Archive for February, 2016
29 Feb 2016

Demos Likes Trump

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TrumpFinger

Paul Kengor sums up the embarrassing spectacle which has constituted the Republican Presidential Nomination Campaign thus far

The whole thing is depressing. Consider, Rubio and Cruz, the two genuine conservative front-runners, are the hardworking sons of extraordinary immigrants from Cuba. They are quintessential American success stories. They are both solid Christian family men. And into the race comes a sudden self-proclaimed born-again conservative who laughs at them and eviscerates them, and is rewarded for it. It’s hard to watch.

All of which brings me back to Trump’s mastery of an altogether new campaign tactic of non-stop rapacious ridicule of opponents within one’s own party. The New Jersey casino founder brashly accused Ted Cruz of everything from being a closet Canadian citizen to cheating when the Donald lost Iowa. Schoolboy-like, Trump threatened lawsuits. Of late, he jumps in the sandbox and taunts Marco Rubio: “choker, choker!”

Can you imagine Ronald Reagan doing this? Reagan’s “11th commandment” was never to speak ill of another Republican. Donald Trump’s commandment is to speak ill of every Republican.

Do Republicans want this as the party’s new face and standard-bearer? Apparently those on the Trump side do. Many of them even assume the insult-king’s persona, dealing with dissenters with similar levels of obnoxiousness, blow-torching Republicans in the way of their Donald.

29 Feb 2016

Joan of Arc’s Ring

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JoanofArcRing

Délit d’images:

(translated freely from the French:)

The relic dating from the fifteenth century was sold for 297,600 pounds (376,833 euros –$410,361.72) to a Frenchman who wished to remain anonymous, said the spokesman for the Timeline auctions.

The opening bid was 14,000 pounds (19,051 euros — $20,746.06).

According to representatives of the auction house, Joan of Arc gave a detailed description of the ring during her interrogation at Rouen 17 March 1431. It contains the inscription Jhesus Maria and three engraved crosses.

The ring, accompanied by authentication documents, is kept in a wooden casket. After the execution of Joan, the precious object was worn by King Henry VII of England.

“The ring returns to France,” the spokesman for the auction house told reporters without revealing the name of the French citizen who acquired the relic.

The jewelery was sold by the son of Charles de Gaulle’s personal physician. Earlier, the French government had proposed to examine the possibility of buying this relic.

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Timeline Auctions, Antiquities, 25 February 2016, Lot 1220

MEDIEVAL JOAN OF ARC DEVOTIONAL RING WITH CASKET AND DOCUMENTS
15th century AD

With a published Joan of Arc association dating back over a century, exhibited twice in France in the 1950s and in the Museum of Lancashire Millennium Exhibition, January to December 2000, this ring has a silver-gilt hoop with facetted outer face, expanding shoulders and two rectangular and angled fields to the bezel; the hoop with incised niello-filled florid lozenges and triangles, the design giving the appearance of three crosses, the ends of the shoulders with blackletter ‘I’ and ‘M’ (for ‘Iesus Maria’), the lateral faces with blackletter ‘IHS’ and ‘MAR’ (as abbreviations for Jesus and Maria); a small section inserted later to the hoop, sufficient possibly to enlarge it from a band suitable for a small, feminine finger to a larger male(?) hand; the degree of wear generally evident to the ring, including to the hoop insert, suggesting an extended period of wear, long after the date of making, perhaps indicative of the ring’s appeal as a talisman; contained in an antique, small oak casket in the form of an architectural reliquary with pitched and hipped lid, the ridge surmounted by a plain cross in iron, the box red velvet-lined, with a removable rectangular holder (the compartment beneath possibly having once held a small document or label), arranged to display the bezel and purpose-made to hold the ring, indicating the reverence in which the ring was already held when the box was made for it; the ring is very unusual in that the vast majority of rings with angled rectangular bezels have them engraved with pictures of saints rather than being inscribed (generally termed as iconographic rings); inscriptions on such rings are normally on the hoop part.

Accompanied by a professional drawing showing the ring extended, with the three crosses forming part of the design to the shank clearly depicted; also with publications, documents, press cuttings and correspondence including a photocopy of the 1917 Oates privately printed catalogue; a cuttings book containing an extract from the Sotheby’s sale of 1947 (including an image of the ring), with press cuttings from such publications as the Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and Le Figaro at the time of that sale, followed by others (some illustrated, showing both ring and casket) including from English, American and French newspapers and periodicals in the 1950s, from when the ring was exhibited in France (at La Turbie and also at Rouen and Paris); associated correspondence with the mayor of La Turbie and further referring to the 500th rehabilitation anniversary exhibition; typescript research notes and a signed note by Cyril Bunt (dated 1949) discussing Cardinal Beaufort and the ring and its descent to Lady Morrell; papers relating to two interviews with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1953 and 1956; correspondence with the French embassy in London, shipping documents and permissions for the ring to be sent to France for exhibition; a photocopy of the last letter (with transcript) of Joan of Arc; the exhibition pamphlet for La Turbie (4 copies, 3 in English, 1 in French, 1952), the catalogue for the Jeanne d’Arc et Son Temps exhibition (Rouen and Paris, 1956); documents, including the mounted display caption, from the AD 2000 – The Story of Christianity in Lancashire exhibition at the Museum of Lancashire held in 2000; other correspondence of various dates from 1950s to 1980s regarding the ring, most of the letters with envelopes. Ring: 4.90 grams, 21mm overall, 18.27mm internal diameter (approximate size British Q, USA 8, Europe 17.49, Japan 17); casket: 127 grams total, 79 x 58 x 77mm (Ring: 3/4″ casket: 3 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 3″). Good condition; surfaces worn.

Provenance
Property of an Essex gentleman; inherited 1979 from Dr James Hasson of Harley Street, London; acquired Sotheby’s sale, 1 April 1947, lot 37; formerly in a private collection (1929-1947); previously with the F. A. Harman Oates collection (sold Sotheby’s, 20 February 1929, lot 21); earlier with Augustus John before 1914, the gift to him of Lady Ottoline Morrell; by descent, through the Cavendish-Bentinck family (Duke of Portland) from cardinal Henry Beaufort (1375-1447), who was present at the trial and execution of Joan of Arc in 1431; the ring stated by Joan at her trial to have been a gift from her parents. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Published
Oates, F. A. H., Catalogue of Finger Rings; Brought Together by F. A. Harman Oates, privately printed, London, 1917 (36 copies only printed, including this ring, p.5, pl.2 and referring to the belief in it having belonged to Jean of Arc; a photocopy of this Catalogue accompanying this lot); Sotheby’s, sales catalogues, 20 February 1929 (lot 21) and 1 April 1947 (lot 37, ring illustrated; sale catalogue extracts of the lot description and illustration included within the cuttings book accompanying this lot); Hasson, Dr James, The Banquet of the Immortals, Poseidon Press, Edinburgh, 1948 (310 copies printed), pp.94-100 for a romanticised account of this ring and the death of Joan of Arc (extract from this work included); The Marvellous and Symbolic Story of the Ring of Jeanne d’Arc Exhibited at the Chapelle St-Jean of La Turbie, n.d (1952; English and French language versions accompanying this lot); Jeanne d’Arc et Son Temps, Paris, 1956, Commémoration du Vme Centaire de la Réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc, 1456-1956, Rouen and Paris, p.61, no.190 (original catalogue accompanying this lot). Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

28 Feb 2016

Millennials Make Much Ado About Cereal

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CerealShop
London’s Cereal Killer Cafe

Apparently, a lot of them find it too much trouble to consume.

Fox News:

A study has found that America’s millennials are skipping out on cereal because it’s simply too much of an inconvenience.

(Yes, the cold kind that requires little more than pouring something into a bowl and then pouring milk over it.)

An astonishing 40 percent of millennials surveyed said they reach for something else, like a smoothie or breakfast bar, reported by The New York Times.

One of the biggest problems was with the washing up. “Almost 40 percent of the millennials surveyed by Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it,” it reported.

Another factor included the fact that many consumers don’t want to start their day with processed grains.

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But they’ve solved the problem in Blighty. London now has a cereal cafe to save you all the effort of serving it and cleaning up yourself.

The Sun:

Located a stone’s throw from the similarly kooky cat cafe, Cereal Killer has 120 types of cereals from across the world on offer – and twelve varieties of milk to pour over them, from plain old semi-skimmed to strawberry and lactose free.

And at £3.50 for a large bowl, it’s set to make a killing.

After opening its doors for the first time at 7am yesterday, over 100 people turned up within three hours, eager to indulge in exotic American delicacies like Poppin’ Fruity Pebbles – a cereal loaded with tongue-tingling popping candy – and marshmallow-laden Lucky Charms.

For those desperate for an extreme sugar rush – or simply wanting to sidestep the dentist by rotting a rogue wisdom tooth directly out of their jaw – there’s also the option to add on extra toppings including chocolate chips, crushed Kinder hippos and fresh fruit – at 50p a time.

But you don’t have to be adventurous to eat here, you can still enjoy a small bowl of plain cornflakes – for the price of a 750g box from Sainsbury’s.

Cereal Killer, which stays open until 10pm for anyone who fancies a cold, milky dinner, is the brainchild of Belfast-born twins Alan and Gary Keery, 32.

The idea came to them during an afternoon stroll in London when they both fancied a bowl of cereal, but couldn’t get one anywhere.

“We’re celebrating cereal,” said Alan. “It totally baffled us that people eat cereal every day at home – but never outside the home. It’s crazy it’s never been done before.”

28 Feb 2016

Trump Not Only Is Not Conservative, You Can Tell What He Thinks of Us From His Impersonation of a Conservative

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TrumpDealmaker

Like Ace, I originally found Trump’s candidacy amusing, and I smiled with pleasure at just how much he would annoy the liberals and the sell-out professional GOP pols, but watching Trump in action, seeing his shameless mendacity, his infantile self-entitlement and narcissism, listening to his endlessly-repeated boasts and vacuous policy proposals has, in the end, scared the Bejesus out of me.

Trump is a vulgarian and a low-grade moron. Electing him actually could be worse than Obama, and that’s really saying something.

My problem with Trump is that he is a dealmaker trying to make a sale. Right now he’s trying to make a deal with conservatives — so this is the very most conservative we’ll ever see him.

If he gets the nomination, he now starts working on making the second part of the deal with the other party in the negotiations, the general public.

So this is the most conservative we’ll ever see Trump — this is the absolute most conservative he’ll ever be — and he’s not conservative at all, except, possibly, on immigration. He combines liberal policy impulses with frankly authoritarian or even fascist ones, which he thinks are “what conservatives want,” because, frankly, he conceives of us as ugly-minded, stupid dummies who get off on this shit.

That’s why he didn’t put the “Ban Muslims” line in a more palatable, persuasive form, like “Reduce immigration from Muslim-majority countries or countries with a terrorism problem to a level where we can vet each individual applicant.”

No, he put it in the most bigoted, ugly way he could think of, because that’s about his level, and because, also, that’s what he thinks “conservatives” are.

Even on issues like that, where I would like him to move the Overton Window so we can begin discussing a rational reduction of such immigration until this Jihadist Madness passes from history, I find he doesn’t move it at all, because he makes the issue much more toxic and alienating than it needs to be.

What does Trump actually know about conservatives? He seems to only know five things, which he repeats in such crude ways it’s preposterously insulting. Apparently we “love Jesus,” so he says he does too. He knows we love guns, so he’s so in love with the Second Amendment he wants to make out with it.

Does he ever explain the underpinnings of his belief in the Second Amendment, such that you get the impression if he’s challenged on it, he can break out chapter and verse on the amendment like Reagan would have and remained resolute in his position?

He senses we don’t like Mexicans or Muslims very much, so he wants to ban rapists and terrorists.

He knows we love babies and hate abortions, so he’s reversed himself from being “very, very pro-choice” and even supporting partial birth abortion to being so against abortion you couldn’t believe it. (But he’ll keep on funding Planned Parenthood because they’re a wonderful organization.)

He knows we love the military, so he proclaims himself, seriously, the most “militaristic” guy you’ve ever met. Then sometimes he talks about “bombing the shit” out of people to appease the hawks, and other times about a Ron Paul style isolationism, to appease his substantial Paulite wing.

Which is true? Who the fuck knows. I’m certain on this point he’s not lying, because I don’t think he knows what the fuck he thinks either.

28 Feb 2016

Game of Thrones Humor

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28 Feb 2016

What Exactly Happened to These People?

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Well, in any event, Trump suppporters aren’t getting my brain.

TrumpSupporters3

27 Feb 2016

Women Are Destroying Civilization

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Previously cited by Vanderleun and the News Junkie.

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Waylon Jennings made a similar point:

27 Feb 2016

Byzantine Shipwreck

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ByzantineShipwreck
Byzantine shipwreck from the end of 4th century (Yenikapi,Turkey). The ship was loaded with pickled fry (a type of small fish), almonds, walnuts, hazels, muskmelon seeds, olives, peaches and pine cones and roman sauce – garum.

27 Feb 2016

4-Bore Stopping Rifles

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Another fascinating video (23:57) from Forgotten Arms:

4Bore

26 Feb 2016

How To Tell If You’re In a Flannery O’Connor Story

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flannery-oconnor

From The Toast:

You are over 75 and you hate every person you’ve ever met, or else you’re 14 and you’ve just seen something horrible. …

At least one of your front teeth is missing, and you think you look marvelous.

Something dreadful happened at the rest stop. …

Ever since you returned from the North, you take enormous pride in being both unmarried and ugly. …

None of the children you know have been bathed in the last week.

You are sitting on public transportation across from a total stranger. It is obvious to everyone onboard that he hates you. …

You are indifferent to the murder you’ve just committed.

Your relationship with your adult children is fraught and unpleasant, possibly because of the Civil War.

You are trying to get to Atlanta.

In Retrospect, We Shouldn’t Have Pulled the Car Over

You suspect a Baptist is lying to you. …

Everyone who moved to town before you is a saint.

Everyone who moved to town after you is a scourge.

A close relative was horribly disfigured in a hunting accident. Everyone agrees she had it coming.

26 Feb 2016

Trump’s Failures

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TrumpFailures

26 Feb 2016

Trump’s Tax Returns

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TrumpRich

These days, candidates for the presidency are expected to release financial data, including their past tax returns. Jim Geraughty points out that, judging by past performance, releasing data revealing the actual amount of his wealth is likely to be something The Donald doesn’t want to do.

Trump has been been bragging for years about being a billionaire, and he’s has even sued people who said he isn’t one, but even in court he has declined to reveal the truth.

[A] few years ago, Trump refused to release un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter and author. If Trump was unwilling to release his returns in that circumstance, how likely is it that Trump will release them before Election Day?

    Just for your info, tax returns have 0 to do w/ someone’s net worth. I have already filed my financial statements w/ FEC. They are great! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2016

Trump’s wealth is a key part of his public image, his status in the eyes of his fans, and his self-image. On July 15, Trump issued a statement declaring, “As of this date, Mr. Trump’s net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” (Capital letters in original.)

In October, Forbes magazine offered its own assessment of the mogul’s wealth, concluding, “After interviewing more than 80 sources and devoting unprecedented resources to valuing a single fortune, we’re going with a figure less than half that — $4.5 billion, albeit still the highest figure we’ve ever had for him.” They pointed out that in 2014, Trump’s organization provided documentation for cash and cash equivalents of $307 million. This year his team claimed to have $793 million in cash, but were unwilling to provide documentation.

Listing all the net-worth figures Trump has claimed over the years, Gawker compared them with the significantly smaller sums indicated by available financial information.

But the most glaring evidence… comes from Trump’s 2007 libel lawsuit against New York Times reporter Tim O’Brien. In his book TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, O’Brien wrote:

    Three people with direct knowledge of Donald’s finances, people who had worked closely with him for years, told me that they thought his net worth was somewhere between $150 million and $250 million. By anyone’s standards this still qualified Donald as comfortably wealthy, but none of these people thought he was remotely close to being a billionaire.

Trump contended that passage was a lie and damaged his reputation. Trump fought, lost in court, appealed, and lost again. If Trump’s fortune is multiple billions as he contends, one or two tax returns would have demonstrated the three sources were wildly off-base.

In a recent interview with National Review’s Ian Tuttle, O’Brien said, “The case dragged on for as long as it did because he wouldn’t comply with discovery requests. He wouldn’t turn over the tax returns, then the tax returns came in almost so completely redacted as to be useless.”

The New Jersey Superior Court in its decision offered a blistering rebuke to Trump, contending that there was no good reason to conclude that O’Brien’s sources were being dishonest:

    O’Brien has certified that he re-interviewed his three confidential sources prior to publishing their net worth estimates, and he has produced notes of his meetings with them both in 2004 and in 2005. The notes are significant, in that they provide remarkably similar estimates of Trump’s net worth, thereby suggesting the accuracy of the information conveyed. Further, the accounts of the sources contain significant amounts of additional information that O’Brien was able to verify independently.

Even worse, the court concluded that Trump was an untrustworthy source for estimates of his own net worth: “It is indisputable that Trump’s estimates of his own worth changed substantially over time and thus failed to provide a reliable measure against which the accuracy of the information offered by the three confidential sources could be gauged.”

The three-judge panel essentially called the mogul a liar: “The materials that Trump claims to have provided to O’Brien were incomplete and unaudited, and did not contain accurate indications of Trump’s ownership interests in properties, his liabilities, and his revenues, present or future.”

26 Feb 2016

Heidegger’s Ghosts

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HeideggerTodtnauberg1966
Martin Heidegger at his house in Todtnauberg, January 1966

Alexander Duff, in the American Interest, notes that every contemporary form of irrational opposition to Western Liberalism, Capitalism, and Democracy draws upon the intellectual influence of the Swabian sexton’s son, educated by the charity of the Church of Rome, who in the 1930s betrayed his Church and presided happily over the National Socialist Gleichschaltung (“bringing into conformity”) of his university.

A specter haunts the post-Cold War liberal order—the specter of radical spiritual malaise. This discontent with or downright opposition to the Western-originated, universalist claims of the broadly liberal cultural, economic, and political order takes diverse forms. One can detect it among Iranian revolutionary theocrats, Russian imperialist ideologues, white supremacist “Identitarians,” European neo-fascists, identity-politics partisans, and anti-foundationalist intellectuals of many stripes. But standing behind some of the leading intellectual and political figures in this mélange of counter-liberalism is one animating mind, that of Martin Heidegger.

Since the end of the Cold War, it has been an open question whether any organizing political principle could successfully vie with the liberal consensus of a secular state, limited by democratic accountability and the rule of law. To date, neither the remnants of Soviet-style communism, authoritarian capitalism, reactionary fascism, nor Islamic theocracy have achieved a successful combination of military strength and political legitimacy even among their own citizens, let alone among sympathizers in the world at large. But the political legacy of Martin Heidegger—if the strange and conflicting paths of his influence can be so termed—points to a combination that is sufficiently threatening to liberal democracy to be taken seriously, precisely because of the breadth of its evident appeal abroad and at home.

This is because Heidegger’s thought, while not lending itself to any politically cohesive opposition to the liberal West in a manner that characterized Marxism, recommends itself to virtually every variety of particularist opponent of Western universalism. For those inspired by Heidegger, the universalist claims upon which the liberal order is based are too thin, too weak, and too ignoble to provide tangible and meaningful sources of human identity.

25 Feb 2016

What If?

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TrumpClintons1
Pals

The American people tend to get tired of listening to most presidents after two terms, and by then they are usually itching to throw the incumbent party out of the White House and give the other team a chance. Barack Obama has not succeeded in pulling America out of the recession which began with the housing crash in 2008, and he has not endeared himself. He has really just polarized and embittered the country by his arrogant left-wing partisanship.

So it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know that in 2016 Fate favors the Republican presidential nominee. On top of all that, the democrat party bench is extraordinarily short of candidates. They have the dark horse (not even actually a democrat until very recently) Hippie socialist from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, every American’s crazy Jewish communist uncle. And they have Hillary.

Barack Obama was Fortune’s gift to the democrat party: attractive; well-spoken with a good vocabulary and a pleasing announcer’s voice; well-mannered and skilled at delivering the impression of calm, reasonability, and moderation; and, best of all, black and not merely black, but black laundered and pressed into the most excellent Ivy League form by Columbia and Harvard. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t save the 2008 election for poor elderly John McCain. He found himself running with a stock market crash, hanging like an albatross around his own and his party’s neck, and against the Flavor-of-the-Month, a shiny new Pop Culture sensation roughly as popular in 2008 as the Beatles in 1964.

Hillary Clinton in 2016 is obviously completely different from Barack Obama in 2008. Obama entered the campaign surrounded by imaginary butterflies and unicorns. Hillary enters on her broom, accompanied by flying monkeys. Barack Obama was so lovable that every adolescent girl in America, male and female, young and old, had a crush on him. NBC’s Chris Matthews famously found his leg trembling with nearly homoerotic adoration of Obama. Nobody’s leg will be quivering for the old and wrinkly Hillary.

Obama was the Magic Negro, the wise friend from another race whose acceptance of you proves that you are exceptionally worthy, and whose aid brings about your survival or your victory in your quest. Hillary is every man’s shrewish wife, the pot-throwing termagant who drives all of America out to the nearest saloon to drown our collective sorrows. Hillary is the mean old lady, heading up the Ladies’ League For Social Reform that is going to ban everything that’s fun. Obama was Chingachgook, Queequeg, and a younger version of every Morgan Freeman character. Hillary is Lady Macbeth.

It would take a miracle effectuated by a political genius of the first water to make Hillary electable, especially in this unfavorable year. The Republican presidential nominee in 2016 has the key to the Oval Office in his pocket as long as he is normally presentable and can walk and talk.

Maybe Hillary can win after all, though, because it just so happens that she is married to a political genius of the first water.

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