors love to hate white women so much that they focus on Gloria Steinem, who has nothing directly to do with the movie, and ignore the women of color who were actually involved in making the movie.

So who is Rania Khalek? Well, like so many Social Justice Warriors she seems to have no problem getting published. According to her site:
My work has appeared at The Nation, Al Jazeera America, Truthout, Salon, AlterNet, Extra, Citizen Radio and more.
Funny how many supposedly liberal media outlets so frequently publish the work of anti-feminists like Khalek.

And naturally Khalek is a member of the too-stupid-to-get-satire brigade.

Khalek must be a member of the SJWs study group opposed to the privileging of intelligence in social discourse.

Based on her blog, Khalek doesn't actually have much interest in feminism. A search of her blog on "feminist" and "feminism" brings up six posts. Two of the posts contain the word feminism in a homicidal maniac's manifesto that Khalek posted. Another post uses the word feminist in the context of an attack on Amanda Marcotte, whom the Mikki Kendall brigade hates (in spite of Marcotte's defense of Kendall's scurrilous abortion article), second only to Lena Dunham. Another article compares the US occupation of Iraq unfavorably to Saddam Hussain's reign:
"The US-backed regime makes Saddam Hussein look like a feminist!"
In another piece she complains that the NYTimes had an editorial about rape in India, and she then proceeds to suggest that things are just as bad for women in the United States as they are in places like India - although she's too coy to come right out and say it plainly:
To the skeptics preparing to ask me whether I’d prefer to live in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan since I think the US is so awful, I wonder if you realize the level to which US foreign policy towards certain parts of the world has intensified violence against women. Backing sexist dictatorial rulers, knowingly arming religious fundamentalists who throw acid in women’s faces and forcing neoliberal economic policies that leave small farmers (most of whom are women) and their families starving; these are the policies that define the United States to many women abroad.
It's quite astounding: she manages to put the blame for the custom of throwing acid in women's faces on US foreign policy. But then, she doesn't seem to have such a big problem with the acid-in-the-face custom - she called a movie which criticizes such "honor" crimes Islamaphobic.

And then there is her piece in which she  calls the movie Zero Dark Thirty an example of "imperial feminism."

Being a Social Justice Warrior, Khalek's real issue is made clear in the Zillah Eisenstein piece she quotes:
My point: do not justify or explain US war revenge with a pretty red-head white woman with an "obsession" to catch the mastermind of 9/11.
Ah yes, it's the greatest Satan of the Social Justice Warrior enemies list - the white woman. Eisenstein mentions white women two other times in the article:
You do not drop bombs on the women you are supposedly trying to save. Do not now cleanse the wars of/on terror with the face of a white blonde female.
I was thinking through the film - if they hate us, they do so because we are hateful. I am sad to know that this film will be seen across the globe. It will be read as another story of imperial empire with a (white) female twist. How unfair to all the people in the US who do not choose revenge and murder. How unfair to my Pakistani friends who are also US citizens. How unfair to most of us across the globe.
This is published by Al Jazeera, BTW. They've also published Sarah Kendzior's attack on Katha Pollitt, and were a big promoter of Mikki Kendall's #solidarityisforwhitewomen.

Reading the quote above, you'd assume that Eisenstein was referring to actual human beings who "justified or explained US war revenge..." 

But nobody is - or if they are Eisenstein doesn't bother to name them. Because individual actions don't matter to SJWs - we are all undifferentiated members of a class of people identified by gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Especially white women.

Unless, of course, you have become a SJW which gives you immunity - and then you can join the attacks against white women, even if you yourself are a white woman. Good times.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Here we go gathering nuts

Speaking of magazine archives, I now have access to The New Republic's archive which goes back even further than the New Yorker's - all the way back to 1914 (the New Yorker was founded in 1925.)

I've never paid much attention to The New Republic - I've always preferred the Nation for politics and the New Yorker for the arts - although there is plenty of cross-over between TNR and TNY, especially via Hendrik Hertzberg.

But my general impression of the New Republic, especially during the Bush years was that it was centrist or even at times right-leaning. As anybody who reads this blog can tell, I am allergic to rightwingers.

So considering how lukewarm I am about the magazine, why did I subscribe? Because I just had to get access to a review of Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" which is entitled, irresistably "Here We Go Gathering Nuts."

I've been out of the Ayn Rand loop since my break with Daylight Atheism and its Social Justice Warrior censorship tendencies, but was brought back in thanks to the Mighty Krug-man, who referenced the Rand book in his blog post Obamacare, the Unknown Ideal. In addition to a jab at Ayn Rand the piece contains a smack-down of the always-deserving rightwing NYTimes op-ed columnist Ross Douthat:
No, I haven’t lost my mind — or suddenly become an Ayn Rand disciple. It’s not my ideal; in a better world I’d call for single-payer, and a significant role for the government in directly providing care. 
But Ross Douthat, in the course of realistically warning his fellow conservatives that Obamacare doesn’t seem to be collapsing, goes on to tell them that they’re going to have to come up with a serious alternative. 
But Obamacare IS the conservative alternative, and not just because it was originally devised at the Heritage Foundation. It’s what a health-care system that does what even conservatives say they want, like making sure that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, has to look like if it isn’t single-payer.
It's yet another excellent mini-essay by Krugman, by all means go read it.

So Krugman provided a link to the Wiki of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", and the Wiki mentioned the New Republic review and with such a great title (I LOL'd when I read it) I knew I must read it without delay.

The New Republic archives has six articles that mention Ayn Rand. Curiously, it contains no reviews of Rand's fiction but does contain reviews of her essay collections, including The Romantic Manifesto and For the New Intellectual. I'm looking forward to reading them all. Especially since I want to get my money's worth, the review of Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, while good, is pretty short for a $20 subscription.

I've discussed the book on this blog before - "nutty" is a good way to describe it, but then, it's a good way to describe Rand's "philosophy" generally. The review, written by Honor Tracy (pseudonym of Lilbush Wingfield, a British travel writer and novelist) notes Rand's bizarre habit of quoting from her own novels to support her socio-political points.

...Does she, can she, really mean all she says? And does most of what she says mean anything at all? Take this vivid little sketch of our time:
"With most of the world in ruins, with the voice of philosophy silent and the last remnants of civilization vanishing undefended, in an unholy alliance of savagery and decadence, bloody thugs are fighting over the spoils, while the cynical pragmatists left in charge and way out of their depth are trying to drown their panic at Europe's cocktail parties where emasculated men and hysterical, white-lipped women determine the fate of the world by declaring that socialism is chic."
(Rand's description of European cocktail parties sound just like the parties in "Atlas Shrugged.")
Quite a lot of the book is as funny as this and one is repeatedly tempted to quote her. She evidently feels the same, as an extraordinary amount of space is filled by excerpts from, or references to, her earlier writings, with which she takes it for granted that all are familiar. "Do you remember that scene in Atlas Shrugged etc?" she will gravely inquirer, or "Consider the growth of socialized medicine throughout the world... then read the statement of Dr. Hendricks in Atlas Shrugged..." This instruction, by the way, can be ignored: it appears on page 157, by which time the reader will easily divine what Dr. Hendricks has to say on that or any subject without troubling himself to verify.
I'll definitely be checking out more of Honor Tracy's work.