Archive for March, 2017
28 Mar 2017

The Mystery of Stephen Seagal

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Stephen Seagal and friend.

Kenneth Lowe marvels that, old, fat, and ill-behaved as he is, Stephen Seagal is still able to keep making lots and lots of really terrible movies.

    “What you have to understand is that Steven Seagal isn’t about being a good action hero. He’s always about being a complete fucking asshole. That’s, like, his duty. … Steven Seagal is our hero/villain, where he’s apparently the protagonist, but he just does the cruelest, most fucked-up shit that he possibly can.” —El-P, member of Run The Jewels and avowed Seagal fan

Since his falling out with Warner Brothers, Seagal has become an unbelievable workhorse, albeit one who shows up to maybe a few days of filming and looks terrible. With the exception of the couple of years he was doing his reality show and another TV series, he’s put out two if not at least three pictures per year since 2003, almost all of them direct-to-video. I haven’t seen one scene in any of them where he can convincingly throw a punch.

He will never stop making them, because they will never stop making money, because his own salary is probably the largest expenditure of anything involved in the production. It certainly isn’t lighting or locations.

I wanted this to be a handy explanation of why Seagal is still around and why he continues to make pictures, but in tracking his career, I realize I’ve failed. There is no explanation, not in any way that makes sense in a sane and ordered society that rewards merit and punishes incompetence, sloth and cruelty toward others. …

That’s the final paradox of Seagal. He cranked out more movies last year than Jude Law at his height, yet he’s the laziest actor imaginable. He puts people in real bodily danger by his very presence, yet he walks free and enjoys celebrity. He can’t throw a punch in fewer than three cuts yet he’s immune to shame, Man’s oldest weapon.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Stephen Green.

28 Mar 2017

George Washington, Hobbit

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Detail: Arnold Friberg, The Prayer at Valley Forge, 1976.

Jefferson Shupe sees a strong resemblance between George Washington and Frodo,

On an estate in Northern Virginia, there lived a hobbit.

He lived in the countryside and liked to keep to himself. He was slow to make speeches or draw attention. He loved things that grow and preferred quiet evenings at home to far-away adventures.

His name was George Washington.

No, he didn’t fit the visual hobbit stereotype. He was 6’2″, wore shoes, and we have no record of him visiting Middle Earth even once. But hobbits are curious things, and given his life and his choices, he may have been one all the same.

Read the whole thing.

28 Mar 2017

OTs-38 Stechkin Silent Revolver

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Guns & Fez & Waffle:

Designed by Igor Stechkin, manufactured by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau c.2002-today.

7.62×42 mm SP-4 five-round moon clips, swing-out cylinder, six o’clock barrel, integral laser sight, double action, manual safety.

A very interesting design brought to us by the Stechkin automatic pistol guy, the OTs-38 was developed from an earlier model designed for Vietnam tunnel rats, which fired tungsten birdshot rounds for some reason. This revolver’s rounds are only similar in that they are completely silent, using a low amount of gunpowder located behind a piston inside the case, meaning no gas is actually released when firing the gun, producing no sound or muzzle flash. The gun itself being a revolver also means no spent cartridges can be heard dropping on the floor.

Wikipedia article

28 Mar 2017

Trump, the last Rockefeller Republican

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Back in the 1960s, young conservatives used to sing a parody of “Rock of Ages” that, in part, went:

“Rockefeller’s not for me,
He is anti-GOP.
He is for the Welfare State,
And he’s had more than one mate.”

Throughout the 2016 Presidential Campaign, theoretically-inclined Americans struggled to identify exactly where Donald Trump belonged on the scale of ideology.

Trump had no political record. And Trump’s combination of positions, including Nativism, Protectionism, along with promises to repeal Obamacare, yet at the same time, “take care of everybody” had little to do with either conventional liberalism or conservativism.

Last week’s Obamacare Repeal-and-Replace effort failed because the small, actually seriously principled portion of House Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, declined to follow Trump’s leadership, when that leadership insisted on retaining the socialist heart of Barack Obama’s great leap forward into conformity with the Bismarkian model of National Health Care embraced by so many European and Asian countries.

Just yesterday, I happened to catch Fox News’ Chris Wallace referring with Establishment disdain to the Freedom Caucus’s insistence on removing key Obamacare features such as universal coverage including the subsidizing of health insurance for the elderly and ill by an insurance purchase requirement for the healthy and young.

Last week’s breakdown of Republican solidarity exposed the ideological fault line dividing Donald Trump (and his Nationalist Alt-Right inner circle) and the mainstream GOP. Serious, ideologically-principled Republicans are still Goldwater Republicans, determined to fight for government consistent with the ideals and principles of the founders, firmly resistant to Progressive appeals to sentimentality, Populism, and the example of European countries.

Donald Trump lacks Nelson Rockefeller’s Dartmouth polish and patrician accent, but we begin to see revealed the basic similarities. Like Rockefeller, Trump is a divorcée and a flagrant sexual opportunist, utterly indifferent to conventional Middle American sexual morality. Trump has the advantage of operating decades further along in the progressive decline of Religion and morality in the United States. Back in the 1960s, a divorced man was looked upon as an untrustworthy oath-breaker and loose-liver, unfit for national office. By 1980, when Ronald Reagan (who had been long divorced) ran, it was a non-issue. Last Fall, Trump proved that, in the 21st Century, a fellow on the record with having approximately the same sort of approach to romance as Hugh Hefner, would have little difficulty brushing off even feminist indignation and could easily be elected.

Last week’s events, on the positive side, confirmed again that Donald Trump is a man of his word. He promised a great and beautiful replacement of Obamacare bill that would cover everyone and he attempted to ram that through. On the negative side, all this confirms that Donald Trump has no ideological aversion to the Welfare State and no theoretical commitment to stopping, or turning back, the Left’s step-by-step march toward universal socialism. Trump is, at best, a “Me Too, But a Little Less” Republican in the style of Eisenhower. More accurately, in the combative New York-style of the late Nelson Rockefeller.

Like Rockefeller, Trump is (mostly) pro-business, though he will expect business to play ball with government. Like Rockefeller, Trump is a law-and-order Republican. Trump means to enforce immigration laws. He will continue to wage the War on Drugs. He will continue to lock ’em up, and will probably increase sentences at some point. Like Rockefeller, Trump will devote a serious effort to making Big Government more efficient and more economical, thus enabling the Welfare State to avoid longer its inevitable bankruptcy.

In the political contest for the Presidency, Trump went from triumph to triumph. Trump’s fidelity to his campaign promises, and his business-like style of going right to work and expecting results NOW, not next year or the year after, was refreshing and gave the opening months of his presidency a positive tone. Wall Street responded by booming.

Now, Trump has experienced his first real setback, his first political defeat. How Trump responds to this one will obviously have a major impact on the overall success of his presidency. If Trump simply sulks and blames conservatives for saving Obamacare, the same pattern of failure is bound to repeat itself. If Trump instead learns to compromise and goes back and puts together a renewed alliance with conservative Republicans, there is nothing stopping him from trying again and finally repealing and eradicating the legacy of Barack Obama from American life, and then moving forward more strongly than before to fulfill the rest of his promises and agenda.

He has already comfortably surpassed the political achievements of Nelson Rockefeller. Hopefully, Trump will avoid Rockefeller’s example of bitter progressive Republican animosity toward conservative Republicans and Rockefeller’s ultimately futile isolation.

27 Mar 2017

Noblest Lady Commercial

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27 Mar 2017

The New Civil War

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Dan Greenfield says the current conflict differs from the 19th Century Civil War in that the Left does not wish to secede, it wishes to rule.

A civil war has begun.

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.

The left has rejected the outcome of the last two presidential elections won by Republicans. It has rejected the judicial authority of the Supreme Court when it decisions don’t accord with its agenda. It rejects the legislative authority of Congress when it is not dominated by the left.

It rejected the Constitution so long ago that it hardly bears mentioning.

It was for total unilateral executive authority under Obama. And now it’s for states unilaterally deciding what laws they will follow. (As long as that involves defying immigration laws under Trump, not following them under Obama.) It was for the sacrosanct authority of the Senate when it held the majority. Then it decried the Senate as an outmoded institution when the Republicans took it over.

It was for Obama defying the orders of Federal judges, no matter how well grounded in existing law, and it is for Federal judges overriding any order by Trump on any grounds whatsoever. It was for Obama penalizing whistleblowers, but now undermining the government from within has become “patriotic”.

There is no form of legal authority that the left accepts as a permanent institution. It only utilizes forms of authority selectively when it controls them.

A must-read.

27 Mar 2017

Trump’s First Obamacare Repeal Attempt Failed, So What?

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One of my Yale classmates forwarded this columnn, featuring Nicholas Kristof gloating over the Trump Administration’s failure on Friday to pass a new health care bill in the House, to the class email list:

The Trump administration is increasingly showing itself to be breathtakingly incompetent, and that’s the real lesson of the collapse of the G.O.P. health care bill. The administration proved unable to organize its way out of a paper bag: After seven years of Republicans’ publicly loathing Obamacare, their repeal-replace bill failed after 18 days.

Politics sometimes rewards braggarts, and Trump is a world-class boaster. He promised a health care plan that would be “unbelievable,” “beautiful,” “terrific,” “less expensive and much better,” “insurance for everybody.” But he’s abysmal at delivering — because the basic truth is that he’s an effective politician who’s utterly incompetent at governing. …

Whatever one thinks of Trump’s merits, this competence gap raises profound questions about our national direction. If the administration can’t repeal Obamacare — or manage friendly relations with allies like Mexico or Australia — how will it possibly accomplish something complicated like tax reform?

———————

I replied:

Personally, I thought Trump’s healthcare bill failure was endearing. It confirmed that this administration is being run by amateurs rather than (shudder) practiced professional pols. The question we can now all ask is: can Trump learn?

I was happy that solid ideological conservatives stood their ground and defeated attempt No. 1. I am optimistic enough to believe that the GOP cannot fail (Get-on-board-or-else rhetoric notwithstanding) to return to the inevitable duty of repealing Obamacare. The next try will be better, and hopefully will omit the “covering everyone” and the “free lunch at other people’s expense” coverage for existing conditions. If your house is burning down, sorry! you do not get to phone in and buy fire insurance.

Someone once observed that the legislative process is like the manufacturing of sausages. It can have desirable results, but you will be happier if you don’t watch.

Nicholas Kristof is perfectly correct in one respect, of course. The democrat party is made up of people like Hillary Clinton and Yale’s own John Kerry, consummate shits and professional political operators who would make Machiavelli seem like a naif and Rodrigo Borgia like a wimp. Republican pols tend to be aging Eagle Scouts and Rotarians playing out of their own league. Watching the Congressional GOP take on the democrats is often very much like watching the Washington Generals play the Harlem Globetrotters. Republicans are handicapped by Constitutional Fideism, and a respect for Process, and being afflicted with ordinary decency.

However, the World’s turned upside down. Eight years of economic suffering while Caliban strutted on the national stage enraged the democrat party’s traditional Working Class base. There was a Populist Revolution and the Revolution wasn’t knocking on my door with pitchforks and torches. The angry mob was after Progressivism and the National Establishment. The ideology of the national ruling class and the party that represents it has shown itself to be intellectually exhausted and degenerated into a host of pathologies. The more established any of our institutions, the more debased its morals and the more insane its poses and pronouncements. Nothing in America is more Establishment than Yale, and contemporary Yale has become a national laughing stock and disgrace. The American People are naturally unwilling any longer to be led by a class of nincompoops and demoniacs who hanker after their own eradication and replacement by a new, more melanistically-favored and questionably-gendered population, and whose first priority is apologizing on all of our behalfs.

26 Mar 2017

Philosophy Professor Writes: “Tolerance Is Not the Goal”

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Alan Levinovitz is (God help America!) an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at James Madison University.

Rod Dreher was appalled.

that a Stanford and University of Chicago-trained philosophy and religion professor (who holds an M.Div) believes that the proper way to address Charles Murray’s arguments is by shouting them down. Let the record show that a Stanford-and-Chicago-trained philosophy and religion professor believes that we should not allow the arguments of C.S. Lewis — C.S. Lewis! — to be heard, because people might come to believe them. And let the record show that this did not appear in a magazine of the radical left, but in a center-left publication owned by Jeff Bezos, one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Alan Levinovitz declared in Slate that Tolerance is not the goal, “the truth” of which he personally happens to be in possession of is.

Progress today depends, as it always has, on the refusal to tolerate falsehood and immorality. In certain circumstances proper intolerance will demand reasoned discourse; in others it will demand shouting and breaking the law. We may disagree about how to fight for what’s right, but that disagreement should come in the context of recognizing our proud participation in a long, necessary history of virtuous intolerance. Only then can we hope to defend truth unfettered by hypocrisy and self-contradiction.

Back in the 1950s, when supporting Totalitarianism was looked upon as reprehensible by normal ordinary Americans, the Left cried out for Tolerance. We still hear constantly about the horrors of McCarthyism and the national reign of terror in which a small number of disloyal radicals faced social and professional disapproval for supporting an aggressive alien ideology that 37,000 Americans had recently laid down their lives to oppose in Korea. In those days, the University of California at Berkeley prohibited the on-campus distribution of Communist propaganda and used the laws of trespass to exclude outside agitators.

The Left responded with the so-called Free Speech Movement of 1964-1965 demanding Tolerance. The Left got its tolerance for political agitation, propagandizing, and on-campus organization and recruiting, and a half century later the Left owns all the campuses. Now, the necessity and desirability of Tolerance is over. All of which proves that the fainting liberals of the 1950s and ’60s who were moved by the Left’s hypocritical please for tolerance were simply suckers.

26 Mar 2017

Russian Boy Demos Building With a Brick

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26 Mar 2017

Time Worries Out Loud

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26 Mar 2017

The Last Selfie

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

25 Mar 2017

“Friends in Safe Spaces”

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25 Mar 2017

Now When Can I Buy a Pair of Clip-Ons?

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TechXplore:

A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin has developed a pair of glasses that allows the wearer to have tetrachromatic vision….

Humans have three types of cone cells in the back of the eye to differentiate color. Some react to blue, some to green and some to red. The cones do their work by responding to the difference in wavelength of the incoming light. Such vision is known as trichromatic. In this new effort, the researchers have found a way of fooling the brain into seeing as if there were a fourth type of cone, by wearing glasses with two types of filters. The result is tetrachromatic vision. …

The filters remove some parts of the blue light spectrum. But the filters each remove a different part. When the filters are fitted into a frame and worn like regular glasses, the wearer is able to see colors that are normally hidden—metamers. In a sense, it is rather the opposite of what occurs with people who are color blind. They might see blue and red as the same, even though there is more light information there. Adding spectrum identification to color blind eyes allows for seeing more of what is already there. With the new combined filter system, a person is able to look at what appears to be an object that is all the same color, such as purple, and see more colors in it—those normally hidden metamers.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

24 Mar 2017

“By the Name of Boston”

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The story of a boy and his scorpion.

Via io9.

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